Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Antique...Where the Mountains Meets the Sea

A lot of people upon hearing where i came from would usually ask.... "Where is Antique?"

It is saddening to hear that still a lot of people are unaware of the province where i came from and its rich history and culture. A lot still think that Antique is a part of Iloilo and Ilonggo/Hiligaynon is the dialect we use.

Antique is situated in the western part of Panay Island bordering Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo to the East and faces Sulu Sea to the West. We have our own dialect called "Kinaray-a" (is of Austronesian origins characterized by the predominancy of r’s and schwa sounds spoken with a lilting gentle intonation) in contrast to other people's perception that we use Hiligaynon as a major dialect.

Some Historians consider Antique as the "Cradle of Philippine Civilization" (I will explain Antique's history in my future posts).

Its not until lately that the provincial Government started to promote Antique not only to the whole country but to the entire world via its tourism programs and one of these is this Music Video in our Original Kinaray-a Language. This video showcases what Antique has to offer in terms of tourism.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Satisfied Cravings

In my not so long stay here in Japan, one of the few things that help me cope with homesickness is the food. Yes, the food! Though I'm thousand of miles away fron Pinas, i can still satisfy my cravings for authentic pinoy delicacies.

Ingredients for Pinoy cuisine abound here in Japan. Thanks to those Pinoy Stores that can be found almost anywhere especially in areas with large population of pinoys. You can find almost anything from tuyo, miswa,bagoong alamang, sarsa ni Mang Tomas to pinoy na pinoy chichiria like Chippy and even Boy Bawang!

If you want to cook for large number of people, you can order ingredients online or by phone and it will be delivered within 2 to 3 days. From pigs blood (for dinuguan), pigs ear, buto buto, laman loob (intestines and the like), daing na bangus etc. you can even order for the whole pigs head! There are also stores (like Hanamasa, Gigamart and the local Nikuyasan or Meat Stores) where you can buy large blocks of meat ideal if you intend to prepare several "putahe" that require different meat cuts and sizes. There's also a liquor store nearby my place that sells imported beer and the Philippine's No.1 Beer, the San Miguel Beer and is one of their items and can be bought for 248 yen/bottle (approx. 90 PhP).

Not to mention the parties being thrown by friends every now and then where Pinoy delicacies are surely present. Especially that my apartment is just a minute away from the Kouminkan (Community Hall) where most of the parties are held, you will forget you're outside the Pilippines.

To add toppings to the icing(or something like that hehehe!), my housemates are genius in the kitchen and every now and then prepares mouth watering foods like palabok, pancit bihon, dinuguan (Pig's Blood Stew)pancit luglog,bopis (in the picture above), kare kare, kaldereta and menudo to name a few.

No wonder why everytime i step on the weighing scale, its always several points higher than my previous measurement! Anyway, my wife told me once before that i look cute with bigger tummy.... i dont know if she will like my tummy now that it looks like i swallowed a whole melon!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wish I May, Wish I Might

This is Kenji-kun. The Son of Lolo Nesty and Lola Mayu (my housemates) and my Inaanak whom i enjoyed playing with and teasing every night. Whenever we (Lolo Nesty) arrive every evening from work, this kid would always greet us with warm smile and usually bows his head, maybe a way of saying "Okairinasai!" or "welcome home!"

He would frequent my room (knows how to open the sliding door) and climb my bed, mess with my keyboard and mouse, bang the heater and wrestle with Munchichi (my stuffed Gorilla).

He reminds me of my son Dondon. He was about the same age when i left almost three years ago.

God knows how much i missed my son, how many nights i wish i could play and hug and tease him the way i do with Kenji-kun. Lolo would always say, "Buti pa si Kenji, lagi mong napapangko. Samantalang si Dondon hanggang webcam lang."Yes, i know how hard it is to do things to some other person's kid and hoping you are able to do it to your own son.

Dont worry Don, we will be together again soon! And i will give you the Horseback ride, story telling, basketball games, karaoke singing, morning hugs and butterfly kisses that i owe you for three long years.

Dont worry, daddy will be home soon!

Daddy loves you!

Lets Sweat it Out!

This cold season, one of my favorite place to stay in the house after work (aside from facing my computer and watch Marimar and other Tv Series from YouTube) is the OFURO.

An Ofuro (according to Wikipedia), also known as furo is a traditional Japanese bath, normally associated with a steep-sided wooden bathtub. Baths of this type may be found in traditional Japanese inns, or Ryokan.

An ofuro differs from a conventional western bathtub by being of a deeper construction, typically in the region of 0.8 m (33 inches). The sides are generally square rather than being sloped. Traditionally, ofuro were heated by a wood-burning stove below. Ofuro are sometimes left filled with water for several days, although this practice has largely disappeared because of the requirement for disinfecting the water. This type of ofuro was the precursor of the modern western-style hot tub.

Ofuro are part of the Japanese ritual of bathing and are not used for washing but for relaxing. Washing is carried out separately outside the ofuro, and only when completely clean does the bather enter the water. The water is hot: usually approximately 100 to 108 degrees F (38 to 42 degrees Celsius).
Modern ofuro may be made of acrylic, and are generally electrically heated.

I just fill the tub halfway and heat it until 40 to 45*C. and VOILA! Time to relax and sweat out all the stress and worries of the day even for just an hour!


For the first time in two years.... snow has once again fall in our place here in Saitama. And thanks that its considerably thick enough to let me enjoy, monkey around and have fun.

I remembered Frances telling me one time about her adventures and misadventures in her journey to China to fulfill her dreams.

"Nong, daw kasurumpa ang inagyan ko para lang maka kita kag makasipal kang snow nga rian..... wara man lang hingan nga ang nalab utan ko nga lugar wara gina uranan kang snow!" (Big Bro, i dealt with a lot of struggles in my journey just to be able to finally see and play with snow.... in the end i end up stucked in a place where snow never fall!)

Ces, life is sometimes teasing and playing with us. Just enjoy the weather and you will be lucky enough one day you wake up the surroundings is covered with snow.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Yuki no Hana (Snow Flowers)

Let me share with you my most favorite Japanese song. I fell in love with this song from the very first time i heard it without even having any idea what this song means.

Mika Nakashima's voice soothes my inner soul and her words perfectly paints my longing for my wife especially this cold season.

"This year, the first snowflowers bloom

as we draw closer

As I look upon this time

the hapiness overflows in me

If we depend on each other’s love, we’re not weak

It’s simple, I just want to be

with you like this forever

So I can feel your gentleness"

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mr. Sun

When i was a kid, my parents always tell me not to look directly into the sun for i will get blind. For years i really thought and believed that its true. thats the reason why i always cover my eyes with my hands to shade it from the blinding gold ball in the sky.

Then this time comes that i was tempted to see whether this belief embedded in my brain is true.

One sunny day, i mustered my courage and opened my eyes into the bright round light in the sky. instantly my brain seems to be blank and all i can see is a golden ring with the core of the whitest white i had ever seen.

Whats outside the golden ring, i cannot remember. All my attention is focused at the center. My vision went blank. I thought id be blind after that. But my parents were wrong. After several seconds, my vision went back to normal.

Now that i am older, the same thing happened. I was tempted to take a look at the sun of success. Hoping that even for a second i will feel the warm bright light and promise of heaven in its core. I was too much focused that i never took notice of the things outside the gold ring. I never took notice of my family, my health, my relations with other people.

My vision went blank. I asked myself, "am i going to be blind?"

I shut my eyes and look away from the light. It hurts so much and my tears flow that gradually cools off my burnt eyes.

I know i need to cry. I know i need to close my eyes for a little longer. And when it cools off, i will be able to see again and appreciate the beauty of the surroundings and once again look at the sweet smile of my wife and son.

Omari-san and I

There's one thing i feared the most here in Japan.....the blue-uniformed, white capped Omari-sans. Just the sight of them and their red flashing light-patrol car makes me shiver to the bones and makes my heart jump off my chest. Actually i had several encounter with them face-to-face. First was two years ago in our gemba (job site) in Koenji, Tokyo. There's this two guys in black civilian clothing stepped out of the van and cornered me and my Turkish colleague and asked for identification and alien card. Since i have none (an illegal alien) i started to worry cause i know that i will be picked up and locked in cell while waiting for deportation. Thinking that its December 24, i might end up celebrating Christmas in jail.

I just remained calm and managed to look directly into this officer and talk to him in english pretending that i dont uderstand Nihonggo. He's looking for my passport and i gave him my wallet with all the ID cards that i have. Luckily a friend made me a scanned passport and visa (i dont know how he made it appear that i have a valid one) and i just showed it to the officer in a calm manner.

Luckily this officer bought it and then dismissed me and joined his mate interrogating the Turkish youngster. it turned out that this friend of mine is an asylum seeker and by Japanese law, they are not allowed to work. then how can these asylum seekers feed themselves andpay the rent if they are not allowed to work and earn a living? Another aspect in Japanese system that i cannot fathom. After a lengthy negotiation with another person on the phone( i took it as the Turkish lawyer) they decided to leave this boy alone and told him that if ever he will be caught working again, they will never hesitate to lock him up and send back to Turkey.

Its only after they had left that i felt cold sweat dripping from my forehead and my heart's beat can be heard meters away! Thank God! its a miracle for me!

I call it my Miracle Before Christmas.

The second was a month ago while riding my bicycle on the way to an Electronic Shop to buy the digital camera that i've been eyeing and saving for for the past months.

I was enjoying the view of vegetable plots at the roadside when suddenly out of nowhere this young twenty something officer in blue uniform riding a scooter hailed me. Oh shit! not again!

Ii am starting to panic. he stepped out of the bike and told me that he noticed that my bike's lock is missing. i answered him taht the key was lost so i decided to take away the lock. I did it while looking into his eyes and put a smile on my face. I am not sure if i am really good in lying epecially with a trained law enforcer face-to-face.

