Saturday, November 22, 2008

on my way to square one

i have been away for too long but, now, i am going back to square one. to the place where broken hearts couldnt seem to touch me, where all i knew was laughters under the blue sky, where life's philosophy could be found in beautiful sunsets and bob guev's class.
bob guev is the guru. he was my philo teacher. he wasn't brad pitt hunky. he wasn't hunky at all but the moment he opened his mouth to speak, every single student in the class would have their light bulbs moment. i remember how in awe i was of him, how his teachings seemed so simple yet encompassing and transcending at the same time. and the best thing was, they were spoken, not in the antiquated language of aquinas or marcel BUT in the taglish filipino that everyone could understand and relate to.
i chatted with a fellow bobby guev-er from university a while ago and he gave me the link of another guev-er's blog. i saw a post which brought me back to my seat at SEC building, in bobby guev's class, a girl who wants to soak in every single wisdom the guru has to offer...

(a repost from kuya ubit's blog)

1. "Kung hindi mo mahal ang isang tao, wag ka nang magpakita ng motibo para mahalin ka nya.."
2. "Huwag mong bitawan ang bagay na hindi mo kayang makitang hawak ng iba.."

3. "Huwag mong hawakan kung alam mong bibitawan mo lang."

4. "Huwag na huwag ka hahawak kapag alam mong may hawak ka na."

5. "Parang elevator lang yan eh, bakit mo pagsisiksikan ung sarili mo kung walang pwesto para sayo. Eh meron naman hagdan, ayaw mo lang pansinin."

6. "Kung maghihintay ka nang lalandi sayo, walang mangyayari sa buhay mo.. Dapat lumandi ka din."

7. "Pag may mahal ka at ayaw sayo, hayaan mo. Malay mo sa mga susunod na araw ayaw mo na din sa kanya, naunahan ka lang."

8. "Hiwalayan na kung di ka na masaya. Walang gamot sa tanga kundi pagkukusa."

9. "Pag hindi ka mahal ng mahal mo wag ka magreklamo. Kasi may mga tao rin na di mo mahal pero mahal ka.. Kaya quits lang."

10. "Kung dalawa ang mahal mo, piliin mo yung pangalawa. Kasi hindi ka naman magmamahal ng iba kung mahal mo talaga yung una."

11. "Hindi porke't madalas mong ka-chat, kausap sa telepono, kasama sa mga lakad o ka-text ng wantusawa eh may gusto sayo at magkakatuluyan kayo. Meron lang talagang mga taong sadyang friendly, sweet, flirt, malandi, pa-fall o paasa."

12. "Huwag magmadali sa babae o lalaki. Tatlo, lima, sampung taon, mag-iiba ang pamantayan mo at maiisip mong hindi pala tamang pumili ng kapareha dahil lang maganda o nakakalibog ito. Totong mas mahalaga ang kalooban ng tao higit sa anuman. Sa paglipas ng panahon, maging ang mga crush ng bayan nagmumukha ding pandesal, maniwala ka."

13. "Minsan kahit ikaw ang nakaschedule, kailangan mo pa rin maghintay, kasi hindi ikaw ang priority."

14. "Mahirap pumapel sa buhay ng tao. Lalo na kung hindi ikaw yung bida sa script na pinili nya."

15. "Alam mo ba kung gaano kalayo ang pagitan ng dalawang tao pag nagtalikuran na sila? Kailangan mong libutin ang buong mundo para lang makaharap ulit ang taong tinalikuran mo."

16. "Mas mabuting mabigo sa paggawa ng isang bagay kesa magtagumpay sa paggawa ng wala"

17. "Hindi lahat ng kaya mong intindihin ay katotohan, at hindi lahat ng hindi mo kayang intindihin ay kasinungalingan"

18. "Kung nagmahal ka ng taong di dapat at nasaktan ka, wag mong sisihin ang puso mo. Tumitibok lng yan para mag-supply ng dugo sa katawan mo. Ngayon, kung magaling ka sa anatomy at ang sisisihin mo naman ay ang hypothalamus mo na kumokontrol ng emotions mo, mali ka pa rin! Bakit? Utang na loob! Wag mong isisi sa body organs mo ang mga sama ng loob mo sa buhay! Tandaan mo: magiging masaya ka lang kung matututo kang tanggapin na hindi ang puso, utak, atay o bituka mo ang may kasalanan sa lahat ng nangyari sayo, kundi IKAW mismo!"

