Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lent 2019: Memories of Mount Bato Arobo

I was born in an upland municipality which is blessed with natural resources and biodiversity that is away from the city; a mountainous town that is abundant in natural sceneries, lush forest, wildlife and considered as a peaceful sanctuary where cool mountain breeze and a morning dew uplifts the senses and the soul.

I  have lived in this peaceful town for about 2 decades since mid '80s and during my younger years I have learned to appreciate
nature and have loved our culture and tradition.

Picnic at Sitio Lomboy, a gateway to Bato Arobo back in May 2016

I remember when I was about 6 years old when my parents brought us in her birthplace in barangay Pasol-o in the town of Jamindan in Capiz together with my siblings. We hiked for about less than 2 hours to reached the place. That was a tiring journey, but a great adventure for all of us. That was my first ever hiking experience and perhaps the reason why I always love nature trekking and hiking.

Then almost every year thereafter and on a hot summer days, we used to come back when there is a simple event or a celebration in the family. We knew it when we are approaching our destination when we had a glimpse of a huge mountain rock about hundred meters high, hence the place got its name, Bato Arobo or would mean a giant rock formation.

During those years, a hike going to Bato Arobo was challenging since some areas were rough road and muddy and some areas full of amorseko weeds that sticks to the clothes. The good thing about the hiking were the stories or urban legend about the origin of that giant rock which I am greatly fascinated as a kid. We were told that the giant rock houses a big golden horse which might be kept during the Japanese occupation. However, until now that story remains an urban legend since nobody was able to see it.

The last time I visited Bato Arobo was in high school together with my family and we were served with a natural and healthy drink; coconut juice with coco meat while having some wonderful stories and laughter. My last visit wasn't a hiking anymore since the road was passable to a jeepney where we are transported. It was like a roller coaster ride in a rocky road, and as a kid we really enjoyed the experience.

Now, 3 decades after, it was a great news when I heared from my father Rudy that the road going to Bato Arobo is now undergoing a concrete road construction all the way going to the neighboring barangays of San Juan and Ganzon; both place that I am eager to visit.

The road construction is part of the farm to market road development that will benefit thousands of people living in Barangay Pasol-o and especially those who are living in an upland sitio of Bato Arobo.

Picnic at Sitio Lomboy, a gateway to Bato Arobo back in 2016

I am eager to see the development of the place that I have loved since my childhood days. Bato Arobo did not only give me a sense of adventure, but a lesson to have perseverance and endurance in life. No matter how difficult the road is, still we have to go further and take all obstacles as a challenge because it is when we reach the peak or the summit that we appreciate all our sacrifices and to having a feeling of victory.

Bato Arobo may not be known to many even in our town, but it will always be in my heart because it brings wonderful memories worth reminiscing. With the completion of the road development project, residents of Bato Arobo will be able to celebrate Sunday Thanksgiving: Graceful Service to The People as they express their faith and service to God. This spiritual sanctuary in sitio Lomboy of Barangay Linambasan is like the entry point going to Bato Arobo.

As I reflect on this Lenten season, it is through gratitude and thanksgiving that we recognize and honor all the blessings that we received from the Diving. Our spiritual nature would bring us peace of mind and and a grateful heart for us to leave a good legacy for the next generations to come and so they could also live and experience the natural wonders and a sustainable development that our generations have enjoyed; and may this will reign in our hearts today and forever.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Lent 2019: Our Quest for Personal Transfiguration

"As our faith is always tested, we accept it until we experience our own transfiguration and renewal starting today and for a lifetime."

This day of the Lent marks the commemoration of the transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor in Galilee, Israel when he mysteriously transformed to an illumined Divine being together with prophets Moses and Elijah before the eyes on his three chosen disciples; Peter, James and John.

Back in 2002 when I was on my first year in college at St. Paul in Iloilo, it was announced by our Religious Education teacher that a new set of mystery was added in the rosary as approved and declared by Pope John Paul II and now St. John Paul II, and that is called the Mystery of light or Luminous mystery. 

During those years as a freshman college student what I care most is on how to pass the quiz by memoring the 5 mysteries under the luminous mystery. Those years, I may not have fully understood deeply its meaning yet. 

Fast forward to today, as I contemplate on the Lenten season, I may not memorize the luminous mysteries and pray the rosary, but I want to understand its significance 
in our lives as Christian and how we can live it at the present time.

I may have learned some Biblical stories, but the transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor is a transformative learning and one of the most significant mysteries worth reflecting.

When Jesus brought Peter, James and John to climb at the peak of Mount Tabor to pray, that was the time when God the Father and the Holy spirit have intervened upon the complete transfiguration of Jesus with light upon his face and a radiant illumination of his entire body with the same appearance as Moses and Elijah in front of him. Suddenly, the three disciples heard a voice from above the bright clouds saying "This is my son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him," and it brought fear in them as they lay and covered on the ground. Then Jesus comforted them saying not to be afraid. By the time they look upward and opened their eyes, they only saw Jesus while Moses and Elijah disappeared. As they get down from the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anybody of what they saw until the Son of God will be raised from the dead.

The transfiguration is a manifestation of God's glory that Jesus is the living son of God and what that meant for his disciples was to strengthen their faith for the coming of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

In relation to that Biblical story, in this living world at the present, our biological Father is always there with us to guide and show us the light when we are misguided by outside influence and in trouble. If only we listen to him, we get to our own path of enlightenment and we bloom to become a radiant human being, and this will also become the light that will shield our love ones and others whom we have touched lives. 

