Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day Special: Greatest Life Lesson

I have followed and learned from our world's best teachers and they are the source of inspiration and motivation on how to live well; living with dignity and sense of purpose. 

From the Dalai Lama to Deepak Chopra; both world-renowned teachers, have guided me on the path of spirituality through powerful knowledge and wisdom .

Master Del Pe, a modern Sage and life mentor have also made a significant impact in my life and led me on the path to higher consciousness and a balanced life.

But today, I give my highest honor and gratitude to the one who gave me life on this world and continue on leading my life through his words and actions. He is none other than my Father. My great teacher and life mentor. 

My Father is  Leading the Way when I am frightened; when I don't believe in myself. He gives enlightenment when the path seems dark. He pushed me when I don't feel life standing for myself. He saw my struggles, but he let me did it my way. He believed in my capability that I can always make it just the way he did. He taught me the greatest life lesson; to believe in myself when nobody else does.

For 3 decades of my existence I am grateful for the great life I have been given. I may not have the gift of a more comfortable and luxurious life when in my growing up years, but I know that I am filled with love and affection.

Today I feel so blessed that God has given us a responsible and a loving Father and I will forever be grateful for all the sacrifices he did to fulfill our needs and his continued guidance even up to this time.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

121st Philippine Independence Day: Our Struggle for National Identity and Unity

The present day "Pearl of the Orient Seas" underwent a massive transformation in terms of Socio-cultural, political and economic factors, but since the beginning of the Philippine civilization we may have one of the greatest challenges of all time; to learn about our identity and to achieve national unity.

Las Islas Filipinas under the Spanish regime have made a great effort of mapping our thousands of islands, naming and renaming the places as well as trying to unify the Filipino people while imposing on their culture and religion.

Spanish influences as evidenced by our religion, festivals, food, music and dances have thrive through centuries. We have celebrated cultural and religious fiestas in honor of Patron Saints. We serve Spanish dishes like Adobo, Afritada, Caldereta, Menudo, Mechado, Arroz Caldo and Arroz a la Valenciana. We have Spanish influences on our folk dances like the Fandangos; we have the most popular Pandango sa Ilaw or Dance with light which originated in Mindoro province. Another is the Pandango Oasiwas (Wasiwas) which originated from the fishing town of Lingayen, Pangasinan. We have several La Jota dances like La Jota San Joaquiña which originated from San Joaquin, Iloilo. And we also have affectionate dance, CariñosaThese are some of the Philippine folk dances which I had the opportunity to be part of in High school until College and that made me appreciate our Philippine Arts and culture even more and up to date.

With the treaty of Paris in 1898, we were sold by Spain to the United States for 20 million dollars and that concluded the Spanish-American war. Then came the declaration of the first Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898 headed by Emilio Aguinaldo at Kawit, Cavite. We thought that Americans were on our side, but we suffered a great defeat under Philippine-American war from 1899 until 1902 and had been under their rule until they have granted us independence on July 4, 1946 ⁠—our real independence.

It was during the American rule that we started a modern way of living and we had our new identity being Americanized. We had a free education from the Thomasites and learned the English language. And the Filipinos had a religious freedom with the establishment of new religions founded by Filipinos. Today, there are several American influences on our culture; we eat hamburger, sandwiches and oatmeal. We dine at fast food restaurants like Mc Donald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC. We wear polo shirts, belts, tennis shoes, baseball caps, coat and tie. Filipinos love American culture as we continue to speak the English language that is also a great job opportunity for workers in the Business Process Outsourcing industry. We appreciate American music and dance and some Filipinos covet the American dream of living and working in the land of the free the land of Uncle Sam.

During the Word War 2, the Japanese occupation came in 1941 and invaded our Islands and have contributed not much cultural influence for about 3 years, but have left us with painful experiences for the struggles and deaths. For the shortest time of Japanese occupation, the greatest influence would be 'discipline' due to the imposition of curfew. Today, Japanese influence has been part of our culture as we have embraced their martial arts like Karate, Judo and the Filipino version, Karatedo. We have Japanese elements in our gardens. We eat sushi, sashimi and Ramen. And some Filipinos are now eager to visit Japan because it is an ultra modern nation with natural wonders and a better way of living as a first world country in the East.

Over 3 centuries of Spanish settlement, over 4 decades of American rule and over 3 years of Japanese occupation, we are left with painful memories of the past that haunts us even at the present time. We have embraced different cultures from foreign invasions, but we have struggled with our own identity of being a Filipino.

Today, foreign invasions have not ended yet. Trade wars are happening between economic giants from the East and the West. Religious wars are endless in different cities of the world. There is bullying of a bigger country over a dot in a map in the Pacific.

We Filipinos may have a world-class spirit, a globally competitive people, but with the current trend of globalization, the desire to be different, having a colonial mentality and being confused with our identity, then we might secretly be invaded by foreign entities already on this 21st century.

