Friday, February 12, 2016

Journey into your soul at Monasterio de Tarlac

In my last post, I shared about our three-day family outing to Dasol, Pangasinan just before the end of 2015. Now, I'd like to share about our visit to Monasterio de Tarlac, which is actually Part 2 of my Dasol post as we proceeded here from Pangasinan.
We left Dasol at 6:30 a.m. on a Thursday, the last day of last year. My sister wanted to be in Monasterio by 9:30 to be able to attend the mass. Passing by Camiling, Tarlac, we had breakfast first at Jollibee, then continued with our travel. Monasterio de Tarlac, by the way, is...well, a monastery nestled on top of Mt. Resureccion in the town of San Jose, which is less than an hour
away from Tarlac City. People visit this place foremostly for the huge statue of Jesus Christ and the relic of the Lord's cross.
The road leading to Monasterio was long, zigzaggy and very scenic. Monasterio, as I have mentioned, is situated on a mountaintop so as we ascended, we were able to appreciate the beauty of the hills that thankfully were green as they were thick with vegetation. Finally, we were there after what seemed to me was a long time. I think we arrived at past 10,  missing the mass. 
The first thing that caught the kids' attention was the ice cream vendor and rushed to buy. I followed. Ha-ha! Who could resist to have ice cream on a hot, sunny day? The sweet, cold treat provided relief both from the heat and quite long a travel - longer than we expected. We then explored the place, happily clicking away with our cameras. While this place is picturesque, it's also very serene -  perfect for praying and worshiping the Lord. We learned then that the monastery allows public viewing of the relic of the Holy Cross only twice in a year, the first being in mid-January. My sister decided that we would go back on the 16th.

Our group dwarfed by the gigantic statue of Jesus Christ
View from the statue
The chapel where the relic of the Holy Cross is being kept
In and around the monastry

And we were indeed back in Monasterio de Tarlac last January 16 for the public exposition of the relic of the cross of the Lord Jesus. A mass was held, which we were early enough to attend. Though I'm no longer a Catholic, I sat in for most parts of the mass, after which the viewing of the relic was allowed. The crowd was big and formed a long but orderly line for the viewing. We were asked to enter the chapel where the relic is kept, in threes. Viewers weren't allowed to linger inside. I felt the time allowed per batch was only a minute. I'm not really sure about it but it felt like it when our turn came. I felt a tap on my shoulder to remind that our time was over, but this was before my eyes could figure out which one was the piece of the cross. Ugh! I hope to have the chance to be back a second time to have a clear view.
 If you'd like to see the relic of Jesus' cross, too, you could do so in September this year. Make your trip a spiritual journey as you meditate on the Lord's sacrifice on the cross on a beautiful mountaintop, as well as a gastronomic adventure. Why, nearby Tarlac City has a good number of exciting restaurants and pasalubong shops. By the way, there's an eatery and souvenir store inside Monasterio de Tarlac where you could buy knick knacks with the name of this spiritual place, as well as delicious chicharon and fish crackers and other munchees. If you love pinipig, there's plenty of it inside the Monasterio sold by vendors who offer 
free taste even if you're not buying.
Fill your soul and tummy in Tarlac, folks! 

People viewing the relic of the Holy Cross
Vendor selling green pinipig

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