Sunday, November 29, 2020

Walking Tour in Mumbai

 

I had a terrible experience in Mumbai and that's something unforgettable. I believe the city is the financial and cultural capital of India and so it's  one of the finest and richest cities. 

But with its glamour comes the downside of a bustling city life for the Mumbaikars. It's the chaos of daily living just like other major world megacities. And with a month-long stay in Mumbai, I couldn't help to stay much longer. I had enough of the good times and the bad times.


From the district of Bandra where I stayed was a busy scene of street commerce, where businesses are laid on the streets mostly of ready to wears, colorful garments and other personal products. I didn't bring much clothes from New Delhi so that I could buy something new from Mumbai, but then I haven't bought a new Kurta, but just few shirts for 150 rupees each and a new pair of shoes in a Nike outlet store in Bandra. That's all I needed for my walking tours around the streets and downtown areas of Mumbai.

In Bandra, I would take a daily walk along the bandstand passing by the mansion of Shah Rukh Khan, one of the famous Bollywood actors. During that time the Bollywood "Walk of Stars" was just newly installed with the name of other stars like Kareena Kapoor whom I've known from the movie "3 Idiots" and other celebrities whose name and body marks are inscribed and moulded-- their version of the Hollywood "Walk of Fame."


On some days, I would travel by cab from Bandra passing through the Bandra-Worli Sea Link; a majestic bridge connecting the 2 most important districts of Mumbai and the gateway to the downtown area where the world heritage sites are located.

I would passed and got intrigued with tower mansion of the Ambanis; India's most prominent and richest family and business tycoon. That's a billion dollar house in the most expensive real estate location in Mumbai.


As I reached the old downtown area, my walking tour started with appreciating the old European structures like the Gateway of India and the the magnificent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, both rich in colonial history built during the British Raj.

I enjoyed the gallery viewing inside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. From its construction, the Royal visits, and the terrorist attack, I learned a piece of its glorious as well as gruesome history.


One day, I travelled by train from Bandra going to Christchurch station, and I had a horrible experience with ticketing system on which I got into trouble. Luckily, I survived and continued the journey exploring the cricket field around University of Mumbai and the nearby areas where I made an escape from another trap. Still, I manage to enjoy watching students playing a cricket -- a popular Indian sports similar to baseball.


Most of the days were spent in Bandra and so I explored the streets. There were days I enjoyed a cup of cappuccino in a café, and some days I visited the nearby churches to pray, and also I visited a church on a hill top which is a short distance car ride via the Hill Road.

Before I left Mumbai, I haven't found the Bollywood. It's not a place, but it's a film center. I understand, they're the largest producer of films in the world and I've watched some of Shah Rukh Khan and Amir Khan films not in Mumbai, but in the cinema in Delhi. There's more to Bollywood in Mumbai, but unluckily I had enough.

That was a month-long of stay and I've learned not just about the place, but also about the people, culture, food, music, and lifestyle.

Mumbai has a colorful heritage and history and whenever I have a chance to come back in the future, I wish it would be much wonderful and truly memorable.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

His Eminence the 9th Filipino Cardinal


It was a surprise when Pope Francis appointed the Archbishop of Capiz, Most Reverend Jose Advincula as one of the new 13 Cardinals of the Catholic Church.

It's a tradition that the Vatican would appoint an Archbishop to elevate to the title of Cardinal coming from the Archdiocese of Manila and Cebu. But this time, our very own Capiz Archbishop Advincula was chosen by the Pope to join the College of Cardinals; the 2nd highest position in the Catholic Church next to the Pope and an elector to the conclave of the next Pope.

On November 28, 2020, the Pope confirmed the appointment of the new 13 Cardinals including His Eminence Most Rev. Jose Cardinal Advincula.

His new role means so much for the Catholic faithful of Capiz since we're being recognized not mainly due to large numbers of Catholics, but by the growing faith and devotion to the church.

The message of Pope Francis is strong and meaningful, that he goes beyond peripheries. To choose the neglected areas in the world which is away from the traditional centers of power.

It's a blessing and a heartwarming experience to had received the blessings of Cardinal Advincula back when he was an Archbishop. He was the main celebrant on the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish on June 27, 2019 in our hometown in Jamindan, Capiz.

It was Cardinal Advincula of the Archdiocese of Capiz who had started several Catholic Mission Stations and Mission schools in Capiz. 

In 2012, a Mission Station was established in the Hill Road of Linambasan, Jamindan and was elevated into a Parish on June 27, 2018. From a Mission Station, it's now called the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in honor of the blessed Mary, the Mother of Christ.


