Thursday, November 13, 2014

HOLY LAND 2014: Climbing Up Mt. Sinai

Mt Sinai is an important location in the Bible as this was where God spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush and commissioned him to lead His people out of Egypt (Exodus 3:1-4:17). This was also where Moses received the 10 Commandments from God . Climbing up Mt. Sinai was so timely as we just finished studying these two important events in Moses' life. 

with Abdo my camel. Camel rentals at the foot of Mt Sinai cost $25 (one way).
Saleh, my Bedouin companion. You have to prepare loose dollars for tipping by the way. $1-2 would be okay. Wag niyo hayaan mangulit ha. Some of them can be very pushy.

We began our ascent to Mt Sinai a little after midnight and reached the summit just in time for the sunrise. As we reached the foot of the mountain, we were welcomed by Bedouins who rented their camels out and accompanied us up. It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, so I used my LED lamp but later, my Bedouin companion Saleh told me to turn off the light. 

My camel Abdo was quite competitive as he kept overtaking the two other camels with us. Nakakatakot pa dun, when he would overtake, pag-tingin ko sa side ko bangin! The camel ride took two hours and as I looked up at the sky, a calmness overwhelmed me even if it was freakin' cold. We rode under a canopy of beautiful stars and the bright moon light and at that moment I whispered "God, Your creation is so beautiful! Thank you for letting me see the sky as Moses might have seen it as he went on his way up the mountain."

Pastor Larry, our spiritual leader for the tour.

A cup of Bedouin coffee for $2. Of course it's mahal but you have no choice. If you want cheaper coffee, try trekking down and going back up. Haha!

The sun has started to peek

The sun on it's way up, kissing the tops of the mountains

Digging through my backpack for snacks. Some climb that was!

St Catherine Monastery

A Bedouin tent

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

HOLY LAND 2014: Cairo, Egypt

We were on the go as soon as we landed in Egypt! After meeting our tour guide Moses (no joke, that's his real name), we went off to the Egyptian Museum which houses many artefacts from the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms. According to Moses, it would take us three days to go through all of the sections in the museum, so we just went through the highlights as we were pressed for time. 
Photography isn't allowed inside the museum. To make sure, we all had to deposit our cameras and smartphones. 

 Two pretty birds hanging out in the pond fronting the museum

From the museum, stopped by the Golden Papyrus Shop to learn how papyrus paper is made.

This is Moses our tour guide with one of the staff from Golden Papyrus

 After the papyrus strips are laid out and "woven" together...
 ...they go into this pressing machine to squeeze out excess water.
It is then laid out to dry. Papyrus paper is very sturdy and can withstand getting soaked in water even after it is dried out.

While there are street vendors that claim to sell papyrus paintings for $1-$5, be warned that these are not authentic. According to our tour group head, these are usually made with just banana leaves. I bought three paintings from the shop and even had one inscribed with the names of my family members in hieroglyphs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Off to the Holy Land!

Need I say more? 
After checking in

This sick girl gets a window seat. Yay!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

CHLARA on The Afternoon Cruise

I was so excited to have Chlara on the show yesterday! I've been crushing on her song "You Complete Me" and it's been on repeat for 2 weeks now. :-)

A video posted by Ingrid Nieto (@ingrid947) on
A video posted by Ingrid Nieto (@ingrid947) on

Friday, October 17, 2014


You can't expect someone to be merciful if he himself has not received and experienced God's mercy, the undeserved pardon for sin. This came as an epiphany as I did my best to understand a person who always had something to say about everyone and everything. Day in and day out, the person always found something to whine about and I would be on the receiving end of the “Kraken.” The criticisms have no boundaries—it doesn't matter if you're older, well-respected, more educated—that person will still find something to throw at your face.

from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
When I was younger, I would often compare myself to others and criticize them too. I somehow had a false sense of “feeling good” when I would find something wrong about them. Later, I found out that my behavior was actually a defense mechanism—my meaningless criticisms were a cover-up to my insecurities. I just had to come to terms with the fact that I desired what they had. Instead of wallowing in envy and bitterness, the Lord taught me to be content, to appreciate what He's given and how He's made me. How liberating it was to begin living with a grateful heart—you don't only appreciate what you have, you learn to appreciate others too.

Dealing with a person who thinks he is a notch higher than everyone else can certainly challenge one's patience. I mean how do you keep a straight face when you converse with someone who thinks he is the expert in everything? That everyone else is doing the wrong thing and he is doing everything right?

Have you found yourself in conversations like this?
Me: Ang galing ni *Keith no? He's been in the industry for a long time and has really made a name for himself.
The Expert”: He's better off in music. His talking sucks.
Me: Pero ang tagal na niya. I think he's really good.
The Expert”: I'm still not impressed.

Just wow. Who died and made you king of everything?

There was also a time when someone asked for my help for a project. I went the extra mile and when I asked what he thought of the output, he made a mountain out of a molehill, zeroing in on unimportant aspects, which made me feel that helping him was not good enough. His obligatory “Thank you” which could have been supported by appreciation was easily trampled upon by his nitpicking. 

Since we've mentioned NITPICKING, I remember when I was confined in Makati Med for dengue, when a nitpicking visitor came in. 

NITPICKER: Ano ba naman tong kwarto mo, ang liit liit. Bakit ganito yung space?

She went on to pick on the littlest details that didn't really matter to me. To me, it was important that my room had ample space, it was private, I had a comfortable bed, there was an extra bed for whoever would be looking after me and I was near the nurses' station.

When Nitpicker left, I sent her a lengthy text message expressing that I didn't like her negative attitude. Did she intend to check up on how I was or did she really just go there to criticize a hospital room? She apologized after and told me that I wasn't the only person to give her feedback on her negativity.

When tempted to lash out and criticize, try pausing and asking yourself these questions:
-Did this person do anything bad to me?
-Why do I feel this way about the person? Is he/she directly affecting me?
-Have I had a personal encounter with the person that validates what I am about to say?
-What are my intentions for saying these things?

Reflecting on those questions can help you from falling into the same state as constant critics and trolls. Often, they say or post destructive things out of envy. They tear people down, throw stones their way because spitting vitriol on another gives them a false sense of security. It's like saying Ah, you're living a good life? Let me ruin that. Yes! I got my revenge!” I mean, why would you even think of “revenge” if the person hasn't done anything to you? If the person is just living his own life and you happen to just be a spectator? Isn't it much better to build people up than tear them down? :-)


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