BAGUIO in BLISS
The day after coming back from Cebu, we headed up to Baguio, the cool mountain town which is a great vacation spot for people escaping the heat of Manila, especially during Easter week (the week we were there).
Jagadish prabhu is from another mountain town not too far from Baguio and has spent much time in Baguio in numerous years of his devotional life. Over a year ago, Gadadhara prabhu was brought here by Jagadish and introduced to many devotees and spiritualists. Then Gadadhara prabhu brought us here last year for some programs. ‘By Gurudeva’s mercy, five devotees received initiation at that time.”
Just recently they opened a center for the International Puri Bhakti Yoga Society, Baguio Branch. The center is conveniently located upstairs from Mekhala didis house and business (she has a candy factory). All the people in the candy factory are so interested in Krsna consciousness and they attend the programs, chant japa and read Gurudeva’s books.
Gadadhara prabhu is an excellent organizer. He arranged a two-day program in the SM mall where we were able to chant on stage and have a book and poster table and chairs for people to sit and listen. Devotees rotated chanting and distributing books for over five hours both days.
Over 15 devotees came up here with us from Manila, a six-hour drive, (and one devotee from Cebu) for a week retreat of hari-katha and book distribution. Being Easter, the town was crowded with people from all over the Philippines.
Kamala and Sita from the Gangamatas are planning on opening a center in Manila, and they also came for the week. The both of them and Syamarani didi helped train the devotees in book distribution while at the mall. Philippinos are shy by nature, so they needed an extra encouragement to approach strangers. After a bit of shadowing and gaining some confidence, they were all naturals at talking to people and sharing the transcendental literature of Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada (Prahupada books so generously donated by Radhesh prabhu from Cebu). Thousands of books and posters of Syamarani didis that she did under Srila Gurudeva’s guidance went out and so many people were interested in our society.
The local devotees made a stamp with the address, telephone number and email of their center. The next day, Mekhala didi got a text message from someone who loved the book and wants to learn more. I met one lady who was staring at the singers on stage. I told her they were singing the maha-mantra and explained that mantra means man (mind) and tra (freeing) so this mantra frees us of our anxiety, sorrows and worries and brings joy and bliss. She began crying and said she was feeling miserable because she just had a fight with her boyfriend and then she heard this music so came over to hear it. I told her she was led by Krsna to meet us and gave her a book. She was so grateful and gave me her email and asked to stay in touch. Meeting her, deepened my understanding of why Prabhupada and Gurudeva stress book distribution so much.
On the weekend, we all went to the park and had bhajanas and book distribution. All the devotees were feeling so energetic and blissful for being able to chant and distribute books for hours to such a receptive audience.
We have been coming here for numerous years, and this was the first year that we have had a Tagalog book translated by Yadunath prabhu, one of the senior disciples of Gurudeva here and major leader (The Way of Love). Radha-kanta prabhu has been incredibly generous to the Philippines. Due to his love of the country and people (he spent time here as a brahmacari in the 80s), he has helped the devotees by donating books and helping them go to India. Radhesh prabhu has also generously donated Srila Prabhupada’s books which he will be giving more of as well. I noticed in my distribution that although most Phillipinos speak English, so many people were attracted to having a Tagalog book. All the donations that were received this week were put into a special book account to print another book in Tagalog. Yadunath prabhu will translate Secrets of the Undiscovered Self in the next couple of months.
On our last day in Baguio, we had a program at the Bliss Café, a vegetarian restaurant owned by Jim and his wife Shanti whom we met last year. Jim is a Buddhist who loves everyone and who promotes vegetarianism.
At the bottom of the mountain is a town called Urdaneta. Jagadish prabhu has been the pujari at an Indian temple for the past six years once a week at their weekly program. He invited Syamarani didi to speak and it was the first time that any disciple of Srila Gurudeva’s spoke there. They all knew and love Srila Prabhupada so she spoke about him and how he first introduced Krsna consciousness to the West. Everyone was so happy having us at their temple and loved Govinda-priyas singing. They took many of Gurudeva’s books and posters as well and made us promise to visit again next year for longer.
Srila Gurudeva ki jaya! Srila Gurudeva’s International Pure Bhakti Yoga Society, Philippines ki jaya!