19. "Ang pag-ibig parang imburnal...nakakata kot kapag nahulog ka, it's either by accident or talagang tanga ka.."


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


in two weeks' time, i will be saying goodbye to japan. to its cold winters and muggy summers, to its spring sakuras and serene autumn.
in two week's time, i will be saying goodbye to friends, to memories of him. but i guess certain memories, once stimulated flows to the top above the rest. i should be packing, but i came upon the diary i started when i was with the OZ bloke and time stopped as i read through the entries and remembered the silent moments, the spontaneous trips, the meals we made...

this is one of the entries:

they say time heals all wounds and transforms wails to laughters; tears to wistful smiles. one year and nine months, that was how long I cried for him. Not a single morning went by without me wishing he would share a cup with me; not a single sunset without wanting to hold his hands. One year and nine months of torturing myself over memories of , letting time pass me by just so i can stand still in the time when i was with him. A year and nine months of forced cheerfulness and lonely anguish.
Until YOU came.
You came, and now, weekends bring me happiness again.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

taxing sexless nights!

there are three things one can do when one becomes an adult; get a driver's licence, have great sex and pay tax. the right to suffrage counts but not in my list.

two weeks ago i received a notice regarding my municipal tax payable. that amount was for 45,000 yen. then, a few days after, i received my annual tax payable schedule and i realized that the 45,000 yen was only for one quarter. all in all, i have to pay an accumulated tax of 180,000 yen, approximately 2,000 usd, a round trip plane ticket to australia! don't forget that the amount is only for municipal tax, this is apart from my monthly national tax deduction! 180,000 yen maybe affordable to foreigners who are only in japan to fend for themselves BUT for me, me who works for my beloved people back home, 180,000 yen unplanned expenditure is a big nightmare smudge in my budget!

i can console myself and say that at least i am not living in sweden where i have to pay about 35% income tax while bitching about the severely cold winter. however, i also think of income tax free havens like bahrain and brunei and that gets me back in the slump! in dubai, if a foreign resident converts to islam, the government exempts the convert from personal tax. i do not know if i am willing to go THAT far BUT it is definitely tempting.

i hate taxes! if there is any one whom i do not like, i will start referring to that person as TAX.
it is more wrenching to think that, even with only three months left in this country, i HAVE to pay the damn thing because i am applying for a tax exemption and refund from the exemption as head of the family. this might be a light at the end of this gloomy bureaucratic tunnel as the refund can be quite substantial BUT the glitch is that processing takes more than three months. so, by the time the government releases my refund, i will already be out of the country.

my head is really spinning. last week i got a toothache that refuses to go away, and since last friday, i have had diarrhea every single morning. my diagnosis; this is the physicall stress response to my tax payable!

this worry about taxes makes me realize that i am not a child anymore! i am definitely an adult now- one who can not drive,and more so, one who is having sexless nights but still have to pay taxes. tell me, where is the joy in that?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

tanned and discriminated

riding a bike for almost an hour under the scorching summer kofu sun every single day is all what paris hilton should do to get the perfect tan. of course, she has to ride in a skimpy bikini to avoid the unsightly tan lines. that would be some sight, the traffic jam she would cause, Not the tan lines. i have done exactly this since summer started this year, RIDING my bike for an hour, and decently dressed. so now, i am at least three shades darker than my natural golden brown skin,and can be described as toasted. no matter how american my accent is, I can never be mistaken for anything else other than a national of a third world country.

i was riding my bike back home one night last week after work when i was stopped by a police car. when they asked me what i was doing riding my bike late at night, i faked a sheepish grin and replied in english, "i'm sorry i can't speak japanese." the highly testosteroned policewoman, far fiercer than the male policeman, continued to speak to me in japanes while i continued to smile and spoke to her in wnglish. she asked for my alien registration card which luckily, i brought with me that day. she asked me questions about my civil status, about my address, about my bike, about my work, about how to write my boss's name, about why i have three names (she was referring to my first name, my middle name and my last name), about why i rode my bike so late and other countless stupid questions which made hilton's antics more intellectually thought out. the fact that she was constantly frowning at me didn't help me to warm up to her. i honestly think that anyone could ever warm up to her. i pity her male partner. after about 20 minutes of japanese-english Q and A, the male policeman apologized for his lack of english to communicate with me, bid me goodnight and then they drove off leaving me baffled, indignant, nervous and relieved!

