Showing posts with label Arts and Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arts and Culture. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Evolution of The Mind: Path Towards Right Consciousness

I was in my mid-20s when I decided to live a different path of human consciousness. It's not an ordinary life where freedom is absolute, but it was a life full of challenges and sacrifices. At first, it was not so easy until I have discovered my capabilities and unique qualities that are beyond the limits. 

I struggled... I endured the pain and I persevered the uncertainties that come my way. During those times I have pondered on the meaning of my existence and my role in service to humanity and the world.

I am blessed with being born from a loving and supportive family. My parents have raised us well and able to send us to a good school to get the right education that eventually gave us a comfortable life. My parents valued the education of their children more than what they have accomplished. For them education is an opportunity to succeed in life; although it may not be a guarantee, still they pushed us to get the education that we wanted. 

I graduated with a bachelor's degree in nursing and became a registered nurse. Back then, I was fully supported by my family for what I would become -- to live my life as a nurse. Perhaps I would have become a bedside nurse abroad and live a more comfortable life just like other Filipino nurses that are enjoying the greener pasture. But those were just a missed opportunity and a fantasy to my vivid imaginations. I did not become a  nurse and I remain to live in my country. It was a failure since the goal was not hit and it diverted my attention to other things that can satisfy my senses and provoke my creative imagination. I started to think and asked questions about the future. What do I want? What will I become?  I needed a rescue out of the blue. Clueless about the future, I couldn't think but act like a happy-go-lucky; no destination ... nothing to see. It was dark and I needed a guiding light.

The Mid 20s is when I started to rewire my inner dialogue. Connecting the missing link helped me to regain my life for the greater opportunity. That was the time I entered an ashram. A school of initiation for higher consciousness. I developed some intelligence that is not attained by ordinary people not devoted to the spiritual journey. It was in the ashram that I learned to become a trainer and a public speaker. I decided to improve my skills both intrapersonal and interpersonal and it led to a magical journey -- I couldn't believe the things that I am capable of doing. I envision being the best version of myself, upgraded my skills and learned to decipher reality from obsolete beliefs. The learning was truly indispensable and that made me who I am today -- renewed and transformed. 

To evolve in consciousness is to change self-limiting beliefs and habits that don't give meaning to higher existence -- universal service through spirituality. I meditated, chanted, and used a special mantra to achieve a sense of contentment and bliss. It changed my personality and reached a certain level of maturity through service. It was then I have learned to appreciate the tagline "Live Your Greatest Life." I thought living a good life is just enough, but then to live one's life to the fullest is more meaningful and substantial -- truly a spiritual bliss. Then, going beyond esoteric practice is "Serving Humanity and The World." It was the ultimate realization and fulfillment of my goals. I discovered to unleash my hidden potentials and increased my self-worth. I became firm with my philosophies and elevated my personality to connect with stronger souls. If I didn't, then I wouldn't survive from the start. My inner compass would have directed me towards the path. 

I traveled and lived in India for more than a year and reached out to different groups. I became one with the people. I dressed up and maybe started to sound like them too. I met various groups; from the elite families and well-known personalities down to the grassroots level of the society. The experience gave me serenity and sense of purpose. I gained wisdom from eastern philosophies with an integration of western practicality and that contributed to confidence in exoteric teachings. In India, I taught different subjects that are mostly of spiritual origin. It was very fulfilling and memorable. My greatest achievement would have been the construction of the "Third Eye" which is spiritually guided. It was then I felt the Divine guidance that intervened in my being. 

I feel empowered and did extraordinary things. My life back then may not be a common path to some, but being enlightened to some degree gave me a better perspective about the kind of life that one must live. Service to humanity is truly a benchmark of man's existence. Service to improve their lives and for them to search for a brighter meaning of their so-called 'dharma' or soul purpose. 

It was in India that I became a master of my own thinking. I challenge my own self based on my choices and persuade others for what they believe in that's not aligned with the universal truth revealed in the ashram.


