A Cup of Coffee
by Richard Diaz Alorro
10 Things I Love About Japan
The year 2011 marks the 6th anniversary of my arrival in Japan. I set foot on Japanese soil, for the very first time, on October 2, 2005. Ang bilis ng panahon! Six years have already passed - swift and sweet! The land of the rising sun has been very generous to me and has influenced me in many ways. My six years in Japan has given me the opportunity to improve my craft, to learn and experience different cultures, and to know more of my being a Filipino. Sa pagtatapos ng taong 2011, I feel that it is just fitting to pay tribute to the country which nestled me and continues to nurture and amaze me with endless opportunities and with great and bizarre things.
Living in Japan is an opportunity. Mapapalad tayong naririto ngayon sa bansang Hapon for having the chance to experience its beauty, culture, shadows, and mystery. For some of us who have stayed for more than 10 or 20 years, Japan is more than just a second home. Sa tagal ng pamamalagi natin sa bansang ito, we have learned to embrace the many facets of Japanese contrasts and hues.
Anong mga bagay o katangian ng bansang Hapon ang iyong hinahangaan at pinapahalagahan? Kung tatanungin ka kaibigan, ano ang iyong magiging sagot? Let me enumerate my answers. These will be the things that I’ll miss when the time for me to leave this second home comes.
1. Customer service
I have been to many countries around the world (for various purposes) but no one has surpassed yet the Japanese level of customer service. Be it in government offices, in restaurants, in train stations, in supermarkets, or in hospitals, the Japanese people never failed to deliver the best customer service in the world. Japan’s showcase of customer service best exemplifies the phrase “customer satisfaction.” Kahit minsan ang mga ngiti at welcome ay superficial lamang, laging tinatandaan ng mga Hapon na ang customer service ay hindi lamang isang duty to fulfill but a responsibility and commitment they have to live with.
Japan has the world's fastest Internet connections, delivering more data at a lower cost than anywhere else, ayon sa mga pag-aaral na ginawa. Sinasabi rin na ang bilis ng Internet sa Japan ay 8-30 times faster than the US. Most hotels in Japan provide internet connections (cable or wireless) in every room for free! Hindi katulad sa mga hotels in Australia or Canada where you have to pay for internet connection ($10-20/day). Kahit sa airports, McDonalds o Starbucks, may mga internet spots and connections for free. It’s easy to get wired and connected in Japan!
3. Convenient stores and vending machines
Almost every corner of Japan’s geographic periphery has convenient stores or vending machines selling various beverages, food and daily necessities. Sa loob man o labas ng buildings, sa mga parks, mountain resorts, beaches o kahit farms ay may makikita kang vending machine o convenient stores. And the catch, most of these “convenis” are open 24 hours kaya laking tulong sa mga nocturnals at mga late homecomers. Accessibility and convenience at its best talaga!
Ang pagpasok sa onsen for the very first time is one of the most awkward moments ko sa Japan. But as time went by and after several attempts, I have learned to embrace and love the Japanese way of bathing and relaxation. Hindi lamang pampatanggal stress at pangparelax ang onsen, ito ay isang paraan din ng family or friend bonding. For me, there is more to onsen than just bathing and relaxing. Onsen symbolizes the shedding off of our inhibitions and breaking barriers. Sabi nga ng mga Hapon, ang onsen daw ay isang form of “naked communion” where you get to know people in a very homey atmosphere.
Sushi, sashimi, tempura, ramen, sukiyaki, udon, soba, onigiri, and the list goes on. Japanese food is one of the world’s famous and distinct culinary creations. Saan mang panig sa mundo, kilalang-kilala ang Japanese food. Known for their healthy diet and long life, the Japanese people really value the quality of their food more than other things. Where to taste the best Japanese food in the world? Of course, in Japan!
Japan has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. Megacities like Tokyo and Osaka may have very complex train systems but they serve millions of commuters everyday very efficiently. Kilala din ang mga trains ng Japan sa pagiging on time, mabilis, at malinis (not to mention the amenities such as toilets and smoking area). No wonder, among other things, a car is not that much of a necessity in Japan, especially sa mga major cities. Tara, biyahe tayo!
Airports are considered windows of the country and serve as the country’s portal of culture and hospitality. Mahalaga na ang airport ay malinis, maayos (lalo na sa immigration section), may disiplina ang mga staff, at maraming options for relaxing, dining, or entertainment, at may convenient means of transportation to the city center. Most of Japan’s airport hubs are among the best in the world providing travelers with comfort and style in a very Japanese way.
8. Green Tea
If European countries have wine, Japan has green tea. The Japanese tea, especially green tea or matcha, is a symbol of Japan’s love for nature, balance and harmony. Isang importanteng bahagi ng Japanese diet ang pag-inom ng tea. Mara-ming magagandang naidudulot sa ating kalusugan and pag-inom ng green tea. Ito ay mabisang anti-oxidant at anti-carcinogen.