RACIST! when i asked them if there was any problem why they stopped me, the woman jsut said that they stop late night riders. she said it so casually and with so much "fake" written all over her face even when at least 3 riders rode past us when she interrogated me. if she had just told me that they stopped me because i was brown skinned and she was just being a pig, i would have soothed her and told her that she didnt look THAT bad. aaaaaarrrrgggghhh. if i had been white i am certain that she would really try her darnest to talk to me in english, splattering her sentences with apologies! heck if i had been white, she wouldn't have had stopped me at all.

i know there are many illegal filipinos, thais or indonesians workers in japan but, if the police force wants to crack down on bad bicycle riding people, they should do it across the board and not pick on brown skinned, or toasted skinned people for that matter, ONLY. when i told my boss about it, he jokingly said that he would not hire a filipina anymore as it might cause him trouble trying to save the filipino from the police. i didn't find it funny! this is exactly how prejudice is bred!! it starts out with stopping brown skinned bike riders then the next thing you know, employers all over would have skin tone preferences. how can such a country who boasts of very highly modern technology can still have such a medieval mind frame!!?? really!

if the government wants to catch the bad foreigners in this country, i think they should be looking into the statistics of japanese women who have shed a thousand tears because of a broken heart from their bastard of a white men boyfriends.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

loving myself for much more

When the Aussie bloke and I ended and when he easily took up someone else (someone I considered a friend nonetheless), my self worth plummeted faster and much much lower than the US economy. I couldn't help but ask myself over and over again how she was better than I was, or what it was that she had which i didn't have, or why he chose her over me. It was maddening. Of course, I still had enough sensibility in me to know that the issue wasn't how she does her hair nor how I laugh; that the issue wasn't because I fart in front of him nor because she was feminine. The issue, I knew was not because she was better than I was because I still had pride in me to think that I was and still am quite a catch, the issue was HIS sense of judgement; it just so happened that he prefers peaches over mangoes. But, I needed to feel that I am still worth it to someone. I needed to truly believe in my value as a person and that I need not change things in me just to fit into men's desire. A week long trip was what I needed to go back to myself, and see that I will be alright.

I went to Hokkaido last week for Obon. Obon is a week long Japan holiday for the Japanese to remember their dead. For the English teachers though, it just means a week long holiday away from the repetitive "good mornings" and "how are you todays?". Hokkaido is the northernmost island of Japan and is notorious for its harsh -30C winter. In summer though, people go to hokkaido to cool off and enjoy its beautiful landscapes and wildlife. I went there to rediscover myself and boy, the place didn't dissappoint me.

I would never forget the happiness I was intensely suffused with while I cycled on the hills of Biei or took photos of flowers in Nakafurano or hiked in Shirogane. I was filled with a profound sense of union with nature that, although I am not a prayerful person, I whispered a prayer for all the people I love and those whom I find difficult to love. The huge expanse of gently rolling green hills with the mountain range in the distance made me so much grateful for the life that I have.

It was amazing as well to see the Obonodori festival dance in Sapporo; when people of different age, different backgrounds and with different sense of rhythm could just join in the dance and stamp their feet and clap their hands to the beat of the drums and to the encouragement of the singers! Otaru, a town an hour away, offered a calming walk along its canal even with the million tourists milling about. The entire trip was anything but short from rejuvenating and fun!
What really made the entire trip fun was the people I have met, talked with and travelled with. I met an American girl who has the exceptional ability to out-talk me and still have plenty of things to say about almost everything, the Domino's pizza shop people who drove me to my youth hostel when I asked for directions, a Korean girl who was so sweet and engaging, an Australian couple who were the most sensible strangers I have ever talked to, an Ojiji who gave me a box of cake as reparation for the biases that Japanese people have against Filipinos, another Ojiji who gave me a bottle of ice coffee, a Korean Aussie whom I gossiped with, and the coolest Japanese I have ever met and whom I am meeting with next week! Though alone, the camaraderie of solitary travellers always kept me company.

