Recently, the DOT announced its ambitious plan to transform the nation into a major player in international tourism (specifically within Asia) in the next five years, according to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) news article.
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA news article. Some parts in boldface…
The Philippines targets to become a tourism powerhouse in Asia in the next five years, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said Wednesday.
At the unveiling of the 2023-2028 National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) during a tourism stakeholders’ summit in Manila, the Department of Tourism (DOT) vowed to “establish a Philippine tourism industry anchored on Filipino culture, heritage and identity, which aims to be sustainable, resilient and competitive in order to transform the Philippines into a tourism powerhouse in Asia.”
The roadmap identified seven measures to achieve this goal, with improving tourism infrastructure and accessibility as one of the priorities.
“The overall target is the transformation of the tourism industry of the Philippines, which is why we have embarked on the objective of not just focusing on the promotion of tourism but more importantly on the development of industry from the ground up focusing not just on our key destinations, but also on our emerging and lesser known destinations,” Frasco said.
“We can only truly transform the Philippine tourism industry if we address the prevailing challenges that we face continually across our regions,” she added.
On connectivity, Frasco said DOT is working with the Department of Transportation to negotiate more routes for air and sea travel.
Under the NTDP, Frasco said DOT would focus on digitalization; enhancement of the overall tourist experience by incentivizing sustainable travel and improving safety and security in destinations, among others.
The agency would also tap local government units in developing more tourist sites and linking emerging ones to key destinations.
She said the government will increase investments in creating “high-value” tourism experiences and announced the May 2023 launch of the Philippine Experience.
The program, which aims to highlight heritage and culture unique to every region in the country, will be piloted in Davao, Ilocos Region, Bicol and Calabarzon.
The program, she said, would include a three to five-day tour packages allowing tourists to experience both well-known and lesser-known destinations in said regions.
Frasco presented the salient points of the NTDP before the country’s top tourism players. The roadmap was first previewed during the Tourism Coordinating Council (TCC) meeting convened in February and would be submitted to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for approval within the month.
“This NTDP will serve as a blueprint for the strategies on how the Department of Tourism intends to continue and to grow the impact of tourism upon our economy in the next few years. This will be the guidebook of the industry where we put in place mechanisms for sustainability for many many years to come,” Frasco said.
‘Rosy prospects’ – Frasco noted that, even prior to the finalization of NTDP, the DOT has closely collaborated with tourism stakeholders in carrying out the President’s vision through its various plans and programs, citing the most recent awards and nominations received by the Philippines and its tourism destinations.
The DOT has yet to reveal arrival targets for the next five years but earlier said it seeks to reach 4.8 million in foreign visitors by end of 2023.
“The momentum for recovery and growth has begun. We’ve eased restrictions. We’ve continued to aggressively promote our destinations through the DOT’s constant and unyielding presence in various exhibits in the Philippines and all over the world. And people are traveling now, and are traveling with a vengeance,” Frasco said.
“By promoting the Philippines through the biggest international tourism and trade fairs across Asia and Europe, we are re-introducing the Philippines to the world, and bringing no less than the best of the best of the country and the Filipino people,” she added
Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this recent development? Do you think the DOT and all the strategic partners will be able to fulfill all the adjustments needed to transform the Philippines into a major tourist destination? What would you suggest to the DOT to make the tourism experience in the country more efficient and more interesting? Do you think it is time for the DOT to start recognizing local conventions or special events (examples: ToyCon, Trans Sport Show) and start encouraging foreign tourists to attend them?
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from my personal experiences and observations during the Israel pilgrimage tour I joined. Additional information from the official website and social media channels of the subject business is also used. This is not a sponsored article. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Welcome back, readers! This is the 5th chapter of my ongoing series of articles about the holy nation of Israel with recollections about the experiences and discoveries I had during the pilgrimage tour I joined with my local church (hosted by its strategic partner Behold Israel). To see my previous Israel tour articles, click here, here, here and here.
In this latest edition of my Israel 2023 series, I share with you my observations and captured images about my two visits to the popular Mahane Yehuda market in the modern section of Jerusalem. While I recently wrote about my delicious lunch at a Shakshuka joint in that market, this time I want to talk about the joint that is rich with refreshing drinks – Etrog Man – which I actually visited twice.
To put things in perspective, our group spent the final days – including the day-off – in the holy city of Jerusalem. On February 12, our tour ended in the afternoon and there was enough free time and sunlight left for me to visit the local foreign exchange joint (because I ran out of Shekels) and then make my first-ever visit to Mahane Yehuda market on foot.
