A thirty-foot statue of the Risen Christ towered over the rolling landscape of the Province of Tarlac. We were at the hillside retreat of Monasterio de Tarlac for Tara Quin Tarlac, a familiarization tour spearheaded by Microtel Luisita to open the floodgates of tourism in the region.
A monk from the Servants of the Risen Christ Monastic Community approached us, welcoming us to the Mountain of Resurrection where the monastery is built on. We asked a few questions and he gamely answered, explaining the origins of their order and the monasterio itself.
The Monasterio de Tarlac is not as old as the monasteries most people have in mind. In fact, its construction concluded only in the year 2000. Very, very recent, considering most monasteries are centuries old; well, at least those we see in Hollywood movies, them medieval ones complete with hooded monks and cobwebby halls.
Monasterio de Tarlac’s claim to fame, besides the colossal statue of the Risen Christ, is the Relic of the True Cross which is enshrined inside the monastery chapel.
Remember Santa Cruzan? The story goes that when St. Helena dug under Calvary Hill in Jerusalem, he found three crosses. Unsure which one of the three was Jesus’, she asked a dying woman to touch all the crosses. The one that revived the woman was declared to be the True Cross.
Through the years, that cross was passed through many hands until it was split up into smaller and smaller parts. In 2007, a splinter of that said cross was brought from Germany to the Philippines. It now resides at the white Baroque chapel of Monasterio de Tarlac.
The relic, which is purported to be miraculous, is housed in an ornate golden box under the church altar. The faithful are allowed to touch only the enclosed box after every mass. However, open veneration of the cross also occurs twice every year; during the 19th of January to commemorate its enshrinement and the 14th of September to celebrate the Servants of the Risen Christ anniversary.
Besides that heavy religious stuff, the Monasterio de Tarlac is beautiful in itself. Elevated 300 meters above sea level, the air here is fresh and calming. Trees abound and the silence is a soothing change for frayed nerves; a perfect place to slow down and reflect.
There are spots which looked a bit Disneyland-ish, but I guess it’s simply the Filipino kitsch that usually pervades most parks and open spaces. I honestly can do away with the castle-like parapets and turrets, but yeah, that’s just the snobbish me. I’m sure most Filipinos dig this kind of architecture.
As the mass ended, a queue started to form for the veneration of the True Cross. While my companions lined up with the rest of the faithful, I took the time to revisit the monolith of the Risen Christ, now blazing white with the mid-afternoon sun. I stared at the landscape below, following the gaze of the Risen Christ, and heaved a sigh of contentment.
~ THANK YOU MICROTEL LUISITA AND TARLAC TOURISM BOARD FOR MAKING THIS TRIP POSSIBLE
Monasterio De Tarlac
Address: Mt. Resurrection Eco Park, Brgy. Lubigan,
San Jose, Tarlac
Contact Number: (045) 493-3002 | (0916) 250-8414
Entrance Fee: PHP 50.00
Open Hours: Everyday 7:00AM to 6:00PM
Website: Click Here
GPS Coordinates: 15°26'11.3"N 120°25'51.9"E