My “Home away from home” and central point is the Episcopal Church Center in Quezon City, Manila.  It is located in an area called Cathedral Heights, property purchased after WW II by the Episcopal Church, in which is located the Trinity University of Asia, St. Luke’s Medical Center, St. Mary and St. John Cathedral, the Church Center, and St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary.  My stay was at Horeb House, the ECP quest house.

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Getting there and 1st day in Manila – May 10

Day one, final preparation and the trip – May 8 – 10 (Philippine time is +15 hours from Pacific time)

It felt like our Air Force days and preparing for a TDY (temporary duty assignment); final packing, last minute changes to bags, breakfast together, and waiting for my ride to the airport.  So familiar, yet different.

This trip to the Philippines has been in the planning for 3 years.  It’s hard to believe it’s finally coming together.  I’ve been blessed with lots of encouragement and support from Debbie and my family, the people in the congregations I serve, St. Mary’s, Lakewood and St. Luke’s, Elma, and the Diocese of Olympia, Bishop’s Commission on the Environment.

Waiting at the airport, at the Asiana Airline gate and hearing the gathering of Korean voices is reminiscent of my first trip to Korea in 1984; flying from Seattle to Seoul.  The Korean language was so foreign then and the food on the flight over a new experience. Now, it is comforting and reminds me of all the good experiences I had in Korea and all the places I’ve visited and been stationed in Asia and the Pacific.  It’s good to be returning for a visit.

I did notice that flying an Asian carrier is a refreshing experience; carry-on baggage is actually checked and size limited, people were polite and not the usual push and shove of flight boarding.  The food was good and free (as were the drinks) and the seating was more comfortable with more space between the seats.

The flights were long and be began with a delay that carried over through the entire trip.  It was a hasty transfer from one flight to another at Incheon airport, with an extra security screening thrown it, making me regret I checked only one bag.  I arrived in Manila an hour late and immigration screening was long.  Manila airport at midnight is still a busy place and it is HOT here.

Restie Ong, a 3rd year seminarian met me at the airport and got me to the Episcopal Church center and Horeb House guest housing by 1:30 am.  I’ll be here until next Wednesday, when I fly to Cotabato City for my visit in the Diocese of Southern Philippines.

 Day 1 continued – May 10 It’s HOT in Manila!

Up early in spite of the late night.  I an ATM to get some Pisos so I could get breakfast (no one accepts American dollars) and when I returned to Horeb house, I got connected to their Wi-Fi.  It’s intermittent but better than no internet; I’ll just have to be patient.

I met Betsy Reodica in the Church center office.  She has done a wonderful job organizing my visit and making sure I have transportation, lodging, and meals.  She will accompany me on Saturday for the Corregidor tour.  The hospitality is absolutely wonderful.  Nowhere in any of my travels have I encountered such welcoming and sincere hosts.

I met with Padi David Tabo-oy, Evangelism and Christian Education officer for the ECP.  We talked about his work developing a standardized curriculum for all the Episcopal schools in the Philippines, primary through college.  I asked that he share the primary curriculum with me for some ideas for St. Mary’s school.  We also talked about web sites and I offered my help with the ECP site, or to have a web presence for Evangelism and Christian Education.

The ECP webmaster is not in today so I didn’t get a chance to meet her.  (Mid-term elections are on Monday, so many people have left to be in their home district for voting on Monday)  I also met Laura Ocampo, ECP-ABM Community Development Liaison Officer.  We also talked about web sites and I again offered my help to develop a web presence for her ministry.

I had lunch with Betsy, Restie and David at a wonderful Japanese buffet.  After lunch Betsy took me to a tailor shop to order a Barong Filipino style clergy shirt.

Early to bed so I’m fresh for the tour of Corregidor tomorrow – the ferry leaves at 7 am.

