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

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Japanese art of Forest Bathing

When it comes to natural healing, the Japanese know better. They came up with a term, "Shinrin-yoku," popularized in Japan in the '80s and later introduced to the world. 

Forest bathing isn't taking a bath in the forest in a literal sense. It simply means reconnecting with nature and disconnecting from life's stressors -- causing diseases.

It's been a year since I've lived in a rural area; in my hometown. It's countryside living away from too much noise and chaos.

Since the beginning of the pandemic and due to the lockdown, some plans weren't able to happen, and since then, I wasn't able to come back to Manila.

I'm living my best life away from distraction and pollution; forest bathing on weekends is my healing wonder. It's all we need in times of stress and whenever we need to relax and rejuvenate. It cleanses and purifies our physical and mental bodies.

So Japanese people are considered world leaders regarding health and longevity. Their approach to health and wellness is just holistic and admirable. Hence, they're a world record in having supercentenarians. 

We Filipinos adapted to this Japanese form of natural healing. Forest bathing is slowly gaining recognition, especially among health and fitness enthusiasts.

Hikers, trekkers, mountain climbers, and yoga and meditation practitioners are among those groups gaining from the healing benefits of forest bathing.

In the Philippines, there are places I've done forest bathing on a day trip.

In the Philippines, there are places I've done forest bathing on a day trip. Camp John Hay in Baguio City is where you can find the most pine trees. And has the most forest cover in the area.

At Camp John Hay, Baguio City, Philippines

That was a refreshing forest bathing experience as I felt the foggy place's mists. It feels so great to be surrounded by trees, which give off natural cleansing energy.

Bucari Highlands in Iloilo, Philippines, is one of the best mountain resort destinations in the country.

When we visited, it was rainy on the way up and with a foggy and misty climate. Like Baguio City, it has many pine trees making the environment more relaxed.

Bucari, Iloilo, Philippines

There are other places where I've enjoyed forest bathing. The Mount Arayat National Park in Pampanga, Philippines. The La Mesa Eco-park in Quezon City, Philippines, and Naddi Village in Dharamshala, India.

My parents were inspired to develop our farm over a decade ago, so they planted Mahogany trees, making it a mini-forest. Now the trees have reached their peak maturity and are tall, giving a cool shade in the surrounding. 


Our Mahogany tree park

And so, every time we visited the farm, I would do forest bathing. I walk barefoot and remain under the trees until I've reached a meditative state. Feel the serenity and inhale the life force. 

Anyone can do it. When life gets tough, we must take slow and find a greener space to unwind and re-energize. 

The Japanese people are doing it as a lifestyle, so we can learn and adopt their healthy and balanced lifestyle.

©️2020 Del Cusay

Related Post:

๐Ÿ‘‰ The Highlands of Baguio

๐Ÿ‘‰ The Highlands of Bucari

๐Ÿ‘‰ Stairway to the Mountain

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Living with the Gods in McLeod Ganj

A balanced living where nature meets progress and development. It's a place that's a blend of culture and faith.

These are the Indians and the Tibetans, living in harmony with the Gods in McLeod Ganj.

In February 2013, I traveled a distance to be with the Gods in McLeod Ganj. They call it "Little Lhasa" since it had had a large population of Tibetans-in-exile" since 1959 when the Indian Government accepted them and gave them a place to put up their Government while in exile. 

That's only in India. They're accepting refugees in a warm embrace and protecting their rights, safety, and security. 

And the greatest love is the Indian Government's support with their expression of faith -- Tibetan Buddhism.

In McLeod Ganj, I met The Dalai Lama, the Spiritual leader of the Tibetans-in-exile. I was lucky to have met him at his residence when he gave a talk about "Jataka Tales" to the local and international pilgrims.

I'm a Christian, but I've studied Major religions in India for over a year. And incorporate the beliefs into my faith.

The world would be better if we were not too fanatic about our religious affiliation. When people would tend to fight for their faith as the best and the only truth, I would try to learn and understand others' faith deeply.

I befriend people of different backgrounds and faith in India. It's about respect and understanding and not about prejudice and religious superiority. 

With the universal God, we're all equal. It just happened that God appeared in different places and times in a completely different image depending on the culture and language unique to each country.

When I was in India, their Gods were my Gods. The Gods and the Goddesses in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, and Christianity. All are Gods, but also a universal God.

In McLeod Ganj, I felt the Divine Beings, the Gods of the Tibetans and the Indians. It was different images, but I prayed to their Gods on its universal form.

As I entered the Namgyal Monastery, it was a heaven-and-earth experience of being one with the Divine. It didn't make me less of a Christian, but it helped me strengthen and appreciate my faith even more. 

That's why Major religions thrive in India, and they learn to live in harmony with reverence to each other's faith.

My visit to Himachal Pradesh was Divine- inspired. It was solo travel with my faith in the Divine guides. 

Whether you're a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, or Christian, we're all brothers and sisters here on earth. We have a shared humanity. Your suffering is also my suffering.

And so what we need most during these difficult times is shared humanity where we pray for each other with no boundaries, no religious affiliations, no prejudice, and no discrimination.

Just love.

Because our love for humanity is our highest reverence to God. 

So it is.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay