Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas in Our Hearts 2015: A Blissful Journey

Christmas is the most awaited season and it is truly the most wonderful time of the year. This is a good time to spend joyful memories with our friends and loved ones; to share smiles and laughter with others or perhaps grief and sorrow to some.

The past Christmas celebrations were joyous and unforgettable. I may have missed Christmas in my home country, yet I always felt connected and being loved. Nothing beats the celebration like the way we Filipinos do. It may be a simple celebration, but the spirit of Christmas is truly felt and remains in our hearts forever.

It was exactly four years ago when I've shared thoughts about the holiday season. I have witnessed a different culture and how they celebrate Christmas is wonderful. Christmas in Our Hearts 2011 brought good memories with those people I've been with. It was like having fun in a wonderland and feels like there's no tomorrow.

Christmas 2012 was meaningful since I celebrated it with my family. Since I missed the 2011 celebration, I cherished the moment that we're together. I may not be home for Christmas for 2013, so this is something worth reminiscing. Christmas in Our Hearts 2012 was full of fun and excitement. Spending time together with my family is bliss.

Christmas celebration in Tagaytay City

Christmas 2013 was a simple celebration and again I was away from home. It doesn't matter how far is the distance, as long as I never felt alone and I still carry the smile and happiness it brings. It was a nice feeling to have shared Christmas traditions and stories and it will be cherished.

Christmas 2014 was celebrated in my hometown together with my family. It was one of the happiest moments since we don't get the chance to celebrate together every year. It was not as extravagant as compared to previous years' celebration, but the simplicity and essence of Christmas are remarkable.

This year 2015, I am with my family for Christmas. There's nothing much excitement like the past years' celebration, yet it is wonderful. What matters is the presence of loved ones and sharing moments with them.

I hope that before the year ends, we'll all be healed from old wounds and unpleasant memories. We hope to deserve the good things in life and we'll work together towards a common goal; to achieve success, fulfillment, and experience everlasting bliss.

© 2015 Del Cusay

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kathmandu: The gems and the lost Treasures

In my journey to the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, I have fallen in love with its beautiful landscape and have met wonderful people who are friendly and kind-hearted.

In August 2013, in an uncertain moment, I have traveled to Kathmandu and have cherished the 6-day trip. It was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life to have learned from the culture and tradition of the Nepalese people.

From the first day of my trip, I have imagined the glorious past of the place as I pass around the narrow streets with both modern and centuries-old architectures--evidence of Nepal's rich heritage and culture. I have roamed around and bought Kurtas (traditional Nepalese clothe) from different shops and at the same time was able to stop by coffee shops to awaken my senses and to continue the journey.

I was amazed by the view of the Kathmandu valley from the hotel where I stayed as one can see the mountains surrounding the city and the crowded houses and buildings made of stones and bricks.

On a beautiful morning as I walk in the old streets, I have witnessed the businesses of the people. It is so simple, yet full of spiritual practices to start the day. They pray and chant to their Gods and they use aromatic incense to drive off bad spirits or any form of negativity. Every day, I used to burn an incense of different scents for my personal prayers and intentions.

On a sunny afternoon as I walked in the downtown area, I have seen the simple living of the people. They are not into buying luxurious things. In fact, they only have few malls that sell bargain products. In that place, there's a huge football field and park with a tall observatory tower where one can see the panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley.

As I walked down the streets, I have seen beautiful scenery that is natural and some that are man-made. The famous lake in the central business area is where I spent few hours of walking and rejuvenating. Beside the lake are food stalls in the street where they sell coffee, tea, and bread and I have tasted it to get some energy for a long walk.

Kathmandu is such a peaceful place and I felt the spirituality of the people. There are temples everywhere for them to pray and glorify their Gods. They offer food and burn incense and there's something more than their religious practices. They care and love people regardless of race and creed. They have happy faces and they even look like Filipinos. I have witnessed their friendliness and hospitality to the tourists. They are very conversant about Nepal's history and heritage and they are helpful in anyways.

