Since late June, my friend Eliza and I began religiously sticking to our weekend morning routine—completing a minimum of 15 laps around the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and, if the sun’s kind enough to not scorch our faces after 8:00 A.M., a round of seaside zumba.
This Saturday, however, we switched off our "health buff" mode for a spur-of-the-moment trip to Tagaytay City. The verdict? Super worth it! But with all those bulalo and mushroomburger goodness sitting on our bellies that night, we just had to go back to jogging the next day. Thank god it’s a holiday. :)
Up and eating in the ‘Sky’
With no itinerary or definite plans, we took a bus to Olivares and talked about wanting to try ziplining in one of the famous parks in the City. We planned to get off at the nearest tricycle bay where we could get a ride to Picnic Grove, Peoples Park, but the bus broke down and we had to transfer to another bus. Then this jeep came rushing in front of us, its barker yelling a thread of places that are unfamiliar to me except one: Sky Ranch. No argument between me and Eliza here: we just smiled at each other and hopped on.
There’s a crowd at the ticketing area when we arrived at Sky Ranch. Not wanting to join the then sun-drenched mob, we opted to have an early lunch.
Craving for a bowl of hot bulalo, we sought for a place where we could get it without leaving Sky Ranch. Sandwiched between fastfood chains we found Leslie’s Restaurant—already jam-packed at 11:00 AM—and enjoyed our bowl of the tasty beef shank and marrow soup.
We prepared to line up at the ticketing area after lunch. However, we noticed how the crowds were not depleting and that the place was slowly being wrapped in fog. Now, we would like zipline through something that is…well, green. Not through sheets of white, cold smoke. Sky Ranch is okay, but we'd love to see trees while ‘soaring’ through the air. Eliza then suggested going to Picnic Grove, saying it’s greener there.
And it’s true! The place is lush and verdant, ideal for our coveted activity. So we bought our tickets, strapped on the harnesses, and off we go!
The moment we were launched forward, I felt like I was somewhat loaned the perspective of an eagle darting through the air. (Seriously, I couldn’t help but feel a tad poetic when I was there). Flying was an adulterated form of bliss—there was a refreshing kind of freedom in the experience, and I wished so hard it would last for more than a few seconds shy of three minutes. But hey, geniis nowadays require compensations too—400Php for a “two-way” trip? Next time, maybe.
You didn't know? I'm a royal cheapskate.
Another bucketlist item ticked off :)
So yes, we did opt for a “one-way” zipline trip to the other side of the grove, squealing with excitement at the start and then keeping silent with awe as we drank in the beautiful surroundings.
Admiring the Little Beauty.
While waiting for our (free!) photograph, we took walks and marveled at beauty of the Taal Volcano from a distance. On our next trip here, Eliza promised, we’re going to take a boat ride to the Taal lake to get a closer look at it.
HOME of the Orange Madonna
A few hours later, we decided to visit the Tierra de Maria Chapel in Nature’s Park that we passed on our way to Picnic Grove. Our attention was arrested by the fifty-foot orange image of Mother Mary—or more specifically, of Our Lady of Manaoag. We learned later on that the chapel was called HOME or the Haven of Meditation and Enrichment, and that many devotees from Manila and other cities are visiting the place for prayer and worship.
The place was couched in a well-manicured flower garden. It was small, but it shelters a lot: there’s a symbolic “Wedding at Cana” wishing well, a religious store, different paintings of the Stations of the Cross, Forgiveness Corners, halls covered with the Calendars of Saints, and even a fish spa. People who visited are deep in solemn prayers; they were lining up to touch the image of Christ inside the Church (which, of course, I didn’t take a picture of out of respect).
We got to take a closer look at the Mary statue because the chapel has a meditation deck on the third floor. From there, the Taal Volcano could also be seen.
We’re not only there for sightseeing, of course; we said our own prayers and wishes before leaving the place.
Come merienda time, we’re craving for burgers: Mushroomburgers! Hey, they say calories don’t count on weekends, right? :) The last time we went to this place, we were just wet-behind-the-ears college students on a trip with their favorite photography professor. In some form of salute to all the memories this place holds for us, we…gobbled down one burger each. Cheers!
Eliza got herself a Royal Burger with fries while I munched on the Mushroom Burger Melt with mushroom fries—the carbs are so going to hurl me back to square one on my ‘fitness routine’, but I didn’t care at that time. We had fun, talking about the trip and about the most random of things, ranging from how I spotted a guy that is a dead ringer of my DTI crush (What?! I allow my inner teen out sometimes) to how Elai is jokingly plotting pseudo-revenge on some girl, soap opera-style.
The sun was nearly gone when we got out the bustling diner. Before making our way to the Manila-bound buses in the nearest terminal, we bought pasalubongs (Loumars buko pie and tarts!), a few articles of clothing from an ukay-ukay, and tasty three-piece, almost-flour-free calamares on the sidewalk.
At the end of the day, when we have arrived in Manila, we promised to go back here and try all the other things we didn’t do here. Horseback riding? Cable car? Boat Riding? You name it. We’re all doing that on our next trip here. :)