How could I thrive years of service when I started to bring back my old self? I strive to become better, yet couldn't see the light. Perhaps I challenged myself, even more, then I realize that service to humanity is everywhere; in the community where we live or in a place where lives have brought us. Wherever we go is the place to leave a legacy. Maybe unknown to many, but popular to those whom we have touched lives. Our own 'dharma' is the legacy that is inherent to us. We may be wrong with our choices at times, but we can always choose to regain ourselves and become wiser and live a better life. We have been ridiculed, but our principles could help us to hit our target. There may be times when we no longer tune in to lower vibrations, yet we thrive to live an extraordinary life just like the old days -- deeper soul connection. 

Now that everything has changed, I am still evolving towards the right path. I am still uncertain about the future, but with the evolution and integration of Divine energies, nothing can be greater than our renewed self. We continue to develop and we keep the spark to give some illumination to others. 

Our evolution will be for a lifetime and when the time comes that we need to look back to assess our old versions, then we can say that 'I did my best and now the path that I am taking is the path towards the right consciousness -- not from a selected group, but a universal consciousness that everyone deserves. 

©  Del Cusay

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pasinaya 2017: Arts for Peace

The preservation and restoration of the Philippine Arts and Culture have been a significant cause for Filipino artists and nationalists. Through the years, we have been slowly transformed into following a Western lifestyle where we have accepted and embraced the modern way of living. Our entertainment has become Westernized through contemporary music, dances, and other performances. We have somehow lost our cultural identity of being Filipino by heart.

The Pasinaya Festival 2017, the largest multi-arts festival, aims to regain our Filipino arts and culture in all genres. They have successfully attracted followers and viewers to this festival over the years.  Through this initiative, we recover the glory days of the past as experienced in our modern time. It brings a nostalgic feeling and an even past life regression to some extent. It's a vivid imagination of the refined and beautiful days of the past.

This year's theme is about bringing peace through arts and culture. When we have national peace issues due to political and cultural divisions and beliefs, we Filipinos are pulling the strings that connect us as one nation. Our dear brothers, who may have different philosophical and political views, may have caused damage to our cultural identity as they may not have helped our government preserve culture and arts. We have been divided through the years and struggle to fight for a peaceful nation of firm yet gentle people. This year's theme, "Arts for Peace, " symbolizes unity through diversity. We may have different voices, various faith, and religion, yet we can become one nation through arts and culture. Filipino artists and viewers from around the country and worldwide convene together to witness and celebrate our national identity. That we are Filipino, and we are proud to say that I Am Filipino in words, deeds, and thoughts.

The Pasinaya 2013 was a previous experience where Filipino-Chinese culture was embraced. We can live in harmony and camaraderie by sharing our culture, no matter how different. We can appreciate and embrace it as part of our culture and tradition. This year 2017, is no different from previous Pasinaya events. The message is always clear that we can not move forward if we fail to deeply understand our national identity through arts, culture, and heritage.

I advocate for our country's arts, Culture, and heritage preservation, and we deserve a national identity that is truly Filipino. Remember our culture and heritage as we work together for peace and progress. This will be passed on to the next generation of heroic Filipinos. The future generation is braver and more decisive. A citizen who will continue to raise the voice to the world that we are One Filipino-- today and forever.

© 2017 Del Cusay

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Celebrating Chinese New Year 2017: An Auspicious Celebration

For centuries, Chinese immigrants from mainland China have established closer ties with the Filipinos. Since then, we have mutually embraced religious traditions and appreciated the rich culture and heritage that remains to be solid and lasting. Chinese merchants in the Philippines existed during the early years of civilization and became a great trading partner contributing to the robust economy and fortifying stronger relationships. 

Chinese people who have chosen to live and work in the Philippines were accepted by most Filipinos, and they have greatly influenced our culture and way of living.

Embracing the Chinese culture made a significant impact on our lives. Their beliefs, wisdom, and character are worth emulating. Chinese people have taught us how to live based on their life principles from the teachings of their religions. Buddhism brought to China, became a foundation of wisdom, humility, and compassion. These traits, which embody Buddhist philosophy, are the same guiding principles on how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, a better life worth living. 

