Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jeepney Press May-June 2010 issue page 6

DAISUKI! by Dennis Sun

Fake Gold!
What's so golden about Golden Week? Kumikinang ba itong linggo na tulad ng isang ginto?

At first, I thought they used the word gold to mean “precious.” Pero sabi ni oji san, during the late 1940's in the radio industry, they used the lingo “golden time” to denote a period of the highest ratings in air time. And during this week, mataas daw ang benta ng ticket sales for travel kaya naging "golden week" and tawag. Naru hodo!

Golden Week is a conglomeration of different holidays. April 29 is the Showa (Emperor) Day. May 1 is Labor Thanksgiving Day (though not an official Japan public holiday). In Japan, when a public holiday lands on a Sunday, the next day that is not a holiday automatically becomes a holiday for that year. May 3 is Constitution Memorial Day. May 4 is Greenery Day. May 5 is Children's Day. Parang armalite of holidays!

Golden Week is also known as Oogata Renkyuu or Oogon Shuukan. Many companies in Japan during this time close down completely to give their employees time off. Golden Week is perhaps the longest vacation period of the year that spans from a week to 10 days. Other long vacations are Oshogatsu in January and Obon in August.

So you want to travel? Be prepared with the ticket prices. Skyrocketing! Golden Week, Obon and Oshogatsu are the most expensive seasons in Japan for traveling whether domestic or international. If you want to save money, do it before or after these seasons are over. You can avoid not only the expensive tickets but the crowd, as well! I notice that in Tokyo during these seasons, it's so quiet because most people are either abroad or in the countryside. You will notice that the trains are 90% empty. Kung ang feeling mo during the normal days ay parang sardinas sa loob ng train, this time, parang pwede kang matulog sa couch at pag-gising mo, mag- bowling pa sa loob!

After Golden Week, we prepare for the wet season they call TSUYU (or BAIYU), which literally means "plum rain" because it coincides with the ripening of the plums. Actually, in Okinawa, tsuyu starts early May. In Kanto and Kansai, around early June.

Ewan ko ba kung bakit ang mga Pilipino, takot sa ulan. Every time we have an appointment to meet for casual meetings, I am definite I would receive calls from several Pinoy friends about canceling or postponing the meeting altogether. Ayaw mabasa? Hindi ba tayo sanay sa ulan at bagyo sa Pinas? Si Arnold, either late siya sa work o kaya tatawag sa kumpanya para sabihin meron siyang sakit… dahil lang sa ulan.

I used to hate going out in the rain. I guess even now, I don't like walking under the rain from work and especially going to work. The feeling that you are wet especially on your shoes and socks can't let me concentrate on whatever I am doing at work. And when it has been raining non-stop for several days, the laundry clothes are left to dry inside the rooms and get smelly when they dry. I suggest you bring your laundry to the coin laundry if your neighborhood has one nearby. For 300 yen, totally dry lahat ng one-week clothes ninyo!

One good thing about the rainy season is the less crowd in the streets, tourist places, and almost everywhere. You go visit an onsen, a spa and dip in the pool outside. Sarap ng feeling! It's like you rented the whole place to yourself. Nice time to relax and ponder about life. This is what I call a golden time.

They say rain gives you the blues. True. But rain teaches us to stop and be still. Ayaw mong lumabas ng bahay? Ok lang. Then, anong gagawin mo sa loob ng bahay? Watch a good movie or read a nice book. Clean your room and cook a healthy delicious meal. Ang daming pwedeng gawin during the rain kahit na-stuck ka sa loob ng bahay. Siguro, you like to sleep longer when it’s raining. Yan ang gawi natin sa Pinas. Kasi malamig kapag umuulan. But in winter Japan, whether it’s raining or not, malamig. Super lamig! Kung pwede ngang mag-hibernate at matulog na lang buong winter season at magising pagdating ng spring...

