Sunday, January 29, 2017

Celebrating Chinese New Year 2017: An Auspicious Celebration

For centuries, Chinese immigrants from mainland China have established closer ties with the Filipinos. Since then, we have mutually embraced religious traditions and appreciated the rich culture and heritage that remains to be solid and lasting. Chinese merchants in the Philippines existed during the early years of civilization and became a great trading partner contributing to the robust economy and fortifying stronger relationships. 

Chinese people who have chosen to live and work in the Philippines were accepted by most Filipinos, and they have greatly influenced our culture and way of living.

Embracing the Chinese culture made a significant impact on our lives. Their beliefs, wisdom, and character are worth emulating. Chinese people have taught us how to live based on their life principles from the teachings of their religions. Buddhism brought to China, became a foundation of wisdom, humility, and compassion. These traits, which embody Buddhist philosophy, are the same guiding principles on how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, a better life worth living. 

Looking back, celebrating the Chinese new year 2013 was a memorable experience in Binondo, Manila. Known as the oldest Chinatown in the world, it has shown great transformation and preservation of Chinese-Filipino culture. The old and preserved houses and commercial buildings symbolize love and respect for its culture and heritage. For years, Manila Chinatown has given positive energy and vibrance to visitors and traders, and they hold on to their beliefs passed on from generation to generation.

The Graceful Dragon and Lion Dance 

Good luck and prosperity are attributed to the colorful dance presentation where dancers have to mimic the movement of a lion and a dragon, a mythical creature. Both symbolize strength, wisdom, and power in Chinese ideology. These dances are more prevalent during the Chinese new year but are also presented in various Chinese cultural, religious, and political events. It is also a belief that these creatures ward off evil spirit and brings luck and fortune in business and life. Dancing graciously in the form of Chinese martial arts is a skill and has entertained visitors for its graciousness.

The lighting of firecrackers and fireworks

Lion dance with firecrackers lighting up on the street makes a joyous and wonderful celebration. During new year's Eve, the street lights up with colorful fireworks and fireworks, creating noise that is believed to drive away bad luck and attracts prosperity. The noise which irritates some is the same noise that brings wealth to the believers in the new year. This kind of activity initially enjoyed by the Chinese was also adopted by Filipinos and the world — such a significant influence they had.

Ang Pao is a symbol of wealth and abundance

On the busy street is a parade of generous people giving away 'ang pao' to the visitors. These small red envelopes with money on them give luck to the receiver. Financial abundance is significant to the Chinese; a year filled with economic prosperity is a blessing from God. Being poor is a mental disease, and an abundance mindset is the key to success  a belief that brings wealth into our lives.

Chinese people hold many beliefs for personal, career, business, and life in general. Some ideas include a collection of round-shaped fruits for never-ending prosperity. Tikoy, a gelatinous delicacy, is very popular and symbolizes sweetness and a closer relationship with the family. Restaurants offering authentic Chinese foods, including noodles, dumplings, and other treats, are essential for good luck. What else is on the list? Feng shui for prosperity and Chinese martial arts are many influences from years of Filipino-Chinese partnership.

The year of the fire rooster in Chinese astrology will bring positivity to everyone. A hopeful year starts with having a positive mindset and clearing off negative past experiences that prevent us from moving forward. 

Faith is essential for success; all the symbolism can bring prosperity if accompanied by hard work and perseverance.

The Filipino and Chinese friendship will remain strong in years to come as we build trusting relationships with camaraderie and warm acceptance regardless of one's cultural upbringing and philosophical beliefs.

© 2017 Del Cusay 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What Can We Learn From President Donald Trump's Inaugural Speech

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The day when Donald Trump swore to millions of Americans and viewers worldwide marks the beginning of new leadership that will truly rock our world, not just Americans but the entire universe.

Jan 20, 2017, is yet another milestone in the history of the United States and of the world when a person not having any political background will be serving the most powerful nation the world has known. What could be his deepest intention for running for the most powerful position on the land? What could be running through his mind in solving the most significant problem and controversy? What can we expect from Trump's presidency?

It was past midnight in the Philippines when I could watch the live telecast of the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington, DC, USA. As Filipinos, it is common for us to follow American politics and affairs since American culture has been ingrained in our ways of living. As a former colony of the USA, we have benefited from many things that make us globally competitive and competent due to their massive influence.

