Sunday, March 17, 2019

Lent 2019: Our Quest for Personal Transfiguration

"As our faith is always tested, we accept it until we experience our own transfiguration and renewal starting today and for a lifetime."

This day of the Lent marks the commemoration of the transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor in Galilee, Israel when he mysteriously transformed to an illumined Divine being together with prophets Moses and Elijah before the eyes on his three chosen disciples; Peter, James and John.

Back in 2002 when I was on my first year in college at St. Paul in Iloilo, it was announced by our Religious Education teacher that a new set of mystery was added in the rosary as approved and declared by Pope John Paul II and now St. John Paul II, and that is called the Mystery of light or Luminous mystery. 

During those years as a freshman college student what I care most is on how to pass the quiz by memoring the 5 mysteries under the luminous mystery. Those years, I may not have fully understood deeply its meaning yet. 

Fast forward to today, as I contemplate on the Lenten season, I may not memorize the luminous mysteries and pray the rosary, but I want to understand its significance 
in our lives as Christian and how we can live it at the present time.

I may have learned some Biblical stories, but the transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor is a transformative learning and one of the most significant mysteries worth reflecting.

When Jesus brought Peter, James and John to climb at the peak of Mount Tabor to pray, that was the time when God the Father and the Holy spirit have intervened upon the complete transfiguration of Jesus with light upon his face and a radiant illumination of his entire body with the same appearance as Moses and Elijah in front of him. Suddenly, the three disciples heard a voice from above the bright clouds saying "This is my son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him," and it brought fear in them as they lay and covered on the ground. Then Jesus comforted them saying not to be afraid. By the time they look upward and opened their eyes, they only saw Jesus while Moses and Elijah disappeared. As they get down from the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anybody of what they saw until the Son of God will be raised from the dead.

The transfiguration is a manifestation of God's glory that Jesus is the living son of God and what that meant for his disciples was to strengthen their faith for the coming of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

In relation to that Biblical story, in this living world at the present, our biological Father is always there with us to guide and show us the light when we are misguided by outside influence and in trouble. If only we listen to him, we get to our own path of enlightenment and we bloom to become a radiant human being, and this will also become the light that will shield our love ones and others whom we have touched lives. 

As we carry our own cross, we experience endless human suffering through physical, emotional, mental and spiritual setbacks which is inherent of a human being. This is also our version of strengthening our faith in God whenever we are falsely accused, prosecuted and crucified by others in some ways.

Sometimes, it is when we walk a thousand miles and climb the highest hill until we reach the mountain's peak to feel solitude and have a heaven on earth experience. Like Jesus and his chosen disciples, they climbed at Mount Tabor to experience a Divine transfiguration. Here on earth, we experience our fullness of being and Divinity when we are away from too much noise to contemplate, meditate and pray in the presence of God, not just at the mountain's summit, but in anywhere we go and settle  in the church, community or at home. 

As our faith is always tested, we accept it until we experience our own transfiguration and renewal starting today and for a lifetime.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Lent 2019: The Corporal Works of Mercy in Our Time

"We may just have enough resources, but sometimes we know how it feels when we have nothing, so we learn to give even a little out of gratitude for the blessings we have received. On this lenten season, we strive to reflect on our Christian values and the teachings of the Christ to live in our hearts forever."

As a Christian we are called to practice "Acts of Mercy" particularly the "Corporal Works of Mercy" as an act of penance and charity just like the merciful acts of Christ before his passion, death and resurrection.

It may be a thousand years practice since the time of Jesus, but the spirit is alive to be practiced in today's time  our time.

Corporal works of mercy concerns the physical needs of the vulnerable people to ease their discomfort and suffering and to uplift their condition when they are on their lowest moments of their lives. However, the modern world has become so advanced and complicated that the 'rule of men' is to be followed rather than the 'law of God' which to some may be an obsolete commandments.

Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty

On personal observation, there is a conflict between my religious beliefs against our governmental law on the practice of corporal works of mercy. For instance, whenever I walk on the street and see old people begging for money, I have to think twice whether to give them few bucks as an almsgiving or just ignore them and walk straight ahead. Our Philippine law says not to give alms to the beggars since we may never know who will truly benefit from the money that they have collected. That's the 'Anti-mendicancy law' which prohibits almsgiving to street beggars in the Philippines.

In my mind our lawmakers may have some point about the legislation, but in my heart I feel the need to extend my hand and give a little amount from the pocket for them to buy food and drinks since they are hungry and thirsty. I may have been in conflict with the law, but the act of giving gave me a good feeling that somehow I have helped someone to feed themselves. They asked for it and they shall receive. It may be a violation or a crime, but I give anyway.

Clothe the Naked

Few months back I've watched the Netflix series about Tidying up with Mari Kondo and I was amazed by her Konmari method of keeping valuable things that makes us feel good while throwing away those things that doesn't spark joy. However, there is something lacking. Will you just throw it away since it doesn't give joy to you? or will you give it to others who may need it?

Sometimes, what we think is garbage to us is already a gold to others. This is significant in today's time since we buy so many stuff like clothes to fill in our wardrobe and just keep it even if we don't feel like wearing it already; then comes the Konmari method of giving it away instead of thrashing it out. May not exactly be a street beggar, but even to a simple person who will appreciate it and need it most.

Shelter the homeless

Nowadays, we may have some trust issues for security reason that's why we scrutinize people's intention before we let them inside our home. However, to give shelter to homeless would also mean to give a temporary shelter to those who are displaced from natural calamities like typhoon and flooding which is a common phenomenon in our time. We may not be able to accommodate the many, but we can take care of a few for their survival.

