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

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 a 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 is renewed.

Our wellbeing is healed and rejuvenated.
And that's an ultimate goal to achieve.

The truth is, we want to escape reality once in a while. The reality of work-related stress.

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 in 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 of the world's beach and Island lovers. A multi-cultural hub where the east meets the west.

That was my 5th time to visit Boracay in about 2 decades. And each time I visit, there were several transformation, not just with its ecosystem, but with the culture.

The Boracay culture I used to love.

Perhaps I have seen Boracay during its pristine days when it's less developed and had its Island vibe.

Last year when it underwent temporary closure, it became like a ghost Island. Not much tourist and businesses closed for about half a year.

If we humans deserve a break. A busy Island deserve a much needed break too.

When its ecosystem has been damage due to commercialization, it has to clean and heal itself before it could serve people again.

And so other popular Islands in the country and Southeast Asian region followed suit. They also rehabilitated their Island paradise. A great move with great sacrifice and love.

Taking 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. For it to breathe again and get rejuvenated -- just like us human beings.

That weekend getaway in Boracay in 2016; was still a magical day and night escapade.

The Nami Resort over the hills was exhilarating as you are transported from an old style elevator reaching the hilltop.

Nami resort got the best view of the Island and it was just awesome.

The food, the music, the ambiance. The experience was great ever.

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

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

© 2020 Del Cusay

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Ruins and The Love Story

The Taj Mahal of the Philippines. That's what 'The Ruins' of Negros is known not only in the country, but also have gained prestige and recognition globally.

Half a decade ago, in 2015 when I have finally appreciated the Italian-inspired mansion that was the talk of the town and is gaining popularity among tourist both locally and from different parts of the world.

Seeing it for the first time from a distance was a nostalgic experience about its glorious past and the story behind the mansion built with great and deepest love.

That's one of the finest architectural masterpiece shared to the world. And the ruins stand out to last over the next centuries if the legacy is preserved for the love story to be relayed to the next generations. 

What makes the ruins of Negros so special is a sad yet beautiful story with a heartfelt dedication of a mourning man to his lost wife. Just like The Taj Mahal of India when a mourning emperor built the structure in memory of his lost wife.

That's quite a similar story about immortalizing the memory of a loved one that was lost. And so the Philippines has it's own version of the great Taj Mahal of India the Ruins of Negros.

That's the greatest love. Building a lasting memory and legacy for something that is lost yet remains forever in one's heart.

Not everyone could do that and so that piece of historical masterpiece is to remind us of our greatness in our own ways.

We may not be as great as the builders of the Taj Mahal of India and the Ruins of Negros, but one thing that we can learn is that we can build great things out of greatest love when we are crushed in spirit and in deepest pain.

On this heart's month, we celebrate people's love stories and our very own. We look forward to building a great and lasting memory to share to our love ones and even share it to the world.

Love can be tough, but it moves people. It moves us mysteriously. We are reminded again that when we are brokenhearted, we can always pick up the pieces to make it whole again. We need to be complete to experience and live the greatest love we deserve.

© 2020 Del Cusay

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Memories of Summer 2019

That was endless summer fun! Starting from the month of March during the Holy week until the blooming flowers of May; a season in the sun that is hotta fun. For about 3 months time we have experienced and collected another memories that we will cherish for a lifetime.

Summer time in the Philippines is a celebration of a vibrant life. We enjoy the waves on the beach with less worries of getting tanned or sunburned skin. Anyway it comes once a year and so we want it to be more fun and the most memorable experience ever. That's the kind of summer I want... get burned and just be alive!

I've spent 2 weeks in our hometown to support the candidacy of my father as a Municipal councilor in the midterm election last May 13. We celebrated with Thanksgiving for a Victorious Journey along with the Christening of my nephew, J. Frenz Matthew. That was a joyous occasion and indeed a celebration of a new life.

A day after the winning moment, we visited the birthplace of my mother in the highlands of Bato-Arobo in barangay Pasol-o. That was about 2 decades ago since my last visit. Memories of Mount Bato-Arobo reminded me of a hiking experience to reach the place with an awesome mountain view and a place that offers serenity and peace of mind.

We live in a landlocked town and what we only have are natural wonders like rivers, natural parks and waterfalls. No sea and beaches. Malinamon falls is one of the best that we could offer for the tourist and nature lovers. It is located inside a military conservation known as Camp Peralta in Jaena Norte. We had an excursion with my family and that was a respite from the summer heat. We love the natural environment and we had a great adventure; surely worth reminiscing.

Back in Manila after a 2-week vacation, I knew that my summer isn't complete without a visit at the beach. I traveled to the coastal town of Zambales to enjoy the remaining hot summer days.

The Crystal Beach in San Narciso is one of the finest beach destination offering the best in scenery and accommodation. On a mid-day sun, I was seated on a modern beach-type nipa hut while watching the seashore and doing some meditation. That was a stress-relief; to be at the beach front and in a meditative state. Truly a blissful experience!

A day at the beach is too short so I had to beach hop at the nearby town of San Felipe. That was my beach destination for the previous year. Memories of Summer 2018 at Camp Rofelio was the beginning of my fascination on this peaceful and uncrowded beach of Liwliwa.

On the second time around, a new accommodation, El Zamba resort in Liwliwa may be at the farthest end of the group of resorts, but it offers the best view of the sunrise and the sunset. The water is greenish-blue and the waves are perfect for surfing.