After Donald Trump took his oath of office as the 45th President of the United States, I was enthralled by his inaugural speech for the American people and a Filipino like me. I haven't heard full speeches of him before, and all I have listened to is negative stories and news about him brought by the power of the media and some well-known personalities who may be against him. However, upon hearing his speech on a live telecast, I was impressed and could feel the joyous spirit in his nature. His message was clear, concise, and full of optimistic hopes and dreams for Americans. His statement on the "American first" policy was so nationalistic, given the economic policies and principles of the previous administrations.

Like any nation, every country must strive to protect and defend its interests before meddling in international affairs. The United States, as the most powerful nation, has been consistent on its political and economic agenda with all its trading partners and global allies, including my country, the Philippines. Our very own President, Rodrigo Duterte, has been very vocal in his insights regarding the presence of the Americans in our land and whether they are really a faithful ally or just there to advance their own interests.

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"What truly matters is not what party controls our government but that this government is controlled by the people."

Trump would want to bring back real power to his people. When other countries like the Philippines gained wealth from the Business process outsourcing industry, that could soon be brought back to the minds and hearts of the Americans. It's an act of patriotism considering the thousands of jobs lost to his people who are also struggling for a better living. Though it will surely harm Filipinos in the BPO industry, we Filipinos will remain resilient even if we lose it to the Americans. They own it, and we're grateful to have been allowed to serve them, even temporarily. 

"We are one nation, and their pain is our pain, their dreams are our dreams, we share one nation, one home, and one glorious destiny."

Trump believes in his own people and shares common goals and dreams. A leader who shows trust and confidence that his people can make it no matter what happens. A leader who offers his own vision for the future of his country. A visionary leader is very rare, but we may have seen how strategic he is even on personal business matters. He is a man who is fortunate to gain wealth with all his powers and the greater power he believes in. He assured unity and solidarity when he started to see where the division was coming from in his country. This trait will be instilled in the minds of our leaders in the Philippines -- not to cause division, but unity and camaraderie for all. I must believe that a great leader is an excellent protector of the interest of the ordinary people and not just the interest of elitists and people of the highest stature. 

"Do not allow anyone to tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight, and spirit of America. We will not fail; our country will thrive and prosper again."

When all seem to fail, nothing beats the power of positivity, that everything can be accomplished and achieved no matter how difficult it seems to be. When we are being challenged by our plans and decisions, we can never go wrong if it is within our moral conscience that is Divinely-inspired. Like us Filipinos, we always aspire to be excellent in our dealings and become world-class citizens. We aspire to positively impact this world and be recognized as one of the world's best people. We can't allow anyone to destroy or hinder who we are and what we may become. With confidence, we allow positivity to flourish in our soul, making us 'titanium' and genuinely unbreakable. We are what we think and believe in ourselves when nobody else is.

"Your courage, goodness, and love will forever guide us along the way."

Like a compass, it shows us the right direction. Just like the virtue of compassion and goodwill, it can guide and direct us towards the right path -- a blissful life. Courage is the fuel that drives us to excel. When we are weak, there's an absence of willpower; regaining it is a challenge. Filipinos must learn to build solid political power like the United States. Through the years, we have seen weak leaders afraid of implementing social and political changes; until recently, we have elected a leader with solid willpower whom others compare to Trump in political stance and behavior. Although willpower is a must-have virtue a leader must possess, it must be taken responsibly. With the right mindset, a big open heart, and the will-to-good principle, we can always go right and soar above and beyond.

© 2017 Del Cusay

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Dalai Lama on What Matters Most

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The world we live in today may be full of chaos, suffering and never-ending conflicts, and global problems that are hard to solve. We live in this world as an effect or consequence of past life struggles and miseries carried out until the present. The "Law of Karma," which originated in Buddhist philosophy, applies this scenario of the rebirth or a cycle of violence, intolerance, war, and suffering that we see and experience in our time.

What could have happened in the past that humanity continues to suffer at the present time? Why does humanity experience the ill effect of wars brought by differences in beliefs? What shall society need to do to stop the cycle of suffering for the benefit of the next generation? These are some questions on the nature of humanity and the world and how Buddhism plays a significant role in this modern world.

Buddhism is not just a religion but is considered the science of mind. It is philosophical and tries to answer even the most challenging question about life; man's nature and reason for existence. The Dalai Lama, known as the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhist, is a living Buddha of compassion. We can learn from his philosophy and insights about what truly matters in our existence in this world -- the role we need to play for a better life and world.

