Eat, Pray, Love

• Eat •

Miggy and I may have different personalities, but we have a lot of other things in common. One of which are going to places we haven’t been to together. The first time we scratched the places off our bucket list was in April 2011 when we went for a trip to Corregidor. A day after Miggy’s birthday last month, his aunt and uncle invited us to join them to a day tour at Villa Escudero in Quezon. The two had this on their itinerary since December, so there was no way of talking him out into cancelling the trip because of an impending bad weather.

We were supposed to rent a van ourselves, but Tito Ron’s old-time friend offered to take us there instead with their personal vehicle (plus driver, Kuya Bernie). They picked me up at my place around seven in the morning; however, we headed straight to The Palms Country Club for a breakfast meeting.

When we got to the function room, we were welcomed by Mrs. Nancy Catan, an American who married a Filipino and speaks fluent Tagalog. She was awesome! Anyway, we were greeted by a few people as we were ushered to our seats. This is some fancy breakfast, I thought to myself. So we were offered a very delightful Filipino breakfast such as tapsilogbangsilog, and tocilog.

• Pray •

Towards the end of our meal, we were all requested to rise for some group prayer. That’s when I saw the banner of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals in the far side of the room. We prayed in the form of a lively song, accompanied by three men whom each played a guitar. Honestly, Miggy and I began to feel a bit uncomfortable because we had the impression that they’re from a different religion. When one of them ended his prayer with a sign of the cross, we both felt relieved.

The BCBP holds breakfast meetings every now and then across the country for purposes of evangelism. As visitors, we were requested to introduce ourselves to an audience of 50 people. It was Mr. and Mrs. Gonzalo “Jun” Catan who invited us over at the breakfast meeting. Incidentally, the couple had been assigned to prepare a personal story for the group sharing. Tito Jun began his story by sharing how he started the business who brought legacy to him and his family. Apparently, Tito Jun was the owner and founder of MAPECON, the leading pest control company in the Philippines. 

Let me share with you a little trivia how Tito Jun came up with the name of his company. In 1984, Tito Jun dreamt of 1 Peter 2:9. Through this verse, the MAPECON people believe and claim God’s annointing, and that the Filipino people is chosen by God to be His:

But you are the chosen race, the King’s priests, the holy nation, God’s own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God, who calle you out of darkness into his own marvelous light.

The word Pilipino  also contains the words: pili (chosen), lipi (race), pino (refined). Others may say it’s coincidence, but MAPECON believe it’s grace—God’s grace, thus MAPECON stands for My Almighty’s Plan to Exalt Christ Operates Now! Interesting, isn’t it?

Tita Nancy, on the other hand, shared how Tito Jun and she met in their early 20s. I was holding Miggy’s hand the entire time, and as their love story unfolds, I found myself squeezing it tighter. They both come from poor families, but nothing stopped them from marrying each other—something most people would think was impossible. Although Tita Nancy only shared an overview of their lives together as a young couple, I couldn’t help but think of the life ahead of us.

Through prayer and God’s grace, the impossible became possible. All there’s to do is believe and trust in the Lord. Something Miggy and I never fail to remember.

• Love •

Apart from love for one another, Miggy and I share the same love for nature. In fact, one of the things we look forward to a future life together is travelling. We would love to continue ticking off things from our bucket list while we’re young.

Our stay at Villa Escudero was a short one because we arrived there at noon. Upon getting our tickets, we took a Rural Village Tour, riding a colorful jeepney led by a carabao. Our first stop was the Waterfalls Restaurant where we had lunch. Miggy and I were wearing closed shoes unlike our company, so we opted to stay in the area where won’t have to remove our footwear. 

We were offered a buffet lunch. Boy, it was bountiful! When we’re done, we all went up the viewing deck for more photo ops. After lunch, guests have the opportunity to watch the Philippine Experience Show where the country’s rich culture comes to life, from its ethnic diversity to its colonial legacy. The dances were painstakingly recreated by the late National Artist for Dance Ramon Obusan of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Mr. Obusan’s insistence on authenticity sets this show, performed by resort employees and accompanied by the resort’s own musicians and rondalla ensemble, makes this show a far cry from the stylized performances one sees today.

The tour was concluded by a visit at the museum. I’m glad this was the last in our itinerary because I joined this part the most. We were given the chance to see the family’s collection of religious images and artifacts. Among them was the original altar of The Minor Basilica of The Black Nazarene (also known as Saint John the Baptist Parish) which the family has acquired. Two things caught my attention in the museum: a large mosaic of Jesus Christ whose image was formed by minute words from the Bible. (We even had to use a magnifying lens to see for ourselves!); and the miraculous rose petals with the different images of Jesus imprinted on each one of them. Apart from these, the family has a vast collection of preserved animals—from butterflies to insects to birds and reptiles. Too bad taking photos inside the museum wasn’t allowed!

Before we head back to Manila, Tito Jun offered to take us to dinner at Rose and Grace, a restaurant well-known for their bulalo. On our way home, I realized how I saw and experienced love in different forms. There’s love for God, love for family, love for friends, and love for nature. In the end, I thought about my own version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Quite literally, though.

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