Day 3 – Adventures in Tagaytay

Despite a night of no sleep, we departed from our hotel at 7am.

We do a roll call to make sure everyone is on-board 🙂


First stop Mickey D’s for some breakfast
Different breakfast menu than Canada. Of course rice is on the menu (and SPAM)
We don’t have “BFF Bundles” and curly fries in Canada
After a 30 min wait to get our food, we decide to sit outside since it was packed on the inside.
We tried to leave early to beat the Philippines traffic. I guess we didn’t leave early enough! 1.5 hr ride took 3 hours!
At least there were cool things to see along the way like pineapple farms (many students didn’t know that pineapples grew from the ground).
There were also many interested shops along the road from fresh fruit, to flowers, to wood furniture and carvings
We finally make it just in the nick of time for 11:30 am mass. Remember, we left at 7:00 am with one stop over at McDonald’s
What a beautiful church
The church was packed so it was suggested that we move to the balcony
Pretty much every seat taken. 5 minutes after this shot the entire back of the church was rammed with standing worshipers
This parish is famous for it’s members experiencing miracles of healing.
Beautiful display at the front of the church
We tour around church grounds to take some more shots
There was also a Candle Chapel right beside the church
Some people give a candle offering


While we wait for some of the others at the gift shop, we find some really big snails.


Next stop: Canossian Sister’s House to visit Mike’s good friend, Sister Haydee
The sisters provide us “merienda” a snack before lunch: drinks and Siopao (show-pow) a meat filled bun
Look at the beautiful Tagaytay mountain scenery


Sister Haydee gives everyone a take away gift reminding us that God will always provide for us in abundance if we ask and have faith
Students share why they chose to be on this transformational experience



Sister Haydee gives us 3 teachings
Michael used to work with Sister Haydee when he was teaching at Blessed Mother Teresa and Sister was at St. Barnabas in Malvern (Scarborough)
Sister was in Canada for 10 years and has been in the Philippines for the last 4 years

Summary of Sister Haydee’s Teaching:

  • How you do anything is how you do everything (Father Richard War)
  • God is just a breath away. How do you get in touch with God? Just breathe
  • Do your best, and allow God to the do the rest. Because if you do the rest, you will get stressed
  • When you wake up, get up. When you get up, wake up!
  • Own the first victory of the day (vs pressing the snooze button)
  • Wake up with vigor and give gratitude for the day and say, “Good morning beautiful!”
  • Focus on wakefulness and mindfulness **Be Present**
  • Love your neighbour as you love yoruself
  • Love yourself as God loves you
  • If you can’t love your neighbour who you can see, how can you love God who you don’t see?

Below are some more beautiful shots we took before leaving the Canossa House.


How do I become present?
“Mark, how you do anything is how you do everything”
Some gorgeous trees that bear exotic fruit. To the left is papaya.


Canossa Group Shot
Left side regular. Right side wackey.
Breathtaking view
In the background is Taal volcano
Where are the boys?
We wander the grounds and find this abandoned house
The square footage of this house is similar to the ones we will be building. Hard to imagine that a whole family (4-8 people) would share this space.
Cozy rock chair with an amazing view




Mano Po
Before leaving we give sister a sign of Filipino respect called “Mano”
Nicole thanks Sister on the behalf of the group for her hospitality and sharing her wisdom
Before leaving, we get to take a couple of group shots with Pope Francis who will be in the Philippines until January!



Picnic Grove
Next stop, a top tourist attraction called Picnic Grove
#TeamPH2K14 take a group shot over looking Taal Lake while on horseback
Geerthan and Dana make a wish





Fish Spa
Next stop, the Fish Spa where fish eat the dead skin cells off your feet

Here’s a picture of the initial reaction of each student leader………really funny stuff!



Tina Ramgeet – Father John Redmond
Leah Valenzuela – St. Joseph’s College
Mimi Tran – Bishop Allen
Melissa Mathieu – Mary Ward
Jillian Maniquis – Madonna
Adrian Durlej – Don Bosco
Kaisha Ayienga – Father John Redmond
Dana Salvador – St. Joseph’s College
Geerthan Ranjhan – Jean Vanier
Mitchell Pimenta – Brebeuf
Jermin Bates – Father John Redmond




Marc Viado – Seneca College
Chloe Davis – Father John Redmond
Nicole De Souza – Mary Ward
Libby Villa – Father John Redmond
John Samson – Don Bosco
Dyan Uy – Jean Vanier


Faith Torres – St. Joseph’s College





This is why these students are having this reaction – best described as an intense ticklish sensation





It’s almost over Libster
I’ll help you Libby
After a while, the students get used to the nibbling
After the fish exfoliation, the students get a foot massage


Awwww….this is heaven!
Even better than the fish!



