Puerto Princesa’s Historic Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral

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One of the popular tourist destinations in Puerto Princesa City is the historic Immaculate Conception of Mary. Located along Rizal Avenue in Baranggay Liwanag, the Immaculate Conception of Mary is said to be the patroness of the cathedral church. Aside from the beauty of its facade, the church’s history is what makes it an interesting place to see. Continue reading Puerto Princesa’s Historic Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral

ILOILO CITY | Churches and Historical Sites

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If you’re into old architecture, and old churches — Iloilo would be one of the best travel destination for you. I heven’t been to all the old churches but I have to say that the ones I went to are structures one would never tire of. Ofcourse, it’s a place of worship, but I meant that the architectural details are spot on, and you can only imagine the weary soiled, and callused hands that built them.

Continue reading ILOILO CITY | Churches and Historical Sites

SIQUIJOR | The Sta. Maria Church & Black Maria

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We have just begun our series of church visits that day, Sta. Maria Church, to it’s locals, at Maria, Squijor was our second stop. It was near lunch so we actually had to make a quick visit. At first glance of the church’ facade, I thought the Church of the Divine Providence would be one of those old churches that I would visit that would make no impression on me, but it’s walls shelters what it is that makes it one of a kind on this island, of the country.
The church from the outside is small, and the bricks of probably limestone shows molds on crevices, and water drop stains. The front is bare except for the painted columns of it’s portico upon its entry that did not look like it belonged at where it is right now (or is it just me?), and the painted images of the Sacred Heart, and a prayer upon it’s doors.



The interior was as plain as the exterior, but it was wide, and long for a small looking facade of the church. The limestone brick walls was finished neatly, and or no jagged, and rough surface compared to the outside.



Surprisingly, the church is well lit inside, as sunlight came through the bare windows and humbly framed doors bathing the walls making them look lighter, and making the clean lines of the interior pop out. Molds, and mildew have formed at certain parts of the wall with age, and cool temperature inside. I don’t know why it gives me the impression of a certain charm — bare of ornaments, elaborate fixtures, carvings, or what other old churches boasts of.



What the exterior, and interior lacks in grandness, the saint’s encasement at the alter compensates. At the end of the aisle massively stands in domineering bold earth brown, and warm gold color that encases the saints.




But what made me walk up to further inspect was not the details of this woodwork but of the statue that stood beside it. On it’s encasement of glass, bearing the same color combination on it’s frame as the massive one is the statue of Saint Rita of Cascia. Sta. Rita de Cascia wanted to become a nun but in obedience to her parents, she was married to her abusive husband. In her hopes to convert her husband from his abusive behavior, her marriage lasted 18 years until he died in the hands of feuding family members. That became the root of revenge for their sons who also died in that manner, even when Sta. Rita de Cascia had earnestly prayed that her sons be spared of the same fate.


Losing her husband and 2 sons in a year, she later joined the Augustinian community of religious sisters. She is represented as a statue of ivory white face, and lone facial features. Clothed in black, making all the other features stood out, the locals have given her the name of the Black Maria.


Clasps in her hands is a Crucifixion at the right hand, and a skull on the left. She is known to be the patroness of abused, and mourning women.



To locals, however, stories are told that the Black Maria wanders off after sunset, and is back before sunrise as evidence by mud, and grass found on her feet, and dress the day after. With her piercing stare, and the downturn lips, I had checked to see if she went out that night though. Phew! Clean dress, and feet!


Sta. Maria Church & the B.ack Maria is something to check out when you’re visiting Siquijor. Best to go with some locals, or with a local guide, so you can hear stories only told with the tongue. Though do not mess your visit by scaring yourself with those stories. It is through those conversations you get to know how the community was, and how it has come to be what it is now. Siquijor Island is known for witchcraft, mysteries, and legends told from generations to the next. On evenings when the electricity goes off, entertain yourself by asking your local host/s why the island is known for that. *Spooky spooky*

You might like to read more of the SIQUIJOR posts:
Lugnason Falls
Lazi’s 400 Year Old Enchanted Balete
San Isidro Labrador Parish, and Lazi Convent