Noriyuki Ueda, a Japanese anthropologist, would want to seek an answer about the nature of humanity and the world. He had an opportunity to meet The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, India. He spent two days of quality discussion and interview with The Dalai Lama, which was an inspirational moment to have been granted the great privilege of sitting with a Holy man. It was even more astounding when the interview output was made into a book entitled: The Dalai Lama on What Matters Most.

Like Noriyuki Ueda, I am also delighted to learn more about Buddhist philosophy and The Dalai Lama's perspective on what truly matters. In 2013, Meeting with His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala was a blessing. Meeting a compassionate man and a living Buddha was a memorable and meaningful moment in my life. It was only in his book that I first got to know who he is and what is his most significant contribution to this world.

What Can Buddhism Offer? Cultivating a compassionate nature. This is where we are attuned with a caring, loving spirit and an open heart to everyone regardless of race, creed, and social status. We strive to build an altruistic society despite our differences in faith, culture, and political beliefs. This is very notable in today's time when we reach out as brothers in times of difficulty. International aid in times of wars, conflicts, and natural calamities; we have seen how humanity is united beyond borders. We do not consider our personal, religious, or political differences when offering humanitarian assistance. We help everyone: Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians. We are one, and we think of the survival of our dear brothers without hesitation and not through religious affiliations. An altruistic society is brought by a compassionate nature where one has an open heart to help and to serve.

Compassionate anger is another virtue worth cultivating. It may sound negative, but it is a positive approach toward peace and a detached world. Nowadays, people are becoming attached to materialism. People may desire more, becoming rich and achieving more power. However, attachment to these may lead to suffering. Wealthy people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet may be one of the world's most powerful financial assets. However, they use philanthropy to solve some of the world's problems, like poverty. They give massive amounts of their wealth to charities and even pledge to give entirely when they die.  Gaining wealth and giving it away for humanity's benefit is a commendable act of sacrifice and altruism. When many people started praying, these wealthy people gave away with open minds and big hearts.

Love is something we give without any condition; hence the term unconditional love to people and everyone who are good and evil. Showing love to the enemy is a good thing or a wrong move. It results from having an open heart and a greater attachment to peace of mind. In times of trouble, when we can no longer ask for help from the people who used to be closer to us, it may be an enemy who will answer our prayers. Love really works mysteriously. Those who were persecuted, abandoned, and considered an enemy are most likely grateful for the turnaround of events. 

There's always a blessing in disguise, even with our worst enemies. Jesus would not have been the center of Christianity without the role played by Judas, his fallen disciple, and Pontious Pilate, who ordered his death. Also, The Dalai Lama is grateful for the pains and sufferings he experienced since he became more robust and even more powerful and a global inspiration. Love is unconditional; we give it to all, even those we think don't deserve it.

'Enlightened Buddhism For A Modern World' is a calling to humanity. It's not about religion, but a philosophy that may be universal -- applicable to all. Back in 2013, Land of The Tibetans in Dharamsala: Closer to Heaven was my first encounter with the Buddhist people who may have achieved some enlightenment or perhaps on the path of Bodhisattva. I am a Christian, but I aspire for some enlightenment through the teachings of Buddhism. The virtue of peace, love, and compassion is very relevant in today's world, and these are Buddha's core teachings for humanity. Being enlightened is a spiritual gift; we learn to share it with others. What truly matters is our intention. We can achieve global peace and peace of mind, soul, and spirit with an open heart.

© 2017 Del Cusay

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Nazareno 2017: Devotion to the Feast of the Black Nazarene

"Upon my reflection, it's no wonder Filipino devotees would flock on the feast of the Black Nazarene. The image of the passion of Christ is a symbol of our suffering and unending challenges. The pain the desire to touch the rope brings symbolizes our sacrifice and hope that " everything will be alright after the chaos or suffering."

The feast of the Black Nazarene is known to millions of Filipino devotees and faithful who are witnesses to the miracles of the Holy image of Christ. The image from Mexico transported to the Philippines in the 17th century gave meaning to our lives as a symbol of Christ's passion and suffering on the cross.

Though the flocks of devotees started in the 1950s, it remains at present as one of the most revered Christian events in the Philippines. Since then, Filipino devotees have strengthened their faith through the healing powers and blessings brought by the Black Nazarene into their lives.

This year, the traslacion took 22 hours, almost a day of sacrifice, to venerate and be able to hold the rope that is attached to the carriage of the Holy image. This tradition has been consistent every year, though many devotees defy any terror threat and a little discomfort as an act of sacrifice. 

