Sunday, October 05, 2014

It's more fun in...

Now here's a place whose beauty will soon be discovered by more and more people the world over -- and I'm not even just referring to the picturesque scenes one can enjoy here. Cebu -- located in the central-southern part of my country, the Philippines -- has among the most captivating beaches on the planet (even international travel publications have attested to this) but the province's charm goes way beyond these. It's the people, the food, the fiestas, the history, and a whole lot more. Nevertheless, the captivating sights and sites of Cebu are truly something, as shown in this short video.

And now that major refurbishment on the Mactan-Cebu International Airport will soon be underway, that means more travelers discovering the place and probably wanting to go back again and again.







"Do as I do"






Saturday, October 04, 2014

"A hearty dose of tough love..." from a Russian sibling



Being cultured has somewhat been likened to being knowledgeable in the arts, being polished in one's manners, in one's demeanor when interacting with others, or being of a certain social class. Well, what does it mean really to be cultured? Below is something one doesn't come across everyday in these times. It starts off with this:

What does it mean to be “cultured”? Is it about being a good reader, or knowing how to talk about books you haven’t read, or having a general disposition of intellectual elegance? That’s precisely the question beloved Russian author Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) considers in a letter to his older brother Nikolai, an artist. The missive, written when Anton was 26 and Nikolai 28 and found in Letters of Anton Chekhov to his Family and Friends (public domainpublic library), dispenses a hearty dose of tough love and outlines the eight qualities of cultured people — including honesty,altruism, and good habits:


And here's a part I find quite striking:


They are sincere, and lying like fire. They don’t lie even in small things. A lie is insulting to the listener and puts him in a lower position in the eyes of the speaker. They do not pose, they behave in the street as they do at home, they do not show off before their humbler comrades. They are not given to babbling and forcing their uninvited confidences on others. Out of respect for other people’s ears they more often keep silent than talk.




Monday, September 29, 2014

A holy "shadow" finally comes out into the light

That is how some have regarded the raising to the altars of Alvaro del Portillo, a Spanish priest and the successor of St. Josemaria Escriva as the prelate of Opus Dei, a Personal Prelature of the Catholic Church. He was beatified on Sept. 27, 2014, with more than a hundred thousand from around the world trooping to Madrid, his birthplace, for the ceremony.



Blessed Alvaro del Portillo




Fr. Francis Ongkingko, a priest of the Prelature, pens a reflection of his encounter with the recently-declared-Blessed Alvaro:


“A Teacup without Tea”
By Rev. Father Francis Ongkingko*

“You are, as we say in Spain, like a teacup without tea!” remarked Bishop Álvaro del Portillo. This was his amusing reply when he learned that I didn’t really know a single Chinese word despite my very Chinese-sounding family name.
Back then in 1992, this sounded like a mere passing remark by Bishop Álvaro, or “the Father” –as we familiarly and fondly call him– to lighten the conversation for his Filipino son who was nervously wrestling with the vocabulary and grammar of spoken Spanish.
It would only be years later, after reading a more recent and detailed biography of Father Álvaro, that I would realize how intensely he had set his heart and mind on the expansion of Opus Dei in Asia. Knowledge of either Mandarin or Cantonese was indispensable to begin and incorporate oneself in that vast continent thirsty for God. Thus, his passing commentary was something both serious and urgent.
It wasn’t actually my first time to meet Father Álvaro. I was fortunate enough to greet him personally when he visited the Philippines in 1987.  I had just known Opus Dei then. Listening to him opened many horizons, especially the mission that we, his children in the Philippines, had in the whole of Asia.
He also reminded us about our role in the Church, as we had to be vital supports for the Pope, the Bishops and our other faithful. His personal meetings with then Pope John Paul II helped us to pray more and accompany closely the Holy Father.
I remember one particular anecdote about a late afternoon audience he had with Saint John Paul II. Noticing that the Pope arrived very tired and was dragging his feet, Father Álvaro said with filial concern, “Holy Father, you are very tired.” John Paul II promptly replied, “If I’m not tired at this hour of the day, then I’m not doing my job.” This and many other stories from Father Álvaro filled us with a richer outlook in our faith and also with greater optimism to carry out our apostolic mission.
I now return to my story about the empty teacup. Not only because that was perhaps my last encounter with Father Álvaro, but because it now affords me with a new lesson.
Indeed, it would have been wonderful if my ‘teacup had some tea’ but learning Mandarin may not be one of the chapters in my life. I realized, however, whether one knows Chinese or not, we all have –as Father Álvaro had taught and lived all his life– the serious obligation to fill ourselves to the brim. This is by carrying out the simplest duties at hand, where God expects us to serve him, with constant love and sacrifice.
-----------------------------

*Father Francis Ongkingko is a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei who resides in Manila.




St. John Paul II and Blessed Alvaro during the latter's episcopal ordination







And here's a short video about the miracle concerning a Chilean baby, attributed to Blessed Alvaro's intercession and which led to his beatification. The boy -- now 11-year-old Jose Ignacio Ureta -- was at the beatification rites with his parents.



Saturday, August 02, 2014

war and PEACE







"You can bomb the world to pieces... but you can't bomb it into peace."



 

Enjoying the fruits... er, candy of their labor



How fascinating it is to watch these cacao farmers in Africa learning about chocolate -- and getting a taste of it for the first time! It sure prompts me to remember that I'm given many things that I fail to appreciate.

To get a more detailed account of the processes involved in turning cacao into chocolate candy, here's a video you can watch. Enjoy!






Sunday, May 18, 2014

Twins, tennis & truly amazing shots!






A lot of women the world over give birth, and while the transmission of life is a marvelous phenomenon to contemplate from time to time, it happens quite often that it has somewhat been taken for granted.

A couple of weeks ago, however, had me -- and countless others -- overjoyed over a piece of news about the birth of twins, primarily because their dad was tennis great Roger Federer, and also since these were the younger siblings of twin sisters. How amazing is that? I was amused by a comment below one of the articles I read -- imagine if all four kids grew up to be legendary tennis players as well, and all you'd see in the Grand Slams are "Federer vs. Federer" or "Federer/Federer vs. so and so" (a doubles team is not unlikely), said the commenter. Then of course on the sidelines would be, who else? Dad and Mom Federer!

Well, I'm just heartened by the Swiss Mister's sense of priorities, as shown in the story.

Meanwhile, below are some videos that reveal more about the World's current number 4. Enjoy!












* Photo of the Madrid Open Final 2012 from RogerFedererFans.com


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