Tag Archives: Ruben Guinolbay II

Pilgrimage

My soul yearns for the Lord; for  a number of reasons. My Dad died earlier this year and my Mom is very sick. Further, there are serious health issues which plague our family for which I seek  God’s presence.  This yearning for His presence took me to the Holy Land. I know Most Devout Catholics dream of reaching the Holy Land. This dream came sooner than expected for me and my sons. I go to church almost daily and I must admit places like Mount Sinai, Dead Sea, Bethlehem  and River Jordan are places which exist only in the Bible. I believe that God exists but like ordinary Catholics, it takes one big miracle for doubters like me to have a deeper faith in one Supreme Being who controls all events in our lives. This “Miracle” is yet to be but to walk the places He walked is in itself a big miracle.

Let’s begin where it all started.

The Manger

The manger. Do you ever wonder why we put stars on our Christmas trees? It is a popular Christmas decoration. There are research  which leads  to a German practice since 19th century.  And according to the Bible, it is  the star that led the Wise Men to His Majesty: “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage’” (Mt 2:1-12).   But to my mind,  it is the probable reason why the Israelites / Queen Elena, marked the Lord’s birth place with a silver star.

In our Pilgrimage, my sons and I were brought to the Nativity Church, the place which is believed to be the location where Jesus was born. According to research which includes our local tour guide from Nazareth, the Nativity Church was built around the place where Jesus was born.

The silver star marks the spot where the manger was.

This is what the Nativity Church looks like from one side.

When we visited the Church, there was a big Christmas tree in the Churchyard.

According to the local tour guide, the Nativity Church was the only Church left undisturbed by the Moors/Muslims because they saw the images of the Three Kings at its window.  Sadly, I was not able to capture the mosaic picture of the three kings.

Baptism at Jordan River

For most Catholics,  after we are born,  baptism follow shortly. However, the Bible teaches us that  Jesus was baptized at the Jordan River when he was already a full grown man. My sons and I were  fortunate to  be  baptized in the very same River.  It’s actually a very small one.  A glimpse of the picture below would give you an idea how amazingly small  it is.

The water looks green but when I got some and placed it in a bottle, the water was surprisingly clear. When we were baptized it was so cold but my children, specially Miguel, did not mind.

Wedding feast at Cana

The second luminous mystery is the wedding feast in Cana. This was one of my favorite stops because I was fortunate to sing solo in a wedding. Actually 23 couples renewed their vows when I sang. The picture below shows the famous Church which stood in place of the house  where Jesus performed His first Miracle; the transformation of the water into wine.

You might think that the  wine containers are small or portable. Actually the water/wine containers are about this size:

According to the local tour guide, this cement like container is the original water container which held the special wine made by Jesus.

There a lot more of stories to tell.  But, actually  this blog is not intended to cover all aspects of the Pilgrimage.  This is all for now.

A Blessed Merry Christmas to All!

Strange things happen during Halloween

Unfaithful to what I pledged last year, I had a bit of Halloween celebration. That is, by dressing up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a far cry from my decade long style of celebrating this pagan custom. And as the old saying goes, old habits die hard.  Right or wrong, my kids and I always treated this occasion as a photo opportunity. Thus,

 

You must agree with me that Miguel’s eyes, reminiscent of the Village of the Damned, added to the creepiness of the photo.

My sons’ pictures above were regular; nothing special nor spectacular. However, when it was my turn, this happened.

The  second picture below, using an I phone, was taken by the lady whose head was mysteriously included in the photo. Don’t ask me what app was used because we did not use any. In fact, the photographer, the owner of the floating head, freaked out.

Strange things do happen during Halloween.

A Camp and a Fort in Baguio

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Happy new year everyone! As I write, I have two pleadings pending this week. One is a comment to the motion for reconsideration and another is an investigative report. However,  I’d rather blog about our recent trip to Baguio to start the year right. You see, as I imagined,  my children had a blast in Baguio.  Before deciding on this trip, our agreement was to visit all the Philippine tourist spots which begin with letter B.   Although my children visited Baguio twice  when they were  babies, I don’t think they enjoyed the trip as much as they did the last.  Further, I know that Baguio offers a lot of fun stuff for children.  Hence, we decided that the best way to end the year 2016 was to go to Baguio.

Baguio, for the information of non-Filipinos, is the summer capital of the Philippines. It has several  references  actually, which include the City of Pines, Philippines’ mountain resort, Home of the  Igorots, Ifugaos and Ibalois ( Philippine northern tribes who are denizens of the mountains) among others.

Baguio is a haven for the fashionistas  ( a devoted follower of fashion) . It is the perfect place to  get your signature clothes at a very cheap price. Thrift stores abound. Further, you get to buy and actually wear, winter clothes given the cold weather.

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Look at my Soviet boys

I could go on and on describing what a wonderful place Baguio is but allow me to just focus on two attractions.

