Sunday, November 29, 2020

Walking Tour in Mumbai

I had a terrible experience in Mumbai, and that's something unforgettable. I believe 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 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 mostly ready-to-wear, colorful garments, and other personal products. I didn't bring many clothes from New Delhi, and so that 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 in a Nike outlet store in Bandra. That's all I needed for my walking tours around the streets and downtown areas of Mumbai.

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

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


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, both rich in colonial history 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 as well as gruesome history.


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

Before I left Mumbai, I haven't found 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 the cinema in Delhi. There's more to Bollywood in Mumbai, but unluckily I had enough.

That was a month-long stay, and I've learned not just about the place but also about the people, culture, food, music, and lifestyle.

Mumbai has a colorful heritage, and history and whenever I have a chance to come back in the future, I wish it would be much 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. It's because The Holy See recognizes us by the growing faith and devotion to the church.

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

It's a blessing and a heartwarming experience from Cardinal Advincula when he was an Archbishop. He was the main 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 in the Hill Road of Linambasan, Jamindan. It had elevated into a Parish on June 27, 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 to grow in faith, love, and service today and in years and generations to come.

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

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

👉 The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Our Love and Devotion

👉 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 located just a kilometer away from the shore of Baybay Beach. 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 an abundant supply of marine products like fish, shellfish, oysters, and many more. It serves fresh seafood every day at an affordable price compared to 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 sea 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, it's easy to hire a pump boat service or a kayak to see it closely.

It's also called "Good luck Island" by the fishermen since they believe it brings good luck once they inscribe their name on the rock before they go 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, be sure to 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:

👉 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 received an invitation to attend the Mehandi night, which is like a pre-wedding celebration a day before the main wedding ceremony.

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

The bride has to apply a red-orange Mehandi or a henna tattoo on her back of hands, palms, and feet in Hindu culture. I have witnessed the actual application of Mehandi that 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 and 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 get entertained.

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



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

The wedding venue was full of decors 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," which was popularized in Japan back 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 being reconnected with nature and disconnected from the stressors of life -- causing diseases.

It's been a year since I'm living 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 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, and 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 when it comes to 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 number of 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 was feeling the mists of the foggy place. It feels so great to be surrounded by trees as they give off natural cleansing energy.

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

It was rainy on the way up when we had visited and with a foggy and misty climate. Just like Baguio City, it has many pine trees making the environment cooler.

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.


More than a decade ago, my parents had the inspiration to develop our farm, so they planted Mahogany trees, making it a mini-forest. Now the trees have reached their peak maturity and are so tall, giving a cool shade in the surrounding. 

 

Our Mahogany tree park


And so, every time we visit the farm, I would do forest bathing. I walk barefooted and be in stillness 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 need to take slow and find a greener space to unwind and re-energize. 

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

©️2020 Del Cusay

Related Post:

👉 The Highlands of Baguio

👉 The Highlands of Bucari

👉 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.

Back in February 2013, I've traveled a distance to be with the Gods in McLeod Ganj. They call it "little Lhasa" since it has 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've 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 more than a year of stay. And incorporate the beliefs into my faith.

I believe that the world would be a better place if we're 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 deeply others' faith.

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 are 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 heaven on earth experience of being one with the Divine. It didn't make me less as 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 to the Divine guides. 

Whether you're a Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, and 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