Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lifestyle. Show all posts

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

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👉 The Highlands of Baguio

👉 The Highlands of Bucari

👉 Stairway to the Mountain

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Strolling at the Garden of Dreams


A Garden in the city makes life more balanced and achieves a healthier lifestyle. It's a breath of fresher air amidst the toxicity.


And with an urban garden in the city center, I was fortunate to have an afternoon stroll in the fully restored Garden of Dreams in Kathmandu, Nepal, in August 2013. Just six years after it reopened to the public after several decades of closure.

Kathmandu's lifestyle may not be as lavish as compared in big cosmopolitan cities. But it has the best of culture and its people. 


The entire city of Kathmandu is a blend of cultural heritage and a modern society due to its preserved structures like monuments and temples and the restoration of public places like the Garden of Dreams and other modern infrastructures.

As I stroll inside the walled garden, I suddenly experienced serenity due to the absence of noise surrounding the bustling city. It was just about 5-minute walking distance from the hotel where I stayed, so I got the chance to visit and unwind.

The walled Urban Garden

What's noticeable about the garden is its European-style architecture since its restoration with the help of the Austrian Government. It has several features like six pavilions representing the '6 seasons of Nepal' and where the place got its second name, the "Garden of the Six Seasons." 

The garden has a veranda, fountains, and pergola that gives its European vibe. Also, the Amphitheater is where visitors can sit or lay down to have some chat or to read the book. Such a relaxing scene.

The Amphitheater

European-inspired pergola

The flowers, shrubs, and trees make it greener.  And it's beautiful since well maintained by the number of caretakers. It's clean, green, and rejuvenating.

I appreciate arts, and so, I spent some time at the art gallery and had a conversation with the locals. That was a meaningful encounter as I have learned more about their culture. 

Café by the garden

That was a delightful afternoon stroll at the Garden of Dreams, and before leaving, I had a cup of cappuccino as I reflect and plan for my next journey around Kathmandu.

The Garden of Dreams is true to its name. It's a sophisticated garden of its time and became more beautiful when it underwent a complete restoration. Urban dwellers need green space for leisure, and hopefully, more cities will adapt to this kind of garden that offers respite to the people from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Garden of Dreams. The Garden of the Six Seasons. A garden for the soul.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Island Hopping in Guimaras


We need to regain ourselves. 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 puts our lives our life at risk. Either we become a victim or a survivor.

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

Every day is a battle of survival. We keep diverting our consciousness towards happy thoughts. We reminisce the happiest moments in our life. Those times we live our best life.

The boat ride from Iloilo to Guimaras Island

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

Positive energy is contagious, and so is negativity. That's what I believe.

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

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 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 overdeveloped 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 huge hotels that can pollute the ecosystem of the place. 

I hope Guimaras will retain its grandeur. Its natural environment and will not be subject to over-commercialization.

Naturally beautiful environment in Guimaras Island

Guimaras is already beautiful as it is in 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 good hearts. That makes them different from the rest. It has the heart and soul at its best.

© 2020 Del Cusay

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Palace in the Sky

There's something mysterious about the ruins. The old and well-preserved structure that's perhaps built to last for a lifetime.

That's what the ruins are for. To stand the test of time. 

In the Philippines, just an hour from Manila is the ruins we call the "Palace in the Sky" or now more popularly known as "People's Park in the Sky," which gives a chilly feel due to its geographical location on the summit of Mount Gonzales in the province of Cavite.

At the veranda overlooking the Shrine of Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love
People's Park in the Sky
The view deck overlooking the Taal Lake

The structures' old and rustic charm attracts local and foreign visitors due to its breathtaking view of the famous Taal Volcano and the Taal lake. 

Truly captivating!

The highest point. That's the description of the place; as it is located on the summit of the highest mountain in Cavite at 709 meters (2,326 ft.) above sea level. And so, it offers a 360-degree view of the Tagaytay Highlands, including nearby recreational parks and villages.

How this "Palace in the Sky" became famous ruins has its different story from the other ruins in the country.

This one has got a unique story.

