The Journey of Faith restores Isay’s health
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2014 - 12:00am

Curtain-raiser:

 Missed by fans for a few years, Ali Sotto (photo) has resumed hosting her and Arnold Clavio’s (also pictured) dzBB program Double A sa Double B starting last Monday, no wonder the tandem’s followers (this one included) are rejoicing. Ali and Arnold are like two peas in a pod, a real joy to listen to especially when they are commenting on current issues or even just exchanging pleasantries and trivia. They fire up the airwaves with an excitement only the two of them can. Right on, Double A!

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When Mitch Valdes performed at a Christmas concert at the Holy Land in December 2012, upon the invitation of Arlina Onglao of Journeys of Faith, Mitch said she came home with a new outlook in life after having what she described as “an epiphany” there.

Isay Alvarez told Tessa Mangahas (PR girl of the Araneta Group of Companies) that she experienced the same thing when she and her husband Robert Seña staged a concert called Songs for the Christ Child on Christmas at Manger Square (where Mitch also performed) two days before Christmas last year for OFWs.

The Holy Land was not spared by the polar vortex that hit several parts of the world. Despite the biting cold generated by the five-degree temperature, people showed up for the concert just like they did during Mitch’s 2012 show.

“It was my most challenging show ever because of the weather,” Isay recalled to Tessa who furnished Funfare this story. “Robert and I were nervous baka hindi lumabas ang boses namin. Before we left, we asked Mitch for some tips on how to keep warm and still look and sound good. She said, ‘Wear an overcoat.’ It helped. With prayer and matching overcoat, Robert and I did a good show at happy naman ang audience.” 

The trip, with their children and other pilgrims, gave Isay and Robert a chance to thank the Lord for the blessings their family received last year and what the couple called the “miracles” that happened.

As everybody knows by now, Isay was diagnosed with leukemia that didn’t stop her from going through rigid rehearsal for Katy, the musical she and Robert produced at the CCP and in which Isay played the adult Katy (dela Cruz). The Holy Land trip restored Isay’s health.

“Around this time last year,” Isay reminded Tessa, â€œI was gaunt, pale and weak; I weighed only 98 lbs. Today, I am back to my usual weight, even chubby, and I haven’t caught colds since March (last year. Prayer gave me the strength to hang on.” 

At the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem (the same place which, according to my friends who have been there, “wraps you with a feeling of unbearable lightness, as if you are given a holy embrace”), Isay couldn’t help literally wailing her thanks.

“Last year, a lot of my friends really thought I was dying. The Lord restored my health. Just two more treatments and I’m good as new!” revealed Isay who brought her petitions for her sick friends and for the Philippines to the Wailing Wall. 

For Robert, the fact that they were able to spend Christmas at the place where Christ was born carried special meaning.

“It was a unique experience to share with Isay and the children. In fact, when the realization of how special the trip was sunk in, the kids didn’t even ask for anything last Christmas. Tapos when we saw homesick Filipino OFWs watching us, kahit giniginaw sila, we felt that we were all united with the Lord,” Robert said.

At the concert, aside from Filipino songs, Isay and Robert also sang The Lord’s Prayer and The Prayer.

“We wanted to leave something to the Palestinians and the global audience (which included people from other countries),” added Robert. “But more than the performance, it was the experience of being there that made the Christmas concert so special.”  

Hoping to return to the Holy Land (“Kahit taga-buhat lang ng luggage,” he joked), Robert said, “A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is something that a person should experience at least once in his lifetime. It is simply awesome,” adding after the Manger Square concert and tracing the steps of Jesus, “The promise of God is really true.”

Tessa told Funfare that Arlina’s Journeys of Faith has lined up more programs, including one that will take the faithful to an 11-day trip to the Holy Land during the Holy Week, with Bible scholar and Maryland-based professor Fr. Rene Lopez, SS. Even Cubao Bishop Honesto F. Ongtioco will lead another trip to the lands of the Gospel.

“Fr. Jeff Quintela, on the other hand, will be the chaplain for the pilgrimage that will give pilgrims back-to-back spiritual highs — a chance to experience the Holy Land and attend the canonization of two pontiffs — John Paul II and Pope John XXIII in Rome.”

(Note: Journeys of Faith’s other itineraries include Marian sites, the Holy Land, Russia, Switzerland, Adriatic States, Medjugorje and Eastern Europe. Call 929-0144, 929-0155, 426-0601 or e-mail ilovejourneys@gmail.com.)

 (E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

DOUBLE A HOLY HOLY LAND ISAY ISAY AND ROBERT LAND MANGER SQUARE ROBERT
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