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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quezon Memorial Circle

This is one place I regularly go to for a morning jog capped by a glassful of taho. But until last weekend, I haven't yet laid a close look at the monument that immortalizes one of the country's greatest leaders.
It's just now that I can say it actually is a captivating work of art.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Home Now, No Doubt About It!

I am home.

The trip back to the country was perfect. Fast counter service at Narita; on-time flight out. Upon arrival, I was first in the immigration line and as soon as I got past it, my name was already being called through the public address system, directing me to where my "insider guide" is waiting. The baggage came out fast. Driver was ready just as I got out of the customs area.

But the trip from the airport took more than two hours. It could have been just 30 minutes during better times. Hmm.

Monday, I renewed my expired driver's license. I sneaked out of the office during lunchtime, only to find the LTO office closed until 1:00 p.m.. No problem of course, the employees eat too! But right in front of their clients, many of whom have abstained from lunch just to stay on the line? Hmm.

I was first on queue, but somehow, two other persons were called ahead of me. I complained. But nonetheless, the transaction took "just" about 3 hours. Fast?

Then I went to the Nokia Customer Center at the SM Mall of Asia to buy new casing for my cellphone. I was number 65 and one of the counters was already attending to number 56. I decided to wait - for two hours! When my turn came, I was told that I should leave my celphone as it should only be them who should install the parts. I asked if I can I get in a while. Nope, I had to get it the next day. I had no other phone, and for pete's sakes it was just a casing! I left fuming mad, but not after delivering a sermon to the moronic staff.

I indeed am home!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Homeward Bound

the epitome of calm

I am now checking the passage of time, no longer by weeks or days, but by mere hours. Soon enough, I will be tugging my luggage to the train station and board the earliest trip to the airport. A few more tick-tocks and i will be cruising above the clouds. Then it will be home.

There are uncertainties to this trip, particularly with regard to my continuing stay in Japan, but truth is, I am not in any way concerned. I am just dying to be home - where life is how I want it to be. Add of course the fact that at Christmastime, there really can no better place but where your heart rests comfortably in the presence of relatives, friends and other loved ones.

See ya all folks!


Let me leave you some of the photos I took from our recent trip to Lake Inagako in Yamanashi Prefecture, as we tried to capture the last moments of autumn. I hope that with this set of pics, I would be able to convey the peace and calm that I hope we will all feel this Christmas.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Flying Without Wings!

I now know how it feels to fly.

True, the paragliding experience I had wasn't as exciting and as risky as that done by fellow blogger and flickr celebity-fotog Totomai, but it was the experience of being suspended in the air, by my lonesome, that was by itself, the end I sought. The short ride already gave me memories that would be etched forever in my thoughts.

And because of the adrenaline-rush that it brought, I am now more convinced to go for the mountain-top jump when the opportunity presents itself someday.

It never is too late to try more dangerous stunts, eh. :-)


As I mentioned in my previous post, the ascent to the paragliding jump-off base was like courting danger, but I still can't help but salute the course engineers for their ingenuity. You see, the mountainside was steep, probably about 70 degrees in slope. There seemed to be no way around it, so they just deviced a way to go straight up! That they did by installing an improvised train, a monorail actually, through a railway pegged to the ravine. It operated like a giant zipper, where the car's teeth get slowly implanted in the rail's holes as it moves. It was powered by a motor that reminded me of the Briggs & Stratton type used in the province for motorboats. I tell you, the ride was shaky, like riding a roller-coaster that has seen better days.

And mind you, it was an open ride - no seatbelts to harness the guests. I'm sure, falling from where we went (400 feet high up) would have left anyone with no bones unbroken. But then again, those who go up are supposed to fly down - if they can face that prospect, falling through a ravine wouldn't really be scary anymore, right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mt. Fuji, At Long Last!

