The last part of my visit was a return to the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago to attend the consecration of St. Augustine’s Cathedral in the Valley, and to work with the diocesan staff on website development.  I also had a chance to renew friendships from my first trip in 2009.

Diocese of Santiago
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Manila to Santiago – May 22

Traffic was thick on the way to the airport in Manila but Restie got me there on time.  A short flight and the first one to be on time on the entire trip.

Bishop Alex met me at the airport and we stopped for lunch on the way to Santiago.  We drove by the diocesan center on the way to my hotel and saw the cathedral and it’s wonderful.

A short nap and a cold San Miguel and work on my web site and photos.  +Alex joined me for dinner.

Thursday is work day with the diocesan staff on the web site and any other tech issues.  Friday there’ll be no electricity, so have to see how the schedule works out.  I’m scheduled to travel to the Greenfields deanery on Friday and be in church at St. Joseph’s and Holy Trinity parishes on Trinity Sunday.

Today started with breakfast in the hotel restaurant – bacon and eggs and toast. Most of the day was spent at the diocesan center meeting the staff, seeing old friends and making new ones.  A web site class for key staff in each department went very well – a fast learner group.  By the afternoon, they were on their own, working on the web site.  We created sub directories for different departments to have a distinct web presence for their particular ministries.  Check out the site with the new administrators at work:

After the class, I visited the VCS class and talked some with the kids.  Then a tour of the new cathedral – check out the photos in the “Diocese of Santiago” gallery.

This afternoon back to my room and work on my site, separating out the almost 300 photographs into separate galleries for each part of this trip – Just too many photos in one gallery.  So now, use the new gallery link and select the part of the trip you’d like to see.  Still working on this, so all the titles are not added yet.

Dinner tonight with some of the staff; great food and fellowship.  Fresh salmon and a variety of Filipino dishes – and San Miguel.

A tour around Santiago – May 24

No hurry this morning as my pick time is 9:00 am. Sandra, Andrea, and Junior from the diocesan staff took me on a short tour of congregations near Santiago City. I learned there are 27 ordained persons in the diocese and 4 scheduled to be ordained in June.

Our first stop was San Palo mission, where they have a new church building, funded from St. Luke’s medical center. Second stop Transfiguration mission, both these congregations are served by the same priest. Transfiguration has an old building in serious disrepair and are due to have a new building soon, also funded by St. Luke’s Medical Center. I noticed their existing building was funded by the United Thank Offering (sometime in the 1980s).

Next we drove to Magot dam, one of the largest hydroelectric dams in Asia, and over an old bridge and rough gravel and dirt road to Epiphany mission outstation. This is a wood pole building covered with a grass roof. One of the lay leaders of the congregation lives next to the church building and came out to greet us, as did several neighborhood children. We looked at the new pole building with a half-completed straw roof that she gladly told us is to be the Sunday School facility.

Further down the road, sometime paved and sometimes dirt and rocks, is St. Stephen’s parish. I visited St. Stephen’s during my last visit to Santiago and they greeted us and hosted a dinner. We were greeted by two of the lay leaders, both elderly women, who served us coffee (real brewed coffee) and sticky rice. Since my visit in 2009, St. Stephens has planted two outstations, Epiphany and St. Paul’s (see next paragraph) and has become a self supporting parish. As we sat in a pole supported, straw roof shelter, drinking coffee and eating sticky rice, I noticed one of the women talking on her cell phone and it struck me as a wonderful example of the blending of culture and technology; a blending that the Filipino people seem to be comfortable with. I’ve observed that most of the people I’ve met on this trip (and my previous one) seem to be more content with their lives than most of the Americans I know.

Through the rice fields and sometimes paved and sometimes not roads and out in the fields is St. Paul’s mission outstation. This congregation of 100 members (ASA 50), is served by a Seminary Intern, who will be ordained Deacon next month, along with 3 other candidates. Intern Marino lives in a house near the church. They pointed out their new galvanized metal roof, which replaced the straw roof damaged by a typhoon. This building too is a pole building, with a tin roof. You can see that when it rains, water runs through the worship space. Next to the building is a concrete drying pavement and a crop storage building (the storage building is concrete with metal doors).

