Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Nazareno 2019: Celebrating the Traslacion



Just a week after the new year 2019 celebration on January 1st, Filipinos once again gather to celebrate one of the biggest devotion to Jesus Christ  the feast of the Black Nazarene.

I've celebrated the feast of the Black Nazarene since 2013. That was my first time ever to hear the mass at the Minor Basilica on its feast day together with my sister whom I have convinced to come with me. That was a solemn event on the facade of the church as it was not so crowded that people can move freely. The following year in 2015, I missed it and  then celebrated it again for 2 consecutive years in 2016 and 2017.  As compared to my experience Nazareno 2013: Celebrating the Feast of the Black Nazarene was a bit crowded, but devotees are well disciplined to follow the rules both inside and outside of the church.

Nazareno 2016: Feast of the Black Nazarene  was a peaceful celebration of the faithful and devotees of the Holy image. As I remember it was well organized as people are being guided well by the Hijos Del Nazareno or the "Sons of the Nazarene" who are the chosen ones to actively devote their time to protect the Nazarene until their last breath.

Nazareno 2017: Devotion to The Feast of The Black Nazarene was a meaningful celebration as I have contemplated on the significance of the event on our faith as Catholic Christian. That was also a peaceful event in the vicinity of the Minor Basilica as I heard the mass.

On this year's celebration, I was able to bring my sister with me to hear the mass. It was so crowded just outside the church that we were not able to get inside and preferred to stand to hear the mass while watching on the Big screen. After an hour and as the mass ended, a drizzle of rain just poured over our head. That was a blessing as people would have believe it and even I myself have asked for a Divine miracle through the rain to calm down people from the warm weather.

What's special about this year's celebration was the unexpected experience to have witnessed the traslacion in the vicinity of Chinatown in Binondo, Manila. That was a great number of devotees who joined and witnessed the grand parade of the original image of the Black Nazarene followed by other images from different churches and local sectors. People were shouting "Viva" to honor the Nazarene as they waived their white and maroon colored hankies.

As the faithful were glorifying the Holy image, we have also witnessed untoward events like those who needed medical attention. People would dare to get hurt for the sake of their faith. Their intention was to get closer to the carriage of the Holy image or even touch the rope attach to it which they believe could bring a miracle to their hopes and prayers.


We were not able to get too much close to the Holy image and were just contended to see it from afar. To see the actual event in reality gives a certain emotion of happiness and fulfillment. For years, I've only watch the traslacion as being reported live on TV, but this year, I am blessed to have been part of it.

Others may have questioned the event to be a form of fanaticism, but only a devotee can experience for themselves the miracles and blessings of their faith. I have joined with thousands or millions of Catholic faithful and devotees of the Black Nazarene and I understand their expression of their faith. They do not question it, but rather they live it in their hearts.

I believe that this event is beyond tradition. It is already embedded on our consciousness to strengthen our faith and get closer to God. When we feel unloved, uncared for and desperate, we are longing for the presence of God in our lives.  When we feel not secured and in danger, we call for protection. Whenever we are sick, we call for healing of the body, mind and spirit.

We will forever be grateful for the Black Nazarene, for his Holy Image that have strengthened the faith of millions of Filipinos who never gave up amidst the current challenges that the church is facing. We will stand together for our faith and will not get intimidated by those who would put us down or question our faith.

May the Holy spirit be upon us on our daily lives and protect us from evil. May God enlighten us so we can speak our truth and inspire others draw near to him. May we all be united to glorify Jesus, the holy image of the Black Nazarene. In this time and our lifetime, today and forever even until our last breath.

© 2019 Del Cusay


Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Epiphany: Lessons From The Three Wise Men

That was a long Christmas season for us Filipinos. It started as early as September of 2018 and today marks its end as we celebrate the Epiphany or the Three Kings. I've never known its Christian significance until I've read and understood some of published online articles. What I remember as a childhood story is that the newborn Jesus was visited by the Three wise men who were Kings and offered their gifts to Jesus, the messiah and the future King.

My knowledge about Catholicism as my religion is very limited. In college when I studied at St. Paul in Iloilo City back in 2002, we had a Religious Studies subject and had the book entitled "Cathechism for Filipino Catholics" which until now I could remember how I read through the pages but was not able to fully understand its writings. I didn't even bother to finish reading the entire book due to its thick pages and the sad reality was I didn't pass my final exam on that subject and was given the chance to take it one more time.

