by Rey Ian Corpuz
Journey into Fatherhood
I would like you share to you my experience being a father. It was the early morning of April 5th when our little angel was born. Despite the never-ending aftershocks and gruesome 18-hour delivery of my wife, our kiddo was successfully delivered by suction method. Thank God because they are both safe. When I first saw our child, tears fell into my eyes. So this is it, a true feeling of being a father. A Japanese friend of us always call me “shinmai otousan” (literally new rice father 新米お父さん) or a newbie dad. He was so fragile that I am even afraid to touch or carry him at first. His eyes rarely opened as he was 2-weeks induced. And that I could always remember how difficult for my wife to give birth to him. For those who have undergone induced labor here in Japan, I am sure you are familiar with “laminaria,” a kind of algae that is in form of small sticks used to speed-up delivery (Thanks to Doc Gino for this information).
Since he was born, I was terribly concerned over the issue of water safety after the nuclear accident in Fukushima. By the time we went home, I hoarded three boxes of mineral water for his water. And over the growing concern of my wife’s nutrition, I did not buy any vegetable and fruit coming from Tohoku, Ibaraki and Chiba. I bought extra packs of diapers because during the disaster, even baby diapers were out-of-stock. I really panicked. And maybe, this is really how a “shinmai otousan” behaves. I am now even more concern of what my baby eats, wears and feels rather than what I feel. In the past, when I browse Amazon Japan’s website, I used to buy things for me, but now, I always browse for diapers, baby wipes, milk, feeding bottles and nipples and anything about baby goods and stuffs. Every parent wants only the best for their child. With his milk, we chose Icreo, which is the most expensive brand here in Japan. Apparently, this is the only milk that he has no problems with pooping.
Since he was born, we barely have the usual 8-hour sleep. A four hour sleep for us is already normal. The first tip I heard from most people was that, when the baby sleeps, you should also sleep. Yes, it’s really effective but there are times that you still have errands to do or simply you are not in the mood to sleep that is why I and my wife sometimes end up almost having no sleep at all. During the first trimester, I and my wife take turns to take care of him. But my wife does most of it during the weekdays and I took the responsibility on weekends so that she can rest. Changing diapers was one of the most challenging part for most fathers. I have been “peed” at twice when I changed his nappies. Sometimes, when changing his diapers, poop suddenly comes out so the bed mat becomes stained again. Feeding him is more difficult especially recently. Marking his fourth month last August, two of his rear teeth came out. He kept on crying and his drinking pattern was irregular. Another thing about feeding him was that how to have him burp or “geppu” in Japanese. It’s really, really frustrating sometimes when he just throws up everything he drank. The technique was to feed him around 30-50ml of milk then let him burp. Or in some cases, induce the burping. Burping techniques here in Japan is different from the Philippines. In Japan, you have to tap his upper back to let the air come out but this thing is not practiced in the Philippines. Sometimes if he regurgitates the milk, we ended up changing clothes 2-3 times, giving us heavy-load of laundry during the weekend. Whew! Another ordeal I cannot forget was when he cried until the wee hours of the morning. Then we discovered that he needs to fart (おなら). Funny but it’s painful for little ones. Thanks to my friend Clabel, who is now in Spain, for teaching me the bicycle method on how to release the gas from his tummy.
Well, despite all of these, I am still very happy to say that our baby is teaching us things that we have never thought of. From him, I learned to be more patient and more understanding of what he feels and his needs. Sometimes, his wants too are granted. It’s true that when you arrive at home feeling stressed with work and travel, and then when you see those cute smile and laughter in your baby’s face, all of those stresses will be gone. Hearing your son’s laughter and even his gibberish babbling eases your feelings and makes you smile, too. Since then, I always have this urge to go home immediately from work just to be with my son and wife.
I am also glad that most of our friends and colleagues have given us a lot of “hand-me-down” items. A baby grows too fast, so why buy a lot of new clothes? In Japan, babies are lucky because they can wear designer clothes like GAP, Diesel and many more. Right now, we are talking to our child in three languages: English, Filipino and Japanese. We hope to impart our Filipino heritage by teaching him first our language, where more Filipinos here in Japan neglect. We also want him to learn English so that he can compete globally and of course Japanese so he can blend into the Japanese society well. How about Bisaya? Hmmm, I’ll just talk to him secretly.
