By Loraine Balita-Centeno
- Visit our local holy land (Tarlac)
If you can’t afford to go to Israel just yet, you can visit the local version located in Brgy. San Vicente, Bamban, Tarlac. Located atop a mountain, it is about half an hour away from the main highway. The place features life-sized representations of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary and spectacular views of the mountains. This one’s not recommended for families with small children but may be best for those with bigger kids who are up for some nature tripping.
Tarlac is also home to a relic of the holy cross, Monasterio de Tarlac, that sits atop a mountain in San Jose. This structure houses the relic authenticated by a papal seal. It is believed to be a piece of the cross discovered by St. Helena in Jerusalem.
- Join a folk-religious festival (Marinduque)
Here in the “heart” of the Philippines (called such because of the island’s shape) holy week is spent not in quiet reflection but with colorful costumes of Roman soldiers and characters from the Bible. The Moriones Festival re-enacts the life of Saint Longinus. According to the story Longinus was the half-blind roman soldier who pierced Jesus on the side with a spear. When the water and blood from Jesus fell onto his eyes he was healed after which he converted to Christianity.
The event itself is one of the most colorful festivals in the country. It is famous for the Morions or penitents garbed in colorful costumes who roam the town from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday.
The streets of Boac in Marinduque are lined with heritage houses that take tourists back to a bygone era. Most of these are ancestral homes that have been converted to cafes and commercial establishments but carefully preserved to show its original design. The island is also home to a number of breathtaking bodies of water like the Hinulugan Falls, Kabugsukan Falls, and the Poctoy Beach.
- Have a quiet retreat (Calaruega)
Not only is this place, located in Nasugbu, Batangas, famous for weddings, but is also visited for its quiet charm. It features a retreat center and a peaceful nature park for a quick stroll. Upon arrival you’ll be welcomed by a structure called the Cenaculum, which is the gateway to the main chapel. On your way to the main chapel you can go through a little koi pond, a nice walkway in the garden, and see some intricate hand carvings that depict the stations of the cross. The main attraction is the brick-covered Chapel of Transfiguration that is a majestic sight to see. Just remember that the place is a retreat center so try to keep the kids’ noise down.
Nasugbu is famous for its pristine beaches with white sand. The sand’s not Boracay fine but if you don’t have time to fly to Boracay, this one’s a good alternative. The city is also famous for luxury resort hotels with five-star amenities.
- Introduce the kids to the Visita Iglesia tradition (Rizal Province)
Our rich cultural heritage is steeped in tradition, which is made more evident during this season. A family’s holy week wouldn’t be complete without the annual Visita Iglesia. And the province of Rizal has, over the years, been the go-to place for it. It is lined with many beautiful churches that pilgrims love to visit, including the intricately designed St. Jerome Church in Morong and the centuries-old St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church built in 1583.
After your family’s Visita Iglesia you can take the kids to the Pinto Art Museum, the Avilon Zoo, the Angono Forest Park, or the Casa Santa Museum. Just remember to call in advance to check their holy week schedule. Another must visit is the Balaw-balaw restaurant in Angono that serves local dishes you won’t find elsewhere.
5 Tips to Survive Road Trips With Young Tots in Tow
- Pack a lot, pack everything! Trust us the last thing you’d want is a thirsty child wailing for water when you just ran out and you’re in the middle of the expressway. Pack lots of extra clothes, diapers, milk, an Ipad, some toys, lots of snacks, water, and an emergency kit. Basically your entire house, kidding.
- Feed and bathe the little critters before you leave. Make sure they’re comfortable before the start of the trip. If you can talk them into doing Number 2 before leaving, better.
- Invest on sturdy and comfortable car seats for your children’s safety and your sanity. Don’t scrimp and buy cheap ones with buckles that don’t lock properly or don’t hold children down comfortably.
- Study your map well and mark pee pee and snack spots you can visit along the way. Orient the driver about these spots so he or she can get ready to make the right exit points to reach them.
- No matter what happens don’t let your tots sweet talk you into letting them sit in front with you. It’s against the law and for good reason. The front seat is not safe for kids. The seatbelt on the front seat is designed to support an adult person’s chest, not a small child. Expect little ones to want to stay in front to tinker with the radio or stay close to you. Distract them or better yet sit at the back with them.