Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘ashes’

Breathing Adventure: Jumping Into the Crater’s Mouth at Mt. Pinatubo

image

I woke up to a very chilly morning as the van sped across the bucolic, quiet roads of Tarlac. Sunrise was already breaking through the dreamy fog that shrouded the seemigly endless, narrow road. Amidst the cheery laughter of the people in the van, I wanted to have more of that shut eye. I only had an hour of sleep after coming from an overnight work. But I have to tuck that comfty nap for a while because that long-awaited adventure at Mt. Pinatubo is about to begin.

image

I had been longing to hike this dormant volcano that peacefully rests on the border of Tarlac and Zaambales. Though this tourist destination boasts of being a fun and friendly, chill hike, this mountain has carried a very violent past. Its 1991 eruption has been considered as one of the strongest in history, causing extensive damage around the area and affecting distant regions and countries. I could still remember my old nipa hut playhouse being covered in white ash days after that disaster. Still, beauty had risen from beneath those ashes. This was what I had been anticipating for this trip.

image

We had to take a bumpy ride on a 4×4 truck before reaching the hike’s jump-off site. The vast, almost bare, but scenic, rocky terrain opened wide before us as our heads bobbed along the ride. Our tour guide told us how this place would be changed into a pseudo-war zone when Filipino and American soldiers train here for the annual Balikatan exercises.

image

The place looked like one giant, crushed highway. The small pebbles and huge boulders littered on the jagged pathway were remnants of that deadly lahar flow that came with the eruption more than twenty years ago. Cliffs and ranges that have been scraped by the molten lava loomed at our sides as we were about halfway to the jump-off. Some of them have been precariously and fantastically molded by a more previous lava flow a hundred years ago. Our tour guide proudly told us that this area would be used as a

 

favorite shooting site for film and television productions. He reiterated countless stories of actors and actresses seen there, with him once taken as an extra for the wp-1464373136615.jpgshoot!
There are no dense forests or elfen-like jungles but the green little hills and the carved valleys were enough to awe me as we tip-toed over the rocks from the beginning of the jump-off site. I believe this area can be a good geological study. However, this valley is slowly eroding because of the little streams that flow from the top of the mountain. One area even had a minor landslide as the soil had become loose.

image

Groups of Aeta children waved and said hello to passing hikers. I find them amusing because they were making makeshift houses from any thing they can find. Our guide said their parents would work as guardians of the mountain. They are the ones who check out the weather conditions of the place as well as making sure whether the mountain is safe to climb or not.

image

At the last leg of the trail was the original jump-off point. A sign told us the estimated time we can get there. Young adults, it said, can reach the summit in 18 minutes. But our tour guide warned us that’s not the case.

True enough, the path became even

 

rockier. The rocks were definitely a challenge to my two left feet. Still, this is the wp-1464375493942.jpgeasier path, said our guide. The other that would come from Zambales is the more challenging trail. But I would not ask for that for now.

image

Reaching the summit was a relief from the stone-filled pathway that almost zapped half of our energy. The rocky terrain was way behind us as we arrived at a well-developed garden-paradise that was draped with lovely landscape.

image

The memory of the chaotic ash rain and molten fire brand that nearly destroyed the mountain was wiped away by the stunning blue green lake sitting at the very crater that now lazily yawns before the clear blue skies. I curiously touched the waters and found out it was cold. But no one is allowed to dive into it because no lifeguard can save you from its deep abyss.

image

For now, the steam from this volcano would go out at the other side of the mountain, our tour guide said. I breathed in the fresh air until the tranquility that fills the place lulled me back to the sleep I’ve been longing for that day. Mt. Pinatubo may release its rage again into another time and era, but at this moment, she lets her weary visitors rest at her bosom.

imageSince this was a two-hour trek, the group I’m with decided we take a side trip to the falls before we go back. But we had to scrape that plan at our descent because the rain was threatening to pour down. Should the rains be heavy, there’s the tendency that the stream waters may rise and make our journey more dangerous.

We were leaving the site in our 4×4 trucks when the rains poured down. The ride back was even heart-stopping because there were times our dear, elderly driver would try to cross a higher plane where we had nearly fall sideways. The bumpy ride seemingly became even bumpier! Now, I guess this is where the adventure is, as it made my heart jump to my throat.

The hike may not be as strenuous as the previous ones we’ve taken but it was a memorable one. Maybe because through its transformation, Mt. Pinatubo is a testimony that no dire or tragic history can ever overcome hope in this generation.image

Advertisements

Tindog Tacloban!

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

“Tindog Tacloban!”

This is the message that was written almost everywhere in the city where much attention and focus has been given after Typhoon Yolanda’s wrath. From the native tongue of Taclobanon, this phrase means, “Rise up, Tacloban!”

It is already past three weeks ago since I came to Tacloban, Leyte for a one day coverage of Yolanda’s aftermath. But the memory of a recovering city never fades away. A day is not enough for me take up every truth behind the lens.

For the first time, I’ve landed in Visayas. From the airport itself, I can’t help but be appalled, as the workers struggled back to normalcy. The city was being cleaned, and it’s good to see that no more bodies were scattered when we came. Still, there are much to recover and many are still homeless.

I was anticipating for this visit, but catching up with a day’s coverage left me dissatisfied much. I wanted to know much more, to talk to every people in Tacloban and if given the chance, the whole Leyte. I’d wish to capture everything — as in everything — the emotions and the reality behind the camera.

I felt like a wolf ravaging for a good story in a limited time. As a journalist, I wanted to feel the very heart and soul of

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

these people and digest every stories they wanted to share. I wanted to take time and leave them with great love, too. But the constraint at work limited my soul into a corner. In order to fulfill my mission, I had to complete it emotionlessly.

Despite of these limits, I caught a glimpse of the hope that glimmers after the storm. From the glint in the eyes of the survivors I interviewed, the smiles that welcomed us from the broken houses and ruins, and messages of hope sprawled in the broken walls, hope overcomes the trodden structures around us. I may not have seen the storm itself, and yet I am — until now — fascinated with the resilience that my fellowmen kept in their spirits all these times.

I tried to dismiss the heartbreak as I saw the ravaged cities in my one day stay. But what I would never like to forget is the strength these people kept, that caused them to stand admist the ruins. Before the day ended, I swore deep inside my heart that I will return. Perhaps, by then, it is not the devastated city struggling to rise, but it is a new city teeming with much life that sprouted from this glint of hope I’ve seen.

Now is the time. Tindog Tacloban!

Nursing Irritants

A few minutes left to 6 am. I wanted to scream to keep going. The jeepney driver slowly paved the road to get more passengers. After that, traffic at the tollgate. Soon, I was late. The service left me.

I sat in the jeep almost dumbfounded as they texted me that they have to go without me. Only a few minutes was left to get there. Only a few meters to run and I could have reached them. But what can I do? The service has to leave earlier an hour earlier than its normal departure schedule for an early appointment.

I wanted to cry as I took an FX to work. I felt I wasted my time. I wasted my energy to wake too early. I wasted my money.

Then, I checked myself. Yes, I tried. But I’ve been too confident that they would forgive me for a few minutes of being late. I guess I have been complacent. I have lacked discipline.

Again, I asked the Lord what else was I lacking. A thankful heart, a praising breath — to bring out such things is hard when you wanted to blame everyone for leaving you.

Out of a bleeding heart, came a soft whisper:

“Thank You, Father, for this day…

This day You have made to show me Your love and grace…

This day You have been planning to open my eyes to see Your beauty in the midst of ashes,

This day You have thought along to let me hear that greater things are meant to come,

This day You have had written long ago to reveal to me Yourself.”

I realized this has been my prayer for a long time. To see, to hear, and to know Him more. Yet, these things will come when I call out to Him. I can only call out when I’m being pushed into the mire.

Why should I cry over spilled milk when there is a promised land flowing with it waiting for me?

It’s painful. Yet out of the pain I have to learn of the little weaknesses to be corrected. I realized this is how to rejoice in my sufferings. My prayer is being manifested. And so, He comes alive…

When I stepped out of the FX, I have forgotten my bitterness. I have lost my indignation. The irritant I’ve tried to nurse was chased away by thankfulness and grace.

