Sunday, December 27, 2020

Year in Review 2020: Overcoming Great Odds


What a challenging year it has been! Full of surprises, chaos and unmet expectations. A year of lost hopes and breaking barriers. That's how I sum up the year 2020.

No matter how good the year 2020 had started, there would always be obstacles along the road. That's an uncertain moment of what the future holds. 

How the year started

Celebrating New year 2020 with my family was one of the best moments. It brought happiness and joyful spirit to be with my love ones.

We've shared lots of meaningful conversations, short travels and family gatherings that bonded us strongly. We don't get to celebrate yearly together as one big family, and whenever we do, we make it sure to be very memorable ever.

Meaningful moments were extended with a special person in my life. I had a great time and sweet memories that I always reminisce.

The Great Challenge

The end of the first quarter of 2020 brought misery to our lives. The pandemic caused by Covid-19 knocked us down. It made us paralyzed for a moment. It made us worry, fear and angry over the unknown enemy.

Covid-19 made a global freeze. No local and international flights, some travel restrictions, closed businesses and bankrupt companies. 

It had separated countries by closing the borders, made us feel disconnected through physical distancing and taught us to set boundaries for our own protection and of our love ones.

Prior to lockdown in March this year, I was able to share meaningful journey with special people in my life. Never have we thought that the worst is yet to come, but we celebrated triumph with courage, faith and love.

Despite this centuries' surprise, we're able to survive and thrive. No matter how challenging the situations are, still we keep a fighting spirit to live a good life on a new normal.

The Lessons of Pandemic

Lots of meaningful lessons are thrown to us. This current pandemic is just a preview of a series of disastrous moments to come to the humanity. We're being prepared to experience the worst, so we can better prepare for the next to come. Be better and be bold.

That's a great lesson for mankind, but the pandemic made us realize that we're all globally connected and can feel people's suffering wherever they are in the world.

However, it's not the end of the world. We had to do something. We don't have to feel miserable, lonely or depressed. Instead, we have made things possible.

In times of pandemic, food is the most important thing to survive. When people in the cities are challenged in having their food supplies, people in the countryside or rural areas have a reason to be more grateful.

Integrated farming lifestyle

My parents decided to make use of their time while on lockdown, and so they started to develop our farm land to be our new lifestyle.

With integrated farming, it has converted our farm into a mini forest, with different kinds of trees. This is where I do forest bathing every time we visit the farm. Its healing effect is just wonderful as it helps to be more grounded; to be connected to the natural source.

We've also started to plant vegetables and fruits and have made farm-fresh harvest for our food on the table.

This time, health must be an utmost priority. We have to strengthen our immunity against diseases, and so it's good to eat organic fruits and veggies that's more healthy and keeping us tronger and having more energy.

Overcoming challenges

We've had enough of the Covid-19 and we help to defeat it. It can never break us and kill us, as long as we keep the faith.

When travel restrictions were lifted and quarantine status is on the lowest level, we rejoice that finally we are back to normal, although some health protocols are still in place.

We've had some simple family gatherings to celebrate precious moments and religious devotions. This time, no kiss and hugs, but a little distance to ensure safety. It's a edited feeling, but we have to get used to it.

Christmas in our hearts

Our world brighten up when the 'Ber' month started. We're on a festive mood and celebrating Christmas early on.

From September to December, a very long Christmas season unique among Filipinos. It brings hope that we can always be cheerful and win any battle of life's ups and downs.

And so, we celebrate Christmas. It may not be the merriest celebration this year, but we never fail to bring the light of hope and higher aspirations. 

This Christmas in times of pandemic,is a reminder to be with the people who truly matters, to celebrate with simplicity and with highest gratitude. It's a time for introspection about our purpose and our continued journey in life. To give hope and bear the light.

Christmas time is the most anticipated moment, and so we make a peace with our self over wrongful actions. This is the time for a soulful evaluation of the year that was, and the planning for the next year ahead.

So many turn of events. Some unexpected moments. Some unimaginable happenings. The year 2020 may be the beginning of a new earthly changes, but it's also the beginning of a new personality and a more refined and stronger energy.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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πŸ‘‰ Year in Review 2019: The Greatest Love

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Stairway to the Ruins in Macau


The former British colony, Hong Kong brought a wonderful surprise for my parents as we explored the vibrant cosmopolitan in the East. And so, at the end of the 4-day trip, we had one last stop, and that was a-day visit and tour in a neighbor special administrative region, Macau.

Just an hour and a half ferry ride from Hong Kong and we were greeted with "Bienvenido" or welcome in Portuguese language. Macau is a former Portuguese colony and its preserved buildings and other structures are reminiscent of European heritage.

I always love cultural and heritage preservation, and Macau is home to a famous World heritage site, the Ruins of St. Paul.

On the early morning before heading to the airport for our flight back to the Philippines, we had a walking tour from our hotel going to the Ruins. It was just a close proximity of about 15 minutes walk until we've reached the Senado square; just few steps away from the Ruins.

