Chapter Seven 


 

About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure

to Baguio City worthy of happy memory

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Christmas morning Hellmantle led the way to St. Anthony's Church in the middle of old Angeles City. It was busy with Christmas Day celebrations.

"Interesting," said D'Aqs, whispering behind the back pews. "Like that church in San Fernando, this church also has a lot of emphasis on the Virgin Mary. Look at the sculptures and the symbols. It's so...so-"

"Female-centric."

"Yes, that's it."

"That's because Spain was one of the countries that kept a strain of the untainted message of Jesus. The best example was the Cathars who lived in Spain on the coast of the Bay of Lyon."

"I think I remember that. Weren't they massacred by Rome?"

"Indeed they were. Since most of Spain had been taken over by the Moors in 711AD, there was a coming-together of ideas from Africa, the Middle East as well as from Europe. And so Gnosticism flourished, among other things like mathematics."

"Yes, Algebra comes from the Arabs doesn't it?"

"Indeed it does. Algebra, like the word alcohol, is an Arabic word. The Gnostic beliefs of the Cathars were much closer to the original message of Jesus so this made them too much of a threat to Rome's power so the Pope decided to wipe them out."

"Yes, I remember that."

"And one of the beliefs was the reverence of women, the creators of life, like most pagan religions before Christianity. Rome de-emphasized the importance of women when they tampered with His message. For example they invented the idea that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. She was actually from a noble family."

"But Islam also doesn't revere women." Hellmantle slouched his shoulders.

"Au contraire my cousin," he said. "I suppose you're not aware that in Islam if you say a prayer for your father you must say the same prayer twenty-five times for your mother."

"Are you kidding me?"

"D'Aqs!" Some people in the last pews looked at them. "I never kid about religion. It's a serious beefcake!" Startled, D'Aqs said he was sorry. "You know, it behooves you to read all religious materials to have a better grasp of how many religions overlap. You'll see most fundamentally believe in the same monotheistic God. They just differ on the details." Fire in his eyes.

"I suppose you're right."

"In the same story of Adam and Eve in the Graden of Eden, the Quran says both Adam and his wife Eve ate from the tree, whereas the woman gets the blame in the Bible. Both Books give due time to describe a good wife, but what sticks in my mind from all of it is a line from the Quran: It is better to marry a slave who is a believer than a good woman who does not believe."

"Anyway, if you notice there is a lot of emphasis on the Virgin Mary rather than Jesus Himself in the churches here built by the Spaniards."

"I have. It's obvious."

"Spain has kept that belief, that Jesus was a prophet and not the Son of God. Subtle and smart, they let it be known through symbols they carved into their churches. It was at a church called Santiago de Compostela in Gallicia that remained the center for Nazarene thought for centuries in direct opposition to Rome. In fact I have met some modern-day members of an ancient order that originate from this church: the Order of Santiago - in or English it would be the Order of Saint James. It was on par with the Knight's Templar and the Order of the Hospitallers."

"Never heard of Santiago de Compostela."

"In most churches here Jesus is shown as the Christ child instead of the hacked up and bleeding martyr."

"Hacked up?" Hellmantle ignored him.

"It was near the Cathar stronghold on the southeast coast of Spain in Rennes-le-Chateau where the authors of that book Holy Blood, Holy Grail found the scroll in a church column that started this whole movement to expose the Catholic Churches' efforts to suppress Jesus' untainted teachings. It has ushered in a new period in history to expound what the Prior de Sion and the Blonde Acquitaine secret societies have known all along. The massacre of the Cathars and then the Spanish Inquisition just reinforced the societies to keep a low profile until the time was right in world history to reveal what they know. Now is the time in world history to inform the public of this other world, a different way of looking at events. That is why we are destined to find the Dutch Padre. So chin up man!" Worried about the bite in his eyes, D'Aqs kept quiet. They remained at the back of the church listening to the Spanish sermon until Hellmantle gave his cousin a nod, leaving without disturbing the worshippers. Hellmantle was too itchy to find church with the rouge-colored bell tower.

 

Ω

 

The heat and dust in Angeles City were enough to choke even the most hardened traveler, but after riding roads with deep divots and crumbled pavement they reached the entrance of Clark Air Force Base just before the expressway. Ignoring a sign forbidding motorcycles, they cruised down the main street past barracks bare and looted, with shattered windows and peeling paint. Tremendous waste. Ghosts stirred in the wind.

