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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Places to Visit in Quezon, Laguna and Batangas for a day

From Bicol, a Southern Tagalog trip is feasible if you leave by night and arriving early to your first destination. Here's the catch though, take a bath at night because the moment you wake up, your off to your first tourist destination. 

Here are at least four destinations on the map (A to D) that you can reach in a day that I was able to do, shopping included, in Marikina's rival when it comes to affordable but quality fashion. Hope this itinerary works for you too.

We left Naga at 10PM and arrived in Lucena (Junction) going to Tayabas as early as 4am for breakfast. From there, we traveled to Lucban for Kamay ni Hesus as our first destination and dozed off a little and waited for 7AM for the gates to open (See photo below for grotto and mass schedule). I already wrote a blog about Tayabas, Quezon entitled 3 Things You Can Do in an Hour in Tayabas, Quezon. You can also visit Taal, Batangas for a day should you wish to continue this itinerary the following day. CLICK HERE for a possible itinerary for a day in Taal, Batangas.

1. Kamay ni Hesus Shrine. Lucban being known for Pahiyas Festival, is also now a sought-after pilgrimage destination known for its miraculous healing masses. The hill that leads to the Risen Christ statue on top paves the way for Catholics to go through the Stations of the Cross from the base. Thousands of Catholics flock here during the Holy Week and yes I have seen how big the crowd can be during those days. Been here twice, photos below was on lean months but flow of tourists / pilgrims is indeed steady.




The gate of the shrine.

A replica of Noa's Ark. There's a nice clean pond nearby the ark.

The view when you reach the top of the grotto.

Buy Lucban Longanisa, priced per dozen, plus many other local delicacies and souvenir items you can find outside the gates of the shrine. 
After Lucban Quezon, it's now a scenic, mountain side trip going to Laguna. You can actually add a quick stopover in another church in Majayjay which is equally beautiful with that of the next destination.

2. Red-Bricked Liliw Church in Laguna or St. John the Baptist Church is definitely one of my favorites. The redness of the bricks make it look elegant and rustic at the same time. It's a bit dark inside the church but the light coming from the stained glass windows will actually make it feel more peaceful. Because the church is made of bricks it actually feels a little cold inside. 





Noticed two other prayer rooms on both sides of the church. 



There's a nice museum depicting the history of the church and these volunteers will be there to assist and guide you. There's a very minimal fee. Taking pictures inside the museum is prohibited. 
Entrance to the museum

Buy shoes, sandals, bags in Liliw. Just right outside the street of Liliw Church is a long stretch of shoe stores for men, women and children. I could not even count all of them left and right. Sandals starts as low as P100. Sometimes you'll even see items which you can see in malls but unbranded just yet and way too far from the mall price. So it's a must to hoard este buy shoes when visiting Liliw. For those considering to venture into the business of reselling, you can consider Liliw and just choose among the stores here who can be your supplier. 



3. Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery - We then traveled to Nagcarlan, Laguna to visit this aesthetically beautiful final resting place. The burial site is actually located beneath a church. In history, it was built for funeral masses in 1845 by Franciscans where it paved way for the underground graveyard which is said to be 15 feet below the church. 





There was no "no photography" sign in the crypt, that's why I was able to take photos. But then my colleague told me that it's not allowed according to the caretaker. But if you will, always remember that always practice the NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY when taking pictures of old structures.

First thing that came to my mind is the movie series "Tales from the Crypt-keeper" hahaha
It's also cold inside the crypt, just don't forget to give due respect to the place. 

There's also a museum at the left side of the gate with an audio visual presentation about the history of the underground cemetery. The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

4. National Shrine of Padre Pio, Sto. Tomas Batangas - The shrine under the Archdiocese of Lipa is around 84 kilometers or an hour and half drive from Metro Manila. From Bicol, upon reaching Sto. Tomas, turn left near the over pass where there's also a signage to guide  you and you can always use Waze or Google Maps. From the main highway it's about only about a kilometer or two. Same as Kamay ni Jesus in Lucban, the Padre Pio Shrine is also flocked by Pilgrims especially during the Holy Week season.

 There are two main domes where masses are held, this one is near Mary, of Mother of Mercy Belfry and the other one on the side near the parking lot. 
 The other chapel, Divine Mercy Sanctuary for Pilgrims



 Many pilgrims get holy water from this sanctuary. 

So there, we were able to visit these places all in one day. We headed to Lipa City at stayed at Zillion Builders Pavilion and stayed for the night after the long day. Zillion Builders offers a practical alternative to staying in a hotel with basic accommodations including a clean, comfortable place to rest with it's ideal location just right beside SM City Lipa. A single room can accommodate 4 people with two double decks. There are other types of rooms available, you may just visit their website for more details. 

There are many other places in Quezon, Laguna and Batangas that you can surely visit but I can say that this itinerary is very feasible. 

Related links:

3 Things You Can Do in an Hour in Tayabas, Quezon
Places Visit in the Heritage Town of Taal, Batangas