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Timesman | Holy Hill: Basilica and national shrine

ILLINOIS, USA – When Boss Willie challenged me in his message during my diamond year celebration on January 17, 2016 to “continue writing until you reached 90,” I just laughed but in my mind, imposibleng mangyari!

Because after my compulsory retirement as GM of the TIMES Corp. in 2000, I asked HIM “to please Lord extend to me five years more to live.” HE not only gave me what I asked of HIM. HE has given me more years!

The Lord heard the wish of the Boss for me for I am now short of 12 years to become 90.
And this could be a wish that may come true after my daughter Tala and I visited the Holy Hill Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in southeastern Wisconsin, USA on Friday.

Holy Hill’s 435 acres of peace and beauty are located in the heart of the Kettle Moraine, crossed by Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail, about 2-hour drive from my place in Volo, Illinois.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world visit Holy Hill which sits atop the highest peak in southeastern Wisconsin, providing a scenic panorama in every direction.

People come to Holy Hill to admire the beautiful architecture, for meditation or prayer, or simply to enjoy the quiet, peaceful environment.

In between the 45-minute Mass officiated by Fr. Don Brick inside the Neo-Romanesque style church completed in 1931, I kept on talking to HIM, asking why HE let me reached this age when I only asked of him just for only a few more years after 60?

I didn’t receive any answer, but when I am about to receive the Host together with others and looked at the crucified naked figure of HIM in the cross at the altar, I read in HIS eyes the answer to my question “Son, you’re already on my side, with my Father. But we let go of you to continue your life on earth because I love you!”

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Since I arrived here on April 20, I only have one music radio station that caters to my capricho for standard songs. By just listening to my favorite songs of yesteryears- the 50s, 60s, 70s, and the 80s similar to UMBN Retro 95.5 playing oldies to its thousands of listeners down there-the feelings of isolation, anxiety over separation from friends and family and homesickness usually experience by those adjusting to a new environment, temporarily helps relieve from all this new cultural adaptation.

While I feel at home here as I am living with my daughter who is doing everything to make my stay meaningful and that the real intention of my coming is almost accomplished, admittedly, there are also times when memories of hardships and challenges to survive and longing for loved ones and friends from where I came from also keep on coming back. But with “Pandora”, one of well-listened music radio stations here, the last three months has so far been heaven to me.

By just opening the 75-inch television set in the receiving room and uttering the name “Pandora” either the live-recorded concerts of my favorite balladeers of all times or their recordings already make my day.

Frank Sinatra’s appearance in the Royal Grand Concert in London in 1983 hosted by Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monacco, the former Hollywood actress was once Sinatra’s leading lady in the movie “High Society,” is what I’ve considered the best concert ever I saw on television.

The legendary singer, actor and show business icon Frank Sinatra who was born on December 12, 1915 in Hobocken, New Jersey and only child of Sicilian immigrants, died May 14, 1998 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

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Any time this week, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may act on my request to leave and stay for 300 days in the Philippines.

I have to secure a re-entry permit to the US to prove my intention not to violate my permanent residency here and affect my citizenship application if I so desire.

Ideally, USCIS allows six months (minimum) for a conditionally permanent resident to travel outside of the country. Or, stays in the Philippines a year or more if I may have a reasonable reason why I will make the trip.

Anyway, I am hoping that USCIS will positively act on my request as at this age, I am only for the benefit of my children and the best for my two countries.

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