Riding was smooth as when moved north on Macarthur Highway, soon coming into range of Mount Pinatubo that had its moment of glory ten years ago. Without warning Hellmantle turned off the highway flying along the paved road ahead of D'Aqs past once fertile plains until finding an old trail that ran along a dried-up river. Mile after mile riding towards Pinatubo, D'Aqs tasted the thrill of wide-open spaces on the foothills of the huge volcano. Sky blue, sun hot, and air fresh, he and Hellmantle hurled over the grass trail approaching the steep ascent of the massive mound of rock, breathtaking. Until they hit ash, sluggish and loose under the wheels. The gray ash was just like sand, forcing them to downshift. Hellmantle tried to persevere but the molten ash was too deep.

"Did you see the land we passed?" No one around for miles.

"I did notice that."

"Lots of fields but no production," said Hellmantle. "Use to be called the rice bowl of the Philippines."

"Now covered in ash."

"From what I remember a typhoon hit the area right after Pinatubo erupted that covered the land with ash and rivers turned to mud that flooded the plains. Over a thousand people died and over a million people were displaced."

"Harsh."

"Yeah. It was the biggest volcanic eruption of the 20th century."

It felt like motorcycling on the moon when they hit the road again across the rice bowl, now a wasteland of volcanic ash. Riding the wave of freedom on the volcano's foothills, Hellmantle thirsted to make the most of this adventure. Rather than just follow the road and stop at churches with bell towers like a Sunday tourist, he wanted to squeeze as much toothpaste of the tube as he could while they were in the Philippines. Passing through Mabalacat they saw a Kamikaze memorial, where the Japanese organized the first kamikaze group in 1944 called the Shimpu Special Attack Corps, and then through Urdaneta and over the bridges of Dagupan City until the cousins reached the Cordillera Mountain Range, the backbone of Luzon. The higher they climbed, the cooler the temperature, so they stopped at the side of the road where T-shirts and shorts gave way to denims and jackets and gloves.

"I had a taxi driver once tell me there is gold buried up here in these mountains," said Hellmantle. "He was certain that the rumors of the Japanese burying their gold at the end of the war was true. Didn't want the Americans to take it from them." Gesturing to the mountains around them, he raised his eyebrows. "They say there are hidden tunnels built by the Japanese in the area. Of course that stirs my Norman sensibilities."

Shantytowns now without any sign of Spanish presence, palm trees fewer with pine trees becoming the dominant tree, air crisp as a dry spruce, after hours riding up the mountains Baguio City appeared around a corner along a ridge that encircled a wide saucer-shaped hill, like a natural Roman Coliseum. Cool mountain air smelled of cedar ponderosa pine, a striking contrast to choking city smog that hung like a noose over Manila. No chaos here; only the feeling of calm, protected from the poverty of the south.

Down the main street past the turn-of-the-century façades of buildings that lined the sidewalks, it was quaint and sunny untouched by the hand of time. Like a small town in Colorado, it was the American choice of retreat from the oppressive temperatures of the city. Houses luxurious and spacious, with well-paved roads, an American haven in a country with very few havens.

"For some reason I had always been skeptical about its notoriety as the pre-eminent destination for heads of state and the wealthy," said Hellmantle, "but now, being here, I can immediately see why. It's steeper here than the streets of San Francisco and warmer than Aspen, and it smells of the Swiss Alps and has the quaintness of a town in upstate New York. Now it makes sense to me why it was the sight of Japan's last stand. And it's fitting that the Allied victory over Axis aggression was forever marked on this soil."

"The only thing missing are cars with ski racks. It's like a sleepy ski town in the Rocky Mountains." In front of Baguio Cathedral the air blew from peak to peak, wafting like a medicine carrying the hidden tonic for all forms of cardiovascular ailments. Dusty and tired, they decided to stay over in Baguio. Maybe it was his bruised shin or his sore nose, but from his body language D'Aqs guessed Grail Adventurer Extraordinaire was in pain. D'Aqs was slouched on his bike in need of rest for a few hours too.

Later at their hotel, D'Aqs found Hellmantle drinking hot tea reading his maps.

"Let's go native up the Halseema Mountain Trail."

"Isn't that the old trail that the American missionaries took?"

"It is. It leads right to the rice terraces." 

"And to your woman in Sagada I see."

"Yes, that too. Very important to see her."

