Saturday, September 10, 2016

'Round and 'Round Saigon 2016

September 2016

We had a super fun experience going round and round along the streets of Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam especially at night!

We stayed near Alagon Central Hotel and as we crossed to the other side of the road, where Starbucks and many other branded shops were located, we were amazed by the traffic of Saigon.

It was a different experience than that in the Philippines since as soon as the green GO sign flashes, there is a continuous flow of motorbikes!

Initially, we said, "We can easily cross the street. We come from Zamboanga City... it couldn't be too different!"

But it was! And that added to the fun in Saigon! 

Saigon was a whole new experience for us with the "millions" of motorbikes speeding by. We were told that these drivers are the "kings of the road" and so they just drive past the pedestrians acting like we were never around. We had to steer away from them, so as not to be hit! But since we need to cross the street, we raise our hand just to "make ourselves more visible" and hoping (and praying) that they give way! Crossing the streets of Saigon is a great art in itself!!!

So here we are, deciding to do a video selfie in the small island in middle of 6-lane intersection near Alagon Central. 

Then, as we went out of Saigon Center just across Saigon Square, we found our corner where we did our whirls. This time, we tried to do it faster!

As we walked further to cross to Ben Thanh Market, we found ourselves in the middle island, and did our rounds there, too. We already got the hang of the fast spin, so you could imagine usthere!

At the Night Market, we invited Trang, our new Vietnamese friend to join us as we whirled around to get our video selfies (or groufies!) 

Finally, I included our midmorning selfie at the Alagon Central Hotel roofdeck to share the Saigon panorama at this vantage point!

It was an adventure to remember as we felt like riding a superfast merry-go-round ... laughing and screaming and of course, getting dizzy as we went around faster!

I know some folks might have wondered what we were doing, but it also seemed like they really didn't mind us!

Enjoy the video... you might want to do the same!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2016


KUNST IN DE TROOST is a yearly activity of the Zusters Karmelietessen Den Troost. 

The Carmelite Monastery of Our Lady of Consolation (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ten Troost) is the oldest existing Carmelite Monastery of Nuns in the world is in 2 Trooststraat, Vilvoorde, Belgium and there I met 6 beautiful Filipina Carmelite sisters (zusters in BE)!
The adjoining basilica is also the oldest in Western Europe.
This day, April 24, 2015, the Carmelite sisters open their doors to the public in the form of a Public Art Exhibit by artists from Belgium and displayed in their beautiful Garden of Carmel. 

Part of the proceeds will help support the renovation of the Basilique Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Ten Troost. (Our Lady of the Consolation) simply known as Troostkerk.

Interestingly, I came at the right time of the year! 

This one day, the zusters (sisters) come out of their cloisters to join the OPENING EVENT starting at 7:30 pm and attended by the City Mayor and friends! 

Palm Beer s one of the major sponsors for the Art Exhibit
So for the first time, the Karmel sisters had their "groupies" while we go around the garden to view the artworks.

I enjoyed the activity so much that we reached until evening....

With Mayor Hans Bonte of Vilvoorde, Belgium 

Here are the sisters inside the Art Exhibit.

By the way, the Carmelite community in Vilvoorde is the oldest living Carmelite community in the world spanning about 400 years.

But most interesting is that the six younger sisters are Filipinas as shared by Sr. Dilla of the Zamboanga Carmelite community. She told me to look for Sr. Carmela Omandam and Sr. Luisa. They join the four elderly Belgian sisters in this monastery. 

The basilique is already beautiful at this time, with the although, there are still some restorations to be done with some of the art and church organ. One side of the basilique shows the Gothic architecture and part shows baroque architecture.
From Wikipedia" = "Owing to its important role as a pilgrimage destination, the Carmel has a particular significance to the city of Vilvoorde. 
The Troostkermis or annual fair and holiday of the city of Vilvoorde is still celebrated today, starting on the third Sunday after Easter. 

The church was elevated to the status of basilica, on 7 May 2006, and since that date pilgrims have begun visiting from other Belgian provinces."

I felt so blessed during my trip to Belgium as I was able to visit the sisters three times and even joined them in their prayers.

I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity for such a blessed encounter! We had hearty conversations and prayers with these beautiful zusters (sisters) which lightened my mind and my heart!

I definitely can say this is one of my happiest trips!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016


March 24, 2016 Maundy Thursday

We are now in Bacolod City and we are searching for churches to visit tonight. We got a list of parishes and of course, we might have to search  each through Waze... if they would reflect there!

Fortunately, Jaybee's friend from Bacolod City decided to show us the way. He never did a "Visita Iglesia" before and thought we were his angels for him to do this the first time. I personally think that he is actually our angel showing the road to the seven churches we intended to find. 

The Seven Churches Visitation also known as Visita Iglesia is an ancient pious Roman Catholic Lenten tradition to visit seven churches on the evening of Holy Thursday. On Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, following the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Blessed Sacrament, is reserved on the Altar of Repose in the church for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. During the Seven Churches Visitation or Visita Iglesia, the faithful visit several churches – sometimes seven, sometimes fourteen, sometimes no set number depending upon the particular practice – to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in each church.
Church 1: Triumph of the Holy Cross
Burgos Extension, Barangay Estefania, Bacolod City

Church 2: St. Joseph the Workers Parish
Dona Juliana Heights, Bacolod City

Church 3: Holy Family Parish
Bacolod City

Church 4: San Antonio Abad Parish Church
General Lacson Street Extension, Bacolod City 

Church 5: Sacred Heart Diocesan Shrine
Lupit, Bacolod City 

Church 6: Oratory of St. Nicholas of Tolentine
University of Negros Occidental - Recoletos, Bacolod City

Church 7: Queen of Peace Parish Church
St. John Institute, Bacolod City

We thank you, Lord for giving us the opportunities for prayer even if we are away from our homeplace.