That was my summer adventure. Truly captivating and soul-searching. I left the place with a smile on my face and the distance traveled is worth a million bucks of pure bliss. I am feeling good. I feeling blessed and I am feeling grateful because life has been so wonderful.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Celebrating Chinese New Year 2019: Luck, Prosperity and Faith

Lion and Dragon Dance 
Chinese new year has been part of the Philippine culture for centuries and is celebrated by Filipinos from all walks of life most especially of Chinese descent we call as Tsinoy or Intsik.

In Binondo, a district in Manila, a vibrant and colorful celebration happens every Chinese New year to welcome prosperity and abundance in businesses established by the Tsinoys with majority of the community came from Fujian and Guangdong province in China.

Grand Parade at Ongpin St. in Binondo
Centuries have past, they have endured the challenges of wars and conflicts in their little community we call as Chinatown in Binondo as well as communities established in other places in the Philippine archipelago. But today their businesses thrive in Binondo and they have conquered almost all commerce and industries becoming business leaders.

Our Philippine culture is greatly influenced by the Tsinoys as evidenced by the food that we serve during holidays, beliefs on luck through Chinese astrology or horoscope, Chinese martial arts, Chinese feng shui and Chinese arts and architectural designs and structures. Today, all of these influences are alive in Binondo particularly in the famous street of Ongpin - - the center of Chinese New year celebration in the country.

Fruits and lucky charms 

Even in politics and governance, Tsinoys have been elected to serve the country. Beyond their business interests, they have proven to be an effective public servant becoming truly Filipino by heart. From their ancestors as a Chinese immigrant to the Philippines, they now have a massive influence in Philippine politics and Filipinos patronise their brand of leadership.

My journey in Binondo started back in 2013. Celebrating the Chinese New Year 2013: A New Beginning was meaningful and a joyful experience. That was the beginning of a Chinese-Filipino culture immersion for a greater understanding of the deeply-rooted Chinese culture and influence in the country.

Five years after, Celebrating Chinese New Year 2018: Prosperity and Abundance was a celebration of success and thanksgiving for a greater year that has passed and a greater optimism for the current year. That's the essence; becoming better and bolder every year.

This year of the Pig according to Chinese culture brings wealth and prosperity through beliefs and symbols that one must possess. This has been adopted by most Filipinos and every year we strive to become better version of our self and free ourselves from obsolete beliefs. Every new year is a renewal and a vow through the lists of resolution. We may believe in luck, but it is also our faith and personal devotion to a higher source that brings success and prosperity in life.

May our dreams and hopes become higher and brighter as we celebrate a new year with optimism and grace, this year and beyond.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Memories of Summer 2018

There's nothing compares than the feeling of happiness that the summer brings. For some, they may hate the hot and humid temperature while for others it is truly a bliss. Whenever the favorable temperate month of February ends, it excites us and seems looking forward for out of town trips, adventures or just a simple staycation to unwind and rejuvenate. Perhaps the most joyful time of the year is spent at the beach, a waterfall, a river or a mountain resort just to provide relief from intense heat.

What makes summer of 2018 memorable is the journey on the road that no matter how far is the destination, still we enjoy the scenery and can't wait to experience what the place has to offer. The cool and gentle blow of the wind; the allure of the ocean; the amazing sunrise in the east and the beautiful sunset in the west are the things that awaken our spirit. It is when we recognize the beauty of the natural wonders that we experience ultimate happiness that is truly memorable.

There's a feeling of great relief and a sense of renewal for even a short while once we had a temporary escape from the usual work. There's a natural healing that cleanses and purifies us to make us complete and ready to face a more complex world with calmness and peace. I always believe that our body always find its way to heal itself. It's as if our soul wanders around and our physical body would bring us somewhere. Our soulful desire is what makes us live our purpose to stop for awhile and take a deep breath as we enjoy the precious moment.

Summer Food bazaar at Bonifacio High Street
Summer time is about enjoyment on little things that matters. We enjoy being outdoors and experience life on the street. We enjoy the food accompanied with an upbeat music. We enjoy the vibrant and positive energy that gives us a sense of accomplishment as we look back on our victorious plans and actions. We made it! we succeeded! and we express our gratitude for it.

Summer time is the preservation phase of the year and a great time to get energized and revitalized before the onset of the rainy season or monsoon. We enjoy the season in the sun and we return to our place with much gratitude and peace in our heart and mind. During our travel, we develop realizations about work and life balance that we deserve a much needed break once in a while to relieve stress and burnout; the prize is appreciation for a meaningful life — a life well lived. 

© 2018 Del Cusay

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Evolution of The Mind: Path Towards Right Consciousness

I was in 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 comes 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 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 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.

Mid 20s is when I started to rewire my inner dialogue. Connecting the missing link that 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 several intelligence that are not attained by ordinary people not devoted to 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 to be the best version of my self, 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 doesn't give meaning to higher existence -- universal service through spirituality. I meditated, chanted and used special mantra to achieve sense of contentment and bliss. It changed my personality and reached 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 something that 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 stronger and firm with my philosophies and elevated my personality to connect with stronger souls. If I didn't, then I wouldn't survived 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 "Third Eye" which is spiritually guided. It was then I felt the Divine guidance that intervened 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 or 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 in or in a place where life 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 our 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 change, 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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Day to Remember

To celebrate another year of life is one of the most pleasant memories that we can cherish. It is when we show our gratitude for all the blessings we received and looking forward for another year full of challenges and surprises. We may continue to be challenged along the way and be surprised of something unimaginable --when  dreams and desires do come true.

