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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Regina RICA: A Place of Prayer, Pilgrimage and Peace at Tanay, Rizal


Wazzup Pilipinas!

You will feel the divine embrace as you tread on the holy ground trail on your way up to a hill composed of 308 steps of paved stairs leading to where you can find a towering statue of the blessed virgin Mary with the young Jesus in one of her arms. It is known as our Lady, Regina Rosarii - a 71-foot high image of our Lady, Queen of the Holy Rosary designed by artist-sculptor Jose Barcena Jr.

The construction of the statue started in October 7, 2009 and the blessing took place on March 19, 2010. It was inspired by the Dominican tradition of Our Lady's protective mantle that shelters her devoted children. Below the statue is a canopy of clouds where the faces of 17 angels or cherubims can be seen.

The 13.5 hectares of Regina RICA (Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia) is located along Marilaque or Marcos Highway at Sitio Aguho, Sampaloc Tanay, Rizal. It is roughly a two hours drive from Pasig city where we originated from. We only commuted so it may take just an hour and a half if you have your own vehicle. If you don't,just rent one from easyrentcars.com




Upon entering the gates of the Dominican community of Regina RICA, you'll see two iconic figures namely, the image of St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena at the gate. A few more steps and you'll see some letterings on the wall where motorbikes are parked that says "Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii", then you'll have to walk a few more steps towards the building structures. But from there you'll be able to see already the huge statue located on top of the hills they call El Shaddai Hills.



The words "El Shaddai" means the breasts of God, and the hills are among the symbols included in the logo of Regina RICA. The three trees symbolize Regina Rica as a place of Prayer, Ecological Sanctuary, and a Wellness Environment. The 13.5 rays of the sun stand for the 13.5 hectare land, and the black and white Dominican seal signifies the Dominican presence at the place.







 






A brief orientation was given at the Pilgrim's Place before climbing up to the El Shaddai Hills where they will give some background about the place and the house rules that guests needs to follow. House rules include: no smoking, eat only at designated places and bring home your trash. The Handumanan or souvenir shop can also be found nearby where you can buy souvenirs like rosaries and miniature statues of the Sto. Nino and Mama Mary.








From the Handumanan, we could again see the splendor of the statue. Several people can be seen at its foot and all of them were there not just to marvel at the sight but also to say a prayer or two.



The way to the top of the El Shaddai Hills is also called Mary's Sacred Trail or S-Trail to Our Lady because of the S shaped trail. On your way up you'll see 13 candle stations where you can leave your candle offerings. The sides of the stairs are lined with sunflowers, and other kinds of flowers can also be seen along the S-Trail.











Aside from the majestic statue of Mama Mary, you can get a good view of the Dominican Star, the Regina Rosarii Chapel on the Hill, and the Outdoor Columbary which is still undergoing construction. The 14 Stations of the Cross can also be found around the sprawling grounds.You can also see the fabulous Sierra Madre mountains from the top.

 






There is an area near the statue called the Candle House where you can offer colored candles for different intentions. Every color represents something like violet for financial prosperity, pink or rose for love for family, white for success, orange for healing, aqua for thanksgiving, red for courage, maroon for souls, yellow for joy and friend, green for hope to pass exam, and brown for good job and safe trip. The candles were said to be hand-made in silence and done in a prayerful atmosphere.













They also provided us with a map of the place after we gave a donation for prayer intentions.


You can also pause for a prayer at the Adoration Chapel inside the statue called the SULOD (Sanctuary of Universal Love and Devotion). SULOD is an Ilongo word that means Enter or Inside.







The Regina Rosarii Chapel stands on the same ground where they used to have just a tent chapel.But when typhoon Basyang destroyed it they temporarily transferred the Eucharistic celebration at the "Kakahayuhan" or the woods and they were sheltered under the trees.


The construction of the new chapel, which had its groundbreaking last December 12, 2010, was made possible with the help of benefactors and lay mission partners, along with devotees, pilgrims, "bote-bote" heroes and donors. The chapel design was made to look like a tent, a symbol of God "pitching His tent" among His people.














The nun puts holy oil on the hands of the people and her assistant instructs us to rub it on the parts of our body that hurts or in pain.




We also were amazed of the Outdoor Columbary even though it was still under construction. There was already a glimpse of what it will look like when done and it's bound to be a fascinating sight.



 


Stations of the Cross could make you really busy as you go from one station to the next. Not minding the heat of the Summer sun, many devotees and pilgrims roam around Regina RICA until they finished their task.


 

We had lunch at the Pasilungan Restaurant which offers only a few dishes that are more like snacks or merienda like Pancit Canton (Php 150), Pancit Malabon (Php 150), Spaghetti (Php 100), Pritong Lumpiang Gulay (Php 100), and Garlic Wheatbreads (Php 50). They also have several shakes with flavors like Mango, Buko, Banana, Watermelon, Ishamango, Ishabanana, etc., available for Php 60 each. They also have their own bottled waters you can buy for Php 20 each.


You can dine at the restaurant itself or have it served at any of the huts located around the restaurant.




 

  




There are several other places to go like the hanging bridge, the Koi fish pond, the Rotunda de San Jose where the image of St. Joseph is enshrined, and a lot more. There are other constructions ongoing so expect that there will be additional attractions when you visit.


There is no entrance fee to enter Regina RICA but you may buy souvenirs, candles, and love offerings as your way of donating to the Dominican sisters. With a gift or love offering of Php 1,000 you become part of the S-Trail where your name will be inscribed on the steps leading to our Lady on top of the hill.

There is also the observance of decent clothing at the place so guests with strapless or spaghetti straps, shorts and sandos are not allowed.

Regina RICA is open everyday between 8 am to 5:30 pm except Tuesdays.

Thank you to the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii for welcoming us at their holy grounds.


"At Regina RICA, we are invited to lift our spirit to God, open our arms to help Society, touch our hearts to bless the Self and bow in wonder as we take care of the Soil"


I have several photos that I wish to share to show how beautiful the place is but that will overload this article with too much photos so you may just watch out for it at my Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/wazzuppilipinas

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