Guest at the inauguration of St. Paul Hospital -
Cancer Center on October 19, 2016, Iloilo City
That was about fifteen years ago today when I couldn't even lead the Holy rosary or memorize some basic prayers which my classmates and people of my age have mastered already. I wasn't prayerful back then, but I have religiously attended the required First Friday Masses and religious retreats at school. Back in my childhood days it was even so hard for me to go to the church to celebrate Mass during Sundays.

Perhaps time has change that the new generations of Christians are not so deeply devoted to their religion. Parents may be sending their kids in a Catholic or Christian school, but their values may not be a reflection of what they must have been taught in school. It might have started with my generation, but not so sure about it. What I know is that we were the generation who enjoyed playing on the streets, enjoyed being offline as compared to the online world that is enjoyed by the younger generation nowadays.

I may not have appreciated that Cathechism book back then, but now as I grow up I am becoming more mature for religious contemplations and now have a deeper understanding about the significance of the events in Catholicism or Christianity as a whole. Until one day when I had the opportunity to come back at the Catholic school's Medical center, the St. Paul Hospital Iloilo, I had the flash back on my religious subject teachings. The Cathechism was made to life when we put Christ in our hearts whenever we give service to humanity in any ways.

My deepest interest about my religion started when I travelled and worked in India some time in 2011 until 2014. I was able to compare and contrast different religions founded by great men who are considered as God. In India I've watch videos about "The Bible" and read about articles related to Christianity. I truly appreciate films about "Jesus" and the Christianity he founded. I remember, it was just after the beginning of the millennium when I watched the film "Passion of the Christ" and those kind of film give meaning when what was written in a Holy scripture was put into real-like reenactment.

Today, with the advancement in technology I no longer have to carry a thick and dark page Cathechism books. I enjoy reading online articles about lessons in Christianity and watching Biblical films through online streaming apps. I will no longer be put to test in a written examination to know whether I understood what I had read. My thoughts and actions will now be the basis of my Catholic faith. I may have failed in my Religious studies, but the real test is beyond the old school dark and thick pages books. With deeper reflection of Religious articles and biblical films, I must have applied the teachings in my daily activities.

From now on whenever we celebrate any Catholic event or feast, I learn to read and understand its significance in my life and know its relevantce in todays' time when more people are becoming diverted and distracted by their faith.

In today's time, the King of nations may be acting or playing like God and worst is denying or not believing in God. This is the test of our time; whether we will remain faithful or abandon our faith just because of the words or orders coming from our King. Today, we have our modern version of King Herod, who is envious of someone's light and Divinity. We are reliving the olden times just like the stories in the bible. Our modern society is like a reenacting of the biblical films I've watched. It is happening again and as Catholic faithful, my time is put to test. My time, my love one's time, and the next generations' time.

Even the Kings who had vast powers and may belong to other faith have paid respect and gratitude to the newborn Christ. It shows humily in spirit and an honorable act to someone greater in power. If only our nation's great leaders would have acquired those virtues like the three wise men, then we will be living in peace just like a paradise or a promised land. We need a King who does not only show courage and will power, but a King who also shows humility, compassion and faith to his people.

It may be the end of the yuletide season, but there are lot of Catholic events that is to be celebrated in the days and months to come.

May this journey to a deeper Catholic understanding lead to spiritual growth and the maturity for enlightenment and greater service that is beyond the digital world we currently live in. May the younger generations be taught to be a responsible "King" capable of influencing others in their thoughts and actions. As we go through the path of our own Christian initiations, may we fully accept and embrace God through the Holy spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, forever and ever.

© 2019 Del Cusay



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year 2019: Sunshine After The Rain



A glittering, sparkling and noisy celebration. That was the end of 2018! Fireworks had light up the dark street as we have welcomed the New Year 2019.

Just few minutes before the clock turned exactly 12 A.M. signifying that the New Year has officially started, I shouted out loud with my vocal power to sing the famous "Auld Lang Syne" and belted songs of Michael Bolton, the "Go the Distance" and  the rock star Bon Jovi's, "It's My Life" both songs randomly chosen out of the thousands on the list.

Good thing that the weather was good after the rain had stop for people and families to welcome the New Year with positive hopes and somehow to have light up some fireworks too. Nothing could have stopped the Filipinos to walk in the rain to have last minute shopping to buy food for 'media noche' including the 12 or 13 different kinds of fruit that would bring good luck, wealth and prosperity according to the traditional Chinese feng shui.

