Thursday, December 29, 2016

Goodbye 2016, Welcome 2017!

Goodbye 2016,  Welcome 2017! 

It's been a while since my last Blog entry which was about my glorious summer in New York. 

So much has happened since then.  Manila's socials were non-stop.  There were birthday parties, launchings, weddings, and the big Balls that I attended- Red Cross Ball, the Best Dressed Ball,  the Tatler Ball, the Faabulous Black and White Ball, and the Emerald Ball in Cebu.  These events and the Balls were touted and highlighted in the social media-( FB, IG, Twitter) accounts.  Suffice for me to say that they were elegant and fun. We were always dressed to the nines  which is always expected of us.  

Birthday party of Hera Geriene, glamor gals Tess Schoefer, Malu Francisco, Hera, Myself, Linda Ley and Rachel de Guzman

At the 97th Birthday of my dad, Manuel Y. Carmona
First row:  Mommy Inday Carmona, Myself, the celebrant, Manuel Y. Carmona
Second row:  Thomas Kuhnke, Annie Carmona Kuhnke, Marisa Carmona Chan, Malou Gamboa, Steven Chan

Friends of Nikki Tang host her a birthday dinner at Delicieux.
First Row:  Ariel Arce, Nikki Tang, Mayenne Carmona
Second Row:  Bob Miller, Francis de Leon, Gina Mohnani, Hera Geriene and Rachel de Guzman

We look forward to the yearly Tatler Ball.  At the lobby with Chef Xavier Btesh and Cecile Infantado

Faaabulous Ball Male Icon of the Year is sculptor Ramon Orlina

Faaabulous artist Rupert Jacinto and Hera Geriene

Pinky Puno and Ryan Jago in Best Dressed Ball

With Derek Ramsey at Red Cross Ball. Gown by Ito Curata

There were the trips to Cebu and Davao to attend events such as the 18th anniversary of Marco Polo Davao, the 20th anniversary of Zee Lifestyle Magazine, the opening of the Pig and Palm by Jason Atherton (a Michelin Star Chef)  and the 70th birthday of Carlos Yeung, my dearest Mariquita Salimbangon Yeung's husband.  

In the 18 th anniversary of Davao's Marco Polo Hotel, We modeled Ann Ong's accessories.  Dr. Elsie Pascua, Mayenne Carmona, Ann Ong , Dr. Pandy  and Anna Sia

With the Pig and Palm owner, Dame Mariquita S. Yeung during the presscon

At the Pig and Palm Opening in Cebu , i pose with Chef Jason Atherton and wife Ira. 

But in this year-end Blog, I would like to write about my spiritual journey in Europe, which started in Rome and continued in Paris and Belgium.  My trip to these places were definitely the highlights of my year. 

I went to Rome to attend the canonization of Saint Mother Teresa on Sept 4 and it was a goose-pimples experience for me.  I have wished for the day that I could be in the presence of Pope Francis, my favorite Pope, because I missed my chance when he came to Manila.  And it finally happened.  There I was on St Peter's Square, in the Vatican, surrounded by a throng of people, all Mother Theresa devotees.  I felt so privileged to be in the presence of Pope Francis who presided over the canonization proceedings.  It was a dream come true, I couldn't believe I was seeing Pope Francis in the flesh which felt like being in the presence of God! 

In St. Peter's Square, while waiting for Pope Francis to start the mass

A visit to the Colloseum brings me back to historical times

Fr. Odillo, a Tanzanian priest, walked me back to my hotel

From Rome I flew to Paris to bond with my siblings, Loudette, Annie, Marisa, Charlie and his wife Leana.  It was fun to be with them for two solid weeks, exploring Paris, enjoying gastronomical meals (whether at my sister's home or in restaurants),  shopping or even just window shopping and visiting churches.  We attended mass in our favorite church in Rue du Bac- the Miraculous Medal Church.  In this church, my brother Charlie experienced a miracle of sorts many years ago when a group of Filipino pilgrims prayed over him.  He experienced a sudden surge of well being after the pray over and he was healed of cancer soon after, never to return again!  Thank you Jesus.  

My Sisters Annie, Loudette, Marisa and I at the Miraculous Medal church

My sisters Loudette and Marisa and I went on a two- day pilgrimage to two sites in Belgium where Mother Mary appeared to some poor children.  My beau-frere Jean Pierre Corcellut was kind enough to drive us there. 

We drove to Banneaux, Liege (Belgium) which was a site of apparitions in 1933 when a lady in white with a blue sash appeared to Mariette Beco, a 12 year old, eight times.  She identified herself as Our Lady of the Poor. During one apparition the Lady in white told Mariette to plunge her hands into a small spring which has healing waters.   Today, the small spring yields about 2000 gallons of water a day with many reports of miraculous healings.

We went around the sacred grounds, prayed the rosary in the open chapel there and dipped our arms in the healing spring.  The place reminded me of a forest in Japan because of the Asian architecture of the small chapels around the sacred grounds.  

The healing spring at Banneaux

The holy grounds of Banneaux

The exact spot where Mother Mary appeared to Marriet

Loudette, Marisa and I in front of the altar the Filipino pilgrims put up in Banneaux

We spent the night at Lafarques Hotel, a 4star hotel in Pepinster, before proceeding to Beauraing the next day.  Lafarques Hotel was such a big surprise to us!  Their rooms are spacious and are tastefully done and  their Restaurant is part of the Chaine des Rotisseurs.  They have a mini forest in front of the hotel with goats,  a small lake and birds.  We communed with nature before our gourmet dinner in their restaurant.  After a sumptuous breakfast at mid-morning next day, we set off for Beauraing, another pilgrim site.

 Our suite at Lafarques Hotel

Enjoying nature

Beauraing, a small village only 3 miles from the French Border, is where our Lady appeared to 5 children ranging in age from 9-15, in 33 apparitions, from Nov. 29, 1932 to Jan. 3, 1933. 
The first few times of our Lady's apparition, the children - Andree and Gilberte Degeimbre (15 & 9 years old) and Fernande, Golberte and and Albert Voisin ( ages 15, 13, 11 ages) the Blessed Virgin remained there silently for a long time.  Each time she appeared the children were thrown to their knees whether they wanted or not.  This caused them them to land on their knees with a hard bump but there were  no scars on their knees.  The children were not believed by the nuns and priests when they spoke of these apparitions.  After many tests by Doctors, the children were found to be telling the truth.  It was not till the 21st of December when the Lady revealed who she is.  " I am the Immaculate Virgin". 

She is also known as the " Virgin of the Golden Heart " because the children saw a golden heart in the center of her chest.  She requested that a chapel be built here and that she wanted pilgrims to come to this site  and also asked the children " pray, pray, pray". On Jan 3, 1933, she said to Andrew, one of the children, " I am the Mother of God, the Queen of  Heaven.  Pray always."

                                                   Beauraing, another
                                                         pilgrimage site, we lit 
                                                         candles for our special

The statue of Mary with the Golden Heart 

I am looking forward to an exciting 2017.  May it be a year of promise and hope fulfilled.  My plans to help the marginalized and the sick even more through our feeding group, the Angels to Street Kids should further be realized.  2017, I welcome you with open arms!