Seeing the Lady of Guadalupe Cloak on My Birthday

Last year on my birthday, I went to the Love Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey, and surprisingly met an angel in disguise.  This year on my birthday, I went to Mexico City and saw the cloak of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.

My birthday this year was really special because I got to visit the Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe! The basilica that houses the very popular cloak in which the image of our Lady of Guadalupe has been miraculously been impressed and printed so as to authenticate Virgin Mary’s apparitions in the area. 

seeing this was for me a miracle already
amen!

My birthday this year fell on a Saturday yet there was a Holy Mass service held in the basilica when I arrived.  This gave me the opportunity to hear a Mexican Holy Mass and say humongous thanks to the Lady of Guadalupe for the rare travel gift of experiencing the amazing city of Mexico.

The modern Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe is vast and massive complex.  It is the most visited Marian shrine in Mexico because it houses the cloak containing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It is interesting to know that the new basilica was only completed in 1974.  The old basilica (finished in 1709) on the other hand is just adjacent to it but is already sinking.  Its floor has got some deep slope and its façade has evidently tilted.  It looks like it will dangerously fall and crumble anytime.  

notice how tilted the old church is?
selfie with the Lady! 

My prayer to the Lady of Guadalupe was all about my being thankful that I got to experience Mexico.  I did not asked for any miracle because my seeing and marveling over the beauty and holiness of the cloak during my birthday has been one major miracle for me already.

Santa Maria! Salamat!

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My Christian Warrior

nengkoy & joe

I grew up in a Catholic family.  My father was Catholic when he converted to being a Born Again Christian back in the late 80s.  Ironically, his conversion happened in the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia where he was based as an overseas worker.

When my father retired and decided to stay for good in the Philippines with my family, he was one active member of his church.  He even attempted to convert every one of us in the family.

Too bad for him, he started with me.  I actually commend my father for trying.  His strategy to start with me was so genius.  He knew that if I will be converted, it would be very easy for the rest of the members of my family to become Born Again Christians.

Up until the last days of my father, he never stopped in convincing and converting me.  I guess he knew that I am really the one who needs to be saved from the fires of hell. Hahaha! I can still remember the funny and humorous intellectual debate we had about how to be a true Christian while he was in the hospital.

It has been years and my father has gone to heaven.  He may have failed to convert me, yet I am pretty sure that in spirit, he still looks after me, Nengkoy and the rest of my growing family. He has always been my Christian Warrior.

I guess my father’s failure to convert me is really not a failure after all.  Because a true Christian Warrior will simply let you be the seeker of your own Truth.  And that is one of the multitude of impacts and contributions of my father to me.

Happy Father’s Day Tatay!  You got one proud son here…

Amishyu!

The Blue Mosque of Instanbul

Sultan Ahmed Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque should not be missed by any tourist in Istanbul.  Set on one side of the magnificent Sultanahmet Square, this vast mosque with high-domed ceiling is accessible to non-worshippers only at certain times of the day.

But don’t let the time of its closure put you off! The beautiful exterior can be considered one engineering marvel.  It is tagged to be one of the most impressive monuments in the world.  And its interior is a beautiful display that exudes peace, harmony and goodwill.

Can’t say much about this place for I was astounded by the massive beauty of the Blue Mosque.  Let me just post numerous photos I took of this majestic world wonder. 

Ang ganda!

Holy House of Mother Mary in Turkey

Let me start featuring my Turkey solo journey posts not based on chronology of events.  Instead, let me commence by featuring one of the holiest spot in Turkey for the Christian Catholics like me.

I have been to the holy house of Mother Mary.

Hail Mary!

When the tour guide of the tour group I joined announced that the first site to be visited was the Holy House of Mother Mary, I got a bit worried.  I became so nervous and anxious because the guards of this pilgrimage site may see my invisible wicked horns and would not allow me in. Hahaha!

full of grace…
where are the pilgrims?

Anyway, the time of my specific visit to the House of Mother Mary according to our Tour Guide was something bizarre.  According to him, this Catholic pilgrimage site is often visited by hordes of tourists and pilgrims.  But on the particular instance that we visited, only me and my tour mates (a Singaporean couple, a Vienna-based Korean solo traveler and a Chilean lady physicist) were the only people at the site.

The Tour Guide who can’t seem to fathom that there was no people around justified that we must be some very special visitors of the house.  He mentioned that this must be some sort of a gift from the heavens so that our group would be able to deeply marvel and appreciate the beauty and sacredness of the holy site.

beautiful
and i was actually allowed inside the house… taking photos inside though is prohibited
pose muna kahit nakaka-paso!

Except for the Chilean lady physicist everyone in the group were non-practicing Christians.  But I was the only Catholic and was the only one who took the rare opportunity of lighting a candle and writing a note and tied it along with the bunch of other written wishes and prayer intentions on the humongous wall of notes.

When we left, the Tour Guide asked the group if someone wrote on a piece of paper and tied it on the wall of notes.  The Vienna-based Korean pointed at me.  The Tour Guide then told me not to divulge to the group the wish and prayer intentions that I have written on my note so that its realization would not be spoiled.  I then zipped my mouth and kept quiet.

But let me reveal what I have written.

salamat!
Mother Mary must be very busy… that’s a lot!
tied my thank you note…a wish fulfilled…

I actually did not wrote any request or any appeal.  I simply wrote a thank you note gor I consider my Turkey journey a gift from the heavens.  I did not wrote any desired intentions anymore because my being at the House of Mary and in Turkey (for that matter) is already a realization of a ginormous wish.

Heyl Meri!

