Sunday, June 28, 2020

Stairway to The Mountain


Nature's spring is nature's best. That was a great and meaningful adventure on the foothill of the mountain; the Mount Arayat National Park.

To be closer to nature is a weekend and holiday destination for most of city dwellers. An escape from noise pollution and a hustle and bustle of a the city life. Escaping from the real world of unending work and tasks. Escaping from reality even for a short while.

An adventure worth sharing 6 years ago brought me to the beautiful and peaceful town of Arayat in the Province of Pampanga in Central Luzon Island, Philippines.


Two months after I arrived in the Philippines from a year of living abroad was a great adventure and a soulful healing. That was April 2014 when I finally had a closer glimpse of Mount Arayat which can only be seen from a distant highway when going to Northermost provinces  in the country.

Nature's retreat offers wonderful healing results of the body, mind and soul. This is all we need after a long and tiring workweek. And for the physical grounding, a day hike to the mountain feels like rooting to the earth. Nature's way to be  reconnected  to the earth as our mind wanders and boggles accompanied by anxiety, worries and fears.

At the park's entrance going to the hilltop community is a serene environment and a soulful sound of nature. The park is also a home to different species of birds and wildlife that is under conservation. 


The park is a great escapade for families, team building and even solo retreat. There are cottages, picnic area, playground and campsites for everyone's need.

A hundred step stairway going to the hilltop community is a great calorie burning and offers a stunning view of the Mountain. Closer view to the roof of Pampanga -- the highest peak of the province.

Take a deep breath and a little more hike passing through the tree houses and all the way to the Arayat Bikers Club. A solemn spiritual community awaits where one is closer to the nature. Truly a heaven on earth for the residents and for the visitors.



Before heading down to the lowlands, I took a pause, meditated and reflected on the Divine presence and a meaningful journey ahead.

The Mountain of Arayat and its Natural Park provides greater service for people seeking respite from various suffering, loneliness, stress and grief.

On the new best normal and after the pandemic, people would be reconnected back again with the  nature; taking a deeper breath and breathing out of toxicities of the body and mind and purification of one's soul. And when we need to reboot or restart, there will always be a mountain to climb for a soul searching -- to heal our being.


© 2020 Del Cusay


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day at The Farm



Life at the farm. That's our best new normal during this time of Pandemic. We get the benefits of clean and green environment suitable for healing and rejuvenation.

Today, we are celebrating an extra special day since it's a Father's day. We decided to visit and spend our Sunday at the farm; a sanctuary we developed for about a year now.

As I swing through a hammock, I reminisce the time how it all started back in June 2019, from the time it was conceptualized until it materialized.

Today; a year after, we are harvesting fruits and vegetables which my parents started to plant since the start of lockdown and home quarantine due to pandemic. My parents didn't stop their usual organic farming activity and it's paying off-- it's harvest time.


We have varieties of vegetables like eggplant, bittergourd, string beans, spinach and squash. We also have fruits like Philippine lime or Calamansi, tomatoes, avocado, banana, watermelon and coconut. These and many more in weeks to come as we expand and develop other areas for planting.

We are aiming for a sustainable farming practices to provide our own food on the table not only this time of crisis, but as a way of living -- a new lifestyle.

For the previous years, I may not have celebrated the Father's day at home, so this year is an opportunity to be present and to show gratitude and appreciation to our dear Father.


I will forever be thankful for the love and inspiration and this crisis gives us an opportunity to plant, grow and harvest what we've planted.

Father's day isn't only for a day, but we celebrate it on our lifetime. Wherever we are, he will always be in our hearts. Our Father, our hero, our motivation and source of endless inspiration. 

© 2020 Del Cusay


Sunday, June 14, 2020

A Journey of A Thousand Miles


Life brings us to the place of our dreams. That's the beginning of a wonderful journey ahead. We dream it, we believe it and we live it.

We manifest and hold on to that dream, we bring our intentions to life, and it starts with a single wish— a single step.

Life may bring us to several places in our lifetime. Some destinations may haven't been planned, but opportunities and destiny take us there.

In 2016 after a thousand miles journey abroad, life brought me in a lovely place; known as the city of love Iloilo City, Philippines.


The place is special to me since I lived there for about a year back in mid 2002 until mid 2003. It is where I studied my first year in college; being the center of higher education in the Region. Back then, the city has its charm with century old churches and old ancestral houses that are preserved and restoredsuch a timeless beauty.

The city has to live up the expectation dubbed as the 'City of Love' and true to its name, it is the loving nature and the lovable character of the people that captivates the soul.

13 years since I left, I came back to live and practice my profession to work in a medical center located near the esplanade where I used to spend some morning stroll and sunset viewing. I have seen the growth of the city as it embraced modern development in infrastructure while preserving its old heritage. Now the city is a fusion of old and modern world. It has a more charming vibe among the developing cities in the Philippines.


That journey to the 'City of Love' brought memories to cherish for a lifetime, until one day another journey begins to another place; to the country's capital region of Metro Manila. Back to the place where I started to work and discover places and the world.

