Monday, February 25, 2013

Meeting His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala

"My experience with meeting The Dalai Lama is one of the most unforgettable moments. His simplicity and compassion for the people made him a great name in the history of Spirituality. His message of enlightenment  is significant in today's time and truly a timeless piece of wisdom dedicated to mankind and the future of the world."

For a few days since I arrived in Dharamsala, I have been accustomed to the unique culture and tradition of the people, most especially the Tibetans-in-exile living in Mcleod Ganj. It is a vibrant community with spiritual people living serenely in the cold breeze of mountains beneath the Himalayas.

Although the Tibetans of Mcleod Ganj have been living in an asylum for several decades, they have still tried to preserve their culture and improve the living conditions of the thousands of refugees. They may be far away from their motherland, but they are fortunate for the achievement of freedom in exile. I have found peacefulness and spirituality in this sacred place in The Land of the Tibetans in Dharamsala: Closer to Heaven

The simple way of living of the Tibetans is genuinely admirable. They remain content with the blessings they receive and make the best effort to develop their lives utilizing the valuable teachings and philosophies of their Spiritual teacher and leader, His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama, vested with the authority to rule his people, has shown the capacity to lead and transform the lives of the Tibetans in exile. At his age, The Holy Man still has the energy and vigor to protect his people and become a man of love and compassion that the world has known.

The Dalai Lama, the head of state of the Tibetans, is the most popular and respected Buddhist monk, yet His Holiness describes himself as a simple monk chosen to lead by the Tibetan people. He is not secluded in the hill station of Dharamsala since He is a well-traveled man. He has met a lot of foreign dignitaries for spiritual and peace talks and received numerous awards and recognition from all over the world, including the Nobel Price Award for his peaceful means of fighting for the sovereignty of Tibet against Chinese communist rule.

The central teachings of His Holiness are for humanity to live in simplicity and contentment while cultivating a loving and compassionate nature. I am not a Buddhist, yet his instructions are beyond religion. It is still relevant to everyone regardless of religious beliefs. It is merely a universal philosophy that was started by a Holy man in the conquest of enlightenment thousands of years ago.

I read some of The Dalai Lama's books in Delhi last year. One of my favorites is the book "The Art of Happiness," about the four noble truths. Reading his works encourages people to live a better life, find inner peace and happiness, and seek enlightenment in a troubled world.

Since visiting The Dalai Lama's temple on my first day of the visit, I have known that he will lecture on the 25th of the month about the teachings from the "Jataka Tales." It is a story based on the life and rebirth of Buddha. There was no registration for this event, so I attended for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet The Holy Man.

The Tsuglagkhang Complex

A day before his scheduled lecture in Tsuglagkhang temple, I had the chance to visit some places and the nearby sightseeing in Mcleod Ganj. From the place I am staying at, Snow Crest Hotel in Naddi Village, it took me a half-hour trek to reach the 4 km distance to Mcleod Ganj. On the way, I was delighted to see the natural wonder of Dal Lake and pass by the Tibetan Children's village, just a few-minute walk from the lake. For the second time, I visited The Dalai Lama's temple to pass around the prayer wheels and to observe the monks in their afternoon rituals. The temple was busy preparing for tomorrow's event, and many pilgrims started to arrive, so I took some 'Kangra tea' at the famous tea house--moonpeak espresso cafe, as recommended. I did not wait for the sunset and returned to the hotel to reserve my energy for the next day's event.

On the 25th of February, I woke up early to prepare and go to The Dalai Lama's temple. The cab driver, upon request, picked me up at 5:30 a.m. and reached the temple before 6 am, just a few minutes before sunrise. The guard at the entrance was strict; no cameras or cellular phones were allowed inside. I left my things in the nearby coffee shop and carried a handbag with a notebook and a pen for taking notes. The man in the shop was so kind, and I told him to get it as soon as the lecture was finished.

