PhP150.00($3) Distance: 10KM- The meter displayed the numbers 6:00AM in the taxi meter. My right eye still shut, my hair was fresh from shower and my shoes untied as I alighted the grumpy old cab. It was January 29, 2011 and it was our Photography Trip to some place I've been before, I wasn't that excited like the others because one year ago, I was there for 5 days and 4 nights.
The bus was scheduled to leave at 7AM even if the letter said departure was 6:30AM (They just say that so that everyone comes on time). 7:10AM, 7:22AM, 7:36AM came and we were still in Manila. I was trying to contain myself from being impatient, yes when it comes to time management, I hate being late. At last! She came around 8:00AM and soon after she came the bus sped away. I wasn't aware of the time when we made it to the SLEX (South Luzon EXpressway) to have our breakfast at McDonald's.
|This was the "Eggy and Beefy" breakfast we all had inside the bus. You can also see I have a can of A&W soda. It was my favorite beverage before it just disappeared in the market and I haven't had one for at least 8 years.|
A funny rumor was actually circulating inside the bus and one guy was saying "Is the breakfast for free?" and a girl would go "Will it be pancakes only?" and I would say "it should be free because we paid big bucks for this trip". All our rumors were realized when boxes of food were delivered inside the bus. The first was the Burger-Egg-Cheese Sandwich and then the main course was the "Burger-Egg-Rice" meal. Everyone was stuffed and I was so full. I fell asleep ZzZzZzZz.....
"Ah! The Golden Sun shines on her radiant skin, morning birds gladly sing and cows do the lowest hymns. Once you laid your eyes on her is almost replacing your one true Love. She gives you the the widest smile in you and takes away the things you must not keep inside."
-an excerpt from my feature article project "Caleruega of the East"
The real Caleruega is located in Spain, in the autonomous community of Castile-Leon which is part of Burgos province. It is also where St. Dominic De Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers or the Dominican order was born. However, the Caleruega here in the Philippines is a retreat house and it is also a park and part tourist attraction. It is owned by the Dominicans and it is the venue for the retreat of the Dominican educational institution like University of Santo Tomas that recently celebrated its 400th years of unending grace and Colegio de San Juan de Letran that is the oldest existing institution in its original location, 391 years.
|I wonder what this structure was supposed to be but it's clearly have been abandoned a long time ago. I refer to it as "The Stairway to Heaven".|
We've reached Caleruega around 11 in the morning. It was cold and the breeze makes my hand freeze, I can leave a can of soda and let the winds cool it up for me. Our group consists of Communication Arts, Digital Arts, Advertising and Journalism students. The first three programs were enrolled in basic photography and their task was to take flora, modelling and panorama photos. As for us three Journalism majors enrolled in Photojournalism, we were tasked to take photos of the life in Caleruega, the locals specifically were our subjects and had to take photos of what they do and somehow show who are the "Philippine Caleruegans".
|Here's a shy kid selling freshly harvested Sweet Potatoes just outside the Retreat Center. He wouldn't look at me and kept evading my camera. I was maybe intruding his early lunch.|
The first timers were scrambling their equipment and quickly went to work and as for me, I just sat for a while. Feeling the cold gust of wind and my face being kissed by the Sun. I found company with the 4th year students who were also keeping a relaxing slow pace, because we already know that the place can be covered for less than 3 hours.
|This is the plaza once you enter Caleruega. The building's facade is taken from the style of Caleruega, Spain.|
Chitter Chatter Chitter Chatter they go, I was a little silent as we walked. I remembered the first time I was there, I was tired and on a 5 day retreat and because of that I didn't really get to see the place on my own pace. While I was walking, it was like seeing it again for the first time; A different dimension unlike before.
|It is one of the famous wedding venues called the "Transfiguration Chapel".|
When I saw the Transfiguration Chapel I always remember how it is so quiet inside it. We stayed there quite a bit for it really just a place to think about things.
"Once you enter, butterflies lead you to floral gardens. Birds then capture your eyes as they fly away to the view of the vast region"
-an excerpt from my feature article project "Caleruega of the East"
|Here's a group having their lunch in the picnic grounds. There were lots of other people around, either by personal trip or field trips, everyone seemed to enjoy the place.|
Lunch was served 12:30PM and you know what, it's the only call time everyone was there 12:30PM sharp! We had Nido soup, Chicken Adobo (One of my Favorites) and the mouth watering-Freshly cut Pineapples which I dipped with rock salt.
It was after lunch when I really started to get some shots. I was quite frustrated because the people of Caleruega were so shy, may it be the vendors, the gardener and even the children are quite reserved to visitors.
|This is me in a "Jump Shot" routine. I didn't have a photo the first time I was here so there, and because of this now you know how strong this hanging bridge is.|
The hanging bridge is the only way to reach the Tent Chapel or what others and I refer to as the "Shouting Hill". It is where the coolest breeze are, as far as I know it was probably known as Shouting hill when people often shout on top of the hill to the overlooking region of green. The Shouting Hill is a place of serenity, the only sounds you can hear are the waving trees as the winds collide with it.
|Finally, here's a local open to camera shots. This was taken on our way to the Shouting Hill.|
|Taken just below the Shouting Hill. I just asked 5 minutes of her time to have a shoot with me, it worked out pretty good.|
|Me and Nature drawn together, I always love sitting under a Tree when the Sun is at its highest, and the cold breeze just takes away all of my worries, even just for a while.|
Caleruega will always have a special place in my Heart. It is where I spent 5 days and I found myself, I found meaning to why I am in this world. I discovered what I really want to do with my life, and the most important thing that happened to me here was that during the summer of 2010, my Faith for God was unstable, I was a wreck and I almost didn't believe that there was a supreme being, my life was shut to believing there is one. 5 days I've stayed and I came out with a Faith stronger than before and that's why I Love this place, because this place found me when I was lost, guided me when my world was dark and taught me that to live in this world, we need Faith, Hope and Love.