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Getting ready for the trip. August 10, 2009

We’re leaving on Aug 17th at 2:45 am.  Headed to Honolulu, with a 5 hr layover.  Mimi Wu, Province VIII Asian Ministry coordinator, is meeting us for breakfast in Honolulu.  At Noon, to Manila, arriving at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, Aug 18th.

On Wednesday, Aug 19th, a breakfast meeting with the Prime Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and his senior staff.  A visit to the National Cathedral and the St. Andrew’s seminary. Then – travel to Santiago City.

Thursday –  Diocese of Santiago Clericus meeting.  I’ve been invited to be the preacher and Fr. Teogenes the Concelebrant at the opening Eucharist.  In the afternoon a time of sharing of information about our dioceses and exploration of a Companion Diocese relationship.

Saturday – visit to Cornfields Deanery and St. Stephen’s in Namillangan.

Sunday – Celebrant and Preacher at St. Joseph’s church in Cauayan City.  Fr. Teogenes to be Celebrant and Preacher at St. Mark’s parish in Santiago City.

Monday – Breakfast meeting with Bishop Brent Alawas of the Diocese of the North Central Philippines and a visit to St. Mary the Virgin Church in Sagada and St. Benedict’s Church in Besao.  I will also visit with Sisters Evelyn and Inez of the Order of St. Mary in Marycroft.  I am an associate of the Order of St. Mary and know the sisters from meeting them at the Mother House in Sewanee, TN.

Tuesday – I’m headed back to Manila and Fr. Teogenes to visit with his family.

Wednesday – a day to tour Manila and a Debriefing with the Prime Bishop and National Church staff in the afternoon.

Thursday, Aug 27th – leaving Manila at 7:00 pm and arriving in Las Vegas at 11:20 pm (I wish it was only a 4 hour flight).

Looks like it will be a busy time.  I hope to have some time to myself to do some sightseeing and gift buying.  I hope to have a chance to visit Bataan and Corregidor (I’m a student of WW II history).

We’re taking videos of All Saints’ Youth Coalition, St. Luke’s parish, and Bishop Dan to show some of the life and ministry of our diocese and hope to return with some video to show the life and ministry of the Diocese of Santiago.  I will make a presentation about the trip and present the Companion Diocese Relationship Resolution at Diocesan Convention in October.

Watch this space for photos and a travel log of the trip.  Keep us in your prayers as we travel.

First day on the road – 30 hours door to door: Aug 16 – 17

We began our journey at Las Vegas airport about midnight on Sunday, with an on time departure at 2:45 am to Honolulu – “5 58 and we’re home” is what the first officer announced and in “5 58” we were in Honolulu.  The smell of the ocean and the ocean breeze was fantastic.  Mimi Wu, Province VIII Asian ministries coordinator came to pick us up for breakfast.  We had a good visit.  Mimi and coming to my last service at All Saints’ on Sep 27th and I honored by her willingness to travel to be part of that celebration.

Back to the airport and a wait until 2:30 pm for the flight to Manila.  This announcement was “10 hours” so it was a long flight, but comfortable and good food and service.  Arriving in Manila at afternoon rush hour was interesting.  Patrick, the driver for the Episcopal Church center picked us up.  He’s a long time friend of Jun’s.  We met Jun’s uncle and daughter for dinner.  Floyd Lawett, Chancellor for the Episcopal Church also met us at dinner.  We stayed at the Contemporary Hotel – a nice economic hotel with free Wi-Fi.  A good night’s sleep, but my body is confused about what time to get up, so I’m up early.

Today is breakfast with the Prime Bishop, Edward Malecdan, a quick tour of the Episcopal Church center and then off to Santiago – an 8 hour drive I understand.

The country is beautiful, I’ve missed green and wet and the smell of the ocean.  Manila is crowded, lots of people on the streets and standing in the midst of traffic selling everything from balut (a half-hatched duck egg that fermented) to flowers.  One young woman pleaded for money for food as her companion sat at the street edge talking on her cell phone.  Floyd told me my schedule has been rearranged so I’ll have some time with the sisters in Sagada and that when I return to Manila next Tuesday there should be time for me to take a tour to Corregidor.

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Arrived in Santiago   August 19, 2009

Nice stay at the Contemporary Hotel in Manila.  Nice room, good coffee and good internet connection.  Began the day with breakfast with the Prime Bishop, Edward Malecdan and some diocesan staff.  Also a gentlemen from Australia, Simon (I didn’t get his last name), who is here for a month to teach a Christian education course in a town in the northern highlands.  Also a young woman from Missouri who is here on a mission with the Young Adult Service Corps and working on a food distribution and preservation project near Sagada, Melanie Jianakoples.   I hope to see her again when we visit Sagada and learn more about the youth she is working with.  I think there is the possibility of making a “pen pal” connection with ASYC.  I’m making her a copy of the ASYC DVD to show to her kids.  Her youth work is also a possibility for some Birthday fund money.

