Sunday, December 27, 2020

Year in Review 2020: Overcoming Great Odds

 

What a challenging year it has been! Full of surprises, chaos, and unmet expectations. A year of lost hopes and breaking barriers. That's how I sum up the year 2020.

No matter how good the year 2020 had started, there are always obstacles along the road. That's an uncertain moment of what the future holds. 

How the year started

Celebrating New year 2020 with my family was one of the best moments. It brought happiness and a joyful spirit to be with my loved ones.

We've shared lots of meaningful conversations, short travels, and family gatherings that bonded us strongly. We don't get a chance to celebrate yearly together as one big family, and whenever we do, we make it sure to be very memorable ever.

Meaningful moments had been a celebration with a dear person in my life. I had a great time and sweet memories that I always reminisce.

The Great Challenge

The end of the first quarter of 2020 brought misery to our lives. The pandemic caused by Covid-19 knocked us down. It made us paralyzed for a moment. It made us worry, fear, and angry over the unknown enemy.

Covid-19 made a global freeze. No local and international flights, some travel restrictions, closed businesses, and bankrupt companies. 

It had separated countries by closing the borders, made us feel disconnected through physical distancing, and taught us to set boundaries for our protection and of our loved ones.

Before the lockdown in March this year, I have shared a meaningful journey with special people in my life. We have never thought that the worst is yet to come, but we celebrated the triumph with courage, faith, and love.

Despite this centuries' surprise, we're able to survive and thrive. No matter how challenging the situations are, we keep a fighting spirit to live a good life on a new normal.

The Lessons of Pandemic

Lots of meaningful lessons are thrown at us to learn. This current pandemic is just a preview of a series of disastrous moments to come to humanity. We have to prepare to experience the worst. And so, we can better prepare for the next to come. Be better and be bold.

That's a great lesson for humanity, but the pandemic made us realize that we're all globally connected and can feel people's suffering wherever they are in the world.


However, it's not the end of the world. We had to do something. We don't have to feel miserable, lonely, or depressed. Instead, we have made things possible.

In times of pandemic, food is an essential thing to survive. When people in the cities are having a challenge in their food supplies, people in the countryside or rural areas have a reason to be more grateful.

Integrated farming lifestyle

My parents decided to make use of their time while on lockdown. And so they started to develop our farmland to be our new lifestyle.

With integrated farming, it has converted our farm into a mini forest with different kinds of trees. This place is where I do forest bathing every time we visit the farm. Its healing effect is Wonderful as it helps to be more grounded. To be connected to the natural source.


We've also started to plant vegetables and fruits and have made farm-fresh harvest for our food on the table.

This time, health must be an utmost priority. We have to strengthen our immunity against diseases, and so it's good to eat organic fruits and veggies that are more healthy and keeping us strong and having more energy.

Overcoming challenges

We've had enough of the Covid-19, and we help to defeat it. It can never break us and kill us, as long as we keep the faith.

When we can travel again without restrictions and quarantine status is on the lowest level, we rejoice that finally, we are back to normal, although some health protocols are still in place.

We've had some simple family gatherings to celebrate precious moments and religious devotions. This time no kiss and hugs, but a little distance to ensure safety. It's a robotic feeling, but we have to get used to it.

Christmas in our hearts

Our world brightens up when the 'Ber' month started. We're in a festive mood and celebrating Christmas early on.

From September to December, we anticipate a very long Christmas season unique among Filipinos. It brings hope that we can always be cheerful and win any battle of life's ups and downs.

And so, we celebrate Christmas. It may not be the merriest celebration this year, but we never fail to bring the light of hope and higher aspirations. 

This Christmas in times of pandemic is a reminder to be with the people who truly matter, to celebrate with simplicity and with the highest gratitude. It's a time for introspection about our purpose and our continued journey in life. To give hope and bear the light.

Christmas time is the most anticipated moment, and so we make peace with ourselves over wrongful actions. This holiday is the time for a soulful evaluation of the previous year. And also the best time for planning for the next year ahead.

So many turn of events. Some unexpected moments. Some unimaginable happenings. The year 2020 may be the beginning of a new earthly change, but it's also the beginning of a New personality and more refined and more strong energy.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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πŸ‘‰ Year in Review 2019: The Greatest Love

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Stairway to the Ruins in Macau

 

The former British colony Hong Kong brought a wonderful surprise for my parents as we explored the vibrant cosmopolitan in the East. And so, at the end of the 4-day trip, we had one last stop, and that was a day visit and tour in a neighboring Special administrative region, Macau.

