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 seeing and exploring its beauty and hidden gems. The entire Island has many beautiful wonders to offer visitors amidst the chaos and wars that tainted the place's reputation.

Since the 'Battle of Marawi' in 2017, where hundreds died and thousands were 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 result from a challenge from the country's most powerful man who showed no restraint in his words, but the collateral damage was the thousands of victims of the war.

The peace process in Mindanao may be endless due to the conflicts resulting in 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 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 groups have claimed the attack, but this is about the religious attack. I condemn it because, as a Catholic, I feel attacked by my faith. I also think I am 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 visiting cathedrals anywhere in the country or celebrating 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 church's leaders. Our Pope and Bishops have been mocked, and even our God has been insulted. These verbal attacks may be why terrorist groups could quickly destroy us. The President has to protect their people, but we are being prosecuted in his words and deeds as we 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 that I usually visit, or in a simple Chapel full of people.

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

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

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

We can achieve lasting peace between Muslims and Christians, especially in Mindanao, if leaders 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 when Mindanao attained peace is an outstanding achievement for those who worked hard for peace. It will be the time when we see more Christian churches in the 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 Philippine culture, especially how Filipinos 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 festivals in the country - - the Feast of Sto. Niño. This is perhaps one of the oldest religious festivals in honor of the Holy Child Jesus, which was brought into the archipelago in the 16th century. Five centuries have passed, and we are still celebrating the presence of the Holy Child Jesus. It is everywhere; in churches, chapels, our home altars, and our hearts.

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

I may not have witnessed the grandest festival in honor of Sto. Niño like Sinulog, Dinagyang, and Ati-than, 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' celebrations are below:

Here, people are dancing to 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 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, 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 2019  would never be accessible from the start, but having a positive mindset and determination can help if serious about making things happen. There is no shortcut; there's no such thing as hacking our way to success. We must learn our past lessons and commit to improving ourselves. 

For this year, I've set my mind on starting my first week right. That means eliminating or avoiding those negative thoughts that harm or jeopardize my goals. The first week after the new year is crucial to determining how long we can hold on to our resolutions.

New Year 2019: Sunshine After The Rain talks about my goals for this year. I may have set it subconsciously a few years back, but I would want to regain the power back. When you lose, you get to start again, and willpower becomes activated with the intense and pure energy of the body, mind, and spirit.

Balanced Energy

Having balanced energy at all levels is a must to achieve our goals. I've learned this from Master Del Pe, a world-renowned life coach, and spiritual guru. Master Del Pe, known as "MDP" to his students, teaches about balancing our energy on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. For instance, having an active material and mental body that is less spiritual doesn't balance you. Likewise, having a higher level of mental capacity but with a poor physical body doesn't make your balance either. This is 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 his services, visit his website at and, and you will discover his breakthrough programs for health and wellness.

Better Health

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

To start my new year right, I resolved to avoid drinking soft drinks and take in less sugar. I am now into drinking lemon water, a natural colon cleanser or detox. I also like consuming turmeric for its anti-inflammation effect. I have been eating too many sweets, and reducing my consumption before it leads to foreseeable health problems would be good.

Personal Development 

I read many self-help articles which are beneficial for growth and success. It was also through the books of Master Del Pe that I learned about personal development most practically and efficiently. One of the best tools I have learned is meditation, and it was Master Del Pe, a master of 8 types of meditation, taught us how to meditate effectively with the use of "mudra," sanskit term for hand seals chanting those sacred mantras for transformation. 

When life gets tough and triggered by so much noise, it's good to spend at least 20 minutes meditating 2 to 3 times a week to regain life and have peace of mind. 

In Manila, where traffic congestion is the 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, to Monumento Circle Caloocan City. Meditation has saved me from enduring 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 dramatically changed my life, and I believe this world would be a better place if more people would 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. Before blogging and after it, I think and reflect deeply; 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 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 willpower can help to make it happen. As I strengthen my personality, I prepare myself for something coming my way. I may never know it yet; it may be cloudy for now, but I know for sure that I can help myself rise up and break through the barriers of my personal journey to success and fulfillment not only this year but for a lifetime.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Nazareno 2019: Celebrating the Traslacion

Just a week after the new year 2019 celebration on January 1st, Filipinos gather to celebrate one of the most prominent devotions to Jesus Christ  the feast of the Black Nazarene.

