I am re-posting here an article I wrote which came out at the Manila Bulletin last Dec 26, 2010, Sunday issue.
Five years after my dad Larry C. Tolentino passed away, I decided to pursue his passion – travel – most specifically pilgrimages to holy places. Dad and I both have moles on our feet and love to go around undiscovered places.
However, he had been particularly passionate about bringing people to the Holy Land, to trace the footsteps of Jesus, as well as the Saints and the Blessed Mother.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Land can be a life-changing experience, one which makes every Bible reading come alive and gives it new meaning.
The yearning to be a pilgrim is deeply entrenched in every human. Since the early days, a pilgrimage to a holy place is done to ask for a blessing or a miracle. It is seen as an act of devotion, penance and thanksgiving.
Joining a pilgrimage offers more than just spiritual benefits for it enhances our way of thinking and enriches the soul through the encounter of other cultures, observing how they live and interact, understanding their history, experiencing the sights and sounds of their daily life.
The pilgrimage sites are not ends in themselves, but often serve as a doorstep into new stages of life. One does not travel as a pilgrim to stay, but to pass through a privileged experience that will transform us in a surprising and mysterious manner so that we return to ordinary life in a completely fresh mode. One breaks through our confines to experience further a little more unrestricted existence.
A pilgrimage trip becomes a more comfortable experience when one is in the company of similar faith, interest and nationality. After the trip, these other Filipino pilgrims will remain friends even after the tour is over.