The Sta. Maria Church & Black Maria

SIQUIJOR | San Isidro Labrador Parish, and Lazi Convent

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A witness to to the old Spanish settlement of Siquijor, The San Isidro Labrador Church, and Lazi Convent at Siquijor stood at an open lawn of Acacia spreading it’s foliage framing it against the light shade of blue, and wisps of clouds in the sky that day.
The San Isidro Labrador Parish was established in August 8, 1857. The church was constructed in 1882, and completed by 1884.
A year after, the Bell Tower was completed in 1885. It was not until 1887 that the Convent constructed started, and was completed in 1891.

I like the fron t door of the parish, even though at the time of our visit the church was close for renovation of some sort. Only a few minor restoration process, I guess.

The Lazi Convent stands at the other side of the road from the San Isidro Parish. It is one of the biggest convent in the country, and it is used as San Isidore the Farmer Catholic School.

We could only take a few shots though. One reason that I might visit Siquijor again, and maybe on the second trip, take my time during the island rounds.

We didn’t stay long, just enough to look around, and light a candle, and say our prayers. It was the first church in the series of churches, and chapels for our rounds.

Check out the rest of the Siquijor Series:
Transportation Guide | How To Get There Directions
Lugnason Falls
Lazi’s 400 Year Old Enchanted Balete

DUMAGUETE CITY | Silliman University Church Across the Field

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The Silliman University Church is a favorite on campus. Right on the right side when you make your entry by the West Portal gate, you can see empty space that spreads, and a church at the other end of the field.

And I say that even if we were not lucky enough to visit the interiors of the church. I like the massive doors up front, that is without any carvings of some sort. Just your plain wooden planks held together, painted in white, and framed in near chestnut of colour to accentuate the old marble tile pattern on landing of the steps.
A typical American-influenced architecture, different to the churches built during the Spanich period that is rich of texture, massive, and solid structures. People say that it is Neo-gothic in architecture — but I would not know anything about that. But it does resemble old UCCP, and Methodist church. I wished we were able to visit the interiors. I’ve saw several images of it, and I was a bit disappointed that we were not able to check out for ourselves. 
But I was contented by the the large front lawn framed by lined Acacia trees with rich foliage spread in like a hood of an umbrella by it’s large branches.


The pews painted in Leprechaun green neatly arranged in a semi – circular pattern fronting the small church facade.
And a pathway so you will not disturb the green grass under your feet carpeting the field with only but small patches of brown showing the earth beneath it.
I could picture long, not-so-sunny afternoons here with anyone interesting, and comfortable enough even to sit there in silence.


But since I was traveling in a group, a thought of maybe a pen, and my journal with me on a lazy afternoon would suffice. But ofcourse, I kept that to myself. I was with friends with me that day, and travel is always different when you have company.

DIPOLOG CITY | A Century-old Cathedral

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I do not know why I like cathedrals, and when it started that I do. Other than a house of worship and it being an architecture that maintains the doctrines of faith, and morals. Maybe because it’s a bit of the past still standing in the present, bold witness to time, and to remain when we might not in the future. I somehow find that romantic. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary at Dipolog City is one of the few churches I like. Less adorned, yes. But massive, and holds history even after a century has passed.

The front facade may have been given a face lift but the church is a mix of both modern, and old. Erected sometime in 1895 by Spanish friars, the cathedral still has its hand carved ceilings intact up to this day, and an altar designed by the national hero, Jose Rizal.

I like how each arch caves in another until it frames the doors of the cathedral’s main entry.  It makes it look more massive, if I can’t be more redundant as that.

