I am writing this entry while I am inside the plane en route to the Philippines. I cannot seem to fathom how time has flown so fast in the past 7 days, making me wish to have stayed longer, bonded further, and tried to get you even more.
I never really thought we would make such good friends, because back during the first day of the activity, it was hard to imagine to be good friends given the different upbringing that we had, different customs and culture we grew up with.
The activity last night was really something that I could never forget simply because it made us know each one even more. It bonded us, and despite there are difficulties such as language barrier, we didn’t make it as a reason not to have fun, and enjoy the night.
It’s very sad, I know, to have to leave when we are still starting to really enjoy each other’s company. I would like to think that God had a purpose why it has to happen this way. Maybe because if he allowed us to stay longer, bond more, we might get tired of each other’s company, but this way, we shall always have the excitement within us, to contact each other, or to see each other wherever that would be.
All of you my brothers and sisters from Fukuoka J group had left a mark on me. You have influenced me, and I am going to be a better person when I get back to the Philippines bringing with me different learning about your country, the life’s lessons you have imparted on me, and the different fun and memorable experiences we had with each other.
I am very sorry that you might have seen me as someone who has a strong personality, that’s the usual first impression I get from people. But I know that as the days went by, your perception of me has changed. Hahahaha. Nevertheless, I still thank you because despite that, you still welcomed not only me but also the entire Philippine group in the Fukuoka J group.
I’m very sorry if I am too talkative, I just couldn’t help it. Perhaps it was because I have already felt comfortable with you guys.
To the Charice Pempengco team of the bus (the people who usually seat in the back portion), thank you for the laugh trips that we had. Although we were usually the nosiest people during trips, the noise was all worth it. I am now laughing while I am writing this part, remembering the small things we usually laugh about. How I wish we could see each other again soon.
To the rest of the Fukuoka J group, I surely enjoyed your company. We are living testaments that no language barrier or cultural differences can stand against friendship. To our coordinators, Yamaguchi-san, Miki-san and Yarimizu-san, I am always thankful that you have displayed tolerance to us. You have been our second mother here in Japan, and I know that although sometimes we are giving you headaches, you are still patient and understanding of us.
I will all miss you Fukuoka J group, I am now having a delayed onset of separation anxiety. 😦
As usual, I woke up late again. I am surely finding it hard to adjust to Japanese Time. Make no mistake though for I have been trying my best to adjust into this 1-hour-advance-difference to the usual time I am used to. For me it’s harder when the time difference is almost negligible.
Whenever my coordinator would ask me why I am late, my usual excuse would be that I have let my roommates use the washroom first, which is the half-truth though. The truth is, we woke up late, and yet I would allow my roommates to use the washroom first.
What I am excited about this day is that we would finally go to Tokyo. Japan trip wouldn’t be complete unless you see Tokyo, they say. After 2 days of staying here in Chiba Prefecture, we’ll be heading to the capital of Japan. What made me more excited about this is the fact that I am going to meet two of my relatives, who I have not seen for the longest time already.
After checking out from Hotel Nikko Narita, a hotel I am going to miss because of its Baguio-city-like weather, we hopped inside the bus and there starts our two-hour sojourn to Tokyo.
They say, Chiba Prefecture is in the countryside of Japan and although it houses the Narita International Airport, it has a rural life on it. It’s the kind of rural life you see in the foreign movies. Luscious and verdant grasses , houses that are distant from each other, and of course cars that are almost non-existent except for the buses or cargo trucks that go to Narita Airport.
As I am writing this part of the entry, I am inside the bus, amazed with the different wonders before my eyes. Unlike me friends who have explored the downtown area of Chiba Prefecture, it was my first time to go out from the hotel premises, so you can just imagine how astonished I was with the surroundings. Pardon the first-timer.
It was around 9 am when we reached Tokyo. For preliminaries, we went straight to the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center where we listened lectures about the ASEAN-Japan Centre, Activities by Trade and Investment Division of AJC, and Activities by Tourism and Exchange Division of the AEC. After the talk, the program emcee opened the Q and A portion. Without any hesitation, I fired a question to the speakers that goes this way:
“We all know that the ASEAN Economic Community will commence come 2015. With just 2 years from 2015, the entire ASEAN Community and their supporter-nations such as US, China and Japan are trying their best to weather the different offs in the formation of the AEC.
One important factor that might determine the success of this AEC is the transportation sector. Transportation that includes air, water, and land. Transportation is very useful in delivering goods especially for trade in the ASEAN region.