As we carry our own cross, we experience endless human suffering through physical, emotional, mental and spiritual setbacks which is inherent of a human being. This is also our version of strengthening our faith in God whenever we are falsely accused, prosecuted and crucified by others in some ways.

Sometimes, it is when we walk a thousand miles and climb the highest hill until we reach the mountain's peak to feel solitude and have a heaven on earth experience. Like Jesus and his chosen disciples, they climbed at Mount Tabor to experience a Divine transfiguration. Here on earth, we experience our fullness of being and Divinity when we are away from too much noise to contemplate, meditate and pray in the presence of God, not just at the mountain's summit, but in anywhere we go and settle  in the church, community or at home. 

As our faith is always tested, we accept it until we experience our own transfiguration and renewal starting today and for a lifetime.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Lent 2019: The Corporal Works of Mercy in Our Time

"We may just have enough resources, but sometimes we know how it feels when we have nothing, so we learn to give even a little out of gratitude for the blessings we have received. On this lenten season, we strive to reflect on our Christian values and the teachings of the Christ to live in our hearts forever."

As a Christian we are called to practice "Acts of Mercy" particularly the "Corporal Works of Mercy" as an act of penance and charity just like the merciful acts of Christ before his passion, death and resurrection.

It may be a thousand years practice since the time of Jesus, but the spirit is alive to be practiced in today's time  our time.

Corporal works of mercy concerns the physical needs of the vulnerable people to ease their discomfort and suffering and to uplift their condition when they are on their lowest moments of their lives. However, the modern world has become so advanced and complicated that the 'rule of men' is to be followed rather than the 'law of God' which to some may be an obsolete commandments.

Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty

On personal observation, there is a conflict between my religious beliefs against our governmental law on the practice of corporal works of mercy. For instance, whenever I walk on the street and see old people begging for money, I have to think twice whether to give them few bucks as an almsgiving or just ignore them and walk straight ahead. Our Philippine law says not to give alms to the beggars since we may never know who will truly benefit from the money that they have collected. That's the 'Anti-mendicancy law' which prohibits almsgiving to street beggars in the Philippines.

In my mind our lawmakers may have some point about the legislation, but in my heart I feel the need to extend my hand and give a little amount from the pocket for them to buy food and drinks since they are hungry and thirsty. I may have been in conflict with the law, but the act of giving gave me a good feeling that somehow I have helped someone to feed themselves. They asked for it and they shall receive. It may be a violation or a crime, but I give anyway.

Clothe the Naked

Few months back I've watched the Netflix series about Tidying up with Mari Kondo and I was amazed by her Konmari method of keeping valuable things that makes us feel good while throwing away those things that doesn't spark joy. However, there is something lacking. Will you just throw it away since it doesn't give joy to you? or will you give it to others who may need it?

Sometimes, what we think is garbage to us is already a gold to others. This is significant in today's time since we buy so many stuff like clothes to fill in our wardrobe and just keep it even if we don't feel like wearing it already; then comes the Konmari method of giving it away instead of thrashing it out. May not exactly be a street beggar, but even to a simple person who will appreciate it and need it most.

Shelter the homeless

Nowadays, we may have some trust issues for security reason that's why we scrutinize people's intention before we let them inside our home. However, to give shelter to homeless would also mean to give a temporary shelter to those who are displaced from natural calamities like typhoon and flooding which is a common phenomenon in our time. We may not be able to accommodate the many, but we can take care of a few for their survival.

To a greater extent, our government provides evacuation centers as a temporary shelter and in some instances also provide permanent housing for the victims of calamities to help rebuild their lives.

Visit the sick, the imprisoned and bury the dead

Other family whose relative have been in conflict with the law may have suffered from lawless violence and unjust killing due to absence of judicial process to prove their innocence is against the principle of 'innocence unless proven guilty' and now the reality seem to be the reverse which is 'guilty unless proven innocent' which is a violation of human rights.

If proven guilty under the judicial process, one has to suffer imprisonment and not to end one's life as if his life doesn't matter and has no right to correct himself, be renewed and become productive member of the society again.

How can you visit someone who is supposed to be imprisoned and is suffering from mental, emotional and spiritual sickness when your visit is now on his wake; on the coffin and to pay last respect as the dead body is burried. That is somewhat a harsh reality in the Philippine society nowadays.

I belive that  There is Holiness in You no matter how evil you have become and that is a human nature. We were born naturally good and somehow lost our holiness as we experience our life on earth, but that doesn't mean we can't bring back our old self and bring back the holiness from within.

The Corporal Works of Mercy may be an old Divine law, but its significance still reigns in our time. We give food to the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. 

We may not practice all the corporal works of mercy which is a Christian obligation, but we can do our best to show love and compassion to our brothers and sisters who are in need. When we live in comfort, others may be living in extreme poverty and hunger. When we have the freedom, some may feel threatened for their life and feel defenseless. When we feel all the love and care, others may feel unwanted, abandoned and uncared. There may never be an equality, but we can work for a charity to help others achieve liberty.

We may just have enough resources, but sometimes we know how it feels when we have nothing, so we learn to give even a little out of gratitude for the blessings we have received. On this lenten season, we strive to reflect on our Christian values and the teachings of the Christ to live in our hearts forever.

© 2019 Del Cusay

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