To a greater extent, our government provides evacuation centers as a temporary shelter and in some instances also provide permanent housing for the victims of calamities to help rebuild their lives.

Visit the sick, the imprisoned and bury the dead

Other family whose relative have been in conflict with the law may have suffered from lawless violence and unjust killing due to absence of judicial process to prove their innocence is against the principle of 'innocence unless proven guilty' and now the reality seem to be the reverse which is 'guilty unless proven innocent' which is a violation of human rights.

If proven guilty under the judicial process, one has to suffer imprisonment and not to end one's life as if his life doesn't matter and has no right to correct himself, be renewed and become productive member of the society again.

How can you visit someone who is supposed to be imprisoned and is suffering from mental, emotional and spiritual sickness when your visit is now on his wake; on the coffin and to pay last respect as the dead body is burried. That is somewhat a harsh reality in the Philippine society nowadays.

I belive that  There is Holiness in You no matter how evil you have become and that is a human nature. We were born naturally good and somehow lost our holiness as we experience our life on earth, but that doesn't mean we can't bring back our old self and bring back the holiness from within.

The Corporal Works of Mercy may be an old Divine law, but its significance still reigns in our time. We give food to the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. 

We may not practice all the corporal works of mercy which is a Christian obligation, but we can do our best to show love and compassion to our brothers and sisters who are in need. When we live in comfort, others may be living in extreme poverty and hunger. When we have the freedom, some may feel threatened for their life and feel defenseless. When we feel all the love and care, others may feel unwanted, abandoned and uncared. There may never be an equality, but we can work for a charity to help others achieve liberty.

We may just have enough resources, but sometimes we know how it feels when we have nothing, so we learn to give even a little out of gratitude for the blessings we have received. On this lenten season, we strive to reflect on our Christian values and the teachings of the Christ to live in our hearts forever.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lent 2019: The Road to Healing

Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral, Caloocan 

Today marks the beginning of our soulful journey as we celebrate Ash Wednesday the beginning of the lent. This has been observed as a religious tradition that symbolizes our impurity as a sinner, thus we come to Christ for repentance and prayer.

In this modern world, we are bound to be tempted of dwelling on the dark side; falling into sin and taking the road against the light. In the eyes of God and men, we are all sinners in some ways and at some point in our lives. It is through admission of sins after suffering from guilt that our journey to healing commence and our impurity to be washed out bringing back the holiness from within.

I have learned from a wisdom of my teacher back in college when she said that 'man is good in nature, but has been tempted to commit a sin through the influence of the environment' and that principle will remain in my heart to look at the good side of everyone no matter how bad that person is. There's A Certain Holiness in You no matter how evil you have become and it is God who will rightfully judge us at the end of our life as we join him in our life after death.

Our 40 days of celebrating the Lent is not to become holy, but for us to reflect on our misdeeds and overcoming challenges as we strive to live a holy life. This greatest challenge means to defeat evil in our daily life; through our thoughts, words and actions. This is never an easy challenge, but through personal reflection and devotion we can unleash the purity of our heart to do good and avoid evil.

Lent 2013: Embracing Christ in Our Lives
 is a reminder of reliving our holiness before Christ. We have sinned and may commit sins in our lifetime, but putting Christ at the center of our lives serves as a guidance on how to live a better life free from pain and sufferings.

As we grow spiritually, we are also called to give inspiration and hope to those who are sick in spirit, to get rid of negativity and shower Divine love and light for an everlasting journey on the road to healing and recovery.

A Blissful Lenten Journey!

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Farm Life: Young Farmer's Dream

The Phillipines is now taking the challenge on how it could revive the glorious days when it was once an Asian leader in Agriculture back in the 60s which was our parents or grandparents' generation.

It's hard to believe that the rice industry which is one of the Agricultural subsector  is dying in the Philippines when it was reported recently that the sector has a very little statistical contribution in our country's economy in 2018 report. This revelation seems an admission of failure not only to improve our Agricultural sector, but also a failure to uplift the lives of our farmers. This could be the reason why our younger generations do not see the future in farming and they do not accept the challenge to enherit this noble profession from their parents. 

Reviving interest in Agriculture

The reality is that farming takes a lot of effort, time and patience and these could be the reasons why our youth would choose to take non-agricultural studies to be their profession. Another reason could be the misconception that there are no better opportunities in agriculture and it is not highly profitable as compared to working as a corporate employee in a big company. 

I may belong in a Healthcare sector as my primary profession, but I have an interest in agriculture and looking forward to embracing a farm life. Back in 2008 just after my graduation in college, I was able to help my parents in their business of buying rice grains (unmilled) from our local rice farmers. I was a cashier back then and it gave me sense of joy to see them receiving their hard earned money out of their produce. I reminisce the time when I was just a young kid playing in a rice field during the harvest season, and as I grew up I have learned to appreciate and express my gratitude to our farmers. In my heart, I know that our local rice farmers had a big contribution in my college education and also the money they received out of their produce is to finance the education of their own children. 

The search for young farmers

It was just recently in February when I heard the news from my Father that there is a decline in the number of students who have shown interest to pursue Agricultural course in the newly established College of Agriculture (CAPSU) in our town in Jamindan, Capiz. 

My father, who is himself a farmer and the Committee Chairman on Agriculture in the Sangguniang Bayan is concerned of the possible closure of the college of Agriculture if there will be a very low number of enrollees for the school year 2019-2020. He has to do something together with our local officials and colleagues in public service to promote and revive the interest of the students in taking agricultural studies. They may be a son or daughter of a farmer of a less privileged family, but has the courage and the passion in Agriculture and strongly believe that there is a better future in Agriculture sector.