As we journey onward, we give happiness to those who are dear to us. Happiness that leaves an imprint on their hearts and minds. Those things that they haven't thought of would come true. A surprise that would uplift joyful spirit out of the blue. 

The days when we have planned for a surprise to someone so special was so exciting. Our mother is about to celebrate her 63rd birthday, and she deserves some treat. What special surprise could we give that is truly memorable? Aha! a trip abroad! a wonderful surprise. My parents have never been out of the country yet and it would have been their first time to set foot in a not so distant place in the east.

 It was on September 23, 2016 when we're about to go to Palawan. Voted as the most beautiful island in the world for 2015 and 2016. I am also excited to visit that magnificent island as they say but then, we're really bound for Hongkong. And that's the surprise. Though it was a funny story at the airport, with such clueless faces on their real destination, finally it was revealed that they are bound to travel abroad. 

The excitement is real and when we set foot at the Hongkong airport, we're all eager to explore wonderful places. Though we siblings have been to Hongkong before, we couldn't wait to show places to our parents. A bit lost at some point, walking along the promenade in Tsim Shan Tsui was fantastic. Spending sometime overlooking the Hongkong islands' famous skyscraper is wonderful. As one of the best place to see and experience, truly the victoria harbour is impressive. A romantic feel in the east. Though a bit tired  of walking, crossing the island of Kowloon to Hongkong aboard star ferry offers magnificent view of the harbour and the skyline and it awakens the senses. The skyline is one of the world's best and it's just in the east blending with west. 

The day came, September 24, was a special day for my mother and spending it at the happiest place on earth is truly magical experience. We enjoyed so much with all scenes. The festival of lion king is such a feast to senses showing just like a broadway show, the 4D theater experience, the jungle of tarzan and the disney in the stars as the highlight. 

The third day was still full of energy. The picture perfect ocean park giving a breathtaking view of the island and the sea is memorable. A roller coaster ride gave an adrenaline rush that would never be repeated again. I did it, but so scary. The entire resort was a good place to appreciate the animal kingdom and their habitat and it's about time to protect their kingdom and class before their gone. Before the sun set, we're able to meet "kababayans" or townmate and hear their stories. I know how it feels to be homesick since I have experience to be away for some time in the past, so a loud laugh would help to release some form of sadness. 

On the fourth day, we're all excited on our next destination. Heading to Macau: once a Portuguese colony in the east. Another memories that would uplift our spirits and looking forward for a memorable stay in a glittering city of light. 

That was a great journey in Hongkong and this story will remain in our hearts. We still have many places to explore. It a small world and we all deserve to be happy once in a while. And a little surprise could change our perspective and the way we the world we live in. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Holy Week 2016: The Pilgrim's Journey

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles, Iloilo, Philippines

A long narrow road where darkness invades is where you can see a pilgrim who has nothing to see but a total darkness. Illumined by a Divine light where the darkness is expelled; struggling with emptiness for the goodness that is faded.

This year's Holy week is another journey of struggles and misery in every faithful who wanted to see and feel the full illumination from within. The Divine light that showers us to empower our being also empowers to dispel the negativity of the soul that is trapped in sorrowful darkness. Empowered by the guiding light to strengthen the spirit to become whole is to share the illumination to others as an obligation to follow. He is "the way, the truth, and the life" no one should contradict, but to accept with grace and light.

Another chapter of life in a land that is less known, is a pilgrim who stands up, regaining bravery of the soul. Pulled down by its own negativity and weakness of the spirit, but guided by little spark that ignites the soul is not limited. I am lost along the way. Should I trust the instinct that comes my way. Lord, save me from disgrace and lift me up with your loving grace.

This Jubilee Year of Mercy is to acknowledge the compassionate, merciful and ever powerful spirit that will renew the faith of a lost Pilgrim. The Holy door is the portal of entry for examining the faith and strengthening the weakened soul. Blessed by the Holiness who touches my spirit; forever be loved and the message of love to live forever and be it.

Along the road is a Pilgrim who ignites the fire. At times loses from darkness, but still able to recover the light. The struggle of an illumined soul resist the temptation of the dark. Cast away the evil, and preserve the purity of the heart. Guide us oh Lord, when we are tempted of false beliefs, you are our savior protect us from defeat.

As the Risen Lord gives us hope, may we live with Him in our journey along the road; with footprints in the sand leaving the negativity and cleansing the spirit. It is our ultimate glory to live an eternal life without the limit.

 © 2016 Del Cusay

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kathmandu: The Gems and The Lost Treasures

In my journey to the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, I have fallen in love with its beautiful landscape and have met wonderful people who are friendly and kind-hearted.

In August 2013, in an uncertain moment, I have traveled to Kathmandu and have cherished the 6-day trip. It was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life to have learned from the culture and tradition of the Nepalese people.

From the first day of my trip, I have imagined the glorious past of the place as I pass around the narrow streets with both modern and centuries-old architectures--evidence of Nepal's rich heritage and culture. I have roamed around and bought Kurtas (traditional Nepalese clothe) from different shops and at the same time was able to stop by coffee shops to awaken my senses and to continue the journey.

I was amazed by the view of the Kathmandu valley from the hotel where I stayed as one can see the mountains surrounding the city and the crowded houses and buildings made of stones and bricks.