Several minutes after exchanging currency at a local FOREX joint and further hiking, I finally arrived at Mahane Yehuda market which was bustling with many locals and tourists. It was a lot of fun walking around seeing the many food, drinks, souvenirs and other assorted products offered by countless sellers to customers. Watch my YouTube walk video of the market below covering the open air and roofed sections. See if you can spot Etrog Man.
My two experiences with Etrog Man
As mentioned earlier, I visited Mahane Yehuda market twice. The first time on February 12 and the second time on February 15. On each visit, I stopped by Etrog Man with the intention of buying a drink with the largest serving. I really prepared for the moment.
To be clear, I researched Mahane Yehuda market by watching lots of exploratory walk videos on YouTube and in a few of those videos, I noticed Etrog Man standing out among the many sellers as it attracted customers wanting something fresh, fruity and delicious.
Going back to February 12, 2023, it was my moment at last to be at Etrog Man’s space in the shuk and I came all the way from my native Philippines. I talked with the store handler (male, with facial hair) looking at the displayed juices with four notable flavors or variants – EtroGat, Coconut Passiofruit, Natural Berry Heaven and The Rambam’s Drink.
For my first-ever Etrog Man purchase, I chose EtroGat. In support for their business, I bought the largest serving of EtroGat at 24 Shekels and gave the store a tip. Then I finally took my first sip and instantly, I liked it! For transparency, the EtroGat’s taste was like citrus-based drinks but with a unique texture in my mouth. EtroGat, after all, was described by the business as Jerusalem’s flavor as it was composed of Etrog (a yellow citron which Israel is very blessed with and has long been part of the culture of the Jewish people especially during the Sukkot holiday), Gat and Grapefruit. This explains its taste.
And on the first day you shall take the fruit of pleasing trees [and make booths of them], branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick (leafy) trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.
Leviticus 23:40 (AMPC)
And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.
Leviticus 23:40 (ESV)
Etrog citrons are an excellent source of Vitamin C and helps in strengthening the immune system, protects the body from free radical damage and also reduces inflammation. There is a lot more to the health benefits with Etrog that I encourage you to research.
Going back to my EtroGat drink, I happily sipped more and enjoyed the taste. Taste aside, I chose EtroGat as it was formulated by Etrog Man to ease my body’s tension (note: me and my pilgrimage tour group companions had been hiking a lot for days around Israel before arriving in Jerusalem) and strengthen my digestive system. That being said, I consumed all of the content of my EtroGat drink feeling happy and got very satisfied. Back then, I knew I had to come back to Etrog Man on my planned 2nd Mahane Yehuda market visit. By the morning of February 13, the accumulated soreness on my feet was almost entirely gone and I felt reinvigorated which I believe were benefits from my EtroGat drink.
Eventually our day-off from tour came on February 15, 2023. In the morning, I hiked first to the old city of Jerusalem to visit the Temple Mount, revisit the Western Wall and went on to a few more sites before taking the long hike to Mahane Yehuda market via Jaffa Street. I even managed to stop by Tmol Shilsom where I enjoyed their special beverage – the Halva Drink. As the weather suddenly turned cold in Jerusalem as I finally returned to Mahane Yehuda, the first thing I did there was enjoying a much-needed hot meal at Shakshuka Machaneh Yehuda.
After my Shakshuka lunch, I walked around the market which was a bit more challenging as there were ever more people around. Eventually, I returned to Etrog Man and told the lady in-charge that I wanted their largest serving of the Rambam’s Drink.
After paying 24 Shekels and giving a tip, I started drinking it and I experienced this mild sweetness in my mouth. Rambam’s Drink also had this really unique texture and flavor which is I find delightful as I kept consuming it. Of all the juices or fruit-based drinks I had in my entire life, this beverage from Etrog Man was really a standout. As it turns out, the Rambam’s Drink was formulated to help the digestive system, boost the immune system and stabilize blood pressure. By the time I drank all of the Rambam’s Drink content, I was happily satisfied and felt really good.
I should also mention that Etrog Man also offers smoothies which are beverages sourced from fresh fruits that were expertly mixed and blended together to create a rich liquid for consumption. They also offer Super Bowls for those who want to eat something fresh and fruity with ingredients mixed in.
