Cavite 2012

Being a president of an organization, means being a community servant to serve the underserved communities.  During our Dental and Medical Mission in Cavite, this adorable child was staring at me so I took a picture of her.  Such an angel.

 

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Floral Gallery

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Bohol 2012

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Cebu 2012

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The Famous Constantinople: Istanbul 2011

ARCHITECTURE

Medusa


PEOPLE IN TURKEY

Beautiful Turkish

Meğen Kökü Man

Soldiers

Old & New

Indian Entertainers

The Magician

The Passengers

Musicians

Shisha Smoker

Turkish Appetizer

Çoban Salatası

Kumpir

Turkish Dishes

Manti

Midye Dolma

Turkish Dessert

Baklava

Ayran

FRUITS

Cherries

Berries

Merhaba!

Our 10 day tour in Turkey from the last week of July to the first week of August was  not enough.  With authentic restaurants, night clubs, malls, bazaars, carnivals, historical sites, Turkey has a lot to offer to entertain the guests that 10 days is not enough in Istanbul alone.  

We stayed in my sister’s adorable friend  with her family in BesiktasIstanbul a place accessible for the Bosphorus tour (if you want to go the the Asian side of Turkey) and city tour (the European side of Turkey which is more clean and organized compared from the Asian side).   It’s safe to walk at night along the shore of Besiktas and watch some people go fishing and just relaxing with their family and friends.    The dinner on the cruise for the Bosphorus tour with scrumptious food and drinks, brilliant lights, happy people was such a luxurious treat. 

Historical sites have impressive architecture from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.  Most of the sites have entrance fees: 20 TL  in Hagia Sophia Museum, 10 TL in Basilica Cistern Yerebatan Sarnici (where the head of the Medusa is located), 1TL (I got a big discount) in Dolmabahce Palace/Sarayi. The dollar rate was $1 = 1.5 – 1.7 TL (Turkish Lira).

Turkey is known for its apparel industry having a lot of stores that sell affordable signature and Turkish brand clothes.  Though the clothes were cheaper, there were agricultural products and food that were more expensive than in Egypt, almost the same  in Israel.  Thus, Yogurt, Frito-Lay products and other Turkish products were cheap like the cherries for 7TL and berries for 3.5TL.  Most were Turkish, Persian, Italian, Greek and American restaurants.  I saw few Asian restaurants like Chinese and Japanese.  I think with greater demands from Asian tourists and residents, Asian food (Chinese, Japanese, Korean & Filipino) will expand.  There were lots of coffee shops, bakeshops and fast food chains.  It’s a must to taste its Turkish authentic coffee, ice cream, kebab, manti, midye dolma, kumpir,coban salatasi, baklava and macun.

I was naive when they use cologne as sanitizer or  hand disinfectant instead of alcohol. Perhaps they were also curious why I prefer alcohol instead of cologne. The place where we stayed in Besiktas was a healthy environment, it was clean, organized with friendly and approachable people around so it’s safe for tourists.

Though the country is dominated by muslims, people were more liberated compared from other muslim countries. There were also Christian churches and Jewish synagogues.  People have more Caucasian and Persian features.  I was struck by the   good musicians in the subway, magicians in the bazaar and Indian entertainers in Besiktas.  It was interesting to know the predictions by a fortune teller on the images formed from the  Turkish coffee residue. 

  1. After drinking the coffee, leave the residue.
  2. Cover it with a small plate that will fit well to make sure that the residue will not spill when you  flip it over.
  3. Swirl the cup gently for few minutes.
  4. Flip over the cup and flip it back abruptly.
  5. The coffee residue forms images and the fortune teller can tell what the images mean.

