Walking in the Land of History

In my lifetime, there are trips that I really cherished. Journeys that have deep personal meaning, that they are more than just trips.

Like the trip we made a few years back to the place that gave me so much inspiration since my teenage years (see previous post). And to see and be there in person in that awe-inspiring place was a life-fulfilling dream.

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me in the Grand Canyon

Then there are the trips that are always dear to me. Trips that bring me back where I came from. That even though how far I wandered, this place always pulled me back, for this is where my heart is. Home.

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photo taken somewhere in the Philippines

This year we made another epic journey. To a place whose relevance is more far-reaching than the place itself. A place so rich in history, that the events that happened here changed the course of humanity. This place has a special spiritual meaning to me: to walk where my Savior walked.

Jerusalem as viewed from the mount of Olives


(*More post of our trip to Jerusalem to follow. No, not the musical chair, but the real trip to Jerusalem).

More Than A Bunch of Rocks

Grand Canyon. One of Earth’s most powerful and awe-inspiring landscapes. Considered among the seven natural wonders of the world. Expanding 277 miles long and 18 miles wide and with a depth of about 5000 feet, it was said that it was carved by the Colorado River, and formed by time. For me, it was a handiwork of the Creator.

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There are many ways to see the canyon. You can view it from the bottom, when you hike down to the floor of the canyon, which I consider a serious hike, or even do rafting through the rapids of the Colorado River. That we didn’t do.

Or you can also view it from the top by hiking or just driving around the park – whether by jeep tours, or the official park bus, or by your own car (what we did most). There’s even a train ride from the nearby town to the Great Canyon.

For me though, seeing this creation wonder, has a more personal meaning.

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Back in my youth, when I was still in Manila, Philippines, I had a poster in my bedroom’s wall of the Grand Canyon. In that picture was a man – gliding and soaring, in the middle of the canyon. On the poster was these words: “You are only limited by the boundaries of your mind.” That became my life’s challenge.

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Though it took me only 15 minutes to climb to that rock, it took me a lifetime to have the chance to sit on that ledge.

So it was fitting that when I see the Grand Canyon, I need to soar above it. Which by the way, is another way to see it – by flying over it.

No, I did not do hang gliding. Hang gliding is restricted in the Grand Canyon. Though in 1976, the US National Park Service permitted a hang gliding feasibility test, and that maybe where the picture in my poster came from. Plus, my wife would not allow me to do it anyway, as she rather have me than collect my Life Insurance.

So I settled for a helicopter ride instead. My whole family flew above the Grand Canyon, and got a bird’s-eye view of this wonderful landscape.

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I have heard people who have visited the Grand Canyon and all they said was, they were just a “bunch of rocks.” That maybe true. But I think they did not see it with awful wonder. Or maybe because they just saw it in the middle of the day.

We were told that the best way to appreciate these “bunch of rocks” is during sunrise and sunset where the interplay of light and shadows will transform them into different colors. And so we did.

Below are some photos we took at sunset time. From hues of blue…..

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To fiery red.

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Here’s another shot of the sunset.

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The sunset was easy to see. The sunrise was a different story.

Since the sunrise is around 5:30 AM, we have to wake up at 4 o’clock to witness it. Even though we stayed at a hotel a few minutes away at the National Park entrance, the drive was still 30-40 minutes to where we wanted to witness the sunrise. I heard my wife, who is not a morning person, blurted again, “I hate fishing” (see previous post).

But seeing the sunrise on these glorious place was well worth it.

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Above is my family waiting for the sunrise. It didn’t matter if we have bed hair, or if my son was still in pajamas. It was really beautiful.

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Me and the sunrise

Even though we mostly drove around to the view points, my son and I took some minor hikes, where we went down beyond the paved pathways and climbed some rocks.

Below is my son and I with our Kung-Fu pose, celebrating our success, after a 15-minutes climb to the top of this ledge.

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Below is another one of that Kung-Fu pose.