The view deck overlooking the mountains

Sometime in the late 70s during the administration of the late President Marcos, when "Palace in the Sky" was commissioned to serve as a guest house for the visit of then US President Ronald Reagan. That's a show of Filipino hospitality at its best. 

A royalty welcome and treatment.

However, the construction was left unfinished when the visit of US President Reagan was canceled.

We are left with the "Ruins in the Sky" since then.

The rustic and mossy Palace ruins 

That "Palace in the Sky" would have been beautiful if the construction was finished. But sad that it was just abandoned.

That was supposed to be consistent with the Imeldific brand; the highest level of extravagance, attributed to former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

Truly, I love the place on the summit. Although the ruins can be a little creepy at first sight, their beautiful ambiance captures the heart. 

It was surely built with love.

The next time you visit Tagaytay, you should never miss this place. 

A must-visit! 

A great weekend getaway for the family, for partners, or even for solo travelers. A romantic destination that captivates the soul of just anyone.

The "Palace in the Sky" is not just an abandoned ruin. It shows timeless elegance and a natural charm. It shows our glorious past and brings wonderful memories to last.

© 2020 Del Cusay


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Baywatch at Camp Rofelio


West Coast of the Philippines. That's one of my favorite summer destinations. And the place to go is the coast of San Felipe, in the province of Zambales. A peaceful town in the North.

The waves, the blue-green waters, and the greyish-powdery sand makes it a great getaway to rejuvenate and spend some pure thinking moment.

In May 2018, I discovered a newly-built camping site on the coast of Liwliwa, a town of San Felipe.

It's a serene ambiance, with several cottages and tents for an overnight stay. At first glance, I knew that I would love the place and, and so I did.



Standing barefooted at the seaside gate of Camp Rofelio is a perfect view of the horizon. The water is clear, and the waves are relaxing. You can sit on the sand, meditate and capture the best view of the surrounding.

A great weekend retreat. Camping at the beach. A soulful moment to watch the sunset. Fresh-grilled seafood for dinner and a bonfire night to remember.

Truly a memorable and fun moment at Camp Rofelio.It's not a crowded weekend destination. A solemn place where you can be at peace and one with nature. When you hear the waves inside the tent at night, you'll have the most relaxing and deep sleep ever.

But, hey! I'm supposed to be bay watching!


A Baywatch, not only to appreciate the area and the surrounding waters, but this place facing the West Philippine Sea had created controversy from unwanted intruders. The pirates of the sea had been inside our Philippine waters, causing tensions and threats to the fishing livelihood of the locals.

That's supposed to be protected by the Philippine government. To Defend our territorial seas and secure what's best for our people.

There were spotted dredging foreign vessels in territorial waters of Zambales that's a threat not only to our territorial rights but also to the fishing rights of several Fishermen on our territory.


We are standing as a Baywatch. Someone who sees intruders from afar. But our local fishermen are powerless, and even the local and national governments seem not powerful enough to defend the territory.

I love Zambales, and I would love to come back for the next summer season. But the best Baywatch is to see happy people and not stories of intrusion -- like thieves of the sea. Camp Rofelio is a good place for bay watching, but be mindful and have a telescopic eye for the pirates of the sea.


We dream of having great and safe tourist destinations, and we have to be aware of issues affecting the rights of our people. Hence, they will take it away from us, which might happen if we are silent.

San Felipe is a place of kind and peaceful people. Protect it, and make it a heaven on earth experience. Make it a paradise. And together, we can protect and become a good Baywatch. A good Filipino.

© 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Breathtaking View of Taal Lake


The Philippines as a tropical country is hot and humid almost all year round.

And so it's even hotter in summer!

When people need to relax and unwind over the weekend, there's a place we can travel to escape from the lowland heat.

It's Tagaytay! Overlooking Taal lake.

A cool climate. That's one of the reasons why I love Tagaytay. A mountain resort about one-and-a-half hour travel away from the Philippine capital -- Manila.

It's not just the climate, but also known for its scenic and breathtaking view of the Taal lake and one of the world's smallest active volcanoes.


