Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Resilience of The Filipino Spirit: The People of Guimaras Island

The Island-Province of Guimaras in Western Visayas, Philippines is blessed with natural ecosystem and the booming ecotourism. This tiny Island is peaceful and wonderful that many people are attracted with its natural splendor.

I have visited the Island of Guimaras for the first time in March 2014 and have met a Religious Community in the town of San Lorenzo. That was just about 2 hours of immersion but I have felt the warm welcome from the Religious leaders and the members. That was the Iglesia Filipina Independiente or Philippine Independent Church that I have served through a practical health talk as part of our WellLife Program delivered in key cities in the Philippines.

Apart from meeting with the Religious Community, I was able to enjoy swimming at the beach with its semi white sand and clear waters and so I promised to come back to explore the other side of the Island. In December of that same year in 2014, I came back and enjoyed a day in the islet called "Tatlong Pulo" in the town of Jordan and that was my first ever camping in a cove and my second and last visit on the Island that I call a paradise. 

WellLife Program in San Lorenzo, Guimaras in 2014

On August 3, Saturday, I was saddened by the news about the tragic incident of the 3 passenger boats that have capsized in Iloilo Straight; just in the middle of the waters of the province of Iloilo and the Island of Guimaras. This happened inspite of the absence of a typhoon signal, but the presence of strong wind and water currents. Of more than 50 passengers, there were reported survivors, but the sad part is the number of casualties and the missing passengers whose lives were not saved.

I feel their loss and empathize with the stories of some survivors and those who are mourning  for the loss of their love ones. Who could have imagined the sudden death from a tragedy that could have been prevented to happen.

I suddenly remember what I have learned from the AGOS forum about Disaster Relience back in July 2017 when they have discussed the possibility of zero casualty by following the 3 goals which is to Prepare, Respond and Recover. On this case about the boat incident, there might be lack of preparedness on the part of the authorities when they have not suspended the boat operations despite of inclement weather. They may not be prepared with higher anticipation and their right judgment that have caused the lives of innocent people. 
To have responded and recovered would be an essential goals, but there's always one goal that we tend to neglect and that is "preparation" and so this tragic event will keep on repeating itself until we learned our lesson on the essense of preparation. 

This would be one of the most tragic maritime incident in the Iloilo Straight and we can better prepare so that this will be prevented. I believe that accidents do happen no matter how careful we are, but there are things that we are of total control. Hence, we can improve on our right judgment, leadership and sense of responsibility and accountability.

On a personal level, one lesson would be a need for an enhanced survival skills like swimming to avoid drowning and this could be part of our preparation in a possible maritime incident. We can't always play a victim for something which we can do something. Nowadays, we can't predict or anticipate an accident to happen, but one thing is for sure that survival skills and techniques will go a long way if we value life and become a survivor. 

The people of Guimaras and Iloilo and those families affected may not be able to recover easily and may need our deepest sympathy and prayers. I have known them being a deeply spiritual people and they will remain to be strong and will always rise up again from this sad fate.

As a Filipino we will always rise up from tragedies... we can rise up from natural calamities. Our resilience remains amidst sorrows and pain. But one thing is certain that we may be able to recover, but not cover the pain. We can live our life again with the best learnings and wisdom we can gain.

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Reliving the Memories on The Road to Bato Arobo

It's been more than a decade since I have reached the mountain top of Bato Arobo. A place that brings pleasant memories of my childhood days. Back then, we used to hike for more than an hour just to reach if coming from Sitio Lomboy in Linambasan, province of Capiz; the landmark being the present day Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish 

I had great  Memories of Mount Bato Arobo  together with my family and I am eager to see it after a long time. A day after May 13, 2019 midterm election, we decided to have an adventure ride to see the ongoing road construction development from the Parish going to the road to Bato Arobo. This is a momentous moment to be back and see the mountain ranges from afar, to breathe in fresher air and to relive the old days.

The road to Bato Arobo is like a roller coaster ride, there are ups and downs and a wonderful scenery ahead with tall Coconut palms and greeneries. The less than 2-hour hike can now be reach by a vehicle in less than 15 minutes.

Two months after, on July 24 a day before the 89th birthday of my Grandfather we decided to bring him to visit again the Road to Bato Arobo when the roadside development is nearing its completion. Due to the hilly slope on both sides of the road, there is a need for a concrete hillside cover to protect from untoward soil erotions; the same thing we can see on the hilly streets of Baguio City.

Along the Road to Bato Arobo are farmlands planted with rice and coconuts which makes the surrounding cool and pleasant. There are few houses on the way and it is even a distance apart on the foothills of the mountain. In few years time perhaps over the next decade more houses will be built considering the accessibility of the road going to the town center.

What makes it beautiful is the natural landscape of the mountains with occasional fog when it rains and when the temperature drops. Bato Arobo has a higher elevation that makes it cool and windy that is perfect for unwinding over a cup of coffee and tea or a bowl of hot noodles or batchoy.

                      Video above; click the arrow to view

Nature has a healing wonders on our soul and the Bato Arobo mountain view gives an awesome appeal to the senses. This is quite similar to soul searching in the Highlands of Tagaytay and Baguio. Though the place is on its way to development, still it is pristine and naturally beautiful.

Bato Arobo will always have a place in my heart since I have conquered its summit when it was just a trail and now that we embrace its development there would be no barriers in reaching the mountain top and to relive its scenic mountain view. Bato Arobo is a natural wonder of all time and also a natural heritage in our time. We preserve, we protect and we recollect memories that will last for a lifetime. 

© 2019 Del Cusay

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Happiness in Our Hearts

What could be more important in life?
Biggest dream, achieved goals, a success...
A dream job, a dream house, a fancy car
A dream destination in a farthest nation

When success means a million dollar
Yes! having a lot, but not feeling enough
Giving it all, but no contentment at all
No happiness, no pure joy.. No bliss

Success is the presence of happiness...
When I get successful, I'll be happy... Nah!
When I am happy, I feel successful... Yeah!
Happiness is a positive psychology... Aha!

Happiness comes from a natural thing
Not so expensive and not an elusive thing
A glimpse of a dawn; a beautiful twilight...
A magnificent sunrise, a morning exercise

What else could make us truly happy?
A morning cup of milk, coffee or tea
A chirping sparrow... A Nightingale's song
A mist in the garden, a drizzle... A blessing!

Happiness is within us... Within our reach
Morning ritual of gratitude making us rich!
A good morning greeting... A morning hymn
Thanks God for the happiness... I am lovin'

© 2019 Del Cusay

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