One side-trip I had to Punta Fuego was the Chapel on the Hill in Don Bosco, Batulao, Batangas [also known as the Mary Help of Christians Center of Spirituality]. It is situated on ‘top of hill’ immediately beside the entrance of Don Bosco. You can see it from the road going to Caleruega, about a kilometer from the entrance of Evercrest Hotel & Resort.
To get there, take the national highway from Tagaytay City going to Nasugbu, Batangas. Turn left at the entrance of the Evercrest Hotel and Resort, after Petron Station. The Chapel on the Hill is about a kilometer to your left from the Evercrest entrance. Going further down the road would be Caleruega. [See Location map]
The chapel has a circular floor plan. Calming, not only because of its location but also because of what you see around. With glass walls, you get a 360-view of the surroundings. Equally interesting is its “Labyrinth”. It seeks to help meditate and facilitate communion with God and one’s inner self, aside from the fact that it’s gradually becoming a prime wedding destination south of Manila.
Below is a shot of the chapel’s interior. Notice the circular pattern on the floor – that’s the ‘Labyrinth.’
To explain better the significance of the floor pattern, I am quoting hereunder what is written at the entrance of the chapel and a faithful transcription thereof:
THE LABYRINTH – Journey to Inner Peace
What is it?The labyrinth is a sacred circle with a single path that leads to its center. Walking the path lends itself to prayer and meditation. This kinesthetic style of prayer is especially valuable during those times when words cannot express the depths of heights of our experience.
The labyrinth has a long history in the Christian tradition. During the Middle Ages, it was customary for the faithful to vow to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Since travel at that time was both dangerous and expensive, seven cathedrals throughout Europe were designated as alternative sites where pilgrims would journey to fulfill their vows through walking the labyr. (sic)
How to Use It: The Four Movements
1. On the Threshold – remove your shoes as an act of humility letting go and connect yourself to the earth. A truly spiritual person is very grounded. You may even bend to touch the ground to connect with the energies of the earth and the labyrinth. Bless yourself with holy water as an absolution and purification readying yourself to receive God’s presence. X x x
2. Journeying In – Try not to suppress the feelings that arise as you walk; instead embrace them. The twist and turns help you to shed layers of attachments, worry, anxiety, biases, distractions that prevents opening up to God’s will. These will enable the mind to stop chattering. The walk sharpens perception and readies the soul. Enjoying the twist and turn can help us to accept the changes in our lives. What seems like retrogression or being lost is actually a moving on toward the center goal. In this way, the journey is reassuring, reminding us that life is full of changes which we should not fear but welcome.
3.The Resting Place – In this open space you may rest sit, breathe and be still. Here receive a blessing through your crown or your feet. It may be the gift of a word, a feeling or just stillness. Open your mind to the experience. This is where something new can take root and blossom, where you can let light into the center of your heart. Notice what you may be too rushed to see; ask a question you are normally afraid to ask; it may be the place to express a hidden beauty, joy or grief. Emptied with distractions, you now have the opportunity to be filled.
4. Journeying out – When you feel ready to leave the center, give thanks to whatever you have found or received and begin your journey out. You may feel faster, lighter and funnier than you did on the way in. When you reach the exit pause, give thanks and rest. You may feel the need t express your journey in words, or with images on paper or want to express your experience with another pilgrim.
Prayerful Ways to Approach your Labyrinth Walk:
Openness – “God, what do you want me to know?” “What do you want to show me?”
Intercessory Prayer – “God, I want to communicate with you about this person, situation, need…”
In honor of a significant date or transition – “Thank you, God, that I have the opportunity”
Use a prayer Phrase – Repeat one of God’s names that that has a special meaning to you (i.e. “Jesus, Jesus…”) or a spiritual word that has significance to you (i.e. “love, love, love…”)
x x x…”God, help me to pay attention to what is going on inside and outside of me.”
As a new approach to an old problem – “God, I need to talk with you and gain nes insight or commitment about this situation…
Walking with a question that is happening to you – Identify a central question in your mind and heart. “God, I am wondering what I need to do next in my life…what input you have?” Or repeat as you walk: “What is my next step?” Or if you are unsure of the quation use, “What do I seek?”
