Friday, March 16, 2012
On February 26, we returned from Stake Public Affairs Council/Area Seventy training for two days in Iloilo. On the 27th we were on our way to Olongapo, located on this island of Luzon, and about a 3 hour drive northwest of Quezon City. Olongapo was hosting the Jubilee Exhibit, so we arranged to do Stake Public Affairs Council training while we were there. The drive to Olongapo was very beautiful...more flat with some hills and much less jungle like. We saw mile after mile of rice fields and sugar cane fields. We drove through some small towns and villages. Along the way we noticed markers indicating that we were traveling along the route made famous by the American and Filipino soldiers during WWII called the "Bataan Death March". I mentioned the historical significance of this in an earlier blog. When we arrived, we stayed at a beautiful hotel located on Subic Bay. Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the United States Navy located in the Philippines. It was the largest U.S. Navy installation in the Pacific and was the largest overseas military installation of the United States Armed Forces after Clark Air Base was closed in 1991. Following its closure in 1992, as a U.S. Naval Base, it was transformed into the Subic Bay Freeport Zone by the Philippine government. Each night we ate in a very nice restaurant where we enjoyed beautiful live piano music. The first night the musician kept playing the most beautiful arrangements of songs that we recognized from the LDS Hymn book. I finally walked over to him and asked him how he knew those songs, and he said that a friend had given him a green hymnbook and he really enjoyed arranging those hymns. He was a very gifted musician.
The Jubilee Exhibit opened on Tuesday morning. It was a beautiful but hot day. The public affairs director, Monette, had prepared quite the program. It consisted of a local high school choir singing the Filipino National Anthem, groups from local schools doing native Filipino dances, music from a zone of LDS missionaries along with their Mission President, and talks by local dignitaries (Mayor, Vice Governor) and remarks from my husband. Randy had a good visit with the mayor after the opening ceremonies and he thanked us for the cleanliness and beauty of our churches and for the service the Church renders to his community. We then left the opening ceremony and attended the ribbon cutting to the exhibit. As we entered the cultural hall, primary children were singing the beautiful Jubilee song called "United". The Spirit was so strong as we entered. As the children got to the chorus of the song, this large group of youth stepped in behind the children and sang with them...it was so very touching. We walked through the exhibit with the minister of tourism and a city councilor. We had a great time and were so glad that we were privileged to be there. In the afternoon, we did training for the PA Councils of Olongapo and the Balanga Stake. We had another beautiful drive back to Quezon City.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
For Valentines, our Senior Zone went to a place called Barbara’s Restaurant, which is located within the walls of Intramuros...meaning “the walled city”. We planned to spend time wandering around this historic area, but it was pouring outside, so we quickly ran into the restaurant and spent the evening there.
A little bit of information about Intramuros follows: It is located right near Manila Bay, beside the Pasig River. It was built during the Spanish conquest....started in 1590 and added onto by each new governor until 1872. It covers an area of 160 acres. The wall is 22 feet high and wide enough for a foot path. Originally it had an inner moat just inside the wall and an outer moat around the entire outside. There were a number of gates allowing entrance, and Fort Santiago was built to protect the walled city. It became the center of political, military and religious power during the time the Philippines was a colony of Spain. In 1941 with the Japanese take over, Intramuros managed to be mostly preserved, however, in 1945, as the Americans retook the Philippines, it was completely destroyed. Most of it has been rebuilt now. It is a beautiful, historic place to visit.
Barbara’s is one of the many nice restaurants built with the old Spanish influence. We had a nice buffet dinner and then were entertained by a dance group performing dances from both Spanish and Filipino eras. There was a point where the dancers asked for volunteers to come and try one of the dances...I immediately hid myself...that was the last thing I wanted to do!!! Sure enough, I was volunteered and went up! At least my feet managed to do the steps correctly, and soon I was back in my seat with my husband saying, “Good job!”
Everything else about the evening was lots of fun. Next to our table was the Ambassador to the Philippines from South Africa.....they had a group of 10. One of our senior missionaries, Sister Hardick, grew up in South Africa, so she approached their table and introduced herself. To all of our amazement, one of the diplomats had the same last name as Sister Hardicks maiden name...he treated her and her husband like long lost friends. They exchanged business cards and set up a time to get together again! What a fun experience that was to witness. We have such great friends among the missionaries...that makes all of our activities enjoyable.