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This was the most memorable Valentine’s Day for us, which started with the renewal of our wedding vows at Cana, a wedding reception at Mount of Temptation Restaurant in Jericho, then our honeymoon in Jerusalem. 

We’ve been married for 11 years, and this was the perfect marriage renewal for us. If you’re planning to renew your vows soon, it’s worth considering doing it in Cana in Israel, by going on a Holy Land pilgrimage.

Here’s the photo essay of our Valentine’s Wedding Day at Cana… 


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We were dropped off the main street, and it was a long walk through narrow streets to the church in Kafr Kanna, an Arab town in the Northern part of Israel. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

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This is the entrance to the Wedding Church in Cana, with John 2:1-10 inscribed on the wall.

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This is one of the busiest churches in Cana, with back-to-back weddings being held for different pilgrims from around the world.

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Peter and Lea Ungson.

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Allan and Irma Torres.

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This is the public restroom in the church. Best to come already prepared for the wedding.

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This is believed to be the relic of a stone water jar where Jesus performed His first miracle.

(John 2:1-10) Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

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Bro. Pio and Bebot Español.

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The modern church is built upon an ancient church ruin where Christians believed Jesus performed the miracle at a wedding in Cana. 

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Bro. Bo and Marowe Sanchez.

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Juls and Nelds Abundo.

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Mina and Art Capitulo.

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The dashing brides before the wedding. 🙂

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My lovely wife Rache wearing the exact same veil she wore on our wedding 11 years ago. 

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Bro. Hermie and Reng Morelos.

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The couples were asked to wear white during the wedding. I later on realized how nice it would have been to be in a suit or barong. Some of the brides actually had a special dress made for this special day.

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The flock assigned for the day was the single flock, and they assisted the couples in bringing their bags and keeping them secure. They were also the official photographers for the wedding. THANK YOU! (with Joan Wong and Ma-ann Gonzales)

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All 40+ couples were excited to get married again and march down the aisle.

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Bro. Abel and Pinkie Victoria. 

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Bro. Obet and Joie Cabrillas.

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The wedding was officiated by Fr. Joel Jason.

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Our wedding couple selfie. 🙂

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Underneath the floor of the church are original mosaics of the ancient church ruins.

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The mosaic is in Jewish-Aramaic, dating back to the 4th Century A.D. at Kafr Kanna.

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We loved the homily Fr. Jason addressed to all the couples, who filled up the entire church.

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His homily was about saying YES to your marriage: Y-earn, E-ntrust, and S-top fixing. 

Fr. Joel serenaded the couples with a beautiful song to end the homily.

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After the homily, all the couples were called according to their bus groups: Blue, Green, and Orange.

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This was the renewal of marriage vows and it was very significant for us. 

Rache renewing her marriage vows…nakakakilig! 🙂 

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Our favorite part — “You may kiss the bride”. 🙂

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Rick and Glen Ignacio.

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Ethel and Lito de Guzman.

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The Ama Namin (Our Father) with all the couples was also very meaningful.

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The entire ceremony was very solemn and organized. 

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Bro. Adrian Panganiban singing “The Prayer” during the wedding.

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The supposed one hour wedding turned into two hours because the wedding certificates and picture taking took a long time. The pilgrim group from the next wedding mass was eagerly waiting for us to finish.

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Aboy and Del Evaristo.

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Bro. Obet sang the wedding songs to make the ceremony a bit more romantic.

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Bro. Carl and Lanie Fontanilla. 

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There was also a blessing for all the single people so that they may find their vocations.

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The final blessing by Fr. Eli. 

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Rolly and Belen Amiscaray.

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Just married! 🙂

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The handsome grooms!

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The lovely brides. 🙂

 

CANA WINE

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We visited a store where we could buy the Cana wedding wine, which was too sweet for my taste.

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This is a good pasalubong for our married friends to bless their marriage. 🙂

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Make sure you also buy the virgin olive oil for pasalubong.

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Alex and Pam Jael.

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The pomegranate in Cana sells for 7 shekels for the regular sized cup and 12 shekels for the big cup.

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It’s a better and healthier alternative to the wine.

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The plan is to drive from Cana in the North to Jerusalem in the South with a stop over in Jericho. 

 

MOUNT OF TEMPTATION RESTAURANT RECEPTION @ JERICHO

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After Cana, we proceeded to Jericho for the wedding reception at the Mount of Temptation Restaurant.

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Jericho has the lowest elevation on Earth and is one of the oldest cities (with Mel Tadeo and Ma-ann Gonzales).

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The wedding banquet was a buffet served canteen style.

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Spaghetti noodles.

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Grilled chicken.

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Corn and vegetable soup.

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Dessert.

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Our wedding meal with my favorite hummus, vegetables, and spicy salsa.

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The happily married couples during the reception. 

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You can already change clothes during the reception (Bro. Abel and Pinkie Victoria).

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Judd and Paz Balayan. 

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Of course, a wedding reception is not complete without a toast to the newlyweds. 🙂

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Messa Altar Wine for our wedding reception.

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Cross arms with your loved one and drink the wine together. It’s OK to be cheesy on this special day.

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And finally, the cutting of the wedding cake!

