Zamboanga – where the monkeys have no tails Aug 3 – 4

Brent Hospital (5)I probably should explain “where the monkeys have no tails”:  I learned recently there is a song “The Monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga” It was used in the John Wayne movie “Donavan’s Reef” and is apparently an old US Navy song with several verses (some not “nice” enough to repeat – look it up on Google if you want more info). 

The first verse goes like this:

Oh, the monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga
Oh, the monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga
The monkeys have no tails, they were bitten off by whales
Oh, the monkeys have no tails in Zamboanga

I was met at the airport and driven to Brent Hospital, where I’ll be staying the next two nights.  I visited the CEO, Fr. Ernie Moral and he gave me a short tour of the hospital and college of nursing.  There are several people here I met last year at the EDSP diocesan convention, like Fr. Ernie and the director of the college.  She told me that some of the books we sent from St. Mary’s were given to Good Shepherd school and are in good use by the students.

Brent hospital was founded by Bishop Henry Brent as one of the first (maybe THE first) Episcopal hospitals in the Philippines.  History says he first started the mission work in Sagada and next in Zamboanga.  Brent Hospital was founded in 1914 and Trinity Church in 1904 (St. Mary’s, Sagada was 1901).  The hospital building was destroyed in 1945 (by US bombing I think) and the current facility completed in 1952.  They are building new buildings for new hospital facilities and will turn the old building in to clinic space.  There are 120 beds in the hospital, mostly private rooms and one 5 bed-ward on each of the 4 floors.  It is the last remaining Episcopal hospital in the Philippines.

I’m not allowed off the campus on my own and have a guard assigned to me.  Just down the street was the site of a major kidnapping and hostage situation in 2014.  The island home of the Moro tribe responsible can be seen from the front steps of the hospital.  I will respect their wishes and not venture out on my own.

Nice dinner with local clergy and head of school.  First experience of having dinner escorted by an armed security guard.  I’ll start off tomorrow with worship with the clergy at Good Shepherd at 7:30 am and then a tour of some of the outstations and the town. 

Thursday – Aug 4th

Lund memorial garden (6)Started the day with Holy Eucharist at Lund Memorial Garden, an Episcopal cemetery, adjacent to Good Shepherd church.  Fr. Pama celebrated and I was asked to talk about my visit to EDSP, the diocese of Olympia, and our partnership.  After worship, time for a snack and coffee and a visit to Good Shepherd school.  The school is part of the new K-12 education standard and have their first year of 11th grade.  Just over 400 students, mix of Christian and Muslim.  I visited classrooms in each part of the school and took photos with the kids.  The school was founded in 1938 and has recently come under Brent Colleges administration. 

From Good Shepherd a tour of some outstations, both just an open building.  St. John the Baptist in the village of Basilin overlooks the Moro sea and has a congregation of about 100 families.  They hope to get a new church building through St. Luke’s Medical center’s church building program.  The congregation mostly lives in the area of the church.  St. Barnabas, in a farming community, has about 50 families.  Both of these are served by the rector of Good Shepherd, along with 5 others.

I returned to my room for a short rest and Fr. Ernie picked me up and we did a “tourist” trip around the town.  Fort Pilar was interesting, built in the 17th century by the Spanish and occupied by American troops in the 20th.  The museum was closed, so we could only see the building.  The area around the port is a market and harbor.  The hostage situation in 2014 when over 100 people were held hostage by a local bandit happened around the fort and lasted for over a month, ending with several deaths, mostly the bandits.  The leader was never found, so it’s not known if he died or escaped.

We also visited the butterfly sanctuary and museum, and again the museum was closed.  I returned to my room (again to cool off) and we had dinner in the evening at a nice restaurant near the butterfly sanctuary.  I was disappointed that I was not able to make contact with my friend Flora May.  She was one of the group who visited our diocese from EDSP last year and we’ve kept in contact through Facebook.Fort Pilar National museum (9)

The question of whether monkeys have tails in Zamboanga remains unanswered.  I saw no monkeys and found no one to comment on monkey tails.  I’ll have to save it for further research.

Many thanks to Fr. Ernie and Fr. Pama for their wonderful hospitality, and to the staff of Brent Hospital, Good Shepherd School, and Lund Memorial Garden, and all the wonderful folks I met on my short tour of Zamboanga.

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