More than just refreshments – special focus on consumers’ wellness
In addition to the very delicious and healthy beverages and desserts, Etrog Man also sells other products online such as medicinal drinks and varied products of nature – Concoctions from Nature – as well. More on health, Etrog Man offers customers a Detox Program complete with specially formulated products that can be used. Going back to their store in the Mahane Yehuda market, I spotted an enclosed container with fresh fruits and some vegetables displayed. Next time I revisit Etrog Man, I will go for one of their smoothies.
Who is Etrog Man?
Based on the translated information sourced from the official website, the business was founded by the late Uzi-Eli (note: He passed away on June 2022). He was described as a medicine man and was the third generation of a family that deals in healing drinks, pharmacies and herbs. His family practiced Torah-based spiritual medicine. For decades, Uzi-Eli was reputed as a bringer of good news, remedies and recipes based on the teachings of Rambam (a Sephardic Jewish philosopher who was also a prolific Torah scholar) and ancient Yemeni medicine. Etrog Man clearly refers to Uzi-Eli and this is displayed in the business joint’s official artwork of a smiling bearded man carrying fruits.
Early in his life, Uzi-Eli realized that his vocation was in distilling the beneficial properties of medicinal plants, fruits, vegetables and spices – and distributing them to the masses. It was his intention to offer the best of nature and serve it with a lot of love. You can see more about Uzi-Eli in the YouTube video below.
Uzi-Eli was very knowledgeable about the many aspects of health which is reflected not only on the refreshing drinks of Etrog Man but also on their cosmetic products. He was a visionary and his expertise on wellness and nutrition is reflected through his business.
I can say that Etrog Man left a big and positive effect on me not only as a consumer but also as a person of faith who came to Israel to seek God’s Kingdom (Matthew 6:33) and to bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:1-3) while on pilgrimage. That being said, I would love to see Etrog Man prosper not only by selling more to customers the refreshing products they are already known for but also to help more people over their specific health-related needs. The legacy of the late founder of the business remains strong and will be felt in the years to come. As such, I would not hesitate to return to Etrog Man at Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem the next time I visit Israel in the future. To those of you who are about to visit Jerusalem and the popular market place, I highly recommend you visit Etrog Man and try out their refreshing products and special items.
When it comes to receiving blessings from the Lord while you are in Israel, always remember that He clearly designated the land for the Jewish people. God will bless those who bless the Jewish people. That being said, always praise, honor and give thanks to the Almighty Lord. Follow the lead of the Holy Spirit so you can receive God’s plan for you with Jesus as your Lord and Savior. May the holy scriptures below enlighten you and empower your faith in the Lord.
Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (TPT)
The Lord has been mindful of us, He will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, He will bless the house of Aaron [the priesthood],
Psalm 115:12 (AMPC)
And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”
Genesis 35:10-12 (ESV)
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV)
For God is one, and there is one Mediator between God and the sons of men—the true man, Jesus, the Anointed One.
1 Timothy 2:5 (TPT)
Watch out for more Israel 2023 travel articles here. There is more to come!
It looks like the Philippines will make a major step forward in the highly competitive field of tourism as the House of Representatives recently approved on 3rd and final reading the proposal on granting Value Added Tax (VAT) refund for outbound tourists, according to a GMA Network news report. The newly approved bill is a measure backed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
Having been to Israel recently, I noticed that the VAT refunds for foreign tourists who are about to leave the country is the norm.
To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news article. Some parts in boldface…
The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill granting Value Added Tax (VAT) refund for outbound tourists, a bill backed by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
House Bill 7292 earned 304 “yes” votes, four “no” votes, and zero abstention.
Under the proposed measure, tourists will be eligible for a VAT refund on goods purchased from accredited retailers in the Philippines as long as such goods are taken out of the country within 60 days from the date of purchase and the value of goods purchased per transaction amounts to at least P3,000.
The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Finance to adjust the P3,000 threshold, taking into account the following indicators: administration costs in processing refunds; consumer price index; and other market conditions, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Tourism and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
“This measure [is being passed] to adopt best practices in VAT refund schemes among Asia Pacific tourism destinations and expand the country’s competitiveness among its peers and neighboring countries,” the committee report on the measure read.
The bill defines a “tourist” as a foreign passport holder who is a non-resident individual not engaged in trade or business in the Philippines.
House ways and means panel chairperson Representative Joey Salceda earlier said the measure will generate P10 billion to P40 billion worth of increased sales for local suppliers.