He called the police station and reported the bike's serial number to check if there's a report of theft on my bike. after several seconds the serial number was cleared and he asked for apology for the incovenience and told me to be careful while riding.

I just answered him with a smile and rushed out of the scene as fast as i could fearing that he might change his mind and ask me for an identification and alien card which is a routine practice especially when dealing with gaijins (foreigners).

Whew! That was close! Another miracle for me!

I am really thankful for HIM and for all HIS guidance and protection. There's a reason for all of this. A reason for me to stay a little longer and serve my purpose.

Until when will it be? I will know when it comes.


had you ever felt like you're alone and lonely even when you're in the middle of a crazy party? felt like nobody understands or even care about what you are trying to say or what you feel? that even if you try everything just to smile or make your heart beat just a notch louder just to feel you're alive, it seems that a dark cloud permanently hangs over your head?

yes i do. and i had it more frequent especially in the past months.

maybe the three years of pressure, loneliness, homesickness and being away from my loved ones is already taking its toll. i dont know how long i can be able to live with this condition. until when i can be able to hang on and go for another extra mile or two?

i dont know.
maybe as long as the fire is burning. as long as my body still feels the warmth. maybe........

the season is getting colder. snow will start to fall soon.

is the fire strong enough to keep me warm?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ztirfmanic's Day Off

In my almost three years of stay here in Japan, one thing i really dreamt of doing is to ride a densha (train) in the heart of Metropolitan Tokyo. It really sounds funny but thats the truth!

Though i had this train ride for innumerable account, but just in a local train and the farthest are Asakadai and Kawagoe in Tobu-Toju Line. Aside from that, i never ventured of going any farther. Just the thought of Omari-san and Civilian-clothed Nyoukan Officers scattered around Metropolitan Tokyo train stations gives me shiver to take a chance in riding.

But a week ago, this dream had somewhat been heard and answered through Tito Nathan, his wife Tita Phoebe and their son and my close friend Gong. They picked me up from my apartment around lunch time with their SUV and off we go to Akihabara - best-known as one of the largest shopping areas on Earth for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods, including new and used items!

That was my second visit to Akihabara and the first one was courtesy (again) of Gong and Junjun when i bought my Desktop and monitor. I took the chance of canvassing desktop units i am planning to use in my future plans in the Philippines when i go home and was overwhelmed by the vast choices of new and used desktop at a very surprisingly low price!

After that, we had a 10-minute walk to the next train station the Okachimachi. I smiled on what i had seen. A large crowd of people occupying the street and literally bumping into each other and variety of stores lined up on the side which reminds me of flea martkets of Hongkong and China and can be compared to our very own Divisoria and Tutuban in Manila.

Gong told me that he frequent this place cause theres a lot of goood stuffs you can find at an incredibly low low price! Just like this pair of Reebok Sneaker that i got for 1,380 yen! (equivalent to 500 Php). I promised my self to visit this place once more before i fly home to the Philippines. With these price, i can easily fill a box or two of LBC without hurting much of my pocket! The truth is, I am a Bargain addict! lols!

We then decided to take a train on the way to the building in Akihabara where the car is parked since its geting cold and were all tired to walk. At first i was hesistant but Gong assured me that this station is safe!

At last, a dream came true for me! Riding a densha in the heart of metro Tokyo! Yatta! I even managed to take a shot of Gong and Tito Nathan inside the train.

Thanks to the Trinidad Family for being my Santa Claus!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tanjoubi Omedetto Gozaimasu Kenji-kun!

"Ang bilis ng panahon! Hindi mo mamalayan isang taon na pala ang lumipas!"

We always hear these expressions especially during the year's ending.

Just recently, a person that is very close to me celebrated his first birthday and i cant help my self from uttering the expression:

"Ang bilis ng panahon! parang kelan lang...."

As a God father to this kid, i had witnessed everything from the pregnancy, giving birth, first steps, baptism and now, his First Birthday!
Kenji-kun, i wish you good health always. As your Tito-Ninong I'll be here to guide you and be your second father. I pray that you grow strong and healthy!
Happy Birthday Kenji -kun!


Akimaste Omedetto Gozaimasu!

So the one- week holiday is over and back again to home-work, work-home routine. But the long holiday had given me enough time to shake away those negative vibes and pressures accumulated in the past year. it had given me enough time to once again enjoy the coldness of a mug of beer, sing (or shout) till my voice get hoarse in the karaoke bar and enjoy the company of friends who had already been my family here.

Shogatsu (Japanese New Year) had not only given me the chance to enjoy, it had given me the time to reflect on my self and recognize what my heart really wants and were my happiness lies. Most of all, it had given me enough time to meditate and thank Him for all the blessings and miracles he had showered me and my family in the past year.

Now, im ready to face another year and im positive that whatever adversary lies ahead, i will be able to surpass it. With my family and friends on my side and Him guiding me, " kayang kaya ko to!"

Happy new Year to all!

Thank you KCIC Family!