Showing posts with label Reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reflections. Show all posts

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Break-Up Letter to Japan


Dear Japan,

I'm sorry but I have to say "Sayonara" soon.

I wish I could have been gentler and less direct, but you know me. I don't like beating around your lovely cherry blossoms tree.

Please believe when I said that "It's not you, it's me."

You, Japan did nothing bad to me. If anything, I should be grateful for the 4 years I've been here. You attracted me with your amazing anime even before I hit puberty. You excited me to the promise of a comfortable life with you. You let me experience your sensational 4 seasons. You never kept me from meeting wonderful people. You encouraged me to discover my love for cooking and rediscover my passion for writing. You showed me that life can be lived safely, conveniently and comfortably. Staying with you helped me grow in my faith and helped me defined my values more. You have been nothing but great to me, Japan.

But living with you is like summer romance. It's nice for awhile. But at some point, summer has to end and give way to fall. We can't stop the passing of time. When I came to you, I was just 26. I was a know-it-all, ever curious big girl who wanted to see how it is to be with you. But I'm on my 30's now and I feel like this is the best time to go and move on. I can't be that 26 anymore. Whether I like it or not, I have to grow up and face life's realities.

I have to face that death is real. I lost a grandfather last year without me saying goodbye to him. When he died, I realized that during my stay in Japan, I rarely talked to him. My grandmothers are already in their late 80's and 90's. I want to spend sometime with them in their last years. They've been great grandmothers to me. If I stay with you, I might not be able to say goodbye to them. I'm sorry, they're more important than what you can give me.

I have to face that I'm now married. My husband is a wonderful man. He waited for me for 11 years. It's about time that I should be the one to adjust to his wishes. Staying here with you feels unfaithful. I don't want to trade the comforts you're giving me to the life my husband is planning. He loved me when you wouldn't accept me. And I believe he loves me enough not to provide me with my needs.

And I have to face that I'm not meant to be here with you. I'm too restless, too ambitious and just too much for your gentle constant character. I like to try other careers but I can't do it here with you. I wanted to excel as a teacher but you just wouldn't let me. I tried being happy just like this but I can't. I told you, it's not you, It's really me.

I'm sorry for the times I've taken you for granted, I'm sorry if I sometimes complained. I'm sorry if I can't stay with you. I'm sure you'll find other loves who would love you in return. But though you're not my forever, you'll always be my sweet sweet summer romance.

Saying Goodbye with Love,
Purple Pen

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

3 Signs You Have Enough of Japan

Tired woman
photo credit:

"When you stay too long in the same place, things and people go to pot on you, 
they rot and start stinking..." 
- Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Journey to the End of the Night

This quote has never been more true to me than this year. I think I'm in Japan long enough that people and this place are starting to "pot on me, rot and start stinking..." Don't get me wrong. I've dreamt of being here. I enjoyed being here. I'm thankful that I came here. But I've been here for quite sometime, it doesn't feel right anymore. 

Maybe you're like. You were once happy to be here but not anymore. Once,this has been your dream but not anymore. And maybe you're asking yourself if you're just having a rough day or it's just really time to move forward. 

These things will tell you that you have enough of Japan: 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thoughts on Teaching (Random Ramblings on my Free Time)


You know what's the most challenging job in the world?

It's being a classroom teacher.

Now before you roll your eyes and think that this another ''We are so proud to be teachers,''post, I'm telling you it's not.

I will not tell you about how hard is lesson planning or checking stacks of papers or making worksheets or even preparing tests . Here's a harsh truth, if you're a teacher for more than 5 years and you still think these are hard, it's time to consider a new career. Seriously.

Anyway, what makes classroom teaching the most challenging job is...

...the number of students!