Where does the Japanese Government stand on the issue of maritime dispute considering that in the recent months, several ASEAN countries had disputes not only with China but also with other ASEAN Countries?
Should we expect, in the coming days, that there will already be a unified stand of the ASEAN with regards to this maritime dispute?”
“It was a tough question”, the speaker jokingly replied. I’m sure as hell it was one tough question, and it perhaps make them sweat, but I wasn’t satisfied with the answer he gave me, nevertheless, I didn’t insist.
After the talks, we proceeded to Odaiba. Odaiba is a recently-developed place in Tokyo. We ate our lunch at the Aqua City Mall where one can see a replica of the famous statue of liberty. The rest of the time was spent exploring Odaiba.
Afternoon cam and we had to check in, in the hotel. This time, we were billeted in the Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel. It’s the second hotel we stayed in this trip. What was great about this hotel is that the room was semi-Japanese inspired where we had Tatami beds. Also adding to the great experience was the view we had in our room. Great view it was of Odaiba and Tokyo Bay. In fact, right now, I am writing this part of the entry while gazing towards Odaiba and Tokyo Bay.
Evening came and my excitement has risen, this because I will be seeing my cousin and aunt.
After fixing myself, and after asking permission from my JICE Coordinator, we then went to downtown Tokyo.
Going to Shinjuku, we took a train ride. What surprised me was that the girls and boys are not separated unlike in the Philippines.
Shinjuku is a nice place especially at night. It is a shopping haven for adolescents said my aunt. It was indeed. You would see different designer brands from TopMan to H&M to Uniqlo. Almost every brand is there. It was a pleasant surprise that my aunt and cousin treated me for a shopping spree.
After shopping, my reaction was “I shouldn’t have brought anything for this trip”. Indeed, I am really thankful for the early birthday presents I have received from my generous relatives.
We ended the exploration of Shinjuku with a great dinner of anything but authentic Japanese Cuisine. I admit that I was never a fan of Japanese food in the Philippines, but once you have tasted a genuine Japanese food, in Japan of course, your perception would surely change, just like mine.
I ate a lot of sushi and sashimi. I also liked the Okonomiyaki and the Japanese style barbecue and fried chicken. The Japanese edamame or green peas was a good match for the beer that was served.
I’m finishing this entry facing yet again the beautiful view of Odaiba and Tokyo Bay at night from my room. Today might have been filled with nothing but excursions, nevertheless, there were a lot of things I have learned and experienced that I may not experience anytime soon when I get back to the Philippines.
Well, that’s it for now, as the hot water in the tub I have prepared for my hot bath is almost full. Sayonara!
I didn’t actually know I had trust issues with the buildings in Japan till during the general orientation of the program. Hahahah. “Just trust us, just trust our buildings” reassured the speaker during the program when he discussed about the earthquakes and the different things we should do during the earthquake.
But kidding aside, I actually appreciate that they are emphasizing on the earthquake part, since not a lot of the delegates had experienced an earthquake. Singapore delegation, for example, claimed they do not have earthquake. I kept mum, since Philippines almost always had an earthquake.
During the orientation, I have met with my fellow ASEAN delegates. It was nice of them (JICE, the organizer) that they have made it a point this time to group nations with other nations unlike in the previous programs where they would only group the participants per country.
Talkative as I am, I immediately brushed off any anxiety and started talking to them. Before I know it, I was already making friends with people. It is really great thing to note that these people, who are by the way not a native English speaker, are trying their best to communicate with us in English. “One family, one ASEAN” I told myself.
After the general orientation, we had a group orientation. There I came to know my group mates even more. It came as a surprise for me to know that we’re only two people majoring in Medical Field. Almost all of my group mates are majoring in engineering. From nanotechnology to civil to industrial, I felt I got mistakenly grouped.
Nevertheless, my group mates didn’t make me feel less welcomed. We even exchange some ideas about what we are majoring. They taught me what nanotechnology is all about, or what quantum physics is about. I also told them how you test samples of people from urine, blood, feces, sweat or smears.
It was surely a great day, and I have made a lot of friends.
As I went back to my room and plunged into a hot bath once more, I contemplated about many things. One, that no matter how diverse people are, there will always be things that would connect us –as for what thing, that, I will find in the coming days. Two, that hot bath is so relaxing I nearly slept in the tub.