Salceda was one of the principal authors of the measure, alongside House ways and means panel vice chairperson Mikaela Suansing of Nueva Ecija who chaired the technical working group drafting amendments to the original proposed bill.
“Generally, for every P1 refunded, the tourist spends an additional 1.5 pesos. That will create an additional twenty to eighty thousand jobs, and will also improve our gross international reserves,” Salceda said.
Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this recent development? Do you think the newly approved measure will pass in the Philippine Senate soon? Do you think the measure will make the Philippines more competitive in international tourism?
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from my personal experiences and observations during the Israel pilgrimage tour I joined. Additional information from the official social media account of the subject business is also used. Take note that this is not a sponsored article at all. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Welcome back, readers! This is the 4th chapter of my ongoing series of articles about the holy nation of Israel with recollections about the experiences and discoveries I had during the pilgrimage tour I joined with my local church (hosted by its strategic partner Behold Israel). To see my previous Israel tour articles, click here, here and here.
In this latest edition of my Israel 2023 series, I share with you my observations and captured images about our group tour of Nazareth Village which is an open-air museum located in the outskirts of the biblical city of Nazareth. Yes, this is indeed the very same place that was the hometown of our Lord and Savior Jesus and the Holy Bible has records about it.
Built on ancient agricultural land that includes the area’s last remaining first-century wine press, Nazareth Village was designed to fully immerse visitors into the first-century with an actual farm and archaeologically accurate recreation of the hometown of our Lord and Savior Jesus. There is a well designed physical set-up of the 1st century Nazareth complete with several olive trees and crops planted as well as villagers played by actors who themselves were fully immersed with the life and processes of the said era. Adding to the high level of details about the village are tools, clothing, raw materials and other physical setups that recaptured the livelihood of 1st century Nazareth.
Shortly after arriving at Nazareth Village, our pilgrimage tour group was oriented about the village and eventually a local tour guide led us on a tour that involved walking from one spot to another, each one with lectures and explanations.
Our tour guide led us to real farm land (with crops), replicas of 1st century houses, olive presses and even a synagogue with a scroll inside. Very clearly, Nazareth Village’s team of specialists really captured the look, the structures and feel of the 1st century Nazareth.
As part of the tour, we met a 1st century Nazareth potter, a weaver and a carpenter in different locations. Each of them showed their skills on making things as it was during the time of Lord Jesus. What we witnessed was enlightening and amazing. We gained a clear look at what 1st century village life of Nazareth was like.
Nazareth’s connection with Lord Jesus – As mentioned earlier, Nazareth has been recorded in the Holy Bible and this includes its connection with Lord Jesus. Refer to the holy scriptures below with Nazareth references in boldface…
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him:
‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
Acts 2:22-25 (NKJV)
How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him.
Acts 10:38 (AMPC)
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
John 19:19 (ESV)
Every year Jesus’ parents went to worship at Jerusalem during the Passover festival. When Jesus turned twelve, his parents took him to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, as was their custom. A full day after they began their journey home, Joseph and Mary realized that Jesus was missing. They had assumed he was somewhere in their entourage, but he was nowhere to be found. After a frantic search among relatives and friends, Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem to search for him.
After being separated from him for three days, they finally found him in the temple, sitting among the Jewish teachers, listening to them and asking probing questions. All who heard Jesus speak were awestruck at his intelligent understanding of all that was being discussed and at his wise answers to their questions.
His parents were shocked to find him there, and Mary scolded him, saying, “Son, your father and I have searched for you everywhere! We have been worried sick over not finding you. Why would you do this to us?”
Jesus said to them, “Why would you need to search for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be here in my Father’s house, consumed with him?”
Mary and Joseph didn’t fully understand what Jesus meant.
Jesus went back home with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother treasured Jesus’ words deeply in her heart. As Jesus grew, so did his wisdom and maturity. The favor of men increased upon his life, for he was greatly loved by God
Luke 2:41-51 (TPT)
When Jesus arrived in his hometown of Nazareth, he began teaching the people in the synagogue. Everyone was dazed, overwhelmed with astonishment over the depth of revelation they were hearing. They said to one another, “Where did this man get such great wisdom and miraculous powers?”