I like how the yellowish brick stones reflects sunlight making the cathedral beam from the across the street with trees trying hide it with it mass of foliage. Nothing could stand as dramatic as this cathedral despite all the greens, and the busy pedestrians feet, and motors passing by. Maybe that is why I like it. Of the sea of greens, and everything else stands a proud cathedral, not drowned out by what surrounds it. Like faith. No matter what life throws at you, one’s faith should not falter. It should stand there amidst all chaos.
+ Try visiting the cathedral early in the morning or mid to late in the afternoon. The sun would not be so high up. I hope you also get to visit it in the evening. I often wonder how it would look at night when I go through photos of it. I wish I got to see darkness looming over it. But it only means that there’s a next visit bound to happen. *grinning*
+ The Magsaysay park across the street is also an ideal place to visit and let the young ones run around, and for you to rest those tired feet.
+ And, how about trying to hear mass if you have time.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary at Dipolog City
P. Ramon St. Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Norte
Coordinates: 8.586082,123.345475
Map Location: HERE

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated.
You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.
— David Lloyd George

CAMIGUIN | Of Churches and Old Church Ruins

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I slept soundly the whole night. It was my first 10-hour sleep post-Sendong relief efforts IBS, Inc. did. I woke up around 3AM, irritably the morning person in me does that —   but the house was so still and it seemed as I was the first one to awoke.  Here’s a random tip: When on vacations, always wake up early — way before sunrise. That way you get to see the first rays of the sun on wherever you’re staying. On this trips’ case, I knew I didn’t have a beachfront view for the sunrise and was geographically located at the wrong side of the island, so I stayed in and went back to bed — thus the  10-hour sleep.
I woke up at around 7:15ish AM. My watch says otherwise. Because I have a (ridiculously) advance time that I had set myself and had (amazingly) gotten used to. LOL. That is an example of a total fail shot — I know, right? Ahahahahaha! Okay. I can’t get over that shot. (Laugh trip beak). Note to self, either reset the time or no more shots like this. LOL.


I stayed at Sagay, Camiguin, at the southwestern part of the island. So when asked which I wanted to check out first — I  don’t know why by I quipped, churches! You know what they say about finding a bit of you in everywhere you go? This was it. I felt the need to detach myself from the depressing situation of then nearly a month post TS Sendong in Iligan. I found myself saying a prayer, the feel the need to let it be — me for now. Selfish, The need to regroup pieces of myself — I did, here, on my first stop of the island of Camiguin.
The interiors of the church is not yet finished. But what met me was the artistic use of bamboo, and driftwood on its’ interiors. There’s something about the drift wood chandeliers  hanging from the ceiling. It gave the rustic appeal to the whole place.

To the right side of the church is an open chapel. Devoted to Sto. Rosario, the image of the Lady of the Rosary is encased and transfixed in front of a old tree draped in vines. Stone benches lined up on the grassy earth and a comforting sound of the church bells framed the already solemn ambiance.
The Catholic church of Catarman, Camiguin is a little bit off the national highway. It still has the old town church feel to it. Standing atop a small hill surrounded by trees and lined benches – I could only imagine how it was during times when a Eucharistic Mass is celebrated. 
This church is kinda like the Mamabajao Parish in a little way, this one without the paint on its walls. We did not get to stay long, I suddenly remembered a random list of must-go-to-places we must get to.

OLD CHURCH RUINS | Brgy. Bonbon, Catarman,  Camiguin

Established earlier as a Spanish settlement, the town of Catarman used be notably popular, until a volcanic eruption in 1871 took out most of the town. What remains now is the still standing adobe walls shyly peeking out from the moss and ferns that had grown on them. Of the three churches, the Old Church Ruin was the only destination I had on my list. For some apparent reasons that only the universe knows of, of why I thought of stopping by these two other churches, made me glad that I did. It took my mind off the depressing Sendong struck Iligan — like I said, I needed to find the hope from the depressing scene I worked on and with since Day1. 

But here is an island who witnessed volcanic eruption and even a strong typhoon that devastated this charming island— and yet it is still alive, growing, and standing. I came to the right place. This added hope — this was a hopeful escape. Camiguin never failed to charm me. And as it made me experience and worked hands-on on what I learned in the books back then, this time, it had silently reminded me a lesson in life.

Some things happen because it should happen.

And just because it is THAT bad, nothing good can come out of it. Sometimes something has to be broken into thousands of pieces to have it formed into something better.

I needed to be reminded of that. And, sometimes, it hits you when you weren’t looking.

