Monday, April 6, 2015

On Angels’ Hills There is No Global Warming

Dr Abe V Rotor

Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday



Balibago (Hibiscus tiliaceus Linn), Family Malvaceae.
Its flowers open pure white in the morning gradually
turning into pink towards the end of the day, indeed
a manifestation of God's mysterious ways.

There is no Global Warming here on Angels’ Hills.

Well, except to those who carry the news up to this vacation place. Or those who have experienced its effects somewhere, or must have seen or read Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

Who would like to listen to debates for and against global warming, relating them to topics of industrialism, capitalism, over population, and the like? No, not on Angels’ Hills.

I say, here on Angels’ Hill, on a retreat which is a rare chance of self-examination, of self- renewal, of withdrawing momentarily from work, and from cares and worries of life – there is no global warming.

Everything is so beautiful: the rows of trees, manicured lawns, flowering and ornamental plants, air-conditioned cottages, paved walks, life size icons of saints and angels, Gregorian chants flowing out of stained glass windows, pipe-in music seeping into sleeping headquarters and function rooms.

Here the breeze is cool, low-lying clouds blanket the tree tops and often turn into mist or break into drizzle. Birds chirp and in the evening the eerie hooting of the owl and the echolocating pitch of bats make one to retire early in the night. Here there is no television, and house rules are strict with Don’ts clearly over riding Do’s, keeping an aura of subdued voices and footsteps.

I wanted to meet the creator of the place before the retreat ended. I fell into a causal conversation with a gardener tending his plants. He must be in his early thirties, just over five feet tall, lean and slightly bearded with fine mustache and flowing hair, and had clear eyes and dignified look. I thought he was the overseer. What brought about the topic of global warming could be for the fact that gardeners are knowledgeable about seasons and climate.

Mukhang walang Global Warming dito sa inyo." I said.(It looks like there is no effect of global warming in here.)

"Hindi pong masadong nararamdaman." (The effect is not so much.).  He continued tending his plants. He lifted his hat gently, apologized, and left.

It was recess time, so I took the opportunity to scout for subjects in photography. Along the way stood the statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz. His pious pose with hands cupped together in prayer, exudes an aura of holiness. He is the first Filipino saint who lived in the 17th century. Beside the statue are tall flowering Travelers' Palm trees. San Lorenzo, I remember was a traveler. He died a martyr in Japan, and this palm is common on Japanese landscapes.

Not far is a local interpretation of the Pieta of Michelangelo. I looked at the masterpiece from different angles. The artisan was able to capture the emotion of a lamenting mother over her dead son, symbolic of universal pain and suffering over the loss of a loved one.

Ahead I saw the statue of St Michael, the archangel, prevailing over Lucifer in a fiery battle. Clearly, goodness always triumphs. To Filipinos – St Michael is better known as San Miguel. He is undoubtedly the most popular saint because it is the trade mark of popular products like liquor and beer. Maybe he is the most popular saint among Christians. Didn’t St. Michael appear to Joan of Arc and tell her that she has been chosen by God to liberate France from the English invaders? She heeded God's call and became a heroine of France, and the most popular woman to this day.

Of all the life size icons on Angels’ Hill I was most attracted by the scene of Christ being laid to rest. I took several shots with my digital camera from different angles (please see in this blog, Christ is Laid to Rest). I stood with the icons and studied their expressions and admired how good the sculptor is. I was overtaken by compassion that I felt I was one of the figures in the scene. For which I felt awed and privileged.

“It’s time for the holy mass,” our retreat master reminded us.

Down the road I passed other icons. The Risen Christ was the last I glanced before I entered the chapel. It was newly painted, and the plants around it were in bloom. It reminded me of our family icon of the resurrection at home in San Vicente. Yes, when was the last time I was home. When was the last time I changed the clothes of our Risen Christ, the centerpiece of our sala?

I was a bit late so I occupied the last pew near the side door. In the distance I saw a gardener whose face looked familiar. He was tending plants that bear large white and pink flowers. The early rays of the sun made the flowers proud and bright, swaying with the morning breeze. Around butterflies fluttered. Above in the trees, a pipit bird was singing. It’s unmistakably one because of its characteristic high pitch and abbreviated song. I forgot all about the gardener and his plants, the butterflies and the pipit bird, as I concentrated in the mass.

Before we, the retreatants, prepared to go back to Manila that same morning, the gardener whom I met earlier, and saw from the chapel, came to see me at the cottage where I stayed during the three-day retreat.

“Sir, maybe you like to plant this ornamental. I know you will like its flowers. It is easy to grow." He handed me a dozen pods of seeds. "You can give some to your friends.”

“How nice of you …”

“Jun, sir. They call me Jun, sir.”

“How long have you been on Angels’ Hills, Jun?”

Matagal na, sir, matagal na matagal na. I can’t remember.” He lifted his hat in courtesy. "Good luck, sir."

The plant Jun gave me is called balibago, which means ever changing. At sunrise its large flowers are white, gradually turning pink by hues and shades, until they become totally pink. In a day or two their petals fall off the ground, and seeds begin to form. By now newly opened flowers have taken over their place. Indeed the plant manifests God's mysterious ways.

On Angels’ Hills, there is no global warming. ~

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