Now that I was free from restricted gadgets, I passed by the two security checks before heading to the Namgyal monastery just above the checkpoint. I went to the right section to find my seating place reserved for English-speaking people. When I found the right place overlooking the Holy Man without barriers, the monks gathered, and pilgrims worldwide were excited to see The Dalai Lama.

The residence of The Dalai Lama 

At around 6:20 a.m., The Dalai Lama is set to leave his residence for his processional ceremony. The monks and pilgrims, including myself, were rushing to the nearest place where the Holy Man would pass by going up to the Namgyal Monastery, which is adjacent to his residence. As the procession started, he was guided by the Namgyal monks and guarded by the security men. The entourage followed the footstep of the Holy Man, who waives his hand to greet the thousands of people gathered in his temple.

The Dalai Lama and other monks performed an early morning ritual of sacred chants and mantras for about an hour and a half. At 8 a.m., His Holiness and his entourage went down and proceeded to his lecture place, an elevated rectangular platform with Tibetan decorations. Another 20-minute chant and mantra were observed before The Dalai Lama lectured in the Tibetan language at 8:20 a.m.

The whole complex is filled with an audience, mostly Tibetans, who understood the message very well. Some have brought an FM radio since the lecture is also translated into the English and Chinese languages in a specific radio frequency. I did not have one, so I just listened to the original message in the Tibetan language. The Dalai Lama's voice was clear and calm, and he even cracked a joke with the crowd.

The Namgyal Monastery

The lecture ended at 10 a.m., followed by a recessional returning to his residence just a few meters away. The audience witnessed the Holy Man's last walk before he was gone out of sight. The people along the aisles were lucky to have shaken hands with The Dalai Lama while others started walking down the temple to return to their respective places or destinations.

My experience with meeting The Dalai Lama is one of the most unforgettable moments. His simplicity and compassion for the people made him a great name in the history of Spirituality. His message of enlightenment is significant today and truly a timeless piece of wisdom dedicated to mankind and the world's future.

The Dalai Lama is committed to serving humanity, not just the Buddhist Community. The world has constantly been changing, and there is no such thing as permanence. The Dalai Lama is a Holy man, but ordinary people can achieve enlightenment given that There is Certain Holiness in You.

I am grateful for another day full of learning and energy. I hope to see His Holiness The Dalai Lama at another time if given another opportunity. From now on, what is important is to live with the message of love, compassion, and inner peace--The Dalai Lama's way.

© 2013 Del Cusay

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Land of Tibetans in Dharamshala: Closer to Heaven

It is always nice to have a vacation in a faraway place, to unwind and escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. It is a great time to relax and become one with yourself while enjoying the soothing ambiance of the place.

Since I am in India for the second time, It was surprising to receive an invitation to visit the Northern State of Himachal Pradesh, particularly in the highlands of Dharamshala--the place of the Tibetans-in-exile.

From the Tibetan Colony called Majnu Ka Tilla in Delhi, it took approximately 12 hours to reach Dharamshala. The bus departed at 7 pm on the 22nd, and I arrived at 7 am the following day. It is the longest land travel on a single journey I have experienced. 

At the boarding point in Delhi, I got to talk to some people about the history and culture of Tibet and its people living in the upper Dharamsala called Mcleod Ganj. The bus got delayed for an hour and a half, so I was lucky not to get bored while waiting. It was a pleasant conversation, and I have instilled the knowledge I gained at that moment.

In the bus stand of Dharamsala, It took approximately 10 minutes to reach the hotel at Naddi Village--about 3 km. from Mcleod Ganj. The journey was smooth since they had a good road linking the northern state. When I stepped off the bus, it was so cold as the temperature reached near zero degrees centigrade. The whole day was rainy, the place was covered by fog, and the wind was chilly.

I had time to set my things and prepare myself to go to Mcleod Ganj after breakfast and a few hours to rest and contemplate. Back in Delhi, I have already read about popular tourist spots and activities. I wanted to spend my time wisely and get the best thing that Dharamsala could offer, so it is nice to have planned ahead of time.