Mark 13:54 (TPT)
And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Mark 14:67 (NKJV)
In addition to the selected holy scriptures above, it is essential to examine the rejection Lord Jesus received in Nazareth. Refer to the holy scripture below…
So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ”
Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to [Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
Luke 4:16-30 (NKJV)
To put things in perspective, the synagogue originated during the Exile, when the Jewish people were separated from the temple services in the holy city of Jerusalem. The synagogue was both a religious and educational institution. A member or visitor who was judged worthy was frequently asked to read the Scripture and make the appropriate comments. Lord Jesus regularly engaged in worship with the members of the synagogue. As He was handed the book of Isaiah and made His declaration in front of many, it symbolized the ultimate fulfillment awaiting the coming of the messianic age. Lord Jesus claimed to be the promised Messiah and His defined ministry became the ongoing essence of the good news of the gospel of God’s Kingdom. Eventually, He passed His ministry to the disciples (refer to Luke 9:1-2) and trusted them.
It should be noted that the locals who perceived Him only as the son of Joseph did not realize the truth that He is God’s only begotten Son. They failed to realize Him as the Messiah, God in the flesh, the Savior and Lord of all. They did not believe in Him. The locals were so blinded with what is worldly, they failed to realize the holiness of Lord Jesus who has been identified with their locality that is Nazareth.
With regards to the people’s rejection of Him, He anticipated the demands from the locals that He should make miracles happen in Nazareth as He had done in Capernaum. Of course, His signs are not for skeptics but for those who truly believe in Him. It should be noted that the people who are most familiar with great people are sometimes the least appreciative of their greatness.
Even though they were filled with so much rage (in reaction to His declarations) and went as far as bringing Lord Jesus out of Nazareth and on to the cliff to kill Him, the locals ultimately failed. They were a mob driven by wrath but the holiness and power of Lord Jesus proved to be too much for them. This was a supernatural event that saw Him walk His way through the mob and proceeded to Capernaum in the region of Galilee. This should remind you that God had an ultimate plan for His Son Jesus which resulted in victory which we the faithful are living with now.
For added insight, posted below is the New Living Translation (NLT) of Luke 4:16-30…
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.
Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’—meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.
“Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner—a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious.
Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.
Luke 4:16-30 (NLT)
In ending this biblical teaching, let me point out that in the Book of John, Lord Jesus declared that those who believe and follow Him can expect persecution. He reminded us all that the unbelieving world is filled with wrath and hatred. In the Book of Revelations is a verse that connects with what was declared in the Book of John. Do not forget that Lord Jesus is the mediator between man and God, and He too is also the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Savior! The holy scriptures below should help you. Always remember that being worldly makes you unholy, and it separates you from the Lord. That being said, be faithful and always follow Lord Jesus with all your heart no matter what happens to you.
If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you.
If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you.
Remember that I told you, A servant is not greater than his master [is not superior to him]. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word and obeyed My teachings, they will also keep and obey yours.
But they will do all this to you [inflict all this suffering on you] because of [your bearing] My name and on My account, for they do not know or understand the One Who sent Me.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin [would be blameless]; but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Whoever hates Me also hates My Father.
If I had not done (accomplished) among them the works which no one else ever did, they would not be guilty of sin. But [the fact is] now they have both seen [these works] and have hated both Me and My Father.
But [this is so] that the word written in their Law might be fulfilled, They hated Me without a cause.
But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He [Himself] will testify regarding Me.
John 15:18-26 (AMPC)
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Revelations 21:3-8 (NKJV)
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the manChrist Jesus,
1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (the Before all and the End of all).
Revelations 22:13 (AMPC)
Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 8:2-12 (NKJV)
I can say that the time we spent at Nazareth Village was not just a very enlightening look back at 1st century living but it was also an opportunity to closely examine the Word of God for Nazareth’s biblical inclusion, Nazareth’s connection with Lord Jesus, and the rejection of Him by the locals who failed to realize His holiness. This article is not about condemnation at all. In fact, this article is an opportunity for you readers to look at Nazareth with biblical truth as well as living on with the victory Lord Jesus achieved for the faithful. That being said, I encourage you readers to learn to love and bless the Jewish people while living on with the Word of God. Let the Holy Spirit lead you.
For those of you who plan to visit Israel on pilgrimage tours, I highly recommend visiting Nazareth Village and in preparation for that, I encourage you to read the Holy Bible not just for Nazareth references but also the entire Old and New Testaments for full immersion with God’s Word. The greater your understanding of God’s Word is, the more the Holy Bible will come to life in front of you when you visit Nazareth Village. This goes the same with visiting other holy sites around Israel. For the best quality pilgrimage tour experience, I strongly recommend Behold Israel’s Bible Experience Tours. Come visit Israel to seek the Lord’s Kingdom (read Matthew 6:33). Ask God about His plans for you in connection to visiting Israel.