In June 2018, I had a great weekend in Tagaytay. Just a brief moment to rejuvenate away from the noise and stress from the metro. That was my 3rd and last visit and is memorable ever.

But on this charming tourist destination is a sad story of the recent volcanic eruption in January, this year 2020. Its eruption is one of the most destructive, that caused struggle to the livelihood, health, safety and loss of lives in the town of Taal, province of Batangas, and also affected nearby provinces and had reached as far as Metro Manila.

Will I ever come back to this place?

Yes, I will for sure. This awesome place bordering the province of Batangas and Cavite will never lose its charm. The people remain resilient and will always strive to get back to normal lives after the natural disaster.

The destruction of the ecosystem is a threat not just to the livelihood of fishing and farming, but also a big loss in the tourism sector.


Now, during this time of Pandemic, the people in Taal and Tagaytay are again on a major threat of livelihood due to disruption of businesses due to lockdown. They have not fully recovered from the volcanic eruption in January when the lockdown due to the pandemic was ordered in March 2020.

That's like a continuous disaster and suffering. I hope it will end.

Tourism is a big loser during this pandemic. It could hardly recover given the strict travel restrictions and protocols on health standards. 

And so when this pandemic ends, we have to help revive the tourism industry -- the major economic sector in the country.


Is it safe to visit?

I believe so since it will take years for another volcanic eruption to happen, hopefully.

Tagaytay, overlooking Taal lake is close to my heart. It has memories to cherish for a lifetime. It will be a breathtaking place to visit for a lifetime.

© 2020 Del Cusay


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Weekend Getaway in Boracay


I need a vitamin sea. That's how millennials or young travelers would say whenever they need a break.

The sea is medicine. Prescribed not by physicians, but none other than our very own friends, our colleagues, or people closer and special to us. When we are in a body of water, we feel calm and relaxed. And so, our mind becomes clear and our soul uplifted. Our wellbeing is healed and rejuvenated, and that's the ultimate goal to achieve.

The truth is, we want to escape reality once in a while.  To live in a fantasy land where there are no pains and stresses. We take a pause, pack our things and go for a travel and adventure.

Dream on and go on.


Back in April 2016, I had a great weekend getaway on a small island on the west coast of Panay Island in the Philippines. Boracay Island. One of the world's best.

It's a hotspot for the world's beach and island lovers. A multi-cultural hub where the east meets the west.
That was my 5th time visiting Boracay in about two decades. And each time I visit, there were several transformations not just with its ecosystem but with the culture. The old Island culture I missed.
Perhaps I have seen Boracay during its pristine days when it's less developed and had its Island vibe. So that brings back vivid memories worth remembering. 


Last year when it underwent temporary closure, it became like a ghost Island. Not many tourists and businesses closed for about half a year. If we humans deserve a break, a busy Island deserves a much-needed break too.

When there is damage in an ecosystem due to commercialization, it has to clean and heal itself before serving people again. And so other more popular Islands in the country and Southeast Asian region followed suit. They also rehabilitated their Island paradise.  That's a great move with great sacrifice and love. 

Take a break from the crowd. The party. The noise. The pollution.

I love Boracay. It has a different vibe among Philippine Islands and beaches. And so, I am pro-rehabilitation if needed, so it can breathe again and get rejuvenated -- just like us human beings.


The Nami Resort will bring you over the hills and experience exhilarating fun from an old-style elevator reaching the hilltop. Nami resort got the best view of the Island, and it was just fantastic. The food, the music, the ambiance are great. The experience was magical.


Boracay once again was closed just recently. This time due to the pandemic. And so, when people can travel again without restrictions, Boracay will again open its paradise for responsible business owners and kind travelers.

Boracay is for everyone. One day, I may be able to swim in its water again. Witness its captivating sunset. See the sandcastles and leave footprints in the sand.

© 2020 Del Cusay


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day at The Farm


Life at the farm. That's our best new normal during this time of Pandemic. We get the benefits of a clean and green environment suitable for healing and rejuvenation.