Monday, April 6, 2015

My Last Year as an ALT

And just like that, spring vacation is over. I'm going back to school tomorrow and be an ALT again. Last year, I wrote that last year was going to be my final year in Japan. I wish it was the case but a lot of things have happened. Those things were not so good so I decided to stay in Japan and stay in my job. Staying here gives me a semblance of order. However, I promised myself that this is, REALLY REALLY, my last year as an ALT- at least. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to be here, teaching in Japan. God knows how hard the application process was. I'm grateful but I'm not fulfilled. There's a huge difference. It's like when you're hungry and you ate a nice loaf of bread. You're grateful for that bread but a whole pizza or even a steak would be better. I'm feeling that way towards what I do. Being an ALT is an awesome job. It's relatively easy and it has lots of vacation. The pay is good especially for someone like me who's from a third-world country. However, it's not a job I'd like to do for a long time. It's cool being an ALT for a few years but unless you have a skyrocketing self-motivation, it's hard to do it for a longer period of time. In time, I'll write a post on why this is so.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Nabana no Sato: Illumination and Loneliness

Displaying IMG_0377.JPG
Dusk at Nabana no Sato, Mie
In spring, Japan's covered in flowers. In summer, fireworks are exploding everywhere. In autumn, bursts of oranges and magentas are all over the place. In winter, romantic tiny lights illuminate various places.

Winter's over in most part of Japan but one of the grandest illuminations in the country lasts until March 31st. It's the illumination in Nabana no Sato. Nabana no Sato is a big flower garden.  I've been wanting to see this illumination in my previous winters here but for one reason or another, I didn't. I resolved that whatever happens, I'll see this illumination this year- even if I go alone. I tried inviting some people but they couldn't be bothered to go all the way there. (I do really need friends!)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why the OEC (Balik-Manggagawa) Should Be Abolished

Note: This post is meant for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and has no direct relation to Japan. I'm posting this because I'm an OFW who sees no point for OEC. 

photo credit:

What is OEC? 

OEC stands for Overseas Employment Certificate. According to Pinoy-OFW:

"An Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is a requirement under POEA Rules and Regulations to help ensure that Filipino overseas workers (OFWs) are properly documented and protected. This certificate, when presented at Philippine airports for outbound international flights, also exempts OFWs from travel tax and terminal fees normally charged to travelers."

The purpose of the OEC looks reasonable and noble on print. It's meant to "ensure proper documentation" and to "protect OFW's". It's even meant to exempt OFW's from travel tax and terminal fees. 

But this is only in print.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Culture Shock in the Philippines: Fat People, Fat Cheeks and Not-So-Fat Wallets

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I was shocked at my own culture.

I know there's really nothing shocking about this. Lots of people living abroad experience being culture-shocked at their own culture. Still, I was shocked at myself for being shocked. Shock! Shock! Shock!

I went to the Philippines for the winter vacation. This is my third time going home after I started living in Japan. I didn't experience culture shock the first two times probably because I went back too soon. It took me 16 months before this third homecoming so maybe that's why I got bewildered.

How did I get culture-shocked? Let me count the ways...

1. People are spilling all over the place

There are about 100 million Filipinos all over the world. I shouldn't be surprised if there are a gazillion of people when I got home but I was. I was overwhelmed by the number of people in the airport, on the streets, at the malls, at the spa, on buses, on trains and on just about everywhere. When I went to a government office earlier this month, there were about 10,000 people gathered in that office. How that office contained us is a mystery.

My place in the Philippines is similar to where I live in Japan. Both are on the edge of bigger cities. They're not as exciting as the big cities but not as sleepy as in the rural areas. But my once quiet hometown is no more. There used to be less children, less people and less dogs in my neighborhood. Now, my neighborhood feels smaller and suffocating with all the people and dogs and even chickens living there. Where did all the people and animals come from? In Hamamatsu, I only see crowds during the Hamamatsu festival and on fireworks Festival. Even with these big festivals, the number of people in Hamamatsu seemed irrelevant compare to the Filipinos flocking the malls daily.

Even when I visited the smaller cities in the provinces, people are still in every corner. The Philippines seem to be bursting at the seams with people. It's ironic why it doesn't feel like this in Japan. Japan has 120 million people but they must be hiding in their houses and offices.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Kakizome for 2015

There's a Japanese word for the first writing of the year. It's called kakizome. People used to write traditional proverbs or short poems related to peace, love, happiness, prosperity, youth or whatever the calligrapher wants to have in the new year. Modern kakizome just used kanji characters.

(More on kakizome here)

Now, I can't write kanji. I can't do calligraphy. So obviously, I can't do kakizome. I'll just use this first post of the year as my very own and personalized kakizome. 

Here's my kakizome for 2015: 

photo credit:

I've been so used opening the year with a bunch of things-to-do, and annual goals. I spend the last days of the previous year planning on things I have to accomplish.  I like to think of myself as a go-getter, someone who's in constant pursuit of goals and dreams. I like being busy learning new things, developing skills and growing with people. I like filling my days writing, observing, talking, cycling, planning, travelling and hanging out. I like being physically and mentally mobile. 

