Showing posts with label Travel Inspirations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel Inspirations. Show all posts

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Gaddi Tribe of Naddi Village

 

When I stepped foot in Dharamshala, I feel that I'll be having a great vacation with its pleasant vibe. That was a long 12 hours of bus ride from New Delhi, India, and I made it sure that my stay would be worth it; like a vacation of a lifetime.

The emotion is still alive whenever it flashes back the soulful journey I had in the lower Himalayan foothill of Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. Seven years have passed, but the memories still lives on.

At the bus station in McLeod Ganj, a little rain greeted me as I look for a taxi heading to the hotel in Naddi Village -- the home of the Gaddi Tribe.

That was a cold and shivering early morning check-in at around 7 a.m. and so I unpacked my things, had a little rest, enjoyed a freezing cold shower, had my first breakfast, and get ready for for my first day of tour and adventure in the land of the Tibetans-in-exile in McLeod Ganj.

I spent 4 days of exploring McLeod Ganj and had the opportunity to see and hear from The Dalai Lama when he had a talk in his place in Tsuglagkhang temple.

McLeog Ganj was the the town center, but it was in Naddi Village where I enjoyed the serenity. That was truly a blissful experience.

Just few steps away from the hotel where I stayed is the home of the sweet and gentle Naddi tribe. I've met several Gaddi people including children and adults, learned about their culture, their livelihood and living condition. A little interaction, but a meaningful observation.

A very simple, yet joyful and soulful living in the mountains. The Gaddi people mostly shepherds are taking care of their flocks and doing their morning activities when I met them on a downhill.

Little kids are courteous with their rosy cheeks and smiling faces. For sure they are now grown up to be a refined young lady and gentleman. 


In Naddi View Point which is just nearby the hotel is where I finally had a closer view of the Dhauladhar range. I had never seen such a beautiful and breathtaking mountain. A solemn moment; so peaceful and the snow-capped mountain is just wonderful.

I can't get over of that experience even when I'm back on the hotel. I've been to some of the mountains in the Philippines, but seeing the Dhauladhar range is purely captivating

I was finally at the Middle Homalaya... A dream turned into a reality.


A heaven on earth experience that I'll cherish and reminisce for a lifetime. From then, I made a promise that I'll be back in the future, and that I just hope it will come true.

In the hotel's roof deck restaurant is where I get to have the most beautiful view of the Dhauladhar as I have a breakfast. It's a picturesque view as if heaven is for real. India is truly Home of the Gods and I felt the Divinity of the place. A soulful solitude in a paradise closer to heaven.


I will never forget Dharamshala... A wondrous place in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. I will never forget the beautiful and natural scenery, and I will never forget the Naddi people of Naddi Village.

India has a big place in my heart. I have learned a lot about the places and have met soulful and endearing people like the Gaddi of the Naddi Village. When the Kingdom of heaven is on earth, it would have been there in the Dhauladhar, and I've met God in there and live forever here in my heart.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sweet Smiles of the Negrense

The Negros Island in the Philippines. Home of the sweet smiling people; or we call them Negrense or Negrosanon.

Back in December 2014, after my Journey in the city of Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, I took almost 7 hours of land travel going to the city of Bacolod; the capital city of Negros Occidental. 

From the Eastern to Western Negros, I had a journey after a fulfilled short visit in the "City of Gentle People" in Dumaguete.

No doubt, I was in the land of the 'sweet and charming' people since I was at the sugar center of the Philippines... The Negros Island. 

From Dumaguete to Bacolod, you'll see massive plantation of sugarcane on both sides of the road passing by several cities.

Yes, Negros Occidental is the province of the Philippines with the most number of city, primarily due to its rich sugar industry

The sugar industry is so huge that they supply the entire Philippines and even export it to other countries.

Arriving in Bacolod after a long journey on a bus, I was greeted with a Negrense brand of hospitality; the sweet smile and a pleasant melodious voice.

I'm in Bacolod! The City of Smile and the home of the famous "Maskara Festival."

That was my 5th time to visit Bacolod and I love to keep coming back to one of the highly urbanized city and one of the most livable city in the Philippines.

In Bacolod and the entire Negros, people are living a good life that no matter what challenges they may be going through, still they keep on surviving and never forget to give a smile.

My highlight of visit in Negros Island was a-day tour in "The Ruins" which is an Italian-inspired architectural mansion built in early 1900s and was burned during the world war 2.

