Thursday, August 27, 2009

Man-Made Jungles

i've trekked in but a few GOD-created natural jungles (Guatemala, Costa Rica, Fiji, Thailand, Cook Islands, Peru), but i certainly prefer those than the man-made concrete ones (New York City and San Francisco; Santiago, Chile; Bangkok, Thailand; Manila, Philippines; Lagos, Nigeria; Auckland, New Zealand; London, England; and, yes -- even Paris, France).

What can i say? Nothing...but i can still feel when i remember.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

GOD, the Ultimate Artist

Sunrise at Muri Beach Lagoon, Cook Islands.
Part 1 of Viubani sunrise...Taveuni, Fiji.
Part 2 of Viubani sunrise...

Rising sun from Narova hilltop...Taveuni, Fiji.

Nothing made by man can ever surpass GOD's Creation. He is the Ultimate Artist. His perfection is expressed each brand new day through His Nature. When GOD said, It is good -- it really is truly very, very good!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's Not Just All About Machu Picchu

At the ruins in Pisac, with Ruben, one of my "adopted" orphans -- who sometimes slept in the streets of Cuzco, when he didn't have the money to pay his way into the local orphanage of Cuzcomaqui.
Ruben, another "adopted" orphan, who really liked the matching jacket and backpack. His favorite color was red, of course. He was my tour guide and bodyguard in this outing. He spoke Quechua with this indigenous woman. It was not even close to the Spanish i heard from most Peruvians.
Boys will be boys! No jungle gyms like they have at McDonald's...but these pillars were just as much fun and challenge to his adventurous young nature.
The market repair shop -- where the men socialized and caught up with what's new, and with what's old...and to defrost in the warm sunshine.
My nose led me to this baker's oven. He gave me a just-baked baker's dozen for my money. It was easy chatting with him, as every local i met in Cuzco were indeed friendly and helpful.
The lawful limit for these porters were 30kg, but most carried almost twice that. They were powerful and certainly fit...much like the Sherpas for those attempting Mount Everest treks.
Machu Picchu in the foreground and Huayna Picchu in the background. It was our lot that our first sight of our prized destination was shrouded in clouds. But it was a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime complaints from any of us. We were grateful that we made it through the grueling three-day hike, safe and injury free.
Machu Picchu in the background, and atop Huayna Picchu, with some trekker's stuffed "security blanket" toy in the foreground...i wasn't fearless enough to sit at the edge...better that green smiley caterpillar than me!

For an even better viewpoint, here's another trekker's vantage point:
And here's a great blog entry about the whole 4-day hike from Steve, Joe, and David's Travels:

P.S. i am again raising funds for the Naselesele Village school children in Taveuni, Fiji. Your charitable donation of any amount is deeply and heartfully appreciated! GOD bless your loving heart!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Roots -- Philippine Style

i never lived out in the boondok (Tagalog for boondocks) and not many people live in this kind of farmhouse any more, or the lifestyle that goes with it. Most people prefer a life of "ease" in town with electricity, food stores, and of course, TV.
This is my parents' house in Castillejos, a town in the Zambales Province (Philippines). It survived the Mount Pinatubo eruption. Dad's relatives live here now. They've converted the downstairs into living quarters. i lived here 'til i was almost seemed like a good place to live then...but we are blessed indeed to be in the US of A today.
The market in town. i can still remember Mom coming home from the market with tudok-tudok, rice cakes -- shishkabob style. We three kids would run up to meet her to see what treats she had for us in her shopping basket.
Still a typical way of getting around town. Sometimes the driver would let four people ride in the carrier meant for just two people. Then he may even add another passenger (or two) on the motorbike itself.

Life in the U.S. isn't always easy, but compared to life in the Philippines and in many, many other countries in the world, life in the U.S. is still very GOD-blessed indeed!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer Squash

No, this is not from any exotic tropical locale...just Mom's backyard, thanks to my Uncle's green thumb. These gigantic cucumber-looking vegetables are summer squash, or in Tagalog, opo. They are fast-cooking fillers, great for tinola (chicken soup with ginger), or just stir-fried with shrimp and garlic. Yum!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fijians, Too!

My good friends, Kristika and her mother, Lata. (Parsu, father and husband, died in 2008. We miss him still.) According to the Lonely Planet Travel Guide, almost half of the population of Fiji are Indians (48% to 49%). The indigenous Fijians still own most of the land (approximately 84%), but the fourth to fifth generation Indian population are involved in practically every aspect of the country--from major businesses, to school systems, to government. In Taveuni, where i live off and on, the politicking around Viti Levu and Vanua Levu doesn't affect the Fijian-Indian relations as much as it does the two major islands. Taveuni has a more easy-going, peaceful, harmonious relationship between these two major peoples that make up the unique culture of Fiji.