Welcome to the tropics, 7 Quick Takers! I'm so honored you're here to join me for a mini winter break. When fabulous Kelly outsourced the most popular linkup in Catholic blogosphere, I offered to host 7QT as I travelled to my hometown of Cebu, Philippines and nearly passed out when she accepted. So mabuhay, buckle up, sip your welcome mango shake, and enjoy the ride:
1. Our epic journey of 1 mama, 3 girls, 1 baby, 4 airports, 3 countries, 20 flight hours, 4 layover hours was off to a shaky start. The baby had an ear infection; there was a problem with the e-tickets; computer glitches fouled attempts to fix it, which had us non-marathon runners huffing and puffing, to the far end of the terminal as our names were called over the loudspeaker for the final boarding announcement. It was, thankfully, downhill of drama from there and this harangued mama miraculously survived with zero sleep. My travel tip should you be insane enough to be the sole outnumbered adult in a similar situation: Pray a novena to the Martin spouses and the souls in purgatory for a safe and pleasant trip beforehand. Bring aboard two essential oils: lavender (calming) and peppermint (for motion sickness), and fly Korean Air because most flight attendants volunteer as babysitters (seriously!)
2. So we landed in Cebu, an island south of Manila, the site for January 2016’s International Eucharistic Conference, which Pope Francis is scheduled to attend. The deep roots of Catholicism are obvious from the Catholic Churches on every corner of the metropolis. My favorites are still the historic ones, which have been around for ages and are popular pilgrimage places for certain favors. Here are some of the spots where I prayed for you all:
|The altar of the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino (Child Jesus), over two centuries old. It was built shortly after Magellan discovered the Philippines and Christianized the country.|
|A shot of the courtyard with Spanish style windows of the monastery adjacent to the Church.|
|The miraculous image of the Sto. Nino (Child Jesus) which Magellan presented to the Rajah (King), and which he eagerly accepted along with his baptism.|
|The miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rule at her Shrine in Mactan island, Cebu, which has heard many mothers' prayers for a baby. I was here 2 years ago to pray for one and our family returned to thank her for the favor.|
|The gorgeous centuries old Cebu Cathedral with the two |
recently canonized Filipino saints and martyrs, St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Pedro Calungsod.
3. My grandfather used to say travel is education and I couldn’t agree more. No arms needed twisting to abandon our homeschool books to the dust and learn about foreign language and science first hand.
|That's not a topaz and opal necklace. Its' a poisonous sea snake, which is always good to know, amiright?|
|Sea star not Star Fish. If you're familiar with Andrew Pudewa's IEW, you know why.|
|Some kind of fish swimming at the shore.|
|Foreign language lesson: if a Filipino asks you "Mahangin sa labas?" (Is it windy outside) they're not making small talk about the weather. They're suggesting you need to brush your hair (see above beach hair selfie).|
4. We also closely “studied” international cuisine, sampling authentic Italian gelato, French macarons, Japanese shabu-shabu, Cebu’s famous roasted pig, and Chinese dimsum.
|Ever heard of Wagyu beef? It's a Japanese specialty. No kidding, it melts in your mouth.|
|roasted pig locally called "lechon"|
|Gotta have a mango with a chocolate fountain. (May I just say I'm fully convinced Eve was up against a mango, not an apple.)|
|If you're a baby, I guess sandtasting is a must.|
5. You can’t travel without shopping right? The third largest mall in Asia just opened, so I spent Black Friday browsing through local, Japanese, European, American chain stores at the mall, but mostly I enjoyed the picturesque view of the bay.
|The bay view from the Seaside mall. It was so huge, I didn't even make it to the other side with the mountain view.|
|That's the chapel next to the mall. Its not unusual for malls to have chapels and Masses celebrated in Cebu. Certain department stores also pause for the 12:00 or 6:00 Angelus over the speakers. And don't be surprised if you find the statue of Sto. Nino at a shop or restaurant. Cebuanos wear our faith on our sleeves.|
|During the Christmas season, every Filipino home buys and displays a lighted star called the "parol". It is a reminder of the Star of Behtlehem, that our hearts and homes seek and welcome Our Savior.|
|If you souvenir shop, these are my recommendations: handmade frames and ornaments made of capiz shells (windowpane oysters), a rosary made of coconut shells, (and not pictured coconut wine, fashion jewelry and local rum)|
6. Both tourists and locals will tell you the best part of a trip to Cebu are the sandy resorts that line our shores. For obvious reasons, the Shangrila's Mactan Island Resort is my piece of heaven.
7. There is so much to learn about a developing country, and as Pope Francis emphasized during his visit, "The Philippines best resource is its people." Poverty would make anyone hopeless but in a Catholic country, people are always with faith, and faith brings with it hope I have never seen anywhere else. During the season of Advent till Christmas, I am continually amazed that Filipinos celebrate beyond compare, have something to give no matter how simple, and readily share their table in their humble homes. Perhaps this is why Jesus chose the shepherds to be his first guests, and the stable his place of birth.
|View from our ocean wing room: pool and the ocean.|
|A kids only waterslide. Bummer.|
|On a cloudy day, massage beds under huts are an option|
|Random picture my husband shot. That is a real home. for several families.|
|A life size Nativity scene at a commercial complex featuring local abaca or hemp material. Abaca is used as a wall for humble huts. Again don't be surprised at nativity scenes in public and private places.|
Thank you or daghang salamat for hanging out with me! Because you are awesome, you can win the giveaway of a gorgeous coloring book here, and if you're up for more Philippine sights and sounds, you can find me on Instagram with a procrastinator's #lategram posts.