Camp John Hay

When I was a kid, my family and I often visited  Camp John Hay to dine and  buy imported chocolates and toys. Although much has changed since I was five, the camp still gives me an eerie feeling because of the  presence of  old American colonial structures. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the Americans, it’s  just that the place retained some of its old colonial structures which date back to World War II period. ( Read: ghosts soldiers and unexplained noises)  Originally known as John Hay Air Station, Camp John Hay  was established on October 25, 1903.

As I said, it’s not my children’s first time to be  in Baguio.  The last time we went  was in 2009. After seven years, I figured  now is the perfect time to suit up on their battle gear.  You see, as children of an officer, my children idolized their dad and inevitably dreamed of wearing camouflage and doing soldier stuff like rappelling, vine swinging or target shooting. Camp John Hay is fully equipped with zipline and rappelling facilities.

RG rappelling

Miguel rappelling

Miguel swinging

As a mother, seeing your children strap up and swing  to an altitude of 65 feet is enough to make me faint or vomit. It’s my sons’ first time to zip line and I didn’t want to play the killjoy role by saying to forget about the zip line and rappel  idea and just eat strawberry ice cream. But as I watch them, I had to be brave  and act happy  yet secretly praying to God Almighty that the ropes don’t break.

Next, there is also a shooting range and a paintball arena in Camp John Hay. Initially, my children were refused entry in the paintball arena because the age requirement to play this game is 12. I don’t know maybe because  we repeatedly and patiently lined up for it, they finally allowed us on the condition that I sign a waiver.

As my children queued to get their tickets, the other children  were envious of my children’s outfit, specially the hats. Since I am a self-professed creative lawyer mother, I figured this activity would be picture perfect if they wore  an army garb.

Lastly,  at Camp John Hay’s  Le Monet Hotel, they even had snow.HPIM0950.JPG

Philippine Military Academy / Fort Del Pilar

Of course, the Baguio trip would be incomplete without a trip to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). My husband and I often bring RG to PMA since  he was a baby.

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RG ‘S first trip to PMA. Picture taken on 11 February 2006

PMA was established on December 21, 1936 by virtue of  a law -the National Defense Act. PMA is actually the Philippines’ military school.My husband Ruben “Gino” Guinolbay, was a member of PMA Bantay laya Class 94. Below are his pictures taken inside the PMA campus during his cadet days.

During our recent trip, my children preferred to have their pictures taken with the tanks. Inside the campus are old tanks and howitzers.

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See these tanks? I’m pretty sure that  you once  dreamed about climbing these amphibians in your childhood days. When I was a child, I used have pictures taken with these old tanks too. One of the purposes of this blog is to give you guys an idea on where to have your next photo shoot.

All told, the entire Baguio trip was very exhausting given the long walks and the unavailability of taxis in view of the Christmas season; but seeing my children revel at the realization of their battle dreams, was priceless.

Trees

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The author with her family.

The picture above is an ordinary family picture. But you must agree with me that made it pleasing to the eye is the abundant greenery at the background.  I am not about to join the band of environmentalists who preach about saving mother nature. I am simply  stating my experience about how trees affect the climate. You see, we live in a highly urbanized and achingly polluted, city.  Every plant or tree in our area is becoming scarce.

Two months ago, I prided myself on the lack of need for air conditioning because our home is adjacent to a vacant lot with trees. Not for long, these trees were cast out and thrown on the rubbish heap to make way for the construction of a four door apartment.

See these pictures taken a month apart:

Notice the same wall and the same blue water tank? It’s just hard to imagine that they took down four big trees in two days.  I almost failed to capture this coconut tree because I was on my way to work. This was the last to be cut down.

So what is my point? The point is, an electric fan will not do anymore. It’s unbearably hot to sleep after the four trees were knocked off their roots. According to the environmentalists, what I am experiencing is called the heat island effect.  Without trees to provide shade, cities and other urban areas are left with streets and buildings which retain so much heat forcing people to use extra power to cool their homes.

The poem written by Joyce Kilmer is very apt:

TREES

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Goodbye Halloween!

Of all the exciting holidays, Halloween was my favorite. Halloween is fun and exciting.  Besides, it is very colorful.  You get to pretend you are a ghost, a fairy or a princess.  What could be more exciting than donning a witch outfit to terrorize the kids and then give them candy? Because of my ghostly collection of costumes and decorations, yearly, my village becomes festooned with monsters and ghostly ornaments.  For eight years, our family ancestral house became the venue for these happy halloween celebrations. In my workplace, the celebration became office wide because of me. In fact, a Catholic school decided to celebrate it for a time because of my decors.  Halloween became a tradition because of me.  I never thought I could be that influential. However, this year, I’ve decided to end that tradition because it’s wrong. So I started giving away my precious collection. Why precious? Despite the ghastly appearance of  my decorations, some of them are hard to find collections. One third of my collection  has been with the family for years.

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This is Salem, my older sister’s stuffed toy cat. It is a thirty year old cat, hence practically an antique.