Looking back, celebrating the Chinese new year 2013 was a memorable experience in Binondo, Manila. Known as the oldest Chinatown in the world, it has shown great transformation and preservation of Chinese-Filipino culture. The old and preserved houses and commercial buildings symbolize love and respect for its culture and heritage. For years, Manila Chinatown has given positive energy and vibrance to visitors and traders, and they hold on to their beliefs passed on from generation to generation.

The Graceful Dragon and Lion Dance 

Good luck and prosperity are attributed to the colorful dance presentation where dancers have to mimic the movement of a lion and a dragon, a mythical creature. Both symbolize strength, wisdom, and power in Chinese ideology. These dances are more prevalent during the Chinese new year but are also presented in various Chinese cultural, religious, and political events. It is also a belief that these creatures ward off evil spirit and brings luck and fortune in business and life. Dancing graciously in the form of Chinese martial arts is a skill and has entertained visitors for its graciousness.

The lighting of firecrackers and fireworks

Lion dance with firecrackers lighting up on the street makes a joyous and wonderful celebration. During new year's Eve, the street lights up with colorful fireworks and fireworks, creating noise that is believed to drive away bad luck and attracts prosperity. The noise which irritates some is the same noise that brings wealth to the believers in the new year. This kind of activity initially enjoyed by the Chinese was also adopted by Filipinos and the world — such a significant influence they had.

Ang Pao is a symbol of wealth and abundance

On the busy street is a parade of generous people giving away 'ang pao' to the visitors. These small red envelopes with money on them give luck to the receiver. Financial abundance is significant to the Chinese; a year filled with economic prosperity is a blessing from God. Being poor is a mental disease, and an abundance mindset is the key to success  a belief that brings wealth into our lives.

Chinese people hold many beliefs for personal, career, business, and life in general. Some ideas include a collection of round-shaped fruits for never-ending prosperity. Tikoy, a gelatinous delicacy, is very popular and symbolizes sweetness and a closer relationship with the family. Restaurants offering authentic Chinese foods, including noodles, dumplings, and other treats, are essential for good luck. What else is on the list? Feng shui for prosperity and Chinese martial arts are many influences from years of Filipino-Chinese partnership.

The year of the fire rooster in Chinese astrology will bring positivity to everyone. A hopeful year starts with having a positive mindset and clearing off negative past experiences that prevent us from moving forward. 

Faith is essential for success; all the symbolism can bring prosperity if accompanied by hard work and perseverance.

The Filipino and Chinese friendship will remain strong in years to come as we build trusting relationships with camaraderie and warm acceptance regardless of one's cultural upbringing and philosophical beliefs.

© 2017 Del Cusay 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Celebrating Chinese New Year 2013: A New Beginning

The celebration of the Chinese new year is based on the belief that the lunar calendar month marks the beginning of the spring season. The Chinese widely observe it in many countries where they have formed a community known as the 'Chinatown.'

Chinese new year brings hope, good luck, and prosperity to people. It is the beginning of another year full of positive aspirations to achieve for self, family, and community. The colorful festivities in dominant red bring abundance and spare negativity in any form. On this particular day, people wear red color shirt and make home decorations in red that symbolizes prosperity. Since most Chinese are engaged in business, they always put something red in their buildings to attract wealth for the new year and beyond.

Binondo, one of Manila's busiest and most populated districts, is the place for the Filipino-Chinese community, popularly called 'Tsinoy.' Although they are found in various areas of the Philippines, the significant population and highest concentration of their population is located in the Chinatown of Binondo, Manila.

Lion dance along Ongpin St. Binondo, Manila

I was lucky to have witnessed and celebrated the event with the 'Tsinoys' in Binondo. My trip started with a bit of prayer in the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, known as the 'Binondo Church.' This is where the 'Tsinoys' of the Christian faith usually go to pray and strengthen their spiritual life.