In a beautiful morning as I walk at the old streets, I have witnessed the businesses of the people. It is so simple, yet full of spiritual practices to start the day. They pray and chant to their Gods and they use aromatic incense to drive off bad spirits or any form of negativity. Everyday, I used to burn an incense of different scents for my personal prayers and intentions.

In a sunny afternoon as I walked in the downtown area, I have seen the simple living of the people. They are not into buying luxurious things. In fact they only have few malls that sells bargain products. In that place, there's a huge football field and park with a tall observatory tower where one can see the panoramic view of the Kathmandu valley.

As I walked down the streets, I have seen beautiful scenery that are natural and some that are man-made. The famous lake in the central business area is where I spent few hours of walking and rejuvenating. Beside the lake are food stalls in the street where they sell coffee, tea and bread and I have tasted it to get some energy for a long walk.

Kathmandu is such a peaceful place and I felt the spirituality of the people. There are temples everywhere for them to pray and glorify their Gods. They offer food and burn incense and there's something more than their religious practices. They care and love people regardless of race and creed. They have happy faces and they even look like Filipinos. I have witnessed their friendliness and hospitality to the tourists. They are very conversant about Nepal's history and heritage and they are helpful in any ways.

Kathmandu is rich in heritage sites that are recognized and protected by UNESCO. A day before I left, I was able to grab the offer for a day-tour in 4 out 7 UNESCO world heritage sites. 

I have meditated in the mountainous places of Swayambunath and Pashupatinath where huge stupas can be seen as the center of attraction. I visited the ancient city and Durbar Square in Patan and it was in that place where felt that I was in a time travel. I sensed that I was transported several centuries back, although I can see and interact with modern people--the locals and foreign tourists in their modern clothing, ways and actions.

On April 25, 2015, it was a tragic moment when the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal was reported to suffer the strong magnitude earthquake. Kathmandu and its nearby town including northern India (Bihar state) and southern China (Tibet region) were heavily devastated and they lost thousands of people including locals and foreigners. The Kathmandu valley was destroyed with thousands of houses and buildings that collapsed, thousand families became homeless and thousand lives were killed.

It saddened me to hear the news as I recalled the wonderful memories I had with the Nepalese people I met and interacted on the road. I remember the times when I enjoyed their heritage sites and everything that Kathmandu has to offer. I have learned so many things about them and I am grateful for the joyful experience.

Now that almost everything were lost, how could they recover from the tragedy? How many of those people I met have died and how many have survived? How are those playful kids I have interacted at the park? Life could be unpredictable that bad things could happen to good people.

At the present time it is about survival, but a sad fate to the innocent lives. You may have met wonderful people, but tomorrow they might be gone. You may have seen amazing structures, but tomorrow they may have been out of sight. Survival is not about religion or spirituality. It is now a way of life.

From the magnificent peak of Mount Everest; the serenity of Pokhara; and to the architectural heritage of Kathmandu, I can say that Nepal is a gem I have found, but now is a lost treasure. It will not be easy, hence it will take time to stand up and face the world again. They need our help in any ways and once they are well and ready, they will stand up and build up its soulful heritage.

© 2015 Del Cusay

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Road Ahead: The Rising Challenges Along The Way

"Time to heal and to start another chapter of a more meaningful life. A life that gives us second chances and letting go. Life that gives unlimited potentials and opportunities for growth. There will be challenges along the way, however in the end, it is indispensable to keep our flow and to live life in harmony and with sense of fulfillment."

That was a long break and now back to writing again. It's been several months of untold memorable stories; events that would have been special and worth remembering through writing. There are times in our lives when we slow down a bit and needed much inspiration and will to do something we love. Inspiration comes anytime, and the will to do things would be the most important one. 

Action is indeed necessary to get things done and no matter how much hard we try in the planning phase, still we get stuck- up and remain stationary. We do things with much gratitude for starting into something, but in the process, we also encounter the signal to slow down until we are out of sight. It's not that we lose, but we're starting to get back on track and regain things missed. 

Writing on the 2nd quarter of the year would be nice to reflect on the latest journey that keeps me alive. Perhaps one of the most favorable time of the year is summer; although hot and humid, still we endure and continue to have fun and experience this wonderful season of the year--the preservation phase. 

In this season, there may have been down moments, but have enough will to rise up again. Life has become tougher as we move along in another milestone of a not so distant future. After all, we have proven to ourselves how resilient we are and keep moving on when the road seems rough. We learn best through experience and it keeps us stronger than ever no matter how hard it may seem. 

Some of the most wonderful moments this summer was when I got the chance to travel with family and friends. Enjoying precious time with loved ones is incomparable and something to cherish and worth reminiscing. 

Travelling and exploring places is something that would nourish my mind and body as I do meditation in different places; from the cool and turquoise water of Guimaras Island, to the green and relaxing ambiance at the foothill of Mt. Arayat-- such a pleasant surprise.

Not so far away from Manila; there could have been a better escape from the hustle and bustle city living for Lenten reflection. From the glorious Christ the Redeemer in Monasterio de Tarlac going to the mountainous and highly spiritual place in  Lucban, Quezon. These places offers not so overrated experience, but the memories are worthwhile and will truly remain in our hearts. 

Time to heal and to start another chapter of a more meaningful life. A life that gives us second chances and letting go. Life that gives unlimited potentials and opportunities for growth. There will be challenges along the way, however in the end, it is indispensable to keep our flow and to live life in harmony and with sense of fulfillment. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Incredible India: My Life's Greatest Challenge

"It is not the applause nor the pat on the back that inspires me the most, but it is the simple appreciation that makes me feel special and valued. When the time is up, the next question would be what comes next? What is there waiting for me?... and it goes on..."

