Sunday, September 27, 2020

Serenity at the Nan Lian Garden

I find serenity wherever I go. In a hustle and bustle of city life, there's still a piece of pure calmness and soulful paradise. 

A pond... A rock formation... A waterfall... All that can be found in an oasis of pure joy; a magnificent city garden.

A bustling megacity like Hong Kong isn't just about a magnificent and stunning skyline. It also boasts some of the most beautiful and refined traditional Chinese landscaped gardens.

The entrance of Nan Lian Garden

In the busy area of Diamond hill in Kowloon, Hong Kong is where I've found a peaceful ambiance of an ancient Tang dynasty style complex; the Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian Garden.

That's a refined piece of ancient Chinese architecture brought back to life in Modern-day Hong Kong, with towering residential skyscrapers and a mountain range in a backdrop. 

Nan Lian Gardens' Wooden Gate

An entrance to the complex makes you feel welcomed with the garden's natural elements of lush greenery, ornamental rocks, and a wooden gate. That's a blissful and truly welcoming sight to behold.

Passing through the wooden gate leads you to one of the wonderful attractions which is the golden pagoda with an attached red-wooden bridge. Colors that bring good luck and prosperity according to Chinese beliefs.

The Golden Pavilion/Pagoda

Few steps away from the Golden pagoda are the Chi Lin Nunnery which is a Buddhist temple, converted into a school, a library, and a home for the elderly.

The Chi Lin Nunnery is an impressive Chinese architecture with a surrounding koi-filled pond. The wooden structure is truly a work of art back during old civilization times (618 AD to 907 AD), revived in the modern times.

The Chi Lin Nunnery

To have a better understanding of ancient Chinese architecture, I had a solemn moment inside the Chinese Timber Architecture Gallery. It's a place to discover the different Chinese architecture in different cities of China, in a different period of time.

The Nan Lian Garden is a Tang Dynasty-inspired garden built in modern times. It's reminiscent of old but refined Chinese architecture with a balance element of nature.

The Chi Lin Nunnery

The garden's tranquil ambiance offers a great sense of peace and rejuvenation to any visitor. It's not just a typical Chinese garden, but it's filled with learning about the Chinese way of living back in the old days -- the earliest civilization.

Heritage and culture must really be preserved for the world to see and experience. The Nan Lian Garden is not a typical attraction, it has an old soul Chinese ambiance in a modern setting -- teleported back in time.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunset Viewing at the Manila Bay

A reddish-gold hue. That's the best sunset I've ever seen. Stunningly beautiful, romantic, and just wonderful.

There's something mysterious in a silhouette. A seemingly work- of art. But it's real!  

What you see in the picture is what you get when you're there witnessing it.

That's the Manila Bay sunset. Truly one of the world's best as attested by many people that includes foreign tourists. It's a famous attraction when one has to visit the Philippine capital city of Manila.

At Harbour Square baywalk, CCP Complex

What makes the Manila Bay sunset beautiful is its stunning glow until dusk before it disappears. And so you get a picture-perfect 'silhouette,' a mysterious shadow against the background that glows.

On June 6, 2019, I had a great time strolling at the Harbour Square baywalk at the Philippine Cultural Center complex. After having an afternoon coffee at the café, I waited for the chance to have a glimpse of the sunset. That was my last sunset viewing at Manila Bay before going back to my hometown in Panay Island.

Some thoughts while strolling as I can't help but appreciate this natural wonder before my eyes and also with the hundreds of other people who share smiles and happiness.

The Harbour Square baywalk

Families, groups of friends, and even solo travelers, both local and foreign, may have forgotten about their worries and relieved their stresses. It does healing wonders to the soul. It captures' emotions and captivates the mind.

Manila Bay may not be perfect. It has its flaws and needs some healing too. And only people who have been there could understand the problem and how to fix it.

Fast forward a year after, Manila Bay is at the center of controversies despite the pandemic.

With the beach nourishment project that aims to beautify a portion of Manila Bay with artificial white sand, the question is 'Is it timely?' or 'is it necessary and appropriate?'

It's not authentic white sand like in Boracay or Palawan, but it's from a crushed Dolomite rock transported from the island province of Cebu.

Just recently, in just a few days, a portion of Manila Bay turned into a white sand beach and was partially opened to the public on September 19, 2020.

Manila Yacht Club

Thousands have flocked to witness how the area transformed from natural black sand to coveted white sand.

People have different opinions on the issue about the filling in of white sand. With no Environmental Impact Assessment conducted, things can go wrong. 

The main attraction is the natural and charming sunset view of Manila Bay. It's not the color of the sand, after all. 

The Manila Bay skyline

Yes, we have several years to go before we could revive the ecosystem and beauty of Manila Bay. But we see the excitement of the people who would want a transformational development and a beautiful personal experience when they stroll on Manila's famous baywalk.