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The photos may look grand, but they do not really give justice to the majesty of this place. As all people who visit this place were lugging cameras – from the professionals to the amateur photographers, with thousands-of-dollar cameras to simple camera phones – they were all busy clicking away pictures. And it may included me.

But perhaps the best way to see this grandiose place is to put down the camera, be still, and just take it all in.

As I silently stood (or sat) in awe, I finally came to the place that gave me so much inspiration all these years. Truly, there was no limits. Where boundaries exist only in our minds.

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(*most photos taken by my wife)

 

Look Up, Down, and Beyond

During our recent summer road trip, we did lots of looking up and looking down. Here’s a sample of them.

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Look up. What are you looking at? (Vail, Colorado)

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Look up. Don’t look down! (Copper Mountain, Colorado)

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Look up Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote is going to push down that rock! (Arches National Park, Utah)

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Look down. I also need to pee, can I do it here? (Grand Canyon, Arizona)

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Look beyond. (Grand Canyon, Arizona)

 

Ang Paglipad ng Butiking Walang Dingding

Paano nga ba nakakagapang ang butiki sa dingding? Bakit kaya nitong maglakad ng patiwarik, kahit na sa kisame? Siguro hindi nila kilala si Isaac Newton at ang kanyang “Law of Gravity.” Hangga’t merong dingding, kaya nilang akyatin.

Ngunit paano kung wala nang dingding? Kaya ba nilang lumipad?

Naalala mo pa ba noong musmos ka pa? Tinanong mo ang mga tanong na ito. Marami ka pang ibang tanong, na hindi mo alam ang sagot, at hindi ka rin nila mabigyan ng sagot. Nagsawa na nga sila sa pagsagot sa makukulit mong tanong.

Naalala mo rin ba noong bata ka pa? May gusto kang maging, ngunit sabi ng iba ay imposibleng mangyari. May mga bagay na pinangarap mong gawin, ngunit sabi ng iba ay mahirap tuparin. May mga lugar na nais mong marating ngunit mahirap daw abutin.

Sa aking munting silid noon sa aming bahay sa Sampaloc Manila, ay maraming butiking bumibisita sa aking pag-iisa. Madalas ko silang pinapanood. Naaaliw at namamangha ako sa kanilang paglalakad sa dingding at kisame.

Doon din sa loob ng apat na dingding ng silid na iyon ay marami akong mga pangarap na hinabi. Ilan sa mga ito ay tunay na matayog. Hindi ko pinangarap na umakyat sa dingding. O sa kisame. Higit pa doon ang aking nais. Marami sa aking mga panaginip ay lagpas-lagpas sa hangganan ng aking maliit na kuwarto.

Isa sa mga poster na nakapaskil sa dingding ng aking silid noon ay ang larawan ng Grand Canyon ng Amerika. Sa larawan ay may isang tao na lumilipad (hang gliding) sa gitna ng kalawakan ng malalalim na bangin. Nakasulat sa poster na ito ay: You are only limited by the bounderies of your mind.

Ito ang naging hamon ng aking buhay. Walang kisame. Walang dingding.

Pagkaraan ng panahon, ay pinaglayag ko ang aking mga pangarap. Tunay nga na walang dingding ang hindi natin kayang buwagin. Walang kisameng hindi natin kayang abutin. Walang hangganan ang kaya nating marating.

Kaninang umaga, makalipas ang mahabang panahon ng paghahabol at pagsasakatuparan ng mga pangarap, at pagkalipas ng dalawampung taon kong paninirahan dito sa Amerika, ay narating ko rin sa wakas ang lugar na nagdulot sa akin ng malalim na inspirasyon.

Ako ay tumanaw sa kalawakan. Pumailanglang sa himpapawid. Walang kisame. Walang dingding.

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photo taken while soaring at 6000 feet above the canyon

(* More photos and stories of my visit to the Grand Canyon will be on a separate post.)