The future in Agriculture 

Nowadays, we see agricultural farms converted into shopping malls and subdivisions or townhouses which was acquired from our farmers. If this is now our present reality we have to be alarmed as we will soon be losing the farmland that gives us food to eat and finance our children's education. We can never control the future and its fast devopment, but we can do something if we learn to cultivate love in the soil that will give us a better future. 

Agripreneurship or Agribiz is now the trend in the hope to revive our love for Agriculture. We have heard some stories of former OFWs who started farming in their province and became wealthy. We have heard about former corporate employee who turned into farming and earned a better income. We also have people in the city who are now into urban farming despite of limited lot area and it is their source of organic food in the table. 

Farm tourism is the next Big thing

As we grow our love and passion in Agriculture, we also get to share it with people through farm tourism which is a great societal contribution. If there is a strawberry farm in La Trinidad, a grape farm in La Union and Garin Farm in Iloilo, then the newest farm destination could be owned by you and you can help promote our town and the province by attracting tourist to visit and patronize farm produce.

Support to our young farmers

Let us continue to support our Agricultural sector so that our younger generation will appreciate what their parents have started. Let us help revive our school of Agriculture to give students an opportunity to acquire quality education and become the next Agriculturist and Agripreneur who will bring quality and healthy food on our table. Let us continue to hear The Voice of The Filipino Farmers so that they will be more empowered.

Farming lifestyle may be challenging but it is gaining attention to the young ones and many people in rural and urban areas are still attracted to it. It's not hard to believe that the future is in Agriculture and there is future in Agriculture; and that future starts today.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Social Commentary: Universal Healthcare for All Filipinos

It was in August 2018 that I fell in line to pay for the annual Philhealth contribution of my sister and her family and I was glad to see hundreds of people who were there to invest for health insurance in exchange for a good Healthcare benefits offered by the agency.  As a Healthcare worker, I have pledged not only for the healing of the sick people but also to become an advocate for health promotion and prevention. That time as I was seated on a chair to wait for my priority number to flash on the screen, I had a realization that people no matter their economic status are now becoming more aware of the advantages of having a healthy family that is free of illnesses and diseases and becoming a productive contributor in the society. 

But how about those individual or families who have no access to basic healthcare due to economic hardship? They may feel ineligible and intimidated for their Healthcare rights and they remain to be vulnerable to health crisis and health threat. 

I am glad to know that on February 20, 2019, finally the Universal Healthcare Act was enacted into law which grants all Filipinos to have access to affordable and better healthcare. This is a positive and perhaps the greatest measure towards a healthier citizens leading to productivity and wellness. 

Talking about the agency that has the mandate for its implementation, the Philippine Health Insurance Company or better known as Philhealth will have to ensure the automatic eligibility and membership of all Filipinos regardless of social and  economic standing; a greater service for our less privileged families and individual. 

The Fight for Universal Healthcare

This new law is not just an achievement of the legislative and executive body, but this is a great achievement of all Filipinos who have long been hoping for this initiative.

Just imagine how could Western countries able to give Universal Healthcare to its citizens that have started several years or decades back and why couldn't our country do the same? This has been a puzzle to me and perhaps to other Filipino who had a glimpse of the Healthcare status in a foreign country. 

Now our time has come, but the implementing rules and regulation of the new law is yet to be laid and we have to be aware of the Healthcare coverage, how we can truly benefit from it and when shall we start to benefit from it. 

Benefits of the Universal Healthcare Law

What the Philhealth can guarantee is the basic Healthcare services to existing premium contributors, indirect contributors or the indigents like our Senior Citizens and Persons with Disability and the non-indigent or non-premium contributor. That would mean free consultation, laborary tests and diagnostic tests are among the basic services covered to everyone. Almost all scope of health is covered including preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care which gives holistic health and wellness to everyone. 

Sustainable Healthcare development 

Although we welcome the great Healthcare measures, we are yet to experience how it will be delivered. The funding source has been determined and the implementation of this new law will be gradual considering that the funding will be coming from a pool of different agency funds. 

The new law is very promising, however we would like also to see its greater success and development from now and in years to come and not to be exploited and mismanaged by our people in Healthcare authority. 

Issues in the Philippine Health Insurance

Our National Health Insurance Company, the Philhealth and private Health Management Organizations (HMO) has been delivering its healthcare services in partnership with our Healthcare institutions; hospitals, clinics, health centers nationwide. They have always been to the rescue whenever we seek medical help, however their insurance coverage is not comprehensive as they do not cover all health conditions and other health services and this has been a challenge for those who couldn't afford or having financial difficulty at the time of seeking medical attention. 

When I was working at The Medical City in Iloilo, I have already learned about issues like non-payment or delay of payment of Philhealth for hospital claims to several member hospitals in the country. This would also cause for delay in the hospitals to pay their medical providers and this has led to another issue that some medical providers would charge their clients an additional cash payment for professional fee which is already covered by Philhealth. This issue happened to my sister and she asserted her rights against the double charging of her provider.  This scenario would lose the confidence of other Philhealth members if such case happens to them which is against the primary goal of Philhealth on its mandate to lessen the financial burden of Filipinos upon seeking medical treatment. 

Continuous Healthcare reform 

The Universal Healthcare law is a good start in providing Healthcare access to All Filipinos; a measure that no one will be excluded and left behind in Healthcare services due to poor economic status. 

