Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas in Our Hearts 2015: A Blissful Journey

Christmas is the most awaited season and the most beautiful time of the year. This is an excellent time to spend joyful memories with our friends and loved ones, to share smiles and laughter with others, or perhaps grief and sorrow with some.

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

It was exactly four years ago when I 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 I've been with. It was like having fun in a wonderland, and it felt like there was no tomorrow.

Christmas 2012 was meaningful since I celebrated it with my family. Since I missed the 2011 celebration, I cherished our time together. I may not be home for Christmas in 2013, so this is worth reminiscing about. 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; I was away from home. It doesn't matter how far the distance is, as long as I never feel alone and still carry the smile and happiness it brings. It was a nice feeling to have shared Christmas traditions and stories which I cherish 

Christmas 2014 was celebrated in my hometown together with my family. It was one of the happiest moments since we didn't get the chance to celebrate together every year. It was not as extravagant as previous years' celebrations, 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 beautiful. 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 want to deserve the good things in life and work together towards a common goal; to achieve success, fulfillment, and experience everlasting bliss and peace in our hearts.

© 2015 Del Cusay

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kathmandu: The gems and the lost Treasures

On my journey to the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, I fell in love with its beautiful landscape and met wonderful people who were friendly and kind-hearted.

In August 2013, in an uncertain moment, I traveled to Kathmandu and cherished the 6-day trip. It was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life to learn about the Nepalese people's culture and traditions.

From the first day of my trip, I have imagined the glorious past of the place as I pass around the narrow streets with modern and centuries-old architecture--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, I was able to stop by coffee shops to awaken my senses and 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 witness 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, using aromatic incense to drive off evil spirits or any form of negativity. I used to burn incense of different scents for my daily prayers and intentions.

On a sunny afternoon, as I walked into the downtown area, I saw the simple living of the people. They are not into buying luxurious things. In fact, they only have a few malls that sell bargain products. 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 saw beautiful natural scenery and some that were man-made. I spent a few hours walking and rejuvenating at the famous lake in the central business area. Beside the lake are food stalls in the street selling coffee, tea, and bread; I have tasted them to get some energy for a long walk.

Kathmandu is such a peaceful place, and I felt the people's spirituality. 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 tourists. They are very conversant about Nepal's history and heritage and helpful in any way.

Kathmandu is rich in heritage sites that are recognized and protected by UNESCO. A day before I left, I could grab the offer for a day tour of 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 where I 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 everyday 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 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 beautiful memories I had with the Nepalese people I met and interacted with on the road. I remember when I enjoyed their heritage sites and everything Kathmandu offers. I have learned many things about them and 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 and bad things could happen to good people.

At the present time, it is about survival, but a sad fate to innocent lives. You may have met wonderful people, but tomorrow they might be gone. You may have seen impressive structures, but they may have been out of sight tomorrow. 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, Nepal is a gem I have found, but now it is a lost treasure. It will take work. 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. When you stop, you lose the battle, and when you go forward, the road will take you a further distance in the least expected moment."

Once upon a time, a young man dreamed of a better life, of having the best things and moments that life could bring. These dreams serve as an inner fire to make them into reality. A young man who is nothing but 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 believe that there is something that could increase the fire within.

We all have our desires to achieve. No matter what it is, we are still given the passion for living it. All our success is related to the amount of strength we put into it. The greater the force equals, the greater distance. When life gets uncertain, there may be some doubts. The evil within 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 makes us burn out, the universe has its way of rescuing the lost soul. The moment you wake up when everyone seems 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. Everything has an end, 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 bad 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 barriers at the crossroads. The moment you stop for a while is not a reason to quit but to persevere and look back on how far you may have gone in life. The present moment is where life has taken you out of your wildest dreams and desires. When you stop, you lose the battle; when you go forward, the road will take you further in the least expected moment.

People may change, and circumstances may be painful, but they have impacted your life and contributed to your being. They may have been the key to rediscovering the inner fire and tapping 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 path and realize your potential.

Obstacles may arise, but the inner compass will lead you toward the destination. When you have reached where you are, there's a reason to commit to going farther and believing in yourself so that you can make it possible.

Once upon a time when the young man was nothing but a dreamer, he now takes the courage to live his most extraordinary 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

Nearly two years ago, 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 shows 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 is concerned for humanity, especially current events 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 lack spiritual enlightenment.

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

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

The Filipinos are blessed by the visit of Pope Francis to the country. He shows mercy and compassion to those who are victims of calamities. He showed concern and comforted the poor families who almost lost faith and the will to live. He cared for the abandoned children. He cared for 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 observed 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 endured the pain with other pilgrims to witness and receive blessings from God.

At the Manila Cathedral

There's wisdom in every message 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 straightforward 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, and to lead and guide people in their spiritual path. These are some realizations when we are in silence, contemplate and reflect on ourselves, and constantly renew ourselves for the better.

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

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

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

© 2015 Del Cusay