Saturday, April 26, 2008

Looking forward to an enchanting summer

Few weeks from now, my family and I will be "going home" to my adoptive town -- Santa Ana in Cagayan Valley. I fell in love with Santa Ana the moment I first set foot on this sleepy little town. It has a charm that draws your spirit, like filling your soul with its deepest longing. I'm reposting here an entry I did two years ago about Santa Ana. o 0 o

IT'S NOT CALLED CAPE ENGAÑO FOR NOTHING. This cove in Palaui Island of the now-getting-famous Santa Ana, Cagayan North, is truly enchanting. I'm pretty sure the Spaniards who first set foot on this little island before they built the once majestic Faro de Cabo Engaño in the late 1800's fell under the spell of this enchanted island. The same spell that binds every stranger who willingly takes on the beckoning of the hills -- that strong presence so enticing you can't refuse.

I've been to Cape Engaño twice this summer and I swear I'll be back. I love the waters -- so clear and so cool. There's nothing more refreshing than the ice-cold seawater under the heat of the sun. But the best and more rewarding part of it all is the awesome sight on top of Cape Engaño where the lighthouse sits like a princess waiting for her beloved. I will never get tired of going up over and over again. It is not a very easy way up, I should tell you. A steep 20-minute or so walk uphill some 95 meters above sea level, that is. But swear, I will gladly do it again and again. The sight on top is just breathtaking you cannot have enough of it in two or three climbs.

Midway through the climb, I sat on the green grass with my friend Sheila. We basked on the wonderful scenery. Everywhere you look, you will be awed. Truly, there can only be a Divine Designer who entricately planned for all the things around us. One who designed the mountains exactly the way they are, or the colors of the sea, or the coolness of the wind...

Once on top of the lighthouse, you get a good glimpse of the Babuyan group of islands. But right in front of the cape at the mouth of the Pacific Ocean are the mysterious twin islands called Dos Hermanas. Legend has it that these were two sisters desperately awaiting for the return of their lovers. Dos Hermanas are rock formations covered with greens. Fisherfolks say the best gamet, that green seaweed used for Nori, can be found in this twin islands. But beware, not a few lives have been taken as they tried to break the silence of these twin sisters.

The lighthouse itself, while now in ruins, has traces of it grand old days. One can imagine a little palace perched on a hill where Prince Charming visits his beloved.

We only stayed in the lighthouse for an hour at the most. After some picture taking, we all decided to descend and frolick in the cool clear blue waters. It was only a little past 9am but on top of the hill, the heat felt like mid-day. Thankfully, it was windy so we didn't really feel the scorching sun on the way down.

Again, I slowly went down to enjoy the view. My daughter Star was already long enjoying the waters by the time I reached the beach with a few other friends. We were quite a big group -- almost 30 in all. Some chose to sleep under the shade of the trees. The cool breeze of the sea could indeed lull you to sleep. Hmmm, what a life! Others explored the virgin forest of Palaui, following the narrow trail that leads to a small waterfalls.

As the "GRO" of the group (I have volunteered to help my friend Pinky and her husband Mayor Vic Rodriguez promote their town), I deliberately left out forest trekking in our itinerary. The forest can be scary. It gives you an eerrie feeling -- hearing those strange sounds of wild animals. But some media friends chose to go anyway.

Frolicking in the clear blue waters, away from the stressful life in the metro, was truly refreshing. But like anything else in the world, our time in the midst of the enchanted island had come to an end. By noontime, we all had to pack up and bid adeu. Happily, a lunch of fresh lobsters, crabs, shrimps and lapu-lapu awaited us back in the mainland. Of course, over lunch and in the days that followed, we never ran out of stories of the enchanting Cape Engaño.

Photo credit goes to my friend, Rose Razon.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another Pinay makes it in global talent search!

Another Pinay may well be on her way to musical stardom. Galing talaga ng mga Pinay! (ehem.)

Mary Margaret Yu of Davao City won second place in the global talent search Voice of McDonald's 2008 where 3,600 plus McDonald's employees from 118 countries competed.

Two other Filipinos made it to the top 14 -- Canada-based Candido Revilles who placed third, and Yu’s best friend, Paulina Susan Bacarat.

Multi-platinum artist Ne-Yo led the panel of judges along with Sony/ATV Music Publishing co-president Jody Gerson, and Goldring, Hertz and Lichtenstein (LLP) senior partner Ken Hertz.

A powerful performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” became Margaret’s passport to the big showdown, where she received a standing ovation. Aside from her repertoire of Whitney Houston hits, the Pinay music genius is also into R&B, jazz, and ballads.

Congratulations to Margaret, Candido and Paulina! The three of you surely make us all proud. Good news such as this offer relief from all the negative stories written about the country. May your tribe increase!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Jesus, The Healer

Next week, our Church will start a new series called The Healer. The topic of healing is very close to my heart, having witnessed a number of miraculous healings within the family -- one of which is that of our son Ben. (Read here The Birthing of Ben)

Born a week short of his seventh month, like many pre-term babies, Ben had very weak lungs. Immediately after he came out, he was admitted to the neo-natal intensive care unit which became his home for close to a month. I had asthma at the time we were pregnant with Ben. But little did I know that it was no longer just asthma I was suffering. I had pneumonia as well.

Unfortunately, while in my tummy, Ben got infected. About 27 weeks into his life, my water bag broke. Two days later, Ben came out.
Because I didn't even know my water bag broke, more complications set in. Ben had sepsis (blood infection). To make the matter worst, he suffered cardiac arrest a few days after he was born. I was already out of the hospital by then. Immediately after it happend, his doctor called to inform us that he had an attack but thankfully, they managed to revive him. "But you should come at once. At least you are here in case he goes," the doctor told me. I was speechless.

As my husband and I rushed to the hospital, I prayed to the Lord to spare our son, but at the same time, to just take him if he was not meant for us. Ben became comatose for days.

Yet, as days went by, the more I was assured that God had already given Ben to us. I just knew it. If Ben was not meant for us, then God should have taken him right away. But Ben hang on for days and weeks. Sometimes, he would show signs of progress, managing to be off the ventilator (life support) for a day or two. Then he would degress again. It was a roller-coaster ride. But finally, before he turned a month old, the doctor told us we could already take him home.

Ben is now 13. Handsome (wink wink!) and intelligent, one cannot imagine what he went through.

When he was old enough to understand, we told him the story of his life and how God did a miracle on him.

His doctor calls him "the miracle baby from the ICU" and indeed he is. He was the worst case in the ICU. The most premature and the most complicated case, Ben's healing could only be the handiwork of a miracle-working God.

"Only a miracle can save your son," his doctor told us. And indeed, the miracle happened.

Looking back, I believe God allowed us to go through a difficult start for many reasons. One, Ben's two younger sisters that followed very shortly one after the other were also both born premature. Thankfully, by the second and third time we became pregnant again, we already knew what to do. Second, having seen how God miraculously healed Ben, we now have personal knowledge that indeed, nothing is too difficult for the Lord. Everytime we go through something, we hold on to the knowledge that we have a miracle-working God. The past thirteen years, we went through so many challenges that if we have not only seen how God performed miracle on Ben, we would have probably succumbed to despair.

Thankfully, Jesus is our Divine Healer. With Him, nothing is impossible. And the impossible is nothing.