To follow Nazareth Village for information and key updates, visit https://www.nazarethvillage.com/ and follow their social media accounts at Facebook and Instagram. Nazareth Village is a great place to visit for your faith in the Lord, and it also has a lot to offer to visitors from around the world apart from the on-site guided tours.
Lastly, I urge you all to stand united with Israel (read Genesis 35:10-12), to love and bless the Jewish people (read Genesis 12:1-3) and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Watch out for more Israel 2023 travel articles here.
Having been to Israel recently where locals and tourists are no longer burdened by COVID-19 related restrictions and requirements, I noticed that the Philippines is behind in terms of freedom (from COVID-19 restrictions) on the part of people, businesses and tourists. In short, the Philippines still has yet to fully move on to post-pandemic life.
As the Philippines really needs to attract more tourists from overseas this year and fully revive the tourist industry as a whole, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced recently the scrapping of mask wearing and proof of vaccination as requirements in tourism enterprises around the country, the Manila Bulletin reported. In other words, tourists and tourism-related business joints will have lesser COVID-19 hassles to deal with.
To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Manila Bulletin news report. Some parts in boldface…
As the country’s tourist destinations become more open for travelers, showing proof of vaccination and wearing masks are no longer required in tourism enterprises, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Monday, March 6.
Supporting the “national government’s liberalization of the COVID-19 restrictions in the country”, the DOT released the Memorandum Circular (MC) 2023-0002 to further ease health and safety guidelines governing the operations of tourism establishments. According to Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, the MC is a follow-through of the efforts they started last year to assist the economic hardships of tourism stakeholders by issuing regulations pushing for the opening of the country to tourism.
“This latest issuance on the relaxed health and safety guidelines for tourism establishments reinforces the Department of Tourism’s commitment towards addressing the economic hardships of the tourism industry brought about by the lockdowns and restrictions of the pandemic,” she noted.
“Our country is open for tourism, and that we are keeping up with global practices on tourism operations that have already opened up worldwide,” she went on.
The tourism department already made similar issuances last year through its Office of Tourism Standards and Regulation (OTSR) and regional offices following the signing of Executive Order No. 7, which mandated the voluntary wearing of mask in indoor and outdoor settings.
It can be recalled that the OTSR issued Memorandum 2022-509 in November 2022 reiterating the voluntary wearing of face masks and the waning requirement on the presentation of proof of full vaccination in tourism enterprises.
Last month, on the other hand, the Department of Trade and Industry Safety Seal Secretariat announced the discontinuance of the Safety Seal Certification Program, the voluntary certification scheme affirming that an establishment is compliant with the minimum public health standards set by the government and uses or integrates its contact tracing with staysafe.ph.
Through DOT MC 2023-0002, the DOT ordered the lifting of the previous administration’s earlier requirement for tourism establishments to install plastic, acrylic barriers, and dividers in designated areas, and likewise ordered the removal of signages, visual cues, and other installations on mandatory protocols, which have since been liberalized by the national government.
“In adherence to the country’s policy shifts on minimum public health standards, the DOT also announced that it shall no longer issue the PH Safety Seal and WTTC Safe Travels Stamp to tourism enterprises found compliant to guidelines set in accordance with Joint Memorandum Circular No. 21-01 issued by the DOT and other national government agencies on the Safety Seal Certification Program, and Memorandum Circular 2022-003, respectively,” it was disclosed.
Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this new development? Do you think the latest moves by the DOT will make the Philippines a more convenient and friendlier place for both local and foreign tourists? Do you think that the Department of Health (DOH) should stay away from the tourism industry and let the DOT handle all the COVID-19 related matters? If you are managing a business trying to attract tourists, what is the one thing about COVID-19 rules that harms your business the most?
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from my personal experiences and observations during the Israel pilgrimage tour I joined. Additional information from the official website of the subject business is also used. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
During the one and only free day I had in my recent tour of Israel, I decided to make use of the extra time to visit the Temple Mount, the Western Wall (note: my return for prayer), the Jewish Quarter, King David’s Tomb and Oskar Schindler’s grave on foot. It was also my plan to have lunch at the popular Mahane Yehuda market.
