After the busy holidays (Is it supposed to get busier as you grow old?), boyfriend and I were back to our regular Saturday dates!! And since we’ve never been anywhere this past month, we decided to hit the road and drive.
Where? We decided to push our Tanay road trip that we’ve been planning since last year. We drove to Regina RICA along MARILAQUE Hi-way in Tanay, Rizal. It has a nature view, fresh air and near the metro.*Pardon my scrapbook attempt on my photos. I’m feeling extra creative.
MARILAQUE HIGHWAY, WHAT?
It was just recently that I learned this name. I’ve always known it as Marcos Highway. (Any #TeamEast here?) MARILAQUE stands for Manila-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon that connects Metro Manila to Quezon Province. This 110-km highway starts in Marikina, after you cross Katipunan Avenue from Aurora Blvd, and ends in Infanta, Quezon.
If you’re on road trips, you’ll love this road. Marilaque is well-paved and has scenic mountain view since it passed through the Sierra Madre. It’s not all views and drive, though, it has a lot of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
P.S. There is no cell coverage on most of the road. Waze your destination while still in Antipolo.
DRIVING TO REGINA RICA
From Cubao, we used Marilaque (Marcos) Highway since it’s faster than the Manila East Road. From establishments and houses, the surrounding slowly shifted to grass, cliffs, trees and mountains. I put the windows down, and at 2 pm, with the sun up, the wind was fresh and much needed.
If you’re coming from the South, take the Manila East Road while Marilaque Highway is a better route for the North people. Here’s a link of how to drive and commute to Regina RICA.
ARRIVING AT REGINA RICA
Fifty kilometers after, we arrived at Regina RICA (Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia). There was no entrance fee, but there was a P50 parking fee. Regina RICA is a 13.5 hectares pilgrimage site that welcomes people from all walks of life to experience silence, stillness and serenity. It must not be confused into a park; thus proper behavior and dress code must be observed.
It was advised to wear bottoms that are below the knee and tops that cover the shoulders. They provide green skirts for those whose bottoms are above the knee.
So few steps from the parking area was the start of the Mary’s Sacred Trail going up to the giant Virgin Mary complex. The trail was a little steep but well-paved and surrounded by plants and flowers.
OUR LADY REGINA ROSARII
The trail was like a walk in the park. In the end, we were greeted by the 71-meter statue of our Our Lady of Holy Rosary overlooking the pilgrimage site. We sat on the benches around the area mesmerized by her and the whole place. It was extra windy at the top of the hill, but everything looked peaceful and quiet. But I don’t know if I can say the same thing during Holy Week.
Below the statue was the orientation area for the pilgrims before they can go up barefoot in the “sulod”. The sulod was a lovely chapel inside the statue. (Can you see that windows just below her left hand? That’s the sulod! Photography is not allowed.)
OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO IN REGINA RICA
Candle Offering. It has always been our ritual of lighting candles on all churches we’ve been, so we bought ones (P20/candle) here to pray. Every color symbolize an intention you wanted to pray for. We chose Aqua (for Thanksgiving) and Rose (for love & family). Some wrote their prayers too.
Way of the Cross. There were stations of the cross in the open field with large cross and rocks to sit and pray. Even the resting station was filled with yellow flowers. Indeed in nature, you felt a little closer to God.
Donate. In the walkways, you’ll notice cemented footprints of those who donated for the site’s construction and improvements.
Reflect. There were a lot of resting places – benches & nipa huts – scattered in the areas. Some were filled with yellow flowers and has a good view for you to reflect. It was once said that “Closer to nature. Closer to God.”
Attend the mass. The church, that looked like a clubhouse outside, was at the foot of the hill. It was big enough (and beautiful too) to hold 100 person. We went to pray for guidance for this coming year. Here’s their mass schedule:
Sundays – 11 am / 3:30 pm
Monday, Wednesday to Friday – 11 am
Saturdays – 11 am / 4 pm (Pahuwayan)
Tuesdays – CLOSED
DINNER AT LUTONG PUGON WOOD FIRED PIZZA
Five minutes away from Regina RICA was a hidden pizza place. I just saw it online as we were searching for some dinner place. The place looks good too (and you know how I love artsy food places) so we did proceed.
Lutong Pugon was not along Marilaque Highway. You need to enter a small (and quite sketchy esp. at night) street to access it. It was a lovely garden pizza place. It was like a wooden greenhouse, and the woodworks were amazing. There were wooden tables/chairs and beautiful paintings around too. It turned out, the owner is an artist. The place is a lot more attractive in the morning, I feel.
I’m amazed how the place was fully packed even if it’s already 6 pm, and it was a little far from the town proper. Their speciality is their lutong pugon pizza thus the name. Their regular pizza and pasta start at P250 and their premium pizza at P500. Yes, it was expensive given that it was in a small town, but we also have to consider that they import their ingredients and essential commodities down the mountain.
We ordered one regular pizza (S) and one pasta since we saw that the serving was good for two. We spent almost P275/each, which was nearly the same price when we eat out in Manila. The only downside here was that we waited for our orders for nearly an hour.
Good thing, we enjoyed our food. We had the bacon pizza, and shrimp chorizo pasta and I swear that this food can compete with the Manila’s pizza places. If you’re going to Regina RICA or doing a road trip along Marilaque Highway, Lutong Pugon is a beautiful place to eat.