The ascent to the paragliding base (to be tackled in a separate post) was itself an adventure, but there was no taking the thunder away from the star of the show – the majestic Fuji San (Mt. Fuji). Probably aware of my many failed eyeballs with him, he this time did not disappoint me. Slowly, he presented himself to us....

But when he got used to our intrusive presence, he reined his shyness and basked in what can only be called perfect weather.

Now capped with thin snow, the mountain bathed in sunlight tamed by the winter breeze. More clouds would have made our photos more dramatic, but I am definitely not complaining. I was happy, having fulfilled a cherished wish.

Not contented with our dayshots, we braved the piercing cold and passed by a nearby lake as we headed to our host’s home. Not knowing to take pictures in the dark, this shot was the best I could muster. But as I have earlier declared, I am in no way complaining.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Colors of Fall (and other park shots)

It's my first experience of autumn and I have long been excited to watch and take pictures of the colorful hues that tree leaves wear as they make their last hurrah before retiring . But so far, I have yet to successfully document this particular nature's annual ritual mostly due to wrong timing.

It's actually winter already but many trees are still adorned with greens. Last week, taking advantage of the clear skies, I went to Komagome Park which is known for its colorful lakeside vista, but still no luck. Colored yes, but not yet as flamboyant as it is supposed to be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't Go Changin', Billy!

His face was covered with ashen beard, his head almost bare of the once luscious, wavy crown. He surely wasn't the picture of the dapper rock-ballad idol that I knew.

But when his fingers traipsed the piano keyboard, I was convinced it was the same music icon that made a mark in many persons' lives a few decades back. He still plays it like it were a toy. And so he did with the guitar and harmonica.

"Don't go changin', to try and please me ....."

Yup, Billy Joel sang his heart out in Tokyo last night. For good reason: this is one place where he remains a big favorite, still drawing large crowds despite the competition posed by newer pop icons. Not one of the 55,000 seats at the Tokyo Dome seemed vacant (for my Pinoy readers, that means double the size of the Araneta Coliseum).

I was not familiar with most of the up-tempo songs in his repertoire except for My Life and You May Be Right, but I admit I was pushed to emo-mode when he sang Just The Way You Are (my all-time favorite), Honesty, She's Always a Woman and New York State of Mind.

Cameras were not allowed inside the concert hall. Even if I was able to sneak mine in, I shelved the plan to use it when I saw just how strict the ushers were in implementing the rule. So let me just leave you with this old video from You Tube (actually, it looks exactly like the way it was last night).

Side Comments:

1. The concert started the very second the clock struck 7. Hats off!

2. That must have been the most organized/disciplined mammoth crowd I have ever seen. Everyone in the audience stayed on their seats. Only the ushers can be seen patrolling the aisles.

3. When doing nothing, all the ushers face and check the audience, totally oblivious of the happenings on-stage. And at the end of the concert, the ushers blocked certain sections to ensure that not everyone goes to the exit at the same time.

4. The Japanese doesn't seem to get tired clapping to the beat of the music. But only a few would stand on their feet to sway or dance to the faster tunes (if it were in the Philippines, the audience must be grooving already). Some shouted, but I did not hear any irritating scream, no irreverent whistling. Just the way I wanted.

(Note: Thanks to Hiro and Zhy for the free ticket! )

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let Me Ask You

I have been using the tag "islander" since the very start of my blogging days, but I had to settle with "r-yo" after some time, when many others used the same name as they made their blogrounds. That of course is not unexpected because with the Philippines being an archipelago, it is inevitable that many bloggers would come from some island somewhere. But some bloglinks did get confused.

Anyway, now that I am turning a new leaf (naks!) I am contemplating on changing my blog title itself. I still do not know what to replace Islander in the City with, but maybe I could ask you: would it be okay if I did?


Following Ever's suggestion, I commit to give a bounty, err, a token, to whoever gives the best blog title with "r-yo" in it. I will give it as I arrive in the Philippines come December, or will mail it, if the proponent is somewhere else.


Below are some funny signs I saw:

Whatever it is that comes to your mind, please follow as ordered, will you? :-)

This must be the place for cowards, eh?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Two years.

That has been this long since I started blogging, on the egging of now celebrity-blogger Gibbs Cadiz.
At the time, I have just gone through the most arduous ordeal of my life, the bar exams.

Then used to a life of seemingly endless streams of readings and other brain-wracking activities, I suddenly found myself with much time to spare, and left clueless on how to handle the awkward respite. Gibbs’ proposition to write seemed too enticing to simply ignore. For a variety of reasons.

Primarily, I needed to while time away and bring my mind far from persistent anxiety over the probable exam results. But aside from that, I too wanted a release from the angst that another life-challenge was bringing me, a long and painful episode that at the time was also on the verge of resolution, for or against me.

Two years. Just how much could it mean to a person’s long lifetime? Not much I guess, but for me, these past two years formed the most colorful chapters of my life.

From a deluge of frustrations, a series of big triumphs ensued. I passed the bar exams, won the professional fight, vacationed in Shanghai and the US, and then sailed to Tokyo. But there were new challenges and heartaches too - like my mother undergoing heart bypass and of course, the loss of my car to thieves.
All these comprised the 213 posts I’ve made for this blog. And to my honor, quite a number of strangers followed me through the journey. In time, I met some of them, but even without the personal contacts, everyone seemed like friends from some lifetime hundreds of generations back.

Two years. Ain’t this blogspan already equivalent to a man’s century? Is two years of constant on-line companionship with kindred souls not enough for the connection to simply loosen and break? I admit mine is one boring life now and I am not sure if I would have the requisite material that could sustain any bored surfer’s interest.

I thought that the best time to quit is when one’s at his peak and I am convinced this humble blog will never be higher than what it is now. It will never reach celebrity status, nor will it make me rich (I don't have ads, for chrissakes). But on the one hand, I could look at this as yet another challenge to conquer and instead of leaving it as just another dead spot in the web, I could actually improve this site and still keep it as a journal of my placid course - until the very last blog-link signs off. I gave it a thought and made a deal.

I just bought a new lappie.

(Note: The pics were taken during the recent Daidogue, the World Cup of Street performers in Shizuoka)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Messed Up

A few ticks away from Halloween, my year-old laptop met its untimely demise. With no fanfare. It simply jumbled its screencolors, formed a crazy rainbow and then whizzed off to the kingdom of the dead. Any effort to resuscitate, at least from my untrained hand, proved futile.

The painful part is, it brought to its cold tomb, the myriad files I have reserved and even readied, for posts in this blog. The loss dumbfounded and startled me and I am now cracking my head for clues as to where to start.

Was the unceremonious farewell of a yet healthy and springy computer, an omen of things a-coming?

Just about two weeks from now, this blog will turn two years old. Am I being propped-up for the eventual farewell? Maybe, because sad as it may be, I do am now scribbling what could be my last post.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Things I Now Know 'Bout the Japanese

I've lived in Tokyo for about 8 months now and I have, by far, learned quite a few things about the Japanese that distinguish them from other peoples. Here goes:

One: Unless you cause them physical harm or unduly disturb their peace, they will allow you to do whatever pleases you.

(Drunks just sleep wherever they want without anyone disturbing their trip to dreamland.)

Two: They like making things small, but still usable.

(Tired of the thousands of huge trains that they use for daily commute, these kids and their parents enjoy rides on small trains in a park.)

Three: They have strict quality standards for anything bound for human consumption.

(Read: Not fit for drinking. Seen at a rest area going to Mt. Fuji)

Four: They just don't run out of ideas to make life more convenient.

(This is Roomba: A cordless robotic vacuum cleaner. Complete with sensors, it cleans an entire area without any human intervention).

And Five: They conscientiously practice garbage segregation.

(Flyers advertising illicit services must be thrown in this box. They are deemed too dirty to be disposed alongside regular garbage.)