A campsite by the river.

When I recall my childhood, the most I can remember revolves around my endless summer days in the place I was born.  My grandparents own a house surrounded by tall mango trees, sugar canes and fruitful pomelo trees. I will spend my summer mornings basking in the sun, eating fruits and digging ants’ nest in the hope to capture their queen.  The highlight of all my summer days is the highly anticipated trip to the river in the afternoon- which is about 20 minutes trek along muddy path and moist foliage.  That river is the best part of my childhood.

3 days ago, I went on a retreat camp nestled right beside the same river that charmed me. The nostalgia is overwhelming – I felt as though I was being punched right in the face.

If you ask me what I am doing in a retreat camp, I’ll give you a synopsis (because If I start talking about it I’m not gonna stop.) Eight years ago, when I was still in college, I joined a Christian Retreat Camp – and my life was never the same again.  Joining this retreat camp, fellowship with old friends and helping young students know God is an oath I want to carry as I grow old. So I was there, fulfilling that little oath of mine.

The place is called Hardin sa Tabing Ilog (which is straightforwardly translated as Garden Beside the River).  The owner must be quite a literal guy.

Room photos are from the camp’s website

The place is beautiful in a rugged way. Surrounded with massive trees, the place makes you feel so in tune with nature, it makes you wanna draw deep breaths in an attempt to absorb all its rawness. It makes you think, dream, pray.  It actually makes you feel a little less dead.

It is exceptionally nostalgic to me in the morning. With all these dried leaves peacefully scattered across the lawn, the quiet sound of rustling leaves, the smell of damp soil and moist air, the golden sun rays.  I was transported back to my grandparents’ house.

It was raining hard the past few days before the camp, so most of the tracks are very muddy and slippery when we got there. Knowing the circumstances, Iam picturing how the river usually looks like during rainy days like this – a stream of chocolate colored water. And it was indeed a chocolate river. But it was beautiful just the same.

I was not able to take more pictures of the place as my entire stay is full of activities and fellowship. I wanted to stay a bit longer. I wanted to just stay…

Great fellowship. Glorious memories. Funny midnight talks. Epiphanies. Restored spirit. Answered prayers.

See you next year.


There are days you just wanna scream, days you just wanna lie down and sleep and not care. There are days that the future seems so wrecked, so lost, so far-away. There are days I don’t know who I am and where I belong.

When these days arrive, may I always be reminded of who I am, may I always be reminded of the kindness of life, of the strength of my faith, of the hope of salvation, and the power of prayer. May I always be reminded that  its perfectly okey if there are cracks in my soul, in my heart. Its okey.

There are cracks in everything, but that’s how the light gets in.





For rates and details, please check Hardin sa Tabing Ilog website here

Updates and information for MTICF can be found in our Facebook Page here

Photos taken using Canon G10 /Post Processed using PhotoScape.


Published by

Jona Alday

A corporate slave who finds joy in motivating and leading people but ultimately yearns for weekends and plotted vacation leaves. An Engineering graduate who HATES Math. An acrophobic who conquers mountains. A lover of sleepy towns, dawn, poetry, pancit canton and cats.

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