While most people are probably heading out to their home provinces or hitting the beaches this Holy Week, riders are probably looking for their next destination. With the streets in Manila virtually devoid of traffic during the Lenten Season, this is just the perfect excuse to gear up and head to religious destinations. Riding to visit churches and sites of religious significance can be a meaningful way to celebrate the Holy Week.
Last year, I found myself motorcycling a total of 232 kilometers South of Manila for a Holy Week themed ride, passing through the churches of Pakil and Paete and the Tatlong Krus a pilgrimage site in Paete, where three crosses sit atop a hill.
Our last stop was Regina RICA, a site known for having a towering statue of the Virgin Mary sitting on top of a hill. There are lots of signs along the highway pointing to this site, so it’s pretty easy to find.
The Regina RICA (Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia) is a relatively new and well-maintained pilgrimage site that’s an ideal destination for a quick Holy Week ride from the metro. It’s located along Marilaque or Marcos Highway, roughly an hour and half to two hours drive from the metro without traffic.
Situated amidst the 13.5 hectares of land, is the 71-foot tall statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Visitors climb 308 steps up a set of paved stairs lined with sunflowers leading up to the main shrine from where you can get a good view of the Sierra Madre mountains. You can offer and light colored candles for different intentions or pause for a prayer at a small prayer room inside the statue. There’s also a modern looking chapel and a Way of the Cross that can be found around the sprawling grounds.
Take note that it can get quite crowded during the Lenten Season with the parking area full to bursting with cars. In fact, the main street leading in was lined with double parked cars and most people had to walk a bit to get in. It was easier to navigate on a scooter and find parking inside the compound.
During another visit (late December), it was less crowded. During our first visit, we saw how solemn the place could be for prayer and pilgrimage. Visiting during Holy Week is another matter, but it’s still worth a stop especially if you’re in the mood for a road trip.
There are a few other points of interest in Regina RICA that visitors with kids might want to check out, including a small hanging bridge, koi pond, organic garden, and an area with pets rabbits and monkeys that you can feed. There’s also a simple hut called Pasilungan (Ilonggo term for “shelter”) where you can buy vegetarian fare, refreshments and souvenirs.
TRAVEL TIPS & USEFUL INFO:
- Regina RICA is located along Marcos Highway, Sitio Aguho Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal.
- Contact Nos. (+02) 985.3878, (+02) 401.2036, Mobile No. +639192694286
- Website: www.reginarica.org
- There is no entrance fee to visit Regina RICA, though donations are accepted.
- There’s a parking fee of P50 being charged for the maintenance of the place.
- Visiting time is from 8 am to 5 pm Wednesdays-Mondays. Closed on Tuesdays.
- Regina Rica has a strict dress code for visitors. Clothing that is not acceptable includes strapless or spaghetti strap, shorts and sando. Bring a jacket just in case.
- Smoking is not allowed on the premises.
How to get there (my route is from Diliman, QC):
- Coming from Diliman, head to Katipunan, turn left on Aurora Boulevard, then take a U-Turn heading to Marikina.
- The highway forks to a bridge heading to Marikina town proper on the left. Stay on the right side of the road heading towards Marcos Highway instead.
- Just go straight and follow the route of Marcos Highway.
- You will pass through Masinag, Cogeo, Boso-boso, Palo Alto, Sierra Madre Resort and Pranjetto Hills.
- At Pranjetto Hills, the road forks towards Tanay Adventure Camp on the left. Take the right side of the road (still along Marcos Highway.)
- Just go straight when you reach an an intersection in the town proper. There’ll be a small gas station up ahead.
- You will pass by Camp Capinpin on your left and JE camp on your right.
- At around Km. 66.5, there’ll be a sign directing you to turn right at Sitio Aguho Street. the gate of Regina RICA is about 200 meters away from here.
To get there from other directions and by public transportation/commuting, visit this link.