I was taught by a smart and pretty Turkish friend how to speak some basic Turkish words, such as:

  1. bir              0 – sifir                                                                                                  
  2. iki             20 – yirmi           21 – yirmi bir            
  3. uc             30 – otuz
  4. dort         40 – kirk
  5. bes           50 – elli
  6. alti           60 – altmis
  7. yedi         70 – yetmi ‘s
  8. sekiz       80 – sekse ‘n
  9. dokuz;   90 – doksan
  10. on           100 – yuz                    1,000 – bin            
  11. on bir; 200 – iki yuz           2,000 – iki bin
  12. on iki; 300 – u yuz     1,000,000 – milyon         
  • days – gunler;  months – aylar
  • who – kim; what – ne; how – nasil;
  • where – nerede;  when – ne zaman; why – neden/niye
  • yes – evet               no – hayir; stop – dur
  • thank you – mersi/teshekkurler;
  • please – lutfen;  help – imdat
  • sorry – pardon/affedersiniz
  • good – iyi;  bad – kotu
  • big – buyuk;  a lot/very – cok;
  • small – kucuk; little –  az;   medium/average – orta
  • hot – sicak;  cold – soguk
  • entrance – giris;  exit – cikish
  • open – acik;   close – kapali
  • right – sag;  left – sol
  • near – yakin;   far- uzak
  • up – yukari;   down – asagi
  • here – burada;   there – orada
  • sick – hasta;   hospital – hastane;
  • pain – agrim;  accident –  kaza
  • money – para;  coin – bazuk para;
  • paper money – kagit para;   bill – hesap
  • free – bedara; 
  • call – cagrin
  • foreign exchange office/shop – boviz burosu

So thankful for being blessed to have experienced the Turkish hospitality and for being treated like part of the Turkish happy and beautiful family.  

******

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Holy Land 2011

Red Sea in Eilat

July 13 (Wednesday) – Arrival.

  • It took 6 hours to travel by land from Egypt to Israel.  Though it does not require a visa for Filipinos but we were asked for our purpose of visit.  From the bus stop to the border, it took us almost 15 minutes by foot.  Then we took a taxi from Taba to Eilat bus station to Jerusalem where we met a Palestinian mother who taught me basic Hebrew while waiting for the departure, like the following:
  1. akad                      11. akad esre                 100.     miah
  2. eshtime               12.  eshtime esre            20.     esrim
  3. shalosh                13.  shalosh esre            30.     shloshin
  4. arba   (same as in Arabic)                          40.     arbaim
  5. kamesh                                                              50.     kamsheen
  6. shesh                                                                  60.     sheshim
  7. sheva                                                                 70.     shevaim
  8. shmony                                                            80.      shmoneem
  9. teshaa   (same as in Arabic)                     90.      teshaim
  10. esher

right – yemina   (yemin in Arabic);     left – smolah;   straight – yashar;

street – rehof;   thank you – tudaraba

now – mahayom;    yesterday – etmol;    tomorrow – mahaar

What time?   Ma shaa?

What is your name?Ma shem shelak?

Where?   If fo at gara?

  • I was uncomfortable the whole day searching for my luggage which was lost. An old Jewish lady accidentally got my luggage, because we have the same luggage size and color.  So I was uncomfortable the whole day like Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker. Hehehe  Then I went to her flat, which was clean and organized.   It was such a test of patience.   It was exhausting but it’s alright, at least I got my luggage back.

View of the Old City from the rooftop of Austrian Hospice.

Entrance to Austrian Hospice

  • We stayed in Austrian Hospice which has an amazing view of the old city from its rooftop along Via Dolorosa (where the traces of the footsteps of Christ to his crucifixion or the stations of the cross to the Holy Sepulcher are located.  The word hospice sounds like “a place for medical and emotional care for the terminally ill”,  but it’s a lodging for travelers (especially “one kept by a monastic order”).  It’s secured, clean, well maintained, and it’s the most practical place to live conveniently in the old city because it provides free WiFi, free safe drinking water (which was said to be filtered, but so far my tummy didn’t get upset during my stay there) and it includes breakfast buffet from 7AM-9AM (with different kinds of cereals, breads, processed meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, yogurts and with unlimited coffee, tea and juice).  A heavy breakfast is already enough for the whole day travel. It also has sumptuous Viennese cafe but of course it’s better to explore in different restaurants and the local food in the market for snack & dinner.

