By Christopher Santos
Spending my entire career as an IT and corporate person, I grew up appreciating in amazement the technological advancements we now enjoy. Iba na talaga ang panahon. At kahit sa Pilipinas, kahit gaano kamahal ang mga gadgets higit na nauuna pa itong pag-ipunan ng iba kaysa ibang higit na importanteng bagay. Pagkatapos nasa huli ang panghihinayang kung bakit hindi nauna ang pag-ipunan ang bahay or educational investments. Yun e kung hindi lang mauuwi sa pagkasira ng pinag-ipunan mo, ang mabwisit ka sa customer support or, worse, ang maholdap. Some of my friends feel na at least ilang buwan lang nila pag-i-ipunan ang gadgets unlike and compared to sa ilang taong commitment sa isang investment. I think it's all about discipline. If you are not afraid to work hard for it, igagapang mo talaga ang commitments mo. Well, that's what a commitment is to start with. You just need to decide if it's really worth striving for. You need to define its importance sa buhay mo o ng pamilya mo. Sa isang banda naman, I don't blame people for going bananas on the gadgetry fads. In a lot of ways, it reflects our evolution. Aaminin ko din na hindi ako exception. I myself have those electronic contrivances. However, I still value being part of that time when we can focus on tapping our raw skills and talent, not exploring the functions of PSPs and PS2s; when we can open up to real friends and not Twit with them; and when we learn to know each other with the expression on our faces and not what we put on Facebook. Kahit sabihin pa na conservative ako and I may be so, but I still consider myself fortunate for having known what it was like to interact and not interface. There's a difference in as much as there is one between convenience and indolence.
As of October 2010, Japan's total population stood at 125.77 million and by 2050, 40% of the population will be aged 65 and older. Presuming na yung kalahati nung natirang 60% ay mga trabahador na nagbabayad ng pension (and that's if there is 0% unemployment, which is next to impossible), ang ibig sabihin ang isang empleyado dito sa Japan ay nagbabayad para sa pension ng 1.5 katao na paretiro pa lang in 40 years time. He's not even paying for his own retirement now and will have to depend on the fast shrinking future Japan population to be able to claim his share of the benefits when his turn comes. Dito dapat pumasok ang appreciation ng mga Hapon for foreign workers. Sabi sa City Hall ng Minato-Ku, sa ngayon ang policy is that we need to complete 300 monthly pension payments before you can avail anything. At kahit may pera ka pa to pay in lump, hanggang isang taon lang ang pwedeng payagan for advance payment. Tapos, we can only avail when we reach 62 (or 65 daw if the law changes). So even before the time na makumpleto mo yung 300 months or reach the qualified age, nakakatakot isipin kung gaano na kababa ang benefits since paunti nang paunti ang mga nagbabayad either because of the declining population or unemployment.
On SPEAKING JAPANESE
Alam natin lahat na ang Japan ay isang lugar kung saan pwedeng takasan ng ilang kababayan natin ang naging buhay nila sa Pilipinas. Lalo na kung dito sila umasenso. Alam ko na maraming problema sa atin. Kahit saan naman. Kahit sa Amerika pa nga. Pero meron tayong mga kababayan na kung magtanong e parang talagang walang alam sa Pilipinas. Parang hindi sila nanggaling dun. O kaya naman kung magsalita ay para ba ang Pilipinas hindi na kahit kailan umasenso at wala na silang pakialam dahil nandito na sila. Sa mga tatamaan, hoy, gising! That's not a proof na Japanized ka. That's a sign na clueless ka lang ! There's a difference. At kung hindi mo alam kung ano, may tawag diyan. I understand that one method to learn the Japanese language is to actually speak it. Kahit naman kami dito sa JP, we encourage it with some of our works. I also understand that language becomes second nature to most. Pero tulad ng kahit anong bagay, may ibinabagay sa okasyon. Katulad na lamang sa kaso ng isang Pilipino na nagpakilala sa akin at sa ilang turistang Pinoy din. Tama ba naman na mag-Japanese ka kahit wala namang Hapon sa paligid at ang kausap mo ay hindi marunong mag-Hapon na kababayan mong bumibisita lang? O minsan naman maayos na pagha-Hapon na ang gamit ko sa pakikipag-usap sa isang Hapon, nagpipilit pa din yun Pilipina na i-translate sa akin yung sinasabi nung asawa niya. May mga pagkakataon na hindi naman kailangan mag-Japanese e talagang trying hard lang yung iba. Barok naman. Iba ang nag-aaral sa nagpapanggap. Iba ang gustong matuto sa nagyayabang. What actually irritates me is that these baseless ego-stricken Filipinos are not even aware that Japanese is a very disciplined language. There are tones for it: colloquial, formal, corporate. And then there's their "street" Japanese. Alam sa buong mundo na Filipinos are good learners by ear. Magsalita ka man ng maling Japanese pero kung ang tunay na pakay mo is to communicate, higit na acceptable yun. Otherwise, some are just desperately trying too hard to fit in or lose their old identities. And that's just sad ! Nakakalungkot talaga. More so, it's stupid !
