About the final day of the
motorcycle journey through Luzon
and discussing the Ten Lost
Tribes of Israel in Vigan
Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
Hellmantle and his
missionary cousin left Laoag for Manila in the dark riding due south. It was
true that D'Aqs was now in quite a bit of pain with his ribs so he was slow in
the morning whereas Hellmantle was almost manic. To lift his spirit, Hellmantle
said to him:
"God favors us today My
Son! I had a dream last night that portends impending bounty! I feel it
so it must be so."
Hellmantle and the man with
the broken ribs rode for a full hour and a half before the sun came up, by then
they were well on their way to Vigan City. When they reached the city, it
appeared as a fossil stuck in amber in a dried-up river. The old Spanish town
had remained unaltered since Juan de Salcedo founded it in 1756. In front of
some old storefronts were old wagon wheels still in place since the time of
horse and buggy, carriageways and wooden doors and cobblestone roads just as
they were nearly 250 years ago. In the old town two-story merchant houses that
sold everything a colonial settler would need to establish themselves in their
new land still functioned. With the main church and city hall laid out around a
central park separating them in a well-proportioned urban plan, like a gem
hidden in the rough, Vigan stood like a jewel along one of the greatest strips
of real estate in the country.
He and D'Aqs rode to the
church with a bell tower in the middle of town. It was both run-down and
freshly painted, as if a coat of paint would protect this house of prayer
against the ravages of the coast.
"The priest in charge of
services is named Melvin Arinicqo," said D'Aqs, looking at the sign beside the
entrance to the church. They both entered the calm and cool interior of the
church, Hellmantle walking slowly in his motorcycle boots. A dozen people sat
on pews with heads bowed, praying. A fresh wind blew across the benches through
the open windows on either side of the church.
the portrait of Jacob?" D'Aqs nodded. "As you know, my missionary cousin,
Jacob's the biggie; the kingpin of the Bible."
"Yes, he was a biggie. The
father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Jacob, grandson of Abraham and son if
Isaac, was renamed Israel by God."
"So you know how the House
of Judah and the House of Israel, lineal descendents of the twelve
sons of Jacob, split and then fought each other for two hundred years before
the Assyrians conquered Palestine, led by Nebachannezzer?"
"Yes. Before the Diaspora.
From a top-level down view, from the sons of Jacob sprang twelve tribes but
under King David they were united and known as Israel. After the death of
Solomon, Israel divided into two nations: one was the tribe of Judah who based
themselves in Jerusalem became known as the House of Judah. These peoples
became known as Jews. The ten northern tribes who rejected Solomon's son became
known as the House of Israel. They had their capital in Samaria. Entire books
in the Old Testament are dedicated to the power struggle between the House of
Israel and the House of Judah. The ultimate division between these two houses
happened in the Red Sea port of Elath (Kings II 16: 6-7). The House of Israel
was overthrown by the Assyrian empire. They were led into captivity beyond the
Tigris River and basically settled in the southwest of the Caspian Sea near the
"So then you know the House
of Israel in the northern kingdom consisted of the all of Jacob's
descendants except the two tribes of Judah and Levy that make up the House of
Judah. So the House of Israel gazelled from the Middle East in 683BC and
settled mainly in Scythia, or modern-day Russia in the Caucasus. When they were
in the Caucasus, I think around modern-day Georgia, they became known as Caucasians.
From there they went mainly into northern Europe and Scandinavia and the
British Isles. When the House of Israel fled from Palestine for southern Russia
they were lost to history after that. That's why they are called the Ten
Lost Tribes of Israel. They're were lost but now they have been found!"
Hellmantle, manic in the
eye, held up his hand and spoke thus:
"As you know Jesus' primary
thrust was to find his lost flock."
"You think that Jesus' primary
thrust was to find his lost flock, which were the Ten Lost Tribes?"
"Certainly. Jesus says in
Matthew 15:24: ‘I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel.'
Jesus is the shepherd who is gathering his lost flock. This flock, of
course, was the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, or also called the ‘House of Israel'
in the Bible."
"I know this stuff
"In Genesis it says Abraham
was chosen to be the forefather of a nation through whom all the families of
the earth would be blessed, but the whereabouts of the descendents of the House
of Israel were lost. In the Letter of James, for example, it says of
him: ‘James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve
tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.' The letter, written by James
the Disciple, is addressed to the twelve sons of Jacob, the primary family in
the Bible. His other primary thrust was to unite the Twelve
Tribes of Israel once more." Hellmantle was trying to whisper but his voice
was so intense that it carried. People trying to pray stared at the two tall
men standing in front of the portrait of Jacob.
"So not only are we
descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, we also have the bloodline of
Jesus. I'm interested where Ten Lost Tribes of Israel went and where
they are now. It's a worthy question and one so rarely asked. Yet this
remains untaught to students of the Bible." D'Aqs, relaxing his posture and
taking his hand to his chin reflected for a moment after hearing his Asperger
cousin's summary, suddenly having clarity after the manic delivery and jerky
hand movements. Distilled and threads connected that had been loose ends, he
saw what he was saying, the canvas of his painting and deciphered a logic and underpinning
to it all.
okay. I can see that. We are Israelites. Yes. How many hymns have I sang
talking about the Israelites and I never thought they were only Judah and Levy.
