Thursday, March 7, 2013

ST. PIO OF PIETRELCINA and the Filipino pilgrims

Trailer of "Into The Light"

My second European trip became possible because of "work."  We were to shoot a documentary about the relationship of St. Pio to the Filipino pilgrims.  I first "met" St Pio at Greenbelt Chapel, a high-end commercial mall surrounded by classy restaurants and expensive shops.  He was in front of the altar, bust-sized, wearing a brown clothing being a Capuchin.  I didn't take him seriously because he looked funny to me.  Why would I pray to a statue who doesn't look like a saint? I kept on laughing inside the chapel.  My friend who played St. Pio in a theatrical play explained that the beloved saint was a bi-locator.  He can be seen at many places at the same time.  He knows all your sins even if you haven't confessed it and he bore Jesus' stigmata.

One afternoon, I got a phone call asking if I'm available to shoot a documentary on St. Pio at his hometown in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.  I didn't have second thoughts.  I said 'YES!' right away.

Behind-the-scenes interview with the Hospital Director 
Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, a hospital built by St. Pio
A Filipino pilgrim is in deep prayer.
Ms. Boots Anson Roa is an acclaimed actress and devotee of St. Pio. She is the host of the documentary.
After making the documentary, I became to know St. Pio intimately and we are now best friends! Hahaha.  I do not make fun of him anymore. I am in awe with his generosity and service to humanity.  He always listens.  I count on him every time my life is being tested and he delivers.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Images in Europe

My last European trip brought me images that have been stuck in my mind for years and I wanted to share them with you. 

The images will speak for themselves---no words to explain its significance :)

Intense prayer at the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto in France.
A Mime in Spain!
Tourists at the Vatican City.
The view from the very serene Montserrat, my favorite mountain.
A surprising rally emerged while our tour bus was waiting at the parking lot.
Hello there!
Leaves are starting to fall---a change in season.

Walking around the streets of France at night greeted me with this gigantic artwork.

The Sacred Heart in France. I think "Amelie" was shot here during their "hide & seek" game.
The Eiffel Tower during a foggy morning.
I can't pass the chance to see the Eiffel at night so I made sure I visited it during day time too.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal

A visit to Portugal led us to one of the world's most sought after pilgrimage site, Our Lady of Fatima.  In 1917, three children---Lucia and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco were herding their sheep when a bright light led to an apparition of Our Lady. 

Our Lady was dressed in all-white, came with a brilliant flash of light and talked to the children.  She shared the three secrets of Fatima.  The first secret was a vision of hell.  The second secret included Our Lady's instructions on how to save souls and convert the world to Christian faith.  The third secret was a vision of the death of the Pope and religious figures.  The prophesies gained fame throughout the world because of its mention of a possible world war and the conversion of Russia.

Hundreds of thousands pilgrims gather every May 13 and October 13 to pray and take part in the processions.  In 1930, the visions of Fatima were officially declared "worthy of belief" by the Church.

The Holy Rosary is also propagated that "there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families in the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary."
Basilica of the Rosary

Tourists can also ride this mini train/shuttle to tour the small village where Lucia and company grew up.    Below is a small chapel built in Lucia's home town.

A lot of souvenir shops selling religious items and statues of Our Lady of Fatima are all over the streets of Portugal. I got this hand-painted necklace as a special remembrance for this trip.

What struck me was seeing the image of Our Lady of Fatima upclose and personal.  She looks so simple but her essence is one beautiful woman.  Her purity is astonishing.  There are things that cannot be explained---one just have to trust and believe.

This is the prayer that Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco recited during one of Our Lady's apparition:

"O my God, I believe. I adore.  I hope and I love Thee.  I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Crossing the Border of France & Spain

Today is January 1, 2013.  As I reflect on the coming year, I look back at my European trip when I crossed the border from France to Barcelona, Spain.  This serene lake welcomed me as we traveled by bus with other pilgrims for a ten-hour drive.
Believe me, it was a relaxing trip.  We had stop-overs so it was less tiring.  I would do it all over again just to see the wonderful work of our Creator.  I was overwhelmed with peace and contentment just seeing the lake, mountains, trees and the running water right before my eyes.  I was communing with nature while in transit!  
This somewhat reflects my current state in life.  I am at peace and grateful for all of life's blessings.  I am happy where I am at. I have my ups and downs.  I embrace change wholeheartedly no matter how painful.  I have learned that challenges and failures does not hinder me from fulfilling my dreams. I am glad to be born in this world and there is not a thing I regret.  

Have a blessed and awesome 2013, dear friends!  Cheers :)