Martin moved into singing Our Father in Holy Land

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
Martin moved into singing Our Father in Holy Land
Martin Nievera and Arlina Onglao (of Journeys of Faith)

It must be Martin Nievera’s most memorable journey that is, Arlina Onglao’s Journey of Faith, a regular pilgrimage that has been bringing people to the Holy Land, including celebrities and singers.

At the Magdala Church, the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, Martin was so moved by the pilgrimage that he volunteered to sing the Our Father during the Mass.

“It was one of the most beautiful renditions of Our Father that I have ever heard,” Arlina recalled.

For this pilgrimage, Arlina was requested by Ahwel Paz (Jobert Sucaldito’s Showbuzz co-anchor on DZMM) to support and co-sponsor a fund-raising concert that he was organizing in Israel for the benefit of Ahwel’s parish in Sampaloc, Manila.

Days before the concert set in Tel Aviv, Ahwel and Martin joined Arlina’s Journey of Faith that brought them to the Nativity Church in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, the Calvary and Holy Sepulchre Church where Jesus was buried and other religious sites.

“My Holy Land experience this time was made more memorable and more meaningful,” Ahwel told Funfare. “Thanks to my BFF Martin Nievera for joining us. He willingly cancelled his other commitments because he wanted to help by performing in the charity concert for the various churches that we are helping. Last year, he shared his talent and time also for the Filipino priests of Pontificio Collegio Filipino to help rebuild their 57-year-old library.”

It was not only Martin’s willingness to help (gratis et amore, if I may add) but his humility that impressed Ahwel and Arlina, along with the 43 other pilgrims. Martin was with his girlfriend Anj del Rosario and his manager Joy Alonzo.

“I saw how patient Martin was as he joined all the visits to the religious sites,” noted Ahwel. “He even acted as technical director who fixed the sound system before the show. And he even carried my luggage!”

“Even our tour guide was touched by Martin’s humility,” Arlina pointed out. “And his great rapport with the audience. He was generous, too. He treated all the pilgrims to dinner while we were waiting at the airport for our flight.”

It has been Arlina’s mission to bring people to the Holy Land and turn closer to God, which is why she established her own travel agency specializing in pilgrimages almost two decades ago. Arlina is married to the brother of Conrad Onglao, Zsa Zsa Padilla’s beloved.

Through the years, Journeys of Faith has brought more than 10,000 pilgrims to the Holy Land from all over the Philippines and the world. On several special occasions, with the help of partners and supporters, the Journeys brought celebrity performers, aside from Martin, including Mitch Valdez (2012), and Robert Seña and wife Isay Alvarez (2013) to perform in Bethlehem during the Christmas Eve concert at Manger Square where our kababayan felt joy in hearing Pinoy Christmas carols like Pasko na Sinta Ko and Ang Pasko ay Sumapit in a foreign land.

During the SRO concert, Martin sang his iconic songs like Be My Lady, Ikaw and Say That You Love Me. And, of course, since it’s Christmas season, he also sang Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song and the audience (the kababayan) sang along with him.

Arlina: “Martin has touched many lives and blessed many souls with his performance.”

Ahwel: “And I cannot thank him enough for always supporting our advocacies and charities.”

Arlina promised to continue fulfilling her dream of bringing people to the Holy Land. But what’s more beautiful is through the Pinoy concerts, she also gives our kababayan abroad a piece of home.

Incidentally, the highlight of the trip was the audience with Pope Francis.

“I saw how Martin was awed by the presence of the Holy Father,” gushed Ahwel. “He was overwhelmed just as we were.”



(For inquiries about Journeys of Faith, call Globe at +63-917-5616440 or Smart+63-999-9935580 or +63-920-9494522.)

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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