Going to the Caucasus after Palestine I've heard before but never the connection
of the word Caucasian. The Scythians I've heard of too but didn't connect them
to settling Europe. The northern Europeans and Scandinavians and people of the
British Isles being where the Israelites settled makes sense to me too,
especially that stuff about the lion and the unicorn and the red hand and the
"And the Stone of Destiny."
"That too. If Jesus had
children there's certainly a lot of hype around our families to incline one to
believe it. But yes, Jesus sought to gather his lost flock, the House of Israel
that disappeared after the Assyrian conquest. The House of Judah is still in
play and together with synagogues and adhering to the Law of the Torah as we
had before we left. I suppose it's your presentation of all the information
that frazzled me but I see it now."
then you are no longer my doubting cousin?"
doubtful about a lot of things still but I'm seeing a ray of light in your
overall view. I'm extremely skeptical about the Mormon story about the origin
of the Red Man but I have to admit I've never done any reading on it." He put
his hand on Hellmantle's shoulder expecting him to tense up. "Even if we don't
find the Dutch preacher I can say I've come to know you better and your view of
history. That's something of worth at least." Hellmantle broke away from his
hand and spoke thus:
we shall find the Padre!"
have today Hellmantle. I'd say our chances are pretty slim."
ye of little faith. A minister. The irony."
Just then they saw a young
priest walking down the aisle, who didn't look Dutch. He smiled and then
disappeared behind the chancel.
The cousins returned outside
where sunny skies lured them back onto the road, riding south along the west
coast towards Manila. The ride took on a feeling of reverie, passing town after
town and church after church until they had passed through Santa Maria, Candon,
Santa Cruz and San Juan. Most of the churches were derelict and disintegrating
historical vestiges and some only colonial detritus. The road was busier but
smoother than what they had had, so with Hellmantle out in front they made good
time down the coast.
They stopped at a church
with a big fort with colossal flying buttresses coming out of the walls to a
second inner wall where there was a rather plain church. Hellmantle and D'Aqs
climbed up the main stone steps through the outer wall and then up the wooden
steps in the turret where Hellmantle popped a betel nut. From a hundred feet
up, they could see their route south and the stretch of oceanfront that
connected with the Bataan Peninsula.
"I reckon we have traveled
two hundred kilometers so far," said Hellmantle, spitting the rich red juice
out the window below. "And we have another 250 kilometers to Manila."
"But still no sign of the
Dutch preacher and the map." In the wind that assailed them from a hundred feet
up they could see the thin white line outlining the waves hitting the
shoreline. Countless palm trees covered the land.
"Could you move your flight
to Hong Kong forward?" D'Aqs asked him.
"No. But it wouldn't be good
form anyway. We gave ourselves enough time to make it around the island. We've
seen two-dozen churches and no Dutch preacher, but to take more time would be
to fail, or like changing the rules mid-game. If we don't find what we need to
know then that's God's way of saying that it was not meant to be. But I believe
we will prevail as all the signs are in play. It's been an honest effort so
far. That's the most important thing."
"Reaching Manila from so far
north seems unrealistic."
"With you now, having taken
the vows to chivalry and the Blonde Acquitaine, how can we fail? Belief
is half the battle when it comes to achievement!"
"OK, that's fair. I
understand what you're saying. Good policy."
Despite his belief of the
impending failure of the task to find the church, D'Aqs savored the view from
"The fate of the journey
hangs in the balance but, I don't know about you and your ribs, but I am going
to enjoy the ride no matter what." He could see that D'Aqs was down in the mouth,
either from his injuries or from despair at failure to find the church and the
Dutchman, so he pointed to a church far on the horizon to bolster his spirits.
"See that lone church on the
horizon that stands like a twin-towered castle with the classic Spanish
architectural flourish?" He nodded and stared in amazement at the dreamlike
"Quite a piece that one." It
was like a cream-colored house of God shining a light from the middle of its
center pillar as if beckoning them to go there on their motorcycles.
"See, it's a Holy Quest,"
said Hellmantle because the entire structure of the cloud formation above the
church showed a light shining from behind a cascading dark mass. The sky
revealed God's den above as if His own hand had selected this Spanish church
near the end of the peninsula. White fingers of lightning flashed down to the
cross above the five arches.
"Marvelous fortune my brave
squire! Perhaps God has slipped through the crevice of time and His divine
spirit resides in omnipresence at that church." He nodded in silence, enjoying
the beauty of the sky.
"There's something there we
must see," said D'Aqs, They walked back to their motorcycles and rode south
along the ocean. Hellmantle passed more and more villages with more people at
the side of the road waving at the two helmetless, fair-haired cousins go by.
Dogs and children amid indigenous tumbleweeds and dust soon became a hindrance
running out on the road just before the sun started to set. It was also at this
time when they saw a little shack built in a tree. Soon there were clusters of
tree houses at the side of the road. Squat, wide-branched trees held tree
houses where families lived. For fifty miles the land was swampy so tree houses
made of wooden planks had been built. The people had not cut down hardly any of
"Tree houses!" he screamed
from ahead of D'Aqs. It was just after the tree houses when Hellmantle and
D'Aqs arrived at a town named Agoo. Once the center of Catholicism of Colonial
Spain, the church was in the center of town with a red-trimmed hue around the
corner stones as if it had magical power. Hellmantle parked his motorcycle
beside the church and they walked to the Agoo Basilica, their legs rubbery from
the miles of riding.