June 9, 2011. It’s been twenty five years since my parents first exchanged their marriage vows and because this day is so special, we can’t just let it pass without a celebration.
My siblings and I originally planned to take our parents for their anniversary either to Bellarocca or Thunderbird Resort. It was supposed to be a surprise trip, all expenses paid by us (kids). Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, we had to adjust. Instead, the simple celebration happened in Tagaytay. We left Manila around 11 am and had our lunch at Pancake House at a gas station along SLEX before heading to Tagaytay. We got there at 2pm, just in time for our hotel check in. We had reserved a casita at Hotel Dominique located along Aguinaldo Highway in Tagaytay City. Okay, this location means a little or no views at all of Taal or the city, but the place was so nice and quiet that rest and comfort were more important than anything else. Besides, I believe it was one of the inexpensive hotels in Tagaytay.
After a few minutes of rest, we decided to go out and spend a few hours walking around Picnic Grove, buying pasalubong and enjoying the view. I said before that I may never want to try the zipline in Tagaytay after my experience in PUGAD. But guess what, I did try it (haha!). I was side by side with my sister on that zip. It was, well, fun. Our parents did not want to try ziplining but we were able to make them ride the cable car. Nice.
Following that short walk and zipline experience, we hurried back to the hotel to dress more formal for our dinner at Sonya’s Garden. It was our first time there and while we did not know what to expect, I was confident that we’ll love the food. We left the hotel at 6pm and arrived at Sonya’s Garden at 7pm. The road near Sonya’s was being fixed so it took us an hour to get there. It was about 30 minutes drive from Tagaytay rotunda. Since it was our first time, I had to make a few calls to ask for directions. Before our trip, I knew where it is located, but traveling at night and looking for signs were kind of difficult.
Sonya’s Garden is about two kilometers from the highway. If you’re heading to Batangas, it’s on your right. There at Sonya’s, they accept guests until 7pm only. I’m glad we arrived just in time.
While I already knew that they mainly serve salads, vegetables, fruit juices, organic and other healthy foods, I was certain that we can order roasted chicken. Unluckily, at the reception area, we were informed that there will be no rice and meat in the menu. Special order of roasted chicken must be pre-ordered at least two hours before we arrive. While surprised, I tried to convince them that we would have a great dining experience.
Green leafy vegetables are not my kind of food so having a first taste of the salad gave me a weird feeling. I liked it, though. I copied what my brother put in his salad and I actually liked the taste. The pasta that was served has two kinds of sauces. I chose the sundried tomato and topped it with salmon belly. If I remembered it right, drinks were refillable. We had tea and dalandan juice. Bread was also served the whole time. For dessert we had sweet potato, banana rolls (turon) and chocolate cake. Before we knew it, we were so full. For their complete menu, click here.
Because we were so busy eating and mix ‘n matching our food, we totally forgot to take pictures of the food. But we can’t leave without having our picture taken at this wonderful place.
After our sumptuous dining experience, we headed back to the hotel. It was around 10pm already so we decided to go to bed early to have enough rest for the “big” day.
On our second day, the plan was to wake up early to attend the morning mass at Chapel on the Hill in Don Bosco, Batulao, Batangas. Supposedly, the scheduled “blessing” for my parents’ wedding anniversary was the day before, but we were not able to make it on time. The Saturday mass was at 7am. For us to get to Batangas on time, we should have left Manila as early as 4am. Mama usually got dizzy whenever she had to wake up so early with only a few hours of sleep. So the plan didn’t actually happen. Instead, we attended the mass at 9am, Sunday.
Chapel on the Hill is run by Don Bosco priests and is about 30 minutes drive from Tagaytay. To get there, take the road going to Nasugbu, Batangas. Turn left at the Evercrest Hotel and Resort. Go straight ahead and you will find the chapel on your left. You may also ask assistance from the guards at the gate.
There we met Fr. Jess Tayag. He was the priest who was supposed to celebrate mass with us had we arrived that Saturday morning. After saying our apologies, he was so gracious to even walk us to our seats and mention our thanksgiving during the mass.
At the end of the final blessing, our family was called in front to have a short impromptu wedding ceremony. There were no exchanges of vows, any traditional candle lighting and the cord and veil. A passage from the bible was read by Fr. Tayag and my parents’ wedding rings were once again blessed. The parishioners began shouting and clapping for the newlyweds and so the ceremony was then sealed by a kiss.
A dad volunteered to take our picture. Everyone in that chapel was so happy for the family. That was definitely one of the most memorable moments in our life. Our photo was taken by someone we don’t know. The ceremony was witnessed by people whose faces I could not even recall. My parents were wed by a priest we just met. We were surrounded by strangers and yet the feeling of happiness was overflowing.
With God and us as their witnesses, it was truly twenty five years bound by love and trust.