Sunday, September 27, 2020

Serenity at the Nan Lian Garden

I find serenity wherever I go. In a hustle and bustle of a 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 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 a 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 wooden gate. That's a blissful and truly a 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 aways from the Golden pagoda is 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 the modern times. It's a reminiscent of old but refined Chinese architecture with a balance elements of the 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, bit 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 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 simply amazing.

There's something mysterious in a silhouette; with a backdrop of a seemingly painted 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 including 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 wonderful is its stunning glow until dusk just before it totally disappear. 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 cup of coffee at the café, I waited for the chance to have a glimpse of the sunset. That was my last sunset viewing at the Manila Bay before I travel back in my hometown in Panay Island.

Some thoughts while strolling as I can't help but to 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, group of friends and even solo traveler both local and foreign may have forgotten about their worries and relieved their stresses. It does healing wonder to the soul. It captures' emotions and it captivates the mind.

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

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

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

It's not a real white sand like in Boracay or Palawan, but it's made from a crushed Dolomite rock transported all the way from the Island-province of Cebu.

Just recently, in just a few days time, 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 just to witness how the area was transformed from a natural black sand to a coveted white sand.

People may be divided on the issue about the filling in of white sand; with no Environmental Impact Assessment conducted, but certainly there's one thing that we could all agree...

The main attraction is the natural and the charming sunset view of the 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 truly revive the ecosystem and beauty of the Manila Bay, but we see the eagerness of the people who would want a transformational development and a wonderful personal experience when they stroll on the the 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 a Filipino to show to 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 ourself. 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 is making our life at risk. Either we become a victim or a survivor.

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

Everyday is a battle of survival. We keep on diverting our consciousness towards happy thoughts . We reminisce the happiest moments in our life. Those times when we live our greatest life.

Boat ride from Iloilo to Guimaras Island

And for me, there's one greatest 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 real time and almost the same feeling. It's just that we process with our mental power -- our beautiful 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 or joyful, we suddenly become more inspired to do great things that we could lift up other people with our positive energy.

Positive energy is contagious and so is negativity... that's what I believe in.

I would rather be with someone or a group that would inspire me or make me happy than suffer from negative emotions brought by someone, a group or worst is a personal creation -- becoming 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 places we're dreaming of; those on our bucketlist.

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 the 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 overly developed 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 big hotels that can pollute the ecosystem of the place. 

I hope Guimaras will retain its grandeur; it's natural environment, and will not be subject to over commercialization.

Naturally beautiful environment in Guimaras Island

Guimaras is already beautiful as it is on 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 a good heart. That makes them different from the rest. 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 and to be grateful for. 

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

On this year 2020, is a simple yet meaningful celebration as I contemplate on 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 life really 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 ourself, but more on the people who matters most in our life.

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

This pandemic teaches us to go back to the basic; to review and renew our life and making our best effort to present a new 'us' to the world.

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

A serene environment, with fresher air, blue skies, chirping birds and lush greeneries.

My deepest gratitude for another year of surviving through life's challenges. To my family and friends and above all to the Divine; the greatest source of life and the greatest reason of living.

Life surely goes on and I will never forget that life is too short. That we have to live it well, and to live our greatest life; only the best life we deserve.

© 2020 Del Cusay