Sierra Madre Country Club, Tanay, Rizal

"This is where I want to go this Saturday" was the subject of the email I sent my husband bearing the links of blog posts about Sierra Madre. We just celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary last January 15. Because of budget constraints due to the recent medical expenses of my father, we opted to go somewhere near and inexpensive rather than our pre-planned Subic getaway.

We left my sister's house at around 7:30 in the morning. We had to pick up my brother and brother-in-law. They were the only ones who were free to celebrate with us during that day. It took us around 45 minutes driving along the long stretch Marcos Highway from Cainta to Tanay. A few kilometers before reaching Sierra Madre, we stopped by Garden Cottages to have a few snapshots taken. I found it hard to take a picture of Rap standing on a ledge because the wind was blowing so hard. He even tripped after this shot!

The hills that welcomed us a few kilometers away from the place.

We reached the place at around 8:30. I paid Php 150 for the four of us, Rap's fee was free. If I have only paid Php 50 for each of us (which was the ongoing rate for sightseeing), we could not have gone farther to reach the swimming pools and the Santo Niño falls.

When Teacher Julie advised me that the climate in the place that day could be chilly, I did not take it seriously. I just thought that it would be as cold as Tagaytay. Rap and I even wore Havaianas that day which I very much regret because I wasn't able to doze off after our lunch because of the cold. The breeze was really icy cold, as in, no exaggeration! To think that the sun was already up and shining at 9 in the morning!

It felt like we were in Baguio. Everything around us looked so Baguio. From the pine trees to the lush green grass and the vibrantly colored flowers that made me start taking snapshots right away.

The flowers in the place. I don't know what the others are called but I'm sure the first one is a gumamela.

The first spot we visited was the hanging bridge that connected the Gazebo to the Greek Garden.

There's a mini-bridge by the gazebo, too!

My brother-in-law, Jene (in front), and my brother, Lloyd, getting goofy on the bridge.

The view deck at the end of the Greek Garden.

We went down the steps beside the suites towards the mini-golf course. The boys were immediately attracted to the net that was attached in the middle of two trees. It's the kind of net used in an obstacle course. They lingered there for a while while I kept myself busy reading a book.

The building behind me houses the suite accommodations.

From the net, we walked on towards the bigger golf course. There were horses grazing in the field.

This shot was taken by my brother. We did the "Meteor Garden" pose.

The horse and his boy.

We saw this along the road going down to the swimming pools. My brother suddenly thought of telling his supervisor to have their team building session there.

Here's the Spring Valley Natural Pool. The water in the pool apparently comes from the natural spring water of the mountains of Sierra Madre. I saw a small hole in the bottom of the pool where bubbles were coming out. Supposedly, that is where the water is coming from. The water was super cold and we did not have plans to swim that day although our fee already covered for the swimming pool use.

From the swimming pools, we followed the trail that led us to the Sto. Niño Chapel. The Stations of The Cross, leading to the Prayer Mountain, starts here.

The Lagoon was our next stop after trekking the Jungle Trail from the chapel. There's a rope bridge hanging atop the lagoon. It reminded me of the bivouac training I had for my CAT officership program in high school. The lagoon's water falls into a small pond where, on top of two big boulders, sit the images of Mama Mary and the Sto. Niño. We prayed a silent prayer for a while since it was also the feast day of the Sto. Niño.

We had to go down around twenty feet down some concrete steps to be able to see Sto. Niño Falls. The climate became colder going down because of the thick canopy of trees. The trip going down was well worth it. We were not able to resist dipping our feet in the clear natural spring water.

Those are the view decks that we were not able to reach because of sheer exhaustion. Maybe we'll try next time we come back.

We were back to the picnic tables a quarter before twelve noon. We ate the Chicken Adobo and Green Mango Salad I prepared for lunch. After our meal, we cleared the table and brought out the pillows from the car so we could relax. I tried to take a nap but my feet were too cold and it bothered me so much. By 2 in the afternoon, Rap was already wearing 3 shirts and a jacket. I wished I could have brought a bottle of red wine but the boys, except Rap, enjoyed the ice-cold beer that we brought.

We were on our way to Manila by 3:30 and we reached Cainta less than an hour after. Seems that we're going to come back in time for my sister's birthday in March. This cool hideaway is really a must during the summer season especially that it's just less than an hour from our place. We will probably be renting a room so we can enjoy the place overnight. The price range of the accommodations is from Php 1,200 to 5,000.

For those interested in visiting the place, The Sierra Madre Country Club is in Km 58 Marcos Highway, Mayagay, Tanay, Rizal. According to their flyer, it's approximately 42 kms from Katipunan and Marcos Highway crossings. Contact numbers are 913-2001, 913-3759, and 0919-8674985.

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A Church In The Sky: Christ the King Parish

There's a quiet little church on top of a hill in Muzon, Taytay, Rizal that we discovered during our Visita Iglesia last year. The church of Christ The King Parish was aptly called "Church in the Sky" because of its location. We did not quite enjoy the place the last time we got there because it was already nighttime and we only stayed a few minutes to pray one station of the cross. We swore to come back. After ten months, my husband was finally able to muster enough courage to drive the steep road going to the church. You need to give me ten years more before I can drive all the way up there, hahaha! It was not that steep, though, according to my husband. It was probably hard for us driving up the road the first time because it was dark and still unfamiliar.

The view of Laguna Lake and the community surrounding it.

We finally got to appreciate the interior of the church. The overall feel of the place is royal and majestic probably because their patron is Christ the King. The wooden fixtures in the altar are lined up in gold paint. Even the pews have golden emblems carved on its side. The Feast of the Epiphany has already passed but the Belen (Nativity scene) in the church is still up.

Translation: Christ Conquers, Christ Reigns, Christ Rules!
(Source )

We enjoyed the cool mountain breeze outside the church. There's a tree near the edge of the cliff where big flat rocks were set up. We sat there for a while and just let the calm and serenity of the place overtake us. It sure recharged me physically and spiritually.

The Church in The Sky can be found in Barangay Muzon, Taytay, Rizal. To reach the place, just take the Ortigas Ave Ext. Road going to Taytay and Angono. Once you see the Muzon Satellite Market on the other side of the road, turn left towards the small road that will take you up to the church. Sunday masses are held at 6:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., and 5:30 p.m.

Driving home.

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