After breakfast, the Cathedral dean gave us a tour of the cathedral and we also saw St. Andrew’s seminary, although there were no classes and no students or staff around.

The drive to Santiago was long (8 hours), but an interesting view of this part of the Philippines.  The early part of the trip was “low lands” with sugar cane fields.  In this area is what is left of Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Navy base.  We did not go in the direction of the bases, but had an interesting discussion about the controversy around the American military bases before the volcano solved the political problem and buried Clark AB.

The mid part of the trip was through low hills and rice fields, with farmers spreading the newly harvested rice on the highway to dry.  Many small towns and a lot of traffic on these two-lane roads.  The last part of the trip was over the mountains with coconut trees and some rice terraces.  We stopped for lunch and coffee at small cafes along the road.  A good introduction into Filipino local culture and food.  So far all the food has agreed with me.  Jun is worried I’ll get sick and watching over me closely.

The hotel in Santiago is nice,  San Andres Country Farm Resort Hotel.  It has a pool and almost an internet connection, and a restaurant and bar.  The restaurant and bar is a short walk across a boardwalk over a rice field.  We had dinner there with Bishop Alex Wandag, Patrick and some clergy, diocesan staff and a recent seminary graduate.  The food was good, including fresh Salmon, San Miguel beer and a bottle of Jack Daniels Jun bought at the duty free shop in Honolulu.  Entertainment was an interesting singer and musician singing old American songs.   I came back to my room tired and went to sleep easily.

 

Day two of Clericus   August 20, 2009

Up early for a Filipino breakfast, Pork Tata.  The clerics began with Holy Eucharist, Jun was concelebrant and I preached.  About 25 clergy and most of the diocesan staff attending the meeting.  The first agenda item was +Alex’s presentation on the history of the Diocese of Santiago and their “Vision 2018.” (I got a copy of this presentation)  Vision 2018 is a plan to develop all congregations to being self supporting by the year 2018.  Considering what they have accomplished since the diocese was founded in 2000, it’s my guess that they will succeed.

A young group of clergy overall.  I believe I’m the oldest ordained person participating.  Their worship and music is energetic, mostly led by the younger clergy and seminarians or graduate interns.

I played the DVD of +Dan’s introduction and it was well received.  I then gave a short presentation about the history of the diocese of Nevada and our current situation and presented +Alex with the diocesan banner we had made for this occasion.  We then began a conversation about what a companion diocese might look like to each of us and how to begin a meaningful relationship.  I found their process to be very organized and +Alex and his development officer, Fr. Clarence Olat, led the discussion.  We created a subcommittee and at lunch discussed some specific details about some immediate things we can do to begin the relationship and long-term ideas.

I invited representatives from EDS to attend our convention and that is one of the items they hope to accomplish this year.

We talked about connections with youth and I will meet with some young people on Saturday in the cornfields deanery.

We talked about companion parish relationships and hope to connect All Saints’ with St. Joseph’s mission in Pagui and St. Luke’s with St. Luke’s in Malapat.

The Christian education officer is preparing a summary of our discussions to present to the Clericus today for their approval.

In the afternoon we did an exercise using a 2003 “Act of Commitment” prepared by a joint meeting of all ECP clergy and their document “We believe we are called.”  This document contains 10 statements about ordained ministry; taken from the ordination vows.

The Christian education coordinator led us through an exercise about the Vision 2018 and a reflection on how well it is understood and being implemented by clergy.

We had a break for dinner and after dinner saw a video presentation about the history of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (I hope to get a copy of this presentation).

For the fellowship time, clergy took turns with various entertainment, with Filipino music and dancing; Jun sang an Igorot song and I told a joke about a Cajun.  Later they got me involved in the dancing with the Filipino courting dance and eagle dance (some of this evidence is captured on video).  At the end of the evening, +Alex presented me and Jun with an authentic Filipino shirt and also one each for +Dan and Canon Bob Nelson.

I returned to my hotel and had a real San Miguel in the bar and had a good night’s sleep.

Aug 21 – Some business and then playing tourist   August 26, 2009

A day of playing tourist.  We began with a discussion of the sub committee’s recommendations about our companion diocese relationship.