A Palm Sunday in San Francisco and My Anti-Ageing Cream is Working

My Holy Week last year would most probably be the holiest Holy Week I will ever have, it is because I got to spend it right where the holy Holy Week happened, in Jerusalem, Israel.  This year I am in San Francisco USA.  And though it is definitely less divine compared to last year, I nevertheless got to observe Holy Week here.

I got to attend and celebrate Holy Mass at Grace Cathedral last Palm Sunday.  I actually arrived 30 minutes before the mass started that is why I got the opportunity to take photos and go around the holy church.

my 2017 palm sunday church
lovely
solemn…

One funny thing happened though.  As I was about to leave the church after dipping my fingers into the Holy Water to make the sign of the cross, a lady approached me with the biggest smile.  She expressed that she was so glad to see such a young man like me attending a Holy Mass on a Palm Sunday.  She further expressed in a very gentle voice that new generation whom according to her I belong no longer attends a Holy Mass.  She then uttered “God Bless you young man!”

turista…
my instagram post last palm sunday
selfie muna
eto na yun… palaspas nila… pinitas lang.

I did not say anything.  I just stood there.  Listened to her and smiled.  If she only knew how old I am and that I may actually older than her.  I decided not to correct nor rectify her statements.  Besides, I don’t want to ruin her beautiful morning.  I just left the church smiling and thinking how much love I have for my anti-ageing cream….

Lumelebel… o baka naman malabo lang ang mata ni Inday.

Kissed a Relic

national shrine of padre pio

One of the highlights of Nengkoy’s birthday celebration last week was my whole family’s visit to the National Shrine of Padre Pio located in Sto. Tomas Batangas (80 km south of Manila).  Except for my younger sister Joie, it was everybody’s first time in the church.

Before proceeding to the main church area all of us took time to roam and check out the grounds of the holy national shrine.  We even lighted a number of votive candles to give thanks and pray for some groovy and awesome intercession.

votive candles…. got myslef a green for health, nengkoy took a brown for birthday while nephew miggy got himself a yellow for money! hahaha!
smiling nengkoy with smiling padre pio
come holy spirit…
few of my monster nephews… denden, luis, kambal, neil and miggy
got to kiss this…
a super blessed day… (nephew alexis: a photo bomber hahaha!)

We failed to attend and listen to a Holy Mass but we were nevertheless lucky and were at the perfect time to have attended an awesome Healing Liturgy.  And part of the blessed ceremony is that people got to kiss a sacred relic of St. Padre Pio followed by an anointment of a fragrant oil on both palms and the forehead.

Though it initially freaked me out, because I thought my lips are gonna burn (hahaha!) when it touches the relic, the experience was something serene, calm and divine.  I definitely felt God’s blessings and Padre Pio’s embrace.

Visiting Padre Pio church in Batangas was one beautiful experience.  It was one blessed experience!

Mwah! Mwah!

Chronicling a Momentous Holy Mass in Old Jaffa

According to history, Old Jaffa in Tel Aviv was a place that was monopolized by the Canaanites and Philistines.  It was also the ancient town brought to knees by Biblcal King David, ruled by King Solomon and vanquished by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians and the Phoenicians.  It was the historic site where Alexander the Great stationed his troops.  And it was reconquered by the Jews through the Maccabean rebels and also fell into the hands of the Romans.  Old Jaffa is also where some of the stories in the Holy Bible about Jonah and Apostle Peter took place.

Old Jaffa is also even written about in some Egyptian letters by an ancient pharaoh.  It is also believed to be the place where Andromeda (of the Greek mythology) was chained to a rock by her king father so as to pacify the tantrums of Poseidon.

st peter's church
st peter’s church
amen!
amen!
my sister outside the st peter's church...
my sister outside the st peter’s church…

And in the event I happen to become very famous and significant, let me pronounce and put in writing (so that people would know) that this historic site is where I attended my first Holy Catholic Mass in Israel.  Not in Jerusalem, not in Nazareth neither in Bethlehem.  It is in old, historic and colorful Jaffa!  This I guess would be one notable event that will be recognized in the future!

And for the record, the Holy Mass me and my sister fortuitously attended was celebrated in the Spanish language.  It was a special Mass for some Latin American looking tourists. Too bad I did not intently listened to my profesora in Spanish language subjects during my schooldays, only little could I understand on what the priest was saying.

But since me and my sister knows the dynamics of the Holy Catholic Mass – when to say amen, when to kneel, when to do the sign of the cross, when to pray a specific/standard prayer, when to stand and bow the head, when to respond (our response was in English though), when to say “peace be with you”, etc. – the experience was as divine and as hallowed like attending a Holy Mass which we could totally understand.

No, I don’t have plans of conquering this awesome place but it can now be said that Old Jaffa is now a part of my soon to be famous life.  Or the other way around, that is, I have at least in some strange twist of fate have been part of the historic Old Jaffa.

took a shot while the first reading is on-going...
took a shot while the first reading is on-going…
the massive church was aptly called st peter's church because this is where st peter lived for a while (inside simon the tanner's house) and had a vision/dream which started the christian  catholic religion.  old jaffa is also where st peter raised tabitha from the dead
the massive house of prayer was aptly called st peter’s church because this is where st peter lived for a while (inside simon the tanner’s house) and had a vision/dream which started the christian catholic religion. this house is also where st peter raised tabitha from the dead
up the hill in old jaffa. behind me is the catholic church of st peter.
up the hill in old jaffa. behind me is the catholic church of st peter.

Parang gusto ko tuloy sakupin at ikongker ang baryong ito.