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 strong 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 brought massive influence to our culture and way of living.

Embracing the Chinese culture made significant impact in our lives. Their beliefs, wisdom and character is worth emulating. Chinese people have taught us how to live based on their life principles from the teachings of their religions. Buddhism which was brought to China, became a foundation of wisdom, humility and compassion. These traits which is embodiment of 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 are a symbol of love and respect to 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 that are passed on from generations to generations.

The graceful Dragon and Lion Dance 

Good luck and prosperity is attributed to the colorful dance presentation where dancers has to mimic the movement of a lion and a dragon; a mythical creature. Both symbolizes strength, wisdom and power in Chinese ideology. These dances are more popular during the Chinese new year, but it is 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 a form of Chinese martial arts is a skill and has entertained visitors for its graciousness.

Lighting of firecrackers and fireworks

Lion dance with firecrackers lighting up on the street makes a joyous and wonderful celebration. During the 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 on new year. This kind of activity which originally enjoyed by the Chinese was also adopted by Filipinos and the world — such great influence they had.

Ang pao as a symbol of wealth and abundance

On the busy street is a parade of generous people giving away 'ang pao' to the visitors. This small red envelop with a money on it gives luck to the receiver. Financial abundance is significant to the Chinese and a year filled with financial prosperity is a blessing from God. Being poor is a mental disease and an abundance mindset is a key to success  a belief that brings prosperity in our lives.

Chinese people hold a lot of beliefs for personal, career, business and life in general. Some beliefs include collection of round shape fruits for a never ending prosperity. Tikoy which is a gelatinous delicacy is very popular and symbolizes sweetness and closer relationship with the family. Restaurants offering authentic Chinese foods including noodles, dumplings and other delicacies is a must for good luck. What else on the list? feng shui for prosperity and Chinese martial arts are some of the many influences brought by 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 prevents us from moving forward. Faith is essential for success and all the symbolism can bring prosperity if accompanied by hard work and perseverance.

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

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

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The day when Donald Trump sworn to the millions of Americans and viewers from the world, marks the beginning of a new leadership that will truly rock our world; not just Americans, but perhaps 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 on his mind in solving the biggest problem and controversy? What can we expect from Trump presidency?

It was past midnight in the Philippines when I was able to watch the live telecast of the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington DC, USA. As a Filipino, it is never unusual for us to follow American politics and affairs since American culture had been ingrained on our ways of living. As a former colony of the USA, we have benefited on so many things that makes 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 am enthralled by his inaugural speech not only for the American people but also to a Filipino like me. I haven't heard full speeches of him before and all I have listened to is negative story 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 I could feel the positive spirit covered on his personality. His message was clear, concise and full of positive hopes and dreams for the Americans. His message on the "American first" policy was so nationalistic given the economic policies and principles of the previous administrations. Like any nation in the world. every country must strive to protect and defend its own interest first before meddling on international affairs. The United States, as the most powerful nation has been consistent on its political and economic agenda in all its trading partners and global allies including my country, the Philippines. Our very own President, Rodrigo Duterte has been very vocal on his insights regarding the presence of the Americans in our land and whether they are really a true 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 bring back the 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. Its an act of patriotism considering thousands of jobs that is lost on his own people who are also struggling for a better living. Though it will surely have a negative impact for Filipinos on the BPO industry, still I believe that we Filipinos will remain to be resilient even if we lost it to the Americans. They own it and we're grateful to have been given the opportunity to be of service to 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 on 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 shows his own dream 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 assures unity and solidarity when he started to see where the division is coming in his country. This trait I hope will be instilled on 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 common people and not just the interest of elitist 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 seem 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 becoming world-class citizens. We aspire to have a positive impact in this world and to be recognized as one of the world's best people. We can't allow anyone to destroy or put hindrance on who we are and what we may become. With confidence, we allow positivity to flourish on our soul making us 'titanium' and truly unbreakable. We are what we think and we believe on ourselves when nobody else was.

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

Like a compass, it shows us the right direction. Just like virtue of compassion and good-will, it can guide and direct us towards the right path -- a blissful living. Courage is a fuel that drives us to excel. When we are weak, there's an absence of will-power and to regain it is a challenge to take. The Filipinos must learn to build up strong political power like the United States does. Through the years, we have seen weak leaders who are afraid of implementing social and political changes, until recently that we have elected a leader with a strong will-power whom others compare to Trump in political stance and behavior. Although will-power is a must have virtue a leader must possess, still it is to be taken with great responsibility. With the right mindset, an open and big heart and the will-to-good principle, we can never go wrong and we can soar high above and beyond.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Dalai Lama on What Matters Most

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The world we are living at the moment may be full of chaos, suffering and never-ending conflicts and global problems that are hard to solve. We are living in this world as an effect or consequences of past life struggles and miseries that are carried until the present times. 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 get to experience in our time.

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

Buddhism is not just a religion, but  considered as the science of mind. It is philosophical in nature and tries to answer even the most difficult question about life; man's nature and reason of 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 to this world -- the role we need to play for a better life and a better world.