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DRAFT PROGRAM PLANS FOR THE COMPANIONSHIP OF DIOCESE OF NEVADA AND DIOCESE OF SANTIAGO

  1. A)  SHARED MINISTRY

Actions taken:

1)    Designate last Sunday of August as companionship Sunday

  • Special prayers for the bishop, congregation, programs etc.
  • Alms collected will be designated to be used for the companionship programs

2)    Website

  • Updated website for both diocese to post newsletters, bulletin, and other pertinent information
  • Sharing of sermons, commentary or research
  • Other communications (videos, photos)

3)    Lay and Clergy development exchange

  • Clericus
  • Brotherhood of Saint Andrew (BSA)
  • Episcopal Church women (ECW)
  • Youth

Recommendation:

  1. a)    For EDS to send 1 or 2 observers to the diocesan convention of Episcopal Diocese of Nevada on October 23-25
  2. b)    For EDN to send observer to the Diocesan youth assembly to be scheduled on the 3rd week of October (final communication to be sent out)
  3. c)    For EDN to send observer to the BSA conference to be held on November 30, 2009

4)    Culture

For EDN to reach out to Filipinos in Nevada likewise for EDS to reach out to non-Igorots as counterpart

(Migrant ministry in EDN)

B)  PARISH TO PARISH RELATIONSHIP (OR SISTER PARISH RELATIONSHIP)

1)    Recommended to start with St. Luke’s Parish and All saints Parish

St. Luke’s Parish, Nevada – St. Luke’s Mission, Isabela

All Saints parish, Nevada- Clustered St. Joseph & St. Cyril’s Mission, Maddela

2)    Recommended to post other Parishes to the website for  EDN to consider

Steering Committee Members (August 20, 2009)

Fr. Ed Lovelady-All Saints Parish, Nevada

Fr. June Bernardez-St. Luke’s Parish, Nevada

Fr. Constancio Abbugao-BSA Coordinator, Santiago

Mr. Samuel Allikes Ngislawan-Youth Coordinator, Santiago

Fr. Sancho Sanchez Ollibac-Clericus Chairman, Santiago

Mrs. Andrea Leano-Christian Education Coordinator, ECW

Fr. Clarence Olat-Development Officer, Clericus staff

Mrs. Sandra Palpal- Finance Officer, ECW

I believe this is a good start on the process of put “flesh on the bones” of this idea.  I reminded the Clericus that I could not for the diocese of Nevada and that these proposals would be followed up by a Companion diocese committee, once one is formed by the resolution at diocesan convention.  +Alex also reminded us that, in spite of our energy and enthusiasm for this proposal – it is still a proposal and for many of the ideas it will take appropriation of money and long-range planning.

Enough business – I walked around the diocesan Cathedral which is under construction and Patrick told me about the funding from the UTO for the first floor, which is completed and used for diocesan office space.  (The diocesan center building was also funded by UTO).  St. Luke’s Hospital in Manila is providing funding for the worship space construction.  It was interesting to see the small group of workers, using mostly hand tools, working on the building.

As I was on the road taking pictures of the cathedral, Patrick and Jun returned and we went to the Transfiguration Shrine in Santiago.  It is a RC shrine with life-size Stations of the Cross, a chapel and a large statue of Jesus on the top of a hill overlooking the city of Santiago.  Around the shrine is a large park area and at the bottom of the hill is a park and day-camp facility.

From there we visited the Santiago Timpuyog Park, a cultural part with huts representing the different regions of the Philippines.  It was interesting to see the difference in construction relating to the part of the country and the weather.  The huts from the warm areas were open, the ones from the mountains, closed; the huts from near the ocean were on stilts; and the ones from the rainy area were surrounded by a ditch for water runoff.

We returned to the diocesan center for lunch and I worked on uploading some photos for this travel journal using the diocesan internet connection.  After the closing prayers of the Clericus, Jun and I, along with our “guides” drove to Quirino province, where we will visit some congregations on Saturday.  We stayed the night at what is supposed to be a “5 star” hotel.  They prepared a dinner for us – we were the only people in the restaurant.  My impression is that this hotel is more accustomed to renting rooms by the hour.  There was no seat on the toilet, the sink drained onto the floor and the shower had not been used in such a long time, the shower head was completely stopped up.  I am surprised at how primitive the facilities are.  It is clear that the progress of the 21st century has not caught on in this part of the world, except for cell phones.

On to another day and new places and people.  Blessings.

Aug 22 visiting diocesan congregations   August 26, 2009

A busy day visiting congregations around the diocese.  Up not-so-early and coffee in the Hotel in Maddela in Quirino province.  First stop was Fr. William’s house for breakfast with him and his family and then a visit to St. Joseph’s church.  A church on a hill above a rice field.  A simple building of wood frame and sheet metal.  The parish also has a coop center and drying pavement.  There is another building on the property that was used for the church school, but it has become in disrepair and cannot be used any longer.  Average Sunday attendance is about 50 at ST. Joseph’s.  They have property on the highway where they hope to build a new church.  I asked about the cost of a new church building and was told it would about $40,000.

From St. Joseph’s we visited another community center that was the site of the first Episcopal presence in the community and met the son of the first priest who served that area.  This is a rice and corn growing area and the deanery is called Cornfield deanery.  (All the deaneries are named for the dominate crop or natural characteristic).