On this day, June 12, 2019 marks the 121st anniversary of the Philippine Independence. It is my first time to celebrate the momentous event in the historical place of Rizal Park. To have witnessed the flag raising ceremony on this day gave a glimpse of a nostalgic past and a vision of uncertain future. 

Today, it is a challenge to retain our real identity of being a Filipino and it is even more challenging to achieve unity for all of us Filipinos. From the Katolikos (Catholics) of the North down to the Moros of the South. The fight of the Manobos and the killing of the lumads. The struggles of the Aetas, Igorots and Mangyans. The differences of the Tagalog and the Bisaya. The war between Philippine armed forces and the local terrorist groups. Diverse groups and cultures striving to establish and secure their local and indigenous identity while striving for significance with national identity to be a Filipino and be proud to say that I Am a Filipino. 

The solemnity of the flag raising ceremony  on this day signifies our unity in diversity. We may come from different Philippine Islands, but we aspire to raise our voices even on silence, to raise our dignity and to raise our humanity. With Freedom in Our Hearts we can achieve lasting peace and unity by instilling a sense of national pride and distinctive identity.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Descrip Among 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Eid'l Fitr: A Moment of Peace and Harmony

It has been a wish that one day I will be able to have a glimpse of an Islamic religious celebration and have a deeper understanding and experience about the faith of our Muslim brothers and sisters and for today finally that wish came true. 

I am a Christian, but I have celebrated and immersed on other Religious holidays particularly a Hindu festivals like Diwali and Holi; a major festival commemorating the triumph of good versus evil. That was few years back when I had the opportunity to work and travel in India— sometime in 2011 until 2014.

In this new world age we have started to have a greater understanding of different faith and slowly we have gained not only experience but also wisdom and enlightenment. We have started to embrace the world of secularism not because we have a wandering soul, but because we have the desire to stop interfaith conflicts and wars, prejudice, fanaticism and misunderstanding. We have one big desire on this world of numerous faiths and creed, and that is world peace that is achieved through acceptance, humility and love.

There is so much misconception about Islamic faith since some radical Muslims are tagged to be involved in terrorism activities mostly in Middle East and other countries in the world. The negative actions of a few that not define the character of a greater whole, so it is about time to discover more about Islam and to break the barriers in understanding their faith.

In India, I have met some Muslim brother but was not exposed to their major Religious celebration. So now as the world celebrates the end of the Holy month of Ramadan or Eid -al Fitr and declared as national non-working holiday in the Philippines, I have to take the opportunity to be one with our Muslim brothers and sisters as they celebrate their freedom and victory after a month-long of fasting and sacrifices.

At the Manila Golden Mosque 

My journey started as a simple walking tour heading towards the Golden Mosque found in the busy district of Quiapo in Manila; considered as the old downtown of colonial times. I have been to Quiapo several times to visit the Basilica of the Black Nazarene, but I haven't explored much on the other side where the biggest mosque in Metro Manila is found.

The Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila has a similar structure with those found in Middle Eastern countries like the big dome with a crescent moon, the pointed arches, the columns and the artistic carvings. This is also common in Muslim Mindanao where larger mosques in the countey can be found.

On this day as they celebrate Eid'l Fitr, they give their last best shot until they are fully back on regular activities and breaking the fasting ritual. This is purely a day of fun and happiness; a joyous moment.

Starting at dawn just before the sunrise, they would prepare their physical bodies, wear new clothes before heading to mosque for a prayer and sermon, after which they would do house visits to their relatives and neighbors with greetings like Eid Mubarak or Blessed Eid, have some gift giving or cash gift and sharing of foods and sweets.

Christians and Muslims shares the same creed and I have found some similarities which is also the center of our Christian faith. In Islam their teachings include alms giving to the poor and giving food to the needy and helping the poor to uplift their lives; an act of compulsory giving which is one of the pillars of Islam similar to the Corporal works of mercy among Christians.

Lunch at Pamanganan Halal Restaurant

Since it is a feast day for Muslims, I had my lunch at Pamanganan Malaysian Halal food just few steps from the mosque entrance. There are other Halal certified restaurants nearby like Junaira and Landap café offering Mindanaon cuisine.

We may have read the word "halal" on some some food labels in the supermarket and for Muslims it means 'food that is permitted or allowed according to Islamic law' and the term "haram" is the opposite and would mean 'food that is forbidden' and this shows how strict a Muslim diet could be for the sake of physical and spiritual health.

My day trip at the Manila Golden Mosque was a great experience about Islamic faith and culture. The Arabic architecture and culture makes me appreciate their faith even more. Forget about the radical groups involve in wars and terrorism because they would also condemn it since they do not represent the real Islam. What I know is that Islam is for peace and with great appreciation and understanding we can live harmoniously without instilling harm, hatred and fear, but instead a culture of love and respect with each other.

© 2019 Del Cusay

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