Back to Santiago and lunch, then we drove out to St. Luke’s parish, another place I visited on my last trip. In 2009, Sandra’s husband, Eric, was the priest. He is now the priest at St. Joseph’s, the congregation I celebrated with during my last trip and where I will celebrate and preach on Sunday. Sandra pointed out the paint job on the church and rectory and some rectory roof repairs financed by St. Luke’s Parish in Las Vegas.

I asked about the companion diocese relationship with the diocese of Nevada and what has been done in that relationship over the past 3 years and was told that other than the funding for St. Luke’s repairs and painting, they did not know of anything else. Frankly, I find that disappointing as I’d hoped our visit and +Dan’s visit would inspire more connections between the congregations of the two diocese. The diocesan staff is encouraging clergy and congregation to “get on line” and hoping that will enhance the development of relationships.

Tomorrow, an early start (7:30 am), for a visit to congregations in the Greenfields Deanery with Fr. Eric.

The afternoon is free and I’m hanging out trying to stay cool. The hotel has a generator, so I have AC that’s working in my room. The power is out for the entire city and surrounding areas from 8 am to 4 pm today. I was wondering about the impact, and response of the residents, if the city of Olympia announced a city-wide power outage for a full day. Here, no one seems to notice.

I went to dinner at the hotel restaurant just as the afternoon rain was beginning (it’s rained every afternoon) and had to change tables because of the rain. I’ve seldom had my dinner served by a server who needed an umbrella to get my food from the kitchen.

Touring Santiago, Day Two – May 25

An earlier day than usual, with pick up time at 7:30.  Fr. Eric and Fr. Ralph were my guides today (Eric was one of my traveling partners on my last trip to Santiago, and Sandra’s husband).

Our first stop was Holy Spirit Parish, in Alicia.  It is a full parish, with Fr. Ralph as rector.  We were greeted by Ralph’s wife and 4 year old son and several parish leaders.  Our conversation over coffee I learned the parish has a membership of over 180, with an ASA of 70.  The parish has a Cooperative – Holy Spirit Mission Cooperative which provides assistance to local farmers in loans, education opportunities, and help to get their crops to market.

The Coop was recognized by the provincial government as the most outstanding cooperative in 2010.  Their worship space and rectory was built in 2009 with help from St. Luke’s Medical center.  The first chapel was built by the UTO in 1996.  They are able to be a self supporting parish because of the success of the Coop, which donated 10% of their profits to the parish.  There is a nice Sunday school building behind the chapel for their 30 to 40 children.

Next stop was St. Peter’s, an aided parish, with Padi Aura as rector.  I met her during my last visit, when as a seminary intern she was assisting at St. Joseph’s mission.  She was ordained in 2010 at the same time as the consecration of St. Joseph’s new chapel.  Bishop Dan Edwards, bishop of Nevada was at that consecration and ordination.  St. Peter’s is renovating and enlarging their chapel, Sunday school and rectory building to meet the needs of the growing congregation.  The building is about half done and they’re having problems funding the rest of the project.  It seems that St. Luke’s Medical center will only finance new building, not renovation

The congregation of about 140 has a large Sunday school and a Christian Children’s Guild (CCG) (their name for a preschool for 3 to 5 year olds).  The congregation was formed in early 1988, beginning to worship under a mango tree (the tree is across the street from their current chapel).  They also have a Cooperative, which has a small store.  Fr. William, who went with us on our last trip on a tour of the Maddia was also there to greet us.

The vestry prepared lunch for us and we ate under the mango tree behind the chapel.  We had a nice conversation about the history of the congregation and some of their dreams for the future.

After lunch we drove to St. Joseph’s Church, Cauayan.  This is the congregation I visited, celebrated and preached in Aug 2009.  On that Sunday, we had worship in a cleaned out section of a rice warehouse owned by a parishioner.  That day is one of the experiences during that visit to Santiago that made a deep impression on me.  I still have the photo of me with the young people and kids in the congregation and of the frame of their new church building in a rice field across the street from the warehouse

In December 2010, their new church was consecrated, with Bishop Dan Edwards in attendance, so I have photos from that day I got off Facebook.  When planning this trip, I asked Bishop Alex specifically to be with St. Joseph’s on Trinity Sunday.

