Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

Calaruega Photowalk

January 28, 2012

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to Calaruega when I spotted the shooting of Bourne Legacy in Pasay Rotonda.  This was one of the weekends that I had no scheduled climb to a mountain or trip to a beach.  I invited Felix to join me in a photowalk in Calaruega.

The face of hamburger and bulalo.

Calaruega is a retreat place (of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans) which was opened to the public after being previously used exclusively by Dominicans.  It is located in Brgy. Kaylaway, Nasugbu, Batangas.  To get there, you must ride a bus to Nasugbu, Tuy or Balayan and get off at Evercrest Golf and Country Club (same place as jump off for Mt. Batulao).  You can then ride a tricycle or walk to the location.

From the highway, you’ll pass by the Evercrest golf course and facilities and see Mt. Batulao from afar.  There are also farms (for plants and animals) along the road) and your photowalk can start right there and then.

Mt. Batulao as seen from the road to Calaruega. 

There is an entrance fee of Php20-Php40 (forgot how much exactly) and smoking is not allowed inside the premises (sigh!).

An indiginized depiction of the last supper.

Upon entering the premises, you’ll know immediately that it is a religious place.  There are statues of saints and indiginized depiction of stages in the life of Jesus.

There is also a church-looking building on the left side of the main entrance.  This is not actually a church but a reception hall/conference area.  Before we went inside, we decided to go past it first and visit the other areas of the park.

Me inside the park.

The labyrinthine pathways.

There is an area of somewhat labyrinthine walks in and around some plants, fountains, and fishponds (with koi).  (It’s not really confusing but I can’t think of a more appropriate term).

The hanging bridge.

This then leads either to a hanging bridge on the left side or the picnic grounds and ampitheater on the right side.  The bridge leads to an open space on the side where you can see Mt. Batulao and the adjacent farmlands.On this part of the park, you need to hike some few meters to get to a higher ground where an open chapel.

The chapel features stained glass of Jesus’s Transfiguration (with Moses and Elijah at the sides).  I since learned that St. Dominic (founder of the order) considers Jesus’ transfiguration to be a very important part of Christian doctrine, hence, its prominence in a retreat house run by the OP.

The open chapel (above and below) and stained glass details (below) showing Elijah, Jesus and Moses (click on the picture to open a larger file in a new tab).

After taking pictures and a few minutes rest, we decided to go back to the other side of the hanging bridge and see the picnic area and the ampitheater.

The ampitheater is just that, a semi-circular place of concrete with a bonfire in the middle and a stage at the other side.  I guess this is used mainly for night activities by those conducting their retreats.  (On a side note, I wonder why the activity is called a “retreat”, sounds cowardly).

The picnic grounds is also just a picnic ground with umbrella and tables where kids can run around while the grownups chat or meditate or just watch the kids.

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There flowering plants with some insects all around the area and of course, I just had to take a few snaps of them.

After the flowers, we went back near the main entrance to see what’s inside the reception hall.  It is indeed a nice reception hall/conference area and wedding reception inside would be nice.

There is a grand staircase where any newly married couple or debutante can make a grand entrance.

The reception itself is plain (with monobloc chairs) but you can bring in the cloth they use to cover the chairs for a more grand or dreamy setting.

After taking our share of photos inside the reception hall, we now went to the highlight of the park, the Chapel of Transfiguration.

The Chapel of Transfiguration is a small chapel that is very popular for weddings.  Based on what I saw inside, I think it can fit around 150 persons or utmost 200.  It contains three big stained glass windows showing Jesus, Elijah and Moses (similar to the open chapel).  At the time, we were not able to explore the interior of the church as there was a wedding going on inside (I think one of the several weddings that day).

It was then time for us to go (Calaruega closes at 530 pm) but before we go, I snapped a picture of a beloved mountain as the sun’s rays are slanting down.

After a tiring trip, we decided to eat bulalo in Tagaytay on one of the restaurants with a viewdeck overlooking the Taal Lake and volcano.  The sun was about to set and it was magical indeed.

All in all, it was a beautiful day.  I didn’t find Calaruega that relaxing or peaceful as there were many people there at the time (both for the wedding or just picnicking at the place).  However, I must say that it is a good place for weddings and other special occasions.

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