Saturday, January 26, 2013

Alluring Walk at the Japanese Garden

A little sanctuary on the busy Metropolis of Manila is a Japanese garden to honor the friendship between the two great cultures. The garden found in the vicinity of Rizal Park offers a serene environment to nature lovers and is suitable for strolling and meditating. 

There are essential elements that make it an ideal Japanese garden with some Filipino twists. The garden is well maintained but also needs some improvement to make it a more ideal and Japanese-like garden.

A little Japanese pagoda serves as the main entrance with Japanese grass on the aisle that is a pleasantly alluring walk towards the greener foliage of the garden. The landscape makes it a good place for the growing trees and shrubs and the lush greenery ambiance that truly soothes the senses making it healthy for early morning walk and exercise.

Located inside is the veranda for relaxation or other activities like meditation or recollection. One just needs to sit down and relax and enjoy the stillness of the place and the calmness it offers. A momentary relief from stress is experienced if one has to do deep breathing and physical awareness.

The lawn on the hilly side with shrubs and Japanese bamboo looks revitalizing. It made me realize its resilience against the breeze of the wind as it gently sways and bent but remains to be strongly rooted on the ground. Just like in the reality of life, people are sometimes bent by struggles and miseries but have to remain flexible and rooted like a Japanese bamboo. The most challenging moments in life may have been thrown out, but like a Japanese bamboo, it remains to stand still and going with the natural flow.

The Japanese bamboo looks thin and weak at a glance but has survived the extreme weather and even the aftermath of a typhoon. In life, there's no room to look down on oneself or others despite who and what you are. Like bamboo, people may look weak but actually strong and continues to grow and achieves a maximum result.

Although an arch bridge is more elegant, a flat bridge across the pond is awesome if one has to reach the other side of the garden. Built-in both concrete and wooden material, it adds a little aesthetics and charm to the garden.

A pebbled pathway around offers an alluring walk while sightseeing the evergreen trees, rock formations, and ornaments. The garden is enclosed in a perimeter fence which gives a feeling of exclusivity to some local and foreign tourists who have witnessed the attractiveness of the place.

A piece of art commonly displayed in a Japanese garden is a 'gong', which is a percussion instrument used in ancient Japanese tradition to honor the presence of a higher authority. It has a low and monotone sound, but when strike forcefully could reach its maximum loudness. A visitor can strike the gong with the mallet using minimal force to produce a sound. Succeeding strikes can be made forcefully producing different tones if desired.

Visiting the Japanese garden is worthwhile and coming back can be irresistible. A good place to escape from too much environmental noise and to give oneself a rejuvenating experience⁠— not in a faraway place, but only in the heart of the metropolis.

© 2013 Del Cusay

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Celebrating The Feast of Sto. Niño de Tondo

The feast of Sto. Niño de Tondo has been celebrated over the centuries since it was built by the Augustinian friar in the 16th century. The church is built on elevated land in Tondo, Manila which is considered the most populated district of the Philippine capital.

The feast is celebrated on the third Sunday of January and has been visited by thousands of devotees and pilgrims nationwide. Several activities are witnessed which include the fluvial procession of the holy image of Sto. Niño, mass celebration, and street dancing.

I have celebrated the mass on this day and thousands of people gather inside the church and within the vicinity of the parish. Children that are infants and toddlers are visible during this feast. Parents carry their children to receive Divine blessings for their growth and spiritual development.

The relic of Sto. Niño is considered one of the oldest in the country when it was brought by the Spanish authorities to influence and embrace Christianity as religion and become a symbol of religious faith. Since then, a lot of miracles have been shared by the devotees that made it to be widely known as it is today.

In Cebu City, located in the central Philippines, the feast of Sto. Niño de Cebu is also celebrated by millions of Cebuanos and visitors from different places in the Philippines and even foreign tourists visit the city to witness the grand parade known as the "Sinulog Festival".

The 'Sinulog' is colorful and festive where several groups or tribes are dressed elegantly and dances gracefully along with a musical beat of drums and other instruments. This yearly event captures the attention of many people and visited by millions just to participate and celebrate in honor of Sto. Niño.

There are many places in the country that celebrates the feast of Sto. Niño and shows the religious devotion of the people to the child Jesus. Despite the misfortune and misery in people's lives, still, faith in God serves as the powerful weapon to remain strong and faithful.