Kathmandu is rich in heritage sites that are recognized and protected by UNESCO. A day before I left, I was able to grab the offer for a day-tour in 4 out of 7 UNESCO world heritage sites. 

I have meditated in the mountainous places of Swayambunath and Pashupatinath where huge stupas can be seen as the center of attraction. I visited the ancient city and Durbar Square in Patan and it was in that place were felt that I was on time travel. I sensed that I was transported several centuries back, although I can see and interact with modern people--the locals and foreign tourists in their modern clothing, ways, and actions.

On April 25, 2015, it was a tragic moment when the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal was reported to suffer a strong magnitude earthquake. Kathmandu and its nearby town including northern India (Bihar state) and southern China (Tibet region) were heavily devastated and they lost thousands of people including locals and foreigners. The Kathmandu valley was destroyed with thousands of houses and buildings that collapsed, a thousand families became homeless and a thousand lives were killed.

It saddened me to hear the news as I recalled the wonderful memories I had with the Nepalese people I met and interacted with on the road. I remember the times when I enjoyed their heritage sites and everything that Kathmandu has to offer. I have learned so many things about them and I am grateful for the joyful experience.

Now that almost everything was lost, how could they recover from the tragedy? How many of those people I met have died and how many have survived? How are those playful kids I have interacted with at the park? Life could be unpredictable that bad things could happen to good people.

At the present time it is about survival, but a sad fate to the innocent lives. You may have met wonderful people, but tomorrow they might be gone. You may have seen amazing structures, but tomorrow they may have been out of sight. Survival is not about religion or spirituality. It is now a way of life.

From the magnificent peak of Mount Everest; the serenity of Pokhara; and the architectural heritage of Kathmandu, I can say that Nepal is a gem I have found but now is a lost treasure. It will not be easy, hence it will take time to stand up and face the world again. They need our help in any way and once they are well and ready, they will stand up and build up their soulful heritage.

© 2015 Del Cusay

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Road Ahead: Dealing with Life's Uncertainties

"The present moment is where life has taken you out of your wildest dreams and desires. It is when you stop that you lose the battle, and when you go forward the road will take you the further distance in the least expected moment."

Once upon a time, there was a young man who dreamed of a better life; of having the best things and moments that life could bring. These dreams serve as an inner fire of making them into a reality. A young man who is nothing but is full of determination and optimism. Now, what would his life become amidst all uncertainties ahead of him? When his life gets tough and when he has nothing more to do but to believe that there is something that could increase the fire within.

We all have our desires to achieve. No matter what it is, still we are given the passion to live it. All our success is related to the amount of strength that we put into it. The greater the force equals the greater distance. When life gets uncertain, there may be some doubts. It is the evil within that sabotages the desire  the commitment towards excellence. There are moments of feeling incomplete. The fire is getting less and there's a time you notice that it is already gone.

Whatever it is that makes us burn out, the universe has its way to rescue the lost soul. The moment you wake up when everyone seems to be out of sight, they may be gone and have their own soulful journey to fight. Then you realize that life is indeed unpredictable — full of uncertainties. Nothing is truly permanent and there may have been changes in the Divine plan. There's an end in everything, but we can expect some changes at the crossroads that will make or break. The road ahead has many intersections that may not serve our real purpose. If tempted by wrong perceptions and false beliefs, it could lead to wrong choices and decisions. However, the fire within could have been ignited slowly as it burns the fuel of success and fulfillment — our heart's desire.

No matter the distance we are taking, there could have been some breaks and some barriers at the crossroads. The moment you stop for a while is not a reason to quit but to persevere and take a look back as to how far you may have gone through in life. The present moment is where life has taken you out of your wildest dreams and desires. It is when you stop that you lose the battle, and when you go forward the road will take you the further distance in the least expected moment.

