Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

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Location: Rome, Italy

13 August 2007

Pearl of the Orient Seas...

is the nickname of the Philippines, and a very apt one as far as I am concerned. I have been here a little over a week, and I can confidently say that I love it. IMHO the country is at the sweet spot in its development—still "primitive" enough to be adventurous, but developed enough to provide basic comforts, such as safe food and water, dependable electricity supplies, and toilet paper. In addition to its natural attractions, such as white sand beaches, mountains and pristine forests, it is also beginning to take pride in presenting its pre-colonial and colonial history and culture. Not to mention its mild climate and its friendly, English-speaking people.

Yesterday, was a special day for me. The brother provincial had kindly arranged my schedule to give me the day off. A few months ago, I discovered by chance that a friend whom I have not seen for 28 years is now working in the Philippines so we arranged to meet yesterday. More on her in a later post. We spent the day at Villa Escudero, a sort of low-budget amusement park. There is a musuem containing a large collection of both pre- and post-colonial artifacts. Unfortunately, the collection was too diverse—containing everything from pre-historic tools and burial sites to 19th century religious statues and devotional items. Artifacts were also poorly labeled. Still, it was educational and interesting in its own way. They actually have the basis for what could eventually become three or more separate museums.

From the museum, we were taken by caribou cart (the caribou is a native animal of the Philippines that resembles a water buffalo) to one of the most unique restaurants that I have even seen. The chairs and tables sit in the middle of a stream of water about 10 centimeters deep. At one end of the "restaurant" is a waterfall. There are steep banks on either side so between the water, mist and shade, it is a pleasantly cool spot even on a sunny day. The restaurant serves buffet-style lunch consisting of roasted chicken and fish, rice, baked sweet potatoes crusted with brown sugar, and assorted vegetables. Yummy, and way too much.

After lunch, we attended a program of native song and dance performed by the employees of the park. My favorite part of the program was the Tinikling, or bamboo dance. Very engaging.

The park also offered rides on bamboo rafts in a small lake, but we declined. At our age, the excitement may have done us in!


Anonymous pog said...

What a lovely, lovely day.

14 August, 2007 16:03  
Blogger Open Grove Claudia said...

WHAT??? Who authorized a day off for you??? ;)

I'm so glad you are having some fun.

22 August, 2007 19:55  
Anonymous sepiatones said...

who are you? i have gotten used to bitter publications by sick people that i think i am hallucinating while reading your article.

you were experiencing my native country. i am glad you were having fun.

15 July, 2008 21:05  

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