Who would have thought that six, mostly old, women past the prime of their lives with no experience in estate development and land use planning, were able to transform this vast wasteland into a beautiful sacred space that now attracts millions of pilgrims and has helped develop Sampaloc, Tanay into a tourist destination?The answer is simple: Regina RICA is Mama Mary’s project.
What is in the name?
RICA is Spanish for richness or abundance. RICA is a manifestation of the gift of living “life to the full.” Regina is Latin for Queen, but is also understood as the First Among All Women.
Regina RICA (literally Queen of Abundance) is an acronym for Regina Rosarii Institute of Contemplation in Asia. It is a 13.5-hectare sacred space located in Sitio Aguho, Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, in the sloping portion in southern end of the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Institute means a place of learning. It is here that Jesus, Our Teacher of Abundant Blessings, shows us how to live a contemplative way of life that brings fullness and fulfillment, away from the destructive lifestyle that permeates the world today.
RICA teaches a life of silence, stillness, serenity, simplicity, and solidarity with the suffering humanity. It is way of Finding God by Following Mary.
Founded by Sr. Eppie Brasil, OP on March 19, 2009 and managed by the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii, RICA has a four-fold mission identity called PEWS:
1. Pilgrimage site for devotees of Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary where her 71-foot statue stands on top of the hill. The complex is at the end of the Sacred Trail passing through the Hills of El Shaddai and towering over Mama Mary’s Garden.
Millions of pilgrims have poured their prayers inside the Sanctuary of Universal Love and Devotion (SULOD), written their letters of petitions, and offered their candles at the Candle House. They presented themselves to be blessed at the Main Chapel especially during special occasions like Birthdays and Anniversaries.
Inside SULOD, pilgrims can join the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament usually guided by a Sister or a Lay Volunteer.
The Regina Rosarii Chapel on the Hill has a Main Chapel (top floor) and a Chapel of Women Mystics in the ground floor. Schedule of Healing Masses is posted always in our website and FB page.
The Main Chapel built by the country’s foremost construction corporation DMCI features a beautiful altar where a unique white lemniscate serves as the canopy and backdrop of the Christ Crucified.
Gazing at Him, you become aware that His face, despite the pain, has no traces of regrets, condemnation or judgment. Only love and compassion.
Pilgrims may also spend time for silence and prayer in one of the many sacred spaces available at RICA including the SHHHH or St. Hildegard Haven of Health and Healing, the RICA Labyrinth, the Holy Family Gazebo, the Laudato Si park inside the Forest Trail, the Santo Nino Park, and the Rotunda ni San Jose.
2. Ecological Sanctuary.
The RICA Ecological Sanctuary features a reforestation area, a Garden of Indigenous Forest Trees, a RICA Farm with animals, vegetables, orchards, and ornamental garden serves as a reminder of the diversity and value of God’s creation.
One of the many attractions at RICA are the peacocks who are ready to show their feathers to pilgrims.
The RICA Farm serves as a production and instruction center where sustainable farming is practiced. The use of vermiculture is a model to illustrate the inherent power of God’s creation to nourish other species.
The RICA Farm supplies the RICA Pasilungan Restaurants with mushrooms and vegetables.
Inside GIFT, the Garden of Indigenous Forest Trees, are majority of the country’s indigenous trees, curated by Imelda Sarmiento, considered by many as the nation’s foremost authority on indigenous tree species. It is attracting many birds, butterflies, and other animal species.
The RICA Orchard (part of the RICA Farms) features almost all of the country’s fruit-bearing species: durian, langka, rambutan, santol, lanzones, sampaloc, atis, guyabano, mangoes, macopa, among others.
3. Wellness Center
The RICA Wellness Center promotes a lifestyle that promotes physical and mental health and wellness. It has a Pasilungan Restauran, Agua RICA Hado Water, RICA Bakery, and Rosaline Store that offers healing oil and other religious articles.
The RICA Pasilungan Restaurants is composed of several outlets and offering the same food advocacies – plant-based diet and slow-food. Currently it has a main restaurant at the Pasilungan Building, a RICA Grill near the Mama Mary complex at the basement of ROSE C, a café called Café Giuseppe that opens of weekends, RICA at St. Joseph that opens on Sundays, and a Milk Tea Counter at the Pasalubong Center.
RICA Pasilungan Restaurant also caters to the retreatants of the RICA Retreat. Pilgrims may also do their picnic in one of the picnic cottages at Handong (Shade), a group of cottages for rent near the main restaurant.
The ROSALINE Outlets at Pilgrims Place and ROSE C also serve the pilgrims needs for souvenirs.
4. School of Contemplation that features a RICA Retreat that offers courses and retreats in Contemplation. It also serves as a venue for many retreats and prayer sessions among religious groups, lay associations, parishes, clergy, and corporate groups.
It can accommodate up to 150 retreatants and is known for its silence, courteous staff and excellent food.
Inside the RICA Retreat Main Building is this unique glass art to portray Sr. Eppie’s vision of oneness and unity.
It also includes the Puluy-an Residences – four buildings with two or more rooms which are perfect for families on staycation.
The Retreat Complex overlooks this valley that is filled with water during the rainy season and offers a beautiful landscape for prayer.
Soon, RICA Retreat will offer long term courses on Contemplation.