Wake Up, Philippines!

John 6:1-15 Multiplication of the Loaves

Posted in Gospel of John, Sunday Gospels by Erineus on July 25, 2009

John 6:1-15
Multiplication of the Loaves
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday Gospel Reflection

Today’s gospel narrates to us one of the greatest miracles of Jesus – the feeding of about five thousand people out of five barley loaves and two fish. This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels.

“The location according to the text is in a “desert” region. There was green grass so it wasn’t too barren. The word “desert” means a remote place. Perhaps the gospel writers used the word “desert” because in the OT the desert was where God met, tested and blessed his people” (15 James A. Brooks, Mark, NAC. p. 107).

The miracle happened when John the Baptist had just been killed and Herod was seeking Jesus.  Jesus had withdrawn with the disciples to be alone to rest (according to Mark and John’s chronology the disciples had just returned from being sent out) and to give them some private instruction.  It was time to take a break, but the crowds followed Him and they have nothing to eat. There and then Jesus out of his compassion feed five thousand people in number. There were even 12 filled wicker baskets of fragments left-over.

There are three points to be considered here for our reflection and daily Christian living:

First, Jesus takes cares of us in all our needs: both body and soul. Hence, his love and care for us is integral, whole and complete. This is why in today’s account, Jesus does not want to dismiss the hungry crowd on empty stomach in a deserted place. Instead, out of compassion, he attends to his peoples’ hunger, both material and spiritual. This is the best reminder for all of us who are ministers of the word: “Never preach in an empty stomach,”  or “You cannot preach love on an empty stomach” as the popular saying goes.

Second, a miracle is not God working for us; it is God working with us. Expectant faith, therefore, does not make us fold our hands doing nothing looking into heaven while waiting for miracles to come. Rather it spurs us on to make our best, if not greatest possible contributions, our efforts, cooperation, generosity, five loaves and two fish, knowing that without them, though how humble and inadequate they were, there would be no miracle.

Third, miracle aims conversion, faith and discipleship.  It would be somehow sound to infer that what really happened here was not just the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish that fed the five thousand of  hungry crowds but also a miracles of sharing as a fruit of conversion, faith and discipleship. It is said that “the world is so poor for everybody’s greed but so rich for everybody’s need.”

It is estimated that 840 millions out of 6.2 billon (August 16, 2002 estimate, US Census Bureau) in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition (World Hunger, Do you know the facts?). About 24,000 people die everyday from hunger or hunger-related causes. This is down from 35,000 ten years ago, and 41,000 twenty years ago. Three-fourth of the deaths are children under the age of five. Famine and wars cause about 10% of hunger deaths, although these tend to be the ones you hear about often. Majority of hunger deaths are caused by chronic malnutrition whose cause is poverty. And the root cause of poverty is sin in the forms of injustice, greed and selfishness.

We do not need Jesus to come and be crucified once again just to perform miracles for us so that we can eat and live. Rather, let the word, the person and the example of Jesus do miracles for us by transforming us from being greedy to generous, from being selfish to selfless, from being close and indifferent to being sensitive and responsive to the needs of the people around us. This is what the world needs now. The miracle of sharing, giving, caring and love. With this, the world would be a better place to live in.

Guiding Light

Posted in Luzon, Places, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009
By Text and Photos by RANEIL ANTONIO IBAY
July 4, 2009, 4:05pm
Faro de Cabo Engaño or Cape Engaño lighthouse in Sta. Ana, Cagayan
Faro de Cabo Engaño or Cape Engaño lighthouse in Sta. Ana, Cagayan

Sta. Ana, Cagayan is known as “The Gateway to the Pacific”  and is the last province on the tip of Luzon in Region 2. And with a 45-minute boat ride from Sta. Ana lays the wave and wind battered island of Palaui.

Palaui is home to 21 species of fishes, 90 species of migratory birds, 105 species of rattan and timber, and Faro de Cabo Engaño or Cape Engaño, one of 27 major lighthouses in the Philippines. Completed in December 31, 1892 by the Spaniards, it is the first lighthouse you will see when entering Philippine waters and is the last when heading out into the Pacific. Nestled on top of a scenic hill, its octagonal, cylindrical stone tower standing guard, it once played a crucial role in the trade between Spain and the Philippines, guiding ships toward the port of Appari.