Fr. Eric is the rector of St. Joseph’s and Holy Trinity (across the rice fields from St. Joseph’s).  He has been assigned here since 2011.  St. Joseph’s congregation has 114 individual members and 20 families and an ASA of 57.  The building is simple, open, and friendly space.  Behind the chapel is a Sunday school space with a nice hand painted art.  The senior warden greeted us with prayer and a welcome; one of the women told a short history of the congregation (and gave me a copy); the ECW and BSA were represented and briefly told me about their ministries in the parish.  We had refreshment and more food, and departed, looking forward to tomorrow and the celebration of the Feast of The Holy Trinity.

Ralph and Eric let me out at my hotel, to go run an errand, returning in a few minutes and we went to the hotel restaurant for appetizers and cold beer.  We had a nice conversation about our common and different ministries and the issues of keeping the church relevant for all generations.

As we were driving on a narrow concrete road through rice fields, I noticed a couple of cell towers under construction and thought about the farmer, working his rice farm with a caribou and now he can take a break and check his Facebook page.  All over the Philippines is an interesting combination of third-world living standards and up to date technology.

I was in bed early, and set my alarm to make sure I didn’t oversleep in the morning, as my pick up time is 6:30 am.  I will celebrate at St. Joseph’s and preach at Holy Trinity tomorrow.


Trinity Sunday in Cauayan – May 26

 An early Sunday and a quick breakfast of coffee and orange juice.  Junior and Patrick picked me up and drove me to St. Joseph’s.  Eric rode his motorcycle and was there ahead of us.

I received a energetic greeting, and was briefed on the order of service and my responsibilities.  It is their custom for a member of the parish leadership to offer an opening prayer before the opening and closing hymns.  The Lay Eucharistic Minister leads the Liturgy of the Word.  The lessons were read and Eric preached in Tagalong.  Much of the liturgy is sung, without instrumental accompaniment.  Hymns are from the ECP Hymnal and also sung without instrumental accompaniment.  The liturgy is familiar and close to our 1979 BCP with some additional prayers and different wording

About 30 people were in church when we began and by sermon time, the chapel was full.  The Sunday school kids and youth joined worship during the offertory.  Young people were the ushers for the offering, and are the Sunday school teachers.

The Sursum corda and preface, and Lord’s Prayer are sung.  Distribution of Holy Communion begins with the children and youth coming forward to receive, then the adults, and lastly the elderly.  Children do not receive the wine and most adults intinct, if they receive the wine at all.

After worship, there were lots of photos.  I had asked one of the young people to take photos with my camera, so I have a good collection of images of worship and after.  We said good bye and began to move to Holy Trinity church for the next service and I discovered many of the congregation were also going to Holy Spirit.  There is apparently a strong connection between the two congregations, and Holy Trinity was the original congregation in the area.  Holy Trinity is also a full parish and self supporting.

Holy Trinity’s chapel is the original building, well worn, but well kept. The worship was the same order of service as we used at St. Joseph’s.  The congregation was smaller, yet filled the worship space.  The kids were in worship today instead of Sunday school, and they sat right in the front row.  One little guy, about 4 years old, wandered around all during the worship and it seemed to not bother anyone except his mother.

I talked about the experience of God we attempt to describe in the Holy Trinity in the context of my experiences in the Philippines over the past two weeks; of my experience of the grandeur of creation; the power of the Holy Spirit I’ve experienced in the congregations I’ve visited; and the experience of ministry following Jesus’ teachings.

After worship there was a presentation by the VCS children with some songs and dances they had learned during VCS and then each was presented with a certificate of attendance and a collection of the papers and art they had done during the program.  A young college student led the VCS.  She obviously did a wonderful job with the kids as they did well with their songs and dances.