The Dhauladhar Range

Although it rained on my first day of the visit, I got to see the picturesque panoramic view of the Dhauladhar range, which is widely visible on the balcony of a hotel in the Kangra district. Viewing the snow-capped mountain range with the tall deodar and pine trees in the Alps is truly magnificent. The Dauladhar range offers a great view of the whole Kangra Valley. Currently, the mountain is closed for trekking since the weather is unpredictable. 

I have planned to go trekking on the triund hill, which is about 9 km. from Mcleod Ganj, and it would take 2-3 hours to reach there, and they said it's a good place for sightseeing the frosty mountains and the alpine forest at the ridge of the Dhauladhar range. Since it is temporarily closed, I only get to see it from afar while imagining the life of the Naddi/Gaddi people living in the cold mountains and what it is like to be there at the snowline of the Himalayan foothill. I needed 3 thick blankets at night, and going closer to the snowy mountains would be a great challenge to conquer.

I am in the Naddi Village and have witnessed their peaceful and harmonious lives. In a culturally preserved place, they live simply with contentment and happiness. They are friendly people, and seeing them early in the morning bringing their cows in a greener pasture on this hill road is a beautiful experience.

In the afternoon, I prepared to go to Mcleod Ganj to Tsuglagkhang temple--the place of the Dalai Lama. It was drizzling and cold, but I dared to go some sightseeing. I walked uphill and entered the temple full of monks and tourists.

I have felt the place's serenity and seen the monks' pleasant smiles while roaming around the Namgyal monastery of the temple. I have been there for 2 hours to glimpse the Tibetans-in-exile. They are peaceful and happy despite the misery they have suffered under Chinese rule in Tibet.

The Tibetans in Mcleod Ganj have formed their Government under the leadership of the 14th Dalai Lama. I met a Tibetan souvenir vendor just below the temple and briefly discussed their condition. I then learned that the Tibetans fled to Dharamsala after the failed uprising in 1959 headed by the current Dalai Lama. They suffered cruelty and harsh treatment from the Chinese invaders, and the best thing they did was to have themselves in exile. 

After 50 years, the Chinese Government has kept its sovereignty, which they have fought for several decades. The history I learned from this encounter gave me knowledge of the existence of the Tibetans in Dharamsala.

Adjacent to the Namgyal monastery is the residence of the Dalai Lama. The most surprising moment was when I learned that the Dalai Lama was in town and had been meditating in his room for that period. He will give a talk on the morning of the 25th. It is open to the public, and there is no need to register for this event. My visit was good luck, and I will attend the lecture of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. I still have a day to explore the place before the course of the Dalai Lama, so I need to prepare myself to see and meet the Holy Man.

It was raining in the afternoon before I left the Monastery, so I decided to have a cup cafe latte in the nearby coffee shop. I stayed briefly to warm up since I couldn't go out and bear the downpour of rain. I thought of not getting sick and reserving my energy to see the Dalai Lama, so I bought an umbrella and started walking up to the square center, the central area of Mcleod Ganj. 

Along the way, I passed some souvenir shops, bookstores, tea shops, restaurants, and hotels. It was still raining when I standby to wait for the cab driver to return to the hotel. I planned to stay in Mcleod Ganj until 8 pm, but since it was raining and cold, I decided to rest and be ready for another journey the next day.

Bearing extreme temperatures is a challenge. I am used to a tropical and humid climate, but I am now becoming tolerant of cold weather that reaches a negative degree centigrade at some point. In a few days, I will be leaving this heavenly place, and what I will be carrying is not a thing but a collection of memorable experiences from the finest areas of the sacred mountain and the wisdom from the great people.

© 2013 Del Cusay

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chilly Winds of India's Wintertime: A Reflection

"India could be a land of contrast, but I have witnessed and learned how they persevere and raise the bar towards excellence, making them achieve economic progress and rising power. Some serious challenges may be confronting them, but with faith, unity, and goodwill, India could gain something it deserves."