It's been 8 months already since I arrived in Delhi and it's a great experience to live independently while doing the work that I love. There are days that excites me and some days that I need to calm down my senses. Those days when I traveled a long distance and enjoying the moment while on a holiday; those days when I traveled long distance to do my duties and responsibilities.

My second trip back to India is challenging for me; this time I have to do my best even on a solitary journey. I rushed and slipped... I ran and fell... I moved on and got stuck. However, it was still a challenge despite the obstacles I have gone through. I never stopped, but I learned to move forward and realize that things aren't easy along the way of reaching the goals. 

In my travels, I have gained lots of stories and insights that are memorable. Sometimes, it's not the place that  puts a smile on my face, but it's the people that captivates my spirit.  I have learned to discover the beauty in every person I have interacted and also from their inspiring stories that can be a source of wisdom.   

It is nice to have known some friends that are kind and cheerful. It is through their helpful gestures that makes my stay in India truly wonderful. A heartwarming welcome from people is something I will cherish. They have shown great hospitality like no other in the world and that has made a lasting impression. 

I have met people from different places where I have served. Young and old, the fortunate and underprivileged, the yogis and meditators and if still recognized, perhaps the Brahmins as well as the Sudras. They have made an impact in my life in quest for understanding the nature of humanity and the world we live in.

Indian society couldn't be much favorable to some, but upon my observation it could be a better place to live in and start making good influence to others. A country that is truly diverse in many ways; the people, the culture and the tradition. It is here where I have experienced the chaos in the city and where different major religions exists without much prejudice and conflict. 

For the past 8 months, I have seen the many faces of India and its diverse culture. From the freezing cold mountains of Dharamsala in the north and the humid climate of Kolkata in the east. The industrial city of Ludhiana in Punjab and the Magical pink city of Jaipur in Rajasthan. Different places with unique identity, yet shares common language of smile and hospitality. 

What makes life challenging in India is to reach out people and offer something for their own benefit. When the clock starts to wake me up in the dawn, it is a non-stop action towards the destination. It is the people that makes you move and it is their spirituality that touches your soul. I talk and they listen... they discuss and I get more wisdom. It is the reciprocity of events that makes learning interesting.

When the spotlight is on and everyone is watching, nothing could be more brighter when you see the smiles, hearing the laughter, feeling the positive emotions, and sensing the good energy of the people. I feel special...I feel blessed. 

It is not the applause nor the pat on the back that inspires me the most, but it is the simple appreciation that makes me feel special and valued. When the time is up, the next question would be what comes next? What is there waiting for me?... and it goes on...

When life gets tough, it reminds me of the things I have achieved. Never to return...never to surrender...never to quit.  Life is passing all the challenges and reaping the rewards thereafter. It's a game of life; you win some, you lose some. In the end, the battle remains and the journey continues. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Blessed Teresa of Kolkata: Her Life and Mission

"Blessed Teresa did not only show her motherly care, but she taught humanity how to live in modesty. To live a life in simplicity and remain to be strong when life seem to be unjust."

In our lives, we may have someone whom we look up to or admire; we look at them as our idol and hero. What makes us follow them is the result of their greatest achievement and a purposeful living. They have set themselves as a role model and later became an icon for the world to emulate.

When I visited Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), it flashed back to my mind the name of a single person. She's not just ordinary, but a blessed one in the name Mother Teresa who was popularly known as a 'Living Saint' before her death. 

Mother Teresa became a global sensation since when I was a young child back in the Philippines and even became world-renowned in the 90s, until she passed away on the year 1997. It was then, we saw Mother Teresa as a simple nun caring for the sick and the dying in Kolkata. Her work isn't extraordinary, but it is just ordinary deeds accompanied by great love, compassion and commitment to serve people in need.

Since I was in Kolkata, I've thought of visiting her place: the main headquarters of the "Missionaries of Charity" which is the Congregation she founded. That was the time I saw the great achievements of a simple nun with extraordinary power, who is now Blessed Teresa.

What could have made her adorable and famous is due to her selfless love and compassion to the poorest of the poor, to the sick, the abandoned and the dying people. In her early years in Kolkata, she used to be a teacher in a convent school until such time she had a calling from the Divine to look after the needs of the poor people who are hungry, homeless and dying in the streets due to widespread poverty and famine in the locality. 

She lived the 'Corporal Works of Mercy' and have it in action to stand the test of time. She fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, visited the sick, visited the imprisoned and buried the dead. All of these works has been achieved by Mother Teresa when she was living. 

Her congregation, the "Missionaries of Charity" started with a mission to save the people who needed care on the streets. She had nothing to give financially at first, but due to global recognition and the power of media, they have attracted donations from individuals and organizations from around the world and financial aid from different States and Government Agencies.

Mother Teresa showed not only her compassionate nature, but also her charisma to attract the right people to support her cause. From 'nothing to something' she was able to build numerous age homes, schools and orphanages and currently operating not just in India but the rest of the world in more than 120 countries.

Perhaps, it was the shortest pilgrimage I had in my life to visit the Mother house where the tomb of Mother Teresa is placed. It is a simple tomb with a chapel inside for the visitors to offer a prayer. It is a peaceful place with people of different creeds coming in to witness the thousands of archives relevant to the work of Mother Teresa located in the room adjacent to her tomb. Visitors will also have a realization of how a Spiritually powerful nun used to live in simplicity, in a small room with  tiny single bed. It made me realize that our status of living has nothing to do with what we can achieve in life. Hence, there is no room for self-doubt as to what we can accomplish.

Mother Teresa served the poor people, however she could have also meant people who are poor in spirit. Nowadays, people become a victim of their lower emotions. Some are playing as a victim in life and degrades people of their miseries and misfortune.

There are so many people who are capable and fortunate in life, but they remain empty. They have the feeling of being unloved and abandoned. This would seem to be a global epidemic, but Mother Teresa's dedication of love and compassion speaks it all.

Like all the successful and accomplished people in history, Mother Teresa has a share of unjust criticism from her critics globally. She had been condemned and ridiculed in her ways of leadership with the founded congregation. However, Mother Teresa, stood up for what she believe was right. Just like in life, people are seeing the negative sides and having themselves put into exemption. In the end, no matter what people say and do, mirror still reflects back; and the ones who do better are ahead of the game of life, like the way Mother Teresa did.

Few years from now, the beatified Blessed Mother Teresa will be canonized as a Saint and people will be praying through her intercession. A lot of devotees would be coming in to her tomb for pilgrimage and once again people from around the world will remember her name eternally like an immortal Spiritual being. Blessed Teresa did not only show her motherly care, but she taught humanity how to live in modesty. To live a life in simplicity and remain to be strong when life seem to be unjust.

© 2013 Del Cusay

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Loving People of Kolkata: The City of Joy

"The city of Kolkata may have different impressions to everyone and to the visitors, but to truly appreciate and understand a particular place, one needs to travel and be there to experience what it has to offer. We may think of not so good things about the place, but the moment we are there, our perspective would have change and create a lasting memory."

My recent trip in Kolkata has a lot of learnings about the history and culture of the people known as 'Bengali'. It is the former capital of India under the British rule until they transfer the Administrative center in New Delhi to make it the new capital. It was just a recent past (2001) when Calcutta was changed to Kolkata.

The city is hot and humid on summer considering that it is located in a coastal state surrounded by seas and lakes. The weather might be unfavorable to some, but I have the tolerance on its extreme; my country, The Philippines could even get hotter all throughout the year. 

Since Kolkata and West Bengal are blessed with bodies of water, they are lucky to have fishing as one the sources of livelihood. Bengalis' loves to eat fish except for some who chose to become pure vegetarian. Fishing industry is quite good in West Bengal and they are the leading fish-producing state in India. Majority of the Bengal's population eat fish just like some of the coastal state of India like Maharashtra (capital, Mumbai), Bihar and the state of Kerala in the south. 

Kolkata may be one of the most populated cities in the world, but the population density of the place is not that high as what I've thought. It is not much crowded compared to the cities of Delhi and Mumbai. And later I have known that people in the city doesn't travel a lot for shopping, outdoor fun and other activities. Some of the locals wouldn't think of how big and progressive kind of city that they have. Some of them would even think of Kolkata as a typical village with a slow paced living. 

There are not much forts, tombs and monuments in Kolkata as compared to Delhi, but the former British Raj  have built infrastructures that are impressive and with historical significance. I have seen the magnificence of the Victoria memorial which was built in honor of Queen Victoria of Britain. It is somewhat similar to the architectural design of Taj Mahal in Agra with white marbles and Mughal design. The structure is beautiful from afar and the lawns and garden are pretty and well maintained. 

The Victoria Memorial

Near  the Victoria memorial is the 'Fort William' which was built as a military headquarter and still serving on its primary purpose until the present times. Adjacent to it is the Race Course which hosts one of the largest horse race event in India. It used to be the pastime of the elites during the British regime, but now it is open to everyone. 

The park located in Queen's way street offers a large playground for everyone and a favorite place for cricketers. It is pleasant and spacious park and some statues built in bronze are visible. The street was named in honor of a Queen's visit in Kolkata on the way going to the Victoria Memorial. 

These are just few of the many good places to visit in Kolkata and I am grateful that even for a short period of time I have witnessed the grandeur of the place. What I appreciate most is the history that I've learned behind the great architecture and places. It is not just what you see that will move you, but it has also some stories to tell back in time. 

Kolkata is making progress and faster development in terms of local economy. Both residential and commercial buildings are on the rise anywhere particularly on the reclaimed area of north-eastern side of Kolkata. Due to lack of available space to support the growing population and the increasing demand of housing, the local government have planned expansion for reclamation projects for the benefit of the people. 

The city is also becoming an Information Technology hub and several Multinational companies built their headquarter in the vibrant place of 'Salt Lake' which is city center situated in a reclaimed salt-water lake, and that's how it got its name. 

With the rising progress of Kolkata, the locals remained to be spiritual. I have witnessed how they observed the 'Vasant Navrati' or they call it 'Durga Puja'  which is the celebration of the triumph of good versus evil.  Although the spiritual significance is the same as the Holi Festival, the celebration of 'Durga Puja' is mainly prayers and chanting. 

The city of Kolkata may have different impressions to everyone and to the visitors, but to truly appreciate and understand a particular place, one needs to travel and be there to experience what it has to offer. We may think of not so good things about the place, but the moment  we are there, our perspective would have change and create a lasting memory.