Outside for more photos while lunch was prepared to be served; a nice lunch the men had cooked on an outdoor fire during the worship.  We had some conversation over lunch about the life and ministry of this congregation, and I answered questions about my ministry.

Fr. Eric took me to a building behind the chapel and explained that early in his ministry, he was assigned to Holy Trinity and had lived in the building.  It is in disrepair and no longer used, and I got the impression that it wasn’t much better when he lived there.

He also explained that Padi Aurora was assigned to Holy Spirit when she was first ordained and the vestry had prepared what is now the kitchen as living quarters for her.

A parishioner drove me back to Santiago and my hotel, as Patrick and Junior had to leave earlier to return to the diocesan center for preparations for tomorrow’s celebration.  Patrick told me that several out of town visitors, including some bishops from Miramar would be staying at my hotel tonight and tomorrow.

As I was getting out of the car, Eric told me I will be expected to present a greeting from the diocese of Olympia during the consecration tomorrow and reminded me to bring my vestments, as I’ll be vesting with the other clergy.

I’m excited about being part of the celebration tomorrow and rewarded myself with a banana split as an afternoon snack.  A quiet afternoon and evening, writing my journal and editing photos to be posted when the hotel gets their internet connection going (it’s been out since Friday morning).

Here is the greeting I plan to give tomorrow during the celebration:

“It is my privilege and honor to bring you greetings from the Episcopal Church in Western Washington, from our bishop, Greg Rickel, and the clergy and people of the diocese of Olympia; particularly my parish, St. Mary’s Church in Lakewood, WA.   I am grateful for Bishop Wandag’s invitation to be here today and for wonderful welcome and hospitality I have experienced.   “May God continue to bless the life and ministry of this diocese; and may this cathedral be truly a cathedral of the people; and a beacon of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this place.”

Cathedral Consecration – May 27

Today was the big day, for me and for the diocese of Santiago.  For the diocese, the fulfillment of a dream began in 2003, for me from 2009, when the cathedral was just a skeleton.  The Prime Bishop had a room next to mine in the hotel and we had breakfast together and I rode with him to the Cathedral.  The hotel was turned into an Episcopal community with most of the out of town guests staying here.

A large tent and several small ones had been put up in the yard between the cathedral and diocesan center, with chairs and tables for the guests.  We vested in the library and waited in the shade until it was time to get in procession.

The procession included almost everyone and stretched from the center of the yard across the bridge and in front of Patrick’s house.  We processed to the music of gongs and singing The Church’s one Foundation, Christ is made the sure Foundation, and Lift High the Cross.  At the door of the cathedral, we stopped for prayers and cutting the ribbon by representatives from St. Luke’s Medical Center board (the cathedral was built with financial help from St. Luke’s)

One of the first things I noticed after arriving in the Nave was the number of kids and young people.  I can’t recall any event such as this that I’ve attended that included children and youth, other than to have them as acolytes.

The worship space was full, with chairs on the side porches.  The singing was spectacular, both in English and Tagalong.  Responses of the congregations were strong and energetic.  The preacher, Mr. Robert Kuan, from St. Luke’s Medical center board, was a little long and rambling, but the service moved along well.

At the offertory, it was a long line of “in kind” offerings from congregations, presented by members of the ECW and BSA; sacks of rice and other grains, rice wine,  rice in baskets, mangos, bananas; all the representative produce from the people in the diocese.  The chancel was stacked high with the gifts.  It is the custom here that offerings are made in what they call “in kind” and are gifts of the harvest from people who sow and reap.

The Eucharist was celebrated with all the bishops behind and around the altar and the priests lined up on each side of the chancel.  Bishop Malecdan sang the Eucharistic liturgy (as is the custom in all the congregations I’ve visited).  The order of service is almost identical to our 1979 BCP, with some different phrasing and some prayers added.

Communion was chaos, but everyone got to the paten and chalice who wanted to.  As far as I could tell, everyone in worship came forward for Communion, including the children.

The hymns included the “old standards” and some of what we call contemporary.  Most were in English and familiar words and music and some were in Tagalong.