However, challenges in Government and corporate social service is still something that Filipinos must all fight to be able to achieve a better healthcare for all. 

For the Philhealth, may the agency uphold good governance and continue to update their policies and coverage to package benefits that are not selective to particular medical condition. This is a burden to the Filipino people because we do not choose the kind of disease once it strikes just to be covered by our insurance provider. We do not choose when to get sick and when to get treated. We do not choose the end of our physical suffering and the end of our life. 

We do not have control on our health crisis, but we can do something for its promotion and prevention so we will not suffer and pay for its consequence. We have to take good care of our health so we will be spared from illnesses and diseases. Though it is inevitable, we can help ourselves, our families and communities by choosing healthy lifestyle that is away from too much stress and vices so we can achieve health and longevity leading to a productive citizen that we can be.

As we continue to contribute towards nation-building, we have to be respectfully assertive of our healthcare bill of rights and at the same time be supportive of our Government's mandate in providing better healthcare to All Filipinos so we can achieve wellness and so we can live our greatest life.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Social Commentary: The Voice of the Filipino Farmers

The Philippine Agriculture was once a very promising sector in its excellence in providing sufficient agricultural products to every Filipinos through active and strategic partnership between our farmers and the Government. We were an agricultural leader in Asia back then and our Agricultural Scientists used to share their expertise in rice farming to other Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand.

I remember back in the late 80's when we used to play by throwing muds in the newly plowed rice field just after the harvest season; the time when rice farming was the major source of livelihood of most families in our town. Whenever we visit other barangays from the town center, we get to breathe in fresher air passing through the green field of newly planted rice during the planting season, while during dry season just before the harvest in March or April, the field turns into a beautiful golden brown grains of rice.

Those were the days when rice farming was a robust industry and highly profitable for both rice farmers and traders who are in the business of buying and selling rice. Those were also the busy days for my parents on making a living as a rice trader in our town that lasted for about 2 decades.

As a kid, it was hard to compete for attention with our parents on some busy days when they buy hundreds of sacks of rice from our local farmers, but that was also a good time for play whenever it is already stacked in our warehouse; the kind of play that some kids of today may not relate. Those were the past and one of the happiest moments worth remembering.

Challenges in the Agriculture 

Starting the new millennium several challenges emerged in our Agricultural sector most especially in the rice industry. There were corruption issues with the Agriculture Department and the National Food Authority; a Government agency that regulates and maintains sufficient rice supplies for the staple food of Filipinos. Other issues include lack of government support for farming machineries like pre and post harvest facilities, conversion of agricultural land to residential or industrial, and the low trade price of rice produce from the farmers due to the proliferation of rice cartels.

Just in the recent years our Government faced even more challenges like increasing price of commercial rice due to artificial low supply against its high demand to feed millions of Filipinos. With the lack of agricultural facilities, we are not able to produce the best quality and quantity of rice leading to lesser productivity and profitability of our rice farmers

The Rice Tarrification Law

Fast forward in 2019, just recently on February 15 when Rice Tarrification Bill was enacted into law with a measure to deregulate rice importation of private businessmen and individuals from countries like Thailand and Vietnam. The law also made some restrictions on the power of NFA for regulation and importation of rice, and they will just maintain enough stocks of rice for calamities. One of the best promises included on the revised law is the annual 10 billion peso Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund for a 6-year period and will be assessed whether to continue or revise the measure. The RCEF is a common fund that will come from the rice import taxes that is said to be given to farmers in order to address the existing challenges in rice production like the purchase of farm machineries, to provide credit or loan service to farmers and for skills development in farming.

The effect to our rice farmers

This new law seems a short term goal to address the current inflation when our poor families couldn't even afford to buy expensive rice. However, this could also affect our local rice farmers when they could not sell their produce at a good price making them helpless and leaving no choice but to continue rice farming as a means of livelihood.

The flooding of cheaper commercial rice in the market will be beneficial for the Filipino consumers in general, however the promises on the newly enacted law would not be as promising as it seems. We could not forget the alleged agricultural scams like the fertilizer fund scam, diversion of agricultural funds to fake NGOs and the present day 'bukbok' rice or the insect infested imported rice despite of its lower price. Hopefully, this RCEF would not be another corruption in the making.

If there's an existing curruption in the Agricultural sector which remain to be a culture, the new law shouldn't be at the expense of our local farmers. Although we can give the new law a chance for the benefits it could give, still I feel for the unheard voices of our farmers. I am a son of a rice farmer and I have seen the hardship of our farmers who sweat it out under the sun and even through the rain to give us a staple food to eat on our table. Our farmers deserve to have a better life through the full support of our government from laws and programs that would help improve their greatest source of livelihood.

We do not want to see one day that our farmlands that are previously owned by an ordinary farmers will become a gated community or townhouse owned by an oligarch. We do not want to see our country losing agricultural scientists who preferred to work abroad for a greener pasteur. We do not want to see our future children losing interest in agricultural studies and activities. And we do not want to see our farmers dying because even them don't have something to eat because the government killed the rice farming industry.

As I go back home in our hometown, another townhouse that is previously a farmland might be rising and another hectare for private houses along the road are built. This happens when farmers sell their land to real estate developers for residential or industrial development.

In few years time our next generation might not be able to enjoy the greenfield and the golden brown rice harvest that we used to enjoy. Those years of pure happiness away from modernity and technology that the present time have embraced. In few years time, we will gradually be shifting from agricultural to industrial and the vast farmland and lush greeneries will just be a thing of the past.