I only had a few hours of sleep today after having spent the night with my high school classmates. Mercato is always a favorite destination when we hang out here in the capital. I bloated myself with barbecue, and more barbecues. It was surely a fun night despite the lack of sleep.
Our wake up call time was 6 am thus having just almost 2 hours of sleep, waking up was such a pain in the arse, bed was like a magnet. Uh oh.
Lunch time came and I found myself sitting in the Gate 9 of Japan Airlines. If yesterday, it felt like I had reservations in joining, today was a different mood. Although I still have feelings of hesitation, at least I am now excited about Japan.
The flight going to Narita was relatively fine, except for some heavy turbulence that came our way when we were exiting the Philippines. As a first time traveler to Japan, I couldn’t help but be observant of things. Especially that we are in one of their flagship carriers, Japan Airlines, I could say that my first encounter of Japanese culture will be on this plane.
JAL’s crew surely had never failed in giving us a first glimpse on what a Japanese culture is all about. It’s a culture that surely goes beyond the individual differences of people and races.
What I liked the most about our trip to Narita was the meal part. (HAHAHAHA Obviously.) It was such a great meal. The best part of that “best part” was the Haagen Dazs Ice Cream. Okay, enough said.
It was around 7 pm when we arrived in Narita. Although the immigration officer assigned to me displayed a smug face, I didn’t let that cut short my excitement. “Japan is very clean”, was the first thing I told myself while we were going out of the Narita Airport. I didn’t have much time to roam around the airport as we were trying to run against time to check-in in Hotel Nikko Narita nevertheless, it made me even more excited about the coming days.
To cap my day, I plunged into a hot bath and went to sleep.
As I am writing this entry in my journal, I found myself seated in front of this native store, which sells expensive stuff here at the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
I’m facing the entrance of the pre-departure area where there are a lot of people rushing to get inside. I got surprised I was no longer asked to take off my shoes, although they asked me to remove my belt. “Much better”, I told myself.
It has always been my practice that whenever I travel, especially when I am talking a flight going to my destination, I should be in the airport at least 4 hours before my departure time. I don’t know but perhaps it was life and common sense that taught me never to follow Filipino time when traveling. I’m afraid to be late or be denied check-in during trips, you can just imagine how expensive the tickets would get should that happen to me. I once had this close-to-being-denied-check-in experience years ago at our hometown’s humble airport, you can read it here.
Early bird as I am, I’m already at the airport at around 6:00 am although my flight is still around 8:20 am. But things were not good for me this early in the morning. The taxi driver who brought me here immediately rushed off as soon as I got off the cab. Fixated in the state of shock and awe, I was not able to do anything, even shout or run, name it. few seconds later, I realized I had to do something because the taxi was taking my luggage away!
In panic times, I usually tell myself to keep my calm and composure. So yes I did keep it. What a pleasant surprise it was for the airport guard, who I forgot to ask who his name was, to notice the incident and immediately hot hold of the cab’s plate and its body number. He immediately radioed his colleague and ordered to stop the car from getting outside the airport vicinity.
I was really palpitating so hard, afraid that my luggage could not be retrieved anymore. Few moments later, the taxi returned with the driver asking me for an additional payment for his effort and gas. I of course declined to pay and ranted that it was not my fault since he was rushing off while I was still trying to ask him to open the compartment portion of the cab.
Lesson? Always be quick, you can never tell if people are going to take advantage of you.
If I was not able to retrieve my baggage, I surely would have cancelled and not push through in joining JENESYS. But God has a plan on why he allowed these things to happen.
Fast-forward now, I’ve always been fascinated with Manila although most people I know would disagree with me. Manila really is something that I always look forward to going, it never fails to surprise and entertain me. Not to mention the food at Mercato!
So you can just imagine how excited I am to go back to the capital after how many months.
Later that day, there was a heavy downpour of rain while I was on my way to Bayview Hotel. It made me think twice, whether to push through with this or not. It was actually my first time to feel hesitant in joining an activity. Perhaps it was because the program is going to be miles away from home or just perhaps because of the things I left behind. But I decided to go, and push through with the activity.
After the pre-departure orientation, I went out with my high school classmates. Where else would we go but in Mercato? Although I was already very full, who could say “no” to the oversized barbecues and isaws (chicken intestine), after eating at Mercato, we spent the rest of the night catching up.
At 3 am, we all parted ways leaving me worried if I could wake up at 6 am, our scheduled wake up time.