The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish will continue to grow in faith, in love and service today and in years and generations to come.

The church evolves to become better for the spirituality and religious guidance and service to the faithful.

We continue to grow in faith to the Christ Jesus and to the blessed Mary to become the children of God and the children of Mary.

We offer our prayers to Cardinal Advincula that he'll continue to be a beacon of hope and faith to the lost and the wandering soul, in need of Divine love and light.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay 


Related Posts:

👉 The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Our Love and Devotion

👉 Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish: A Divine Gift

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Captivating Mantalinga Island


What captivates the soul more than a tiny Island in the coast of Roxas City, Capiz known as Mantalinga Island.

It's a tiny Island located just a kilometer away from the shore of Baybay Beach which is famous for its long stretch of beachfront restaurants.

The place is popular in the entire Western Visayas region as the best food trip destination and is gaining national recognition as one of the best sources and a supplier of seasoods in the top restaurants in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila.

The seafood capital of the Philippines. That's the title awarded to Roxas City since it has an abundant supply of marine products like fish, shellfish, oysters and many more. It serves fresh seafoods everyday as at an affordable price as compared to high-end restaurants they supply in Metro Manila which is about triple or quadruple the price. In Baybay beach, Roxas City, you get unlimited fresh seafoods, day and night.


Aside from the soothing waves and cool breeze of the sea, one of the most captivating sceneries is the Mantalinga Island. It's the most famous background and natural landmark in Roxas City.

Due to its closer distance to the Mainland of Roxas City, it's easy to hire a pumpboat service to see it closely and can also be reached through a kayak.

It's also called "Good luck Island" by the fishermen since they believe it brings good luck once they inscribe their name on the rock before they go on fishing or to write the name on their boat before its main voyage. 

We all want a good luck; a good journey in life. And when you visit this laid-back city in Western Visayas, be sure to see Baybay beach and experience the enigmatic charm of the Mantalinga Island. You'll come for sure and you'll ask for more.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay 

Related Post:

👉 The Sacred Heart on a Hilltop

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Bollywood and Mehandi Night in New Delhi


An Indian wedding would last for 3 days. That's a very long celebration, and yes! could also be expensive if it's made to be grandiose event.

In New Delhi, I was invited to attend the mehandi night which is like a pre-wedding celebration a day before the actual wedding ceremony.

Mehandi night is fun and a colorful celebration of love between the couple, together with their families, relatives and friends. 

In a Hindu culture, the bride has to apply a red-orange mehandi or a henna tattoo on her back of hands, palms and  feet. I have witnessed the actual application of mehandi which really takes time. It's an art for the bride and it's beautiful and attractive to the eyes of the groom for sure.


Mehandi night was a joyous moment to everyone present on the event. Dance and Bollywood music all night long with the couple being the center of attention as they made a couple dance and surrounded by family and friends.

I love Bollywood music. It's upbeat and so alive. The live performances from invited Bollywood artists were really fantastic. I had fun. Really an enjoyable and unique wedding experience to remember.


Of course Indian wedding is also about food and delicacy, with the finest cuisine from all over India. The buffet meal was really great while listening to the soulful Bollywood music and get entertained.

Mehandi night has a casual lounge feel with colorful pillows and cloths everywhere. I had a wonderful conversation with other guests and I have learned more about their Indian wedding culture.



Mehandi night is full of vibrant colors, from the traditional Indian clothes to decorations, it's really an extravagant, but a momentous moment.

The wedding venue was decorated with fresh flowers all over. It's like a night of fantasy -- a fairytale.

An awesome and magical night. It was a pure and magical delight.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Japanese art of Forest Bathing


When it comes to natural healing, Japanese  know better. And so they come up with a term called "shinrin-yoku" that was popularized in Japan back in 1980s and was later introduced to the world.

Forest bathing isn't literally taking a bath in the forest. It simply means being reconnected with nature and disconnected with the stressors of life -- causing diseases.

It's been a year since I'm living in a rural area; in my hometown. A provincial living away from too much noise and chaos.

Since the beginning of the pandemic and due to lockdown, some plans weren't able to happen and since then, I wasn't able to come back to Manila.

I'm living my best life away from distraction and pollution, and forest bathing on a weekend is my healing wonder. This is all we need in times of stress and whenever we need to relax and rejuvenate. It cleanses and purify our physical and mental bodies.

So Japanese people are considered as world leader when it comes to health and longevity. Their approach to health and wellness is just holistic and truly admirable. Hence, they're a world record in having supercentenarians. 