End of part one. I’m expecting that more of such moments will come to test my character. But through these I pray I’ll learn more His ways, and learn to keep my eyes away from myself and more unto my Great Daddy in heaven. 🙂

Reclaiming Destinies and Breaking the Waves

Twelve months. Twelve fruits. Twelve opportunities to undone me, mold me, and bring me closer to my real identity and destiny.

My 2012 was a year of shaking. The Lord was teaching me out of my stubborn self — to die from selfishness and to abide in Him fully. When my prophetic friend asked me what was the Lord’s promise for the past nine months, I was dumbfounded. All I could remember was the anguish and pain during those times. The emotional battles against the law and the lawmakers, the prayerful times shifted to complaints and mourning, my beauty nearly turning into ashes, my hope almost brought down to the cliff as I contemplated on resignation. I wanted to get out and give up. Yet, the Lord, who had other things in mind, held my sleeve as I let go of my grip. He had a promise, I’m sure He had — yet my ears were covered and my eyes blindfolded.

Yet, I faced 2013 with hope and expectation.

I still couldn’t remember what He was trying to say (and I haven’t even checked my old journal).  Yet, I clung on one word given to me almost two years ago: Romans 5:5, “…and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our heats through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

As I contemplating this verse a few months ago, the Lord led me to turn to verses 3 and 4. I never have this hope until: we rejoice in our sufferings, that it leads to perseverance (verse 3) and from perseverance, character, which leads into hope (verse 4)! I believe such is the word for me for this season. And such is the shaking I received.

Through these shakings, I realized a few more things at the beginning of this year, even though the nine months has been ended. Despite character flaws, I’m taught how to react in grace and love and confront with wisdom during dire situations. From my silent struggle against insecurities, I’m taught to reclaim the authority vested upon me as a co-heir in Christ. The most striking lesson that I’ve realized and am still learning (though it was said to me a number of times) is to worship him despite of the fire and testing that I pass through.

My friend told me that the shaking I’ve received (and will receive) are just part of His refinement. This is the time that I have to open my eyes and ears and recognize the Lord in ways I’m not used to. I don’t know what would that be. All I have to do is to ask Him. And see Him move in ways I won’t expect. I just need to open my eyes and my ears to recognize what He’s doing.

There are three kinds of people in the midst of struggles: one who gives up, one who shrugs his shoulder and get into that routinary “survival mode”, and one who wants to learn out of that struggle. The third one is the kind that grows. At this season, the nine month conception should be over. So, what I’ve experienced were just birth pangs. The full birth of one’s destiny is after the nine month period. But if not, that means I haven’t learned my lesson.

I just realized I’m just at the beginning of what He’s teaching me.

Get out of the boat and walk on water, he said. Goodness, that quite scared me. But should I be scared when I’m with the Silencer of the Waves? It’s a step towards acceleration. I need to get out of the box. And I need to ask the Lord ways on how to do that.

To ask the Lord on a daily basis is a way to die to myself. It will keep me from storing up pride as He breaks me with His tender love and awesome glory.

Then my friend gave me the a word that this year is the year of bearing fruit. Seeing in a vision a clock with twelve hours, it indicated that in every month I will bear fruit. But in order to bear fruit, I must learn a lesson. I must ask what the Lord is teaching me at this point of time. When the pruning and honing is over, a fruit will grow…but not only in one month. That means, I will undergo even more fire and testing twelve times!

I need to ask. I need to see. I need to know. Such are the things that I must learn. But most of all, I need to seek the Lord more. Only in Him I will find the answers I need. For He knows the plans for me. And I am claiming His perfect will and His best for my life.

I’m almost 28 years old. But this is not the end of my dreams. Who says life ends at 30? I believe I’m still a little child being disciplined and taught by the Great Father. Why should I copy to the normal trend of human life? The Lord has plans that are way out of my normal blueprint. All I have to do is just step out, walk on the waves, and hold the hand of the One who called my name. What are twelve months of pruning when I got One Great Dad to back me up! 🙂

Tag Cloud