When I go back to Manila, I would be glad to witness the alluring sunset once again. I would be enjoying a soulful moment. And just like the last time, seeing people's happy and smiling faces

Manila Bay is a precious jewel of the Philippines. We care for it. We show our concern, and we love it.

The Manila Bay sunset

As we slowly regain Manila Bay, we take pride as Filipino to show the world a better Philippines. The "Pearl of the Orient Seas," today and beyond.

© 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Island Hopping in Guimaras

We need to regain ourselves. At times we get stressed, and it's due to various stressors of daily living. From multitasking work, daily commute, never-ending problems, and now the pandemic.

This global health crisis puts our lives our life at risk. Either we become a victim or a survivor.

Every day, since the lockdown early this year, we think of ways to stay mentally healthy. How to keep our sanity and not experience loneliness, apathy, and worst is depression.

Every day is a battle of survival. We keep diverting our consciousness towards happy thoughts. We reminisce the happiest moments in our life. Those times we live our best life.

The boat ride from Iloilo to Guimaras Island

And for me, there's one great way to relieve stress and to rejuvenate. That is to travel to beautiful places and spend some weekend getaway to have some pure thinking moment. To distress through meditation and to appreciate the healing wonders of nature.

Every Sunday, I reminisce the times when I had my Soulful travel moments. We can't travel on this pandemic due to restrictions, and so the best way is to have a mental vacation. 

It works! It's as good as visiting the place in real-time and almost the same feeling. It's just that we process with our mental power -- our wild imagination.

I believe that the power of the mind does healing and contributes to our wellbeing. Whenever we feel sad, lonely, or depressed, we don't have enough energy to do our daily tasks and become productive. And so, when we feel happy, we suddenly become more inspired to do great things that we could lift other people with our positive energy.

Positive energy is contagious, and so is negativity. That's what I believe.

I would rather be with someone or a group that would inspire me or make me happy than suffering from negative emotions brought by someone, a group, or worst is a personal creation -- becoming an enemy of oneself.

To have a mental vacation is a heavenly experience without leaving the comfort of your own home. We can go to almost any place we're dreaming of; those on our bucket list.

One of my favorite Islands in the Philippines is Guimaras. It's one of the smallest Island-Province, and I'd like to keep on coming back whenever I am in the region.

Island Cove in Guimaras Island

Guimaras is just a 20-minute boat ride from the coast of Iloilo province in Panay Island. So near the distance that both Island is visible from each other.

One thing I like about Guimaras is the serenity of nature. It's not a very touristy place, so definitely not crowded, and you'll enjoy soulful moments on the waters, on the shore, or on a cliff.

Guimaras is not overdeveloped as compared to Island destinations like Boracay or Siargao. That's one reason why I like it even more when there are Filipino-style cottages and not huge hotels that can pollute the ecosystem of the place. 

I hope Guimaras will retain its grandeur. Its natural environment and will not be subject to over-commercialization.

Naturally beautiful environment in Guimaras Island

Guimaras is already beautiful as it is in its present state. And so many people would appreciate its hidden beauty and natural charm.

Guimaras is not just a small Island, but it has friendly and hospitable people with good hearts. That makes them different from the rest. It has the heart and soul at its best.

© 2020 Del Cusay

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Sunday, September 6, 2020

Celebrating Birthday at the Farm

Life is good. No matter what challenges we're going through, still there's a reason to celebrate for all the blessings and abundance.

Since I'm celebrating my birthday, I have it at the farm for the first time. It's also the first year since we started to develop a portion for tree planting and just recently for organic vegetable farming.

It feels great to celebrate your birthday in a completely different setting and together with my family in my hometown. The previous years' celebration was in Manila. That was a joyful and jolly celebration back then; pre-COVID.

This year 2020, is a simple yet meaningful celebration as I contemplate life's meaning and purpose.

What's there waiting for me?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a lot had changed. Uncertainties and vulnerabilities are on the consciousness. That our life matters above all. That life is too short. And that life is precious.

To make a wish on a birthday is truly important and meaningful since we attract what we ask for and become even more powerful when people who are dear to us are sending their best wishes.

Like a group prayer, we often materialize our wishes and hearts' desires when more people are there to celebrate with us.

However, through the years, as we reach a certain level of maturity, we tend to direct our wishes not just to ourselves but more to the people who matter most in our life.

Our wishes tend to become more specific,  lesser on material aspirations, and centering more on our wellbeing and enlightenment.

This pandemic teaches us to go back to the basics. To review and renew our lives and make our best effort to present a new 'us' to the world.

Celebrating a birthday at the farm is about celebrating the natural world. Not surrounded by many people, but with trees, plants and vegetables.

My deepest gratitude for another year of surviving through life's challenges. To my family, friends, and above all, the Divine. The source of a great living.

Life goes on, and I will never forget that life is too short. We have to live it well and live our best life. Only the best life we deserve.

© 2020 Del Cusay