"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Friday, December 19, 2014

snow people

"Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories."
-- from the 1957 movie, An Affair to Remember

they finally showed up!

the adorable family that greeted me on my way to the laboratory
fukui city in japan

as much as i want to take credit for these 3 delightful snow creatures, i have to say that i'm not the one who made them. i merely saw them while i was walking to our research building. the bigger ones stood no higher than my knees but they're such head-turners and i was won over right-away by their cuteness. needless to say, seeing them made my day!

i'm glad that i stopped and took the time to capture this picture. when i passed by the same area on my way home tonight, only the left one was left standing. the right one was already headless and the baby was... i don't know... kidnapped?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

a glimpse of japanese culture: chanoyu

"If man has no tea in him, 
he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty."
-- Japanese Proverb

noun \¦chänō¦yü\
"a Japanese ceremony consisting of the serving and taking of tea in accordance with an elaborate ritual"

once upon a japanese tea ceremony in fukui-shi

this afternoon, i took a very short break and attended a summer tea ceremony. we ate mochi and drank green tea. both mochi and green tea were prepared and served according to japanese tradition.

by observation, i learned some key points...

they bow every time they approach to serve or to retrieve items from the guest, the guest acknowledges every time with a bow.

they turn the tea bowl 2, 3 times before serving the tea to the guest, the guest does the same before and after drinking -- this has everything to do with aesthetics and not superstition.

the guest who gets served first receives his tea in the most valuable bowl. with significance comes great pressure because all eyes are on this guest (trick: know where to sit and avoid the first chair. for this matter, know which is the "first" chair.)

the teapot, the tea whisk, the tea cups, all have their stories. all things related to the tea ceremony, including the chabana (tea flower arrangement) and the wall decor (calligraphic scroll), are meticulously chosen and done. no element is there by whim or random chance.

the host is usually female. it is a rare occasion when a male is the master of the tea ceremony.

the hosts don't just master the art, skills, grace, and discipline required to perform the various tasks that they do, they also speak with a higher degree of politeness -- definitely more polite compared to the already polite japanese form (there's "casual form" for everyday conversation with friends and equals, there's polite form, and there are also more polite forms.) because the tea ceremony is also about respect, the guests are expected to adhere to this level of politeness and exhibit social finesse.

my participation in the tea ceremony allowed me to have the experience but it didn't transform me into someone very capable of serving tea the japanese way. at best, i merely gained more insights on what transpires during the tea ceremony and on what the hosts and guests do before, during, and after. even for the role of a simple guest, i still have a lot to learn about the tea ceremony. this goes with saying that a whole lot more is expected from me if i were to be a host.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

that alice in wonderland moment

"the days are long but the years are short." 

indeed, they are. 

today, i'm officially 10 years old... 
in blogging years!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

the fukui, japan version

"We write to taste life twice,
in the moment and in retrospect."
-- Anais Nin

the 11.06.13 photo entry to my album of "firsts" in japan:
a photo of my right knee with my temporary souvenirs from an accidental stunt :D

on 11.07.13, i wrote...

the last time i posted a photo similar to this one was more than 7 years ago, when i got bruises and abrasions after i fell from a stationary ikot jeepney in UP diliman on my way to the old NIP building. :) now, THIS: the fukui, japan version! ;-)

yesterday morning, just before i reached the university, i *earned* these bruises on my right knee and another minor one on my left knee because i crashed my bicycle.

i was going slowly and was further slowing down as i manoeuvred my bicycle to join the lane of bikers waiting to cross the intersection just in front of the university's main gate. i don't know what exactly happened but i lost my balance and, unfortunately, failed to regain it.

there was a loud crash when my bicycle and i fell on the roadside.

i quickly got up and i quickly pulled my bicycle back up, too -- as if nothing happened even though i instantly felt intense pain in some parts of my body and my bike's basket got so obviously distorted due to the impact. part of me wanted to laugh out loud because i personally found my situation so funny on such a fine autumn morning. :) at the same time, i had this thought in 3 languages in my mind: ouch, that hurt; embarrassing, too / aray, ang sakit; nakakahiya / agay, kasakit; kaulaw oi. :D thank goodness, the people here are so polite and able to react with a collective show of nonchalance -- i was saved from further embarrassment. :D i looked around and saw nobody gawking at me. :)

as soon as i reached my parking spot within the university grounds, i fixed my bicycle's basket back into shape and checked my knees before i went to my morning classes. i was relieved to see no wounds but, with all the pain i was feeling, i was sure bruises here and there were starting to form. last night when i got home and saw the bruises, i understood better why i was still feeling intense body pains several hours after the accident. i managed to go about my activities for the day as if nothing happened though. :D

i don't mind having some action adventures but i think i have had enough of accidental stunts. i pray that yesterday's surprise "stunt" will be my first and last here. angsakitsakitkaya!