"Is it rideable?"

"It should be with our bikes. You seem to know what you're doing on yours and I'm certainly very fine with my own abilities so why not? It should save us some time, which we don't have a lot of if we're going right around the perimeter of the island. Otherwise it'll be a bit boring taking the newer highway up to Sagada."

His zeal to serve his family in honor, and his deep belief in the Holy Grail had given Roland Hellmantle a grounded sense of who he was; the world could not hand him enough adventure, he was an individual born for a Crusade. It was because of this that D'Aqs agreed to take the Halseema Mountain Trail 130 kilometers north to Bontoc via Sagada through the heart of the Cordillera Mountains.

 

 

It is at this point that the original chronicler ends his account of the Great Hellmantle of Normandy, but in my efforts to recover lost material hence not found in the canon, a missing journal was found in an archive. It is true that the original chronicler believed there were records not yet found because of the accurate account thus far rendered from the papers of the journey, and with heaven's help the reader how has the lost account of the trials and stations in their trek up the Halseema Mountain Trail, and it will be narrated in the second part.

  

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                             
          The Family of the Bible
FIRST PART
1.       Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life
2.       Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste
3.       Which relates to how Hellmantle is given his first adventure
4.       About what happened to our adventurer when he goes to the Philippines
5.       In which the story of our crusader's journey begins in earnest
6.       About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve
7.       About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure to Baguio City worthy of happy memory
 
SECOND PART
8.       In which the courageous Hellmantle of Normandy journeys north into the Cordillera Mountain Range
9.       About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus
10.     Concerning Hellmantle of Normandy in the land of the headhunters
11.     About the required riding techniques to reach the destination of Sagada and the church organist
12.     In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café and dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island
13.     In which Catharine is tracked to the Shamrock Café and an eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream
14.     About Hellmantle reaching the rice terraces and finding a way to the northwest
15.     About what happened to our intrepid philosopher in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains
16.     In which a record is given about the brave Hellmantle through uncharted territory on his trusted dirt bike
17.     Which relates to Hellmantle of Normandy reaching the northern coast and the rubble of Aparri
18.     About the final day of the motorcycle journey and discussing the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Vigan
19.     About the sermon in Agoo Basilica and what they find at the church with the rouge bell tower
20.     Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map
21.     About the return to Manila and the coup that causes the Great Man from Normandy grief
 
THIRD PART
22.     Which brings Hellmantle of Normandy back to Hong Kong to re-evaluate the next step in his quest for truth
23.     In which their journey is related to Jack Grosseteste and a new task is set before the Man from Normandy
24.     Concerning the journey to northern Vietnam to track down the map hidden at a French prison
25.     About how Hellmantle and D'Aqs compare notes on their task at hand in Hanoi
26.     In which an account is given of the beginning of the journey of Hellmantle in Vietnam
27.     About how Hellmantle and his brave squire ride north to the place where the four rivers meet
28.     Concerning the French prison and what Hellmantle finds there
29.     Concerning the discovery of the bottle and what lies inside of it
30.     Concerning the journey to Dien Bien Phu in honor of their grandfather the Great Dane Hellmantle
31.     About what the motorcyclists see on the fields in Dien Bien Phu
32.     Concerning the motorcycling required to reach Hanoi via the other side of the Da River Valley
33.     Which tells of the final stage back to Hanoi and the discussion after their most beautiful ride
 
FOURTH PART
34.     Concerning the visit with the knowledgeable Jack Grosseteste and the sally to India
35.     Concerning the arrival and journey to Kashmir Valley
36.     In which the journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints to the foot of the Moghul Fort
37.     In which Srinagar is reached and how the houseboat was as it was hundred years ago
38.     In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort and beside the mosque
39.     In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome and his brother Joshua beside him
40.     Which relates to the agreeable history of the journey north to the monastery on horseback
41.     In which Hellmantle returns to Srinagar and finds the first translations of the black stones
42.     Which concerns the deciphering of the discovery at the monastery and the need to go to the Ganges River
43.     About Hellmantle of Normandy's meeting with the holy man after taking a dip in the Ganges River
44.     About Hellmantle's meeting at Jack Grossetests's place with D'Aqs and Catharine the artist from Sagada
 
o       Chronology of Historical Events
         
 
 

 
The ride north to Baguio City,
 
Christopher Cross' "Ride Like the Wind"
 
Classic riding tune.
 
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