In my short stay, I have felt the hospitality and warmth of the people. They treat visitors nicely and do their best to make one feel special. I had a nice feeling and I enjoyed the acceptance and the treatment they have shown. There's an emotional connection that was felt and there's a substantial soul of the city and the people in general. No matter what social status they are living in the society, they still find some happiness and joy in their hearts. In the future, I would definitely love to come back in this place and witness its transformation. It is not just the beautiful place, but it is the joyful people that makes you feel good and being loved that matters most. 

© 2013 Del Cusay

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Meeting The Dalai Lama in New Delhi

"Meeting The Dalai Lama is a rare opportunity and truly a blessing. His spirituality and compassionate nature gives hope and faith to the people to appreciate life and realize that there is a certain holiness in you.  It is for us to discover our 'Dharma' or 'life purpose' and live in the holiness of our being."

Today it was another great opportunity that I have met and attended His Holiness The Dalai Lama's teaching in Buddha Jayanti Park, New Delhi. It was just few days ago when I was blessed to travel -- 'Meeting The Dalai Lama in Dharamsala and attended his lecture about 'Jataka Tales' which is about the story of Buddha's birth and rebirth. Today, he addressed to thousands of attendees about 'The Three Principal Aspects of The Path' which is significant to the Tibetans-in-exile and also to everyone present regardless of nationality and creed.

The majority of the crowd are Tibetans followed by Indians and some foreigners who are followers of The Dalai Lama. After falling in line towards the entrance of the venue, it was good that I have found a seat at the back which is more comfortable than sitting on the ground like my previous experience in his lecture in Dharamsala. Some people in groups are sitting on the lawn while others are busy roaming around organizing the event.

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At the entrance, people are welcomed with Tibetan ushers and walking on the path are blossoming colorful flowers around. The chirping of birds and the vibrant surroundings makes it relaxing to the senses. Even rabbits and flocks of swans in a pond are visible and have been taken good care. Walking further are some hilly path ways with petals scattered on the aisles which is made especially for welcoming His Holiness. The weather is warm but tolerable since it is not the official summer yet. In his lecture in Dharamsala, it was cold while in Delhi it was a good weather for me since I like tropical season.

As the open ground is about to be filled by attendees, The Dalai Lama together with his entourage walked towards his elevated podium while greeting people with his smiles. This time there was no chanting ceremonies by the Namgyal monks prior to his lecture which started at around 2 pm. The good thing about his lecture is that there was an interpreter who translates every part of The Dalai Lama's lecture in English language for the benefit of the non-Tibetans. This is better since the previous lecture in Dharamsala was delivered in Tibetan language and only those who had an fm radio were able to hear the English translation. However, if the same thing happened as the previous experience, I do not worry since seeing the The Dalai Lama for me is enough and I do not mind the language he will use in his lecture; but since there was an English interpreter, I felt more grateful and happy that I understood his message better. It was also good to hear The Dalai Lama to have tried speaking in English to give his point. He still cracks some jokes accompanied by his world-renowned laugh and smile to uplift people's spirit. 

The Dalai Lama, being the living Buddha of compassion has made his teachings as meaningful and lively as possible. Even though it was a long time sitting, it was not tiring and one can feel his loving and compassionate energy to the people. His teachings include human suffering, happiness and enlightenment which is still significant in today's time. 

According to His Holiness, the primary cause of suffering is discontentment. People of today are becoming more materialistic and wants something more in spite of having enough already. Nevertheless, happiness can be attained by contentment and satisfaction to everything. The feeling of 'have enough' and being spiritual at the same time can be an ultimate source of internal happiness and peace of mind. 

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Likewise, a person can become more happy and experience less suffering if enlightenment is achieved. Spiritual tool like prayer, 'The Power of Meditation' and selfless services to the people are indispensable in attaining a happy, fulfilled and enlightened life in a Buddhist philosophy. 

Although I am a Christian, I find this principles relevant and meaningful. These are the things that we can learn from the Buddhist's perspective of living. 

At the end of The Dalai Lama's lecture, he expressed his gratitude to everyone for making the event possible and successful. It was followed by his recessional ceremony going back to his destination. Before he finally vanished to our sight, I got the chance to
meet him up close while he waived his hand to the people that signals his blessings. 

Meeting The Dalai Lama is a rare opportunity and truly a blessing. His spirituality and compassionate nature gives hope and faith to the people to appreciate life and realize that 'There is A Certain Holiness in You'. It is for us to discover our 'Dharma' or 'life purpose' and live in the holiness of our being. 

© 2013 Del Cusay

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala

"My experience with meeting The Dalai Lama is one of the most unforgettable moment. His simplicity and compassion to the people led him to have a remarkable name in the world history of Spirituality. His message of enlightenment  is significant in today's time and truly a timeless piece of wisdom dedicated to the mankind and the future of the world."

For a few days since I arrived in Dharamsala, I have been accustomed to the unique culture and tradition of the people, most especially the Tibetans-in-exile living in Mcleod Ganj. It is a community that is vibrant with the presence of spiritual people living in a serene environment;  in the cold breeze of mountains beneath the Himalayas.

Although the Tibetans of Mcleod Ganj have been living in asylum for several decades, still they have made an effort to preserve their culture and continue to improve the living condition of the thousands of refugees. They may be far away from their mother land but they are fortunate for the achievement of freedom in exile. I have found the peacefulness and spirituality in this sacred place in The Land of the Tibetans in Dharamsala: Closer to Heaven

The simple way of living of the Tibetans is truly admirable. They remain to be content with the blessings they receive and make the best effort to develop their lives by means of the valuable teachings and philosophies of their Spiritual teacher and leader, His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama who has been vested the authority to rule his people has shown the capacity to lead and transform the lives of the Tibetans-in-exile. At his age, The Holy man still has got the energy and vigor to protect his people and to become a man of love and compassion that the world have known.