Coming from the old city of Jerusalem, I marched along Jaffa Street heading towards Mahane Yehuda. However, the accumulated stress of very long walks in the morning caught up with me and I needed a break. It was then I decided to pursue finding a certain Jerusalem joint known for good food, drinks and books which was featured on the YouTube channel of Israel (called Jerusalem’s culture café). That place is Tmol Shilshom and as soon as I saw a sign of it along the very busy Jaffa Street, I made the decision to search for it knowing it was a challenge to do so.
What exactly is Tmol Shilshom? It is described as “the one holy place of Jerusalem that stands above the fray,” quoting Amoz Oz.
According to the official material of theirs, Tmol Shilshom is a Jersualem institution. A café-restaurant and bookstore that was established in 1994 in a century-old building in the Nahalat Shiv’a quarter of the city center. The joint’s name means “yesteryear”, is the title of a classic Hebrew novel by Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon. Tmol Shilshom was founded as a unique way to combine culture, good food, and a cozy atmosphere, as imagined by the late David Ehrlich who was the business partner of the joint’s owner Dan Goldberg.
For several minutes, I struggled to find Tmol Shilshom going through a few narrow walkways coming from Jaffa Street. I did not have mobile Internet access with me and there was no way Google Maps could help me. I simply paid attention to details of the walkways and the signs that I saw. There was a point when I thought I got lost but I found another sign leading to the place. After some further walk, turns and climbing up some steps, I finally made it to Tmol Shilshom!
My experience inside Tmol Shilshom
As soon as I entered the café-restaurant, I felt this great relief not only from the cold weather outside but also because I found the place’s beautiful interiors very welcoming and cozy instantly. The place’s heater was so good, I took off my trench coat and sat at the nearest table enjoying the instant warmth and comfort.
As it was my plan to have lunch at Mahane Yehuda, I first wanted to try Tmol Shilshom’s coffee. On the table, however, I noticed there was this visual reference about their special drinks offered complete with descriptions and prices (in Shekels) displayed. After some thinking and wanting to try something really unique, I decided to order their Halva Drink which is a vegan beverage composed of date honey, tahini, hot soy milk and shredded Halva. I stated my order to the waiter who passed it on to the counter. The waiter was also helpful in granting me access to their Wi-Fi.
After several minutes of browsing and checking updates online, a pretty blonde served to me my Halva Drink and she said, “Enjoy.”
Just looking at the Halva Drink, I was very impressed with the way it looked and how Tmol Shilshom made it. As a native of the Philippines who had been to local cafés and other cafés in the United States, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong, the drink truly looked one-of-a-kind to me!
After marveling at it, I finally decided to start drinking my Halva Drink. The first sensation of my tongue registered a mild sweetness that was also delightful. Naturally, I wanted more of the enjoyable taste so I continued consuming it. The combination of Halva combined with the other mentioned ingredients made it a pretty engaging and very unique drink experience for me. Whoever prepared the Halva Drink there at Tmol Shilshom deserves admiration and thanks! The same should also go to whoever designed the drink there.
As I enjoyed my drink, I took a break from my smartphone and observed the really nice interiors around me. There was this unique feeling of being at home (note: explanation in the Conclusion section) while also feeling comfortable as a consumer. I have been to many cafés and restaurants in my life but Tmol Shilshom is not only very unique but also a standout.
It comes to no surprise that the Halva Drink, combined with the warmth, the coziness and fine atmosphere of the interior, relaxed me a lot. The stress and the slight soreness of my feet faded away, and I was ready to move on to Mahane Yehuda for lunch and further exploration. Before leaving, I ordered bottled water (to keep myself hydrated), paid the bill and tipped them.
While my stay at Tmol Shilshom lasted less than an hour, my experience there still proved to be memorable with the mentioned factors above. I really enjoyed the place (note: the building was originally residential and it got converted for commercial use) and the minimal interior space was not a problem to me at all. Their workers were very professional, friendly and accommodating. It should be noted that apart being a fine place for dining, reading and working, Tmol Shilshom also established itself as a place for special events and gatherings.
If ever I will get to revisit Jerusalem, I would not hesitate to return to Tmol Shilshom and try out their meals and other offerings. It is truly a very special place of Jerusalem and I encourage you to visit them for your food and beverage interests. I personally thank our Lord for guiding me to find the place.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7 (NKJV)
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from my personal experiences and observations during the Israel pilgrimage tour I joined. Additional information from the official website of the subject business is also used. Take note that this is not a sponsored article at all. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Let me start by confirming to you all that I just had the greatest foreign trip ever in my life…a pilgrimage tour in Israel with my local church (led by two of its designated pastors for the tour) hosted by its Israeli partner.