Check out the rest of the CAMIGUIN SERIES post:
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, 
but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”
– Douglas Adams

BUKIDNON | Monastery of the Transfiguration

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I have a few travels that I am able to save photos to share it to you guys. One of these is that of the Transfiguration Monastery in San Jose, Malaybalay City in Bukidnon. It is known for its pyramid chapel and happens to be a popular destination for both tourists and pilgrims. For people who want to pray and for those who are seeking peace of mind and calmness of soul and spirit can visit this place for a spiritual trip. 

It was opened on 1885 by Spanish Benedictine monks for missionary works but was aborted when the Philippine-American War broke out. In silence and a life of continued prayers, the monks also farm rice, corn, peanuts, soybeans, and coffee beans that they sell. “The monks likewise have a little store near the chapel where they sell various products from religious figurines, to rosaries, to cassette tapes, and even food. You can buy their Monk’s Blend coffee, Monk’s peanut butter (very smooth and creamy, not too sweet – masarap!), roasted peanuts, and Piniato. Piniato is a rectangular-shaped peanut brittle type of product and it is individually wrapped. It can come in plastic packaging or plastic canisters. I like it because it is chewy and not too sweet. I like it better than Baguio peanut brittle.” – A. Villoria

I was one of the lucky who was given the opportunity to represent Iligan Medical Center College at the Philippine Nursing Association Convention at Malaybalay, Bukidnon last November 2009. Together with other Student Body Organization Officers of College of Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Aide, we had a stop at the Monastery of Transfiguration on the city tour that was prepared for us.

I have but few photos that really centered the pyramid chapel and the monastery itself. A mass was going on at the time we got there, and taking photographs is prohibited to do so at that time. I had a blast of a trip to Bukidnon with the SBO Officers. It’s not every trip you get to travel with different set of characters and personalities but would still hit it off as best travelling companions at the time. 

I ha a few good memories from that trip!
Thanks SBo Family!

How To Get There:
1] Book flights to Cagayan de Oro City (daily flights from Manila, Cebu, and Davao; no direct flights to Bukidnon)
2] Take a taxi or rented car from the airport to Agora Bus Terminal (Travel Time:15 mins)
3] Take a bus bound for Davao via Malaybalay or Valencia, drop off at Malaybalay (Travel Time: 2 hours)
4] From city proper Malaybalay, take a motorcycle bound for Monastery of the Transfiguration. You can ask locals where these motorcycles are located. (No public transport to the monastery)