The wintertime in India is about to end, yet early morning is still misty and foggy while late-night gets chilly. The weather is a bit warm in the daytime, especially in the afternoon, but it is okay and favorable weather. A few days ago, when I arrived on the evening of the 16th, the temperature was quite tolerable, and I did not wear a thermal jacket compared to last year when I reached for the first time in November when the weather was cold and cold chilly.

I left India in the summer of mid-April last year. It was about ten months ago, and now I am back for the second time. I had a pleasant experience on my first visit since the people were nice and friendly. The warm acceptance and welcoming smile are their way of showing hospitality to visitors. This is what I felt like when I arrived a few days ago; in return, greeting people in an Indian way, 'Namaste,' is an excellent start to embracing their culture and beliefs.

Misty and chilly morning in Dwarka, Southwestern Delhi

I never imagined that I would go to India and become exposed to its cultural and social norms. Back in the Philippines, I learned the Indian salutation 'Namaste' but later realized its spiritual significance. It is not just a standard greeting but means that when two or more persons meet, 'the presence of God in me meets the presence of God in you' is the real significance of this sacred word. In a philosophical context, it is fitting since God is present in everyone and only needs recognition. 

People of all ages greet 'Namaste' at home, in the street,  in a social gathering, and even on the phone. Bowing of the head while putting hands together in the center of the chest shows courtesy, friendliness, love, and humility. This simple yet graceful gesture is significant even in today's time. However, I have observed that this salutation is declining due to the influence of Western culture. Saying 'hi and hello' is what I have been receiving. Last year, when I was in Mumbai, I seldom greeted 'Namaste'; what I have been hearing most of the time is 'hi and hello.'

When I was in elementary, we used to greet our teachers and visitors in a Filipino way, 'Mabuhay.' Still, before the 20th century ended, it was changed to 'hi and hello,' a formal and casual way of greeting in the West. 

In India, 'Namaste' as a form of salutation feels like being at peace with someone, even without using bowing and hand gestures. Just uttering the word is already a humble experience like no other in the world. 

For someone not used to cold weather, especially the winter season, it is not easy to wake up early. The good thing is that I kept my winter clothing here when I returned home to Manila last year. A morning walk is possible, but I cannot do jogging or vigorous exercises on the street, or else I get chilled.

Foggy streets of Dwarka in Southwest Delhi

On a foggy and misty morning, people start their day bearing the cold. They wear 
thick clothing usually made of wool while riding on a bicycle. I have seen some students chatting while patiently waiting for their school bus. They tolerate the winter season and have nothing to complain about but to bear with it.

In Mumbai and the rest of southern Indian states, they don't get this kind of weather that northern India, including Delhi, is experiencing. The Himalayan region of India is icy at this time and could even have some snow in the mountain range. Dharamsala is one of the most visited places in India and most popular among foreign travelers.

In the cold weather, having a cup of hot tea with milk is nice, or Indian chai. I have learned to make this kind of beverage, which has a warming and soothing effect. Tea is a staple drink in India, and the country is among the world's top tea producers. I like Indian chai rather than drinking regular tea. However, I could not miss drinking a cup of coffee since I drink it regularly at any time. I am in India, so I can enjoy both beverages they offer.

I am also grateful to have been taught how to make their staple food, ' chapati and paratha.' Both are plain bread made from whole-grain flour, but cooking differs in thickness. I also learned to cook the 'dum aloo,' a dish made of potatoes and some spices that complements the 'paratha' or 'chapati.' I eat rice as my staple, but since I am in India, I must learn to eat the Indian way.

It is always good to learn something new. Learning another place's culture and tradition is a beautiful experience and wisdom. In a multicultural and diverse land, there is nothing to be ignorant about but to understand and accept its norms, beliefs, and social standing.

India may be a land of contrast, but I have witnessed and learned how they persevere and raise the bar towards excellence, making them achieve economic progress and rising power. Some severe challenges may be confronting them, but with faith, unity, and goodwill, India could gain something it deserves.

