Landing in Las Vegas IV: Mt. Charleston & Red Rock Canyon

*Featured Photo courtesy of my cousin Jango!

For the first two times we’ve visited Vegas, we were able to go to Mt. Charleston in December 2014 and to Red Rock Canyon in June 2015.

Although we did not climb any trail in Charleston, playing in the snow (my first time!) with my cousins is a memory I will hold dearly in my heart.

Years went by as my cousins from my Mom’s side of the family grew up and made their memories together, while we lived in the Philippines. Any time with them, no matter how short, is not to be taken for granted.

So when we had our first reunion in years (!) with my Mom and I in Vegas, one of my biggest and special dreams (one that is not related to an ideal career or lifestyle) came true.

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“I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way. The Synod’s reflections show us that there is no stereotype of the ideal family, but rather a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all their joys, hopes and problems.”From Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, an exhortation on love in the family

Families are like clothes with differently colored patches. Some can be big or small, some can be more colorful, some can be colorless.

But what makes up these clothes and holds them tightly together are the tiny fibers, threads, sewn to make one functional cloth.

It doesn’t matter so much if one cloth is more vibrant or vast than another – what we must see is how strong the threads are, how willing they are to hold on to each other to make it all work for God’s vision for family, home, marriage, love, and fellowship.

Though we may feel the cloth stretched all over, like it would burst at the seams any second, we are reminded that there is no perfect family, no perfect marriage, no perfect couple, nor child. But with all our flaws and humanity, we can be made perfect through God’s example of sacrificial, unconditional, abiding love. He is the One we can look up to in living our roles responsibly, excellently, and lovingly as members of our families and as members of the body of Christ.

How big our cloth would be! May our threads be strong as well. If someone falls or hurts himself, may our fabrics be sturdy enough to catch him. If someone is sad, may our cloth be soft and comforting. If someone is growing, may we make it bigger. If someone is cold, may we provide the warmth.

I once heard from a homily that truly, God’s love is relational. We have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We have St. Joseph too, Mama Mary, and Jesus.

Family is a divine and beautiful thing, and I’d like to think we are all related not only through law or by blood, but because we are all adopted children of God. Brothers and sisters all over the world.

I cannot emphasize enough how much family means to me and how much I want all of us to love one another.

This watercolor painting was made for our organization Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan’s Annual Catalogue 2017.

No other reason but to be a saint


We drove through a long road. Some parts had arching trees, some had upright ones, some had none, but most of the path made us feel protected.


We were behind a tricycle carrying slender tree trunks (bamboo shoots, perhaps?) on top of its canopy. Behind us was another tricycle. As the one ahead turned right to a path going to another barangay, the other followed. We continued forward.

At a crossroads after a 10-minute drive from the town, we turned left, and the road rose to an open gate that led us to a silent monastery on top of a hill in between the mountains in Castillejos, Zambales.

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Landing in Las Vegas I: Hotels and the Strip

I knew little of Las Vegas… From how it was portrayed in some movies, it’s this place with bright lights, casinos, and partying. It definitely has the bright lights, casinos, and energetic vibes throughout the Strip where most of the big casinos are, but as my Mom and I came to stay there with our relatives for our vacation last December 2014, a different side of Vegas showed itself.

What stuck to me the most is that this is the city where a few of our relatives call home. My Tita Mila’s home is where the family reunions are held, because our relatives from my Mom’s side are in California and Arizona, so Vegas is the midpoint.

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