- Ate Joan’s 29th birthday celebration.
Wow! Just one more year, and there’s already a 30-ish in the siblings. Hahah! This family trip is memorable for we know that we may not get to see Ate Joan everyday next year. She and Ephraim are already preparing to get married, and the plan is they will reside in Cavite. 😦 While this is a bitter-sweet milestone in the fam, we couldn’t say no because we know that that will make our Ate Joan happy. I am thankful that we made her special day memorable and happy, while being together.
- The beautiful, sunny weather. Monasterio de Tarlac is a beautiful recluse hidden atop one of the mountains of Tarlac. Having a pilgrimage here can be enjoyed most if you come during the dry (but cool) months. We’re grateful for our decision to go on an early hour of an October Saturday because it allowed us to enjoy the area with less people (to photobomb in our pics, hahah), no hassle from a hot and humid afternoon (that can lead to cranky, irritated little baby, plus sunburned skin), and just cool and calming ambience (even better than the hustle-bustle of Baguio).
- Uninterrupted, safe travel. Make sure you have your own transportation if you wish to come to the Monasterio. I am not sure if there’s public transpo that can get you to and from the place, but based from what I experienced on the long, winding, and uphill road, it would be very difficult to commute, if you even find any. Our family doesn’t have our own car, but we’re fortunate and grateful to come across Island Discovery Tours and Travel Services, where you can rent a van for a very affordable price. As a second-time customer, we can really vouch on their hassle-free ride and kind drivers.
- Instagram-worthy landscape.
In this era of selfies and photographs, one’s travel destination wouldn’t be #travelgoals if it isn’t visually appealing. While I believe that Monasterio de Tarlac doesn’t need tourists, but pilgrims, their landscaping definitely isn’t eyesore, either; and for that, my IG feed feels thankful. Well, you could never go wrong with nature, anyway. The whole -hectare of land is situated atop the mountain, so the view is expectedly breathtaking. There’s also a 30-feet statue of Jesus and smaller monument of Mama Mary that are surely mandatory IG photo.
- Opportunity to pray and rest.
What really pushed me to push through with this lakad is the opportunity to attend a mass in their Church and touch the relic of Jesus’ cross. Yes, as in the real cross carried by Jesus to his death and Crucifixion. I really don’t admit my being a devout Catholic (especially now that I lie low in our choir service), but I take pride in my faith and religious upbringing. I am also a woman of tradition, and I am fond of seeing, touching, and experiencing different relics as well as observing religious customs. Consequently, attending the mass in the Monasterio urged me to revisit my own conscience. The mass celebrant repeatedly told us that we arrived there for a reason, and that wherever we are in our life journey, we never are alone. I just felt kilig upon realizing God’s sweet message for me: that He is still my Father, whatever the circumstance. He never leaves nor forsakes me all the step of the way.
- Opportunity to meet new people while renewing the bond we have with those we’re always with.
One thing I always look forward to family trips is the bonding we’ll share not just with the family, but as well as to new friendships that could be formed in the place we’ll visit. I am grateful because we (or specifically, Mama) became friends with some people at the Monasterio. While I am not really the extraverted one who befriends locals, I reaped the benefit of the..
- Hearty breakfast overlooking Tarlac plains that satisfy both the soul & heart.
The friend of my Mom I was referring to in the previous point told us of a beautiful place where we could eat our breakfast (bangus sisig binalot whole-heartedly prepared by Mama). This is actually my favorite part of our trip to Monasterio, because that was when I truly felt one with the fam. Also, the view was beyond beautiful. All of us were thankful for that one hour of pure laughter, catching up, and social media-freedom (no one was using the phone when we’re eating!).
- The time to be away from the hubby and realize that I miss him terribly. Well, aside from the fact that I
was forcedhad to attend to Ella’s wet diapers, I realized that I am no longer comfortable leaving Aljhon from important and out-of-town trips like this. I cannot even remember the last time I left Manila without him! (I am no travel junkie, and I wasn’t able to join company/church summer outings for 2 years in a row due to my wedding and pregnancy) We’ve been together for 6 years now, and I just realize how he became not just my partner, but an arm extension, an indispensable part of me. Honestly, becoming a parent took a toll on our relationship lately. I didn’t even flinch upon learning that he can’t come with us because of his photography classes, much more, offered not to join this family trip to stay with him. But that day without my husband, I know that my joy was not complete. I kept on thinking about how he was, what he was doing, or what he had for lunch (okay, fine, I also regretted that he, his dslr, and his photography skills were awol). I thank God for He made me realize how important Aljhon is, and that no beautiful place or experience can ever be as wonderful having my husband by my side.
- Being close to nature, thus, becoming closer to God. Just to reiterate, you can never go wrong with nature. Or at least in my opinion. Having seen too many greens and smelled the distinct probinsya air, even just for a day, made me feel relaxed and recharged to face the second half of the school year. I also thought of how blessed we are for having an amazingly creative God. Nothing can really equal God’s idea of mountains, plains, trees, etc. Everything is in proper order, has its own organization and system. And whenever I think about this, I feel like a small speck of dust in a vast, infinite universe. But this small speck of dust is God’s princess, His beloved; and for this, I am eternally grateful.
- For simply being with the family.
Paulit-ulit man, I would like to express how grateful I am for this time to be with my family. Yes, we all may be residing under one roof, but often, life throws in so many commitments, errands, and to-dos, that we forget to even check on our family members and ask how are they doing. I just realized, especially now that I have my own family unit, that we must never forget our roots, that truly, time is the most precious thing we can spend on the people that are dear to us. And time cannot be chased. We don’t wait on time, either. We make time, instead.
Monasterio de Tarlac is situated at Mount Resurrection, Eco Park in the barangay of Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac. Mass open to the public is at 10:30am every Mondays to Wednesdays, Fridays to Saturdays. You can go there as early as 6am, but staying beyond 5pm is not really advisable for the road has sharp curves that are dangerous without daylight (I actually didn’t see any road lights). There’s no entrance fee for each visitor, but they charged P50 per vehicle upon entering the compound. Bring your own baon, and like us, eat at the pavilion situated at the back of the restroom. Turn off your wifi. Enjoy! ^_^