We, Filipinos adapted to this Japanese form of natural healing. Forest bathing is slowly gaining recognition most especially among health and fitness enthusiasts.

Hikers, trekkers, mountain climbers and  yoga and meditation practitioners are among those groups who are gaining from the healing benefits of forest bathing.

In the Philippines, there are places I've done forest bathing on a day trip.

Camp John Hay in Baguio City, Northern Philippines is where you can find the most number of pine trees and having the largest forest cover in the area.

At Camp John Hay, Baguio City, Philippines

That was a wonderful forest bathing experience as I was feeling the mists of the foggy place. It feels so great to be surrounded by trees as they give off natural cleansing energy.

Bucari Highlands in Iloilo, Philippines is one of best mountain resort destinations in the country.

It was rainy on the way up when we visited the place and we're greeted with a foggy and misty climate. Just like Baguio City, it's also planted with pine trees making the environment cooler.

Bucari, Iloilo, Philippines

There are other places where I've enjoyed forest bathing. These are; The Mount Arayat National Park in Pampanga, Philippines, the La Mesa Eco-park in Quezon City, Philippines and Naddi Village in Dharamshala, India.

More than a decade ago, my parents were inspired to develop our farm, so they planted Mahogany trees making it a mini-forest. Now, the trees have reached its peak maturity and are so tall giving a cooler shade in the surrounding. 

Our Mahogany tree park

And so, everytime we visit the farm, I would do forest bathing. I would walk slowly and be in stillness under the trees until I've reached a meditative state. Feel the serenity and just inhale the life force. 

Anyone can do it. When life gets tough, all we need is to take it slow and find a greener space to unwind and re-energize. 

The Japanese people are doing it as a lifestyle, and so we can learn and adopt from their philosophy of a healthy and balanced living.

©️2020 Del Cusay

Related Post:

👉 The Highlands of Baguio

👉 The Highlands of Bucari

👉 Stairway to the Mountain

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Living with the Gods in McLeod Ganj


A balanced living where nature meets progress and development. A place that's a blend of culture and faith.

These are the Indians and the Tibetans, living in harmony with the Gods in McLeod Ganj.

Back in February 2013, I've traveled a distance to be with the Gods in McLeod Ganj. They call it "little Lhasa" since it has a large population of Tibetans-in-exile" since 1959 when the Indian Government accepted them and gave them a place to put up their own Government while in exile. 

That's only in India. Accepting refugees in a warm embrace and protecting their rights, safety and security. 

And the greatest love is the Indian Government's support with their expression of faith -- the Tibetan Buddhism.

In McLeod Ganj, I've met The Dalai Lama, the Spiritual leader of the Tibetans-in-exile. I was lucky to have met him on his residence when he gave a talk about "Jataka Tales" to the local and international pilgrims.

I'm a Christian, but I was exposed to the major religions in India for more than a year of stay. I studied and incorporated on the practice of my own faith.

I believe that the world would be a better place if we're not fixated with our religious affiliation. When people would tend to fight for their faith as the best and the only true faith, I would try to learn and understand deeply others' faith.

I befriend people of different background and faith in India. It's about respect and understanding and not about prejudice and religious superiority. 

With the universal God, we're all equal, it just happened that God appeared in different places and time in a completely different images depending on the culture and language unique to each country.

When I was in India, their Gods are my Gods. The Gods and the Goddesses in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity. All are Gods, but also a universal God.

In McLeod Ganj, I felt the Divine Beings; the Gods of the Tibetans and the Indians. It was different images, but I prayed to their Gods on its universal form.

As I entered the Namgyal Monastery, it was a heaven on earth experience of being one with the Divine. It didn't make me less as a Christian, but it helped me strengthen and appreciate my faith even more. 

That's why major religions thrive in India and they learn to live in harmony with reverence to each other's faith.

My visit to Himachal Pradesh was Divinely- inspired. It was a solo travel with my deepest faith to the Divine guides. 

Whether you're a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim and a Christian, we're all brothers and sisters here on earth. We have a common humanity. Your suffering is also my suffering.

And so what we need most during these difficult times is a shared humanity where we pray for each other with no boundaries, no religious affiliations, no prejudice and no discrimination.

Just love...

Because our love to humanity is our love of God. 

So it is.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Strolling at the Garden of Dreams


A Garden in the city makes life more balanced and achieve a healthier lifestyle. A breath of fresher air amidst the toxicity.