Now, with its roof gone, probably torn off by forces of nature, this U-shaped building stands as a decaying reminder of the past. You can’t even go up the rust corroded metal stairs going to the top of the lighthouse. It is now closed, a sign or vandalism on the wall by the Philippine Coast Guard warns you not to go up because the flooring is rotted.

With nowhere to go, I peer out the crumbling windows and see the legendary islands of Dos Hermanas. Folklore has it that these are two sisters waiting for their husbands who went out to fish and never returned.

Peering out on the east side, I see a weather-beaten ridge. Waves relentlessly pound the rocky shores of the island and I am reminded of the car-sized waves we endured going to this beautiful island.

Our trip started on an early morning with a calm sea, we almost didn’t feel the waves. This lulls you into a false sense of serenity, of being one with the sea and all that romantic stuff. Then came a little sea spray here and there. This gets more frequent until we come to across car-sized waves that literally rocked our world. Shaken and stirred like a Martini, we at last get a glimpse of Faro de Cabo Engaño Lighthouse and docked at Palaui’s cove. I swear I could have kissed the shore, profusely thanking God that we arrived safely. This must have been how the Spanish sailors felt back then. The lighthouse must have really looked like a guiding light from heaven to those sailors.

I now look around the lighthouse and I see that vandals like Glenn, Arnel, Bullet, Aurelio, Ceasar and Noel were also once looking out this same window. Besides the forces of nature, this historical landmark has to contend with human nature.

We go down the hill and I count 240 concrete steps from the lighthouse. I could be wrong with my count, as I was hungry as the carabaos grazing on the lower side of the hill. We head back to our boat and have our breakfast.

Going back to Sta. Ana took 30 minutes because the water was calmer. We were again sprayed by seawater but this was because of the strong winds coming from the North East. Our boatman even had to make a second attempt to land on the shore, the strong wind and powerful waves pushed our boat off course.

And speaking of going back, will a 15-hour bus ride or an hour on a plane from Manila to Tugegarao plus a 3-hour van ride to Sta. Ana, Cagayan and almost an hour of being tossed like a salad on a small outrigger boat prevent me from going back and see Palaui? With the spectacular scenery and the Faro de Cabo Engaño Lighthouse to guide me back, I most definitely will.


A Pilgrimage to the Queen

Posted in Pilgrimage, Places, Tourism by Erineus on July 17, 2009

Marian images rouse faith (and tourism) from Filipino devotees

July 4, 2009, 4:15pm

In 1964, a prolonged drought hit Cagayan region, severely affecting its indigenous people called the Itawes. They suffered from starvation, their farm animals died from heat, crops and foliage withered from lack of rain. Desperate to seek help, the townspeople turned to their parish priest to ask for guidance. The cleric advised them to make peace with the Lord and begin a novena to Our Lady of Piat. In the middle of their prayer, a miracle happened,  torrential rain fell ending the town’s lingering famine and reviving the people’s receding faith.

From that day on, overwhelming accounts of Our Lady of Piat’s miraculous intercessions spread like fire all over the country. The Blessed Mother is believed to heal all kinds of illness for devotees who humbly search for help and divine intervention.

Four hundred years later, the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Piat remains to be a significant event in the lives of the people of Cagayan Valley. This year, the unflinching devotion to the Blessed Mother sparked a renewed tourism campaign that is anchored on the Marian Voyage of Peace.

A holy gathering

Nine Marian images from the Northern Philippines, in their different titles, arrived in Cagayan recently to join Our Lady of Piat in the first ever Marian Voyage of Peace: Our Lady of Fatima (Valenzuela) Our Lady of Badoc (Ilocos Norte), Immaculate Conception (Bulacan), Our Lady of Charity (Agoo, La Union), Nuesta Señora del Mar de Cautiva (Sto. Tomas, La Union), Nuestra Señora de Caridad (Ilocos Sur), Our Lady of Guibang (Isabela), Our Lady of Namacpacan (Luna, La Union), and (Our Lady of Manaog (Pangasinan).