The labyrinth invites us to consider how intricately we are fashioned – how God continues to knit us, continues to hold us in a loving gaze, continues to be intricately involved in our ongoing fashioning. The labyrinth is a path to connect us to the still small voice, the sacred within ourselves.
Below is a sketch of the ‘labyrinth’ for better appreciation:
I have not personally tried the ‘labyrinth walk’ but transcribing the text alone made me feel some inner peace and serenity. I was wondering if the feeling is better if you personally experience it.
Don Bosco Batulao is a ‘sanctuary’ for “retreats, recollections and other spiritual experiences with priests as facilitators, confessors, counselors and spiritual directors.” It has the needed amenities and facilities to carry out its purpose such as rooms, dormitories, conference halls meditation camp, etc.
“The Chapel on the Hill” is one of the amenities of Don Bosco Batulao. It was built “in memory of Aurelio and Antonia Reyes by their daughter Rosario Reyes-Bartolome on the 27 day of October 2004.”
Should you be interested to know more about Chapel on the Hill and Don Bosco Batulao, here are their contact informations: Telefax Manila: (02) 743-5614. Mailing Address: Don Bosco Batulao,P.O. Box 074, Tagaytay City, 4120.
Reading through the comments lately, I have decided to feature some to serve as testimonials to the Chapel and its Labyrinth:
From Architect Gilbert Malong:
I am very glad that i was part of the design team that created this church. This was also my first project as a practitioner of architecture. did you know also that one set of marble in the altar backwalls is detachable? this is a request from the owner that when their time comes, their ashes shall be place there.
Notice Christ in the crucifix? Check out his right wound in the stomach, when the statue arrived during the construction, we noticed that there is a natural wood stain in the wood that is located in the wound that seems like a blood that flowed from the wound, even the artist that sculpted it was amazed.
Just sharing you my amazement on this church during its construction. Godbless to all.
From Beholder: I once walked on the “Labyrinth” years ago. It was about midnight that time, and the place was foggy. What I felt was complete serenity, and what I beheld was paradise. Somehow, the combination of heightened emotions and tranquility was indomitable. To be able to bask into that sort of freedom and to feel the spirit of the earth were splendidly relaxing.
And that was merely a small part of the experience.
To all the people who have experienced walking on the “Labyrinth” and to those who are planning to visit the place, I wish you peace.
From Irene Hernandez: Been there twice…. first time with friends…..second time with family…..each one a totally different experience…..i cannot describe what i felt….. would definitely make time to go back…….
From Sircsataram: I was there last Dec. 2007 and i had an experience that i will never 4get. It was the first time that i felt much closer to God. The cottage over the side of the mountains is where i always stay in the afternoon. I wish that i can go back there. my mom from mandaluyong will be going there this coming Dec. 12,13 and 14 2008. God Bless Everybody.
From Ans: “remain in my love and your joy will be complete” …a text message that i received early morning of july23, three years ago that made my heart skipped a beat. Its from someone who unexpectedly traveled far just to see me in Don Bosco Chapel on the Hill. It was a memorable experience seeing someone on that very beautiful place. All the memories will be cherished as long as my heart is beating. Iloveyou Allan…
From Arlene: i went to this church last aug.2009, at first i dont even know about the labyrinth, all i know is its a nice church for wedding. my friend invited me to nasugbu and so i ask him to go there, when i started taking my steps near the front door of the church i cant explain the feeling, i feel so near to god, i feel so blessed,i cant explain the happiness of being there. I love going back to this place. i want to make my wedding vow to this chuch.
From Carmelita C. Ballesteros:
Thanks very much for this marvelous blog about the Chapel on the Hill and the Labyrinth.
I have experienced walking the ‘sacred path.’ I wrote an article about it and I’d like to share it with you in return for sharing this blog article with everyone . Please email me if you care to read it.
From Erwin Guevarra: Don bosco gave me something that i would treasure forever…nag aral ako sa don bosco because of divine intervention…i’ve been there twice and both are good experiences…yung labyrinth, sobrang gandang experience.
salamat po sa mga salesians!
Going further down the road is Caleruega. See Caleruega here.