In the English alphabet, K is the eleventh letter. How about that for a starter? Since I cannot easily find the right words to put my thoughts for an important occasion like this, especially if it is for my first column, I will just begin by citing identical events. It is not that I am a great believer in "de ja vu," or that my experiences tell me otherwise... that it is already written in our book, before it came to be (Psalm 139).
Well, here are some:
1. my name (sans Iriarte) has 11 letters,
2. I was born on November, the 11th month, National Holiday pa dito sa Japan being "Labor Thanksgiving Day,"
3. married to a Kohno (K),
4. lived in Kyoto (K) for the past 30 years now, and
5. K was my good friend Dennis' first suggestion for the title of this column. And I think it is a great idea!
Having lived here in Japan for half of my life has its rewards and most of my soul-touching experiences are the ones I spent "journeying into the world of the Filipinos" as the JP cover says. Of course, they are not all a "bed of roses" (one of my favorite expressions) when confronted with questions like: were they happy ones, do you enjoy the encounters, can you find fulfilment, meaning, joy, enhancement, and so forth. I am simply a believer in doing good to others, in sharing God-given talents to people who need them, just by being there, and thankful for whatever blessings we have. That is the "enjoyment" I find in my life. Guess, I am sounding a bit trite so I will just share one personal story which I call "a grateful heart anecdote" from the volumes I have now, which is a product of having lived here for a long time.
Some years ago, when our president, Gloria M. Arroyo, was still a senator, she visited Kyoto with her family and mother, Mrs. Eva Macapagal. I had the pleasure of showing them this beautiful city. After a hearty dinner mostly of raw fish and meat at the famous "Gion" area where the red lights and geishas are, she asked to be shown one of the nightclubs nearby where our "kababayans" worked. At short notice and after some calls, we were able to arrange a hasty meeting with some of them. It was a very memorable night. The following year, she visited Osaka, and again I had another happy encounter. On behalf of the Filipino community leaders of Western Japan, I was asked to give the bouquet of flowers at the Welcome Reception. When she saw me, she gave a familiar smile and even mentioned that night in Kyoto during her speech. Good deeds do not go unnoticed, di ba? Till next time. God bless.
This is my first greeting for 2010… “Hello readers and fans of Jeepney Press.” Could not make it on the first issue because of some personal stuff going around.
That was our “lipat bahay.” Yes, it was a BIG change - from Tokyo to somewhere outside Tokyo. Living in Tokyo for 15 years and then leaving Tokyo, that is CHANGE, right?
You will never appreciate something until it is gone. I just realized how convenient living in Tokyo was--- when Shinjuku and Ikebukuro were just a few stations away from home. We even biked to those areas on fine days. “Syempre, I miss Tokyo and the convenience that was at my finger tips.” With our former home on the Yamanote loop, going around was really so easy. Another thing I miss is the variety of delicious food and restaurants.
Now, it takes almost an hour to go to Tokyo. But, I do not mind that anymore.
I have discovered the benefits of being away from the city. One, of course, is “mas-malaki ang bahay ngayon.” Second, we have a view – and lots of nature. I have never seen so many stars in my stay in Tokyo compared to each night here. And most of all, the sunshine comes in. In Tokyo, our condomi-nium was surrounded by other houses and condomi-niums that the sun was most of the time blocked by other towering units.
These simple things are what make me happy at this moment: space, nature, and a “more human condition of living.” Being away from Tokyo is not “that bad” as I had imagined.
It is true that home is where your heart is. Right now, my heart is an hour away from Tokyo. I am enjoying my new life far away from the metropolitan sounds and lights. Tokyo and other big cities will always be there. I can go anytime. Now I look forward to visiting my friends in Tokyo.
By Japanese standards, more space now means I have really just a little more compared to how it was in Tokyo. But again, if I would compare it to the space back home in the Philippines or even in the U.S.A., space would not be enough yet… Human nature, the “wants” never stop there. Thank God, in my case – I stopped comparing…and I can say I am happy where I am.
Wish all of you, readers, find your own happiness in the simple things in life. When was the last time you appreciated the sun? Or the fresh air you breathe? Or that wind that blows against your face?
Learn to feel good with everything around us.
As the song goes, “the best things in life are free.”
God Bless – Mama Mary loves us !
When I went on a short business trip to Fukuoka with a Japanese colleague many years ago, we had our first experience using a Global Positioning System. The GPS has a female voice, so in my mind, I have given her a name – Mandy. Our trip was programmed all the way to our final destination, and Mandy did her job and plotted our direction. With this, we were completely relaxed just waiting and trusting in this tiny but high technology gadget to guide our journey.
Every command that Mandy has told the driver was never been a miss, but always a hit! When we accidentally made a detour to stop by a convenience store, Mandy was persistent in saying: “U-turn please immediately, U-turn please immediately!” Obviously, we went on a different direction other than her programmed course. Should we have chosen to go straight, definitely, we won’t be able to reach our final destination.
Comparing this situation to our own self-centeredness as human beings, we always tend to follow our flesh and gone to our own ways. To go our way, is our choice. It is our choice: not to listen to our parents; not to finish schooling; to be a drug dependent; to be a liar; to become a thief; to be corrupt; to be a murderer, the list goes on and on but it seems that we cannot get enough of our selfishness. This selfishness that could lead to death, but not to be buried six feet under the ground but to be like walking zombies – physically alive but spiritually dead.
It doesn’t matter how far you have travelled in the wrong direction, but it’s never too late to make a U-turn and acknowledge that you have done wrong, and that was your choice.
During this Easter season, we must be reminded that we are just the drivers of our own lives and God is the Savior – he saved us from all our sins. As it is written in Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." He is always ready to forgive and restore our lost souls. So, the next time you have chosen the wrong road,
“U-turn please, immediately!”