Let us help save our Agricultural sector by hearing the voices of our farmers who are the source and major producer of our food on the table. Let us patronize local produce and learn to appreciate and embrace agriculture in our modern way of living and so we can help our farmers thrive and live a decent and comfortable life they deserve.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Heart's Desire: Evolution of Love

To love someone and be loved in return must be a source of joy most especially when we are suffering from emotional setbacks like loneliness, apathy and grief. There are times when some  people struggle to find the real meaning of love when they feel lost and empty.

However, love has different meaning to individuals. For the orphan, a warm hug gives them a feeling of acceptance and security. For the single parent and a widow, raising their kids well gives them sense of dignity and pride. For the elderly, they get the highest respect from the young ones. These are the positive emotions where love wins.

In today's society we also have the victims of circumstances that made them view love differently. For the homeless, they feel less secured and abandoned. For the rebel groups, they may feel deprived of equal rights and opportunities. And for the sick and dying, they may feel unfulfilled, uncared and unloved.

Love has several meanings as we go through the stages in life. When we were a kid, we feel so much love from our parents. As we go through teenage years, we feel the acceptance and love of our peers. When we are now working and serving people, we feel the love for our countrymen and the nation. That is how love evolves in time. 

Following Our Heart's Desire  is a reminder to chase for our most coveted goals to achieve and to keep going on when life seem to be challenging in the achievement of our most cherished hopes and dreams. That may be the stage in life when we have all the energy and hopeful desires for success.

Heart's Desire: Living A Fantastic Life is service beyond self. It's about experiencing bliss; a higher level of happiness that is Divinely inspired. When we reach out to other people though public service, we give part of our Divinity inherent of a human being. Then we go beyond our selfish desires which is all about us; our ego.

Heart's Desire: Living A Humanitarian Life is a realization of a higher level of love when we go beyond our love for self and love for our family. It is about humanitarian service though charity work or public service that gives us the opportunity to serve both the privileged and the underprivileged sectors in the society.

Evolution of love may be beyond life on earth as we may believe in 'life after death' and may continue to guide the love ones who are still fighting for love; the meaning of love and their own evolution of love.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Election 2019: Making Voices Heard

The official campaign period for the National midterm election seem to have started already, although it's very obvious to be a premature campaigning when we have seen political ads on television and posters on the streets since 2018.

In the coming May 13 election, we will again select and vote for the candidates who will serve our country and the people. We will be choosing our 12 Senatorial bets for the national post and electing our own officials from Provincial Governors down to Municipal Councilors.

It's a midterm election and several candidates are now sharing their political views and expertise to some of the issues confronting our nation. Several issues that are currently popular like drug war, extrajudicial killings, terrorism, medical marijuana, age of criminal responsibility, defense of territorial waters and revival of death penalty. 

We also have our long time issues such as poverty alleviation, graft and corruption, unemployment, drug addiction, crime prevention, population control, reproductive heath, environmental protection and climate change. These are some of the many issues that our national candidates have to face once elected. For our local candidates, they will be representing the interests of their constituents and legislate local laws or ordinances to address socio-political issues and to uplift the living conditions of the people.

The media has the biggest influence for the public to know the candidate's profile, background and experience, and the good thing is when the media organizations serve as a medium for knowing our candidate's platforms and intentions. 

I have watched the senatorial forum hosted by CNN Philippines and the Senatorial debate from GMA network on this month and I believe that thousands of Filipinos were able to hear on what their senatorial bets have to say on various issues. We may have different reactions or emotions on their views; either we have agreed and was amused or disagreed and got disappointed. 

On March 29, we will also be hearing our local candidates on their political views. It may not be as grand as the national candidates' campaign, but their common intention is to serve and be the voice of their constituents. 

Campaign period may be the most exhausting part in the candidate's possible victory since they devote their energy, time and money. Thus, we the voters must also spend some time to know our candidates. Their stance on various issues of our nation and our locality are significant in nation-building and good governance. 

Amidst the different voices, we can learn how to filter those who are significant and a reflection of our own values and virtues. Our guiding principle shall rule and not the outside influence brought by media and black propaganda. 

Our vote matters and let us exercise this right in the upcoming May 13 election. For now, it is not just the fight of our candidates, but it is the fight of all Filipino people towards a better community and a better country.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Friday, February 8, 2019

Social Commentary: Lessons from Vaccination Scare and Disease Outbreak

It was on February 6, 2019 that the Department of Health declared an outbreak of measles disease in the National Capital Region including regions in Luzon; Central Luzon and CALABARZON. Just a day after, it was declared that the outbreak expanded in the Visayas; Central, Eastern and Western Visayas.

The disease outbreak is just a year after the controversial Dengvaxia scare with several deaths of children linked with the Dengvaxia: a vaccine for Dengue.

Although it was not medically proven through studies and investigation by the Department of Health, still the Public Attorney's Office headed by its Chief, Persida Acosta defended the human rights of her clients when she insisted that it was indeed Dengvaxia vaccine caused the death of children who received it.

How the deadly controversy started

It was revealed late last year by Acosta  that the President himself ordered her office to pursue on filing a criminal complaint to several personalities of the past administration who are allegedly involved in the Dengvaxia controversy and that includes former President Aquino, Former Department of Health Secretary Garin and the present DOH Secretary Duque.

Since then Acosta actively pushed for public information on the dangers of  Dengvaxia and the vaccination program, and this controversy led to discouragement and fear against vaccination. 

Dr. Acosta has the interest to fight for the rights of her clients and to follow his excellency, the President. As a Doctor of Social Development, she has the expertise and advocacy for human rights and legal aid; that I believe where she is coming from on this matter.