by Amelia Iriarte Kohno
I have been talking about “cancer” a few times in my “K” articles and perhaps you wonder why. Well, it's not that I am just telling you my daily struggles from years of having cancer, the bad side-effects from medications, remissions, transfers, recurrences, and others, but I want to share my experiences because I know that some of you or your loved ones have been suffering from this serious illness at unexpected times in your lives. Sa ganitong paraan ay maari ko rin mapukaw ang iba na nakakaunawa ng aking damdamin, o kaya, ng aking malalim na pag-iisip mula sa kaibuturan ng aking pagkatao, na pilit kumakapit at nakikilaban sa buhay sa pagkalat ng ganitong nagpapahina at nakakalungkot na sakit. Noong Oktubre 2010, nang sabihin ulit ng aking doctor ang tapat hinggil sa katotohanang aking sasapitin sa pagkakaroon nitong karamdaman, napakahirap humanap ng salitang magpapaliwanag ng lahat ng aking nararamdaman lalung-lalo na pag naiisip ko ang kamatayan at paglalayo sa mga mahal sa buhay. The factual possibilities explained by my doctor was really shocking at first. Thanks to God I have now accepted this reality. And my “faith” supports me for I know it's all in His hands!
Each time I experience a sad moment in my troubled health life, a church-friend happens to be with me. In 2000, when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, a good friend, Sr. Alta was with me. I still remember her puzzled look on hearing me ask Dr. Sawai if he was sure I had cancer and he answered, “100 % sure and you need surgery right away!” Some years later in 2006, when I had my first PET Scan after malignant cancer cells had spread from the original tumor of my breast to other parts of my body, again a Sister was with me. Sr. Malou already had tearful eyes while I was still looking amused at the different scan images of blue, yellow, and pink colors which were like lighted christmas tree decorations. A few minutes later my doctor said my cancer was already very difficult to treat. Only then, I realized the seriousness of my illness. Sr. Lou, another SFIC sister was also present last December, when I had my chest CV Port Implant. Surely, God sends angels to share difficult moments with us!
But sickness does not always mean suffering or endless anxiety over the thought of this life-threatening state. Nor giving up hope can be a solution to this most difficult time in your life. Instead, getting sick with cancer has given me more hope and determination to relate to others, to those who need friends to cheer them up at unhappy moments. And I need them, too. Now, I know how people feel when they have cancer. At Sawai Breast Cancer Clinic where I have my latest cancer treaments, our first meetings often start with: where's your cancer, when did you have it, what's your chemotherapy drug, how are you coping, can I contact you after you're out of the hospital? A special friendship is often started. My notebook is now full of names and pictures of people I have met in the hospitals!
Having cancer has given me more time to connect with people, write, and share my experiences both happy (because I realize that many people care and know I have countless blessings) and sad, to appreciate the value life, become stronger physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I will continue writing as long as time allows. Sino man ang nagnanais na maki-ugnay sa akin, puede ninyo akong padalhan ng email through Jeepney Press.
Ibahin ko naman ang paksa. Atin naman ngayon pagnilayan ang mga nangyayari sa ating mga samahan o komunidad dito sa Japan. On a recent regular monthly meeting of our church-based Filipino community, there were off-agenda critical and personal issues directed at some members. It was a common indication of conflicts existing in any organization, group or community. We know that issues can be resolved if all members concerned show sincerity in correcting what needs fixing. More often, it is not easy. Listening with open hearts and forgiving when we are hurt takes time for some of us. But we should go beyond the limits of our emotions and make peace with ourselves and with others.
Remember the gospel on “Light and Darkness?” At moments when the light of truth is hidden, we should keep in mind that in God's time, the truth will eventually come out and set us free. Which side are we?