by Cleo Umali Barawid
Of Anpanman and Toilet Training
While thinking of a topic to write in this column, my attention was caught by my 2-year old daughter who was squealing with delight as she watched Anpanman on DVD right next to me. She’s watched that DVD for the nth time but she never gets tired of it. If you have lived in Japan long enough, for sure you know who Anpanman is. Anpanman’s popularity among pre-school children in Japan is unquestionable. Kung ang Amerika ay may Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse and Friends, at Barney, ang Japan naman may Anpanman.
Anpanman is a cartoon superhero with anpan
(bread filled with azuki bean paste) for a head. He is often seen breaking off a part of his head to give to hungry people. Like all superheroes, meron din syang arch nemesis. Ito ay walang iba kundi si Baikinman (germ man). Baikinman likes dirty things and he’s always plotting Anpanman’s downfall. He is naughty and cute at the same time (in fact he reminds me of my little boy, Kahlil).
Anpanman is not invincible. There are times when Baikinman gets the better of him. During the times when he gets beaten, his head would have to be replaced by a new one. Jam ojisang (grandfather Jam) would make him a new head and would throw it up in the air to land on Anpanman’s old head, after which the old head will be gone. Every time this happens, my youngest child would clap her hand in delight. All characters in Anpanman are loveable, the villains included. I admit I also enjoy watching.
The Anpanman cartoon was written by Takashi Yanase. He started writing it in 1968 but the idea of its plot had been with him eversince he was serving as a soldier in World War II. Faced with the prospect of starvation, he would dream of eating anpan. He thought how nice it would be if there’s one superhero who would fly around and come to hungry people’s rescue.
Today, Anpanman is a multi-billion yen enterprise. Anpanman merchandise (from clothes to toys to books) is a mainstay in all major kids’ store in Japan. As of 2006, over 50 million copies of the books were sold.
As a mother, I’m quite picky with the programs I let my kids watch. Some cartoons have too much slapstick in them. Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny came to mind. Admittedly these are funny cartoons but the plotting and the revenge element are not for toddler- viewing. I’m at ease letting my toddler watch Anpanman though because compared to other cartoons, it’s pretty tame. Even Baikinman and his cohorts from time to time portray good traits like standing up for their friends and doing the right thing in the end.
Shimajiro is not as popular as Anpanman but boy am I grateful to him. Bakit? Kasi at age 2, my daughter is potty-trained thanks to him. He makes toilet training fun and easy. If you want to know what I’m talking about, try looking for him in youtube. I-type mo lang ang Shimajiro and several toilet training videos will appear. Pwede mo rin kabisaduhin yung kanta ng parents ni Shimajiro sa tuwing gagamit sya ng toilet. I did. At syempre, lagi kong kinakanta pagmato-toire si bunso. And what do you know... effective nga, and that made me a very happy okasang indeed dahil nakakatipid kami sa diapers.
I think Japan is the only country where unchi (poo) and the oshiko (pee) are not considered kimochi warui (yucky). In fact, it’s not unusual to hear unchikun or oshikokun when referring to a child’s poo or pee. The suffix –kun is added to boys’ names to denote affection. So when one adds a term of endearment to unchi and oshiko, it only means that he is not put off by them, but is regarding them with fondness instead.
A Cup of Coffee
by Richard Diaz Alorro
What would be your ideal morning?
Kung ako ang tatanungin, my ideal morning would be a sunny and warm weekend morning. I will get up nang medyo tanghali compared to the usual weekday mornings, and while still in pajama or damit pantulog, enjoy the aroma of freshly brewed coffee sa balcony or sa labas ng bahay. A cup of coffee in the morning while watching people from different walks of life pass by, cars and other vehicles rule the streets, or trees and flowers sway with the morning breeze, will surely make my day. Isang tasang kape sa umaga habang nagmamasid at nagmumuni-muni sa takbo at agos ng buhay. Isang tasang kape sa umaga habang nag-aalay ng munting pasasalamat para sa nakaraang araw. Isang tasang kape sa umaga at panahon para sa aking sarili. Talagang nakakamiss ang umagang ganito.
Ano ba ang maaring i-offer ng isang tasang kape? A cup of coffee could warm up our chilly day, can make us alert during a lazy afternoon, or help us make it through the night if we need to finish loads of work. Para sa akin, a cup of coffee is a treat; a treat for myself after a hard and long day, a treat for a friend whom I did not see for a long time, a treat for a new acquaintance, a treat for a client to whom I will discuss business matters, a treat for a special someone to whom I share my dreams, a treat for my family who serves as my inspiration, and a treat for a life that I need to nurture.
A cup of coffee can make stories. Ang mga kwentuhan over a cup of coffee ay naghahatid ng iba’t ibang kwento ng buhay. Usually talks over a cup of coffee give us opportunities to share heartaches or a new-found love, mga karanasan sa buhay, childhood memories, dreams and aspirations, or kahit na mga maliliit na bagay about our neighborhood, failed exams or favorite showbiz personalities. May mga pagmamahalang nabuo, negosyong naitaguyod, pagka-kaibigang pinagtibay, at mga pangarap na natupad dahil sa isang tasang kape. Makahulugan para sa akin ang isang tasang kape because it creates bonds of friendship and love. It brings me closer to myself and to the society where I belong.
A cup of coffee symbolizes life. Mayroong iba’t-ibang flavor ng kape. May espresso, cappuccino, café au lait, café macchiato, café latte, frappe or the ordinary black coffee. Different flavors also bring different hues of coffee colors and tastes. May kapeng dark black, dirty white, brown or mocha. May kapeng mapait, creamy, o matamis at may mga kapeng instant or brewed. May kapeng mainit at mayroon ding iced-coffee. Ang buhay ay katulad din ng kape. Minsan dahil sa tindi ng problema or trahedya (katulad na lamang ng triple tragedy na sumalanta sa bansang Hapon – Great Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis), naiku-kumpara natin ang buhay sa isang mapait at black coffee. Minsan ang buhay ay parang café au lait, café latte, or cappuccino - creamy, mabango at masarap; masaya at pinagpala. Bawat isa sa atin ay mga sangkap to add flavor to a cup of coffee. It’s up to us to choose what we want to be – cream, sugar, cinnamon, milk, ice, or just another plain coffee. We may have different choices but we share the same purpose – to add flavor to this cup of coffee we call life.
Patuloy ang takbo ng buhay kaibigan. Sa mga panahong tayo ay nangangamba o nalilito, why don’t we stop for a while, sit down and have a cup of coffee. Let us think about life and the good things that are yet to come. At bilang panghuli, nais kong ibahagi ang isang napakagandang message by President Tom Beck (played by Morgan Freeman) from the movie Deep Impact (1998). Para sa bansang Hapon at mga Pilipino saan mang panig ng mundo:
“Cities fall, but they are rebuilt. And heroes die, but they are remembered. We honor them with every brick we lay, with every field we sow, with every child we comfort, and then teach to rejoice in what we have been re-given.”