And with an urban garden in the city center, I was fortunate to have an afternoon stroll in the fully restored Garden of Dreams in Kathmandu, Nepal in August 2013; just 6 years after it was reopened to the public after several decades of closure.

Kathmandu's lifestyle may not be as lavish as compared to big cosmopolitan cities, but it has the best of culture and its people. 

The entire city of Kathmandu is a blend of a  cultural heritage and a modern society due to its preserved structures like monuments and temples and the restoration of public places like the Garden of Dreams and other modern infrastructures.

As I troll inside the walled garden, I was greeted with serenity due to the absence of noise surrounding the bustling city. It was just about 5-minute walking distance from the hotel where I stayed, so I got the chance to visit and unwind.

The walled Urban Garden

What's noticeable about the garden is its European style architecture since it was restored with the help of the Austrian Government. It has features like 6 pavillions which represents the '6 seasons of Nepal' and where the place got its second name, the "Garden of the Six Seasons." 

The garden has a veranda, balustrades, fountains and pergola giving its European vibe. Also, the Ampitheater is where visitors can sit or lay down to have some chat or to read book. Such a relaxing scene.

The Ampitheater

European-inspired pergola

The flowers, shrubs and trees makes it greener and beautiful as it is well maintained by the number of caretakers. It's clean, green and rejuvenating.

I appreciate arts and so, I spent some time at the art gallery and had a conversation with the locals. That was a meaningful encounter as I have learned more about their culture. 

Café by the garden

That was a delightful afternoon stroll at the Garden of Dreams and before leaving, I had a cup of cappuccino as I reflect and plan for my next journey around Kathmandu.

The Garden of Dreams is true to its name. It's really a sophisticated garden of its time, and became more beautiful when it was fully restored. Urban dwellers need a green space for leisure and hopefully more cities will adopt to this kind of garden offering respite to the people from the hustle and bustle of a city life.

The Garden of Dreams. The Garden of the Six Seasons. A garden for the soul.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Gaddi Tribe of Naddi Village

 

When I stepped foot in Dharamshala, I feel that I'll be having a great vacation with its pleasant vibe. That was a long 12 hours of bus ride from New Delhi, India, and I made it sure that my stay would be worth it; like a vacation of a lifetime.

The emotion is still alive whenever it flashes back the soulful journey I had in the lower Himalayan foothill of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. Seven years have passed, but the memories still lives on.

At the bus station in McLeod Ganj, a little rain greeted me as I look for a taxi heading to the hotel in Naddi Village -- the home of the Gaddi Tribe.

That was a cold and shivering early morning check-in at around 7 a.m. and so I unpacked my things, had a little rest, enjoyed a freezing cold shower, had my first breakfast, and get ready for for my first day of tour and adventure in the land of the Tibetans-in-exile in McLeod Ganj.

I spent 4 days of exploring McLeod Ganj and had the opportunity to see and hear from The Dalai Lama when he had a talk in his place in Tsuglagkhang temple.

McLeog Ganj was the the town center, but it was in Naddi Village where I enjoyed the serenity. That was truly a blissful experience.

Just few steps away from the hotel where I stayed is the home of the sweet and gentle Naddi tribe. I've met several Gaddi people including children and adults, learned about their culture, their livelihood and living condition. A little interaction, but a meaningful observation.

A very simple, yet joyful and soulful living in the mountains. The Gaddi people mostly shepherds are taking care of their flocks and doing their morning activities when I met them on a downhill.

Little kids are courteous with their rosy cheeks and smiling faces. For sure they are now grown up to be a refined young lady and gentleman. 


In Naddi View Point which is just nearby the hotel is where I finally had a closer view of the Dhauladhar range. I had never seen such a beautiful and breathtaking mountain. A solemn moment; so peaceful and the snow-capped mountain is just wonderful.

I can't get over of that experience even when I'm back on the hotel. I've been to some of the mountains in the Philippines, but seeing the Dhauladhar range is purely captivating

I was finally at the Middle Homalaya... A dream turned into a reality.


A heaven on earth experience that I'll cherish and reminisce for a lifetime. From then, I made a promise that I'll be back in the future, and that I just hope it will come true.

In the hotel's roof deck restaurant is where I get to have the most beautiful view of the Dhauladhar as I have a breakfast. It's a picturesque view as if heaven is for real. India is truly Home of the Gods and I felt the Divinity of the place. A soulful solitude in a paradise closer to heaven.


I will never forget Dharamshala... A wondrous place in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. I will never forget the beautiful and natural scenery, and I will never forget the Naddi people of Naddi Village.

