A Mountain Top Experience

December 7, 2008

(This was published in my column of the Business Page in The Philippine Star some time ago. The mountain top experience I had, the opportunity to speak and interact with the people in that place certainly has inspired me to become a better person. This is why I would like to share this with you. Hoping that this would inspire you too. I am sure you have your own defining moments that inspired you to become a better person. Better at your work, better being a parent or child or better a citizen of this country. You might want to tell me about it too.)

One day a little girl was visiting Sunday school when her teacher asked to which religion or denomination her relatives belonged. “Is it Catholic, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians OR Seventh-day Adventists?”

The little girl replied, “I think they are six-day atheists.”

Many people I know have become nominal Christians and practicing atheists and they can be found in the work place. They don’t want this to happen but somehow it does. The pressures of the city and the demands of work have made life difficult and developed a sense of cynicism in them.

“I’ve got a family to feed. No time for spiritual stuff.”

“My boss is breathing down my neck.”

“I have to reach this month’s quota.”

“We have a difficult planning session ahead of us.”

“I know religion is important but the demands of work suck the life out of me and I just don’t have the time for it.”

Life becomes like running on a treadmill. Faster and faster but getting nowhere.

Oh how desperately we need to reconnect. Reconnect with our Maker and to take time to be still. An expensive spa treatment may de-stress us for a moment. A few days off and a few more hours sleep may bring back a little rest into our system but how do you deal with a growing sense of cynicism and skepticism that has somehow hardened our once tender hearts? How do we bring back sanity to life and more importantly, how do we recharge our connection with God. I have found a way. But first let me tell you what happened.

I couldn’t say no. When the chairman of St. Luke’s Medical Center Robert Kuan invited me to join him for a trip to Sagada one year ago I didn’t have the heart to say no. I did not even tell him I suffer from motion sickness every time I go up a ZigZag Road. Baguio was bad enough for me let alone additional hours in getting to Sagada.

Do you know why I could not say no? Because I can see the gleam and the sparkle in his eyes every time he talks about the place. He talks about what he and the hospital have been doing to help rebuild the Episcopal churches in the north. Renovating, restoring, improving the facilities and bringing joy to their community. And this time he says, “I would like to invite you to speak to the different communities there. I will organize learning sessions for school teachers, students, parents, community leaders and here’s the bonus, you get to enjoy the place too. Now that brought a gleam and a sparkle to my eyes. Robert really knows how to get me.

Flying back from San Francisco, the Ilocana (a term I lovingly assign to my wife Lilia) and I went home, unpacked our things from our trip to the U.S; packed our things for the Sagada trip that starts 2 o’clock the next morning. 13 hours of flight followed by another 12 hours of land trip is more than enough reason to give me an exciting concoction of jet lag and motion sickness and I had it. But the moment I got out of the car, looked at the view, basked in the beauty of God’s creation breathed in the fresh air and all signs of discomfort disappeared within minutes.

I have never been a “nature” or “mountain” person. Beauty sceneries do not thrill me. I am more of a steel, glass and concrete kind. Yet the beauty of Sagada mesmerized me. And then I met the people, they were simple and beautiful and I felt so small in the vastness of God’s bigness and privileged being given an opportunity to speak to them.

Every person in our entourage had only one thing to say. They looked at the mountains, they look at the clouds, they looked at the rice terraces and the experience brings them to utter the words, “How beautiful is God’s Creation!”

Aha… atheism flies out the window… unbelief is replaced by a sense of awe and wonder. Cynicism and skepticism substituted by faith; faith that there is a Master Designer in the universe. Faith that coincides with what the Psalmist says: (NIV) The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Funny, once I got there the motion sickness disappeared. Jet lag has given way to wonder. It’s one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life. Suddenly, the glamour of San Francisco, the modernity of New York and the charm of Atlanta could no longer compete with the majesty of God’s creation called Sagada.

Feeling stressed? A foot spa may be good especially for the feet. Visit Sagada and experience a soul spa. And while you’re there, thank the Creator for His creation.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Gem

    Hi sir,

    This story is really nice. Especially for busy people living in Metro Manila who could only think of million ways to earn more money either to fend for their families, support a relative, or sustain their lifestyle.

    I can imagine that feeling of leaving all your worries behind and humble yourself to the wonders of nature that God has created. Now that you have mentioned about the disparity in religion and lack of confidence in God, it made me realized that most of us need some soul searching. And you are more than fortunate to experience a soul spa that all of us need once in a while.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. tin

    wow! francis i got inspired again by this..

    the wonders of the Lord are everywhere…
    i believe its nt jst going to other places.
    if we wil jst be grateful enough for anything then we could see His goodness and find peace to our soul.

    but i agree appreaciating nature can mean a lot..
    this is actually my way to unwind from all stress (emotionally, spiritually and physically) i usually love to travel to feel better… and yes i feel better!

    thank you francis!

  3. Gregofa

    Hello Sir Francis:
    God is so amazing!Thank for inspiring many people specially to me because I’m one of your fans in reading your articles.
    Hope that God will used you mightily. That many people could realized the beauty of God’s creation.
    May God bless you and and family.

  4. Gregorfa

    Sir may God guide you in all your ways..
    Thank you for the wonderful words of encouragement.

  5. Kenneth

    Dear Sir Francis,

    Foremost, Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year to you, your family and to our Beloved Country, the Philippines.

    I am writing you this simple message of thanks and appreciation. I thank God for influencing and inspiring your life. I thank God even more for giving you the gift of influential and motivational expression on many things about life and how to live life to the fullest in the context of faith in the Almighty. I thank you for allowing yourself, and even your family, to be an instrument of positive awareness and in promoting an advocacy of living life to the fullest with both accountability and responsibility. I thank you for having made a huge and significant impact in my life through the articles you published and through the opinions you share on both the print and TV mediums. Truly and honestly, you have made such a positive and lasting legacy in my life. For all these and more, maraming salamat po.

    I look forward to the day that our fellow Filipinos will also learn so much from you, practice what they learn…especially on living simple yet wholesome lives, not only for themsleves but also for their country, and be a human chain of influence also to others.

    To you, Sir Francis, and your family. May our Lord continue to use you to make manifest the hidden potential of filipinos to be great. God be with you and God bless.

    Again, Maligayang Pasko at Masagana, Mapayapa at Makahulugang Bagong Taon.



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