04.01.14 biking during a fine spring day along sakura-dori | fukui city, japan
the accident never stopped me from riding my bicycle :)

note: i arrived in japan for graduate studies on september 26, 2013. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

piled higher and deeper

"The early bird gets the worm,
but the second mouse gets the cheese."
--Author Unknown

x X x
"paranormal x-ray" for dental and facial structure imaging. what in the world is "paranormal x-ray"?!? :)

my "bangag" moment of the day (yeah, i know that it's just lunchtime and the day is far from over): i meant "panoramic x-ray" but i mentioned "paranormal x-ray" ...TWICE! parang pang espiritista x-ray lang??? hahaha. buti isa lang ang kausap ko pero super laugh trip pa rin. ang hirap maka-get over. hehe.

now, there's a worthy addition to this compilation which i made sometime in 2012...

- calcu, letter blue, atbp.

ang mga sumusunod ay totoong nangyari recently, magkakaibang instances naman pero... basta... read on. pumi-PhD na yata ako sa pagiging bangag.

eksena 1: calcu
isang umaga sa R&D cube

ako (habang tinampal-tampal at kinakamot ang braso, may something itchy) to teammate 1: oist, pahingi naman ng calcu (sabay turo sa isang malaking bote ng green cross isopropyl alcohol). 
teammate 1: ha? (magbubukas na ng drawer, kukuha ng calcu kaso natigilan) pakiulit.
ako: pahingi ngang calcu. pahingi n'yan (turo sa alcohol).
teammate 1: anong sabi mo, calcu?

*bwahahaha* *tawanan*

oo nga naman, ang layo ng calcutor sa alcohol. anoveh. tsaka ang calcu, hinihiram lang, hindi hinihingi.

eksena 2: kape
isang umaga ulit sa R&D cube 

ako (kararating lang) to teammate 1: tara, kape. igib. (igib ang term namin sa simpleng pagkuha ng tubig sa pantry.)
teammate 1: tara. igib.

niyaya din namin si teammate 2. ready na sila agad. 

ako: wait lang. (kumuha ng something sa pocket ng bag) game! (sabay kukuha na lang ng mug at tumbler.) 
teammate 1: kala ko ba sabi mo kape. bakit toothpaste ang bibitbitin mo?

so tumingin ako sa something na kakukuha ko lang sa bag -- shucks, toothpaste nga! (tsaka, ang mga sachets ng kape ay naka-store sa drawer ko at hindi sa pocket ng bag.) wow lang!

*bwahahaha* *tawanan* 

eksena 3: after last LSS (lean six sigma) class
sa hallway palabas ng planta 

teammate: kumusta naman kayo sa taas kanina? (ang class ay nasa second floor)
ako: ok lang. activity namin kanina ay related sa motivation and personalities. letter blue ako.
teammate: ano 'yon?
ako: ang letter blue personality, ma-technical, kelangan ng detalye, mabusisi
teammate: letter blue? parang alphabet lang?
ako: (pause) shucks! hindi letter blue. color blue.
teammate: sabi mo letter blue. narinig ko.

enggggkkkk. walang bawian! letter blue kung letter blue!

*bwahahaha* *tawanan*

ano ba, val, pang-ilan mo na 'yan?

eksena 4: password
isang hapon sa R&D cube, break time na dapat 

teammate: break.
ako: tara. kelangan ko din kasi ng password.
teammate: ano? password? para saan?
ako: kelangan ko ng password!! (sabay pakita sa ATM card) 
teammate: ha?

tengneneng! ang gusto ko palang sabihin ay... kelangan kong mag-withdraw. ang labo!!!

*bwahahaha* *tawanan*

eksena 5: orange
team weekend bonding sa shell tabangao 

ako (papunta sa kitchen counter, nadaanan si teammate 3 na nagsasalin ng orange liquid sa transparent na baso): wow, orange! (sa isip ko orange... juice.) ano 'yan, sprite?
teammate 2: huh?
teammate 3: hindi. royal.
teammate 2: kitang orange, tapos, sprite?
ako: ha?
teammate 3: hindi 'to sprite. royal tru orange 'to.

*bwahahaha* *tawanan*

ako: oo nga, no? ba't ko nga ba sinabing sprite?

ohmaigulai. pinagbabayaran ko na yata ang pambabara ko kay sir mel noong minsang tinawag n'yang spaghetti ang macaroni. aba, hindi pwede. hahaha!

eksena 6: listerine
after lunch break 

ako: (may kinuhang maliit na bote sa bag, binitbit sa ladies room. kru kru. binuksan ang bote kaso...) hmmm, ba't kelangan kong i-flip ang listerine cap para mabuksan?

tumingin ako sa bote at nanlaki ang mata. shucks! muntikan na!!! ang hawak-hawak ko ay... bote ng green cross sanitizing gel na sinalinan ko ng rubbing alcohol. disclaimer: di po ako suicidal. nag-autopilot lang.

when i shared this to my teammates, ayun, bonggang tawanan na lang ulit. wag ko daw sarilinin problema ko. haha.