Wintertime in India is about to end, spring/summer is fast approaching, and it is like the rebirth--the restorative phase. It is the most beautiful season when the sky is clear, and the weather is warm with the blossoming flowers around. I hope I can witness their celebration of the 'Holi festival,' which marks the beginning of spring. For now, it is essential to be grateful for the learning that the winter could bring until such time that it will come to an end--then comes the season of rebirth.

© 2013 Del Cusay

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent 2013: Embracing Christ in Our Lives

"The journey may be quite long, but in the process, we reflect on our Christian living, renew our religious vow, and enjoy a happy beginning of a renewed self  by embracing Christ in our lives forever."

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season among Christians and its denominations worldwide. This is a significant annual liturgical event to commemorate the journey of sacrifice and penitence of Christ for 40 days, where he endured suffering and temptations toward his destination.

The ash is made of burnt palm leaves from last year's Palm Sunday. It is usually mixed with holy water and put on the forehead of the faithful, marking a sign of the cross as soon as it has been blessed after the homily, and it will remain until it wears off.

The ash is not an ordinary symbol of the Christian faith. It is a reminder that we came from ash, and from there shall we return by what is written in the book of Genesis. It also reminds us of a spiritual conversion to reunite with Christ and have Him as our life's center.

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene

The celebration of Ash Wednesday is significant to everyone, regardless of religious affiliation and faith. It sends us the message of repentance from our faults, penitence by sacrificing something for God's glory and fasting as a means of self-sacrifice. It may sound doable, but it would take courage and a deeper understanding of the essence of this religious rite.

Like Christ, followers may have made a relevant sacrifice in our time. To fast would mean to give up food by not overeating, resulting in gluttony which is considered a sin in the Christian law. The budget for food on this day may go to someone who needs it the most. I remember in college the teachings of our Professor in Religious education about the corporal works of mercy, which include feeding the hungry. It is not just a one-day practice; any day is the best time to give something to others in need.

Today's homily reminds us to sacrifice, even for a single day. Some would give up their meal, others would give up vices, and some would donate something to the needy. From a deeper perspective, this is significant since we are taught not to be attached to things that would give us harm and trouble later on.

Our little sacrifice would remind us that some people genuinely suffer while others enjoy life's luxuries. So many people are left hungry, while some would have wasted their food. This is the time to reflect on our life's purpose as Christians--that everything we have is not permanent.

The beginning of the lent is the beginning of our sacrifice, tolerance, and survival. This is like observing Christ's passion, death, and resurrection for 40 days until Easter. The journey may be quite long, but in the process, we reflect on our Christian living, renew our religious vow, and enjoy a happy beginning of a continued self by embracing Christ in our lives forever.

© 2013 Del Cusay

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Celebrating Chinese New Year 2013: A New Beginning

The celebration of the Chinese new year is based on the belief that the lunar calendar month marks the beginning of the spring season. The Chinese widely observe it in many countries where they have formed a community known as the 'Chinatown.'

Chinese new year brings hope, good luck, and prosperity to people. It is the beginning of another year full of positive aspirations to achieve for self, family, and community. The colorful festivities in dominant red bring abundance and spare negativity in any form. On this particular day, people wear red color shirt and make home decorations in red that symbolizes prosperity. Since most Chinese are engaged in business, they always put something red in their buildings to attract wealth for the new year and beyond.

Binondo, one of Manila's busiest and most populated districts, is the place for the Filipino-Chinese community, popularly called 'Tsinoy.' Although they are found in various areas of the Philippines, the significant population and highest concentration of their population is located in the Chinatown of Binondo, Manila.

Lion dance along Ongpin St. Binondo, Manila

I was lucky to have witnessed and celebrated the event with the 'Tsinoys' in Binondo. My trip started with a bit of prayer in the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, known as the 'Binondo Church.' This is where the 'Tsinoys' of the Christian faith usually go to pray and strengthen their spiritual life.

A few steps from the church are where the journey commences, in the old street of Ongpin. A variety of Chinese merchandise offers products and services on this busy street. Gold shops of high quality can be found in this little yet vibrant place. Restaurants catering to authentic Chinese cuisine, including the 'President's Grand Palace' and the 'President's tea house,' relax your senses. 

Shops cater to Chinese delicacies like the famous 'Eng Bee Tin,' which produces tikoy and hopia in different variants and flavors. I've seen people falling in a long line just to satisfy their cravings for this food that is said to bring good luck. The 'tikoy' is made of sticky glutinous rice flour, thus symbolizing a family and relationship that is well bonded according to Chinese norms.

Red lanterns in Chinatown Mall to welcome the new year

The most common business in Ongpin is the lucky charms and decors. There is so much jewelry for different purposes depending on form and color. One has to wear a particular bracelet or necklace to attract prosperity and drive away bad luck. There are red lanterns in various sizes and forms for home decoration to symbolize wealth and good luck.

One of the most exciting parts is witnessing the lion dance. This mythical Chinese creature dances gracefully as it is maneuvered by several dancers. They perform lion dances from one shop to another for an opportunity to receive angpao or the red envelope with money. They have always succeeded in entertaining business owners with a well-rehearsed and choreographed presentation.

There is also a dragon dance, which is quite long and carried by several dancers. Like the lion dance, it is also a powerful mythical creature in Chinese culture. It is to spare negativity in business, the house, and the environment. Both dance presentations are seen throughout the new year's celebration in Binondo, particularly in Ongpin. It is colorful, entertaining, and attracts a crowd.

In a traditional Chinese family, 'angpao' is given to the unmarried and usually children. The little kids fall in line and patiently wait for their turn to receive 'angpao' from the elderly or their grandparents. They are expected to greet the happy new year in Chinese as they receive it, but they are not supposed to open the red envelope until they run away from the giver.

In The Chinese new year, there are several ways of greeting; in a language known to them. Whether you hear the greetings 'Kung Hei Fat Choi,' 'Gong Xi Fa Chai,' or 'Kiong He Huat Tsai,' it is a valid form of new year greetings. It does not literally mean 'Happy new year,' but it means congratulating and wishing someone for prosperity. 

Giant red lanterns are legendary Chinese handicraft that symbolizes good luck.

In the Philippines, the standard greetings are 'Kung Hei Fat Choi,' which has been made the standard in media and other printed publications. It is a Cantonese greeting, usually spoken in Hong Kong and Macau, but the 'Tsinoys' speaks 'Hokkien' and prefer the' Kiong Hee Huat Tsai' greeting. However, no matter what language or dialect is spoken for greetings, there is a spirit of understanding that sends a single message of 'Happy New Year!'.

The Chinatown Mall is where I have witnessed cultural presentations from different groups. They have presented charming Chinese folk dances, melodic choral, and exhibitions of Chinese martial arts like 'Wushu' and Tai Chi.' There is also some modern Chinese hip hop that captures the attention of the younger generations. It is a day-long event until the countdown for the new year is observed, and fireworks are witnessed to lighten up the evening. 

The Chinese people love to preserve their heritage, and they significantly influence culture, food, social norms, and beliefs. In the Philippines, people are familiar with 'Feng Shui," and this is attributed to good luck, happiness, and prosperity in businesses and houses. There is also the 'horoscope' where people consult their luck or destiny on a particular day, month, or year depending on the zodiac sign and animal sign you were born. Also, Filipinos have been fond of eating noodles and soups brought by the Chinese since long ago.

Although the world constantly evolves and the culture of peace and freedom is changing, we should learn so many things from the Chinese. Perseverance and endurance at work, accompanied by humility and gratitude, made them succeed in their family, careers, and life. 

The Chinese culture has uniqueness, and their unique customs make us multi-cultured people. Our beliefs should not be restricted to what has been instilled since birth. Open-mindedness and acceptance of faith and cultural differences bring a peaceful and vibrant living. We learn from each other, and the wisdom gained truly brings good luck and prosperity in our lives no matter who and what we are; and no matter who we will become.