The Dalai Lama, being the head of state of the Tibetans is the most popular and respected Buddhist monk, yet His Holiness describes himself as a simple monk who was chosen to lead by the Tibetan people. He is not secluded in the hill station of Dharamsala since He is a well-traveled man. He has met a lot of foreign dignitaries for spiritual and peace talks and received numerous awards and recognition from all over the word including the Nobel Price award for his peaceful means of fighting for the sovereignty of Tibet against the Chinese communist rule.

The main teachings of His Holiness is for the humanity to live in simplicity and contentment while cultivating a loving and compassionate nature. I am not a Buddhist, yet I could say that his teachings are beyond religion. It is still relevant to everyone regardless of religious beliefs and merely a universal philosophy that was started by a Holy man is conquest of enlightenment thousands of years ago.

I have read some of The Dalai Lama's books when I was in Delhi last year. One of my favorites is the book entitled "The Art of Happiness" and the book about 'the four noble truths'. Reading his works gives some encouragement to live a better life, to find inner peace and happiness and to seek enlightenment in a troubled world.

Since visiting The Dalai Lama's temple on my first day of visit, I have known that he will be giving a lecture on the 25th of the month, about the teachings from the "Jataka Tales". It is a story based on the life and rebirth of Buddha. There was no registration on this event and so I decided to attend for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet The Holy man.

The Tsuglagkhang Temple
A day before his scheduled lecture in Tsuglagkhang temple, I had the chance to visit some places around and the nearby sightseeing in Mcleod Ganj. From the place I am staying at Snow Crest hotel in Naddi Village, it took me one and a half hour trek to reach the 4 km distance going to Mcleod Ganj. On the way, I was delighted to see the natural wonder of the Dal Lake and passing by the Tibetan Children's village, just a few-minute walk from the lake. For the second time, I visited The Dalai Lama's temple to pass around the prayer wheels and to observe the monks in their afternoon rituals. The temple is quite busy in preparation for tomorrow's event and a lot of pilgrims started to arrive, so I went ahead and take some 'Kangra tea' at the famous tea house--moonpeak espresso cafe as recommended. I did not wait for the sunset and came back in the hotel so I could reserve my energy for the next day's event.

Today, the 25th of February, I woke up early to prepare and go to The Dalai Lama's temple. The cab driver  upon request pick me up at 5 :30 a.m. and reached the temple before 6 am just few minutes before sunrise. The guard at entrance were strict  and no cameras and cellular phones allowed inside. I leaved my things in the nearby coffee shop and carried a handbag with a notebook and a pen for taking notes. The man on the shop was so kind and I told him to get it as soon as the lecture is finished.

Now that I am free from restricted gadgets, I passed by the two security check before heading to the Namgyal monastery just above the check point. I went to the right section to find my seating place which is reserved for the English speaking people. At the time I found the right place overlooking the Holy man without barriers, the monks started to gather and pilgrims from a round the world are in excitement to see The Dalai Lama.

The residence of The Dalai Lama in Tsuglagkhang Temple

At around 6:20 a.m., The Dalai Lama is set to leave his residence to have his processional ceremony. The monks and pilgrims including myself were rushing to get to the nearest place where the Holy man will pass by going up to the Namgyal Monastery which is adjacent to his residence. As the procession started, he was guided by the Namgyal monks and guarded by the security men. The entourage followed the footstep of the Holy man who waives his hand to greet the thousands of people gathered in his temple.

For about an hour and a half, The Dalai Lama together with other monks performed early morning ritual of sacred chants and mantras. At 8 a.m., His Holiness along with his entourage went down and proceeded to his lecture place which is an elevated rectangular platform with Tibetan decorations in it. Another 20-minute chants and mantra have been observed before The Dalai Lama started to give his lecture in Tibetan language at 8:20 a.m.

The whole complex is filled with the audience mostly Tibetans who understood the message very well. Some have brought an fm radio since the lecture is also translated in the English and Chinese language in a specific radio frequency. I did not have one so I just listen to the original message in the Tibetan language. The Dalai Lama's voice was clear and calm and he even cracked a joke to the crowd.

The Namgyal Monastery
The lecture ended at 10 a.m. followed by a recessional going back to his residence which is just few meters away. The audience witnessed the Holy man's last walk before he is gone out of sight. The people along the aisles were lucky to have shook hands with The Dalai Lama while others started to walk down the temple to return back at respective places or destinations.

My experience with meeting The Dalai Lama is one of the most unforgettable moment. His simplicity and compassion to the people led him to have a remarkable name in the world history of Spirituality. His message of enlightenment  is significant in today's time and truly a timeless piece of wisdom dedicated to the mankind and the future of the world.

The Dalai Lama is committed to serving the humanity and not just the Buddhist Community. The world has been constantly changing and there is no such thing as permanence. The Dalai Lma is a Holy man, but the ordinary people is capable of achieving enlightenment given that There is Certain Holiness in You.

I am grateful for another day full of learning and energy. I am hoping to see His Holiness The Dalai Lama in some other time if given another opportunity. From now on, what is important is to live with the message of love, compassion and inner peace--The Dalai Lama's way.

© 2013 Del Cusay