It was just an hour and a half ferry ride from Hong Kong, and there's a welcoming message Bienvenido or welcome in the Portuguese language. Macau is a former Portuguese colony, and its preserved buildings and other structures are reminiscent of European heritage.

I always love cultural and heritage preservation, and Macau is home to a famous World Heritage site, the Ruins of St. Paul.

In the early morning, before heading to the airport for our flight back to the Philippines, we had a walking tour from our hotel going to the Ruins. It was the proximity of about 15 minutes walk until we've reached Senado Square. Just a few steps away from the Ruins.

That was in September 2016. A surprise made possible in celebration of the 64th birthday of my Mother. That was our first travel abroad as a family, and so it was truly memorable.


In the 17th century, they built the St. Paul Cathedral. It was destroyed by fire in the 19th century, leaving the façade as the Ruins.

But even in its ruins state, it's still beautiful and a work of art, just like the great churches of European craftsmanship. People of different creed come to visit, and it attracts both local and international tourists eager to see and know the history behind the ruins.


The Ruins of St. Paul in Macau had just preserved a piece of the structure. With the heritage preservation effort, they decided not to demolish for the world to see. And to appreciate the once largest Cathedral in Asia.


Macau may have been transforming into a bustling metropolitan, with beautiful lights from its mega and ultra-modern structures, but it didn't forget its history and culture.

Macau felt like a cultural city, where its people live in simplicity amidst modernity. In the years to come, it may completely transform to be much progressive metropolis. But it will have a unique identity with a blend of cultural influence from the East and the west.



We may not have explored much about other tourist sites in Macau, but we've seen one of the image structures of our faith. 

The stairway to the Ruins of St. Paul will always be a memorable travel experience. It leaves an imprint in our hearts, and it makes the whole experience worth remembering.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Kathmandu Valley and the lost Kingdom

 

The check-in counter was almost closed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport when I arrived in a hurried mode. That was like an episode of Amazing Race. The good thing is, I'm able to check in and board the plane successfully. And my destination was the old Kingdom of Nepal. 

I got excited upon leaving India to see its neighboring country in the north after my six months of stay in India. For almost a week-long vacation, I'd imagine how it's like to live in Kathmandu valley surrounded by the beautiful Himalayan mountains. And that was awesome to have a glimpse from thousand feet high above and upon descending of the plane. 

Kathmandu City was a bit dry and dusty as I took a cab from the airport going to the downtown area for hotel check-in. I needed to prepare for a walking tour within the vicinity to see and observe the daily living of the Nepalese people. 

Since I've stayed in the center of the city, places of interest were almost within walking distance. The mall, park, pond, temples, street bazaar, and durbar square were nearby, and I've started my journey on my first day.

My impression of Kathmandu is a city of friendly and kind people. The hotel staff, the salespeople in the mall and street bazaar, the kids in durbar squares, the security personnel in tourist sites, the cab drivers, and the random people I've met were all friendly and conversant.

I thought that it's their character to be congenial since they rely heavily on tourism. And have to give that great impression to every tourist they meet. 

The other cities like Lalitpur and Bhaktapur comprise the Kathmandu valley, and it's overlooking the heritage site on top of a hill. The Swayambhunath offers a breathtaking view of the Kathmandu valley on a bright sunny day and clear blue skies.

Swayambhunath was my first stop among the World heritage sites recommended by my tour guide, and I was amazed by the old structures and the presence of monkeys everywhere. Hence it's also known as the Monkey temple.

I was happy to have visited one of the oldest heritage sites built in the 5th century, long before the birth of Buddhism in Nepal. But then, I've known that Nepal was an old country just like India, and so they have these heritage structures back in the early days of civilization.

Nepal is a great nation and once ruled by a King when it was still an absolute monarchy. However, it ended in 2008 on a constituent assembly creating a federal democratic republic.

I've learned about the culture, tradition, and way of living of the Nepalese people. It may not be as extravagant and as developed as other world cities, but it has a natural charm and a calming presence to the tourist.

In as much as I'd want to discover more about Nepal, but my almost week-long vacation ended, and time for re-entry to India.

I've created meaningful memories on a short visit, and it has a lasting impression on my heart. Nepal is Amazing, and its charm is everlasting.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay


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πŸ‘‰ Strolling at the Garden of Dreams

πŸ‘‰ Kathmandu: The gems and the lost Treasures

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Wellness in the Green Village

 

If there's one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it would've been a shift to a futuristic mindset. 

To create the next big thing out of soulful desire to live a better and more comfortable life in a rural setting; a peaceful and green environment.

I call it the next big thing since sustainable farming is one thing that would thrive on the next pandemic or any financial and health crisis that may come in the future.


During this pandemic, we've awakened the power of our intuition and creativity. It's to make use of our productive time while in quarantine. It may not be easy; hence it requires passion, endurance, and perseverance to accomplish the plan and make things possible even when times get rough.

And so, after eight months of quarantine, we've started to create a green village that would be our additional source of sustainable farm living.



We've built two traditional Filipino farmhouses that serve as a rest house whenever we visit and do some farming activities. In the future, we plan to establish farm infrastructures such as concrete roads, multi-purpose halls, villas, ornamental gardens, and a tree park.

It's my parents' dream to have a place where they could live a simple, serene, and meaningful living, and they're making it possible with their strength, willpower, and Divine guidance.

When I was living in Manila, I always think of coming back to our hometown and present some dream farm ideas to my parents. And fortunately, they've accomplished some of them. Even if there's more to develop, still I'm happy with what they've started.


Within the decade, we're looking forward to seeing a growing family. We're also hoping that the green village would bring us closer. We express a deep love of nature and a deeper connection to the Divine and its creation.

I may be living away from home and may not be able to see the development physically in the years to come, but I'm happy that I've seen how it was able to start and how it would be like in the future -- such a futuristic glimpse.


This pandemic might be a blessing in disguise because we learned to keep on going and believing that there's always a great opportunity in adversity.

The making of a green village is not just about health and wellness. It's also about building a lasting legacy with our environmental responsibility and contribution. We protect the Greenville country farm with the love of nature. And a conscious connection with the Divine love to nurture.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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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 it's one of the finest and wealthiest cities in India.

But with its glamour comes the downside of bustling city life for the Mumbaikars. It's the chaos of daily living 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.


The district of Bandra where I stayed was a busy scene of street commerce, where businesses are displayed on the streets mostly of ready wears, colorful garments, and other personal products. I didn't bring many clothes from New Delhi, and so that I could buy something new from Mumbai, but then I haven't bought a new Kurta, but just a 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 with the bandstand pass 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. 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 molded-- their version of the Hollywood "Walk of Fame."


Some days, I would travel by cab from Bandra and pass by through the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. It's a majestic bridge connecting the two most important districts of Mumbai and the gateway to the downtown area where the world heritage sites are located.

I would pass and got intrigued with the tower mansion of the Ambanis. They're India's 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 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 glory as well as gruesome history.


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


I spent more days in Bandra, and so I explored the streets. There were days I enjoyed a cup of cappuccino in a cafΓ©, and some days I visited the nearby churches to pray. I went to a church on a hilltop which is a short distance car ride via Hill Road.

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

That was a month-long 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. It's the 2nd highest position in the Catholic Church next to the Pope. And also 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. It's because The Holy See recognizes us by the growing faith and devotion to the church.

The message of Pope Francis was powerful 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 from 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, the Archbishop of Capiz planned to establish a Mission Station in the Hill Road of Linambasan, Jamindan. It had 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, love, and service today and in years and generations to come.

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

We continue to grow in faith in 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 in need of Divine love and light.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay 


Related Posts:

πŸ‘‰ The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Our Love and Devotion

πŸ‘‰ Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish: A Divine Gift

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Captivating Mantalinga Island


What captivates the soul more than a small island on 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. It's 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 gaining national recognition as one of the best sources and suppliers of seafood 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 seafood every day at an affordable price compared to high-end restaurants they supply in Metro Manila which is about triple or quadruple. In Baybay Beach, Roxas City, you get unlimited fresh seafood, day and night.


Aside from the soothing sea waves and cool breeze of the sea, one of the most captivating sceneries is 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 pump boat service or a kayak to see it closely.

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 fishing. And also when they write their name on their boat before its main voyage. 

We all want good luck. We want 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 Mantalinga Island. You'll come for sure, and you'll ask for more.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay 

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πŸ‘‰ The Sacred Heart on a Hilltop

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Bollywood and Mehandi Night in New Delhi


An Indian wedding would last for three days. That's a very long celebration, and yes! It could also be expensive if too grandiose.

In New Delhi, I received an invitation to attend the Mehandi night, which is like a pre-wedding celebration a day before the main wedding ceremony.

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

In 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 that takes time. It's an art for the bride. It's beautiful and attractive to the groom's eyes for sure.


The Mehandi night was a joyous moment for everyone present at 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 fantastic. I had fun. It was an enjoyable and unique wedding experience to remember.


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

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



The Mehandi night is full of vibrant colors, from traditional Indian clothes to decorations. It's extravagant but a meaningful moment.

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

That was a fantastic and magical night. It was a pure and magical delight.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay