Sunday, March 31, 2019

Lent 2019: The Road to Forever in Jamindan

Some roads we're taking may be rough, but our courage and determination will take us to our destination, no matter how challenging.

In my hometown in Jamindan, we are leaving away from our painful memories. The struggles we fought and the battles we've won. We've found the newest place to refresh our minds and body and uplift our spirit our soulful desire.

As we embrace development, we have finally closed the loop and become connected by covering the roughness and enjoying a smooth ride to the road to forever a place like no other. 

This national highway from the town of Jamindan, Capiz connecting to the town of Altavas in Aklan, offers the latest destination among lovers, a group of friends, bicycle riders, and families as they take this journey to their destination and capture pleasant memories in this place they may call as paradise.

Located in Barangay Lucero in the town of Jamindan, this road with a higher elevation offers a breathtaking view of the mountains while enjoying a misty and cool wind during the rainy season and being captivated by the clear blue skies and beautiful sunset during summertime.
 As we go for an adventure, the road to the summit may now be refined, but what makes us feel good is when we reach the highest peak, have a short break, take a deep breath, heal our broken hearts, and leave all our worries behind. 

On this Lenten season, the road to forever may be a good place to unwind, feel relaxed, meditate, and be connected to the Divine. A peaceful sanctuary to relive our sense of purpose and fulfill our dreams and desires.

The road to forever in Jamindan is a destination for everyone who wants to express happiness and those who may be lost, wounded, or broken. 

And so when the time comes that we have regained our strength, then we can collect each piece, our incompleteness, and become whole and renewed again. 

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lent 2019: Memories of Mount Bato-Arobo

I was born in an upland municipality that is blessed with natural resources and biodiversity that is away from the city; a mountainous town that is abundant in natural sceneries, lush forest, and wildlife and considered a peaceful sanctuary where cool mountain breeze and a morning dew uplifts the senses and the soul.

I  have lived in this peaceful town since the mid-'80s, and during my younger years, I have learned to appreciate the natural environment and have loved our culture and tradition.

I remember when I was about 6 years old when my parents brought us to barangay Pasol-o in the town of Jamindan in Capiz (my mother's birthplace) with my siblings. We hiked for about less than 2 hours to reach the place. That was a tiring journey but an excellent adventure for all of us. That was my first ever hiking experience, so I always love nature trekking and hiking.

Then almost every year after that and on a hot summer day, we used to return when there was a Fiesta or a celebration in our relative's place. When we were approaching our destination, we knew we saw a vast mountain rock about less than or closer to 50 meters high. Hence the area got its name, Bato-Arobo, a giant rock formation.

During those years, a hike to Bato - Arobo was challenging since some areas were rough roads and muddy, and some were full of amorseko weeds that stuck to the clothes. The good thing about hiking was the stories or urban legends about the origin of that giant rock which I was incredibly fascinated with as a kid. We were told that the vast stone houses a big golden horse that might have been kept during the Japanese occupation. However, until now, that story remains an urban legend since nobody can see it.

The last time I visited Bato-Arobo was in high school with my family. We were served a natural and healthy drink, coconut juice with coco meat while having beautiful stories and laughter. My last visit wasn't hiking since the road was passable to a jeepney where we were transported. It was like a roller coaster ride on a rocky road, and we really enjoyed the experience.

Now, 3 decades later, it was great news when I heard from my father that the road to Bato-Arobo is currently undergoing concrete road construction to the neighboring barangays of San Juan and Ganzon, both places I am eager to visit.

Road construction is part of the Local Government's priority development that will benefit many families living in Barangay Pasol-o, especially those living in an upland Sitio of Bato-Arobo.

I am eager to see the development of the place I have loved since childhood. Bato-Arobo gave me a sense of adventure and a lesson to have perseverance and endurance in life. No matter how difficult the road is, we still have to go further and take all obstacles as a challenge because when we reach the peak or the summit, we appreciate all our sacrifices and feel joyful and thriving on our journey. 

Bato-Arobo may not be known to many yet, but it will always be in my heart because it brings beautiful memories worth reminiscing. With the completion of the road development project, residents of Bato-Arobo will be able to enjoy better transportation and celebrate Sunday Thanksgiving: Graceful Service to The People as they express their faith and service to God. This spiritual sanctuary in sitio Lomboy of Barangay Linambasan is like the entry point or gateway to Bato-Arobo.