I’m having trouble with getting photos loaded, so pictures will come later

Sunday at the Cathedral – May 12

Up early this morning working on photos from yesterday. Still no internet connection, so my postings will be delayed. Hopefully the internet café down the street will be open on Monday.

Found coffee and orange juice to get my day started at the Pancake House and went to worship at the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John.  Restie came out and invited me to vest and concelebrate.
Bishop Manuel Lumpias, retired bishop of Central Philippines (and the last bishop of the Philippine church before it became an independent province of the Anglican Communion – May 1, 1990) was the celebrant and Padi Gloria Mapangdol preached. It was also National Youth Sunday, so the young people had a special presentation for Mother’s day and for Youth Sunday.

Worship attendance was about 250 and I was told that was below typical attendance at 9 am worship (early worship is at 6:30 am, with an attendance of less than 20). As I expected, there were lots of young people and children. It was a special experience to be part of the celebration and at the altar with the other clergy.

Worship was much the same as at St. Mary’s 8:45 am worship, except the Nicene Creed and the Lord’s Prayer were sung. There were “smells and bells” and good singing by the choir and congregation. We sang familiar hymns, and some to different tunes than in our hymnal. Everyone received Communion, including the youngest children. All the priests joined the bishop at the altar and said the Eucharistic prayer together, except for the Words of Institution. The order of service was from the ECP BCP and put together in a worship book called “The Holy Mass with Collects for Sundays and Holy Days.”

After coffee hour in the cathedral hall, went to lunch with Dean James Boliget, Restie, and Padi Ben Ngayan at a great Japanese buffet. Dean Boliget has been dean for 5 years in a 5 year contract. He’s waiting for next week’s Chapter meeting to find out if they intend to extend his contract. He told me it was typical for congregations in the Philippines to have a term contract with their priest, some as short as 3 years.

Election Day – May 13

 

A quiet day today, a holiday for the mid-term elections in the Philippines.  I spent the day fussing with internet connections trying to get my travel journal and photos up to date.  With the help of Burger King’s internet and the internet connection at Horeb House I managed to post my photos and update the travel journal.

I walked to the local grocery store and did some shopping.  It’s quite a different experience here.  You’re greeted by a security guard who scans you before you enter and it’s hard to walk down an aisle without someone asking if they can help you.  Almost all businesses have an armed security guard – probably what our cities will look like soon in the US.  I had lunch at a local restaurant and found out I couldn’t order a beer, because they can’t sell alcoholic beverages because there is a college nearby.

Walking down Rodriguez Sr Avenue (the main street on which the Church center is located) is an interesting contrast.  On one side of the street is an open market and “shanty” style apartments, on the other side is a high rise building with high-end shops and apartments.  On the street are pedal cabs and merchants, along with the new cars and vans, the typical Jeepne taxis and large tour busses.

According to some information I read, Manila is a city of 10 million and during the busy part of the day, it looks like that is an underestimate, but, not so much unlike our large cities.  Traffic in Seattle is sometimes as slow and crowded, and actually does not flow as smoothly.  The contrast between the well-off and the poor is evident everywhere and I think perhaps we (in the US) go to greater lengths to hide the poverty in our cities.

I’m still getting use to the money and I’m embarrassingly slow when paying my tab at a restaurant, but the folks are patient with an old Anglo.  Everyone I encounter is friendly and welcoming, service in businesses is impeccable.   My love for the Filipino people is only reinforced by my experience on this visit – part of what draws me back.

Tour of St. Andrew’s Seminary and afternoon shopping – May 14

Still can’t sleep past 5 am, but a nice morning, opening the windows and listening to the early morning sounds of roosters crowing and thunder in the distance.

 

 

Mailed some postcards to grandkids and visited with The Very Rev Doctor Patrick Tanhuanco, President and Dean of St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary (SATS). He gave me a copy of their 80th Anniversary Celebration book. We talked about the history of the seminary; began in 1932 as St. Andrew’s Training School in Sagada and in January 1938, the first graduates and the first Filipinos were ordained deacon. Some of my friends in ministry, Arsolin Almodiel, Irene Maliaman, and Teogenes Bernardez are graduates of SATS.