It takes courage and determination to be optimistic in times of difficulty, but Filipinos have proven to the world how to be resilient and survive. It is not the colorful costumes; not the magnificent fluvial and land parade and not just a trend that we celebrate this feast, but the essence is our religious or spiritual devotion to living in our hearts forever.

Viva Sto. Niño!

© 2013 Del Cusay

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nazareno 2013: Celebrating the Feast of the Black Nazarene

"Our personal devotion reminds us to be positive and to go on with our lives; improve and make it better; serve others; love unconditionally, and become a guiding light."

The image of the Black Nazarene is known to many Filipinos to be miraculous and a symbol of faith. Thousands of devotees gather on its feast day every 9th of January, to celebrate and show their piety and devotion before the holy image. 

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene is the place of "Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno" in Spanish or "Our Father Jesus the Nazarene" in English and in the Filipino Language called "Mahal na Poong Nazareno". It is considered as one of the most venerated holy images of the Christ Jesus in the Philippines and was brought to Manila via Mexico by the Spanish Authorities during its occupation in the country.

Since then, there are various theories with regards to the color of the image which is unique and black in color. Though there is no official story as to how it got its color, the image has attracted millions of Filipinos not mainly because of its uniqueness, but because of the personal spiritual experiences of the devotees.

Many people have shared their testimonials about answered prayers and special intentions and that's how the church became a popular pilgrimage site among Filipino Christians. Throughout the years, people may change and almost everything in its surroundings may have changed, but the image remains to be the icon of faith to the devoted Filipino Christians.

It was just a few years ago when I have been in the shrine of the Black Nazarene. There are several times that I have celebrated the mass and have venerated before the holy image of the Black Nazarene on Friday. I have made petitions or special requests that have been granted and it is a blessing from God. 

On this day, I've got the chance to visit Quiapo church and celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene for the first time. Light rain showered upon us while entering the church but it's still a blessing.  It was a great devotional experience as I have strengthened my faith and expressed my spiritual vow.

There's a long procession of the replica of the Black Nazarene around the streets of Manila and it is flocked by more than a million devotees who tried to reach out to the holy image. Special cloths with a printed image of the Nazarene are being rubbed in the image and it is believed to bring a miracle or a blessing. I have never seen it personally but I want to witness the scenario even once in a lifetime. 

The significance of this event is not just a religious obligation, but becoming more Christ-centered. To express and receive love, to show compassion and empathy, to remove doubts and fear, and to strengthen our faith despite the challenges in everyday living. 

Our personal devotion reminds us to be positive and to go on with our lives; improve and make them better; serve others; love unconditionally, and become a guiding light.

© 2013 Del Cusay

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year 2013: Blissful Journey, Greatest Love and Thanksgiving

"May this year be more fun and a joyful journey. There will be some places to explore; wonderful people to meet, and exciting adventures to experience. Life is truly worth living and there's always a way to celebrate." 

The year 2012 has brought so many good memories that I will forever cherish. Those memories serve as my learning experience that will be beneficial to my personal growth and well-being. Though there were moments of despair, still life must go on and be able to rise up and take control. 

The previous year has been full of challenges and I am grateful that I've conquered those things. It may be hard to think but the end result seems wonderful and rewarding. Life in 2012 was not that easy as I have to encounter numerous obstacles along the journey. I have made it, conquered my fear, and survived the challenges.

Looking back at my 2012 new year celebration, I've written, "My Goals and Wishes for 2012" (click to read). After the weekly reflection, I have come up with a list of the things that I wish for 2012. I've written it in a peaceful and serene environment in Gurgaon, Haryana in India. The place is perfect for meditation as it is quiet and was able to concentrate in a deep meditative state. 

I'm grateful for the accomplishment of my 'goals and wishes' for 2012. I wanted to be more clear and specific about my goals beyond my personal desires. Some were attainable; some have been granted and some are still in the process. 

For this year 2013, my goals and wishes are just the same as the previous year, but I just want to be more specific.  I have come up with the list below:

Family - to be free from harm, conflict, and illness.

Health - to be more physically fit and active. 

Career - to be more responsible and produce results.

Lifestyle - to be more balanced in way of living both personal and social. 

Personal Development - to acquire virtues and values for growth and transformation. 

May this year be more fun and a joyful journey. There will be some places to explore; wonderful people to meet, and exciting adventures to experience. Life is truly worth living and there's always a way to celebrate. 

Success is not a destination but it is in the process of achieving the goal. More important is the ultimate fulfillment of desires--it is forever in my heart and mind. 

A blessed year 2013!

© 2013 Del Cusay