From Advocacy to Disaster 

Apparently, Acosta's advocacy went wrong when her allegations about the Dengvaxia-related deaths caused a sudden drop in immunization records of the DOH starting in 2018 until the present. Parents are scared to have their children get vaccinated by Dengvaxia and even other vaccinations including MMR vaccines (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) which has caused an epidemic of measles in several regions in the country and was reported to be thousands of cases and several deaths already. 

Disinformation and fake news can kill

With the Dengvaxia scare, over 2 million Filipino children are currently at risk of contracting measles which is a highly contagious airborne disease causing respiratory complications that can be lethal. 

This would not have happened if there was no mass hysteria coming from several personalities from broadcast media and social media. The disinformation easily spread and was accepted by their followers to be an absolute truth. 

Nowadays, thousands or millions of Filipinos are a victim of fake news or disinformation with social media in particular. Social media influencers has to be responsible for their words or statement so not to create confusion, and also for followers and the general public to learn how to decipher real news from the fake ones.

Turn around of circumstances

With the rising number of measles cases across the country, the Department of Health and President Duterte himself have step up to lead a campaign on national television for families to have their children get vaccinated from diseases. The public call was followed by Vice President Robredo and now, the Chief Public Attorney, Persida Acosta who seemed to be remorseful when she expressed to the public not to be scared of vaccination to spare children from getting measles considering its alarming rates: a step she made just after the call for her resignation by our Senators and some people. 

Our leaders have the biggest role to play in all of these circumstances affecting the state of health of the Filipino children. They may have reflected on their shortcomings and they are now doing their part to correct the mistakes they have caused. For the Chief Public Attorney, her sudden active campaign for vaccination may not be an admission of guilt, hence taking responsibility for her actions if her advocacy to fight for her clients led to health crisis our country is facing. 

Our Call to action 

May this health crisis serve as a call to other media personalities and social media influencers to do the same thing and to stop from disinformation campaign causing trial by publicity and untoward events and worst is loss of lives. We have lost the confidence of our people in our Government's immunization campaign and it might take time for others to regain the trust.

Full immunization is very important in developing immunity against highly communicable diseases. Imagine if all children received full immunization, we are closer to eradicating diseases like measles.

We have already eradicated diseases like polio, maternal and neonatal tetanus, hence we can also achieve a measles-free country and eradicate other diseases through full immunization. It may be a challenging task for our healthcare workers, but with the active campaign of our government and the cooperation of the public, the goal can be achieved. 

As a Healthcare advocate, I want to protect my family and the public through health education for them to live their best life that they deserve. Whoever we are, we have the capacity to become a health advocate and our advocacy can create a ripple effect towards a healthy citizenry and community. 

© 2019 Del Cusay

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Celebrating Chinese New Year 2019: Luck, Prosperity and Faith

Lion and Dragon Dance 
Chinese new year has been part of the Philippine culture for centuries and is celebrated by Filipinos from all walks of life most especially of Chinese descent we call as Tsinoy or Intsik.

In Binondo, a district in Manila, a vibrant and colorful celebration happens every Chinese New year to welcome prosperity and abundance in businesses established by the Tsinoys with majority of the community came from Fujian and Guangdong province in China.

Grand Parade at Ongpin St. in Binondo
Centuries have past, they have endured the challenges of wars and conflicts in their little community we call as Chinatown in Binondo as well as communities established in other places in the Philippine archipelago. But today their businesses thrive in Binondo and they have conquered almost all commerce and industries becoming business leaders.

Our Philippine culture is greatly influenced by the Tsinoys as evidenced by the food that we serve during holidays, beliefs on luck through Chinese astrology or horoscope, Chinese martial arts, Chinese feng shui and Chinese arts and architectural designs and structures. Today, all of these influences are alive in Binondo particularly in the famous street of Ongpin - - the center of Chinese New year celebration in the country.

Fruits and lucky charms 

Even in politics and governance, Tsinoys have been elected to serve the country. Beyond their business interests, they have proven to be an effective public servant becoming truly Filipino by heart. From their ancestors as a Chinese immigrant to the Philippines, they now have a massive influence in Philippine politics and Filipinos patronise their brand of leadership.

My journey in Binondo started back in 2013. Celebrating the Chinese New Year 2013: A New Beginning was meaningful and a joyful experience. That was the beginning of a Chinese-Filipino culture immersion for a greater understanding of the deeply-rooted Chinese culture and influence in the country.

Five years after, Celebrating Chinese New Year 2018: Prosperity and Abundance was a celebration of success and thanksgiving for a greater year that has passed and a greater optimism for the current year. That's the essence; becoming better and bolder every year.

This year of the Pig according to Chinese culture brings wealth and prosperity through beliefs and symbols that one must possess. This has been adopted by most Filipinos and every year we strive to become better version of our self and free ourselves from obsolete beliefs. Every new year is a renewal and a vow through the lists of resolution. We may believe in luck, but it is also our faith and personal devotion to a higher source that brings success and prosperity in life.

May our dreams and hopes become higher and brighter as we celebrate a new year with optimism and grace, this year and beyond.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Pasinaya 2019: Rights, Freedom and Culture

Pasinaya 2019 Opening Ceremony 

Philippine arts and culture is truly alive and this year we are celebrating our identity as a Filipino through the Pasinaya Festival. This is the 15th year celebration since it started in 2005.

"Pasinaya" means an inauguration or a grand opening of the many arts and cultural presentation offered by the Cultural Center of the Philippines to the Filipinos and even to foreigners who would want to explore more about our culture.

