Family tour to 21 countries in 30 days
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - October 1, 2019 - 12:00am

LISBON, Portugal — We have landed early this morning in magnificent Lisbon's Humberto Delgado International Airport, from Doha, aboard cozy Qatar Airlines. The flight stewardesses spoiled us on board because my future daughter-in-law, Lara, an international flight attendant, endorsed us to her colleagues. Here we come, Portugal; a country with strong historical ties to us. Remember that Fernao Magalhaes or Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese who “discovered” the Philippines in the name of King Philip II of Spain because Portugal refused to finance his voyage.

Portugal is quite big but with a population of only a little over ten million, compared to ours which will soon reach 110 million. About 81% of its people are Roman Catholics. It is divided into 18 districts with Lisbon, the capital city as the most populous with 2.2 million people, followed by its charming northern port city of Porto (where the name Portugal was derived) with a population of 1.8 million.

Portugal is supposed to be a rich country, with a GDP of US$340.715 billion and per capita income of US$33,166. The Philippines' per capita income is a measly US$3,022. Portugal, however, is also heavily indebted. In 2011, the EU and the IMF had to bail it out to the tune of €78 billion.

In a day or two, we shall explore Portugal starting with Viana do Costelo, the biggest northern city which prospered due to its massive shipbuilding industry. There, we shall visit the Sanctuario de Santa Lucia Cathedral high on top of the city overlooking the beautiful Praca da Republica.

Then we go to Nazare, famed for its colossal wintertime waves reaching as high as 30 meters, which keeps on attracting daredevil surfers. We shall see the ancient castles. Then we visit Sintra, followed by Villa Nova de Milfortes, then to Lagos and Porto, the charming and fascinating northern port city. Then we end at Evora, Tavira, then back to Lisbon.

The climax of our Portugal sojourn is the pilgrimage to Fatima, particularly the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, in Quoren, Beira Litoral, in the Central Region. With a population of less than 12,000, this rather remote famous pilgrimage destination receives no less than eight million foreign pilgrims each year from all over the world. Starting in 1916, when three shepherd children, Lucia Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta de Marto witnessed a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mother, this holy place has been visited by a number of popes and religious leaders even of other congregations. Today, this is an awesome site that includes the fantastic Basilica of Our Lady of Rosary, the Chapel of the Sacred Lasperene and the Chapel of the Apparitions.

In between tours, I have to call my friend Abdul's many trustees and inventory his assets in the country for distribution to his heirs. This is also work, not just a pilgrimage. But I enjoy every minute of it.

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