Saturday and Sunday were very busy days and we covered lots of kilometers. Marty has made sure to provide me with a real sense of both the variety of ministries in the Philippines as well as its geography and history. I’m soaking it all up.
We headed to Lipa Saturday morning, which is the site of both a school and the novitiate. As is typical of schools here, this is an integrated school with many levels of education, including university level. Our affable tour guide was Brother Dante, who also hosted us for a delicious lunch.
I really enjoyed visiting the PARC novitiate, and seeing how it compares and contrasts with our own in RELAN. There are 8 novices from several countries. The novice master is Bro. Vince; last year it was Brother Christy Croos, who spent a couple years in our District at SMU and is now Visitor of Sri Lanka. I was struck to see Brother Pat Craine’s photo on the “wall of novice masters”. He was my novice master at Windsor and interestingly he was also Christy’s several years later at this very site. I met all but two of the novices who were in Manila for spiritual direction.
I enjoyed our visit and finding out that Brothers Dante and Vince will join Dodo (Visitor) to do the Camino in May to celebrate their 25th jubilees. That evening back in Manila we had mass and dinner with the District Council who had just finished their Council meetings.
We left early Sunday morning to drive to Bagac, about three hours away. Three Brothers came with us: Gene from the Philippines and Isaiah and Joshua from Burkina Faso, who are studying at the University in Dasmariñas. Our first stop was Bacalor to witness a pretty amazing sight: an old colonial-style church half buried in lava from an eruption almost 25 years ago.
Our next stop was Mt. Samat, where a huge cross has been erected to commemorate the experience of the Filipino people during World War II. There was also a museum which focused on the Pacific Theatre. From there to Bagac, we followed the trail of the infamous Bataan Death March. To actually read about, witness photos, and see the trail was very sobering.
Bagac was a delightful experience. The Brothers opened the Jaime Hilario School there about ten years ago. It is growing rapidly and is serving very needy kids. One perk is the nearby beach and cove; lovely, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to linger and swim.
Our last stop was Las Casas de Acuzar, a recreation of the grand old homes of the wealthy from around the Philippines. Houses and hotels are literally taken apart and painstakingly reconstructed at this site. We toured several of the buildings.
We got back to Manila late, but I was very grateful to be able to have seen so much on our Sunday outing.