I have porcelain witches and battery operated grim rippers. I have hundreds of witch hats, some of which (no pun intended) were imported from the US and Europe.  Most of my neighbors were puzzled by my latest act of giving these decors away. So what is the real reason behind my  latest act of generosity?

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One third of  my collection of horrors.

You see, Halloween is  never a Catholic tradition. It is actually the Feast of Demons. It is said to have evolved from the Celtic holiday of Samhain. According to several accounts and legends, witches from  far and wide congregate on October 31 at a designated place to worship and have orgies with the under lord,  or Satan, for us Catholics.   Although staunch supporters of this tradition  justify  their celebration by saying  modern Halloween has become less about literal ghosts and ghouls and more about costumes, it still remains to be, the feast of demons. And demons are real. I have recently witnessed demonic possession.

Exorcism
Credits to the owner of this photo.

It is very unfortunate that while I surreptitiously took pictures of the lady being exorcised,  the memory of my cellphone got erased.  For easy imagination, the scene looked like the picture above.

The possessed lady which was seated at my back was  breathing heavily at first which graduated to more tiger-like growls. I tried to ignore her because to my mind, maybe she had autism or otherwise,  suffering from really terrible colds. What freaked me out was when she cackled loudly like a witch and her mouth  spewed some kind of ectoplasm, only it’s white, not green.  Being a very devout Catholic,  I dashed off to the next pew and  reached out for my Rosary.  ( A black belter is no match for this supernatural, tiger growling possessed lady!)

Anyway, after about an hour of delivering several kicks and inflicting bites on the Priest and his prayer warriors, the possessed lady began to calm down and cry. She seemed so consumed and physically drained.

How does one get possessed? I am no expert on the subject but according to the priest who exorcised the lady, one reason  is  failure to observe the day of worship. For us Catholics, we are mandated to hear mass on Sundays.  Another reason why people get possessed is their observance  of pagan practices or in my case, extreme fondness for the macabre.

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My children, RG and MM love to play with these severed heads.

The reason why I am writing this is to inform you how a simple pagan practice could actually lead to demonic possession. This is not to say that I was previously possessed, or then again maybe I was.

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Artwork

I have yet to meet somebody who is not pleased with a piece of art. Human beings naturally prefer beautiful things.

On September 30, 2016, my sons and I went to our usual favorite hang out at Gudsilog only to be confronted with the sad news that it was their last day of operation.

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Gudsilog Restaurant

Well, there is really nothing special about this place unless you are a human being who likes eating Filipino breakfast all day long.  The meal prices are reasonable-  ranging from Php70-99 pesos.In dollars, a meal costs about a dollar and a half. Not bad, right?  But for me and my boys not only do we enjoy the food for hours, we pass time by enjoying the artwork which hangs on its walls. See these:

Notice the artwork in our background. A closer look :

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Well,  it’s nothing compared to Mona Lisa or Spoliarium but I must admit the artist put in a lot of hard work considering the details.

This  particular Gudsilog branch where my boys and I usually go already closed down because of its inability to compete with the very famous  and likewise reasonable restaurant beside it. So what’s the point? Well, there are plenty of places to go to admire art. One such place is the Art Island Cubao in Quezon City. In Art Island, you can actually be a part of the artwork. To do this, you  must be armed with a camera or your mobile phone with camera. Here are our chosen artworks:

However, in my case when I barely have the money to go to museums, I amuse myself by  making my own art with whatever materials available.

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Angry Suha

 

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Twitter grapes

Wearing Green Part II

IMG20180308104052.jpgMy  blogger son  always adored my job as a lawyer and vowed to be one, when he grows up. That is true until the day  his  father arrived with these camouflage uniforms and unsurprisingly, he can’t keep his hands  off them.  Finally, a full camouflage uniform! All boys (and even girls) dream of wearing this-crazy,  puzzle like,  leaf shaped patterns.

During the 1930s, only soldiers and policemen were allowed to wear camouflage uniforms.Uniforms were invented for the purpose of identifying the wearer as a member of the army, police or a school. It is even considered a crime if you wear a uniform in false pretense.IMG20180308105451 Although the uniform serves as a warning to the public that the wearer is a soldier or a member of the police force, it could be a fashion hindrance for people who desire to stand out in a crowd.  Of course standing out is antithetical to most military strategies. The idea is to blend in or blend with the environment.  To achieve this, soldiers don the camouflage.

In the Philippines, camouflage shirts and pants are as ubiquitous like maya birds! The fatigue/camouflage has become a fashion statement not only for families with soldier relatives but more so, by tricycle drivers.

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This was our trike driver on our way to the Church.

The country’s  then vice president was previously threatened with a case for wearing the camouflage. The case of course did not fly for the simple reason that everybody’s wearing it.

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Col. Guinolbay with sons RG and MM. At the  background is Lolo Nitoy, likewise a man in uniform.

It is really easy to see why boys and tricycle drivers love the camouflage. One can’t help but feel proud or patriotic  while wearing a symbol of valor.

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I hope I am not looking at the future. Although I must admit my  boys look good in green.