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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gentle Rapids

A friend from Saitama invited me to visit his home last Sunday. From there, we drove to the Nagatoro area where he surprised me with a riverboat ride.

It turned out that Nagatoro is a center for whitewater activity just a few miles out of Tokyo. City folks troop to the area for kayaking and other water activities.

We rode a traditional large wooden boat manned by two local navigators in uniform. Since it's just about the end of summer, the river flow was quite low, making the course not so exciting (but good for my camera of course). The highlight of the cruise was the run through the "kotake" (Little Falls) where we passed thru a decent wave train weaving thru large boulders.

What was interesting were the fascinating rock formations lining the riverbanks. It is called the Iwadatami or Tatami Rocks. One particular group looked quite ominous, it reminded me of Harry Potter (I dont know why).

Monday, September 28, 2009


My heart bleeds for relatives and friends living in the areas affected by the floods.

I am particularly worried about those from Marikina. I'm quite sure that by now, there already are hundreds of people I know who are now in the evacuation centers. You see, there is a specific area in Marikina where most of my kababayans from Samar converge and that is exactly the purok beside the river.

For many years, heavy downpours always make us worry about them. I've seen a lot of times when flood waters would drown their belongings.

But things improved when a wall was constructed along the riverline. And with things having improved, the number of our townmates relocating to the area increased as well. It became like a mini-version of our town. In fact, when we want to experience some good old fun, we all flock to Marikina. I was there the last time I vacationed.

I am sure they're suffering now. If I were there, I surely would have initiated some moves to help. I'm feeling helpless here. I hope I could contact all others not affected to draw a concerted effort to help.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fantasy Baths, Anyone?

Have you ever fancied soaking yourself in red wine?

Or "sake" (Japanese wine), perhaps?

Hmm, coffee?

How about tea?

These baths may seem too exotic for your taste, but a resort in the mountains off Tokyo hit the jackpot when it started making these ideas come to life. Patrons just kept pouring in despite the fact that it was pretty obvious that the pools were not designed to accommodate a deluge of people.

Probably, in the dead of winter or some other off days, the place could be a haven for respite and royal pampering. But at the time we were there, a long weekend was in the offing. The place was totally jam-packed! Almost every square foot of the pools were occupied, so all we managed to do was try to take quick dips in each of them.

But despite the migraine-inducing crowd, it was admittedly still an experience to treasure. Everyone felt like kids again - awed by something odd but exciting. We wished we could have really soaked up, but we had to give way to the others who were similarly anxious to check the experience.

Anyway, the regular pools are also there, ready to embrace you like the prodigal son.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I have just gone out of the Philippine Embassy gate when I noticed a woman coming towards me. Probably on her mid-forties, she looked like any other Filipina at the Embassy for some consular transaction.

As she drew closer, she smiled coyly and asked, "Pinoy po kayo?".

I smiled back.

As if that were her cue, she opened the small traveling bag she was carrying and said, "Sir, bilhin nyo naman 'tong scarf ko".

Taken aback, it took me a few seconds to manage a reply. "Po?"

"O di kaya me mga branded po akong mga damit dito, pang-regalo nyo na lang po sa girlfirend nyo."

"Pasensya na po, wala pong pagreregaluhan eh."

"Sir, baka meron po kayong 1,000 dyan. Pahiram na lang po."

That stunned me. I have never seen anyone begging in the streets of Tokyo, much less a compatriot.

Fortunately, my phone rang. I grabbed it as I made answering the call an excuse to run away. I did not bother to look back.

I am normally a very accommodating person, even with strangers. But the situation simply seemed so absurd that I was forced to act differently. But now, on hindsight I ask: what if she really needed help? Did I do the right thing?

(For readers who do not understand Tagalog, my apologies. I am opting not to translate the conversation. But I'm sure you'll get the drift.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This one's surely going to be another You Tube sensation. No doubt, because it is truly amazing work, both in musicality and editing. Basta, ang galing!

Monday, September 14, 2009


I don't even know what it's called in nihonggo. I just grabbed it at the convenience store as I walked towards the office. It's salad, with a thin slice of raw fish wrapped in edible film (whatever it is). Sauce comes packed with it, and it tastes, well, "japanesy" (whatever that meant).

Since I got posted here, lunch has always been a problem. There are a thousand and one restaurants in the area but only a few have English menus. Some are kind enough to attach pictures, but sometimes what comes out does not really look like the one I choose. Nor would they taste as I fancied.