Nothing could have stopped us to endure the long line to buy a chocolate cake with a signature "New Year 2019" on top. After all, it's nothing as compared to the challenges we have endured for the year 2018.

In the last 10 years, new year's eve celebration was more colorful and noisy, but now the noise and glitters are shorter. Celebrations are becoming more simple, but still a memorable one. Perhaps we strive hard to make each new year celebration to have something special on the table and be together with our dear family.


Some may have chosen to spend their time in a lavish 'year-end party with friends and acquaintances and enjoy the New year countdown with them. I may even have the desire, but I always choose to spend the New Year with my family. Even how simple the celebration is, it gives a certain meaning that family is love; truly our love. A family who will be with us not only on the first day of the year, but throughout the year and beyond.

Since 2012, I spend precious time to be alone for some 'Year-end reflection or Year in Reviews. I made a promise to myself to reflect on how the previous year made me better, what have I accomplished and what are the lessons learned. Christmas in Our Hearts 2018: A New Milestone, Self-Renewal and New Beginning was a roller-coaster ride. That year brought massive struck like a lighting and a great wave like a tsunami. The year 2018 may not be favorable, but I have fulfilled some goals and learned valuable life lessons. Just like when the year has ended, a new and brighter year ahead awaits. Though we may never know what is ahead of us, yet we remain hopeful.

As I look back on the previous year, New Year 2018: Beyond the Limits brought a rough journey with uncertain destination. There were several distractions that didn't serve true purpose. Being out of focus can be destructive and put limits on our actions and coveted goals.

Going back to present, this New Year reflection is about my goals and aspirations to achieve for the year and a carry over the previous years' experiences and life lessons. No matter how unfavorable it may be, still it is part of my past and can be part of my present and future endeavours.

Higher level of endurance

My previous corporate jobs and positions required tremendous physical power. I have learned to improve my physical and mental stamina though the years since I learned to adopt powerful physical exercises and meditation which I have not practiced actively for about 3 years already. May this year 2019 bring back to a lighter and more active physical energy though simple yet power exercises and meditation. 

Physical Grounding 

I've started to realize few years ago that nature has given us way to stay grounded or connected with our roots. With our busy lifestyle and stressful day to day routine, we forget to be grounded. Our mind takes us somewhere else and we do not feel the natural elements of the earth for healing. Back in my hometown about 3 years ago, I put some medium sized fine stones to add natural elements in our little garden. I would then invite my mother to take a barefoot walk along with me. I believe it gives physical grounding effect aside from the natural reflexology it gives. 

May this year bring me to places close to nature and experience real physical grounding. To leave footprints in the sand, camping by the beach and sitting on the shore. 

Emotional health

To feel angry is normal, but to utter words that is not good might be hard to take back. Thus, one thing that I have learned is to be in control of emotions. It may be the hardest thing for me to do, but that is good for emotional health. There are times when I have to keep quiet to avoid an argument despite the urge to do so. Now, I would try my best to understand people's actions and intentions and apply self-restraint in the choice of words and appropriate actions. 

Mindfulness and Social awareness

Being mindful is good for mental health. Through prayers and meditation, it will help to look beyond ourself. To look out for an opportunity to be of service to someone or to a larger community. I have been part of a group that gives greater service to humanity through social projects, however I have not followed through for years. May this year open another door to reach out to people for empowerment.

The Power of Now

One thing that I have learned is to act on the moment whenever possible. To procrastinate is to delay things and soon when there's a lack of inspiration it's hard to do it. To be present at the moment is also being mindful and could prevent us from doubts, fears and frustrations.

When I acted on my dream to start a business on my own, I didn't wait to have everything to be perfect or accumulate more knowledge. I simply made the first move and everything follows according to plans.

Grit and Perseverance

When all else fail, I would have to choose to accept things as it happens, analyse the situation, make a solution and move on to what's next. Whatever happens, no matter how difficult the road is, I have to survive the odds to and keep the fire in me to reach my dreams. With relentless desire, highest hopes and positive spirit, I will be able to make things possible for myself. If I dream of it, then I can achieve it.

The list for new year's resolution may be endless, but for now these are the topmost priorities that are achievable. Now, as I remember, those 2 songs I have sang may subconsciously be what I am. I always aspire to "Go the Distance" to reach an extra mile. I also take control of my life for a reason that "It's My Life" this is my life and I have to live it. And remember those people who made a sacrifice to walk in the rain? they may have been over and gone through the pain.

A blissful New Year 2019!

© 2019 Del Cusay


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