After the busy holidays (Is it supposed to get busier as you grow old?), boyfriend and I are 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 the 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 definitely love this road. Marilaque is well-paved and has scenic mountain view since it passed through the Sierra Madre region. 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 ALL THE WAY 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 is cool and much needed.
If you’re coming from the South then I advised you to take the Manila East Road and Marilaque Highway if you’re from the north. Here’s a link of how to drive and commute to Regina RICA.
ARRIVING AT REGINA RICA
50 kilometers after, we arrived at Regina RICA (Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia). There’s no entrance fee but there’s 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 is 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 is the start of the Mary’s Sacred Trail going up to the giant Virgin Mary complex. Trail is a little steep but well paved and surrounded by plants and flowers.
OUR LADY REGINA ROSARII
The trails is like a walk in the park. At 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 is extra windy at the top of the hill but everything looks peaceful and quiet. But I can’t say the same thing during Holy Week.
Below her is the orientation area for the pilgrims before they can go up barefoot in the “sulod”. The sulod is the 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
Candle Offering. It’s always been our ritual to light 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 writes their prayers too.
Way of the Cross. There are stations of the cross in the open field with large cross and rocks to sit and pray. Even the resting stations are 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 are a lot of resting places – benches & nipa huts – scattered in the areas. Some are filled with yellow flowers and has a good view for you to reflect. It is once said that, “Closer to nature. Closer to God.”
Attend the mass. The church, that looks like a clubhouse outside, is at the foot of the hill. It is 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
5 minutes away from Regina RICA is a hidden pizza place. I just saw it online as we are 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 is not along Marilaque Highway. You need to enter a small (and kinda sketchy esp. at night) street to access it. It is a garden pizza place and the place is lovely. It’s like a wooden greenhouse and the wood works are amazing. There are wooden tables/chairs and beautiful paintings around. Turns out, the owner is an artist as well. The place is a lot more beautiful at morning, I feel.
I’m amazed how the place is fully packed even it’s already 6 pm and the place is a little far from the town proper. Their specialty is their lutong pugon na pizza thus the name. Their regular pizza and pasta starts at P250 and their premium pizza at P500. Yes, it is expensive given that it is in a small town but we have to consider that they import their ingredients and basic commodities down the mountain.
We ordered one regular pizza (S) and one pasta since we saw that the serving is good for two. We spent almost P275/each which is almost the same price when we eat out in Maginhawa or Tomas. The only downside is that we waited for our orders for almost 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 nice place to eat.
Have you been in Regina RICA? Or maybe you have drive along Marilaque Highway? I would love to hear your experiences int he comment section below!