Sunday, December 2, 2012

Flowers of the Holyland


















Israel despite its arid climate is a land of  beautiful flowers much to my surprise.  During our tours of historical/biblical sites in the Holyland,  I took a respite from listening to our tour guide, taking group pictures, listening to bible readings by intentionally straying away from the group for a few minutes to take pictures of flowers and plants in the sites. I always see the  hand of God in every beautiful plant and flower which each in its separate self looks like a perfect masterpiece of art. Even though my camera shots were rushed, the pictures turned out alright, and just looking at them gives me so much joy and peace.  Blessings.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Riding A Camel In Judea

Just returned from an exciting, enjoyable but tiring pilgrimage to Israel and Italy.  Being a history major and a history teacher in high school in my twenties, I finally was able to cross out some must see places in my bucket list. Was amazed at how structures (palaces, temples, roads, houses, aqueducts, churches) and works of artisanship and art created by man  from as long as 3,000 years ago are still preserved/restored to be seen and appreciated by us in the present.

I joined other Christian pilgrims visit biblical sites in Israel, mainly retracing Jesus life, from his birth in Bethlehem, his ministry of preaching and miracles in Galilee, Judea, Capernaum and Jerusalem, his crusifixion, death and resurrection. The Wailing Wall (which is a part of the old Temple of Jerusalem where Jesus also preached) in particular made quite an impression on me as Jews and Christians together touched the wall and prayed as one people.

It was quite an emotional experience , walking on the same grounds that were trodden by the feet of Jesus and his disciples, or ride a boat similar to the one during Jesus time in the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water.

The exclamation point was when I had a chance to ride a camel (with one hump, in Saudi Arabia camels have 2 humps I was told)  at the Judean Desert.  Nobody else among the 11 other pilgrims I was with dared to ride the camel, maybe because we were beside a cliff, and one wrong move could be the end of the pilgrimage for the rider and the camel. The thing is, it was just like riding a water buffalo, which I experienced doing when I was young with my cousins Amang and Abel in the farming village of Sto. Cristo,San Antonio, Nueva Ecija.

We flew safely to Rome just in time, because a day after,  rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas towards Israel rained the very places we toured.  Rome mesmerized me. I had goosebumps viewing the Coloseum, asking in wonderment how ancient Romans were able to build such massive structures mainly thru manual labor.  Like a child, I looked in awe at the great sculptures, paintings and architecture of Rome.  Also had a once in a lifetime experience of seeing Pope Benedict in person at the Vatican where he blessed us and all religious articles we brought to the papal audience.

Our last stop was more a more leisurely tour of Venice, where, we had an enjoyable time riding it's famous gondola, feasted on a seafood lunch with a glass of white wine outdoors by St. Mark's Square, and an afternoon of sightseeing, shopping and walking the streets of the  only car-less big city in the world. 

When things get more peaceful in Egypt, I would like to visit the country too and see the Great Pyramid.  Athen's Parthenon, India's Taj Mahal and China's Great Wall are also in my bucket list, the only reason preventing me from seeing these places - money.  So, have to save more.

Peace and love.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Colours, Running And Basketball

It's autumn again here in Markham, and despite the dipping temperatures and more rainy days, there are days in between when the weather turns beautiful and sunny or the the rain stops, so one can get out, enjoy the scenery, get some fresh air.  Fall has become one of my  favorite seasons over the years. When I was new here, I used to hate fall weather  for its gloominess, gray skies, , rain, falling leaves  bare trees. As I lived 34 years of my life in a tropical country (the Pearl of the Orient Seas - the Philippines) where the temperature is warm and mostly sunny  all year round,  the experience of colder temperatures was quite a shock..

Now, I see fall differently.  I love seeing the trees, shrubs and vegetation changing to beautiful fall colours - yellow, brown, orangy sometimes, pinkish leaves that through the days fall to the ground one by one until the branches of the trees where they were before are bare, and to me look like little hands reaching for the sky, praying to , praising and giving thanksgiving to the great creator in heaven. I love to feel the cold autumn breeze gently touching my cheeks, and savour the smell of falling leaves and damp vegetation.






In the last year my running mileage has been dramatically down from the previous years because of this chronic pain in the left side of my knee. The thing is, when I stop running for a long time the pain gets worse. I discovered that when I run slower and shorter distances, the pain seems to disappear most of the time. So, latelly in the last 2 months, I have been visiting this basketball court in a park close by and after my short slow runs, I reminish the good old days by shooting some hoops and a few times actually played 3 on 3 pick up ball with some youngsters.  Of course I did not feel old when I was playing,  felt it always though the morning after when I painfully struggled just to get out of my bed.