Sooooo good Mimi falls asleep
By the time everyone’s done at the fish spa is dark outside and time to wait for the bus. It’s actually pretty cold outside since we are near the top of a mountain.


Unpack Luggage
Back at the hotel we prepare for our first village visit to AVANAII.  Step 1: Everyone needs to unpack their 2nd luggage full of donations.
Table 1
Step 2: Sort donations on table
Table 2
Amazing how much our group was able to collect…..WOW!! #Proud
We have toothpaste
A mound of toys
Canned food
A heap of stuff animals
Figurines (donated by Cineplex)
And…..tooth brushes
What an amazing group of leaders being the change!!!
Next step: Bag 15 gifts per bag
We will be visiting 3 different communities plus an orphanage where we will be giving these out to the kids.
We bundle items together to make one gift
“Not my finger Geerthan”
Step 5: Write your name on your bag
And line them all up because Michael has OCD
We are ready for tomorrow!! Actually not quite, we still need to rehearse our dance, games, and individual performances
We call it a day since we’re all wiped and give thanks to the Lord for such an amazing 1st day in the Philippines

Tomorrow we get to sleep in a bit. Bus leaves at 9:00 am for a city tour before we head off to the St. Martin de Porres orphanage.

Please leave a comment below.  Thanks for following our travels.


31 thoughts on “Day 3 – Adventures in Tagaytay

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  1. “Own the first victory of the day (vs pressing the snooze button)” that was for you Kaisha!!! Words to live by. Great photos. You sure are packing a lot into one day. Sweet dreams all! Enjoy your smooooooooth feet.

  2. As always, this is truly incredible!

    Thanks for sharing so many details, especially the words of Sister Haydee.

    Boy that is quite a diverse groups of schools represented, God Bless you one and all!

    Peace and Hope, Steve De Quintal Teacher, St. Mary’s CSS

  3. Hi Kory!! So proud of you. Please don’t bring any fishes home. Also leave the snails. That’s it, for today.

  4. I remember Sister Haydee from her time with the TCDSB. She was wonderful with the students and she was always very easy to talk to. God bless her!

  5. Hopefully these students will always cherish their experience more particularly the services that they will be doing….you are all HEROES!

  6. Church looked absolutely beautiful. Everyones faces were priceless when their feet were being bitten by the fish. I am enjoying these pics.

  7. Had such a great time in Tagaytay, the fish tickled so much! Sister Haydee was so inspirational, such a great speaker to start off our trip.

  8. Many thanks for your service to others and willingness to learn. A real world learning experience. Many blessings.

    All the best.

  9. Today was such an adventure!! Although it was super hot in the church, it was very touching to be in church for a mass with Filipino people. It was then I realized how much I really miss going to church here on the Philippines. I felt very at home! Meeting and listening to Sister Haydee was the highlight of the day. Her words and advices really placed me on the right mindset not only for this service trip but for life in general as well. She really reminded that it’s okay to be struggling in life. Everyone does and everything works out for the best in the end as long as we put our trust in the Lord. Today was so much fun. I hope everyone takes the values, lessons, and memories to heart and mind! 😊

  10. Another long day because of no sleep and the bus ride felt just as long as the plane ride, but the rest of the day made up for it with awing views, insightful messages, and thrilling experiences. Never been on a horse before so that was realllyy the highlight for me! And the fish spa was a pretty cool experience too! Excited for more to come!

  11. To think this is was only day 2! So excited for the sights we will see, lives we will changes and moments of greatness we will experience throughout the trip. Today was super action packed leaving us dead tired at the end. Totally Worth it!

  12. The bus ride up may have been long, but it was defintely worth the trip! Breathtaking views, amazing people and atmosphere.
    I have never felt my feet so smooth before, those fish at the fish spa sure did a goodjob!!

  13. This day was just full of adventures, I knew the bus ride would be pretty long plus traffic so I decided to sit alone on the bus to get myself comfortable for my nap times lol. The view in Tagaytay was just spectacular, away from the city and the fresh air. Meeting Sister Haydee was definitely the highlight of the day, she inspired me to be a better person for myself. Improving myself can impact others around us positively too. Also, Horse back riding was so much funn! but I didn’t want my guide to leave me with the horse because I was too scared it’ll run off. After that long flighhhhtt, I definitely needed that fish spa, i like the little fishes though they’re much nicer and gentle to my feet, & the foot massage… the lady’s hands were magical, so greaatt

  14. We started out the day in the best way possible. Listening to Sister Haydee was a real eye-opener. Im usually not one for long talks about spirituality, but her wisdom she shared with us caught my full attention. The horse-back riding was fun, but i would have been more comfortable if the horses were taken care of a little better. My mood was lightened with the fish spa. Honestly I thought the idea of fish eating at your feet was gross (and i kind of still do). However it felt really good. Once i got the leg massage i felt bad that i had to wear sandals outside. I didn’t want to ruin the new smoothness my feet had. When we got back and packed the presents I was defiantly ready for bed. I was excited to see the children the next day!