That was in September 2016. A surprise made possible in  celebration of the 64th birthday of my Mother. That was our first travel abroad as a family and so it was truly memorable.

The St. Paul Cathedral in Macau was built in the 17th century and was destroyed by fire in the 19th century, leaving the façade as the Ruins.

But even on its ruins state, it's still beautiful and truly a work of art, just like the great churches of European craftsmaship. People of different creed come to visit, and it attracts both local and international tourists eager to see and know the history behind the ruins.

Most of the Churches destroyed by natural and man-made disasters were rebuilt or restored, but the Ruins of St. Paul in Macau had just preserved a piece of the structure. 

With the heritage preservation effort, it was not demolished for the people of the world to see and appreciate the once largest Cathedral in Asia.

Macau may have been transformed into a bustling metropolitan, with the beautiful lights from its mega and ultra modern structures, but it didn't forget it's history and culture.

Macau felt like a cultural city, where its people live in simplicity amidst modernity. In the years to come it may completely transform to be much progressive metropolis, but it will have a unique identity with a blend of cultural influence from the East and the west.

We may not have explored much about other interesting sites in Macau, but we've seen one of the greatest image structures of our faith. 

The stairway to Ruins of St. Paul will always be a memorable travel experience. It leaves an imprint in our hearts and it makes the whole experience worth remembering.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Kathmandu Valley and the lost Kingdom


The check-in counter was almost closed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport when I arrived in a hurried mode. That was like an episode of amazing race. The good thing is, I'm able to check-in and board the plane successfully. And my destination was, the old Kingdom of Nepal. 

I got excited upon leaving India to see its neighbor country in the north after my 6 months of stay in India. For almost a week-long stay, I'd imagine how it's like to live in Kathmandu valley surrounded by the wonderful Hilamayan mountains. And that was awesome to have a glimpse from thousand feet high above and upon descending of the plane. 

Kathmandu City was a bit dry and dusty as I took a cab from the airport going to the downtown area for a hotel check-in. I needed to prepare for a walking tour within the vicinity just to see and observe the daily living of the Nepalese people. 

Since I've stayed in the heart of the city, places of interest were almost walking distance. The mall, park, pond, temples, street bazaar and durbar square were nearby and I've started my journey on my first day.

My impression of Kathmandu, is a city of friendly and kind people. From the hotel staff, the sales people in the mall and street bazaar, the kids in durbar squares, the security personnel in tourist sites, the cab drivers and the random people I've met were all friendly and conversant.

I was thinking that it's their character to be congenial since they rely heavily on tourism and they have to give that great impression to every tourist they meet. 

The other cities like Lalitpur and Bhaktapur is what comprises the Kathmandu valley, and it's overlooking on the heritage site on top of a hill. The Swayambhunath offers a breathtaking view of the Kathmandu valley on a bright sunny day and clear blue skies.

Swayambhunath was my first stop among the World heritage sites recommended by my tour guide and I was amazed by the old structures and the presence of monkeys everywhere, hence it's also known as the Monkey temple.

I was happy to have visited one of the oldest heritage sites built in the 5th century, long before the birth of Buddhism in Nepal. But then, I've known that Nepal was an old country just like India, and so they have these heritage structures back in the early days of civilization.

Nepal is great nation, and once ruled by a King when it was still an absolute monarchy. However, it ended in 2008 on a constituent assembly creating a federal democratic republic.

I've learned about the culture, tradition and the way of living of the Nepalese people. It may not be as extravagant and as developed as other world cities, but it has a natural charm and a calming presence to the tourists.

In as much as I'd want to discover more about Nepal, but my almost week-long vacation ended, and time for a re-entry to India.

I've created meaningful memories on a short visit and it has a lasting impression on my heart. Nepal is simply amazing, its charm is everlasting.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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πŸ‘‰ Strolling at the Garden of Dreams

πŸ‘‰ Kathmandu: The gems and the lost Treasures

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Wellness in the Green Village


If there's one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it would've been a shift to a futuristic mindset. 

To create the next big thing out of soulful desire to live a better and a more comfortable life in a rural setting; a peaceful and green environment.

I call it the next big thing, since sustainable farming is one thing that would thrive on the next pandemic or any financial and health crisis that may come in the future.

On this time of pandemic, we've awaken the power of our intuition and creativity to make use of our productive time while on quarantine. It may not be easy, hence it requires passion, endurance and perseverance to accomplish the plan, and to make things possible even when times get rough.

And so, after 8 months of quarantine, we've started to create a green village that would be our additional source of sustainable farm  living.

We've built 2 traditional Filipino farmhouses that serve as a rest house whenever we make a visit and do some farming activities. In the near future, we're planning to build other farm infrastructures  such as concrete roads, multi-purpose hall, villas, ornamental garden and a tree park.

It's my parents' dream to have a place where they could live a simple, serene and meaningful living, and they're making it possible with their strength, will-power and Divine guidance.

When I was living in Manila, I would always think of coming back home and present to my parents some dream farm ideas, and fortunately they've accomplished some of it. Even if there's more to develop, still I'm happy of what they've started.