People may change and circumstances may be painful, but they have made a lasting impact in your life and contributed to your being. They may have served as the key to rediscover the inner fire and tap the highest power for ultimate success and fulfillment. When the time comes that you are defended for your beliefs and philosophies you are not alone along the journey. They push you harder not to be like them, but to follow your own path and realize your potentials.

Obstacles may arise, but the inner compass will lead you towards the destination. When you have reached where you are right now there's a reason to make the commitment to go farther and believe in yourself that you can make it possible.

Once upon a time when the young man was nothing but a dreamer, now takes the courage to live his greatest life despite the odds and uncertainties. The commitment and endurance will continue to ignite and the soulful journey will reign in his heart forever.

© Del Cusay 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

His Holiness Pope Francis: Mercy and Compassion to The Filipino People

It is nearly two years ago when the highest spiritual leader of the Catholic church was declared in the name of "Pope Francis: The New World Pontiff" from Buenos Aires. I admire his qualities as a leader and I believe that Christ is with him in the new role that he is taking. 

The pope is showing his love and compassion to everyone regardless of profile, race, and creed. He exudes charisma and attracts people with his gentleness and humility. These qualities make him adorable and capable of leading his global followers in the name of Christ.

Pope Francis has concern for humanity especially with the current events in the world like wars, terrorism, and political and religious differences. However, he is also concerned about poverty in the spirit of the people where there is a lack of love, care, and attention. He cares for the poor, the homeless, the abandoned,  and the orphan who are lacking spiritual enlightenment.

The world is currently experiencing a lot of chaos and obstacles from natural and man-made calamities and disasters and millions of people have become a victim of this untoward catastrophe that can be considered as an act of God.

The Philippines is not spared from the destruction since we are now suffering from the effects of climate change leading to stronger typhoons that hit our country. Although we suffer from these deadly earth changes, still we have shown to the world "The Resilience of the Filipino Spirit: A Year After Typhoon Yolanda". Perhaps the most destructive and emotional occurrence in our Philippine history when we lost thousands of individuals, hundreds of families, and left many injured and in deep sorrow and solitude.

The Filipinos are blessed for the visit of Pope Francis to the country. He shows mercy and compassion to those who are victims of calamities. He shows concern and comforted the poor families who almost lost faith and the will to live. He cared for the abandoned children. He cared for the sick people. He expressed attention and love to all.

It was an opportunity and a blessing to have celebrated the mass with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Manila Cathedral on January 16. It was the first mass he celebrated in the country and he was greeted by thousands of pilgrims. It was a great feeling to hear live from the Pope and I will forever cherish the moment when I have endured the pain together with other pilgrims to witness and receive blessings from God.

At the Manila Cathedral

There's wisdom in every message that Pope Francis has shared with the people. In his mass at Tacloban, he asked the people to pray for him and to be quiet. Such a very simple message, yet it has a deeper meaning. He needs prayer that he may be able to reach out to more people and share the Gospel of Christ; to share Christian values and virtues; to lead and guide people in their spiritual path. These are some of the realizations when we are in silence, when we contemplate and reflect on ourselves and when we constantly renew ourselves for the better.

In his message to the youth at the University of Santo Tomas, the Pope shared what he called the three languages; the mind, heart, and hands. It is when we use our intellect, conscience, and right actions that we are truly Christian. He also reminded the youth not to bury their talents that are God-given and not to be afraid to dream of great things.

In his concluding mass at Quirino Grandstand, Pope Francis celebrated it together with the faithful and the millions of pilgrims coming from different places in the Philippines and the world. He brought the light among his people. When it is cloudy, he brought the sunshine. His smile brought hope and confidence to everyone. He brought the message of Christ to be instilled in the minds and hearts of the people.

It is truly a wonderful moment to receive the blessings of the Holy Father. He will forever be in our hearts and the Filipino people will be praying for him. Like the holy child, we will be a follower of God's message of love as evident by what His Holiness has shown to us. Christ is with us and we will carry the light to spread to the world, today and in eternal life.

© 2015 Del Cusay