I've celebrated the feast of the Black Nazarene since 2013. That was my first time hearing the mass at the Minor Basilica on its feast day with my sister, whom I had convinced would come with me. 

That was a solemn event on the church's facade as it was not so crowded that people could move freely. I missed it the following year in 2014 and 2015 and celebrated it again for 2 consecutive years in 2016 and 2017.  Compared to my experience, Nazareno 2013: Celebrating the Feast of the Black Nazarene was a bit crowded, but devotees are well disciplined to follow the rules inside and outsideNazareno 2013: Celebrating the Feast of the Black Nazarene was a bit crowded, but devotees are well disciplined to follow the rules both inside and outside of the church.

Nazareno 2016: Feast of the Black Nazarene was a peaceful celebration of the faithful and devotees of the Holy image. As I remember, it was well organized as people were guided well by the Hijos Del Nazareno or the "Sons of the Nazarene," who are the chosen ones to actively devote their time to protect the Nazarene until their last breath.

Nazareno 2017: Devotion to The Feast of The Black Nazarene was a meaningful celebration as I contemplated the event's significance on our faith as Catholic Christians. That was also a peaceful event near the Minor Basilica as I heard the mass.

At this year's celebration, I brought my sister with me to hear the mass. It was so crowded outside the church that we could not get inside and preferred to stand outside to listen to the pack while watching on a Big screen. After an hour and as the group ended, a drizzle of rain just poured over our heads. That was a blessing as people would have believed it, and even I have asked for a Divine miracle through the rain to calm people down from the warm weather.

What's unique about this year's celebration was the incredible experience of witnessing the traslacion in Chinatown in Binondo, Manila. Many devotees joined and saw the grand parade of the original image of the Black Nazarene, followed by other pictures from different churches and local sectors. People shouted "Viva" to honor the Nazarene as they waived their white and maroon-colored hankies.

As the faithful glorified the Holy image, we've also witnessed untoward events like those needing medical attention. People would dare to get hurt for the sake of their faith. They intended to reach closer to the carriage of the Holy image or even touch the rope attached to it, which they believed could bring a miracle to their hopes and prayers.

We can't get too close to the Holy image and are just content to see it from afar. In reality, seeing the event gives a particular emotion of happiness and fulfillment. I've only watched the traslacion as being reported live on TV for years, but I'm blessed to have been part of it this year.

Others may have questioned the event as a form of fanaticism, but only a devotee can experience the miracles and blessings of their faith. I have joined the thousands or millions of Catholic faithful and devotees of the Black Nazarene and understand their faith's expression. They do not question it, but instead, they live it in their hearts.

This event is beyond tradition. It is already embedded in our consciousness to strengthen our faith and get closer to God. We long for God's presence when we feel unloved, uncared for, and desperate.  When we think unsecured and in danger, we call for protection. We call for healing the body, mind, and spirit whenever we are sick.

We'll forever be grateful to the Black Nazarene for his Holy Image that has strengthened the faith of millions of Filipinos who never gave up amidst the current challenges that the church is facing. We will stand together for our faith and not get intimidated by those who would put us down or question our faith.

May the Holy Spirit be upon us daily and protect us from evil. May God enlighten us so we can speak our truth and inspire others to draw near to him. May we all be united to glorify Jesus, the divine image of the Black Nazarene. In this time and our lifetime, today and forever even until our last breath.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Epiphany: Lessons From The Three Wise Men

That was a long Christmas season for us Filipinos. It started as early as September of 2018, and today marks its end as we celebrate the Epiphany or the Three Kings. After reading and understanding some of the published online articles, I'd just discovered its Christian significance. As a childhood story, I remember that the newborn Jesus was visited by the Three wise men who were Kings and offered their gifts to Jesus, the Messiah, and the future King.

My knowledge about Catholicism as my religion is minimal. We had a Religious Studies subject when I studied at St. Paul in Iloilo City in 2002. We had the book entitled "Catechism for Filipino Catholics," which, until now, I could remember how I read through the pages but could not fully understand its writings. I didn't even bother to finish reading the entire book due to its thick pages, and the sad reality was I didn't pass my final exam on that subject and was given a chance to take it one more time.

Guest at the inauguration of St. Paul Hospital -
Cancer Center on October 19, 2016, Iloilo City

That was about fifteen years ago today when I couldn't even lead the Holy Rosary or memorize some essential prayers that my classmates and people of my age have mastered already. I wasn't prayerful back then, but I have religiously attended the required First Friday Masses and religious retreats at school. It was even so hard for me to attend church to celebrate Sunday Mass in my childhood.

The time has changed, and the new generations of Christians are less deeply devoted to their religion. Parents may send their kids to a Catholic or Christian school, but their values may not reflect what they must have been taught. It might have started with my generation, but I don't know. We were the generation who enjoyed playing on the streets and being offline compared to the online world that the younger generation wants nowadays.

I may not have appreciated that Cathechism book back then, but as I grow up, I am becoming more mature in religious contemplations and now have a deeper understanding of the significance of the events in Catholicism or Christianity as a whole. One day when I had the opportunity to return to the Catholic school's Medical center, the St. Paul Hospital Iloilo, I had a flashback of my subject religious teachings. The Catechism was made to live when we put Christ in our the hearts-whenever we give service to humanity in anyways.

The most profound interest in my religion started when I traveled and worked in India between 2011 and 2014. I could compare and contrast different religions founded by great men who are considered God. In India, I've watched videos about "The Bible" and read articles related to Christianity. I genuinely appreciate films about "Jesus" and the Christianity he founded. I remember it was just after the beginning of the millennium when I watched the movie "Passion of the Christ," Those kinds of films give meaning when what was written in a Holy scripture is put into real-like reenactment.

With technological advancement, I no longer carry thick, dark-page Catechism books. I enjoy reading online articles about lessons in Christianity and watching Biblical films through online streaming apps. I will no longer be tested in a written examination to know whether I understood what I had read. My thoughts and actions will now be the basis of my Catholic faith. I may have failed in my Religious studies, but the test is beyond the old-school dark and thick pages of books. With a deeper reflection on Religious articles and biblical films, I must have applied the teachings in my daily activities.

Whenever we celebrate any Catholic event or feast, I learn to read and understand its significance. I know its relevance in today's time when more people are becoming diverted and distracted by their faith.

Today, the King of nations may be acting or playing like God; the worst is denying or not believing in God. This is the test of our time, whether we will remain faithful or abandon our faith just because of the words or orders coming from our King. Today, we have our modern version of King Herod, who is envious of someone's light and Divinity. We are reliving the olden times, just like the stories in the bible. Our modern society is like reenacting the biblical films I've watched. It is happening again, and my time is tested as a Catholic faithful. My time, my loved one's time, and the next generations' time.

Even the Kings who had vast powers and may belong to other faith have paid respect and gratitude to the newborn Christ. It shows humility in spirit and an honorable act to someone greater in power. If only our nation's great leaders had acquired those virtues like the three wise men, we would live in peace, like a paradise or a promised land. We need a King who not only shows courage and willpower but a King who also shows humility, compassion, and faith in his people.

It may be the end of the yuletide season, but many Catholic events are to be celebrated in the days and months to come.

May this journey to a deeper Catholic understanding lead to spiritual growth and the maturity for enlightenment and more excellent service that is beyond the digital world we currently live in. May the younger generations be taught to be responsible "Kings" capable of influencing others in their thoughts and actions. As we go through our Christian initiations, may we fully accept and embrace God through the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord forever and ever.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year 2019: Sunshine After The Rain

A glittering, sparkling, and noisy celebration. That was the end of 2018! Fireworks had light up the dark street as we welcomed the New Year 2019.

Just a few minutes before the clock turned exactly 12 A.M., signifying that the New Year had officially started, I shouted out loud with my vocal power to sing the famous "Auld Lang Syne." I belted songs by Michael Bolton, "Go the Distance," and the rock star Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" was randomly chosen from the thousands on the list.

Good thing that the weather was good after the rain had stopped for people and families to welcome the New Year with optimistic hopes and somehow to light up some fireworks too. Nothing could have prevented the Filipinos from walking in the rain to have last-minute shopping to buy food for 'media noche,' including the 12 or 13 different kinds of fruit that would bring good luck, wealth, and prosperity according to the traditional Chinese feng shui.

Nothing could have stopped us from enduring the long line to buy a chocolate cake with a signature "New Year 2019" on top. After all, it's nothing compared to the challenges we endured in 2018.

In the last 10 years, the new year's Eve celebration was more colorful and noisy, but now the noise and glitters are shorter. Festivals are becoming more simple but still memorable ones. Perhaps we strive hard to make each new year celebration have something special on the table and be together with our dear family.

Some may have chosen to spend their time at a lavish 'year-end party with friends and acquaintances and enjoy the New Year countdown with them. I may even have the desire, but I always choose to spend the New Year with my family. Even how simple the celebration is, it gives a specific meaning that family is love, truly our love. A family who will be with us not only on the first day of the year but throughout the year and beyond.

Since 2012, I have spent precious time alone for some 'Year-end reflections or Year Reviews. I promised to reflect on how the previous year improved me, what I have accomplished, and what lessons learned. Christmas in Our Hearts 2018: A New Milestone, Self-Renewal, and New Beginning was a roller-coaster ride. That year brought massive struck-like lighting and a tremendous wave-like tsunami. 2018 may not be favorable, but I have fulfilled some goals and learned valuable life lessons. Just like when the year has ended, a new and brighter year ahead awaits. Though we may never know what is on, we remain hopeful.

As I look back on the previous year, New Year 2018: Beyond the Limits brought a rough journey with an uncertain destination. Several distractions didn't serve an actual purpose. Being out of focus can be destructive and put limits on our actions and coveted goals.

Returning to the present, this New Year reflection is about my goals and aspirations to achieve for the year and carry over the previous years' experiences and life lessons. No matter how unfavorable it may be, it is still part of my past and can be part of my present and future endeavors.

Higher level of endurance

My previous corporate jobs and positions required tremendous physical power. I have learned to improve my physical and mental stamina through the years since I learned to adopt powerful physical exercises and meditation, which I have not practiced actively for about 3 years already. May 2019, bring back lighter and more active physical energy through simple yet powerful exercises and meditation. 

Physical Grounding 

I realized a few years ago that nature has given us a way to stay grounded or connected with our roots. With our busy lifestyle and stressful day-to-day routine, we must remember to be dropped. Our mind takes us somewhere else, and we do not feel the natural elements of the earth for healing. Back in my hometown about 3 years ago, I put some medium-sized fine stones to add natural ingredients to our little garden. I would then invite my mother to take a barefoot walk with me. It gives a physical grounding effect aside from the natural reflexology it provides. 

May this year bring me to places close to nature and experience real physical grounding. To leave footprints in the sand, camp by the beach, and sit on the shore. 

Emotional health

To feel angry is normal, but to utter words that are not good might be hard to take back. Thus, one thing that I have learned is to be in control of emotions. It may be the hardest thing for me to do, but that is good for my emotional health. Sometimes I must keep quiet to avoid an argument despite the urge to do so. Now, I would understand people's actions and intentions and apply self-restraint in choosing words and appropriate actions. 

Mindfulness and Social Awareness

Being mindful is good for mental health. Prayers and meditation, it will help us to look beyond ourselves. To lookout for an opportunity to be of service to someone or to a larger community. I have been part of a group that gives excellent service to humanity through social projects. However, I have not followed through for years. May this year open another door to reach out to people for empowerment.

The Power of Now

One thing that I have learned is to act in the moment whenever possible. To procrastinate is to delay things; soon, when there's a lack of inspiration, it's hard to do it. To be present at the moment is also mindful and could prevent us from having doubts, fears, and frustrations.

When I acted on my dream to start a business independently, I didn't wait to have everything perfect or accumulate more knowledge. I simply made the first move, and everything followed according to plans.

Grit and Perseverance

When all else fails, I have to accept things as they happen, analyze the situation, make a solution, and move on to what's next. Whatever happens, no matter how difficult the road is, I must survive the odds and keep the fire in me to reach my dreams. I can make things possible for myself with relentless desire, the highest hopes, and a positive spirit. If I dream of it, then I can achieve it.

The list of new year's resolutions may be endless, but these are the topmost achievable priorities for now. As I remember, those 2 songs I have sung may subconsciously be what I am. I always aspire to "Go the Distance" to reach the extra mile. I also take control of my life because "It's My Life" is my life, and I must live it. And remember those people who made a sacrifice to walk in the rain? They may have been over and gone through the pain.

A blissful New Year 2019!

© 2019 Del Cusay