Noriyuki Ueda, a Japanese Anthropologist was one of those who would want to seek for an answer about the nature of the humanity and the world. He had an opportunity to meet The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. He spent two days of quality discussion and interview with The Dalai Lama, and that was truly an inspirational moment to have been granted a great privilege to sit with a Holy man. It was even more wonderful when the output of the interview 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. It was truly a memorable and meaningful moment in my life to have met a compassionate man and a living Buddha. It was only in his book when I first get to know who he is and what are his greatest contribution in 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, cultural and even political beliefs. This is very notable in today's time when we reach out as brothers in times of difficulties. International aid in times of wars, conflicts and natural calamities; we have seen how humanity is united beyond borders. When we offer humanitarian aid, we do not think of our personal, religious or political differences. We provide help to everyone: muslims, hindus, buddhist 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 towards peace and detached world. Nowadays, people are becoming attached to materialism. People may desire for 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 in terms of financial assets, however they use philanthropy to solve some of the world's problem like poverty. They give massive amount of their wealth to charities and even pledged to give entirely when they die.  Gaining wealth and giving it away for the benefit of the humanity is truly commendable act of sacrifice and altruism. When many people started praying, these wealthy people are already giving away with an open mind and a big heart.

Love is something we give without any condition; hence the term unconditional love to people and everyone who are good and bad. Showing love to enemy, may not be a bad thing or a wrong move. It is a  result of having an open heart and a greater attachment to peace of mind. In times of trouble when we are no longer able to ask help from the people who used to be closer to us, it may be an enemy who will provide the answer to our prayers. Love really works in mysterious way. Those who were persecuted, abandoned and considered an enemy are most likely grateful for the turn around 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 stronger, even more powerful and became a global inspiration. For love is unconditional, we give it to all; even to those whom we think doesn't deserve at all.

'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 the core teachings of Buddha for the humanity. Being enlightened is a spiritual gift and we learn to share it to others. What truly matters is our intention. With an open heart, we can achieve global peace and peace of our mind, soul and spirit.

© 2017 Del Cusay

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Nazareno 2017: Devotion to the Feast of the Black Nazarene

"Upon my reflection, it's no wonder why 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 pains brought by the desire to touch the rope is a symbol of 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 which came from Mexico and was transported to the Philippines on the 17th century gave meaning to our lives as a symbol Christ's passion and suffering on the cross.

Though the flocks of devotees started in 1950s, it remains at the present as one of the most revered Christian event in the Philippines. Since then, Filipino devotees 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 needs spiritual reflection and answer from a true devotee.

Back in 2013, I've witnessed the massive gathering of the faithful. The Feast of The Black Nazarene 2013. That was my first time to attend the live religious event of the Black Nazarene. I didn't witness the traslacion, but I solemnly pray my intentions inside the Minor Basilica, known as the Quiapo church. That was a memorable experience and since then, I had a devotion to celebrate 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 to attend the live event as I missed the two consecutive years. It was a peaceful gathering in the vicinity of  the Quaipo church where devotees pray for intentions and blessings. Beyond the experience is the religious awakening and being one with the millions of Filipinos who are hopeful of achieving a meaningful and fulfilled life.

This year 2017, I haven't attended the live event, however I continue to follow and keep an update of the celebration. Upon my reflection, it's not wonder why 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 pains brought by the desire to touch the rope is a symbol of 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 a mysterious ways and when we're defeated. 

When people suffer and becoming sorrowful, comes an open hand and a grateful heart to receive God's intervention when we rely to his power. What God can do to us is limitless, and we Filipinos believe that no matter how hard life seem to be, still we can 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. For God loves us, and we give back love to the Lord, our God in return.

©️ 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, and set of virtues and spiritual beliefs are essential to living."

The year 2016 has ended with endearing challenges. Some setbacks that created emotional struggle and solitude. Though it was not totally a pleasant year, still I remained to be optimistic and in control of my own reality and destiny. Few years ago, in 2009, I started on believing about the power of the 'Law of Attraction,' that attracts magical experience and magnificent results in my life. I've manifested some thoughtforms and its a very powerful tool to use when being hopeful of your fate and destiny. Since then, manifestation of dreams and desires have been easy. I couldn't imagine at first how I have achieved such a tremendous energy that have 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 on the power of this universe. Law of attraction will still be my guide about wonderful living; just like a spiritual or religious beliefs that I have for years. Not all of our desires were made possible, however with deeper faith and perseverance, it will be achieved in due time and in God's perfect time. The law of universal timing is what I have learned few years back and it has brought a powerful effect in our lives. It served as our guide in business, career and life.

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, and set of virtues and spiritual beliefs are essential to living. The goals that I would set for this year are the thoughts that I may have for years that have not manifested yet, but still trusting that the universe will conspire to make it a reality. I believe that we are destined to achieve everlasting happiness and bliss and capable of becoming a blessing to others in some ways within or beyond our capacity. A mysterious energy would surround and guide our being to renew and relive a meaningful existence. We are bestowed with great powers to manifest our dreams and goals, and this year will be a journey towards a challenging tasks ahead and a rewarding fate and destinations our heart desires.

This year 2017 is about being hopeful of the things that are unimaginable. I still believe in magic. That's an awesome experience worth achieving. I trust that I will be guided internally by my will and instincts of what is right and wrong and lead a better life that is 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 a stronger energy. A balanced living, free from harm and full of optimism would dispel negative energy of manifestation. A Balanced health in all levels and an affluent disposition if God would allow is an ultimate dream.  The list would be longer and to acquire it all requires great energy. I believe that a great year  is not about the winning moments, but the power to stand every time we fall. The battle continues and a wonderful journey lies not only on a strong will, but a grateful heart and a powerful spirit.