  15. Although this day had a lot of activities and my favorite part was learning from Sister Haydee. I never get up right a way in the morning, so I always remember “When you wake up, get up. When you get up, wake up.”

  16. This was an amazing start to our journey together. I felt at home immediately in the Philippines, especially during mass. Although some of it was in Tagalog, I was mesmerized by the singing and the praying. Definitely listening to Sister’s wisdom is one of the highlights of my trip. Readers, read her words! She is amazing! I will keep her words in my heart always.
    Packing the gifts made the trip more real to me. The difference that we would be making the days to come was exciting, but also intimidating. I learned afterwards that I had nothing to worry about. The kids and their community are so gratuitous in every bit.

  17. Hard to believe we were able to do so much in one day! One of the the things Sister Haydee said which resonates with me most was along the lines of: People who dwell on the past are depressed and those who worry about the future are always anxious. It is important to live in the now and stop worry about what has happened and what will happen. Glad we were able to visit Sister Haydee and learn from her teachings!

  18. Tito Bernie told us that the church we attended mass at this day was known for miracles–that of healing, love, anything really. I had asked God to help complete me when I was praying in this church, and looking back, I truly feel that He answered my prayers.

    Sister Haydie was wonderful! To begin our journey with her words set us up for a blessed adventure. I think her lesson “Do your best and let God do the rest,” was the one I needed to hear the most.

    Fun note! I had halo halo with John from a coconut! But before that ants fell from the ceiling of the restaurant we were eating in…that woke me up haha.

  19. I think Tagaytay was one of the most adventurous days we had on the trip. The church we visited was absolutely beautiful and seeing how many people actually attended mass that day was so nice to see. Our visit to sister Haydee’s was so insightful and we all learned so many great things and words of wisdom from her that day. She truly is a wise woman. Horseback riding was definately fun and a great adventure, but the fish spa was something else! It literally feels like little electric shocks when the fish are biting your feet! I didn’t like that part much, but the massage after was amazing 🙂 after the fish spa we were suppose to go eat but instead, me & Geerthan discovered this small place that did tattoos so we both decided to get several while everyone else went to the restaurant aha x) …don’t worry it, it was just henna lol! Overall, it was a really fun day even though it took forever to get there from the hotel.

  20. So this was technically like the first day in Philippines, and it was such a great day, experiencing going to church in the Philippines, going horse riding and fish spa. The Fish spa was amazing, it was a weird feeling at first but very relaxing after a while and foot messages after was such a great combination !!! Also me and Dana found a cool place where they did henna/tattoos and we both got one, it last the whole trip which was pretty cool. At the end of the day, it was a pretty fun day !

  21. Today was a really fun day, I love animals so getting to ride on a horse was so cool. I was amped that I got the best horse and didn’t have random guys hoping on the back of my horse. The fishes were actually so ticklish I was hard to keep my feet inside. Sister was so nice and truly inspirational. By the end of the day I was so dead but still had to organize all the stuff

  22. We went to such a big church this day! It was huge and there were people spilling our the front doors onto the grass outside. We has great ‘seats’ up high so we could really see everything well. Then we met Sister Haydee who talked to us about God and our relation ship with him and our selves. She was so cool! I also bought a really cool cross necklace and we went to a fish spa which I personally would not hurry back too D: Then that night we organized ALL our stuff. We were all so tired by the end I think we all KO’d the second out heads hit our pillows.

  23. First official day in the Philippines! WEOOOO! 🙂 We did a lot ! Sister Haydee was so kind, and inspirational. I still remember that saying she told us, and it was along the lines of, “Do your best and allow God to do the rest because if you do the rest, you will get stressed.” While we were there, the view of the mountaintop was BEAUTIFUL!
    My least favourite activity was riding the horses……but the Fish Spa totally made up for it! It was the weirdest feeling haha. At night, organizing all the toys and washroom essentials was exciting! I couldn’t wait to see and give it all to the children! 🙂

  24. Sister was so inspirational. I especially liked the part where she said “Wake up with vigor and give gratitude for the day and say, ‘Good morning beautiful!'” What a nice thought to start the day.
    I really liked the horse back riding, even if the state of the horses made me a bit uncomfortable. But the fish spa……. that was EVIL! 😛
    Over all this was a really good day!

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