July 14 (Thursday)- Tour in the Old Jerusalem

Damascus Gate

Dome of the Rock

  • We went to explore the Old City by just walking around.  It’s a safe place with security cameras almost everywhere.  We got the maps and guides from the Tourists’ Center inside the old city.  It’s also where we got a free tour in the old city.  The tour guide has done a great job in showing us the religious and historical sites inside the old city.  The archaic sanctuaries, chambers, perfectly military engineered fortresses, castles, buildings  and architectures  were preserved even after the ruins from the religious wars.   Great to see the remnants from the Knights Templar and Saladin.
  • Since the cost of living in Israel is quite high and we plan to stay for a week or more, we searched for the most practical way to live in Israel and to get a great deal.

July 15 (Friday) – Station of the Cross  & Tour in Bethlehem

Holy Sepulcher Church

Western/Wailing Wall

The Jews

  • We were so lucky that we have met the Sisters’ of Charity (Mother Teresa’s Congregation) and joined them for the station of the cross then we went to observe the Sabbath of the Jews in the place where King Solomon’s Western/Wailing Wall or the Muslim’s El-Mabka/Al-Buraq Wall is located.  There were drinking fountains where a lot of people were drinking and washing their hands and face. There were mugs shared by some.  I’m actually clueless why other people were praying while washing their face.

“This silver star, beneath the altar in the Grotto of the Nativity, marks the spot believed to be the Birthplace of Jesus.”

  • In the late afternoon, we went to Bethlehem to the Church of Nativity.  The travel by bus from the old city took almost 30 minutes.  It’s cheaper to commute or take a bus  (most are clean air-con buses)  to Bethlehem from the old city than to take a taxi or thru travel agency.   From the bus stop it will take almost 20 minutes to reach the Church of the Nativity.   It’s safer to walk during the day and make sure to have a companion because there are  locals who will try to harass you or even force you to buy something from their store.  Learn the art of saying NO.   Inside the church was the
    • “silver star embedded in white marble marks the exact spot where Jesus was born. The original star was place here by the Roman Catholic Church in 1717.”  (text from This Week in Palestine, Issue No. 44, December 2001)

July 16  (Saturday) – Tour in Nazareth, Cana, Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha & Jordan River

  • We took a whole day tour package to Nazareth, Cana, Galilee, Capernaum, Tabgha & Jordan River.  First we went to the Church of the Annunciation, which according to the Roman Catholic tradition, “it marks the site where the Archangel Gabriel announced the future birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-31)”.   Then we had a chance to feel the breeze of the sea of Galilee and a stop over for lunch @ Tanureen Oriental Restaurant (which I have no comment).

Inside the Church of the Annunciation

  • It’s in Capernaum where the ruins of the old synagogue and the house of St. Peter are located.

Courtyard of the Church of Multiplication

  • In Jordan river we met various groups:  A religious group singing hymns; A group of people wearing white as they do their baptismal ceremony;  A group of ladies swimming in the river; And a group of brave rats swimming as they get close to the crowd for food and picture taking.

July 17  (Sunday) – Sunrise in Masada, Ein Gedi (Oasis in Israel)  & Swim in the Dead Sea

My poor shoe overused during the sunrise trekking in Masada.

View from the fortress in Masada

To the cable car in Masada

  • On top of the mountain, you can drink cold water from the drinking fountain.
  • Since we have to leave before 9AM, we have no choice but to walk because the cable car opens at 9AM.  So if you plan to go to Masada, you have to arrange the schedule earlier so you can take the cable car.