However, before 2014 year ended I realized that I spent too much time being on my feet and less time being on my knees. I'm running after life when there's really nothing to hurry about. I'm doing and thinking a hundred things when only a few really matters. I'm trying to play god when I can barely control my own life. 

So this year, I'm making a conscious decision to take things easy, to let go of things I have no control, to take longer coffee breaks and naps, to savor sunsets and sunrises and to spend unhurried moments with people. I'll be still this 2015 and just let life happen.

How about you, what words will you use in your kakizome? 

Want to know more about New Year in Japan? Check out these informative and wonderful sites:

What Japanese eat on New Year's Eve

New Year's in Japan

Shogatsu- Enjoy New Year Celebrations in Japan

Nengajo: How to Send a Japanese New Year Postcard

Making the Most of New Year in Japan

Monday, December 8, 2014

Attempt at Poetry: Hopeful, Maybe

One day, I woke up
My thoughts- no direction
My feelings- nothing
My existence- empty 

It must be the sorrows 
This year brought
It must be the hurts 
My heart holds

Even in sleep
I find no solace
Even in prayer
I find no peace

My mind is weary
Grasping for sanity
My downcast soul
Struggling for hope: 

One day, I'll wake up
My thoughts- sane
My feelings- steady
My existence- settled

Friday, November 21, 2014

Why My Heart is in School?

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If I were rich, I'd use a large portion of my money supporting students. If I were poor, I'd find a way to support at least one student. No matter how much I earn, I vowed to myself I will do my part, big or small, to help send someone to school.

I'm from a lower middle class family with 6 other siblings. My parents can't afford to take us on trips or buy us things that would expose us to a bigger world. Schools did that for us. We had our first computer when I was already in 3rd year high school. The priciest gift my parents gave us was an encyclopedia set paid in installments. We had the streets if we want to go beyond our small home. We had a TV if we want to see other things. The environment I grew up in is limited and I would have stayed limited if I didn't go to school.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Paper on the Connection of Facebook and Freud: How Your FB Status Reflects Your Mind

Background of the Study

I've never used Facebook as much as I used it these past two weeks. I've checked my account hundred times a day, looking for something to like or to comment on and checking on what people are doing I can't blame them if I'm accused of stalking. My routine this summer had been- wake up, check FB, eat breakfast, check B, blog, check FB, shower, check FB, breathe, check FB, blink, check FB... I think you get my point. I've posted random statuses then I'd wait how many people would like them. It's pathetic, I know.

I tried stopping myself by switching to Instagram but people there are not as friendly. It's hard to think of any comments on most people's pictures so I just give them hearts all the time. Then, I can't actively participate on IG if I don't have a nice picture to post. I can post selfies but I'm drawing the line of my insanity there. The world has greater pictures to see than my face. Facebook is a more welcoming, interactive and exciting place, I realize. 


Because I spent so much time on Facebook, I connected posts to Sigmund Freud's model of the psyche. Remember your lesson on Psych 101 on the Id, Ego and Superego? That's what I'm talking about! In a nutshell, Freud formulated that our mental life has three parts- id, ego and superego. The id is the instinctive and pleasure-seeking part of the mind. The ego is the part of the mind that's reality oriented that seeks to satisfy the id. The superego is the moral part a.k.a. conscience. Check Wikipedia if you still didn't get it. 


I think that Id operates when FB posts are very random, unpurposeful, just-to-fill-the-time statuses. Example are vague and indirect posts meant for another FB friend. Posts like these just want to vent without really solving issues. Another example would be the now popular make up transformation pictures. There's really no point in them except to elicit smiles. I also think that people who posts things they want to have like "I want to see (insert artist's name/ thing/place/etc)," operates base on the Id. 

The ego supercedes the other two when people post where they ate, what they ate, who ate with them, when they ate and how they ate. Drop the word "ate", replace it with another verb and that's what ego statuses are. I noticed that this is the most common type of statuses. Which is good because it means that most of my friends are in their right mind. They're reflecting reality albeit, a filtered and enhanced one. 