What could be the significance of this event to the millions of devotees? How could this belief strengthen their faith? What miracles does it truly give after their sacrifice? These are some of the questions that need spiritual reflection and answers from a true devotee.

Back in 2013, I witnessed a massive gathering of the faithful. The Feast of The Black Nazarene 2013. That was my first time attending the live religious event of the Black Nazarene. I didn't witness the traslacion, but I solemnly prayed my intentions inside the Minor Basilica, known as the Quiapo church. That was a memorable experience, and since then, I have devoted myself to celebrating it on its feast day, wherever I may be.

Last year, Celebrating The Feast of The Black Nazarene 2016 was fulfilled. That was my second time attending the live event, as I missed two consecutive years. Near the Quiapo church, it was a peaceful gathering where devotees prayed for intentions and blessings. Beyond the experience is the religious awakening and being one with the millions of Filipinos who hope to achieve a meaningful and fulfilled life.

This year 2017, I have yet to attend the live event. However, I continue to follow and keep updated on the celebration. Upon reflection, it's no wonder Filipino devotees would flock to the feast of the Black Nazarene. The image of the passion of Christ is a symbol of our suffering and unending challenges.

The pains brought by the desire to touch the rope symbolize our sacrifice and hope that 'everything will be alright after the chaos or suffering. Thus, we believe in miracles. Something that God can give in mysterious ways and when we're defeated. 

When people suffer and become sorrowful, comes an open hand and a grateful heart to receive God's intervention when we rely on his power. What God can do to us is limitless, and we Filipinos believe that no matter how hard life seems, we can still make it if we surrender everything to God's loving mercy. 

The Feast of the Black Nazarene inspires people to be committed and devoted wherever life will take us and whatever we do in life. God loves us, and we give back love to the Lord, our God.

©️ 2017 Del Cusay

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year 2017: A Hopeful Journey

"Starting the year right would mean doing what I believe would truly work based on previous experiences. Doing the right thing with the right mindset, virtues, and spiritual beliefs are essential to living."

The year 2016 ended with endearing challenges. Some setbacks created emotional struggle and solitude. Though not a pleasant year, I remained optimistic and in control of my reality and destiny. A few years ago, in 2009, I started believing in the power of the 'Law of Attraction,' which attracts magical experiences and magnificent results in my life. I've manifested some thought forms, and it's a potent tool to use when being hopeful of your fate and destiny. Since then, the manifestation of dreams and desires have been effortless. I couldn't imagine at first how I have achieved such tremendous energy that has changed my life. I am a living reality of 'you are what you think, and I have made things possible -- through the power of the Law of attraction.

This 2017, nothing has changed with my beliefs in the power of this universe. For years, the Law of attraction will still guide me about excellent living, like my spiritual or religious beliefs. Not all of our desires were made possible; however, with deeper faith and perseverance, they will be achieved in due time and in God's perfect time. 

The Law of universal timing is what I learned a few years back, and it has brought a powerful effect on our lives. It served as our guide in business, career, and life.

Starting the year right would mean doing what I believe would work based on previous experiences. Doing the right thing with the right mindset, virtues, and spiritual beliefs are essential to living. The goals I would set for this year are the thoughts I may have for years that have not manifested yet, but I still trust that the universe will conspire to make it a reality. We are destined to achieve everlasting happiness and bliss and can become a blessing to others in some ways within or beyond our capacity.

Mysterious energy would surround and guide our being to renew and relive a meaningful existence. We are bestowed with extraordinary powers to manifest our dreams and goals. This year will be a journey towards challenging tasks ahead and a rewarding fate and destinations our heart desires.

This year 2017, is about being hopeful of unimaginable things. I still believe in magic. That's an incredible experience worth achieving. I will be guided internally by my will and instincts of right and wrong and lead a better life away from distractions, false beliefs, and bad luck. To myself, my family, relatives, and everyone close to my heart is what I desire to be shielded by a defense of more vital energy.

 A balanced lifestyle, free from harm and full of optimism, would dispel the negative energy of manifestation. If God allows, balancing health at all levels and an affluent disposition is an ultimate dream. The list would be longer, and acquiring it all requires tremendous energy. A great year is not about the winning moments but the power to stand every time we fall. The battle continues, and an incredible journey lies on a strong will, a grateful heart, and a powerful spirit.

© 2017 Del Cusay