We then traveled further out in the country to Sangban, to see a Cooperative operated by St. Polycarp’s congregation.  It was here that I tried to ride an ox and had to settle to have my picture taken in the cart behind it.

We then drove to St. Cyril’s church and met with a combined ECW group from both congregations.  We exchanged greetings and some conversation about our churches.  The Brotherhood of Saint Andrew of the parish prepared lunch for us and we ate a special lunch of local delicates, including local rice, vegetables and dog.

From the Maddela are we traveled back toward Santiago and stopped at Fr. Eric’s parish, St. Luke’s and had tea with him and his wife, who is the diocesan finance officer.  We then drove to St. Matthew’s preaching station in Abra.  This facility is a grass hut about 15 X 15 feet where a small congregation worships each Sunday.

When we returned to the diocesan center, the diocesan youth council was meeting and I had a chance to talk to them about our hopes of a youth exchange and a connection between our youth and theirs.  I left them a copy of the ASYC DVD.  They will have a diocesan youth gathering in late October and said they would try to make a video to send to us.  Bishop Alex’s daughter is the chair of the youth commission.

For dinner, we went to St. Stephen’s, on the other side of Magat dam, (Magat dam was until recently the largest dam in Asia).  The congregation welcomed us with music and fellowship and wonderful food.  I had an opportunity to meet some of their youth and talk to them about our youth ministry and told them we hope to make connection with youth in their diocese.  I will send them a copy of the ASYC DVD.  St. Stephen’s church and rectory was recently renovated with the financial assistance of St. Luke’s hospital in Manila.

Another long day and back to the hotel, where I found a pretty good bottle of red wine to help me unwind and I slept like a baby.

Aug 23 – Sunday with St. Joseph’s mission congregation  August 26, 2009

Early Sunday morning we went to the diocesan center, where I rode with Bishop Alex to ST. Joseph’s church in Cauayan city.  We arrived to find the worship was set up in a warehouse as the congregation is just now building a church building, also with the help of St. Luke’s hospital in Manila.  The congregation was seated in plastic chairs with a tarp over the door to shade those who were sitting outside the warehouse.  The altar was an old desk and the order of service and hymns were written on a green chalk board.  I was assisted by one of their young interns who recently graduated from St. Andrew’s seminary, and a LEM.     We sang without instrument accompaniment and the singing was lively and energetic for both the English and Tagalog language hymns.  I was asked to say a prayer of thanksgiving for a new baby.  There were probably 100 people, including about 30 children in worship.

After the service, each tribal group represented in the congregation provided entertainment from their ethnic heritage.  It’s interesting to learn that almost all the congregations are “multicultural” with members from three to five of the Filipino ethnic groups.  Some congregations have worship books printed in the dominate tribal language.  The Filipino BCP is in English as that is the only common language in the Philippines.  They managed to get me out to dance with them.  I participated in the “courting dance” and the “eagle dance” and I commented to the bishop that I hoped I hadn’t made any commitments I didn’t know about.  The senior warden greeted me and gave a short history of the congregation, which began in 2007 with 4 families and now have over 90 members.  Their congregation is made up of Tagalog, Visaya, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Igorot, and other tribes.

After the entertainment   we went to the senior warden’s home next to the church for lunch.  After lunch we returned to the hotel, where Jun and the others were waiting for the drive to Sagada.

The drive to Sagada was interesting.  The first part of the trip was the usual, two-lane narrow, paved highway.  We stopped at one of the churches along the way, which also has a coop ministry.  The congregations in the diocese of Santiago are situated where the people live and focused on the needs of the community.

We traveled through Banaue, Ifugao, where the Banawae Rice Terraces are located.  These rice terraces on the sides of steep hills were carved out by ancient peoples.  It is spectacular considering that they were dug with hand tools over 1000 years ago.  They still grow rice in the terraces and the rice was near harvest time.

Once we got into the mountains, the road turned into a combination of mud ruts, one-lane pavement, or rough rock.  Through the highest part of the mountain the road had been washed out by mud slides and was in various states of disrepair or partial repair.  It was raining and dark and workmen were out pouring concrete on one section.  The workers live in tents along the road where the repairs are being done and move with the job.

We arrived in Sagada after dark and stayed at St. Joseph’s Inn, which was operated by the Sisters of St. Mary until Sister Lucy discovered that it was being used as a retreat for businessmen from the cities to bring their secretaries or girlfriends.  Sagada is the location of St. Mary the Virgin church, St. Thomas’ hospital, St. Mary’s School, and the Convent of St. Mary.  It is here that Sister Kiara, my mentor when I became an Associate of the Order of St. Mary, served as a young sister, coming from the diocese of Western New York.  When Jun was ordained at All Saints’, I met a retired bishop who told me he had Sister Kiara as a teacher at St. Mary’s school.  So, after hearing about Sagada for many years, I finally get to see it firsthand.