I don’t know. Perhaps it’s been a year and a couple of months past, but I’ve never really written anything about this. Scanning through old photos and portfolios I happened to pass by this photo (pictured above) and it truly and obviously gave me an instant trip down through memory lane. Seeing these kid’s faces, (myself included, sigh) capsules a lot of meaning. Dated 6th September, exactly two days before departure, we were 45 souls stuck in anxious, excited, and terrified bodies. I want to write about this beginning from the first plane down to the last. This is going to be quite a long one.
This text basically contains a lot of experience and reviews of places and others. Photos too are present with substance and meaning, the main goal in every work I make.
September 4, 2014, I boarded a Cebu Pacific Plane with the code 5J 625 which brought me to Manila. Dumaguete to Manila is about an hour and a half, and the airline company announced congestion for about 30 minutes, thus causing a bit of delay. So there I was, on my very first plane ride, cruising 20 000 feet above land bound for the National Capital Region.
I stayed in an a tenement for one night, woke up early the next day, bound for Marikina. Going there my guide showed me the village like University of the Philippines, the state university of Manila. I didn’t realize that Ateneo de Manila was nearby too until I figured out their distances.
DepEd Marikina RELC. There I was to prepare for 4 days. Training, seminars and orientations were ahead of me. Seeing the rooms, I chose a bed near the wall. Don’t I just miss it. Days passed and friendship was earned island to island, region to region. We had a ton of things to do and papers to fill up. Pinning ceremonies, official presentations and interviews. Who can’t forget the on the spot interviews. Let’s do a quick fast forward.
It was then the 8th of September. People were up at 2 AM. Coasters were arriving by 3 AM. Everyone was up and about knowing that once again we would be cruising higher this time. Temperature readings were done to make sure no one had flu with them or something. I still remembered mine. 37.2. If it rose to a 37.5 I wouldn’t be writing this at all. Sigh, but look here I am, trying to finish.
We were scheduled to fly at 9 AM for a four and a half hour flight by a Japanese Carrier, and arrive with an extra hour. We arrived at the airport 3 hours earlier, goodbyes were made and final calls were answered. I still remembered my parent’s goodbyes too. Too emotional. Hello, I’ll be back in like, 8 days.
So after the tiring flight, why hello there Narita! 40 minutes away from Tokyo but it was a must we land there because it was the international hub for the airline. We took a 40 minute bus ride that took us to Tokyo, and wow what a surprise.
Tokyo, what a sight to behold. Roads were clean as shit and people were contained as under military rule. I just couldn’t contain myself thinking that I stepped foot in the country of the rising sun. Literally. The sun rises at about 4:30 at dawn and an hour after technically, the sun’s already glaring.
We proceeded with our daily business, followed the program and went through historical sites and experienced cutting edge technology. The trip offered exposure and immersion to us recipients.
With tourists taking souvenir photographs against a background of huge Japanese lanterns and enthusiastic rickshaw drivers touting for trade, Asakusa is a must-see destination for visitors to Tokyo. The area around Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) bustles with tourists throughout the day. But in the early morning, local people come to pray quietly, and you can still catch a glimpse of ordinary life at this famous sight-seeing spot.
Go west of Sensoji to find streets lined with Asakusa’s landmarks. You’ll see Hanayashiki Amusement Park, Asakusa Kannon Onsen (a hot-spring bath), and public bars with a nostalgic atmosphere. Go east to find the Sumida River, famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring and fireworks display in the summer. From here, you can also take a waterbus cruise of Tokyo Bay to discover another side of Tokyo.
Pictured above are I don’t know, perhaps wishes and aspirations from those who seek them. I’m no good with Japanese culture but maybe they’re just parallel with us Filipinos — hopeful. Maybe they dream like us too. They aspire to achieve things like us too.