In this regard, I would like to thank a lot of people who have helped us during the 1st trimester of our child-upbringing. We wouldn’t make this far if not because of your advices and help. Maraming salamat po.
And oh by the way, I forgot to say his name! He is Adrian Yusuke.
Shoganai: Gaijin Life By Abie Principe
Halos lahat ng Pilipino sa Japan ay naranasan na ang matinding trapik sa tinubuang bayan. Noong nag-aaral pa lang ako, madalas tinatahak ko ang kabuuan ng EDSA mula Pasay hanggang QC. Pero mula nang dumating ako ng Japan, lalo na sa Nagoya, tuwang-tuwa ako sa dali ng pag-commute! Sumulat na nga ako noon, dito rin sa Shoganai: Gaijin Life, ukol sa nakaka-aliw na pag commute dito sa Japan.
Kahit highway nila dito, madaling daanan, walang pot-holes at hindi binabaha, (maliban na lang kung may tsunami). Pero isa rin sa hindi naiiwasan, sa kahit saang bansa, ay ang magkaroon ng aksidente sa highway. Sa Pinas, kung merong nagka-banggan, siguradong ubos ang oras mo sa paghintay na gumalaw ang mga sasakyan, at kakanta ka na lang ng “highway blues.” Dito sa Japan, mayroong efficiency na madalas ay wala sa Pinas (pati na rin siguro sa ibang bansa). Napansin ko, na kung mayroong aksidente, ay magkakaroon din ng traffic jam, pero kung ang aksidente ay walang kumplikasyon, halimbawa, lahat ng involved sa aksidente ay naroroon para magbigay ng statement at kausapin ang mga highway patrol, OK na. Hindi siguro tatagal ng isang oras, balik sa normal na ang traffic. Pero, kung halimbawa ay hit-and-run ang nangyari, talagang hindi titigil ang mga highway patrol hangga't hindi napupulot ang lahat ng ebidensya sa kalsada, at hindi rin sila mag-aatubili na kuwestyunin ang mga duma-daang sasakyan na nagmumula sa pinangyarihan ng aksidente, upang mahanap kung sino ang nang hit-and-run. Efficient talaga sila, pero, mabusisi pag dating sa krimen. Minsan pa nga isa-sara nila ang highway, para lang mahuli kung sino man ang may kasalanan ng aksidente.
Naranasan ko ito first-hand, noong huli ako bumisita sa Tokyo, nagkataon na kotse ang sinakyan ko, dahil matipid ito kung ikumpara sa shinkansen, lalo na kung shared expenses. Dumaan kami via highway syempre, para mabilis. Maganda ang umpisa ng travel namin, maagang naka-alis ng Nagoya, at walang problema hanggang sa service area malapit sa Gotemba. Doon nag-umpisa ang problema namin, dahil nakatanggap ng traffic report na ang highway ay halos sarado, dahil sa isang hit-and-run. Lahat ng sasakyan na nandoon, trapped na at hindi gumagalaw, mula pa daw noong alas-sais ng umaga. Nandoon kami ng alas-nueve sa service area. Wala kaming nagawa kung hindi mag-hintay hanggang sa magkaroon ng traffic report na nagsasabi na bukas na uli ang dadaanang highway. Hindi rin naman nakakabagot maghintay, dahil mayroong coffee shops and gift shops sa service area. Isa pa, madalas dumarating ang updates ukol sa aksidente, kaya, nalaman agad namin noong matapos na ang imbestigasyon. At mabilis namang nabuksan uli ang highway, ni hindi mo mahuhulaan kung saan nangyari ang aksidente, dahil sobrang linis ng lugar na pinangyarian. Isa na rin itong sign ng efficiency ng mga Hapon.
Learning experience ito para sa akin, dahil, kahit na ang tagal ng delay, at nahuli na kami sa aming appointment, kahit paano, hindi kami na-trap ng matagal sa gitna ng daan na hindi alam kung aandar pa o hindi ang mga sasakyan. Ibang-iba ito sa experience ko sa Manila noong student pa ako, na pitong oras sa EDSA dahil sa kung anong parada meron. Mahal ko ang Pilipinas, kahit ano pa ang sabihin, pero klaro talaga sa isip ko na transportation-wise, mas magaling talaga ang Japan. Kaya kahit na mayroon delay sa daan, hindi ko pa rin kinanta ang “highway blues.”