Sunday, December 27, 2020

2020 Year in Review: 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 has started, there are always obstacles. That's an uncertain moment of what the future holds. 

How the year started

Celebrating the 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 many meaningful conversations, short travels, and family gatherings that strongly bonded us. We don't get a chance to celebrate yearly together as one big family; whenever we do, we make it very memorable.

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 about.

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 caused a global freeze. No local and international flights, some travel restrictions, closed businesses, and bankrupt companies. 

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

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

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

Lessons from the Pandemic

Lots of meaningful lessons are thrown at us to learn. This pandemic is just a preview of a series of disastrous moments for 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.

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 struggle with 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.

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

Overcoming challenges

We've had enough of Covid-19 and are helping to defeat it. It can never break or kill us if we keep the faith.

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

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

Christmas in our hearts

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

Christmas is the most anticipated moment, 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 turns of events. Some unexpected moments. Some unimaginable happenings. 2020 may be the beginning of a new earthly change, but it's also the beginning of a New personality and more refined energy.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Related Post:

๐Ÿ‘‰ 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: 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 was 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 to the Ruins. It was the proximity of about 15 minutes walk until we 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 family travel abroad, 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 faรงade as 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 creeds 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 it 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 remembered its history and culture.

Macau felt like a cultural city where its people live simply amidst modernity. It may transform into a much more progressive metropolis in the future. But it will have a unique identity blending East and West cultural influences.

We may have yet to explore 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, making 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 can 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 living in Kathmandu valley surrounded by the beautiful Himalayan mountains. And that was awesome to glimpse from thousand feet high above and upon descending the plane. 

Kathmandu City was a bit dry and dusty as I took a cab from the airport and went downtown 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 city center, places of interest were almost within walking distance. The mall, park, pond, temples, street bazaar, and durbar square were nearby, and I started my journey on my first day.

My impression of Kathmandu is that it is a city of friendly and kind people. The hotel staff, the mall and street bazaar salespeople, 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.

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 overlook 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 knew that Nepal was an old country, just like India, so they had these heritage structures back in the early days of civilization.

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

I've learned about Nepalese people's culture, tradition, and way of living. It may be less extravagant and as developed as other world cities, but it has a natural charm and a calming presence for tourists.

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

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

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Related Post:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Strolling at the Garden of Dreams

๐Ÿ‘‰ 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 is a shift to a futuristic mindset. 

To create the next big thing out of a 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 in 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; 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 created 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 houses whenever we visit and do some farming activities. 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 life, and they're making it possible with their strength, willpower, and Divine guidance.

When living in Manila, I always thought of returning to our hometown and presenting 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 will 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 what it would be like in the future -- such a futuristic glimpse.

This pandemic might be a blessing in disguise because we learned to keep going and believe 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. 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 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, primarily ready-to-wear, colorful garments, and other personal products. I didn't bring many clothes from New Delhi, so 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 from a Nike outlet store in Bandra. That's all I needed for my walking tours around Mumbai's streets and downtown areas.

In Bandra, I would take a daily walk along with the bandstand and pass by the mansion of Shah Rukh Khan, one of the famous Bollywood actors. The Bollywood "Walk of Stars" was newly installed then. The name of stars like Kareena Kapoor, whom I've known from the movie "3 Idiots" and other celebrities whose expressions 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 through the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. It's a majestic bridge connecting Mumbai's two most essential districts and the gateway to the downtown area where the world heritage sites are located.

I would pass and get intrigued with the tower mansion of the Ambanis. They're India's richest family and business tycoon. That's a million-dollar house in Mumbai's most expensive real estate location.

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, rich in colonial history and 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 and gruesome history.

One day, I traveled by train from Bandra to Christchurch station, and I had a horrible experience with the ticketing system, in which I got into trouble. Luckily, I survived and continued exploring the cricket field around the University of Mumbai and the nearby areas where I had escaped from another trap. Still, I 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 cafรฉ, and some days I visited the nearby churches to pray. I went to a church on a hilltop, a short distance car ride via Hill Road.

Before I left Mumbai, I had yet to find 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's films not in Mumbai but in the cinema in Delhi. There's more to Bollywood in Mumbai, but I needed more.

That was a month-long stay, and I learned about the place and the people, culture, food, music, and lifestyle.

Mumbai has a colorful heritage and history; whenever I have a chance to return in the future, it will be much more 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. The Holy See recognizes us by our growing faith and devotion to the church.

The message of Pope Francis was powerful and meaningful in that he went beyond the peripheries. To choose the neglected areas away from the traditional centers of power.

It's a blessing and a heartwarming experience for Cardinal Advincula as an Archbishop. He was the principal 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 on the Hill Road of Linambasan, Jamindan. It was elevated into a Parish on January 13, 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 growing in faith, love, and service today and in future generations.

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

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

๐Ÿ‘‰ The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Our Love and Devotion

๐Ÿ‘‰ 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 just a kilometer from Baybay Beach's shore. 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 abundant marine products like fish, shellfish, oysters, and many more. It serves fresh seafood every day at an affordable price compared to the 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 sea's soothing waves and cool breeze, 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, hiring a pump boat service or a kayak to see it closely is easy.

The fishermen also call it "Good Luck Island" since they believe it brings good luck once they inscribe their name on the rock before 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, 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 

Related Post:

๐Ÿ‘‰ 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 was invited to attend the Mehandi night, like a pre-wedding celebration, a day before the main wedding ceremony.

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

In Hindu culture, the bride has to apply a red-orange Mehandi or a henna tattoo on the back of her hands, palms, and feet. I have witnessed the actual application of Mehandi, which takes time. It's an art for the bride. It's 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 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 getting entertained.

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

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

The wedding venue was full of decorations 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