Organized by the Cagayan North Convention & Visitors Bureau (CNCVB), Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, and the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Marian Voyage of Peace began with a fluvial procession of

Our Lady of Piat from Aparri to Tuguegarao City. The other Marian images were housed in assigned repository churches within the vicariate of Tuguegarao City, Peñablanca, and Iguig to allow devotees to do their Visita Iglesia.

But the highlight of the event took place at the cathedral patio of Sts. Peter and Paul Metropolitan Cathedral where a mass in the name of the Blessed Mother was officiated and was followed by a Marian procession around Tuguegarao City.

“Three years ago, the CNCVB was asked to come up with a signature event that could really depict Cagayan. And since Cagayanos are known for their religiosity and devotion to Our Lady of Piat, we wanted to do an event that could bring together devotees and pilgrims of the Blessed Mother through her different images and titles from the Northern Philippines,” explained CNCVB Chairman, Joselito Luna.

Also, the Marian Voyage of Peace coincided with the 426th founding anniversary of the province of Cagayan and the Feast Day of Our Lady of Piat last Friday, July 2.

Merging faith with tourism

With over 18 Spanish Architectural churches along the tourism highway, Cagayan Valley has always been known as one of the major pilgrimage tourism destinations in the country. However, what others seem to forget is that Cagayan Valley Region also boasts of adventure tourism spots for caving, river boating, fishing, bird watching, wind surfing and diving.

DoT Regional Director Bless Diwa believes that the influx of devotees and pilgrims can help boost Cagayan Valley’s tourism industry by promoting its unique sights and travel packages.

“The DoT is keen on supporting the Marian Voyage of Peace because with its huge following from devotees not only from the Philippines but in other countries, we get an opportunity to tell our local and foreign tourists about the beauty of Cagayan and hospitality of the Cagayanos,” said Diwa.

Among the tour packages offered by the DOT and CNCVB are: an exploration of Callao Caves, a seven-chambered, white rock cave that houses massive limestone and rock formations and a small chapel for devotees; a river cruise of the breathtaking Pinacanauan River in Peñablanca; a trek to Iguig Calvary Halls where life-size depictions of the Stations of the Cross can be found; and a heritage tour of Spanish Colonial Churches around Cagayan.

According to Diwa, the success of the Marian Voyage of Peace is enough reason for them to sustain such event regardless of the cost and extensive preparations.

“We believe that Cagayan is ready to take more risks in promoting our region. It’s time for us to be vigilant in turning Cagayan into a full-blown pilgrimage and adventure destination,” she added.


A new high in Tagaytay

Posted in Luzon, Places, Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009
A one-stop weekend getaway
July 4, 2009, 4:27pm

Who doesn’t love Tagaytay? Its cool weather, stunning view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, the long stretch of fruit stalls along the road, and it’s just a short drive from Manila.

Another great thing to look forward to in Tagaytay is staying in its long list of hotel resorts, bed and breakfast establishments and country clubs. The latest addition to the city’s string of hotels is Summit Ridge Hotel, a mountain resort getaway nestled on the highest point of the city that promises the best view of Tagaytay.

Owned and operated by Robinsons Land Corporation, Summit Ridge Tagaytay promises to boost leisure experience to greater heights. The fresh air with the occasional morning mist and mid morning fog compliments the hotel’s first class accommodations and amenities – making it an ideal place for celebrations or to simply have a much-needed respite from the hurly-burly of city life.

“Only in Summit Ridge will guests experience the best view of Taal while enjoying the luxurious feel of a world-class hotel. This is also the only hotel resort property in Tagaytay that offers a whole range of training, seminar, banquet and event facilities complemented with a state of the art audio, video and free Wi-Fi facilities,” said Cora Ang Ley, Summit Ridge Hotel general manager.

Communing with nature

For those who love the outdoors, the hotel allows guests to have an opportunity to bask in the sights, sounds and smell of nature, an experience totally lacking in the city life

“All our rooms — from the ballrooms and function rooms, to standard rooms and apartelles — open up to a balcony because we want our guests to get most out of Tagaytay’s irresistible weather. We want to give that non-claustrophobic feel and a homey ambiance at the same time,” said Ang Ley.

Designed by master architect and planner Felino A. Palafox Jr., the hotel blends harmoniously with its surrounding and makes the most of Tagaytay’s natural attractions and scenery. Even the hotel interiors give out an environmental feel with its “Asia Tropical ” concept. The ground floor and hallways are non-air-conditioned so that the whole hotel is engulfed with Tagaytay’s morning mist and evening fog.

Amenities and facilities

Aside from room accommodations, the hotel also boasts of health and recreational facilities such as an infinity pool overlooking the ridge, gym, and indoor badminton and basketball courts. Summit Ridge also offers multi-purpose convention facilities for any kind of business meetings, conventions and events. From its ballrooms, function and training rooms to the state-of-the-art Summit Learning Center, a separate structure from the hotel with a reception lobby, water feature and direct access to the hotel, Summit Ridge promises to provide multiple venue options that are tailor-made to meet the needs of organizers and attendees.

For dining and entertainment, there’s Truffles Bar & Café, a cozy al fresco  restaurant overlooking the lawn and pool. It has a 404 sq.m. area where guests can hold receptions and parties.

However, according to Frederick Go, Robinsons Land president and COO, Summit Ridge Hotel’s main attraction is still the breathtaking view of Tagaytay.

“First of all, we have the best view in all of Tagaytay, I don’t think there’s any hotel here that can say they have a better view than we do. During the day you can see so clearly across the ridge and you can see, down to the boats, is Taal Lake. Secondly, I think we have the best climate because we are in the highest and coldest point of the city that’s why even in the afternoon there’s fog all over,” said Go.

According to Go, they intend to have tie-ups with lake tour operators and golf courses with the hotel so their  guests can avail of tour packages aside from their in line facilities.

“It’s part of our goal to make people appreciate Tagaytay as a serious vacation destination. The problem in Tagaytay now is that most people usually come here in the morning and then drive back at night or, at the very least, stay overnight. So what we want is to create enough activities for them to stay two to three nights or even an entire week. So we really need to make all this options for them to play golf, to go boating, go hiking,” Go added.

Summit Ridge Tagaytay is on Km. 58, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City. For inquiries and reservations visit www.summitridgehotel.com


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Leisure Lifestyle at the Pico De Loro Beach Club

Posted in Luzon, Places, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009

July 4, 2009, 4:39pm

The Beach Club’s pool has breathtaking views extending to the sea. (TERRENCE UY)
The Beach Club’s pool has breathtaking views extending to the sea. (TERRENCE UY)

It used to be that families have to schedule in advance vacations before setting off on a quest for a grand adventure. However, with out-of-town residences and club membership in the uptrend, weekends have come to mean heading straight to those second homes.

Among weekend getaways, a preferred destination has been the accessible South—of which Hamilo Coast, a 5,800-hectare property in Nasugbu, Batangas, is becoming well-known as a premier leisure destination for weekenders and out-of-towners.

Hamilo Coast is a sprawling property master planned to be developed in phases and envisioned by SM Land to provide a variety of leisure lifestyle experiences.

The first seaside community to rise at Hamilo Coast is Pico de Loro Cove–a 37.5 hectare development consisting of splendid mountain and sea views, ten residential condominium clusters overlooking a four hectare man-made saltwater lagoon, a hotel, and the Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club.

Pico de Loro’s low impact condominiums and members-only beach and country club perfectly suits the market of more active families seeking more than the usual trip to the beach or resort in the nearby South.

Pico de Loro Cove is not a resort, but a weekend place one can call his own. The beach experience in this development—though arguably one of the best and most enjoyable in the Batangas area—is not its sole attraction.

The inimitable proposition of Pico de Loro Cove is its convenient leisure lifestyle that affords city dwellers with a place of immediate escape.

For city dwellers who also enjoy the casual yet exclusive and refined recreational lifestyle of country clubs, the Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club will be an exciting change.