India has a big place in my heart. I have learned a lot about the places and have met soulful and endearing people like the Gaddi of the Naddi Village. When the Kingdom of heaven is on earth, it would have been there in the Dhauladhar, and I've met God in there and live forever here in my heart.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sweet Smiles of the Negrense

The Negros Island in the Philippines. Home of the sweet smiling people; or we call them Negrense or Negrosanon.

Back in December 2014, after my Journey in the city of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, I took almost 7 hours of land travel going to the city of Bacolod; the capital city of Negros Occidental. 

From the Eastern to Western Negros, I had a journey after a fulfilled short visit in the "City of Gentle People" in Dumaguete.

No doubt, I was in the land of the 'sweet and charming' people since I was at the sugar center of the Philippines... The Negros Island. 

From Dumaguete to Bacolod, you'll see massive plantation of sugarcane on both sides of the road passing by several cities.

Yes, Negros Occidental is the province of the Philippines with the most number of city, primarily due to its rich sugar industry

The sugar industry is so huge that they supply the entire Philippines and even export it to other countries.

Arriving in Bacolod after a long journey on a bus, I was greeted with a Negrense brand of hospitality; the sweet smile and a pleasant melodious voice.

I'm in Bacolod! The City of Smile and the home of the famous "Maskara Festival."

That was my 5th time to visit Bacolod and I love to keep coming back to one of the highly urbanized city and one of the most livable city in the Philippines.

In Bacolod and the entire Negros, people are living a good life that no matter what challenges they may be going through, still they keep on surviving and never forget to give a smile.

My highlight of visit in Negros Island was a-day tour in "The Ruins" which is an Italian-inspired architectural mansion built in early 1900s and was burned during the world war 2.

Garden by the ruins

A mansion built with love of a wealthy Sugar baron to his Portugese wife. The love story is just as romantic as the heritage of "the ruins." 

Sweet as the Negrense, they really produce sweet products, and most of it is my favorite. The muscovado sugar is the healthiest of its kind and an ingredient in making sweet delicacy like "Piaya and Pinasugbo" which is two of the most popular and a-must try delicacy if you visit Bacolod and Negros Island. 

After the pandemic, I hope to come back and capture the sweet smiles again. When the world is losing its smiles, I believe the Negrense will always give their sweetest smiles to just anyone. During this time, that's all we need -- a sweet smile.

The people of Negros Island is one of the most refined and kind people I've met. Beyond their sweet smiles, they deserve a sweet life. A life full of hope, meaning and inspiration.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay


You May Read:

👉Campus Tour at the Silliman University

👉The Ruins and the Love Story


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Campus Tour at the Silliman University

In the Eastern Negros Island is where you can find the "City of gentle people" and it's the city of Dumaguete in the province of Negros Oriental, Philippines.

Back in December 2014, I've fulfilled my desire to visit Dumaguete and was able to see the first American learning Institution in the Philippines and in Asia -- the Silliman University.

Upon the invitation of the student government organization, I delivered a talk about "Balancing Life Strategies" and "Stress Management" to their officers and select staff.

That was a memorable talk with full attention and the desire to learn by the student leaders. If I had more time, I could have given another talk to some members of the faculty and staff. 

But a day visit at the Silliman University wouldn't be complete without a campus tour. From the entrance to the exit gates, the different departments, historical and iconic buildings, chapel, open grounds and the library. The campus is truly ideal and conducive place for higher learning.

At the Silliman University Library

At the Silliman Hall

I was impressed with the clean the green campus. The tree lined Acacia provides cool shade plus the windy breeze coming from the sea , truly they  have the best campus in town and one of the best in the country.

Siliman University is facing the sea. With just few minute walks, you can stroll at the baywalk along Rizal boulevard. That windy breeze makes a good place for walking along the boulevard. That's the place where I reminisced the time when I was a student in college. Those times when I had full of hope and dreams just like any student would do.

I hope one day to visit Dumaguete again and be able to step foot inside the famous Silliman University. To be able to experience politeness and friendliness of the students and their genuine hospitality.

As I remember, it's on a higher learning when we aspire for growth and have the burning desire to achieve our most cherished hopes and dreams. Those times when we have enough energy and passion for learning.

Those student leaders that I've met may now be achieving excellence in their chosen field. They may now be living their dreams and unleashing their untapped potentials. They may now be 'living their greatest life' and following their ultimate heart's desire.

Learning doesn't end after stepping out of the College or University. It's a continuous process and a lifelong journey. We continue to learn along the way as we embark challenges and achieve new milestones in our career and in life.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay