“If one has faith, one has everything.” ~Ramakrishna~
Lucban is not just popular for the Pahiyas festival. I was also introduced to “Kamay ni Hesus shrine” where thousands of believers visit, it is a 5-hectare property which you can sight the following:
Luklukan ni Maria,
Gallery of Saints,
Garden of Eden,
The Angels Hill,
The Marian Park
and the religious Murals.
A priest named Fr. Joey Faller put this up through donations from here and abroad.
On the side, I also encountered the Lucban longganiza and pancit habhab. These two are what Lucban is famous for.
They also boast the beauty of Mt. Banahaw, a favorite of climbers, but not my cup of tea while I still hold admiration to those trekkers and mountaineers who would not mind the difficulty of conquering heights with those heavy and huge backpacks behind them.
Though I did just a little to be able to touch the base of “Kamay ni Hesus” shrine, it took us more than 300 steps to get there, and it was a good experience and a test of endurance as well. I now understand the unexplainable feeling of climbers when they already reached their goal however high it is. There is the “high”.. =) It was visceral.
It has drawn huge crowd of tourists (local and foreign), media, photoholics, and all kinds of people from all walks of life. We even encountered a vendor who came from Canlalay and its just a town away from my hometown. It was happy and fun…=)
I knew that some of the devotees are a bit overwhelmed, thanks to the stations equipped with benches where people can rest for a while.
It is very timely this Lenten Season that I reminisce back those days when I am religiously practicing my Faith. I remember that as a teenager, me and my choir mates would literally visit 13 churches to commemorate the 13 stations showing us the sufferings of Christ, as written that it is the only way to save mankind. This sacrifice until now, is something that is very deep for me, coming from God our Father. With my bleak understanding, it was with a hope that mankind will not only acknowledge that kind of sacrifice, but to live by it, for it’s purpose.
Years back, my son’s father and I for some years, dedicated our time in doing the “Visita Iglesia” too. It was at that time when we eyed a church on a hill top in our hometown and planned to get married on that same church. Even if it didn’t meet my future husband’s must-have requirements for our wedding, I just knew I was wishing to have our vows on that particular church.
However, according to the Parish priest, we are supposed to get married at the Parish where we’re residing. It was a beautiful church. You will instantly feel the solemnity as it is standing on a hill, overlooking the vast lowlands of our hometown.
As years passed, it is only during Lent (the Holy week per se), when I have the time to have my own definition of “peace”. When everyone else got their tan lines after Easter, my skin is still in even tone. Like the “homebody” side of me at its’ strongest. There is a kind of pleasure, the simplest of its’ kind when you’re at home.
May the message of this season be in our hearts not only on these days, but the whole year through..
Happy Easter everyone! =)
Kamay ni Hesus Shrine & Healing Center is located at:
Brgy. Tinamnan, Lucban Quezon
Telephone: (042) 540 2206
“Please pray for me!” ~My virtual encounter with the Pope~
Papal Visit to the Philippines 2015
I was almost a young mother 1995 when Pope Paul II visited the Philippines. Much as I want to see him, I was pregnant at that time and my husband would not allow me to risk any mishap alongside thousands of devotees. We later found out. Not thousands but millions.
After 20 years, another Pope set foot to the country. I have been another person too. A lot has happened in 20 years. But that’s such a long story to tell.
To write or to blog about him, I would not want people to think that I’m riding on the Pope fever more so on his popularity. I just had this genuine need to speak of him. His Holy presence for me is the nearest thing to hope, love, world peace even heaven… Imagine more than 7 million people flocked just to see him. I saw him too. Just on TV. I looked forward to witness the charming smile that I’ve been hearing for the past days. And then I did. It was that time when he was still inside the airplane and peeking from the window. I saw the famous smile. I could not explain how it affected me. All sorts of emotions were running in my veins. My heart skipped upon seeing him – smiling.
Upon touchdown, I was not blinking trying to capture every move, every wave, every smile.
It’s time to meet and greet. When I saw his face delighted at the sight of Cardinal Tagle. And when they embraced for seconds. Tears welled up my face. If I remember it right. I prayed for Cardinal Tagle during the last conclave. He was also very charming to me. Though we all know it’s not about that. It is more than that. When it was announced that an Archbishop from Argentina was elected as Pope. He was first from the Americas. Indeed, he was known to be a Pope of “Firsts”.
During the announcement, I just thought it was not yet time for the Philippines to boast a Filipino Pope. Little did I know nor been interested to find out who became the new Pope. I only heard of him doing selfies. He must be a funny guy.
I felt contrite of being curious and stirred only now because of his visit to the country. I even heard that he jokingly told the other cardinals that may they be forgiven by God after voting for him. The Pope has humor.
The embrace stayed in my memory. It was like an embrace of seeing an old friend with gratefulness.
He was here for 4 days and all I could do is monitor him on TV. Some friends of mine (gained my admiration for their enthusiasm) and asked me to go with them and see the Pope yet I opted to see him on TV. I haven’t had much hope of seeing him from afar if I came with my friends and cousins. I opted to see him from afar. The delight of my fellow Filipinos (friends included) who have seen him was more than enough for me. They were a part of those 7 million. They became part of history.
What I owe to myself and to those friends who tried to convince me is that I earnestly contemplated on his mass. And to the Papal visit’s theme: Mercy and Compassion.