Posts that are meant to moralize and elicit an action are based on the workings of the Superego. When videos meant to inform are posted, that's Superego! When people spread reports to warn the public, when people seek assistance for another human being and when people encourage others in their posts. those are the works of the superego. 

Analysis and Conclusion

When I checked my posts the past two weeks, I realized that most of them are based on the operations of my Id. Why? Because nothing's really exciting happened the last two weeks. I was mostly home with my white huggable bear. I fear I started hallucinating. This should be a warning for those whose posts are mostly id-based. Go out and get a life! 

For those whose posts are mostly based on the ego, that's fine, I guess. But maybe, please post less? Just because you don't post it doesn't mean it didn't happen. You don't owe people every second of your life. And for those whose posts are superego based, what are you, a god? Meet people and have a good time. Life's too short to think about all the cares of the world. 

Footnote: The picture on this entry is an example of an ego-based FB post. 


I'd like to thank all my FB friends who unknowingly gave me subjects for observation. Without you, FB friends, I wouldn't have this entry. Without you, Facebook wouldn't be the same. 

I'm also acknowledging the fact that this entry is a product of a my awesome and bored mind. I'm happy, vacation will be over soon and my illusions will come to an end. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tanabata and Long Distance Relationships

"And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."- Khalil Gibran 

Long Distance Relationship is not a modern concept. There's an old Japanese myth of lovers who only meet once a year.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Note to Self: Climbs and Chances

photo credit:

Have you ever climbed a mountain only to focus on the soil you're standing on? Instead of enjoying the beauty around you, you just focus on how black or brown or rough the soil is. Instead of feeling accomplished after the long hours of walking to the top, you're just looking forward to go down because of the small piece of soil you're standing on. To just focus on that trivial soil after all the climbing and with all the majesty around you is just ridiculous, right?

Well, I've been ridiculously like that a couple of times in my stay here. I focused on the trivial things that irritated me. I complained and ranted when inconsequential things don't go my way. I've forgotten how rare this chance is for Filipino English teachers. I've forgotten how long and difficult it has been before I get to work here. I've failed to see the safety, the beauty and the opportunity that surrounds me. Instead of reliving the climb and enjoying the view, I've concentrated on the roughness of the soil I'm standing on.

Thanks to an enlightening conversation with a man I highly regard, I was reminded why am I in Japan. I'm not here just for myself. I'm given a chance to improve the face of OFW's. I'm here to represent the best of Filipino professionals. I'm here to show that it's possible to climb this mountain, that is Japan.

For Americans, British, Australians and other Native-English speakers, I may sound absurd. I'm just teaching English in Japan, what's so special about that? Foreigners come and go yearly for that. For native speakers, Japan is just another mountain to climb and explore. For Filipinos, Japan is one of the few mountains we're allowed to climb. Japan is one of the few countries we can teach English and be paid at par with native speakers. No matter how fluent we are in English or how good we are as teachers, Filipino English teachers are not so welcome in other countries. (It sucks but who says life is fair?) Hence, being a Filipino English teacher in Japan is special and rare.

And so here I am writing this piece for myself. This is a personal reminder of why I am here and who I really am. I've climbed this mountain not just for myself. I'm not even here just to enjoy the view from the top. I'm here to mark a trail for other climbers. I'm here to set the Philippine flag on stone atop this mountain to say "A Filipino has been here."

PS: I've also written this piece for the man I've talked with. He's an inspiring person. And he's not a Filipino but he believes in us. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Happy 2nd Year To Me!

Yesterday marked my second year in Japan. Time seemed to have flown fast from that day when my feet landed at Narita Airport. On that day, my life was packed in two big suitcases along with my family's and friends' prayers and love in my heart. These two suitcases helped me start my life here. The love and the prayers helped me survive. I'll go back with more than two suitcases. I'll go back with more than who I was two years ago.

Living abroad, away from the familiar and the comfortable tested my character and values. I learned more about myself than all the other years in my life combined.

I learned that...

1. I'm better than I expected.

Coming here to Japan made me discover things about myself. I'm not as shy as I think I was. I've discovered how sociable and tolerant I can be. I'm not a bad cook as I thought I was. I can actually rustle a great meal for friends, especially. I'm not as dependent of others as I thought I was. I can be happy living alone, going places alone, eating alone and even watching a movie alone. I can do things on my own and find enjoyment in it! My job uncovered a creative side I never thought I have. I'm more faithful to my boyfriend than I thought I was. Distance did not diminish how I feel for him but it just made the heart grew fonder. And I realized that I know more about the world than I thought. I have more common sense than I thought.

2. Money is not as important as I think it was. 

Money is my main reason for coming here. I'm earning 5 times (or more) than I what I used to earn in the Philippines. I thought I could do this job for a long time for the money but I don't think my soul will thrive. Being an ALT is fun for a time but I don't think I'm supposed to this forever. There is more out there. Maybe not more for my pocket but more for my heart and soul. After this year, I'm ready to face the MORE for my heart and soul. Money is important but it can't buy a lot of things.

3. Home can be anywhere in the world. 

When I first came to Japan, I'd consider the Philippines as my home. My family is there. My boyfriend is there. My friends are there. My life is there. Or so I thought. But when I visited in March last year, I also missed my friends here. I also look forward to going back, it's crazy. Japan is my home too. You know the saying, "Home is where the of  heart is,"? Well, a part of my heart is in the Philippines and the other part in Japan. Where I am loved, I think that is home. I am loved in the Philippines and I am loved in Japan.

4. God provides. Always. 

If somebody asked me the greatest experience I have living in Japan, I'd say that it pushed me closer to God. It made me see how His grace and favor in my life. It made me feel loved more than ever. Just when I decided to go abroad, Japan suddenly opened its doors to Filipino English teachers. I roamed around Japan in my first three months because of work but leisure was also included. All my travel expenses were paid. This is not common for ALT's. I was eventually assigned in a nice place- not as big as Tokyo to be expensive but not as rural as other places for me to be lonely. God even surrounded me with a real nice group of friends who love to travel and who want to grow in faith.

Not only God provided me with my tangible needs but He has given me immeasurable things. He has given me creativity to do my job well. I can't believe how I was able to conceive the classroom activities I do here. He has comforted me in times of loneliness. He has allowed me to help others. He strengthened me in my sickness. (God knows how many times I complained about my back). He guarded my heart from temptations. He has given me that peace that I'll survive Japan. I'm surviving life here in Japan because of His faithfulness.

Knowing that God provides for ALL I need is empowering. It helped me realize how He led me into this country and how I need not be afraid to also go. God's provision is not only limited to Japan. Wherever I am, God will provide my needs like He always did. I'm not anymore scared to give up the comfortable lifestyle I got used to here. Living and working in Japan has been great but it's also just another season of my life that I should learn to slowly let go.

As I usher in my 3rd and last year in this place, my heart is expectant that this is going to be the best year of my life in Japan. I'm two years wiser and two years better!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sayonara to a Friend

A close friend here will soon be leaving for the US. She has been having perpetual backaches which no doctor here have figured out why. Though she doesn't want to go with an unfinished contract, the discomfort she feels forces her to leave. Just last weekend, we already started packing some of her things. She's not happy to leave. I'm not happy to see her leave, too. But that's how things are for foreigners.

My friendship with her made me realize another aspect of living in a foreign land.

friendship scraps, images, quotes graphics for orkut, myspace

I realized that friendships are more consciously decided. When two foreigners meet, there's almost always that back-of-the-mind thought whether they can be friends or not. Of course, there's tentativeness in every type of relationship but being in a foreign land makes that 'testing period' shorter. This is unlike in you're in your home country when friendships are made by fate or chance meetings. The first few times that my friend and I talked, there's already that silent agreement that we have decided to become friends. We didn't leave our friendship to chance. We decided to pursue it. Hence, the next realization.

Friendships are also more actively pursued. The loneliness from living in another country draw foreigners together. Plans to get together are frequent and almost a habit. We don't wait for someone's birthday or a special day to meet. We find reasons to do something together. This is almost like a marker of the weeks passed in this foreign land. I can't remember a week spent without seeing another foreigner. My friend is one of my regular weekend buddies. We'd usually eat somewhere or explore some area. Come January, I won't have a weekend buddy.

I feel that friendships are deeper and more expressively caring. Foreigners know that all we have is each other for families. Only people from another country can understand the isolation and the constant adjustment of foreigners. Hence, there's that unspoken concern for the welfare of another foreigner. This is not to say that all foreigners are kind and caring. This is about foreigners who are already friends. I remember the night when I helped my friend go to the doctor. I wouldn't normally do that if I were back home. I can't be bothered at night. But knowing that my friend is alone as I am, I didn't have hesitations to go that extra mile.

At the same time, we know that no matter how good our friendship is, it's only temporary. We know that things will change once we're back to our home countries. It makes everything more intense and bittersweet. Though there's that temporal quality in friendships abroad, it doesn't make it less sincere. It doesn't make it less of anything. It's just the way things are. So though it's sad to see my friend go, we both know that sooner or later we'll be parting ways. It's just sad that it seemed so soon.

I don't know if we'll meet again in person. I don't know if we'll even keep in touch. I've seen a handful of friends leave promising to still communicate but didn't. I don't hold it against them. (I'm also guilty.) I also won't hold it against my friend if I didn't hear anything from her after she leaves. I'm already grateful that even for a short while, a person from halfway around the world became my friend.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This Small Act: Puple Pen Writes on Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

Dear Reader, 

I may not know who you are but I'm grateful that you're taking the time to read or browse over my blog. For the past year, I only talked about my thoughts and experiences here in Japan. This blog was borne out of free time at work. It has no noble reason except to record whatever's happening in my life. Today is different though. I'm using this medium for a nobler and more humane cause.

Last Friday, Nov. 8, the strongest typhoon in history hit my country- the Philippines. It was such a great devastation. Thousands of lives are lost along with billions worth of property damages. The images of the aftermath are so heartbreaking I can't help but be haunted of sadness for the past days. I can't imagine the extent of grief of my fellow Filipinos who lost their homes and loved ones. Though I've done a small part by donation, I'm still compelled to do something more. So I am writing this.

The typhoon's aftermath

The typhoon's aftermath
First, I want to express my deepest gratitude to all the countries and people who willingly aid my country. Billions of pesos have been pledged for the rehabilitation of Visayas. Manpower and in-kind donations keep pouring in. The Filipinos are overwhelmed by the help so selflessly given to us. God surely sees these acts of kindness and will not go unnoticed.
Disclaimer: This is not mine but I don't know who to give credit to.
Next, if you're a Filipino reading this blog, I hope you're doing your part too in rebuilding our nation. If you're in another country like me, don't hesitate to send your donations whether in cash or kind. If there's no cash to spare, use the social media wisely. I believe you have an internet since you can read this. Express your support and encouragement to the survivors. Check on  friends who may have been affected. If you're in the Philippines, then you are in the best position to help. I believe that a lot of NGO's like Red Cross and Sagip Kapamilya are needing manpower to pack relief goods. What is an hour or two if it will make a difference to the lives of many people? Also, if you're willing, I think they need people to help distribute the goods.

Packing of relief goods
Also, this is the time to be socially and politically aware. There's so much to the internet than posting selfies and food photos. Let's be vigilant on the financial aid given to us. We can repay those countries by making sure that the help extended to us was used in the right way. Let's continue to demand transparency from the government. This is not the time to be indifferent. You may think you're not affected but as long as you are a Filipino, what the government does affect you.


Third, if you are a powerful person or a person with expertise, I hope you'll have the heart to help in the rehabilitation process. Relief operations are only temporary answers to the people's needs. In the long run, we need businessmen who'll invest in agriculture, tourism, industry and trade. We'll need engineers and architects who can design and build well-planned communities and sturdier buildings. We'll need medical experts to help the survivors in gaining back their physical and mental health. We'll need responsible journalists who have the passion to report facts and not sow unverified negative reports. (Eg: Aquino walking out in a briefing when he didn't) We'll need leaders who can replace the rotten political leaders we have.

Disclaimer: This is not mine but I don't know who to give credit to.

Then, I'm calling on the government to have a true heart for public service. The Philippines has suffered so much already. More than the natural calamities that embattled us, the corruption and ineffective governance is destroying a beautiful country. It pains me to live in a progressive country like Japan knowing that if only we have an effective government, the Philippines can attain this much progress. My prayer is that God purge the country of evil politicians, lazy government officials and inefficient workers. ( In the same breath, I'm cursing all the corrupt people in the government- from the topmost people to the those in the bottom of the ladder. F--- Y-- All!) I want to see the Philippines be a first world country in this lifetime.

