Friday, April 15, 2011


Every year, Angels Institute of Learning and Angeli Dei Schools give a retreat activity to its teachers. The past two years of my stay in this school, our annual retreat was usually been held in La Verna House of Prayer of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Brgy. Iruhin, Tagaytay City. This year was a change of venue which was in Caleruega of the Order of Preachers (OP) located in Brgy. Kaylaway, Batulao, Nasugbo, Batangas facilitated by Father Jeffrey Balde, O.P. Caleruega (Philippines) architectural and landscape design was inspired and adapted from Caleruega, Spain of the order of Saint Dominic which is a house of prayer and renewal. It is open for activities like retreats, recollections, prayer and renewal workshops, study, research, youth camps, marriage and family encounter celebrations, skills training, leadership seminars, art, music and liturgy workshops and environment and agriculture-related activities.

This retreat dated November 4 and 5, 2010, was attended by 24 teaching staff, one office staff, three auxiliary staff and two administration heads in the person of the school principal, Leticia V. Uy and her assistant principal, Alfredo D. Celada, Jr. The teaching staff attendees were as follows: Leo Abriol, Tess Aficial, Celeste Calidades, Mary Joy Dansalan Cruz, Janna Del Fonso, Marivic Digal, Merylyn Ellorango, Joannes Paulus Esquinas, Mylene Garcia, Ella Krizia, Leah Llusala, Analou Loya, Ranjie Menorca, Jean Olandes, Joffrey Ortanez, Shalimar Padilla, Marlyn Palce, Brigitte Pereyra, Shiela Pineda, Rina Sanchez, Marifel Sarmiento, Joy Timbol, Emlou Vargas and yours truly. The lone office staff is Ana Luisa Ricabo and we have our auxiliary staff, namely: Rosillo Bande Artegas (driver), Emil Francisco (driver) and Juanito Caronan (assisting staff).

I was billeted in Cottage No. 23 with my colleague, Ranjie Menorca. Cottages 22 – 25, just opposite the Chapel of Transfiguration, are twin occupancy cottages with toilet and bathroom and the rest of my companions were housed in the Three-in-One or Four-in-One Accommodation units. The retreat sessions were held in the Veritas Hall except for the Holy Mass which was held in the Transfiguration Chapel which is a 150-seat capacity chapel. We normally dine in the Refectory Hall which is a 180-seat dining hall. Other facilities which can be availed are as follows: Gazekubo – a 70-seat capacity conference venue for small groups/also for wedding reception; Catalina Hall – a 90 – bed (double deck) dormitory for women (with 14 –bathroom and 6 toilets); Tomasino Hall – an 80-bed (double deck) dormitory for men (with 6 unit common toilet and bathroom); Pahingalayan and Fra Angelico hermitage cottages complete with basic home facilities; Tuktok Hall – a 30-seat capacity conference venue for small groups and the Plaza de Aza – a roof deck which can be used as a venue for reception and other big group gatherings.

Other amenities worth visiting are: Kampo Arriba – a campsite perfect for outdoor activities; Koi Pond; Amphitheater; hanging bridge; Tent Chapel of Transfiguration on top of a hill; Garden Café; Worm Farm and Lettuce Greenhouse. Individual retreats at Pahingalayan and Fra Angelico hermitage houses are also welcome in Caleruega. The Kampo Arriba of Caleruega is also open for outdoor activities and exercises for a fee of P250 per head/overnight but on a “bring your own tent and food” basis.

I believe that this activity can do something for my spiritual renewal as I am being reminded that I have to renew my ties with God. This gives a spiritual cleansing for the sins which are being fossilized due to its accumulation. I really agree that an annual retreat is a must so that I can provide food for my soul. Life in the city is at its most of being in a sinful state. All these conveniences which I crave for and enjoy in my day to day basis are packages which Satan is providing enticing me that the modern way of living is better than the crude ones where our forefathers had.

Indeed, my two-day stay in Caleruega, which is a house of prayer was not only meant for bonding and establishing camaraderie with my colleagues and staff as well as with the administration officials of our school but it highlighted the way I commune with nature --- that when I am closer to nature, I am closer to God. This is the very reason why I give priority to my mountaineering activities for I can communicate to God through his beautiful creation.

By the way, the first time I visited this place was on August 29, 1998. The second time was on March 12, 2000 for the church wedding of my all-time favorite friend, Noemi Ordiales Amador to Policarpo Gregorio Osmundo “Ding” Nuqui Capunitan. The third time was on April 10, 2010 with my PNU MA SPED batchmates. This time, it is not just a visit but rather an overnight stay where I was assured that in Caleruega, nature is at its best.

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