Within the decade, we're looking forward to see a growing family and we're also hoping that the green village would bring us closer; with a deep love of nature and a deeper connection to the Divine and its creation.

I may be living away from home, and may not be able to see the development physically in the years to come, but I'm happy that I've seen how it was planned and started, and how it would be like in the future -- such a futuristic glimpse.

This pandemic might be a blessing in disguise, because we learned to keep on going and believing that there's always a great opportunity in adversity.

The making of a green village is not just about health and wellness, it's also about building a lasting legacy, with our environmental responsibility and contribution. A Greenville country farm built with love of nature, and a conscious connection with the Divine love to nurture.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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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 so it's  one of the finest and richest cities. 

But with its glamour comes the downside of a bustling city life for the Mumbaikars. It's the chaos of daily living just 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.

From the district of Bandra where I stayed was a busy scene of street commerce, where businesses are laid on the streets mostly of ready to wears, colorful garments and other personal products. I didn't bring much clothes from New Delhi so that I could buy something new from Mumbai, but then I haven't bought a new Kurta, but just 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 the bandstand passing 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 with 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 moulded-- their version of the Hollywood "Walk of Fame."

On some days, I would travel by cab from Bandra passing through the Bandra-Worli Sea Link; a majestic bridge connecting the 2 most important districts of Mumbai and the gateway to the downtown area where the world heritage sites are located.

I would passed and got intrigued with tower mansion of the Ambanis; India's most prominent and richest family and business tycoon. That's a billion 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 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 glorious as well as gruesome history.

One day, I travelled by train from Bandra going to Christchurch station, and I had a horrible experience with ticketing system on which I got into trouble. Luckily, I survived and continued the journey exploring the cricket field around University of Mumbai and the nearby areas where I made an escape from another trap. Still, I manage to enjoy watching students playing a cricket -- a popular Indian sports similar to baseball.

Most of the days were spent in Bandra and so I explored the streets. There were days I enjoyed a cup of cappuccino in a cafΓ©, and some days I visited the nearby churches to pray, and also I visited a church on a hill top which is a short distance car ride via the Hill Road.

Before I left Mumbai, I haven't found the Bollywood. It's not a place, but it's a film center. I understand, they're the largest producer of films in the world and I've watched some of Shah Rukh Khan and Amir Khan films not in Mumbai, but in the cinema in Delhi. There's more to Bollywood in Mumbai, but unluckily I had enough.

That was a month-long of 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; the 2nd highest position in the Catholic Church next to the Pope and 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 since we're being recognized not mainly due to large numbers of Catholics, but by the growing faith and devotion to the church.

The message of Pope Francis is strong and meaningful, that he goes beyond 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 to had received the blessings of Cardinal Advincula back 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, a Mission Station was established in the Hill Road of Linambasan, Jamindan and was 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, in love and service today and in years and generations to come.

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

We continue to grow in faith to 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 and the wandering soul, in need of Divine love and light.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay 

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πŸ‘‰ The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: Our Love and Devotion

πŸ‘‰ Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish: A Divine Gift

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Captivating Mantalinga Island

What captivates the soul more than a tiny Island in 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 which is 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 is gaining national recognition as one of the best sources and a supplier of seasoods 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 seafoods everyday as at an affordable price as compared to high-end restaurants they supply in Metro Manila which is about triple or quadruple the price. In Baybay beach, Roxas City, you get unlimited fresh seafoods, day and night.

Aside from the soothing waves and cool breeze of the sea, one of the most captivating sceneries is the 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 pumpboat service to see it closely and can also be reached through a kayak.

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 on fishing or to write the name on their boat before its main voyage. 

We all want a good luck; 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 the Mantalinga Island. You'll come for sure and you'll ask for more.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay 

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πŸ‘‰ The Sacred Heart on a Hilltop

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Bollywood and Mehandi Night in New Delhi

An Indian wedding would last for 3 days. That's a very long celebration, and yes! could also be expensive if it's made to be grandiose event.

In New Delhi, I was invited to attend the mehandi night which is like a pre-wedding celebration a day before the actual wedding ceremony.

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

In a Hindu culture, the bride has to apply a red-orange mehandi or a henna tattoo on her back of hands, palms and  feet. I have witnessed the actual application of mehandi which really takes time. It's an art for the bride and it's beautiful and attractive to the eyes of the groom for sure.

Mehandi night was a joyous moment to everyone present on 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 really fantastic. I had fun. Really an enjoyable and unique wedding experience to remember.

Of course Indian wedding is also about food and delicacy, with the finest cuisine from all over India. The buffet meal was really great while listening to the soulful Bollywood music and get entertained.

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

Mehandi night is full of vibrant colors, from the traditional Indian clothes to decorations, it's really an extravagant, but a momentous moment.

The wedding venue was decorated with fresh flowers all over. It's like a night of fantasy -- a fairytale.

An awesome and magical night. It was a pure and magical delight.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay