I wonder if my friend Casilda meant to ease my troubled mind when she said "I should be thankful, I survived my doctor," after telling her last month, that my oncologist for 10 years died. Honestly, I was at a loss thinking how difficult it would be to find a new cancer specialist, who would really go through every detail of my medical history. The long record of breast operations, radiation, a series of chemotherapy (intravenous/oral), countless tests(x-ray, CT, MRI, PET, blood,others), spanning ten years, was under his care. These various medical tests, though alarming for its high level of radiation effect cannot be avoided. Not to mention the depressing side-effects of chemotherapy, as my breast cancer has metastasized to different parts of my body, recurring almost every 2 years. At present, I am undergoing chemo for my lymph nodes. Dr. Sawai was the Director of the Cancer Department of the Kyoto Prefecture University Hospital when I had my first operation under his leadership. Four years ago, he opened his breast cancer clinic with state of the art medical equipments, so I am being treated there.
But what amazes me is that inspite of the many painful experiences and unspeakable inner struggles battling cancer, which recurs almost every two years, I still feel that life is beautiful and we should live it to the fullest. Oh, yes, every now and then, there are always questions left unanswered. Why do I want to go on living? Is it because I still want to see my 2-year old grandchild through college, reap the fruits of the trees I planted, or simply write a book on green technology or making people happy? That must be true in part, but surely our lives have deeper meanings... I believe it is all in God's plan. It is this belief that has given me the courage whenever I come across the dark tunnels of my life. Kung minsan nga kahit maraming balakid ay lalong tumitibay ang ating pananampalataya sa ating Poong Maykapal.
When friends ask why I can travel, frequently visit my daughter in Tokyo, be with people, and still have time for many special things more, even when I am undergoing chemo, my quick response is, have a positive attitude. Inner peace is attainable when you have "joy" in your heart.
A recent visit to Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, was a relief, a break from my worries concerning my new doctor, and an inner healing experience. The wondrous sight of the beauty of nature always has a blissful magical effect on me. Green mountains, serene waterfalls, endless rivers and the splendor of the more than 350 years old majestic cryptomeria trees (13,000 trees) lining an avenue, simply make one think of heaven. I could even feel that I could talk to the trees. Those trees must be living witnesses of days gone by, of historical connections with the past, of people's dreams, of people dying. Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan for more than 200 years, is enshrined at the Toshogu Shrine. The carved three wise monkeys - See no evil, Say no evil, Hear no evil- also an Important Cultural Property can be seen at the entrance of this often visited National Shrine atop the hills. Now I know why people say never say "lucky" until you visit Nikko. Or, I may add, never say you have journeyed into the world of Filipinos in Japan until you read the most dynamic Filipino publication, Jeepney Press!
by Farah Trofeo-Ishizawa
by Farah Trofeo-Ishizawa
Kamusta, Filipinos in Japan? How’s everyone going? Time flies so fast indeed when you are having fun. Did you “feel” Spring time? Spring is gone, and the rainy season is here. Time to take out your umbrellas, and those rain boots.
Hardly noticed Spring, how about you? What have you been doing this first six months of the year?
As I write this, I have just joined the world of ALT’s here in Japan. Assistant Language Teachers are the English teachers in Japan. And we teach English with the Homeroom teachers.
There is an increasing population of Filipino ALT’s in Japan. It is good news for the Filipinos because we have a chance to prove that we are good educators and communicators.
Teaching is a demanding job and it is very tiring because we also have to play games with the children, right? One more good thing, is that, “Sensei’s” are respected.
I salute all the teachers all over the world. To the Filipino ALT’s, remember we must continue to teach well, brush up our skills, and try to remove those accents that are noticeable…. A friendly reminder, please do not interchange your P’s and your F’s. Lastly, dress well at all times. OK?
For all of the Filipinos in Japan, be proud… Be yourselves but at the same time, try to adapt to Japan’s culture and ways. OK?
Wish all of you, readers, find your own happiness in the simple things here in Japan. Stay happy!
Learn to feel good with everything around us. God Bless –Mama Mary loves us !
ni Yellowbelle Duaqui
Overseas Filipino Workers: Heroes or Victims?
The official rhetoric of the Philippine state proclaims the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) a hero – a modern-day counterpart to great men and women from Philippine history like Jose Rizal, Gabriela Silang, Tandang Sora, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Ninoy Aquino, and the Katipuneros. The luminaries notwithstanding, there are more heroes who are nameless in Philippine history - the simple folks who have fallen during the darkness of the multiple waves of colonization that battered the country. It is to their credit that the light of day was made possible for the generations of Filipinos who came after them.
But what does it mean to be a hero? What qualifies an otherwise ordinary Juan or Juana Dela Cruz to deserve the status of a hero? In the colonial days, at least, the parameters used were that of selflessness and immeasurable personal sacrifice, profound influence to stir revolutionary ferment and leadership in mobilizing revolutionary action or just by mere participation in those activities, among others. They were the noble souls who went beyond the comforted confines of the self, to step into the bloody arena of struggle, notwithstanding pain and hardship. They were the ones who dared, risked and challenged the oppressive structures of their time. They were the ones who refused to keep mum when others chose to be quiet for fear of getting burned.
Now, what makes the OFW a hero based on these parameters? Some say that the decision of the OFW to brave foreign lands and to face a proverbial cloud of uncertainty in search of better life abroad -- not even for one’s self but for the family left in the Philippines -- is a concrete sign of selflessness. Let their stories of hardship overseas – ranging from alienation to discrimination -- speak of the personal sacrifices they made in the name of the family. This is the main basis of the government and civil society for hailing OFWs the heroes of our time.
Indeed, some stories would validate that a hero lies in every OFW. This is not only about the remittances sent that become the lifeline of families left in the Philippines nor its positive contribution to the Gross National Product. This is not only about the donations they give during disasters and for the building of classrooms in poor rural areas in the Philippines. They give much, much more for the motherland. They who have the scantiest of time due to their demanding jobs, they who have limited resources but still manage to selflessly eke out a humble donation, they who are relatively powerless but have bonded with fellow OFWs to make things happen – they, on top of all the supposed roles they play – serve as the vital sign of hope that love for the motherland is very much alive, pulsating at the very core of the Filipino diaspora.
At present, can we see oppression as obvious as the conditions described by Rizal in his two literary opus in the lives of OFWs? If the coffins of OFWs that are sent back to the Philippines would serve as any indication, then there is no debate as to whether oppression exists.
So, are OFWs heroes? Or are they victims of a social structure that forces them to leave in order to live? Maybe, there is really no need to choose between these two images: hero and victim. After all, history tells us that true heroes have always been the victims of their time.