I really enjoyed this retreat. I learned a lot from it and it was not boring as what others said about their previous experiences.

The accommodation was perfect: Angel’s Hills, Tagaytay, Batangas. It was cold during night times, the reason I loved that place. And I admire how the houses and sidewalks were built; it was like living in a mini subdivision. The rooms/cottages can only accommodate three but we were four, so I was in the middle of the two beds. The bathroom was also nice, complete with heater. But I didn’t  use the heater because I was afraid I might break it, and the cold water was just bearable.  And I also like the instrumental music played during the night, so soothing and comforting; really makes you reflect and contemplate (they were religious songs after all). And the food were great and much better than the school cafeteria; complete with hot soup, rice, two main courses, and dessert.

The first day was basically introduction. One of the staff of Angel’s Hills walked out during his speech. I was surprised by his act, but maybe both sides were to blame. For our side, some were talking while he was speaking at the front so that would be our mistake. But maybe it was a misunderstanding because we were just laughing in his jokes in his speech. So in the first place, we were paying attention.

Next event was batch activity. We were told to fill up the Human Bingo so I just blindly asked others to sign my paper (in some parts). The second activity was a giant board game. During the consequence part, some of the inner sides of our batch mates were revealed. Some even danced, not just an ordinary dance, but a wild one! I was really busy laughing and enjoying at their performance. I didn’t know that they have those other sides!

The second day was truly a busy day. It started with a mass, then an icebreaker; a speech from an invited speaker. I like his speech, he didn’t hesitate talking about his previous life of vices to his transformation to an admirable son and father. I was about to cry when his son said to him that he was the best daddy in the world. Aww!

The second activity was “Amazin’ GRace”. This race was meant to put you under stress, therefore you must learn how to cope with it. It was generally okay. We weren’t actually running because we weren’t pressured with the time limit.

Next was confession and I said all my sins, leaving myself pure because I really wanted to unburden my shoulder with all those heavy load of guilt. I was actually ashamed at the priest because there was no confessional box to cover my face; it was one-on-one and face-to-face.

After that was “Love, Sex, Life” talk. Then, we took a lot of group pictures with my friends. We asked a staff to take pictures of us.

The most memorable part of all was the Palanca-letter giving. We had candles beside us, which gave a more solemn and contemplating effect in the atmosphere (but the room eventually smelled of smoke). I was really thinking that no one would give me, so I was happy to see bulges in my envelope letter-holder. I opened one by one and I enjoyed reading them all. I just  realized that I have a lot of friends caring for me.  I was also surprised to see my parents’ letter because I never suspected or saw them doing it. And I learned that one of my friends was part of the secret, she was the one who printed the message! I nearly cried after reading it because I never really thought they were thinking of me like that for all these years. I also received a lot of palanca letters to those I didn’t give so I was embarassed. Of course I thanked them for the message.

Third day was mostly conclusion part. We spoke a lot of prayers and offerings to God. Then after that was Sunday mass, some batch picture-taking then departure.

I will really miss this place so much, and of course I will try to live my Catholic life more worthwhile from now on as I learned in this wonderful retreat.


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