A few steps from the church are where the journey commences, in the old street of Ongpin. A variety of Chinese merchandise offers products and services on this busy street. Gold shops of high quality can be found in this little yet vibrant place. Restaurants catering to authentic Chinese cuisine, including the 'President's Grand Palace' and the 'President's tea house,' relax your senses. 

Shops cater to Chinese delicacies like the famous 'Eng Bee Tin,' which produces tikoy and hopia in different variants and flavors. I've seen people falling in a long line just to satisfy their cravings for this food that is said to bring good luck. The 'tikoy' is made of sticky glutinous rice flour, thus symbolizing a family and relationship that is well bonded according to Chinese norms.

Red lanterns in Chinatown Mall to welcome the new year

The most common business in Ongpin is the lucky charms and decors. There is so much jewelry for different purposes depending on form and color. One has to wear a particular bracelet or necklace to attract prosperity and drive away bad luck. There are red lanterns in various sizes and forms for home decoration to symbolize wealth and good luck.

One of the most exciting parts is witnessing the lion dance. This mythical Chinese creature dances gracefully as it is maneuvered by several dancers. They perform lion dances from one shop to another for an opportunity to receive angpao or the red envelope with money. They have always succeeded in entertaining business owners with a well-rehearsed and choreographed presentation.

There is also a dragon dance, which is quite long and carried by several dancers. Like the lion dance, it is also a powerful mythical creature in Chinese culture. It is to spare negativity in business, the house, and the environment. Both dance presentations are seen throughout the new year's celebration in Binondo, particularly in Ongpin. It is colorful, entertaining, and attracts a crowd.

In a traditional Chinese family, 'angpao' is given to the unmarried and usually children. The little kids fall in line and patiently wait for their turn to receive 'angpao' from the elderly or their grandparents. They are expected to greet the happy new year in Chinese as they receive it, but they are not supposed to open the red envelope until they run away from the giver.

In The Chinese new year, there are several ways of greeting; in a language known to them. Whether you hear the greetings 'Kung Hei Fat Choi,' 'Gong Xi Fa Chai,' or 'Kiong He Huat Tsai,' it is a valid form of new year greetings. It does not literally mean 'Happy new year,' but it means congratulating and wishing someone for prosperity. 

Giant red lanterns are legendary Chinese handicraft that symbolizes good luck.

In the Philippines, the standard greetings are 'Kung Hei Fat Choi,' which has been made the standard in media and other printed publications. It is a Cantonese greeting, usually spoken in Hong Kong and Macau, but the 'Tsinoys' speaks 'Hokkien' and prefer the' Kiong Hee Huat Tsai' greeting. However, no matter what language or dialect is spoken for greetings, there is a spirit of understanding that sends a single message of 'Happy New Year!'.

The Chinatown Mall is where I have witnessed cultural presentations from different groups. They have presented charming Chinese folk dances, melodic choral, and exhibitions of Chinese martial arts like 'Wushu' and Tai Chi.' There is also some modern Chinese hip hop that captures the attention of the younger generations. It is a day-long event until the countdown for the new year is observed, and fireworks are witnessed to lighten up the evening. 

The Chinese people love to preserve their heritage, and they significantly influence culture, food, social norms, and beliefs. In the Philippines, people are familiar with 'Feng Shui," and this is attributed to good luck, happiness, and prosperity in businesses and houses. There is also the 'horoscope' where people consult their luck or destiny on a particular day, month, or year depending on the zodiac sign and animal sign you were born. Also, Filipinos have been fond of eating noodles and soups brought by the Chinese since long ago.

Although the world constantly evolves and the culture of peace and freedom is changing, we should learn so many things from the Chinese. Perseverance and endurance at work, accompanied by humility and gratitude, made them succeed in their family, careers, and life. 

The Chinese culture has uniqueness, and their unique customs make us multi-cultured people. Our beliefs should not be restricted to what has been instilled since birth. Open-mindedness and acceptance of faith and cultural differences bring a peaceful and vibrant living. We learn from each other, and the wisdom gained truly brings good luck and prosperity in our lives no matter who and what we are; and no matter who we will become.

© 2013 Del Cusay

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pasinaya 2013: Rediscovering Philippine Arts & Culture

In today's modern times, I still recognize that the past is interrelated with the present, and what we are today is the result of what has transpired in the past. Hence our artistic abilities and cultural heritage should be preserved and passed on from generation to generation.

The Philippine culture has given us a glimpse of the glorious past through various artistic renditions that make us feel the unity and camaraderie of being a Filipino. It is in our culture to be creative and artistic as a means of emotional expression. It is something that bridges the gap between loyalty and colonial mentality. It creates solidarity as a nation and everlasting bliss in the hearts of Filipinos living throughout the world.

To enliven the Philippine culture and arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines created the Pasinaya festival to fulfill Filipino artists' and cultural enthusiasts' desires and passions in various genres. "Pasinaya" is a Filipino term that means a formal opening. This year's theme pays tribute to Chinese arts and culture's influence on our lives as Filipinos.

The Chinese have long been part of Philippine history and culture, and their massive influence remains. It was an excellent opportunity to witness and embrace Filipino and Chinese arts and culture through the Pasinaya festival.

Dubbed the largest national multi-arts festival, the 'Pasinaya' presented memorable cultural presentations and art exhibits in almost all CCP venues. The main theater lobby was full of visitors, primarily students and professors from different schools, patiently waiting for the next event at the 'Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo,' where the resident companies of the CCP are doing their shows, including the Philippine Madrigal Singers, The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company; Ballet Philippines and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

There were several presentations and activities in genres like dance, theater, music, films, visual arts, and exhibits. It was presented by thousands of Filipino artists in different country regions. There were various shows like lion dance, fan dance, and modern hip-hop dance along with the closed street venue of the CCP.

There were also dance, music, and stage drama workshops for children and adults to learn and enhance their skills.

In the main theater ramp, several groups presented folk dances. Their graceful interpretation of colorful costumes has entertained the crowd of both local and foreign audiences. It was a great moment to watch the young performers across the country showcasing their dance skills in classical Filipino music. 

From elementary up to college, I was like them, being a member of the school dance troupe and presenting different folk dances on stage. The joy felt while performing before the audience is quite reminiscent, and why I patronize Filipino cultural presentations and activities.

The main theater of 'Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo' is where I spent most of the time witnessing the performances of the resident companies. I was delighted to watch the 'Bayanihan Cultural Dance Company' when they presented beautiful folk dances. They have presented the 'Pandango sa Ilaw and 'Wasiwas,' both popular Philippine folk dances that made me proud of being a former folk dancer who happens to have presented those two dances way back in high school and college.

The Philippine folk dance is truly an epitome of grace, grandeur, and refined ways that are becoming obsolete in today's modern living.

The Performers of the Pasinaya Festival 2013 during the gala night
The presentation and rendition of the Philippine Madrigal Singers is truly soulful singing that captures the audience's emotions. Their company is undeniably one of the world's best and most awarded chorales. It has won prestigious awards and recognition from international chorale competitions. The 'Madz,' as they call it, sings in a semi-circle without the aid of a conductor. Their soft and angelic voices deserve applause from the audience regardless of musical genre, from classical and folkloric music to contemporary music.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra rendered an enchanting melody of some classical symphonies and even modern popular Filipino music under their music director Maestro Oliver Ochanine. They received numerous applause from the audience, who appreciated what authentic music should be. Their mastery of musical instruments is majestic and produces stunning rhythmic sounds. My regard for classical music and symphonies will remain my appreciation for this artistic, lyrical masterpiece.

The 'Pasinaya Festival 2013' brought lessons and new learning. Our culture is diverse and rich it is a heritage. Thus, there is a need to preserve, protect, love, care, and respect. Our arts and culture are what we are Filipinos and should show to the world.

© 2013 Del Cusay