Garden by the ruins

A mansion built with love of a wealthy Sugar baron to his Portugese wife. The love story is just as romantic as the heritage of "the ruins." 

Sweet as the Negrense, they really produce sweet products, and most of it is my favorite. The muscovado sugar is the healthiest of its kind and an ingredient in making sweet delicacy like "Piaya and Pinasugbo" which is two of the most popular and a-must try delicacy if you visit Bacolod and Negros Island. 

After the pandemic, I hope to come back and capture the sweet smiles again. When the world is losing its smiles, I believe the Negrense will always give their sweetest smiles to just anyone. During this time, that's all we need -- a sweet smile.

The people of Negros Island is one of the most refined and kind people I've met. Beyond their sweet smiles, they deserve a sweet life. A life full of hope, meaning and inspiration.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay


You May Read:

👉Campus Tour at the Silliman University

👉The Ruins and the Love Story


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Serenity at the Nan Lian Garden


I find serenity wherever I go. In a hustle and bustle of a city life, there's still a piece of pure calmness and soulful paradise. 

A pond... A rock formation... A waterfall... All that can be found in an oasis of pure joy; a magnificent city garden.

A bustling megacity like Hong Kong isn't just about magnificent and stunning skyline. It also boasts some of the most beautiful and refined traditional Chinese landscaped gardens.

The entrance of Nan Lian Garden

In the busy area of Diamond hill in Kowloon, Hong Kong, is where I've found a peaceful ambiance of an ancient Tang dynasty style complex; the Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian Garden.

That's a refined piece of ancient Chinese architecture brought back to life in a Modern-day Hong Kong, with towering residential skyscrapers and a mountain range in a backdrop. 

Nan Lian Gardens' Wooden Gate

An entrance to the complex makes you feel welcomed with the garden's natural elements of lush greenery, ornamental rocks and wooden gate. That's a blissful and truly a welcoming sight to behold.

Passing through the wooden gate leads you to one of the wonderful attractions which is the golden pagoda with an attached red-wooden bridge. Colors that bring good luck and prosperity according to Chinese beliefs.

The golden Pavilion/Pagoda

Few steps aways from the Golden pagoda is the Chi Lin Nunnery which is a Buddhist temple, converted into a school, a library and a home for the elderly.

The Chi Lin Nunnery is an impressive Chinese architecture with a surrounding koi-filled pond. The wooden structure is truly a work of art back during old civilization times (618 AD to 907 AD), revived in the modern times.

The Chi Lin Nunnery

To have a better understanding of ancient Chinese architecture, I had a solemn moment inside the Chinese Timber Architecture Gallery. It's a place to discover the different Chinese architecture in different cities of China, in a different period of time.

The Nan Lian Garden is a Tang Dynasty-inspired garden built in the modern times. It's a reminiscent of old but refined Chinese architecture with a balance elements of the nature.

The Chi Lin Nunnery

The garden's tranquil ambiance offers a great sense of peace and rejuvenation to any visitor. It's not just a typical Chinese garden, bit it's filled with learning about the Chinese way of living back in the old days -- the earliest civilization.

Heritage and culture must really be preserved for the world to see and experience. The Nan Lian Garden is not a typical attraction, it has an old soul Chinese ambiance in modern setting -- teleported back in time.

©️ 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunset Viewing at the Manila Bay


A reddish-gold hue. That's the best sunset I've ever seen. Stunningly beautiful, romantic and simply amazing.

There's something mysterious in a silhouette; with a backdrop of a seemingly painted work of art. But it's real! 

What you see in the picture is what you get when you're there witnessing it...

That's the Manila Bay sunset. Truly one of the world's best as attested by many people including foreign tourists. It's a famous attraction when one has to visit the Philippine capital city of Manila.

At Harbour Square baywalk, CCP Complex

What makes the Manila Bay sunset wonderful is its stunning glow until dusk just before it totally disappear. And so you get a picture perfect 'silhouette,' a mysterious shadow against the background that glows.

On June 6, 2019, I had a great time strolling at the Harbour Square baywalk, at the Philippine Cultural Center complex. After having an afternoon cup of coffee at the café, I waited for the chance to have a glimpse of the sunset. That was my last sunset viewing at the Manila Bay before I travel back in my hometown in Panay Island.

Some thoughts while strolling as I can't help but to appreciate this natural wonder before my eyes and also with the hundreds of other people who share smiles and happiness.

The Harbour Square baywalk

Families, group of friends and even solo traveler both local and foreign may have forgotten about their worries and relieved their stresses. It does healing wonder to the soul. It captures' emotions and it captivates the mind.

Manila Bay may not be perfect. It has its flaws. It needs some healing too... And only people who have been there could understand what's the problem and what needs to be done.

Fast forward... a year after... Manila Bay is on a center of controversies despite the pandemic.

With the beach nourishment project that aims to beautify a portion of the Manila Bay with an artificial white sand, the question is 'Is it timely?' or 'is it necessary and appropriate?'

It's not a real white sand like in Boracay or Palawan, but it's made from a crushed Dolomite rock transported all the way from the Island-province of Cebu.

Just recently, in just a few days time, a portion of Manila Bay turned into a white sand beach and was partially opened to the public on September 19, 2020.

Manila Yacht Club

Thousands have flocked just to witness how the area was transformed from a natural black sand to a coveted white sand.

People may be divided on the issue about the filling in of white sand; with no Environmental Impact Assessment conducted, but certainly there's one thing that we could all agree...

The main attraction is the natural and the charming sunset view of the Manila Bay. It's not the color of the sand after all. 

The Manila Bay skyline

Yes, we have several years to go before we could truly revive the ecosystem and beauty of the Manila Bay, but we see the eagerness of the people who would want a transformational development and a wonderful personal experience when they stroll on the the Manila's famous baywalk.

When I go back to Manila, I would be glad to witness the alluring sunset once again. I would be enjoying a soulful moment. And just like the last time, seeing people's happy and smiling faces

Manila Bay is a precious jewel of the Philippines. We care for it... We show our concern... And we love it...

The Manila Bay sunset

As we slowly regain Manila Bay, we take pride as a Filipino to show to the world a better Philippines; the "Pearl of the Orient Seas," today and beyond.

© 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Island Hopping in Guimaras


We need to regain ourself. 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 is making our life at risk. Either we become a victim or a survivor.

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

Everyday is a battle of survival. We keep on diverting our consciousness towards happy thoughts . We reminisce the happiest moments in our life. Those times when we live our greatest life.

Boat ride from Iloilo to Guimaras Island

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

Positive energy is contagious and so is negativity... that's what I believe in.

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

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 the 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 overly developed 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 big hotels that can pollute the ecosystem of the place. 

I hope Guimaras will retain its grandeur; it's natural environment, and will not be subject to over commercialization.

Naturally beautiful environment in Guimaras Island

Guimaras is already beautiful as it is on 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 a good heart. That makes them different from the rest. The heart and soul at its best.

© 2020 Del Cusay

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 as the "Palace in the Sky" or now more popularly known as "People's Park in the Sky," which gives a chilly feel due 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 cancelled.

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; 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, its 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 traveler. A romantic destination that captivates the soul of just anyone.

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

© 2020 Del Cusay


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Surfing at the Crystal Beach

Gentle waves at the beach is fun. The sun is shining, the sand is sparkling and the people are surfing.

In the Philippines, the coast of San Narciso in the province of Zambales is one of the finest beach and a surfing destination in the country.

The Crystal Beach; a surfing paradise in the North. 

In May 2019, I traveled about 4 hours from Manila, the Philippine capital to reach this surfing spot. Its proximity from Manila makes it an ideal weekend getaway to escape stress and to regain vitality even for just a brief moment.

This is all we need; a great place for a total rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul.

The Crystal Beach has its own surfing school for the beginners and a surf board rental for any surfers.

have I dared go on surfing? 

I love water adventure and I have long been interested to learn about surfing, but it wasn't the right moment for me yet.

And so I was a bit closer to my dream of surfing. It just take a single step, a show of  interest.

It's good that a country like the Philippines is blessed to have one of the best surfing spots in the world. 

The Cloud Nine waves of Siargao in the South is a world renowned and the surfing spot of La Union is both a favorite destination among local and international surfers and beach lovers.

I was just fine with gentle waves; ideal for beginners, and to watch some people  surfing is already a wonderful water show.
The Crystal Beach is indeed a sparkling Jewel and a rising surfing destination in the Philippines. The waves in the month of September until January would be the best since it's a monsoon season when the wind blows stronger.

That was a great weekend fun at the sea. And so I'm thankful to have enjoyed the beach before the pandemic happened and since it may take some time for the local tourism to recover and rise up again. I hope life will be back to normal soon. We deserve to be closer to nature.

The coast of San Narciso and the sparkling shore of the Crystal Beach is truly a paradise for everyone who appreciates nature.

Great memories always lives on, and the ripple goes on...

© 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Baywatch at Camp Rofelio


The 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've discovered a newly-built camping site on the coast of Liwliwa, town of San Felipe.

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




Standing barefooted at the seaside gate of Camp Rofelio is a wonderful 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. A camping at the beach. A soulful moment to watch the sunset. A fresh grilled seafood for dinner and a bonfire night to remember.

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 baywatching!


A Baywatch, not only to appreciate the area and the surrounding waters, but this place facing the West Philippine Sea has been a controversy from unwanted intruders.

The pirates of the sea had been inside our Philippine waters and caused tension and threat to the fishing livelihood of the locals.

That's supposed to be protected by the Philippine government. To defend our territorial waters. To protect what is ours, and our own people.

Questionable dredging foreign vessels were spotted in territorial waters of Zambales and truly a threat not only to our territorial rights, but also to the fishing rights of several fishermen  on our own 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 government 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 baywatching, but be mindful and have a telescopic eye for the pirates of the sea.


We dream of having a great and safe tourist destinations, and so we have to be aware of issues affecting our rights and our dreams not to be taken away from us, which is likely to happen  if we are silent and doesn't care.

San Felipe; a place of kind and peaceful people. Protect your place, 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 19, 2020

The Highlands of Baguio



An American town in the Philippines. That's the Baguio city in the Cordilleran region. A hill station in the North.

The "Little America" also known as the City of Pines attracts tourists from all over the country and foreigners who would want to explore the rich culture and heritage of this highly urbanized city in the Cordillera region -- literally means a mountainous region.

But the tag of American town is not its present day description. That was just how it was called back then in the 1900s during American colonization in the Philippines.

Baguio is one of the coolest hill station in the Philippines and good thing that the Americans during their occupation of the country have developed this place to be their mountain resort to escape from the lowland heat, most especially during summer season. 


And why do Filipinos love Baguio City? No doubt, it's the cool climate almost all year round due to its higher elevation. When summer time comes, more people would pack up for an adventure. It's not just during summer season, but it has become a weekend getaway of people from the nearby provinces and all the way from Metro Manila -- the National capital region.

On the present day, Filipinos are in full control of the former US military base; the Camp John Hay, not after they have given back our independence in 1946, but it was just a not so distant past in the year 1991 -- almost 3 decades ago.

That's just a little piece of history, and yes the Igorots of the Cordilleras have a colorful and vibrant culture, which even Americans were not able to change or took away their identity.


I have lived and worked in Baguio City in the summer of 2015 and have witnessed its natural wonders, but this place is slowly losing its balance due to commercialization. It's a number one enemy for people who are into environmental protection and preservation.

Housing projects, malls, big infrastructure projects are just on the rise and it cost thousands of century old pine trees to be cut down to give way to these projects.

Baguio City is now crowded and you can see the hillside full of houses and even far away mountains almost full of houses. That was not what I've witnessed back in 2004 when the first time I visit Baguio.


Development on this mountain resort was so fast in just a decade time, and so developers are eager to exploit more and make the City miserable.

Yes, development would have made Baguio to be a highly livable Philippine city, but over development for the sake of business profit will slowly kill its natural charm and beauty.

One thing I admire most about Igorots (the local name for Cordilleran people) is their hospitality and friendliness. They are also kind and honest people. I hope that they will be able to preserve its rich culture and pass it on to the next generations. And yes, I hope that they will fight for their land and not to be taken away from them.


The Burnham Park, Wright Park, Bell House and Kennon Road and Brent School. These places of interests were named from the Americans who have made a great contribution on what Baguio city has become.

And so Americans showed us how to build a highly master-planned city on a mountain top. Originally, they have built it for not more than 30,000 people, but after more than a century the population has become 10 times larger at more than 300,000 people.

The highlands of Baguio is truly captivating to any tourist. It's history and culture is the soul of the place and of the local people. 

After the Pandemic, more people will again be stuck on a traffic jam on its zig zag road and all the way up just to feel its mountain breeze again and the warmth of the Igorot people.

Baguio City, in the Highlands of Benguet Province, Philippines is a cultural gem and a hub of the great people deserve of recognition and reverence.

Baguio City; home of the charming people.

© 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 on 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 volcano.


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 reach as far as Metro Manila.

Will I ever come back on this place?

Yes, I will for sure. This awesome place bordering the province of Batangas and Cavite will never lose its charm. The people remains 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 is 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 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