Chief Celebrant was The Most Rev. Dr. Edward Malecdan; Co-Consecrators and Celebrants: The Rt. Rev Renato Abibico, The Rt. Rev. Brent Alawas, The Rt. Rev. Joshua Cuartenos, and The Rt. Rev. Alexander Wandag.  There were also several bishops from Myanmar, including their Prime Bishop.  Con-Celebrants are all priests present.

The choir was led by Fr. Constancio Abbugao and the choir of St. Stephen’s.  Musical instruments included organ, drums, and organ.  The bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, Diocese of Santiago and the pastor of the Assembly of God church next to the cathedral also attended.

After worship, we returned to the nave for singing by the chapel congregation and diocesan staff and opportunities for visitors to give a greeting and receive gifts from the diocese.  I offered a brief greeting on behalf of Bishop Greg and the diocese of Olympia (text in yesterday’s journal), and from St. Mary’s, Lakewood.

After the singing and presentations, we had lunch, with the crowd in the diocesan center and outside on the lawn.  It looked like almost everyone stayed for the entertainment and lunch.  I sat with Rose Kawi, Sr. Warden of St. Luke’s parish in Las Vegas.  After lunch we took Rose out to St. Luke’s parish, Santiago, to show here the facility and some of the work that was done with financial assistance from her parish.  We had a short visit with St. Luke’s rector and some of the parish leadership about how we might better connect the two parishes via electronic communications.

I returned to my hotel while the rest of the group did some sightseeing.  Returning to my room I discovered the internet was working, so I worked on my backlog of daily travel journals and my photos of the last few days.  Check my Diocese of Santiago photo gallery for the new photos.

Last Full Day in Santiago – May 28

Tomorrow is a travel day, and today might be my last access to the internet until I get home.

Today was my last full day in Santiago.  A later pick up than usual and in time for Morning Prayer to open the clericus meeting.  Bishop Alex asked me to do a short reflection during Morning Prayer and I talked about my experience over the past three weeks and that I have stories of ministry I will take home to tell to our diocese and to my parish.

The clericus was a special meeting for instruction of the clergy on developing and using lesson plans.  The diocesan clergy are responsible for leading the Diocesan Lay School of Ministry. +Alex suggested the lesson on lesson plans would enhance their ability to conduct the classes, as not many clergy are trained educators.  The DLSM was started in 2003 as a way to better equip lay leaders for ministry and began as a training program for Lay Eucharistic Ministers.

The clergy training is intended to enhance the diocesan Strategic Growth Plan (SGP):  (1) All congregations to become full parishes (2) Develop “Churchmanship” in the training of lay leaders and enhancement of clergy ministry (3) Self reliance for the diocese to carry on training and ministry using their own resources.

I left the clericus early to attend a presentation by the Episcopal Development Foundation of St. Mark and the Development and Social Ministries Department for the benefit of the Miramar bishops who have been visiting the diocese to see the various cooperatives and outreach in the community.  It is remarkable what the SDMO has, and continues to accomplish:  (1) Micro financing for small loans for things like tricycle taxis, market vendors, and organic farming. (2) Education and training such as organic farming and techniques to improve crop yield.  (3)  Minister’s Mobility Program to help clergy purchase motorcycles they need for transportation.  (4) Macro financing such as loans for building a house, purchasing a vehicle, and purchasing and refinancing mortgages.

A percentage of the income goes to relief such as rebuilding after a typhoon.  At the end of 2012, the foundation had 858 clients and beneficiaries and revenue of 14 million pesos.  They donated 2.075 million pesos to the diocese and made loans of 60 million pesos.

After the presentation (I have a copy of the presentation if you’re interested), I went to the Foundation office and helped the staff with some web site issues.  Later I worked with one of the Development office staff on their pages on the diocesan web site.

After a refreshing rain storm, back to my hotel; a cold beer, working on my web site, and dinner.

It’s been a wonderful stay here in Santiago and I have a certain bit of sadness at leaving, and on the other hand, I’m tired and will be glad to get home.  I have 908 photos I’ve taken on this trip (the good news is that I’ve not posted them all).

Tomorrow +Alex will take me to the Cauayan airport for my flight to Manila and on Thursday Manila to SeaTac and home.