Anyway, when we take advantage of our time and use it wisely, it becomes a golden time for us. Pinapahalagaan natin ang bawat oras natin sa mundo. Ayaw kong sabihin, pero sasabihin ko na. Gasgas na kasi, eh. “Time is gold.” Aray ko po! Hayan, nasabi ko na! Tanong ko sa yo ngayon: Anong klaseng gold ang time mo? I am not talking about your watch.

Are you a fake gold? Ang dami sa atin ang nag-papanggap maging ginto. Paano ba maging ginto ang isang tao? It takes time for gold to become gold. And it also takes a long time to polish gold to make it shine brightly. Compared to people, we become golden as years pass by. Kaya nga sinasabing we turn gold when we reach the age of 50. Kasi, by that time, we assume that we have already grown matured and wise. By that time, most of us have reached our dreams. We are on the top of the ladder of success. We are real gold! Because through our experiences and accomplishments, we shine like gold. We don’t have to brag about who we are. Our deeds tell everyone how golden we are already.

However, if you are a fake gold, you really have to try hard to tell everyone stories of what you have done and who your great friends are. Ok, you achieved this and that. You know this and that person. Kailangan png sabihin? Kailangan pang ibunyag? Sabi ni Nanay, “When your star is twinkling in the sky, you don’t need to tell. Everyone can see you up there already.” Mother knows best!

If you are not yet a gold, don’t try to be. If you are a silver or bronze, accept who you are and don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. Kahit isa kang bato sa buhangin, basta’t masaya ka at ginagampanan mo ang iyong tungkulin, you are golden in your own way already. Hindi ka in gold sa labas pero sa loob, mababang klaseng metal. Tandaan: Hindi lahat ng kumikinang ay ginto!

Kaya po habang tayo ay bata pa at genki, we should make use of our time in doing our work and achieving our dreams. Huwag magbulakbol. Huwag sayangin ang oras sa walang kwenta. Sabi nga ng mga Intsik, “An inch of time is an inch of gold, but you can't buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.” Ibig sabihin nito, time is more precious than gold. Once you wasted time and let it pass away, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Not even money nor gold can buy what you have wasted yesterday!

Lahat po tayo ay tumatanda. We all grow old but we should always remember to go for gold!

Shoganai: Gaijin Life by Abie Prinsipe

The Convenience of the Combini
We bid goodbye again to another spring. This means everyone and anyone would be lauding the beauty of the cherry blossoms. Ethereal and passing, the sakura is always the central point of the spring season anywhere in Japan.

But, let me take a path less trodden in this article. Although, not to belittle the beauty of the sakura, let me be more bland and talk about something else that can't be avoided when living in Japan. I am talking about the ubiquitous combini, or in proper English, convenience stores. There is absolutely no escaping combinis in Japan. These are the little stores that save you the trip of going to the supermarket, if all you need is a carton of milk or juice. Anywhere you go in Japan, you will run into a combini, and although the prices in these little shops are not at par with the local supermarket, their location and ease of shopping sometimes makes up for the price difference.

I had a friend who was literally saved by the combini. These were the days when we were dependent on scholarship money, which was sometimes delayed in coming, and being the students that we were, having no head at all for budgeting, we often ended up not knowing where to get food, when we didn't have cash on hand. At that time, most of the supermarkets around the dormitory and university didn't accept credit cards, which was all my friend had by the time the scholarship money has run out. He then discovered that the combini near his university accepted credit cards! He was so surprised and elated, that he went a little bit crazy with his grocery shopping. Viva la combini!

Another unavoidable thing regarding combinis is that they sometimes have items sold only at a specific combini. There are a slew of different combinis all around Japan. In Nagoya, we have 7-11, which has a senbei snack that can't be found anywhere else; there is FamilyMart, which sells yummy ice cream; Lawson, which sells really good milk, and MiniStop, which sells a soft ice cream called “halo-halo!” So, if you happen to have developed a taste for a certain snack, and this snack is only available at a particular combini, it becomes part of your daily routine to pass by this particular combini, just to buy your snack. This kind of defeats the “convenience” in combini, but... shoganai!

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