Caleruega Retreat in Batangas
Today, I want to look back at our retreat in Caleruega. My previous company usually take their top employee’s out-of-town trips but last May 2014, we went to Calueruega Batangas to do a retreat for 2 days and 1 night.
The Caleruega Church is perfectly perched atop a hill, surrounded by greenery plants and trees, needless to say, it is awesome landscape and breathtaking view made up of hills, fields and the Mt. Batulao Mountains captivates every visitor.
Known as one of the most popular wedding churches, recreational and retreat activities while being closer to nature. It is usually mistaken to be situated in Tagaytay City (due to its proximity and maybe the topography and climate will indeed make the visitor think he is still in Tagaytay) located in Barrio Kaylaway, Batulao in the town of Nasugbu. It is just across the boundary of Cavite and Batangas. And around 15 to 20 minutes drive from Tagaytay City. Many foreign and local tourists come to visit and have their moment of being “Closer to God and mother nature”.
But what exactly is Caleruega? Caleruaga is a town in Spain, the birthplace of St. Dominic de Guzman, father of the Order of Preachers. The Filipino Dominicans wanted to honour the legacy of their founder by naming this retreat destination in his honour.
CALERUEGA – CENACULUM
The Cenaculum is the very first structure that one will see upon arrival at Caleruega. This is also the gateway to the Chapel of Transfiguration, and to the retreat center accommodations. I would advise visitors through to save the visit to the Chapel of Transfiguration for last. Toilet facilities are available inside the cenaculum.
It is advised that visitors park their cars around the fountain in front of the cenaculum from where they can start the short walk to the koi pond, the hanging bridge, and the tent chapel. For tired legs, park benches are available on a shaded area near the parking slots.
The Cenaculum main lobby is decorated like a reception area/lounge. Above the main entrance is a stained glass image of St. Dominic De Guzman, founder of the Dominican Order. There’s also a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary, and a portrait of St. Dominic. The staircase is flanked by an indoor Koi pond, adding a refreshing feel. In front of the staircase is a model of the Caleruega grounds. To the left of the staircase is a shop where you may purchase refreshments and souvenirs from your visit. ( A short briefing in the grand staircase)
To the right side of the lobby is a doorway going to the portico. Toward the end of it is the Refectory Hall, 200-seat capacity dining area (reserved for guests and retreatants) to your left. Looking inside, you can see all the way back to the grand staircase (near the souvenir shop).
WALKING AROUND CALERUEGA
On our second day, we woke up early to explore the Caleruega. On the right side of cenaculum is a beautiful walk, with interesting hand carvings representing the Stations of the Cross on what they call the Manaoag Drive.
Then we stumbled upon this impressively improvised water fountain made of bamboo and concrete/clay basins right beside the Caleruega Cafe, there’s. And a phrase on my left that I mostly agree with “Closer to nature, Closer to God. Behind me is the sanctuary for plants and butterflies.
The Koi Pond is one of the best parts of Caleruega. A series of metal stairways and walks zigzag along the edges of ponds filled with huge koi fishes. All of these, covered by huge trees and surrounded by ferns and bushes, making the area a respite from the harsh sun. Metal benches fixed on the walkways also provide a resting place from all the walking one has to endure inside the complex.
There’s also this Tent Chapel that will welcome you after a long walk and exploration of the park. The chapel is located on a hill with a picturesque view of the Mt. Batulao ridge. It’s a long walk from the entrance but it’s worth it.
Nature, the view, the lush scenery, the adjacent farmlands, the well-manicured landscape, the different species of flowers, the cool fresh air; everything in this place is really beautiful and refreshing. Indeed, you’ll feel you’re so “close to nature and closer to God” when you’re here. A very beautiful, relaxing and peaceful place to go to when you’re weary or when you just want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life.
While Caleruega can provide a priest to solemnize the marriage (subject to availability), the couples are at liberty to invite a priest of their choice. Caleruega Church doesn’t have a fixed amount for priest’s stipend and they leave that to the generosity of the couple. Their wedding rates start at ₱ 15,000 (off-peak season) to ₱ 20,000 (peak season, Dec-Jan).
If you are planning to see the province of Batangas, I recommend that you drop by the area, especially if you love Mother Nature and have a moment with our Creator. A place surrounded by exquisite trees and flowers, a perfect place for self-renewal and soul searching.
The minimal entrance fee is worth with a fantastic vista of Mount Batulao and the fertile sloping hummocks of Tuy and Nasugbu. Strolling the compound exposes you to flowers, shrubs, trees, butterflies and birds with the cool breeze, which is nothing less than stimulating.
How to get There
For Private Vehicle
- Via SLEX (South Luzon Expressway), take Sta. Rosa exit and turn right after toll.
- Go straight and turn right after Tagaytay Market and proceed towards Tagaytay Rotonda.
- Turn left towards Evercrest and Chapel on the Hill, then turn right when you see the sign pointing to Caleruega.
Continue down the road until you reach Caleruega at the end.
For Public Transport
- Ride a bus bound to Nasugbu, Batangas from Pasay. Estimated travel time is two and a half hours.
- Tell the driver to drop you off in Evercrest Country Club. If you have been to Mt. Batulao and Chapel on the Hill, this is the same drop off point.
- From there, ride a tricycle going to Caleruega Church. Travel time is 5 minutes.
Our 2-day retreat was not only meant for bonding and establishing camaraderie with my colleagues and staff but it highlighted the way I commune with nature — that when I am closer to nature, I am closer to God. This is the very reason why I give priority to my mountaineering activities for I can communicate to God through his beautiful creation.