Photo Credit:

Lastly, whatever nation you came from, I hope we won't give up on our planet and on each other. Climate change is real. This big typhoon is one of its effects. If we don't do something about our environment, there could be much worse. It's scary to think that things would only get worse. At the same time, I salute the human spirit for responding in these times of distress. And I'm not only limiting this to what happened in the Philippines. As of this writing, there's a threatening volcanic eruption in Indonesia, an unexpected cyclone somewhere in Africa, extreme poverty in large parts of Asia and Africa, wars in the Middle East, nuclear breakdowns in Japan and so much more. The discussions, expressions of concern, prayers and all the help are all great testimonies that amidst the chaos we're in, people still care for their fellow human beings.   Let's continue to dream and do what we can do for each other. Let's continue to hope that humanity still has a future. I still believe in this planet. I still believe in us- the human race.

With high hopes,
Purple Pen

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Great Japan Earthquake: Remembering March 11 2011

There was a great tsunami that caused nuclear meltdowns. A lot of people died, became missing and lost their properties. The earthquake that shocked the world with its tremendous damage is also the same quake that paved the way for me to be in Japan. Hundreds of ALT's flee Japan after this quake leaving a large need  for teachers. I heard that a lot of Americans and British were not too happy to work here. Because of that, Japan opened its doors to Filipino English teachers. I was one of the first batches  of teachers to be hired. The grueling process of application and paperwork took me a year to finally come to Japan in June 2012.

A wave caused by a tsunami flows into the city of Miyako from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck Japan March 11, 2011. (Mainichi Shimbun /Reuters)
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Maybe it wasn't a coincidence that my first teaching assignment was in Morioka City, Iwate in the Tohoku region. It is one of the most affected places of the March 11 earthquake. I was expecting washed out lands and tin houses as I saw in the news. I was half-prepared for sad and devastated people. But when I arrived there, there were only a few traces of devastation. 

Most of the area that I've been to in Iwate showed works-in-progress. Sure there were places that would need a lot of work but I am amazed how Japan was able to recover so quickly. This is especially true when I  compared it with  how my country, the Philippines, is taking decades just to eradicate the slums area. I was impressed with Japan's determination to rebuild just a year after the earthquake when in my country it takes painstakingly long years just to recover from a flood. A flood's devastation seems to be nothing compared to an earthquake, a tsunami and an ongoing nuclear meltdown.

Residents and others in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, observe a moment of silence on April 11, a month after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The government has decided to hold a memorial ceremony in Tokyo on March 11. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
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I told one of my Filipino friends about this and she defended the Philippines saying that our country is poor. Before coming to Japan, I thought the same thing. Now, I don't think that the Philippines is poor. We are poor because we think that way. We think we need the help of other countries to be progressive. We think we need aid for every disaster that happens every year. We think we have so little compared to Japan when in reality Japan and the Philippines are in the same region where earthquakes, typhoons, floods and volcanic eruptions can happen anytime.

(More on Nature in Japan, here) 

I think there is more why Japan rebuilds so quickly. I know a lot of countries came to their aid, sent help and prayed for their recovery. The Philippines also experienced those during Ondoy, during the flashfloods in the South, even as far back as during the Pinatubo eruption. There is just something more in Japan that I believe the Philippines should learn from. I don't know what they are but I can point out one- the people.

When I arrived in Iwate, I wasn't really expecting much from the people there. They lost a lot while I gained something with it. To expect more seems to be rather selfish of me. So I admire them even more when I saw how they accepted the things that happened, how they try move on and support each other in the process.

In one of the high schools I worked in, a lot of students lost their parents. Within a month, they were placed in homes where they can be taken care of. Schools and work resumed. All of the schools I've been to acknowledged the disaster and placed an area in remembrance of it. Students posted messages and words of encouragement . Areas who were not so much affected gave immediate aid to those who were in need. Various prefectures in Japan, up until now, provide financial support to those who would like to transfer to another place. The Filipinos are also like these-to some degree. But what I think we fail to understand as Filipinos is that rebuilding lives is a process with tons of hard work. The Japanese just don't quickly help then forget about it. They remember it acknowledging that a lot of work must be put into it. I hope the Filipinos would also care as much as help as much.

As great and dark the shadow of the March 11 Earthquake is, I am one of its tiniest light. I was given higher odds to get a job here. I am not saying I am thankful that it happened; just that I am thankful that I am here. As I build a better life here, I pray that victims of the March 11 Earthquake will soon have a better life too. 
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