My brother, his girlfriend, my classmate and I went to Regina RICA in Sampaloc, Tanay, last Saturday, October 20, 2012, which is a very fitting day to visit Our Lady, Regina Rosarii because it is the month of the rosary.
Regina RICA or Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia is a place of prayer, pilgrimage and peace which is run by the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii.
This place is very much like Caleruega in Batulao, Batangas (another place for spiritual retreat also run by the Dominicans) since both place is close to nature, on hilly lands, very pleasant weather, beautiful scenery and a place to pray and feel God's love.
ENTRANCE FEE: FREE but you can give a donation for the upkeep of the place. There's a donation box at the Pasilungan (Reception Area) area.
Upon entering the gate, we were greeted by a guard who gave a yellow slip of paper for us to fill-up and drop at the reception area.
After this, I saw to my right the 71 foot high image of the Our Lady, Regina Rosarii on top of the hill beckoning us to come to her.
To get to Our Lady, Regina Rosarii, you have to passed through the S-trail of the El Shaddai Hills. This place is teeming with symbols and acronyms that will surely enrich the life of those who visit it. El Shaddai or the breasts of God symbolizes God's abundance for Regina RICA like a mother's breast from which milk flows to nourish her child. It's no wonder their motto is "We breathe God's love."
The S-trail is made of 308 steps and has 13 candle stations where you can leave your candle offering. While ascending these steps, you are encourage not only to marvel at the beauty of nature but also to pray for abundance in your life and to thank God for His many blessings.
The Regina Rosarii is one of the most charming sculptured image of the Blessed Virgin Mary that I have seen probably because she seems to be smiling at me and is encouraging me to come to her.
Under the mantle of the Regina Rosarii, is a holding area where first time visitors are brief about the place, the SULOD and on contemplative prayer. Volunteers at the Regina RICA took turns explaining all of these and in accompanying the visitors inside the SULOD.
There are 17 angels below the feet of Our Lady; Sixteen smiling angels, all of which are outside of her mantle and the 17th is inside the mantle which is the crying angel. The crying angel perhaps symbolizes sorrow for the sins we commit.
SULOD stands for Sanctuary of Universal Love and Devotion and it is also the Ilonggo word for "enter."SULOD is the Adoration Chaptel inside the mantle of the Regina Rosarii. Picture taking is not allowed inside the Adoration Chapel, and pilgrims are asked to remove their shoes as they enter this sacred place.
Inside the SULOD is the Sacred Host and a big Absent Present Cross. There's a basket where you can leave your candle offering, throw pillows and chairs where you can sit down as you say your silent prayer. You exit the Adoration Chapel by passing through the balcony of the sculptured image of the Regina Rosarii overlooking the scenic place.
From the SULOD, we went to the Tilipunan or the Gazebo, where you will find the Pilgrim's Labyrinth. In the earlier century. people who were unable to go to the Holy Land would used the Pilgrim's Labyrinth, following its twists and turns until it reached the center, which symbolizes man's search for God who is at the center of our being.
We went down the El Shaddai hills through the concreted road passing through some of the Stations of the Cross and the RICA chapel on the hill which is still under construction.
On our way to the Pasilungan, we passed through the
|The Chapel which is still under construction|
|It is here where the nun's live|
|the cages of the monkeys and birds being taken care of here|
Famished from the walk, we found ourselves at the Pasilungan. Here, you can write and drop your petitions inside the box, give donation, buy RICA products and buy food. They only serve vegetarian meals.
We had pansit bihon, RICA bread and macaroni soup. We also had a complementary tarragon drink which is said to detoxify the body.
I bought a contemplation book as I promise myself that I am going to try contemplative prayer.
How to commute to Regina RICA
1. Ride an FX or a jeep bound for Cogeo. In our case, we rode an FX jeep at Katipunan and we were charged P35.00 each. Ask the driver to drop you at Cogeo Market. Length of travel: 30 minutes
2. The driver drop us off at Cogeo Market. Now there's two Cogeo Markets - The jeepney station to Sampaloc, Tanay is at the new Cogeo Market. The new market is actually not that far from the old market. It is near the Mercury Drug Store.
3. The jeep leaves the terminal every hour. In our case, we arrived at 8:15 a.m and the jeepney started its journey to Tanay at 9:00 a.m. Fare to Sampaloc, Tanay is P61.00. So judging from the fare, we knew that we are heading for a one long journey.
4. We passed by the towns of Antipolo and Baras, through the zig zag road of the Sierra Madre. Length of travel: 1 hour and 15 minutes.
5. We alighted at the Sampaloc, Market which is the last stop of the jeep and from there boarded a tricycle. The tricycle fare is P20.00 each. We just told the driver that we are going to Regina RICA which is in Sitio Aguho. Length of travel: 15 minutes
It was definitely a long travel for us, but it was worth it because we were rewarded by fresh air and scenic views. It was my first time in Tanay so I was not aware that this place as long as the other towns we passed by were still not that fully developed. There were no SM or Jollibee along the way. What they have are rice paddies, trees and mountains. No pollution.I would love to have a place in Tanay for my weekend retreat to escape the stress of city living.
Ask the tricycle driver to pick you up at a certain time or better yet ask for his cellphone number when you are ready to leave because Regina RICA is not along the highway. You have to walk through a steep hill and for several meters before you reached the highway.
If you have your own vehicle in going to Regina RICA, the better because your traveling time will be cut short. It is easy to go to Regina RICA because it's just a smooth,zig zag drive through the Marcos Highway. The only time you will leave Marcos Highway is when you have reached Sitio Aguho. There is a big signboard of the Regina RICA to the right of the highway and when you see that just turn right and Regina RICA is at at the end of that road.
Mass Schedule and activities at the Regina RICA
6:00 a.m. every 4th Saturday of the month
11:00 a.m. every Sunday
Contemplative prayer 15 minutes before the mass
5:00 a.m. every 4th Saturday of the month
4:00 to 6:00 p.m. daily
Contemplative Prayers of the Regina RICA contemplative group
10:40 a.m and 3:10 p.m. every Sundays
5:00 - 7:00 p.m on Fridays
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily except on Tuesday