A hungry bird in Masada

  • On top of the mountain, we had a great time learning as we  relax, observe the Jewish teens from the US  while they were praying, took a lot of pictures and fed the birds around us.
  • Then we went to the Ein Gedi where the oasis is located.  Since some of us  were so tired from the Masada trekking, we just stayed on the foot of the mountain of Ein Gedi.
  • The last trip was in the Dead Sea, where we soaked ourselves in mud and float on the sea after.  I felt rejuvenated after the mud bath.  Though the trip was exhausting, it was truly remarkable. 🙂

June 18  (Monday) – City of David, Mount  of Olives, Mount Zion & Garden of Gethsemane

Mount of Olives

Mount of Olives

Garden of Gethsemane

Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives

The Church of the Pater Noster

A Copt inside the church where Virgin Mary’s tomb lies

July 19 (Tuesday) –  Yad Vashem

A relaxing landscape in Yad Vashem

  • Yad Vashem is a place where you’ll learn to value humanity.   You’ll surely be emotional once you’ve seen the memorabilia of the victims of the holocaust which can take almost 3 hours just to tour around the museum.  Too bad it’s not allowed to take pictures inside.
  • It’s open for everyone for free.
    • “It is located in the western region of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is a 45-acre (180,000 m2) complex containing the Holocaust History Museum; memorial sites, such as the Children’s Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance; The Museum of Holocaust Art; sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, archives, a research institute, library, publishing house and an educational center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. Yad Vashem honors non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust, at personal risk, as the “Righteous among the Nations”. Yad Vashem is the second most-visited tourist site in Israel, after the Western Wall. It receives some one million visitors annually.

July 20 – Jerusalem & Departure

  • I felt naive to see a BMW motorcycle for the first time, since I’m just used of Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki & Honda. LOL
  • Before we left, we met a group of people protesting for the rental price hike, they put tents outside the Citadel, had band performance and sponsors from various sectors.  Too bad we have to leave the following day, we could have joined them.
  • If there’s one word to describe Israel, it’s HEAVENLY!

Police Motorcycle

I felt so blessed to be in holy and sacred places.
I felt so blessed to visit the religious and historical sites.
I felt so blessed to meet good people and learn from them.
I felt so blessed that I was guided to live in a clean & decent place.
I felt  so blessed that I was guided to eat and drink healthy.
I felt so blessed that had a safe trip and had so much fun.
I felt so blessed and thankful for the blessings.
What more can you ask for when you have felt that you are so loved and blessed?
Because of these experiences, I can prove that there’s God .  A majestic and noble God.

**************

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Luxor

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The City of Luxor is a modern city with fastfood chains, hotels and well constructed roads.  We went to the Valley of the Kings  with an entrance fee of 90LE.  Our Danish friend who’s into Archeology turned out to be our tour guide.  Since we were informed that the Valley of the Queens is just the same as the Valley of the Kings, we no longer went there.  If we have more time, we could have visited a lot more like the interesting  Howard Carter’s house in Theban Necropolis  that turned out to be a museum.

The Temple of Hatshepsut  costs  30LE for the entrance.  Eventhough there was a shuttle vehicle, we still took a long walk to the temple.  We passed by the Deir el-Medina, an ancient Egyptian village, then to the  Colossi of Memnon.

We also went to Karnak Temple with an entrance fee of  65LE.  Last was the Luxor Temple which costs 50LE for the entrance. I was intrigued with what our tour guide told us about the fertility God  Khem or Min engraved on the wall with lots of hand marks, it was said to give miracles to those who wanted to have a child.  A couple from Romania were teasing me to touch it, but how could you touch such thing? LOL The guards of the temple were very helpful to show me where to get a great shot.  They even showed me the open air museum at the back of the temple and guided me where to take a good panoramic view of the temple.  These people deserve a tip, but they didn’t accept the money that I was insisting to give them as a sign of gratitude.  Observing the sunset in Luxor Temple was entrancing, I felt so blessed. 🙂

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