Holy Land pilgrimage with ‘De Leon King’
I have fond memories of my trip to Singapore in the 1990s with Tito Joey de Leon (whom I call “De Leon King”) and his fab wife, Eileen Macapagal-de Leon, along with other friends in the biz. We had gone to watch my all-time idol Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” concert.
How I wish I also joined them on their pilgrimage to the Holy Land from March 13 to 23. Visiting that sacred place remains on my bucket list.
I’m sure it’s on your list, too. Since it’s Semana Santa, let’s join Eileen on a vicarious journey to the Holy Land as we pray to become more spiritual:
“It was Joey’s and my first pilgrimage. We were with 14 others and a priest, Fr. Peter Coching and the coordinator from Pilgrim’s Center, Adrian Panganiban. Also with us were Mike and Baby Enriquez, Danee and Maddie Samonte, Greg and Myrna Garcia, Freddie and Boots Lozano (of The Moonstrucks), Lito Banayo and daughter Celina, Jorel Nuyna and her mom Babes (sister of LVN actress Marita Zobel). “
“We had only a month to prepare. We believe it was by God’s grace that everything fell into place.”
“We celebrated Mike and Baby Enriquez’s 37th wedding anniversary in Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle (changing water into wine).”
“We also renewed our baptismal vows at the Jordan River, where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Mike, a former seminarian, served as sacristan in all the Masses.”
“The highlight of our trip was Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. We visited the Church of the Nativity. We passed through the Door of Humility (a simple entrance that is the main access to the birthplace of the King of Kings).”
“I learned that the Nativity Church and Church of the Holy Sepulcher are shared by three religions: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Armenian Church.”
“The place that touched us most was the Basilica of the Agony of the Lord. Its main altar is the rock where Jesus prayed before He was seized and crucified.”
“A Franciscan priest takes care of the holy sites. We felt so blessed because there were no queues at any of the [stops]. We were previously warned of long waits at the Nativity and Golgotha churches, but we were spared of the inconvenience. What a blessing indeed!”
“We took side trips to the Dead Sea, Petra and Tel Aviv. Our pilgrimage will be shown in a Lenten special dubbed ‘Banal na Paglalakbay,’ on GMA 7, Maundy Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.”
“For souvenirs, I bought rosaries and beauty products from the Dead Sea, which used to be the ‘spa’ of Cleopatra. At King Herod resort, the water was so salty that, after a few minutes, my skin became slippery. I felt like a mermaid!”
“Throughout the trip, we prayed that we would always be reminded that we were in the Holy Land not as tourists but as pilgrims. Hopefully, we will remain pilgrims in our lifetime—continuously searching for ways to be closer to God. And hopefully, when our time on earth is over, God will welcome us in His Kingdom and declare: ‘Well done, My child.’”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.