Santiago to Manila – May 29

Up early and excited about going home and dreading the 17 hour plane ride.  Patrick picked me up at 6:45 am and we drove to the diocesan center and from there +Alex was my driver to the airport in Cauayan.  Cauayan airport is a short distance from St. Joseph’s and Holy Spirit and a small airport.  We stood in line outside to wait for the check in window to open.  No security machines, they open your bags to check them.

When you turn off the main highway from Santiago to the airport, there’s a row of bars +Alex tells me is the red light district and I learned a new term, Magdalena, a name for prostitutes.  Apparently there are some Magdalena who are members of the local congregations.

The flight to Manila left on time, but our landing was delayed for air traffic.  Restie and Harvey (2nd year seminary student) picked me up and we drove to one of the large shopping centers and had pizza for lunch.  After lunch we walked to the fruit and flower market to get some flowers for Betsy, the PB’s secretary, as a small appreciation gift for her help in organizing this trip for me.

I was invited to join a going away dinner for the bishops and church staff from the Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM).  At the dinner were the Prime Bishop of the ECP, The Most Rev. Edward Malecdan, the Archbishop of The Church of the Province of Myanmar, The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, and the diocesan bishops I had met in Santiago, the General Secretary, and several staff members and wives.  I also met a woman from the Anglican Board of Missions (ABM).   I really just encountered this organization on this trip and will have to find out more as it seems to be the English and  Australian form of our Episcopal Relied and Development (ERD)

Most of the ECP staff attended, including Floyd Lalwet, whom I’d not had a chance to see yet during this trip.  Floyd is the development officer for the ECP and one of the first people I met from the ECP when he came to Las Vegas in 2007 to talk about a companion diocese relationship between Nevada and Santiago.  Prime Bishop Malecdan was also there, and I have to say, I’ve never attended a social occasion with a Prime Bishop and Archbishop.  I guess it was as good a celebration as any for the 20th anniversary of my ordination as Deacon.

Each of us were asked to say something about our experiences during our visit to the Philippines.  I was surprised that people were interested in my experiences, particularly my web site work with Santiago.  One of the bishops from Myanmar asked me to look at his diocesan web site to see if I could offer any ideas.  I also understand there’s some discussion among the ECP national staff that they might ask for my help with their web site.

I enjoyed the conversation and learning about the Church in Myanmar.  I’ll have to do some research to find out more about the country.  I watched a BBC TV program about Myanmar the other day and it talked about the economic development that’s going on and how for the poor, it’s making their lives harder since they are not prospering from the development and are suffering because of the inflation the development is creating.

Called Debbie about midnight to check in with her since I’ve been out of touch for a few days.  I think she and Milo will be glad to see me.

Trip home – May 30

Restie picked up at 7 am for the 2 hour drive to the airport, so I was early in line to check in.  The flight to Incheon left a few minutes late.

It was a good day of travel (if you can call a 24 hour trip good).  Both flights a little late, but I at least had time to get a (expensive) cup of coffee at the Incheon airport.

Arrived in Seattle just late enough to miss my shuttle home and had to wait for the next one.  A pretty uninteresting day.  And I’m GLAD to be home.  It was fantastic but I’m tired.

I’ve seen and lot and picked up a lot of information; met a lot of wonderful folks and it’s going to take a while to digest the whole experience so I can write an overall reflection on my experiences.  So many new ideas and people that draw me back to the Philippines and other places.  Time, opportunity, and resources will tell what happens in the future.

I’m very grateful for everyone who encouraged and supported me on this adventure; for Debbie’s understanding and support of my desire to make this trip.

I’m thankful and humbled by the welcome and hospitality I received from everyone from the Prime Bishop to the smallest child.  I own a big thank you to Betsy at the ECP national office for all her help to arrange the details of my travels and to Restie for his friendship and driving me all over Manila.

More later when I have a chance to rest and reflect on my whole experience.

Also – here’s a link to a video done by Gideon Bustamante (Bishop Bustamante’s son) about my visit to the Diocese of Southern Philippines.