How to get there:

The cheapest way to go to Hokkaido is to go there by ferry either from Ibaraki or somewhere in Akita or Aomori or Niigata. I took the Sunfower ferry from Oarai to Tomakomai and it saved me a lot of money even during peak season. The trip took about 19 hours but the ferry has a sento, a restaurant, a pachinko place, vending machines, massage chairs and a theater to keep the passengers occupied. Of course if these things still aren't amusing enough, one can always put on the captain's jacket and cap for photos! Making a reservation for the ferry is easy as well as they have English speaking operators although during peak season, it is advisable to make one's reservation as early as two months before the date of departure.

Flying to Hokkaido might be faster but it is the most expensive way which could easily cost as much as 30000 yen from Sapporo to Tokyo, one way. There are several airlines which fly from the main island (from Tokyo or Osaka) to Hokkaido such as JAL , ANA, AirDo , and Skymark . Also there are several airports in Hokkaido so one can choose the airport conveniently close to the destination. Among the airlines serving the honshu-hokkaido route, Skymark is the cheapest one.

Training it to Hokkaido is another option although not at all the most convenient. First because one has to make several changes and the train doesn't have much entertainment to offer for its 10 hours long trip. The scenery along which the train runs is quite beautiful I heard but when one is seating on an aisle seat and is sandwiched between two snoring passengers, then it can get a bit vexing. However for train schedules visit grace-hyperdia for the cost and schedule of the JR trains running between Honshu and Hokkaido.

Where to stay:

The most expensive place to stay are hotels and ryokans. The cheapest and the best place to stay for backpackers are Youth Hostels. At Youth Hostels, one can meet alot of people from different parts of the world and just talk to them and gain new friends. I know I did. I stayed at Ino's Place in Sapporo and at Furano Youth Hostel in Nakafurano. Prices at youth hostels, unlike in other accomodation options, doesn't fluctuate with every season. The downside though is one has to share rooms with other people which means there is a chance that one might get awakened by somebody else's snoring or alarm going off or just by someone else's stink. I know I did! haha!

What to do:

Go nuts! There are plenty of things to do in Hokkaido all year round. May it be skiing in winter, or hiking in summer or flower viewing in spring or momiji viewing in autumn, this island won't run out of activities for its tourist. If none still interest you, you can always stay at the youth hostel and just read a book while sipping hot tea!

So, how much did I spend on that 7 days trip? A LOT but then again, for me to be able to feel loved by myself, to be truly happy from within, a month worth of salary isn't much. After all, one deserved to be loved as much, and if one can't give it to one's self, then no one can ever can.

(for more photos of my trip click on any of the photos)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

one down, two more to go

i have never cared for lsits before until i started travelling. although a tangible list has never materialised, in my mind i have things i wanted to do, not before i die, but, before a certain condition. in china it had been to scale the great wall so i quit my job in guangzhou and went to beijing. in japan, the pinnacle was to climb mt.fuji. but, as time was running out for me here in japan with no opportunity nor companion to climb the mountain with, i was ready to cross that item off my list when michael, a filipino friend living in japan, said he and a couple of other friends were planning to climb it as well. i ended up forcing him to accept me as part of the group and he ended up conceding.

the climb was on the 20th of this month supposedly at 12 noon but because i failed to check the timetable of the bus which departs from kawaguchiko to the 5th station, i ended up making the guys wait for me for almost 4 hours. i guess i took the women's prerogative to be tardy quite too far this time, eh? of course i was terribly sorry and embarrassed but being the proud person that i am, i disguised it with a smile, and they readily accepted. such sweet men (and am one lucky woman)!

for the detailed account of the climb, click to gong's link on the sidebar.