I haven't known this festival for several years until I have discovered the festival's  opening ceremony in the vicinity of the Cultural Center of the Philippines back in 2013. During that time, we were having a Sunday workout (basic martial arts and meditation) with my colleagues at the ASEAN Garden of the CCP complex. With my curiosity of the event and my interest in cultural programs, I decided to come back in the afternoon and was able to catch up with the shows presented by the CCP resident companies and other presentations in the CCP main ramp and alleys.

That was my first time to watch the presentations of the CCP resident companies like the Madrigal Singers, Bayanihan Folk Dance Company and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra whom have given honor and prestige to the Philippines in the world stage through their world class performances.

Pasinaya 2019 Art displays

Pasinaya 2013: Rediscovering Philippine Arts and Culture  was my first ever experience of this great festival. It was very memorable and I was  grateful to have a glimpse of our diverse culture through arts, music and dance that were brought to life by performers from different places in the country.

The fascination followed the year after in 2014 when I introduced my sister to the festival who appreciates such cultural event. After missing the event in 2015 and 2016, I was able to experience the festival again in 2017.

Pasinaya 2017: Arts for Peace 
was even bigger and more significant when Filipinos can be united though arts despite of the wars and conflicts that we have experienced during that time. Even today when conflicts still happens due to terrorism and religious differences, we can be united though our appreciation of Philippine Arts and music. Various musical instruments and melodies, but brings harmony and camaraderie to everyone regardless of age, creed and social status.

Last year was also memorable event when I invited a friend who also appreciates Philippine Arts and culture.

Pasinaya 2019 Performers from different schools

Pasinaya 2018: Love for the Philippine Arts is about giving our highest appreciation and respect to Philippine Arts and culture which is considered to be the soul of our nation and our identity to the world.

I have witnessed and experienced the past 4 years of Pasinaya celebrations and it makes me proud of being a Filipino as I continue to explore the depth of our culture and national identity.

Pasinaya 2019 CCP Resident Companies

For the year 2019, I was able to watch performances from different participating schools and all the performances from the CCP resident companies: the Ballet Philippines, UST Symphony Orchestra, Philippine Ballet Theater, NAMCYA, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, Philippine Madrigal Singers, Bayanihan Dance Company and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. This year's theme is Karapatan, Kalayaan at Kultura (Rights, Freedom and Culture) and thousands of Filipino arts and culture enthusiasts are gathered to celebrate their being Filipino. This years' theme reminds us of our rights to express our thoughts and emotions of the current events affecting our nation. Just like freedom of expression, we must remain to be vocal  and not to be silent of the issues confronting our nation. We must be free to express our sentiments whenever we are suppressed of our rights
and freedom.

Every Filipino has a voice and our collective voices can make a difference in nation-building and for strengthening our culture. We have our own identity that even globalization couldn't break us apart, but instead unite as one nation and be truly Filipino in words, deeds and thought.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Social Commentary: Terrors of the Bangsamoro People

I have never visited the Island of Mindanao, but I always look forward to see and explore its beauty and hidden gems. I believe that the entire Island has so many beautiful wonders to offer to visitors amidst the chaos and wars that tainted the reputation of the place.

Since the 'Battle of Marawi' in 2017 where hundreds died and thousands left wounded and homeless, I am one of those who condemn the barbaric act and inhuman activities of the terrorist groups responsible for the attacks. The battle may be a result of a challenge from the country's most powerful man who showed no restraint in his words, but the collateral damage were the thousands of people who are victims of the war.

The peace process in Mindanao may be endless due to the conflicts resulting to bombings in many places in Mindanao, from Zamboanga City to Davao City and just recently the twin bombings in Jolo, Sulu when a Roman Catholic Cathedral was blasted with an improvised explosives that killed more than 20 innocent lives and others wounded. This time it may be due to the result of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law where the Sulu province voted for 'NO' which means they wouldn't want to be included in the new Bangsamoro region.

Islamic state-inspired group have claimed the attack, but this is about religious attack. I condemn it because as a Catholic, I also feel being attacked with my faith. I also feel wounded in spirit. I can't imagine how people have lost their lives in a sacred place. I also can't imagine how I can be a potential victim when I visit Cathedrals anywhere in the country or when I celebrate religious festivals.

Our Catholic faith has been a target of verbal attacks by the current President himself. We have endured several insults against our faith and the leaders of the church. Our Pope and Bishops have been mocked and even our God has been insulted. These verbal attacks may be the reason why terrorist groups could easily destroy us. The President has to protect its people, but we are being prosecuted in his words and deeds as suffer the consequences. This may not be the first religious  attack, but there may be more unwanted attacks in the future; it could be in a church in my hometown, in a minor basilica where I usually visit or a simple Chapel full of people.

As a Catholic faithful, I strongly condemn any form of terrorism that take away the lives and properties of anyone regardless of faith  may be Christian or Muslim. I have known some people who are from Islam faith, but I believe they are the good ones. What this world wants is to eradicate the radical Islam ideology which aim is to create chaos and wars versus non-Muslims.

I believe that God is good, but could there be A Violent God in Our Time when what we are experiencing are violence and religious attacks and not so Godly activities by those who belong to a certain faith.

We are now on the 21st century and 2 years from now the Philippines which is predominantly a Christian country will be celebrating its 500th years of Christianity. It will be a joyful celebration of a massive flock of faithful and devotees. I hope when that time comes would be truly a peaceful and joyous celebration to everyone.

We can achieve lasting peace between Muslims and Christians especially in Mindanao if leaders will set aside personal and selfish political interests and abandon radical Islam ideologies. It's not about the Moros, but Mindanao is for everyone regardless of religion. The time comes when Mindanao attain peace is a great achievement for those who worked hard for the peace process. It will be the time when we see more Christian churches in a predominantly Muslim state of Mindanao where people solemnly express their faith and will not be fearful for their lives.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Celebrating the Feast of Sto. Niño 2019

I'm always fascinated with the Philippine culture most especially on how Filipinos would celebrate festivals; showcasing the best in arts with a modern twist.

This month of January is a month-long celebration of one of the grandest festival in the country - - the Feast of Sto. Niño. This is perhaps one of the oldest religious festival in honor of the Holy Child Jesus which was brought in the archipelago in 16th century. Five centuries have past and we are still celebrating the presence of the Holy Child Jesus. It is everywhere; in churches, chapels, our home altars and in our hearts.

What makes it significant in our lives is the innocent appeal of the image of Sto. Niño. As a Christian, we are called to emulate his character and to strengthen our faith in his name. 

I may have not witnessed the grandest festival in honor of Sto. Niño like Sinulog, Dinagyang and Ati-atihan, but I have been celebrating a long procession of the different images of Sto. Niño in Tondo, Manila and Caloocan City for 4 years and  My previous years' celebration below:

Here, people are dancing with the loud beat of the drums while carrying a Sto. Niño image. The young and the old, the rich and the poor are together in this celebration.

Our endless devotion to Sto. Niño is about accepting Jesus in our lives. When we are weak then comes the strength. When there is sadness, comes happiness. And in desperate cases comes hope.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Starting The New Year Right: Wisdom from Master Del Pe

Two weeks after the New year's day celebration and people may be gaining momentum on their new year's resolutions. It's overwhelming! since it takes discipline to keep going on and lots of patience in waiting for the desired result.

Whatever people may have set as their goal for this year 2019  would never be easy from the start, but having a positive mindset and determination can help if serious in making things happen. There is no shortcut, there's no such thing as hacking our way to success. We have to learn our past lessons and make a commitment for better version of ourselves. 

For this year, I've set my mind to starting my first week right. That would mean eliminating or avoiding those negative thoughts that would harm or jeopardise my goals to achieve. The first week after new year I could say is a crucial point to determine how long we could hold on to our resolutions.

talks about my goals for this year. I may have set it subconsciously few years back, but I would want to regain the power back. When you lose, you get to start again, and the will power becomes activated with intense and pure energy of the body, mind and spirit.

Balanced Energy

Having a balanced energy in all levels is a must to achieve our goals. I've learned this from Master Del Pe who is a world-renowned life coach and spiritual guru. Master Del Pe, known as "MDP" to his students teaches about balancing our energy in all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. For instance, having an active physical and mental body but less spiritual doesn't make you balanced. Likewise, having a higher level of mental capacity but with poor physical body doesn't make you balance either. This is a fundamental wisdom from a modern sage, Master Del Pe.

Together with Master Del Pe at Baguio City, Philippines in May 2011

To know more about Master Del Pe and the services he offer, visit his website at and you will discover his breakthrough programs for health and wellness.

Better Health

Positive and healthy mental state starts with a healthy physical body that is achieved though physical exercises and proper diet. I started to like eating vegan diet in 2011 when I joined Master Del Pe and I was quite active in doing physical exercises like powerful stamina exercises and basic martial arts. I was slimmer during those years as compared at the present when it's hard to get rid of unwanted fats on the tummy. Now it's also hard to lower down the bad cholesterol. I just can't take those "Statins" and would just rely on physical activities and balanced diet.

To start my new year right, I made it a resolution to avoid drinking softdrinks and take in less sugar. I am now into drinking lemon water which is a natural colon cleanser or detox. I also like drinking turmeric for its anti-inflammation effect. I have been eating too much sweets and it would be good to cut down my consumption before it will lead to foreseeable health problem.

Personal Development 

I read a lot of self help articles and that is beneficial for growth and success. It was also the books of Master Del Pe that I have learned about personal development in a most practical and easy way. One of the best tools I have learned is meditation and it was Master Del Pe, a master of 8 types of meditation who taught us on how to meditate effectively with use of "mudra" sanskit term for hand seals while chanting those sacred mantra for transformation. 

When life gets tough and triggered with so much noise, it's good to spend at least 20 minutes of your time to meditate for 2 to 3 times in a week to regain life and have peace of mind. 

In Manila where traffic congestion is worst in the world, I would simply close my eyes, breathe in and breathe out along EDSA as I ride the bus from Ayala, Makati going to Monumento circle in Caloocan City. Meditation have saved me endure the long ride and it doesn't cost a thing, but the benefits are priceless. In fact, my first ever blog post is about The Power of Meditation. It has greatly changed my life and I believe this world would be a better place if more people will learn to practice the art and science of meditation. 

To start the year right, I would have put some time for pure thinking time which was advised by Master Del Pe. Prior to blogging and just after it, I spend time to think and reflect deeply and that is also a great mental exercise and good for mental health. 

Starting the new year with a positive spirit and higher hopes gives an overwhelming feeling of joy. I feel Joyful whenever I overcome a challenge and continue on doing so until I've made it. It's a commitment made for the entire year. It may not last or may have been broken, but will power can help to make it happen. As I strengthen my personality, I am preparing myself for something that is coming on my way. I may never know it yet, it may be cloudy for now, but what I know for sure is I can help myself to rise up and break through the barriers of personal journey to success and fulfillment not only this year but for a lifetime.

© 2019 Del Cusay

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