Dear Ones,

On Sunday, February 5th, after a good breakfast at the Hotel Lantanka in Zamboanga, we headed to the Church of the Good Shepherd in that same city.  This was the parish where Bishop Bustamante was Rector when he was elected bishop and the town where he grew up.   On this day it was my great honor to preach, at his invitation, and it was the place we would sign the new covenant we have just entered into.   We did that in the course of our worship and I sent the video of that out in my first post of the Philippines.

Afterwards, we were treated to another great feast, and more music, and good fellowship, and then Bishop Bustamante and I headed for the airport for out trip to Davao.  We took Cebu Airlines this time, and although a bit behind they did get us there, across to the more eastern part of the island with not too much delay.  We had to fly through Manila, and then connect, about 1.5 hours on each flight.

I should explain now that the Diocese of the Southern Philippines will be splitting in two, officially announced at the convention at the end of this month.  Davao will be the Cathedral City of the new diocese.  We flew in and were hosted by the St. Philip and St. James Parish which is also part of the Davao Episcopal Mission Center, which is a very nice retreat center/meeting center, with rooms for a good size group.  We spent a very restful night here.  Davao and surrounding area is known for its rich agriculture and especially fruit.  I ate things here I have never seen before and they were excellent!  We had a very good meeting with the Vestry and leadership, then to bed.

The next morning we had breakfast, again a very good one, at the Center, then a tour of what will basically be the diocesan office and cathedral of the new diocese ,then we began our day long road trip back across the island to Cotobato City, the Cathedral city of the diocese and the home of Bishop Bustamante and diocesan staff.   We first traveled to the Eagle Farm, just outside the city.  This is the home and sanctuary of the Philippine Eagle, which like ours, is in danger of extinction.  It is a quite interesting bird and the Eagle Farm was a most interesting place.   On the way in, we ran into a a whole slew of vendors, many of which had Pythons.  For one, it was feeding time, once a week event, a whole chicken, and its work on this is part of this video, just to warn you!   In this farm, which had a walkway made up of pavers with inscriptions of those across the Philippines and world who had donated to the farm, I found two pavers, one from Olympia, Washington, and one from Seattle!

After we left the farm, we continued our road trip.  We made a few stops along the way, especially for the fruit Durienne, which I had once before going and hated.  But I have to say, they taught me how to eat it, and how to love it, and love it they do!  As they told me it is the fruit which tastes like heaven, but smells like hell!  that is a good description, but we did stop, and we did buy lots of it!

We then went to Digos City, which is hardly a city, and was a really rural area.  This is where we rode in the trailer behind a tractor, across a bridge to get to the feast they made from banana and native chicken.  These are people living a simple but hard life, and yet joyous, and growing some amazing crops and livestock.   They host San Miguel Integrated Community Project, and it is very impressive what they are doing here, growing great crops, feeding many, loving the earth in the meantime.   After this fabulous visit we made our way across the island, on the two lane road which quite often was rugged and one lane!  At one point was detoured through a town. It took most of the day to go 169 KM.   Just about dark we made it to Cotobato City and the Cathedral Compound, where the bishop and I enjoyed dinner and then a night’s rest.

What amazing people I met again on this trip across the diocese.  You will meet a few in the videos below!

What a ride.  You think we have traffic and traveling challenges.  You ain’t seen nothing!

Blessings,

+Greg