During a particular day of the tour, our group was in close proximity to the Sea of Galilee (also referred to as Lake Tiberias) when some of us – including myself – participated in water baptism at the Yardenit Baptismal Site. After that, our group went to a nearby store for organic goods and spices to shop. The problem was the store we visited was closed for some reason.
As an alternative, we went to the area of Kinneret (located in close proximity to the Sea of Galilee) and visited the Tamar Bakfar Visitors Center (also referred to as Tamar B’kfar Visitors Center). It turns out, the change was splendid.
Upon entering the store, Tamar Bakfar’s people welcomed us very warmly and one of them oriented us about what they were selling, how wide their lineup of organic goods was, which products are healthy, why nature is emphasized a lot through their products, and the like. The store has a very nice interior design and the products were cleverly organized to be customer-friendly and even be attractive.
As I personally observed, Tamar Bakfar Visitors Center sells a lot of different types of products that can meet the needs or wants of customers. They have dates and date products (note: date spread, date honey, date conditioner, date syrup and so on), nuts, dried fruits, spices, honey (note: avocado honey, eucalyptus honey, and Galilee-sourced honey to name a few), olive oil, chocolates (note: chocolates come in many different forms), wine and other types of sweets.
Anyone looking for self-care products should check out their cosmetics section where they have products that used natural ingredients such as age-away hydrating cream, avocado and rosemary soap, the black bamboo soap, cypress nurturing hand cream, honey hand-and-foot cream, and the lavender body wash to name some. If you are insistent on having self-care products that come with natural ingredients, then you will find something here.
If you are into kitchenware, Tamar Bakfar Visitors Center has a good production selection for you: lunch cubes, multipurpose kitchen scissors, thermos bottles, stainless steel pots, bamboo cups, espresso cups, barbeque grill pans and more.
In my experience, walking around the store and observing the products offered was a joyful thing. Just about every product I saw had that premium aesthetic which you will realize by visiting the place and seeing the products personally.
I can say that our visit at the Tamar Bakfar Visitors Center is a nice blessing from our Lord. Their store is huge and attractive. Their personnel are customer-friendly, helpful and professional. Also what they have in-store are very varied and plentiful. So many choices you can make based on what you need or want. More notably, their store offers the finest of the Galilee region’s harvest in the form of dried fruits, spices, ingredients and more. Galilee is blessed and this should not be surprising at all as our Lord and Savior Jesus spent a good amount of time in the region thousands of years ago. Refer to the holy scriptures below…
On the third day Jesus left there and continued his journey to Galilee, where he had been raised. Now Jesus knew that prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometown. Even so, as Jesus arrived in the province of Galilee, the people welcomed him with open arms. Many of them had been in Jerusalem during the Passover Festival and had witnessed firsthand the miracles he had performed.
Jesus entered the village of Cana of Galilee where he had transformed water into wine. He met there a governmental official from Capernaum whose son was very sick and dying. When he heard that Jesus had left Judea and was staying in Cana of Galilee, he decided to make the journey to Cana. When he found Jesus, he begged him, “You must come with me to Capernaum and heal my son!”
So Jesus said to him, “You never believe unless you see signs and wonders.”
But the man continued to plead, “Come with me to Capernaum before my little boy dies!”
Jesus looked him in the eyes and said, “Go back home now. I promise you, your son will live.”
The man believed in his heart the words of Jesus and set off for home. When he was still a distance from Capernaum, his servants met him on the road and told him the good news, “Your son is healed! He’s alive!”
Overjoyed, the father asked his servants, “When did my son begin to recover?”
“Yesterday,” they said, “at one in the afternoon. All at once his fever broke—and now he’s well!”
Then the father immediately realized that it was at that very same hour that Jesus spoke the words to him, “Your son will live.”
From that day forward, the man, his servants, and all his family believed. Healing the official’s son was Jesus’ second extraordinary miracle in Galilee after returning from Judea.
John 4:43-54 (TPT)
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Luke 4:14-15 (NKJV)
If ever you are visiting Israel and will be spending time in the Galilee region, then I highly recommend visiting the Tamar Bakfar Vistors Center in Kinneret. Visit the company’s official website at https://tamarbakfar.co.il/ and follow them on Instagram.
Watch out for more Israel 2023 travel pieces here.