The leisure beach community will provide the creature comforts, service and exclusivity similar to that of a country club, but amidst a breathtaking natural setting to heighten the genuine sense of escape from the metropolis.

The Beach Club started operations last February and sets the tone for recreational living at the cove through its amenities, facilities, and nature-based activities that read like a wish list of a true nature’s child. Its tropical contemporary architecture is a delightful reminder to guests that their hurries and worries are now a world away.

The interiors were done by well-known interior designer Manny Samson; memorable accent pieces by local artists such as Cebu’s pride Kenneth Cobonpue welcome guests. Upon entry to the club, its Lobby Lounge extends to a pool with views extending into the sea below.

Adult and kiddie locker rooms are accessible from the pool area for the convenience of members.

To get there: Via a 90-minute ferry ride from MOA Complex by 2010; via a twenty-minute helicopter flight; via a one-and-a-half hour drive thru Ternate to Cavite; or via less than three hours of travel through the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway.

To know more about Hamilo Coast and Pico de Loro Cove, call 8580333 or 8191673. Visit www.hamilocoast.com.


Seeing stars in Singapore

Posted in Asia, Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009
July 11, 2009, 2:49pm
Esplanade at night (Photo by RONALD JAYME)
Esplanade at night (Photo by RONALD JAYME)

Singapore is indeed one of Asia’s fine cities and a favored destination of most travelers from across the globe.  Though small in terms of land area, this island city state offers a distinct world of boundless possibilities and experiences touted as “Uniquely Singapore.”

More than the shopping experience along the stretch of Orchard Road, the island resort getaway in Sentosa,   exploring the wildlife even at dusk with the famous Night Safari, or grooving the night in Clark Quay’s urbane and trendy nightspots, Singapore also brings its visitors closer to the stars.  Its year-round colorful line-up of festivals and other events make it a favorite performance venue of big names in the local and international entertainment circuit.

Just recently, this writer and a host of media correspondents from various countries in the Asia Pacific region had the chance to see Lee Min Jung in person, one of the lead stars of the hit Korean telenovela “Boys Over Flowers” which enamored most Filipinos, young and old  alike.  She was in Singapore to grace Sony Ericsson’s launch event of its Asia Pacific strategy as a Communication Entertainment Brand with its new mobile phones that blend the best in imaging, music, videos, and gaming.

“The Sony Ericsson C903 is perfect where I can take photos of my family, friends, and fans anytime, anywhere,” shares Lee Min Jung.  “I also know that there is Facebook application where you can easily upload your photos.  I can’t wait for Facebook to come to Korea.”

Another star in the event was Japan’s most worshipped, winsome street magician, Cyril.  We were mesmerized by this French-Japanese street illusionist as he flaunted his seamless tricks and marvels of his magic that made him the top winner of the famous Olympics of Magic.  He is also known as the world’s first “cyber-magician” as he gained international popularity by becoming the most downloaded illusionist on the Internet.  With his upcoming TV Special on AXN this November, he will surely fascinate unsuspecting passers-by around Asia with his incredible illusions and spellbinding, fun character.

“I am delighted to blend my unique brand of story-telling to entertain audiences in Asia Pacific at the event,” discloses Cyril.  “I’m delighted to be able to collaborate my magic with Sony Ericsson today to show off the ultimate best-in-class experience for the consumers.”

In the same breadth that these two Asian stars are trying to convey to make their loyal supporters be entertained as they communicate through their extraordinary flair and charming personalities, it is also Sony Ericsson’s strategic approach to delight its consumers with the objective: “Anything that you can imagine can be made real.”  With this, three new mobile phones are to be showcased, packed with extensive content for the Asia Pacific market, and will be available in the fourth quarter of this year: Satio, the first phone to offer ninth High Definition (nHD) gaming, 12.1-megapixel phone camera, 3.5-inch screen and 16:9 widescreen format; Aino, where users can transfer videos, play, and all organize their music, photos, videos, and podcasts from the computer to their phone via Wi-Fi; and Yari, which debuts gesture gaming without pushing the buttons to make the moves in front of the screen, nothing to hold or twist, except the body.

