December 11, 2010

A Safari to Wholeness by Gloria Jumamil – Mercado

The Batanes trip last April 29 – May 1, 2010 was indeed serendipity to me.  
My second daughter Krista Gem made all the connections with “the” Mandy Navasero and next thing I knew I was driving out in my house dress to an orientation and walked into a studio full of unfamiliar faces.  I could not even discern what they are up to in their lives except the fact that all of them have really fancy (expensive) cameras.  Anyways, listening to the sharing of their reasons for being there, I realized “why not?” … after all, the movie of 1994 Batanes in my mind (I joined a turnaround medical mission as a Colonel in the Philippine Marines Reserve Corps) could be different.
The trip was a journey to wholeness after the introspection at “Boulder Beach” as our solicitous tour guide Manong Roger explained that 100 years back, the huge stones and rocks were spewed out by a volcano.  Sitting on one of the boulders as I cradled my soul to the soothing sound of the waves with the sun just setting off, leaving its golden hues and oh the dusk is so calm … wow, for the longest time, the serenity of my childhood by the sea was so real that I missed my Tatay.  The lessons of the boulders that used to be comfortable in the heart and heat of the volcano, they too found its beauty and solace in an extremely different environment of being in the cold and sea water.  They were scarred, but they became beautiful … and so I am.  
            Yes Mandy Navasero, as I say that “gratitude is a memory of the heart”, I cannot thank you enough for the most fascinating weekend I have in Batanes.  I can never forget the “spelunking” (read: rock climbing) at Gig Rock  where I have to follow all your maneuvers through the nook and tight allay of the rock-cave (oh yah the phallic symbol and Filipino indeed), as we race with the high tide.  Salamat for the opportunity to look inside amidst the privilege beauty of Batanes which reminded me of rural South of France.  And thank you for giving me new friends - “Uyugan 31" and above all, to learn the skills to look through the beauty of the Philippines and the Filipinos through the lens … again.
 Gloria Jumamil – Mercado is currently the Dean of the Development Academy of the Philippines - Graduate School of Public and Development Management (DAP-GSPDM).  She also works as Senior Advisor of the National Security Council and a Professor in all the Senior Military Schools in the country and the Ateneo de Manila Chinese Study Center.  She holds a PhD in Mainland China Studies from National Sun Yat Sen University and a Master in National Security Administration at National Defense College of the Philippines where she is Chairman of the Board/President of its Alumni Association.  She is an advocate of women in national development and security, bringing the agenda to the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She is a member of the Global Network of Women in Peace Building.  Glo to friends, she is a parent to her three successful children – Dawn Marie an environmentalist working in a pre-school; Krista Gem a Summa Cum Laude graduate in MA Asia Pacific Studies now working in the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; and Ernest Lex a social entrepreneur.

The Mandy Navasero Photo Safari begins Feb. 18-21 and 25-28; Mar. 18-21 and 25-28; Apr1-4 and Holy Week 19-24 includes Itbayat; and May 6-9.  Email or call 8991767.

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