07.06.12 isang matinding note to self: umayos ka.
green cross sanitizing gel na sinalinan ng rubbing alcohol

ay hindi listerine. (--,)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

bus ride

Never say, "oops." 
Always say, "Ah, interesting."
-- Author Unknown

12th of february 2014: on board keifuku bus (京福バス) #12
my 3rd bus ride in fukui city

on a daily basis, i either walk or use my bicycle to get to the places where i need to be here in fukui city -- even if reaching my destination means i have to walk for twenty to thirty minutes or more, rain or shine, with snow on the road or without. i rarely need to ride the bus or the train and taking the taxi is not an attractive option. if the bus rates start at 200 yen (it's just 100 yen though for the limited routes of the community bus), taxi flagdown rates start at 650 yen (note: 1 yen is equivalent to ~0.45 philippine pesos. so, do the math and spell expensive). 

last month, when i needed to reach fukui station with my travel bags, i did myself a favor and studied the fukui city bus and train routes plus time-and-fare-tables. fukui city public transport timetables are available online and offline but they are published in japanese and mostly kanji. however, if one is familiar with the kanji characters for the departure and arrival points along a public ride's route, the system is very easy to follow and nobody gets lost in translation (or frustration? :P)!

by the end of my first public bus ride in the city, i was impressed with the reliability and efficiency of the system!!! i could have been equally impressed with myself, too, except that i committed a booboo just before i alighted the bus: i inserted my fare into the wrong coin slot :D lelz. i let out an involuntary "hala?" and my face went @.@ when i saw my two 100-yen coins being ejected in rapid succession by the machine as twenty 10-yen coins. the driver said, "ここ (koko)" and pointed to another slot. with a sheepish smile and a "ごめんなさい (gomennasai)" followed by a quick "ありがとう (arigatou)," i collected all twenty 10-yen coins and dropped them into the right slot. 

since i learned from that experience, everything went well with my 3rd bus ride in the city. ^_^ 

koko means here. gomennasai means sorry. arigatou means thank you.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

kiddie art for my nihongo class

"All cartoon characters and fables must be exaggeration, caricatures. 
It is the very nature of fantasy and fable." 
--Walt Disney

on the 16th day of january 2014, our sensei introduced us to some imaginary animals (そうぞうのどうぶつ; souzou no doubutsu) in japanese stories. since mermaids and something similar to the abominable snowman were included in the そうぞうのどうぶつ sheets that she distributed, i decided to write about the manananggal when she asked us students to draw and write about imaginary animals in our respective countries.

this is the work that i shared to my sensei and classmates after about fifteen minutes of thinking, drawing, and writing...

impromptu drawing-and-writing activity output
this photo shows that i can still draw and write like a kid. :) hahahaha.

this is the rough translation of what i wrote:
"this imaginary creature lives in the village. in the morning, it's human.
in the evening, its body is cut in half.
the upper part of the body has wings. the wings are large and black.
this imaginary creature is called aswang. another name for it is manananggal.
this imaginary creature is bad. the eyes, teeth, and face are very scary.
the aswang likes various types of people. and, (the aswang) eats them."

i wanted to mention blood and exposed veins and internal organs but, until now, i don't know yet the nihongo words for those. i wanted to write more but... see, this is what happens if one's nihongo skills are very limited: stuck with simple statements and simple words and forced to an abrupt ending.

p.s. my drawing shows an aerodynamically-challenged manananggal. ;-)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


"It's those moments, those odd moments that you look for
and sometimes by creating this kind of loose atmosphere you find
those little moments that somehow mean a lot to an audience
when they really register right."
-- Barry Levinson

during our 3rd period class today, our kanji teacher said that he read a newspaper (新聞) and saw me there. he used nihongo in saying this so i initially had doubts if i understood him correctly and i wondered why, how, and what it was all about.

in english, he just said something like "you and other people, too."

then, i remembered that a day before i went to kobe, i participated in a multicultural workshop (多文化共生) supported by the fukui citizens international association. i was a member of a multinational panel -- composed of a chinese, a filipino (yours truly), a vietnamese, a thai, a korean, and an american. each of us talked to our japanese audience about the school lives of students from ages 6 to 15 in our country of origin.

to cut a short story shorter, the local newspaper (福井新聞), nikkan kenmin fukui (日刊県民福井), reported the event and printed two pictures of the panel.

one of those "caught-in-the-act-and-unaware-while-doing-something-worthwhile" moments

01.18.15 souvenir of my day #115 in japan :)

that's how my kanji teacher saw me in the newspaper that he read.

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