Moving on, the city offered us a lot — a lot of food, freebies, transportation, plane tickets, friends and most especially experience. Experience brought us there and that’s what we’re taking back home. The sole purpose of this trip is immersion with the unifying themes of language and culture. To me the objectives were fulfilled. We indeed met new friends, learned the language quickly (Mostly Hai’s and Arigato’s) and adapted so well if I might judge, to the culture.
Our dreams as ambassadors rise as high as this building pictured above — together with us are our aspirations and goals for our motherland Philippines. For our hopes that the Philippines will rise as a tiger in terms of trade and industry. That the Philippines would soar as high as Everest in economic relations and at global stocks. That the Philippines would be an opposite of what it is as of this writing. That, is what brought us here — determination for change. (With a bit of fun though)
In terms of cutting edge technology, the country had much to offer. Everything digital, from doors to vending to toilets to almost everything. Massage chairs everywhere. Vending Machines that accept 10 000 Yen and change to the last cent. Drinks of all sort and ice cream to die for. My first taste of Häagen-Dazs ice cream was during the flight to Japan and wow I must say it offered a different dimension for me in terms of ice cream. It had given such a unique flavor to ice cream.
Above is Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) dubbed as the world’s most safest airline in 2014. This international carrier became our international flight partner, together with Japan Airlines (JAL) to reach our destinations. What can ANA offer to it’s passengers?
Well of course, slick, advanced technology on board the aircraft that comes bilingual — Japanese first, then English. Hot flight attendants and hot drinks too. But what matters most of all Japanese Carriers is at most punctuality. Never early, never late. Japanese time calls you to be there ten minutes before start. If you arrive five minutes, then you are five minutes late. Simple logic.
Although the flight was a bit turbulent, or let me just make that shaky, the crew never left us feel uncomfortable. Moments before turbulence announcements were made and the aircraft was prepared — smooth flowing as ever. I got to experience ANA twice.
I pretty much said a lot about things and perhaps I’m going to begin to close with some insights —
- Everything happens by chance — I never really expected this endeavor did I. I just spoke myself in front of a panel, got to speak in front of another panel and then finally to the national panel. Luckily I survived all three panels.
- Learn to take risks — Nothing really goes wrong if you try (except special cases). Taking risks is an edge to one’s journey. Maybe it can bring you high or bring you higher. Remember to accept any opportunity that comes your way — be it good, or better.
- Make Memories — You can’t just travel to an international country empty handed and dull. Learn to make new friends. I for one can be antisocial at some point but make sure to know the purpose of the activity. Why you’re chosen — make things clear to you and you’ll maneuver yourself smoothly. Take things step by step, stage by stage and expect that it’ll work out fine.
- Learn to take a lot of photos — Make use of what you have. Take thousands of photos. Be it random, flat lays or simply normal photos of sights, people, you or whatever. Go for your “Instagram-worthy” shots.
- Enjoy every passing moment — This could be a sub to making memories. It’s not everyday you’re out of your abode. With everything offered for free, what else could you ask for? Learn to be thankful too. Cherish what’s given to you.
My sincerest thanks to the program’s superiors! If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t be able to experience what Japan had in store for us. Everything just comes in place and we were just there to simply, dare to dream.
As we went back home, we weren’t there to love Japan more, but to love the Philippines even greater.
To those who have plans to travel to Japan, some general tips:
- Bring Socks
- Daiso’s are everywhere
- You might need a watch with you
- Wake up early, what’s to traveling than sleeping a lot — you can do that at home.
- Earthquakes come every 5–10 minutes — be prepared always.
- People love bowing — please do so too as you are in their territory.
- Finish your food, especially rice. To them not finishing your rice is an insult to the farmers. Each grain is a blessing.
- Never give tips — it’s not their custom and I don’t know why.
- The most tardy time you can arrive is only 2 minutes.
- Shut up and don’t talk too loud.
Food is delectable but a bit pricey but things are worth it all the time for me, money can’t buy experience. Everything’s a must try in a foreign land.
Some biblio goes to Tokyo Colors; photos are mine.
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(Reviewed using Microsoft Word, 1758 words)