i have to say that mt fuji in itself was not an interesting mountain to climb AT ALL. it was barren and filled with nothing but rocks! if it had been a woman, mt fuji would have been a bimbo (sorry for the term). it looks so magnificent from a far until you get to know it better and realized that it is empty. however, i was lucky enough to have climb it with the most interesting and the funniest men i have ever been with. the guys; gong, michael, kuya bernard, ruel and roy made the what-could-had-been-a-boring-and-dreadful thing a very fun experience. with michael's sense of adventure, we camped instead of staynig at a lodge. admittedly, i was quite hesitant at first but what the heck, i didn't have much choice as the lodges were fully booked and didn't accept walk in guests!i didn't regret my choice though. the site michael found had a magnificent view of the heavens. i have never seen such a beautiful night sky before than what i had seen that night! the moon was so red as it climbs its way up into the dark yet starry sky!

i was terribly hungry by the time the guys pitched the tent as i didnt eat anything the night before and only had my usual fare of coffee for breakfast. i was so starved and was ready to resigned myself to a dinner of canned food when michael and ruel whipped out a complete dinner which i couldn't have well prepared even in my own kitchen. i was so impressed! we had pork ribs soup, yakisoba and fried rice! yum!

we had a brief rest constantly interrupted by snoring and laughter! although restless as we were, we resumed climbing towards the peak at around midnight. it was 6 of us and hundreds of other climbers as well. it was like a fun run minus the fun and the running! at around 3 am, the horizon began to turn into a magnificent hue of indigo! i was more elated than tired. at around 430, although we were still far from the summit, we decided to stop for a bit, take our cameras and start posing! i have never seen such beautiful sunrise. it was so mesmerizing it made me want to cry, all the more because my camera ran out of battery! why? oh why?

after a brief rest, we climbed on! finally, at around 7 am, michael and i reached the summit, after ruel, bernard and roy did! there was no asking, all of us decided not to walk around the crater. if we had, it would have taken us at least an hour to do and drain us of our last ounce of energy. we could have died! hahaha! so we took a nap again, snapped some photos and started the descent.

oh before that, i called my mom on my cellphone as it was on the same day that my dad was to undergo a corneal transplant. when she learned where i was and and that i was with 5 men, she threw a fit on the phone! i wonder how she would have reacted had i told her that we all slept in the same tent! i bet she would have had flew to japan, scaled the mountain to the summit, dragged me down and flew me back to the philippines, all in a second! my mom is scary!

the descent was worse than terrible! this is the trouble with mountain climbing, because once one is at the top, one has to climb down again. and particularly for this mountain, going down was exceptionally dreadful! there was nothing but dust which turned my leather boots into interesting shades of brown and which clogged my nose with gravel! when the mist came to meet us from below, my hair dripped a despicable brownish liquid! yuck!!

anyway, skipping the dreadful part, gong, michael and i arrived back at the 5th station at around 1. we went to kawaguchiko to wash up a bit and to have lunch. then, we parted ways. i got home tired, muscles soaring in places i never thought existed in my body, my two toenails have now gone to live with the dead, and my body was begging for 20 hours uninterrupted sleep. i didn't concede, i straigh away went to my belly dancing lesson, rented shanghai knights and by the time it was 11 pm, i left jackie chan and owen wilson kung fu kicking on the screen. i drifted off to sleep; mt fuji was conquered, hokkaido, watch out for me in august!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

thanks to barok english...

i have been wondering what to do with myself once i will go home and take a breather for at least a month. then, suddenly, as if by divine sign, i saw these funny pinoy signs on facebook and instantly, in between reeling in laughter and going to the toilet to pee, i had a vageu idea of what i would do while relaxing in perlas ng silanganan... here are the pix


( jojie alcantara's website )

(retiner,bres, and other oral accessories...with name mind you!)


(USA BUCKS only accepts payment in dollar? i think...)


(courtesy of stephen)

(it's all about believing in the unbelievable...and then go WAO!)

nyahahahaha!!!!! the grand idea is still to keep on teaching english until people learn to use it properly. but, then again, proper english isn't much fun at all isn't it? now i am back in the slump, but at least i am already smiling,no, roaring in laughter! all these barok signs point out one thing though, one thing which is somehow a source of comfort for me; these signs just show that as long as there is still barok english out there, i can always (mimic) teach english, a temporary thing to do which keeps me afloat while i figure things out!