So through all these time, I played safe.

My all-time favorite is Yoshinoya, where the beef strips taste not so different from our own adobo. If I want a little more meat, I go to Pepper Lunch. Some other times, I'd go for Vietnamese noodles and Thai cuisine.

As you would notice, not much Japanese food. Not that I can't eat it. Aside from tempura, it's just not really something that I'd pine for. What funny is, I must be the only islander who is not fond of "kinilaw" or sushi and its brothers.

But maybe I should change - and give authentic Japanese food a chance to convince my palate. I will start slowly. Starting with this "japanesy" veggie salad.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why Noynoy?

- Because as a result of the shenanigans of the Estrada and Arroyo dispensations, our country is now wallowing in deep moral shit - where the corrupt is exalted and the righteous scorned. We now need someone whose integrity is intact, whose morals is perched on high ground. Among those offering themselves for the presidency, Noynoy leads the pack as to purity and strength of character.

- Because Noynoy, while unassuming, is just as capable and competent as the other hopefuls. He is a seasoned public servant (9 years congressman, 3 years senator) and is therefore not a stranger to governance, nor is he naive to political maneuverings. His pronouncements during today's presscon showed that he knows his bearings and will easily find his way through the maze of the presidency.

- Because Noynoy belongs to the Liberal Party, a party whose ideology was shaped and defined by colorful history. Of all the present-day political groupings, the Liberal Party is one of those that survived the tests of pac-man politics, choosing to stand by the ideals of its founders instead of embracing the dark mantle of the powers-that-be. Noynoy's ideology is therefore clear and well-entrenched.

- Because Noynoy is the best person to represent the opposition. Being opposition does not simply mean supreme hatred to the present administration - those who profess to be must be the anti-thesis of the Arroyos and their cohorts. See the list of presidentiables again and I bet you'll see the same wolves but only in different garbs.

and finally ...

- Because with Noynoy, we see hope. With him, "Pwede na uling mangarap".

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Kingdom By the Sea

The Tokyo Disney Sea Theme Park is supposed to be the more mature version of Disneyland, as it features faster rides and more polished shows. It is located just within the Disney Resort compound which also hosts Disneyland. One can therefore chose where to go, but definitely, one will not be able to complete the rounds in one day.

One major attraction inside is the water show which features an extravaganza of colorful floats, exotic costumes, flashy special effects and fast-faced water action. I've seen a portion of the show at nighttime, but it offers a different charm at daytime. With the fireworks not stealing attention, the audience focus more on the performances of the dancers, jetski daredevils and the mascots.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Supreme Tantrum

Noble. Statesmanlike. A supreme sacrifice.

That's how many described Sen. Mar Roxas' announcement that he's backing out of the presidential race to support Noynoy Aquino.

Honestly, I too saw it that way.

But the pronouncements in the aftermath of the dramatic announcement made me realize it wasn't really so. I now think it was more an act of deep frustration than of selfless dedication to country.

This i guess was how things transpired:

Mar, who earlier thought that his "padyak express" was already up and running, got hurt when his partymates started talking of a convention to choose LP's standard bearer. He got more frustrated when he realized that even Noynoy is having second thoughts on his candidacy, as the public clamor for the latter to reconsider seems to get stronger.

Feeling betrayed, Mar threw a fit and announced his withdrawal - even if Noynoy has yet to make a final decision on his own run.

Mar thought that his partymates were traitors - for failing to consider the efforts and the money that he has already thrown out to fuel his candidacy.

And not just him, even his fiancee sacrificed a lot for it.

In a radio interview, Korina Sanchez poured her heart out saying ...

"..alam mo naman ayoko iwanan ang trabaho ko, lalo na sa radyo"...

"hirap na hirap ang katawan namin sa kaiikot ng Pilipinas at nakita ko pagmamahal ng tao kay Mar."

And the clincher...

"Malaki ang respeto nya sa mag-asawang Aquino, kaya kung itong anak, gusto ay siya, ayaw na nyang labanan yan.".

These statements prove my point.

P. S.

After hearing Korina lambast Conrado de Quiros and Kiko Pangilinan ("Pakalat-kalat lang siya sa UP until I hired him as Executive Producer sa Hoy Gising"), I just felt so relieved that she will no longer be the First Lady she dreamed to be. (God forbid, 2016!)


"sinusulat nya ang mga dasal nya sa Diyos ..." (Korina on Mar)

Who on earth faces his God with a note on one hand?