The seminary was closed during WW II and moved to Manila in 1946 and renamed St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary.

SATS currently offers programs of study for Bachelor in Theology, Master in Divinity, both 4 year residential programs, and a new Bachelor of Arts in Theology. SATS also offers the Lay Theological Program to the 7 diocese of the ECP for training lay people “to equip the saints for work of ministry.” (80th Anniversary Book, pg 15) Most students are from the Episcopal Church with about ten percent from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. SATS has had a long-term relationship with the IFI, and in past years, half of the student have from the IFI. My friend, Arsolin Almodiel is one of those IFI students of past years.

Dean Tanhuanco gave me a tour of the seminary facilities and I saw the library and collection from Bishop Longid’s library donated by his widow Cecilie Longid. I asked about the number of students, and was told it varies from 40 to 60 resident students.

This week the graduates are taking their Canonical Exams, so the seminary was quiet with the sound of study and preparation.

After lunch with the dean, Restie came to my room and offered to take me shopping. Our first stop was an RC liturgical supply store where I ordered a Filipino style cassock alb (very light weight and cool). Restie will have to ship it to me when It’s finished as they didn’t have anything large enough around the middle and neck to fit.

From there we went to a large shopping area – SM shopping mall. It was a multi-story store with anything from furniture to cigars. After shopping we had a coffee and then stopped for a cold San Miguel. Came back to Horeb House and I checked out, picked up my clean laundry and packed for an early start tomorrow for the trip to Cotabato. Some of the examining chaplains for the Canonical exams this week are staying at Horeb House and I met some of them, on from EDSP, who told me about what is planned for me there.

I’m excited about new places and new friends. I was also told it was cooler in Mindanao.

Check the photo gallery for new photos

A Day in Manila – May 21

A slow day, with breakfast at Burger King (they have the best Wi-Fi around). Restie picked me up at 10 and we went sightseeing. First stop was Santo Tomas University to visit the museum. I was hoping to see an exhibit about the Japanese internment camp at Santo Tomas during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in WW II. We had to ask about it and all they have available is a set of display boards, which they brought out from a storage room. When I asked about artifacts, I was told what they have is kept in storage and special arrangements must be made ahead of time in order to see them.

I did discover one important thing about visiting in Manila, they hold priests in high regard. When we went in to Santo Tomas compound, Restie told the security guard he had Fr. Eldwin with him and the guard showed us special parking.

We then went to see the Roman Catholic Cathedral and it was closed for renovation. So we visited the church of the Black Jesus (I don’t have the correct name). Again, when Restie told the guard I was Fr. Eldwin, we got special parking and didn’t have to wait in line to get into the church. I discovered the line was to be able to touch, through a cut out in a Plexiglas window, the foot of the black Jesus.

We then went into the nave, which was filled with people, some waiting for the next hourly Mass and others in line at the confessionals. Restie told me the black Jesus is attributed with miracles and the church is a place for pilgrims to visit. On its way to the Philippines, the ship on which the Jesus figure was caught on fire, except the Jesus figure was not burned, but turned black.

We went to a shopping area as I needed another, larger travel bag. From there to lunch and back to Horeb House.

In the afternoon I went to the local internet cafe to get my web site and Facebook up to date. I spent about an hour on the computer and the cost was 60 cents.

This evening, I took Restie, his wife and kids out to dinner. He has been such a gracious host and driven me all over Manila and to and from the airport. I wanted to show my appreciation is some small way. Returning from dinner, we stopped at the tailor shop to pick up my new Barong clergy shirt. I wanted the shirt especially to wear on Monday for the consecration of the cathedral in Santiago.

Tomorrow, I’m on my way to Santiago, with a 9 am flight to Cauayan, and a drive from Cauayan to Santiago.