© 2013 Del Cusay

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pasinaya 2013: Rediscovering Philippine Arts & Culture

In today's modern times, I still recognize that the past is interrelated with the present, and what we are today is the result of what has transpired in the past. Hence our artistic abilities and cultural heritage should be preserved and passed on from generation to generation.

The Philippine culture has given us a glimpse of the glorious past through various artistic renditions that make us feel the unity and camaraderie of being a Filipino. It is in our culture to be creative and artistic as a means of emotional expression. It is something that bridges the gap between loyalty and colonial mentality. It creates solidarity as a nation and everlasting bliss in the hearts of Filipinos living throughout the world.

To enliven the Philippine culture and arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines created the Pasinaya festival to fulfill Filipino artists' and cultural enthusiasts' desires and passions in various genres. "Pasinaya" is a Filipino term that means a formal opening. This year's theme pays tribute to Chinese arts and culture's influence on our lives as Filipinos.

The Chinese have long been part of Philippine history and culture, and their massive influence remains. It was an excellent opportunity to witness and embrace Filipino and Chinese arts and culture through the Pasinaya festival.

Dubbed the largest national multi-arts festival, the 'Pasinaya' presented memorable cultural presentations and art exhibits in almost all CCP venues. The main theater lobby was full of visitors, primarily students and professors from different schools, patiently waiting for the next event at the 'Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo,' where the resident companies of the CCP are doing their shows, including the Philippine Madrigal Singers, The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company; Ballet Philippines and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

There were several presentations and activities in genres like dance, theater, music, films, visual arts, and exhibits. It was presented by thousands of Filipino artists in different country regions. There were various shows like lion dance, fan dance, and modern hip-hop dance along with the closed street venue of the CCP.

There were also dance, music, and stage drama workshops for children and adults to learn and enhance their skills.

In the main theater ramp, several groups presented folk dances. Their graceful interpretation of colorful costumes has entertained the crowd of both local and foreign audiences. It was a great moment to watch the young performers across the country showcasing their dance skills in classical Filipino music. 

From elementary up to college, I was like them, being a member of the school dance troupe and presenting different folk dances on stage. The joy felt while performing before the audience is quite reminiscent, and why I patronize Filipino cultural presentations and activities.

The main theater of 'Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo' is where I spent most of the time witnessing the performances of the resident companies. I was delighted to watch the 'Bayanihan Cultural Dance Company' when they presented beautiful folk dances. They have presented the 'Pandango sa Ilaw and 'Wasiwas,' both popular Philippine folk dances that made me proud of being a former folk dancer who happens to have presented those two dances way back in high school and college.

The Philippine folk dance is truly an epitome of grace, grandeur, and refined ways that are becoming obsolete in today's modern living.

The Performers of the Pasinaya Festival 2013 during the gala night
The presentation and rendition of the Philippine Madrigal Singers is truly soulful singing that captures the audience's emotions. Their company is undeniably one of the world's best and most awarded chorales. It has won prestigious awards and recognition from international chorale competitions. The 'Madz,' as they call it, sings in a semi-circle without the aid of a conductor. Their soft and angelic voices deserve applause from the audience regardless of musical genre, from classical and folkloric music to contemporary music.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra rendered an enchanting melody of some classical symphonies and even modern popular Filipino music under their music director Maestro Oliver Ochanine. They received numerous applause from the audience, who appreciated what authentic music should be. Their mastery of musical instruments is majestic and produces stunning rhythmic sounds. My regard for classical music and symphonies will remain my appreciation for this artistic, lyrical masterpiece.

The 'Pasinaya Festival 2013' brought lessons and new learning. Our culture is diverse and rich it is a heritage. Thus, there is a need to preserve, protect, love, care, and respect. Our arts and culture are what we are Filipinos and should show to the world.

© 2013 Del Cusay