Which I think I might not be able to do had I been on the streets, small as I was, I am 5 feet tall and 2 inches, the more I’d be frustrated and distracted at the same time seeing my fellow Filipinos in great admiration. Though believe me. If I see him up close, I had this feeling that I might just be able to see his aura. I had that capacity. Once. And since then I knew it could happen again. From my TV, He is beaming for me. It was auspicious that Archbishop Socrates Villegas called him our “sunshine”. For he really shines! His smiling brightly erases away each of our heartaches. If only for that very moment or if it’ll linger for the rest of our lives. We never know.
I weep again and again. When he apologized to the people in Tacloban for seeing them not immediately. And he made it. No storm can stop him. At his age, at 78 years old, having just one lung as he had an operation years ago, everyone wondered where is he drawing his strength. I guess, we need not wonder. We know where.
I weep because I promise to visit Tacloban too. It was my second home. Haiyan devastated me just as much as it devastated Tacloban.
I have friends there. I’ve witnessed the beautiful people of Tacloban myself. I have kept good memories from that part of my country. During the tragedy, we lost our former cashier and her son. It was a relief that other of my friends there showed up on Facebook. Losing some, all we could do is pray. Still, I intend to keep my promise. I’ll visit Tacloban one day. The Pope was very inspiring.
The tide of yellow ponchos was truly monumental. It gives me the cringe of witnessing a miracle. Millions of Filipinos whose heart are in sync of wanting to see Pope Francis. It was such a phenomena.
The unsafe trip to and from Tacloban. I have never admired another personality like I did on this human being. For me, he was a female version of Mother Teresa.
There were text brigades from everyone circulating on all networks to pray for the Pope’s safety. It was so impelling. I heard nothing but gratitude for his presence. Mostly, moments of bliss.
Even these kids obediently wear these costumes as Swiss guards and while waiting for the Pope’s arrival had fell asleep.
On the last mass he celebrated. I looked forward on receiving Christ as to how they are going to perform it, considering there are millions out there. Much to my surprise. Even if the church doesn’t allow it. Some said the Holy Eucharist was desecrated here, personally, I’d rather focus on the spirit of sharing. The bread of life were passed on from front to back by a laity(s). It was another scene that made me cry. It was selfless love. It was a spirit of sharing. Maybe, my take on it is the next time there’ll be a Papal mass and a huge crowd is anticipated, the logistics had to be well-prepared too.
It was also said that it is the first time that we had a Pope named Francis. He had chosen this by his fealty to St. Francis of Assisi which is known as the Saint for the Poor.
He was I guess an Art lover too. He was so moved by the Baroque painting of The Mary Undoer of Knots painting by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner while studying in Germany. He has been a devotee since then.
This too has reminded me of Mother Mary, who have been my protector all of my entire life.
He is a fan of Marc Chagall. He has admired the “White Crucifixion”.
He was given a copy of the Jewish Museum exhibit book neatly placed in beautiful box. There is a print of the painting there and this is what he said: “We, in turn, had the “nachas” (joy) of knowing that we had created a memorable and personal gift for a man who receives thousands of mementos, with an expression of gratitude for the pope’s affection for the Jewish people.”
We all know now that the Pope has a deeper capacity to understand people’s differences, more so not looking at the differences, but looking at everyone as children of God. He repeatedly said, we are created equal. He also expressed a special understanding to the LGBT community.
I heard he loves to tango too, collected soccer and basketball Jersey shirts given to him as gifts, he loves John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (like I do and a lot of people too I assume), he loves soccer and like every human being, he fell in love too at the age of 12. I have read that he told the girl, that if he won’t be able to marry her, he will become a priest. And he did as promised. I remember a former suitor telling that to me too, contrary to Pope Francis’ word of honor, I found out that my ex-suitor married a few years after I did. =)
His humility is exceptional, he opted to stay at the guest house of the Vatican instead of the Apostolic palace, he cooks his own meal, rode the train, and kissed twelve AIDS patients. He was awarded “Person of the Year 2013″ by Time Magazine. He received a Harley Davidson motorcycle but opted to put it at an auction and donated the proceeds to the homeless. He implemented a policy: “Zero tolerance on sexual abuse” among the clergy.
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature, and it will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Wright~
I am home by now, but my mind is still in Caleruega, all Flora and Fauna (fishes, birds and a dog!), complete with a magnificent chapel, rooms if you want to stay overnight, serves food too, and a very kind dog, yes a kind dog! And lastly, any corner can be a place to commune with the Creator. When you go to Caleruega, you will be closer to God and be reminded of all His creations that we sometimes think as already ordinary. When in truth, they are not.
I once said, to be very lucky being near Tagaytay. It is an “Everything Beautiful Zone”! There are lots of hotels to choose from, restaurants, inns, parks, resorts, all sorts, farms, monasteries where you can have ube yams (one of my favorites), markets where you can find the freshest fruits and vegetables (I once bought a purple cabbage from there – which isn’t always available in the lowlands), there’s a mini zoo, there is also an area where you can purchase unique pieces of wooden (carved by local artisans) furniture, and famous for the famous smallest volcano in the world. Did I miss something?
A trip to Tagaytay is like a stress – buster. Cold weather, friendly people and everything nice! Just a few minutes after Tagaytay is Batangas.
Caleruega is just one among the endless list of spots in that area where you can relax and just be who you wanna be for a time. As if smelling the flowers and being one with nature is something you can not exchange with anything. For a time! (–,)
Please take a look! (–,)
You would not want to leave believe me. And because you need to, you know you are coming back.
Caleruega church is in Brgy. Kaylaway, Nasugbu, Batangas. You can contact them at: 0921 270 9890