Today, we are celebrating an extra special day since it's Father's Day. We decided to visit and spend our Sunday at the farm; a sanctuary we developed for about a year now.

As I swing through a hammock, I reminisce the time how it all started back in June 2019, from the time it was conceptualized until it materialized.

Today; a year after, we are harvesting fruits and vegetables which my parents started to plant since the start of lockdown and home quarantine due to pandemic. My parents didn't stop their usual organic farming activity and it's paying off-- it's harvest time.


We have varieties of vegetables like eggplant, bitter gourd, string beans, spinach, and squash. We also have fruits like Philippine lime or Calamansi, tomatoes, avocado, banana, watermelon, and coconut. These and many more in weeks to come as we expand and develop other areas for planting.

We are aiming for sustainable farming practices to provide our own food on the table not only in this time of crisis but as a way of living -- a new lifestyle.

For the previous years, I may not have celebrated Father's day at home, so this year is an opportunity to be present and to show gratitude and appreciation to our dear Father.


I will forever be thankful for the love and inspiration and this crisis gives us an opportunity to plant, grow and harvest what we've planted.

Father's day isn't only for a day, but we celebrate it in our lifetime. Wherever we are, he will always be in our hearts. Our Father, our hero, our motivation and source of endless inspiration. 

© 2020 Del Cusay


Sunday, June 14, 2020

A Journey of A Thousand Miles


Life brings us to the place of our dreams. That's the beginning of a wonderful journey ahead. We dream it, we believe it and we live it.

We manifest and hold on to that dream, we bring our intentions to life, and it starts with a single with— a single step.

Life may bring us to several places in our lifetime. Some destinations may haven't been planned, but opportunities and destiny take us there.

In 2016 after a thousand miles journey abroad, life brought me to a lovely place; known as the city of love Iloilo City, Philippines.


The place is special to me since I lived there for about a year back in mid-2002 until mid-2003. It is where I studied my first year in college; being the center of higher education in the Region. Back then, the city has its charm with century-old churches and old ancestral houses that are preserved and restoredsuch a timeless beauty.

The city has to live up to the expectation dubbed as the 'City of Love' and true to its name, it is the loving nature and the lovable character of the people that captivates the soul.

13 years since I left, I came back to live and practice my profession to work in a medical center located near the esplanade where I used to spend some morning strolls and sunset viewing. I have seen the growth of the city as it embraced modern development in infrastructure while preserving its old heritage. Now the city is a fusion of the old and modern world. It has a more charming vibe among the developing cities in the Philippines.


That journey to the 'City of Love' brought memories to cherish for a lifetime, until one day another journey begins to another place; to the country's capital region of Metro Manila. Back to the place where I started to work and discover places and the world.

Today, our world may have stopped. Life may have led me back to the place of my greater comfort and security; to the place of my birth and to be with my family  my loved ones.

The thousand miles journey brought meaning to life, but away from my family. But now, I believe that a journey of a thousand miles includes a 'home sweet home' closer to my family.

Life is good to be back in their loving and warm embrace during this time of crisis; where uncertainty unfolds. I was far away from them for years searching for a living, but now I am living with them searching for meaning.


Now, I believe that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Wherever we are in this world, no matter how far the distance we've been, still we'll always come back to the most special place in our hearts. 

Life will always protect and comfort us, and life will always lead us back even after a thousand miles journey and beyond. 

© 2020 Del Cusay



Sunday, May 24, 2020

Living Our Best Normal


We want to live our best life. That is not just an aspiration, but a realization of our life purpose. Our goals and dreams are what fuel our being towards not just success, but also fulfillment -- our heart's desire.

In these times, we are now one world and one humanity, which used to be divided by the color of our skin, the amount of money on the wallet or in a bank, divided by religious affiliation and social status.

Today, we feel the oneness of humanity. That we are united through a common experience. That we are all vulnerable to the global threat to human health;  either we survive or continue to suffer -- we're all in this together.


We are slowly adapting to a 'new normal' and this is an initiation of how much we have learned about survival skills and the test of our life's top priorities.

In the 'new normal' people may realize that money at some point may not save a life. That money isn't our ultimate purpose of living. And that the health we have sacrificed for money will be gone when we lost the battle. 

Living in the city would start to lose its appeal, and people will see the value of life in the rural area-- in the countryside.

There is so much learning the pandemic taught us. People in the metropolitan now see the natural world uncovered to them. The surrounding mountains from afar, the chirping of the birds, and the clear blue skies used to be enjoyed in the rural areas, but nature showed a glimpse of the natural environment people in the rural areas are enjoying while in isolation.


People will now invest more in health and wellness rather than living in a highly stressful environment just to gain more wealth. A sustainable living in a safe and peaceful rural area is what can give us the peace of mind that we all need. If there's a shift to this mindset, people will live healthier and livelier.

Between life in the city and in a rural area, the 'new normal' would point the arrow to the less crowded place where one can breathe fresher air and enjoy an awesome view of the natural environment that is free from pollution.

And hearing from someone I highly respect, Master Del Pe, a Modern Sage and an International Life Mentor, inspired people about living not just the 'new normal' but living our 'new best normal' because as we put the highest priority on health and wellness to survive and live longer, we strive to live with our best self no matter the challenges and threat that will arise on years to come.


To live our greatest life, and to live our 'new best normal' is beyond living not just safe and secured life, but a sustainable life we all deserve. 

© 2020 Del Cusay




Sunday, May 17, 2020

Life in The New Normal


Life on the beach. That is what people are missing on a hot summer days. Families, group of friends, coworkers or solo traveler; this is supposed to be a fun-filled dry season. But this season have fallen into isolation.

The last year's summertime was one of the best vacation I ever had. I never thought that it would be the last summer to get sunburned. The last time to enjoy the summer breeze and the serenity. The last time to leave footprints in the sand.

Now, after several weeks, our economy and the rest of the world is now slowly getting back to life, but the reality is, it may be hard for the people to get back to life -- the kind of life we used to live.


While viewing at my digital photo album, I saw smiling and happy faces. I saw how we used to celebrate family gathering without physical distancing. I saw how we used to travel and go to public places without wearing a mask. That was just a recent past, but now it feels we have completely entered a new world; with a new definition of love.

The new normal is a tough love. When families at home couldn't even give a hug and kiss. When old friends or acquaintances couldn't even recognize each other due to facial protective covering. When partners couldn't hold their hands. And when young kids and our elderly are best protected by staying at home. All these for the sake of love -- love on the new normal. 

But I still believe in a deep human connection. We may still be able to give a smile to someone we know or anyone we meet along the road. A new definition of smile -- a smile of gratitude on the new normal.

Our new normal is not only about hygienic measures. It goes beyond to our new lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle where most people will give their utmost priority.

We will now be more health conscious and eat the right kind of food, get some physical exercise, get some nourishment from the sunlight, planting and harvesting our own food, adequate sleep, prayers, meditations...


Activities that nourishes our body, mind and soul would be of most important value. We stay away from worries, fears and anxiety. Though at times it's normal to feel that way, still we can escape and regain our best self and live our greatest life.

For now, we may have already learned some tools and techniques as we move on to a new normal. You may now have learned to quiet the mind and relieve stress through the art of meditation. You may have learned the art of flexibility of the physical body through yoga or internal stamina exercises. You may have started doing backyard gardening. You may have learned to follow your passion about visual/digital arts like painting and photography. You may have started to love reading books, articles, blogs. You may have found joy in sharing your passion through vlogging.

At this time, we must have overcomed our Fear zone and moved to the Learning zone. And now, as we start living on the new normal, we are entering the Growth zone; where we have learned self-mastery and becoming a higher version of our self.

A lot have changed in a matter of weeks in isolation. We may now still be dreaming about that planned summer vacation. You may now be ready to explore what is there waiting for you in the new normal. 

Circumstances may have changed, but hoping it will not change our being, our beliefs and values, our humanity, and most of all, our faith in God.
© 2020 Del Cusay