Today, our world may have stopped. Life may have led me back to the place of my greater comfort and security; to the place of my birth and to be with my family  my love ones.

The thousand miles journey brought meaning to life, but away from my family. But now, I believe that a journey of a thousand miles includes a 'home sweet home' closer to my family.

Life is good to be back in their loving and warm embrace during this time of crisis; where uncertainty unfolds. I was far away from them for years searching for a living, but now I am living with them searching for a meaning.


Now, I believe that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Wherever we are in this world, no matter how far the distance we've been, still we'll always come back to the most special place in our heart. 

Life will always protect and comfort us, and life will always lead us back even after a thousand miles journey and beyond. 

© 2020 Del Cusay



Friday, June 12, 2020

122nd Philippine Independence Day: Holding the Line


We can never attain real freedom if we're still a slave through colonial mentality and feeling inferior from other races. Same thing that we can't totally be free when our very own government is terrorizing and putting down its own people. 


That may be our very own story today. The state of our current societal freedom. A prisoner of faith and hope.

That's not what our valiant heroes have fought for; just to free us from hundreds of years of foreign invasion and rule. The pain and struggle may have left an imprint on our being as passed on the blood  flowing from our veins by our Forefathers.

Today, the Philippine society may have evolved through the years and the new generations of young Filipinos may have been detached from the history, but attached to the modern living of comfort and convenience.

Today's society, however, is still struggling with defending our freedom; to be free in our speech. That's the freedom of expression being threatened to be taken away from us.


We can be the most law-abiding citizen, but that doesn't mean we will remain to be silent and be blind of what's happening in the government; how it's being run that affects the way we live. We follow the rules and regulations, but that doesn't mean we will also follow and have higher tolerance with the wrongdoings; the abuse of power and rampant violations of human rights.

The Philippine society today is in a threat of losing its voice. The voice of the masses -- the powerless and the most vulnerable.

People critical of the government are being silenced in a form of harrassment and false accusations and worst is detention. If this can happen to political personalities and mass media, then it can happen to almost anyone who has the strongest voice of dissent or opposition.


I believe we have a good democracy, but what happens when the government has a massive power for manipulation, power tripping, intimidation and control. Slowly, public dissent is being killed. No more voice to speak up or you may be served a sentence without a due process of law.

Democracy is what this country survived and thrived over a century; if not, we may still be a colony and in control of a powerful country. But, with our great resistance to put an end to foreign rule, we became a winner -- we regained our independence and freedom.

People now has the ability to discern what is right and wrong; of what is real or just a manipulation. People can express their thoughts with higher judgment and discrimination.


If the govenment is shutting us down, then let us hold the line. We know our limits. The government must know its limits too. Power vested on our leaders comes from the people and we can take it away from them. Eventually, power has to come to an end. It's never permanent.

It's when we know how to hold the line that we can protect ourselves and we can uphold our freedom. The freedom that we Filipinos deserve. 

© 2020 Del Cusay


Sunday, June 7, 2020

Lost in a Paradise


If there's one thing that this Pandemic has taught us, it is to embrace the stillness. To be present.

Life teaches us about what is essential versus what is luxury or leisure.

Life teaches us to embrace individual uniqueness and societal differences.


Life teaches us to be alone, to be lost and to regain ourself.

What would happen if you get stuck in an Island... How would you imagine to live...

There's no available convenience stores, no cellular phone signals, no internet...

You only have basic survival needs and equipments; tents, hammock, cooking utensils and just enough food good for 2 days.

I dared! I trekked a muddy road less traveled back in 2015. And my destination was the Island Province of Guimaras in the Philippines.


In just 2 days time, I enjoyed the serenity of the place away from the people. The water is cool and clean and I jumped off a cliff. That was a safe jump rather than a risky dive which I never dared. And I survived!

Now, living in the present, I am thinking about the time in our lives when we go for an adventure of a lifetime; no attachment to things and the people. And absence of one of the most essential thing today -- getting online and the social media.

Today, during this time of Pandemic and social isolation, our connection to the online world is our most significant survival tool. We go online for news updates which sometimes can be toxic and causes sadness, loneliness and grief.  If there's no internet and social media in the present time, how would we live a normal life?

The connection to online world is definitely our survival tool in the new best normal. For most of us, being offline is not being much alive, since nowadays everybody seem to go digital; going online to connect with coworkers, families, friends and special love ones.


I learned to be detached; to be offline even for a short while. To go on social media detox. Truly, I have lived on that present moment; living in stillness. That adventure taught me a lesson about not just basic survival skills, but also to survive when the most essential thing is out of reach even for a while.

The next Pandemic may come in our time, and how do we prepare for the worst is an essential thing for survival.

To be stucked in an Island Paradise is just one learning experience that I have benefited for in the present times and in the next crisis to come.

And today, we can always learn to not just survive...but, just be alive...

© 2020 Del Cusay