As I reflect on this Lenten season, it is through gratitude and thanksgiving that we recognize and honor all the blessings that we received from the Divine. Our spiritual nature would bring us peace of mind and a grateful heart for us to leave a good legacy for the next generations to come so they could also live and experience the natural wonders and sustainable development that our generations have enjoyed, and may this will reign in our hearts today and forever.

© 2019 Del Cusay

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 received. On this Lenten season, we strive to reflect on our Christian values and the teachings of the Christ to reign and live in our hearts forever."

As 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 of practice since the time of Jesus, but the spirit is alive to be practiced in today's time  our time.

Corporal works of mercy concern the physical needs of the vulnerable people to ease their discomfort and suffering and to uplift their condition when they are in the 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 commandment.

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 about whether to give them few bucks as 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. It may be a violation or a crime, but I give anyway.

Clothe the Naked

A 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 don't spark joy. However, something is 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 gold to others. This is significant in today's time since we buy so much 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. It May not exactly be a street beggar, but even to a simple person who will appreciate it and needs it most.

Shelter the homeless

Nowadays, we may have some trust issues for security reasons why we scrutinize people's intentions before we let them inside our homes. However, to give shelter to the homeless would also mean to give temporary shelter to those who are displaced from natural calamities like typhoons 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 provides permanent housing for the victims of calamities to help rebuild their lives.

Visit the sick, the imprisoned, and bury the dead

Other families whose relative have been in conflict with the law may have suffered from lawless violence and unjust killing due to the absence of a judicial process to prove their innocence is against the principle of 'innocence unless proven guilty' and now the reality seems 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 end one's life as if his life doesn't matter and has no right to correct himself, be renewed, and become productive members of 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 in his wake; on the coffin and to pay last respect as the dead body is buried. That is somewhat a harsh reality in Philippine society nowadays.

I believe that  There is Holiness in You no matter how evil you have become and that is 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 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 for. There may never be 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 received. On this lenten season, we strive to reflect on our Christian values and the teachings of Christ to reign and 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 the admission of sins after suffering from guilt that our healing journey commences and our impurity be washed out bringing back the holiness from within.

I have learned from the wisdom of my teacher back in college when she said that 'man is good in nature but has been tempted to commit 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 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 hearts 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 guidance on how to live a better life free from pain and suffering.

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 Philippines 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 subsectors, is dying in the Philippines when it was reported recently that the sector has very little statistical contribution to our country's economy in the 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 why our younger generations do not see the future in farming and do not accept the challenge of inheriting 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 compared to working as a corporate employee in a big company.

I may belong to the Healthcare sector as my primary profession, but I am interested in agriculture and looking forward to embracing a farm life. Back in 2008, just after I graduated from 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 a sense of joy to see them receiving their hard-earned money from their produce. I reminisce about 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, our local rice farmers had a significant contribution to my college education, and also the money they received out of their products is to finance the education of their own children. 

The future of Agriculture 

Nowadays, we see agricultural farms converted into shopping malls and subdivisions or townhouses, which were acquired from our farmers. If this is our present reality, we must 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 development, but we can do something if we learn to cultivate love in the soil that will reap greater rewards. 

Agripreneurship or Agribiz is now the trend in the hope of reviving 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 a former corporate employee who became farming and earned a better income. We also have people in the city who are now into urban farming despite the limited lot area, and it is their source of organic food on the table. 

Farm tourism is the Next Big thing.

As we grow our love and passion for Agriculture, we also get to share it with people through farm tourism, which is a tremendous 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 your town and the province by attracting tourists to visit and patronize the farm produce and various farm activities. 

Support 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 allow students to acquire quality education and become the next Agriculturist and Agripreneur who will bring quality and healthy food to our table. Let us continue to hear The Voices of The Filipino Farmers so that they will be more empowered.

The farming lifestyle may be challenging, but it is gaining attention from the young ones, and many people in rural and urban areas are still attracted to it. It's easy to believe that the future is in Agriculture, and there is a future in Agriculture, and that future starts today.

© 2019 Del Cusay