“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot

OZAMIZ CITY | Cotta Fort and Shrine

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The Cotta Fort at Ozamis City is, now, a historical landmark, it housed a Japanese garrison during World War II and was damaged during the April 1955 earthquake, it was restored and is now open for visitors and tourists. I did asked my cousin who resides there, what possible spots I could stop by before heading to Oroquieta City. This was one of his recommendation.
The Cotta Fort is a walled fortress presently used as tourist attraction being dated back from history. I never ventured out into this part of Ozamiz City before, as I would just pass by on my way to Oroquieta. The fort front was well maintained. I would have loved to go inside and and take a look but it was a Sunday, and the previous night activities had the place in disarray.
I only got to take the 38-step spiral staircase leading to a 10.6 m. high lighthouse shot from the outside of the fortress. One feature the Cotta Fort is known of. It is the only break from the forts wall , as it looks out to the bay.
The Cotta Shrine lies on the outside western wall of the Cotta Fort. It has enough grounds for children to run around, for families to gather and for the Catholics to have Eucharistic mass celebration. Places like this should start sprouting up everywhere. It encourages the family to spend time together and to bond over packed meals or picnics. My most treasure family memories was going out family bonding at large open areas.
In it’s outside wall of the fort is the carved Virgin of Immaculate Conception that people say has been growing. I looked for past images of it online for comparison but I couldn’t find any. I leave it to locals who says that it does, after all they know the place better than anyone else.
It has a Eucharistic altar and concrete pews for Eucharistic Celebration to be held at the outdoor chapel.
The Kadaugan sa Krus is a symbolic figure on this site. The Birhen sa Cotta is also known as Birhen sa Kadaugan Sa Krus or “Nuestra Señora y del Triunfo”. It stands on the entrance to the outdoor chapel of this shrine.
Fronting the chapel is the Pieta with carved words about it on a marble slab on the ground in Bisaya. This was my first life-sized Pieta statue I’ve encountered and seen. And it gives you utter silence and comfort at the same time. All elements to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ and the sorrow of the grieving Virgin Mary is in play there. An altar at an open space where giggles and laughter of playing children at the background is difficult to imagine and grasp — but here, it is what it is, a is everything normal.
And it is actually comforting to know that young as these children are they are exposed to the religious practices and that families spend time to go out for bonding time. Most of my childhood memories are those from trips like these. 
These are the outside wall of the Cotta Fort, as my mom and I said our prayers at the chapel she headed off to the bay font of the Fort. The fort sits on the shores of the Panguil Bay. 
The outside walls of the Cotta Fort broken by the lighthouse jutting out from the inside and the Cotta Shrine overlooks the Panguil bay. There are benches and large grounds for families and friends picnic on.
We could not see it yet until we got the ledge and saw families and children all over the dark sand and in the waters. Beaches are usually packed with families on a Sunday, I guess this was no exception.
We made our way out and saw campers packing up their tent. They must have stayed the weekend for Ozamiz’ festivities. I guess anyone could stay the night if you may, I would like to do that sort of travelling sometime. But I wouldn’t be trying that with my mom. We headed off to Oroquieta City, also known as Green City. For now I bid, Cotta Fort and Shrine, until my next visit.
+ Visit on the weekdays. That way you can also check out the inside walls of the Cotta Fort.
+ Stop by on a late afternoon. I came by early morning, and the Cotta Shrine was magnificent then, try the afternoon for a sunset effect.
+ If you must test try the waters — pack your swimsuits!^^
+ And bring you cameras ofcourse.
Just take the road on the right when you go through the Ozamiz Port gates and walk to the Fort Santiago.

You might like to read and check the rest of the OZAMIZ CITY SERIES:
Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.
~Ray Bradbury

EL SALVADOR | Tallest Divine Mercy

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The Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy at El Salvador, Misamis Oriental is a MUST place to visit as it being the tallest Divine Mercy in the world. Around 30 minutes drive from Cagayan De Oro City, Philippines, this shrine sits atop a hill with 9.8 hectares of landscape that allows one to meditate and solemnly pray. It has an additional parking space to safely park vehicles out of traffics way, a land area total of 11.8 hectares. To this date it is continually developed with buildings, chapels, and additional landscaping. 
My first visit was with my friends, Jeddy and Ed Michael. We traveled by bus and stopped at the foot of the Divine Mercy trail. By there, we rode a habal-habal (motorcycle). We were dropped off at the main stairwell of the Shrine. 
It was a pretty long way up the stairs. At the bottom were white crosses that weaves around the lawn as stations for the Via Crucis or Way of the Cross. As we made our way up the stairs, we stopped by the midsection where the Virgin Mary stands on her garden. Making your way up the stairs is a challenge, and not for the faint-hearted or the aged. You can enter through the back portion of the shrine where the vehicles are parked. The walk around it is long but has even walkway for those who find it hard going through the stairwell.
We were chatting our way up when we got the last 3-4steps and saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus standing massively on a hilltop with it’s beautifully orchestrated blooms and greens in it’s gardens. It was on Sept. 8, 2009 that more than 20,000 pilgrims journeyed to Divine Mercy Hills at northern Mindanao for the dedication and blessing of a 50-foot Divine Mercy statue and to celebrate the Blessed Mother’s birthday. I could only imagine how it was with thousands of pilgrims on it’s lawn looking up to it with the sky as it’s backdrop.
The statue of Divine Mercy in itself is breathing taking as it massively stands at the highest point of the hill set to be captured with the sky as its natural back draft. On a hill 500 feet above sea level, the shrine looks out to Macalajar Bay and a view of the embattled villages in the mountains of Lanao. The location is not deliberate, the priests, who take care of the shrine, say that God chose the place to be a center for dialogue and healing for the people of Mindanao.
+ Wear appropriate clothing. No shorts, sleeveless shirts/blouses, tight fitting bottoms or leggings allowed. I made a mistake on my second visit by wearing leggings, I was made to wear a gartered skirt in blue or red. thus, the minimum camera exposure I had then.
+ Bring bottled water for drinking and an umbrella. It gets hot around midday.
+ Light a candle at the back portion of the shrine for prayers of request or thanksgiving.
+ Bring a water canister. There are pipes and faucets of flowing water said to be blessed. If you must, bring some for home.
1. Travel to Cagayan de Oro City
*** Daily flights
2. Travel by bus liners (Rural transit, Super Five, etc)
***Fare Rate: 30-60Php
3. Ask the driver to drop you off El Salvador Divine Mercy Shrine
4. Take a Habal-Habal or motorcycle ride
***Ask the driver to pick you up at a specific time, you can ask for their mobile numbers to be sure
*** Fare Rate 25Php
People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, 
the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes

ILIGAN CITY | A Spiritual Trip at Benedectine Monastery of St. Anne

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Not many knows of a Benedictine Monastery of Saint Anne in a very secluded part of Sta. Felomina, Iligan City. I have been lucky to have visited this spiritual place twice early this year. Their main house is the first of the many infrastructures that is planned to be built on this large untouched and far-from-the-busy-city-streets land.
The Benedictine Monastery of Saint Anne has a new monastery overlooking Iligan City at one side and the Iligan Bay on the other. Just beyond the road bend on the way to the Ma. Cristina Gardens, Sta. Felomina, is a not so used road that brings you to this quiet place of the nuns.
On the main house is a chapel where the nuns say their prayers and where masses are also held. Everyone is welcome to visit and hear the word of God through the nuns who are willing to share it to you. In our little time of visit, the mother superior of the house has shared time and wisdom to us. The monastery also has a shelf full of handmade rosaries and and little momentos to get you by — for yourself or a gift to someone.
My first visit was with John Rulith, April, Kino, M’am Evelyn, and Ate Jeddy and Kuya Jason who brought us there. We waited on the main house steps for nearly two hours since we got there after lunch, which was the siesta and afternoon prayer time for the nuns.
My second visit was still with Ate Jeddy, Kuya Jason, and M’am Evelyn, together with Ate Aileen, Coco, Baby Alana, and Iven. The sisters were glad to see us back and even remembered our names.
The landscape is full of flowers and vegetation, as the nuns tend to the gardens for aesthetic and consumption purposes. If you have time, or in need for a spiritual guidance and enlightenment, visit this quite and far-from-civilization monastery — one can enjoy the scenery, reflect on life, and bask on wisdom from the nuns.
+ Study the map (HERE) of the place! Not many houses are found there for you to ask directions, it’s better to be equipped than sorry.
+ Drive to this place. Rent a car (Iligan City Yellow Pages) or have someone take you there. There aren’t any public utility vehicles to take you near or within walking distance to it.
+ Bring something for the nuns. It’s a hostess job to keep her guest happy — but these aren’t ordinary hostesses. Bring some food so that they don’t have to bother prepping something for you.
+ Come at around 9-10AM, right after lunch, or 3-5PM. that way they may have finished with the morning prayers, seista and afternoon prayers.
+ Check out the landscaping. It is far from finished yet. But the nuns have been busy tending the landscape with flowers and vegetation.
+ Observe proper decorum, this is a place of divinity and worship. We appropriate clothing and fight the urge to laugh or talk too loud.

How to Get There: 
A. How to get to Iligan City: Read: HERE
B. From City Proper to Sta. Felomina:
1. Take a Public Jeepney (Fare= 7.50Php)
2. Ask the driver to drop you off at Ma. Cristina Gardens/ Pryce Gardens
3. At the stop, look for Habal-Habal, ask to be taken at Benedectine Monastery or just tell them the monastery/house of the St. Anne nuns. Study the map first that way you can tell the the directions.
Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca