I cannot express enough how much I love this place. I just can’t. Magnificent and Moving.
When I was in high school, a new retreat house was put up by the Dominican Order of the Philippines. They named it Caleruega after the birth Place of St. Dominic in Spain. The retreat house won accolades and praises for it’s brilliant design by Architect and Environmental Planner Yolanda Reyes. In its construction, rich Christian mythology and symbolism was integrated to give every nook and cranny some sort of meaning and reflection.
The façade of the entrance gives a nod to the town where the founder of the order was born. Upon entering, the staircase shaped like an ovary will greet you symbolic of the womb from which life springs forth. Even the pathway leading up to the Chapel of Transfiguration has its own story to tell that is, the easy against the hard way to reach Christ. But enough religious details.
Situated among the sprawling hills of Batulao Batangas, a good two hours away from Manila, this retreat house was built following the actual contours of the land. Batulao is known as such because of how the sun hits the mountains and hills during sunrise ( In the vernacular Bato means rock, and Ilaw is light thus the “light hitting the rock”) which creates a spectacular vista early in the morning. Having a good share of friends who are professional photographers, when asked which wedding venue is the best for them, the answer would always be Caleruega which only strengthened my resolve to fulfill a promise I made once on my favorite spot in the compound, the chair that overlooks the majestic light of the sun as it rises from behind the mountains. Every time I visit the place, there is an overwhelming sense of serenity that I have yet to feel anywhere else. I remember bawling my eyes out here during retreats listening to stories and secrets that my closest friends once kept only to myself.
Recently other parts of Caleruega have been developed into a campsite dubbed Camp Arriba. There families can go on picnics and just enjoy the cool breeze of Batangas or set up camp and roast Smores in the campfire. Whatever tickles your fancy, Caleruega is sure to have something in store for you whether you are religious or not. It’s a lomolocation must.
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