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Jay and Myrna Curameng, the longest married pilgrim couple, kick off the eating of the wedding cake.

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Jess and Agnes Sarmiento.

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Fely and Rene Cano. 

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Seal it with a kiss. 🙂 

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After the wedding reception, you can go up the roof deck for an awesome view of Jericho.

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You can see the Ancient Mound, best known as Tell es-Sultan, which was the setting of this Biblical passage:

Joshua 6: Jericho

1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blaston the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of theLord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” 7 And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.”

8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before theLord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10 But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!”11 So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there.

12 Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostituteand all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”

20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.

24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.

26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:

“At the cost of his firstborn son
    he will lay its foundations;
at the cost of his youngest
    he will set up its gates.”

27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land. 

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There’s also a cable car that can bring you to the top of the Mount of Temptation.

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You’ll have time to shop for beauty products only available here in Israel.

Day 3- Wedding in Cana - Our Awesome Planet-665.jpgThere’s a lot of dead sea beauty products. It’s best if you do you research before the pilgrimage.

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Surprisingly, men are the ones selling beauty products to the women. 

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Make sure to bring some black mud from the Dead Sea.

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It’s hard to decide which beauty products to buy. Usually, if it’s on sale, it means nobody is buying it.

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We tried this Bio Spa Dead Sea aromatic oil scrub.

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It’s salty and rough but once you’ve rubbed it on and washed it away, your skin will feel soft and very smooth.

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Any suggestions on what beauty products to buy?

 

MOUNT OF TEMPTATION

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We visited the Mount of Temptation Viewpoint for shopping and bought a $50 camel-skin leather bag… 

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…went on a camel ride…

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…and reflected on how the devil tempted Jesus on the mountain.

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(Matthew 4:1-11) Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 

6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

 

EN ROUTE TO JERUSALEM

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From Jericho, we made our final push to Jerusalem, one hour and 30 minutes away.

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On the way, we saw a sycamore tree and reflected on these bible verses:

Luke 19:1-10 (Zacchaeus the Tax Collector)

1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

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We passed by mosques and desserts.

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I cannot imagine how Jesus travelled from Galilee to Jerusalem during His time. Understanding the geographical location of these Biblical places made me better appreciate the Gospel.

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We arrived just in time for sunset in Jerusalem, a little after 5.30pm.

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This was our first view of the ancient and modern city of Jerusalem.

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It was very cold and a bit foggy. It was colder here than in Galilee. 

 

CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL @ JERUSALEM CITY

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We arrived at around 6.00pm for our honeymoon stay at Crowne Plaza in Jerusalem.

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We arrived on the Shabbat day (Friday 6pm to Saturday 6pm) so the lobby of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Jerusalem was not very busy.

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We were all checked-in already and just waiting for the key cards to be distributed.

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During Shabbat day, the Jews would rest and even the use of electricity is not allowed. 

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The elevator operation was a bit complicated on Shabbat. Since the Jews are not allowed to operate electronic stuff, two elevators are assigned to open and stop automatically on even and non-even floors.

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It was really confusing. You don’t know which elevators are assigned for Shabbat.

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We had a big banquet hall for our second wedding reception at the Crowne Regency.

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It has the most extensive buffet menu we have ever seen during our pilgrimage, but also the most commercialized in taste. I missed the food in Galilee.

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We feasted on this fresh salmon catch of the day.

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We had wine served on each table and it was extra sweet.

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Jewish families eating together on Shabbat day.

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They also served meat carvings during the buffet.

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The dessert spread, which was just OK.

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We personally enjoyed the fresh persimmons for dessert.

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After dinner, we went up to Room 423.

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It had a nice queen bed, modern amenities, and free WiFi.

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The mini-bar is high tech…

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…it will charge you automatically once you remove an item. You can ask them to store your personal items for a fee.

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The restroom, which was a bit small but clean.

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The toiletries are a lot better here at Crowne Plaza.

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The evening view of the City of Jerusalem from Room 423. 

To be continued…   

HOLY LAND PILGRIMAGE with BRO. BO SANCHEZ

Live an Awesome Life,

Anton
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 

Disclosure: We paid for our Holy Land Trip. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here

P.S. The Next Holy Land Pilgrimage by Bro. Bo Sanchez is on February 10-19, 2015. For more info, you can email Tita Beckie at [email protected]

P.P.S. The pilgrimage tour costs P340,108 (exchange rate P44.65 – $1) for a couple, broken down into the following:

  • Tour Cost: $2,995.00 x 2 = $5,990
  • Airline/ Other Taxes: $495 x 2 = $980
  • Tip Fund: $100 x 2 = $200
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: $130 x 2 = $260
  • Travel Insurance: $45 x 2 = $90
  • Philippine Travel Tax: P1,620 x  2 = P3,240
  • Airport Tax: P550 x 2 = P1,100

Note: There’s a $300/person non-refundable reservation for the trip, which is deductable from the total amount.

Overall, the Pilgrimage tour with Bro. Bo Sanchez is relatively more expensive than the other pilgrimage trips organized with Executive Resources. But it is the best experience for us because of The Feast (Community Worship Gathering) and the Feast Builders who make the trip awesome. 🙂 

TIP: You can decide to book your own airfare if you plan to visit other countries after your pilgrimage.