“The fusion of Sony Ericsson communication technology and entertainment will deliver the ultimate user experience for consumers in Asia Pacific,” says Hirokazu Ishizuka, Sony Ericsson’s corporate vice president and head of Asia Pacific Region.

Bringing stars together in one venue made for what we all considered a “dazzling” travel experience in uniquely Singapore.


The golden province

Posted in Mindanao, Places, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 17, 2009

A treasure trove in the heart of Mindanao

July 11, 2009, 2:55pm
The multi-hued skies give the tower silhouette with the crescent moon the perfect backdrop in the province of Lanao. (Photo by WETOY ARENAS)
The multi-hued skies give the tower silhouette with the crescent moon the perfect backdrop in the province of Lanao. (Photo by WETOY ARENAS)

“The misimpression that Lanao is a perilous province to visit is a preposterous calumny.” Thus says Gov. Mamintal “Bombet” Adiong, Jr. of Lanao del Sur as he steers his province and its people towards progress with peace as a necessary ingredient.

The people of Lanao are known for their warmth, vibrancy, creativity, and diligence. This, we experienced during our recent visit. In the thick of preparations for the 50th founding anniversary of the province, we were jolted by the energy and joie de vivre so thick and rich, there was no way you could resist it.

We were whisked to see and enjoy what the locals called the “festival route” and the “scenic route”. The colorful Maranao costumes worn by street revelers simply leapt out before our eyes. No matter which way we looked, the fascinating vista left us mesmerized, awed, and reminded of the rich culture and natural resources that the province has taken great pains to maximize and preserve during the past 49 years.

There were the pulse beat and the rhythm that made visitors like us thank Heavens (and Allah) for the unspoiled beauty of creation. After experiencing the wonderful panorama of sights and sounds, we just had to take our hats off to Gov. Adiong, Jr, and his gracious First Lady Raifa for both of them are gifted with the proclivity of genuine reforms, change and progress.

The scenic route brought us to majestic Lake Lanao which is wreathed in the lush and productive mountain greenery of the province, and the Provincial Capitol. Inside the Capitol, we toured the various offices and saw that each of them had that distinct character of richness and diversity.

The Provincial Capitol tour also gave us the opportunity to sample unique Maranao delicacies. One is the famous kiyoning or yellow rice mixed with rich coconut milk and powdered kalawag (turmeric). Tivateg, on the other hand, is made of rice flour, coconut oil and brown sugar. It is strained for thinness, dropped in hot oil and rolled or folded. It is eaten with the fingers. Tiyateg looks like shredded wheat of the Westerners.  Another dessert is doldol, a thick pudding made of coconut milk, rice flour and dark sugar cooked for three hours.

We learned that for the Maranaos, food is generally eaten with bare hands while sitting on the floor. On special occasions, the floor is covered with woven colorful mats and food is served on brass trays called talam or tabak.

The most prominent traditional wear in the province is the malong, a large, colorful woven cloth wrapped around the body. One common way women wear it is around the waist with its folds draped over the left arm. Men wrap it around the waist like a skirt.

The malong has many uses depending on the need of the wearer. It can be used as a cape, coat, blanket or umbrella. Maranao or Maguindanao women wear the malong over a blouse called arbita. Also, they wear a turban called kombong made of muslin fabric. White is used as kombong when the wearer has been to Mecca.

What followed our sumptuous side trip to the Capitol was the cultural presentation wherein performers in their colorful and shiny garbs interpreted the Maranao Festival called  kalilang that  begins with the parade of dignitaries and their retinue and  members of royalty with their  colorful and bejeweled parasols (payong-a-diyakatan) who all walked to the beat of drums and gongs.

Children were also busy with Maranao games such as sipa-salama wherein one gets to kick a rattan ball to reach a goal.

To lure local and foreign tourists, Gov. Adiong, Jr. says: “Come world and view the beauty of Lanao. We would be more than happy to show you. It has been 50 years and things are only looking up. Lanao Del Sur is indeed the land where treasures grow.”


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