We've always looked forward to our yearly Holy Retreat in High School. The ones in Tagaytay were even more so because we found the place perfect for its quiet and solitude.
Over the years, Tagaytay, also known as the Volcano Island, has become popular as a vacation area because of its proximity to Manila. Unlike Baguio which is farther and quite expensive especially during peak seasons. Tagaytay, on the other hand, is only about an hour drive from the Philippine capital. There, one can enjoy the cool climate and spectacular views of the Taal Lake. There is also the public park, Picnic Grove, with its quaint nipa hut cottages overlooking Taal (a great picnic spot!), great bargains for the local produce and horseback riding.
Going there for a retreat was also great. It has not earned the title of "Center of Spiritual Retreat" for nothing.
Our school, which was administered by the Augustinian Recollects, accordingly built a retreat house there. It was a spacious, low-lying building in a grassy hill. For Retreats, we stayed in a dormitory since there were at least 50 of us students with our Adviser and CLF teacher who was also an AR nun.
There were activities and sessions where we were made to commune with God and ourselves. There were a lot of moments of self-examination and quiet reflections. Of course, the requisite therapy of release in the form of crying was also very much present.
With prayers and reflection and the ever-present fun always in a group (of girls, too), we always found it to be a great time for healing and rejuvenation. No spa, expensive or otherwise, can ever compare to it. To be sure, it was one of the things I missed most in a Catholic school when I went to UP in college.
Our good teachers also made sure that we get to pass by the local market whenever we were there. That way, we get to spend all those allowance and bring home pasalubongs.
So, for locals and tourists alike, be sure not to miss this great haven. Tagaytay is truly nature at its best.