9. Free Facial Tissues
Considered as one of the major forms of advertisement, the giving away of free facial tissues is something very Japanese. A stroll around train stations or shopping areas will never be complete without packs of facial tissues to receive. Minsan nga sinasadya talagang dumaan sa harap ng namimigay para siguradong mabigyan ng isang pakete. This pack of facial tissue is a great rescue in times when I forget to bring handkerchief or face towel. Sometimes collecting them for fun until you realize you already have bundles enough to last for a month would be a nice experience!
10. Food packaging and presentation
And finally, I will always be amazed by how a very simple snack or dessert would look so appetizing, attractive, and expensive by just the way it is packed or presented. Japan has mastered the art of food packaging and presentation to add value to its pastries and other culinary delights. Maliban sa napakagandang balot, napakada-ling buksan din ang mga pagkain at pasalubong na gawang Hapon. I sometimes wonder how our more delicious Filipino kakanin, desserts, and pastries would appeal if presented in a very nice package. Certainly, looks can deceive!
Hanggang sa susunod na issue mga kababayan! Isang banal at maligayang pasko at mapayapang bagong taon para sa lahat!
Isang Barya Lang Po!
Sa pagkukuwento ni Alex Milan
CAPTURING THE FUTURE NOW!
Unti-unti na tayong nakakaipon sa pamamagitan ng isang barya kada pasada ng Jeepney Press. Ang ‘barya’ natin ngayon ay patungkol sa ‘Capturing Your Future Now!’ If financial stability is what we are aiming for, now is the time to capture it, and then nurture it over time.
Capturing something requires deliberate preparation, action and patience. If you want to achieve financial stability, you need to learn four basic things.
1. Capture Your Future by dreaming
The Holy Bible says, ‘When there is no vision, the people will perish.’ When we stop dreaming, we stop progressing. In today’s world, we cannot afford to stop progressing, otherwise we soon become irrelevant or extinct! Sapagkat ang mga pangarap ang nagbibigay kulay, nagbibigay-sigla, nagdadala sa atin sa higit na magandang kasalukuyan.
No matter what is our current situation or our past failures, we should not let go dreaming. Kahit ano pa ang nawala o sino pa ang naglaho sa buhay mo, dapat tuloy pa rin ang pangarap. Dahil habang may buhay, may pag-asa, kaya hindi tayo dapat tumigil sa paggawa ng panibagong pangarap. Kailangan ‘keep on dreaming’ para you can ‘try and try until you succeed!’
This is the first step in capturing your future - never stop dreaming.
2. Capture Your Future by systematic planning
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Kung gusto nating ma-achieve ang minimithi nating financial stability, we have to follow a systematic plan. Kung pupunta ka ng Quiapo at manggagaling ka sa Caloocan, dapat alam mo kung saan ka sasakay o dadaan upang makarating ka ng Quiapo ng mas mabilis. In our financial planning towards stability, we have to develop the habit of savings. Form the habit first, bago ang lahat. Once you have developed the habit, start saving for liquidity. Cash is king, as we are always told. You need to have enough cash to meet your daily needs and your emergencies. Ito po ang una nating pag-iipunan – personal liquidity. Our suggestion is build an emergency fund in cash of equivalent to six months of your monthly budget. Idagdag na nating itabi ang isang buwang suweldo as our operating fund para hindi natin laging inaabangan ang dating suweldo bago tayo makapamili ng pangangailangan natin. Kapag na-achieve mo ito, you are on your way in capturing your future now. Hindi ka na isang kahig, isang tuka, ‘di ba! Kapag tinanong ka, ‘may cash ka?’, ang sagot mo ay isang simpleng ngiti at mapagpa-kumbabang, ‘Mayroon naman’.
Pagkatapos saka tayo puwedeng mag-save for short-term investment. Short-term investments are those investments which can immediately produce additional benefits for you in a short while. Ito yung makakatulong para magkaroon ka ng additional income or those assets that can reduce your regular expenses. Halimbawa, imbes na nagbabayad ka ng renta sa iyong tirahan, kumuha ka ng property na yung rentang ibinabayad mo ay paghulog mo na sa amortization ng iyong bahay. Huwag munang magarbong tirahan, yun munang abot-kaya ng iyong budget para hindi mabawasan ang puwede mo pang ma-ipon. Mag-ingat sa sales talk na magbubuyo sa atin na bumuli ng higit sa kaya nating i-sustain sa darating na mga panahon.
Then, save for legacy or para sa mga pamana mo. Kailangan ang magulang may pamana sa mga anak. Hindi yung utang ang naiiwan sa mga mahal sa buhay. Ang sakit na nga ng kalooban dahil naiwan mo na sila, naging pabigat pa ang iyong pagpanaw dahil ang iniwan mong pamana ay ang iyong mga utang.
Kung legacy o inheritance ang iyong iiwanan, mag-ipon ka ng pambili ng lupa. At dahil para sa iyong future generation naman yan, bumili ka ng murang lupain na balang araw ay tataas din ang valor nito. At kung papalarin, baka ma-develop yung lugar na yon, e, di doble-doble ang magiging halaga nito para sa iyong mga anak at apo!
3. Capture Your Future by protecting yourself
Ang pinakamahalagang asset natin ay ang ating sarili. Health is wealth so we must take care of our body for the sake of our dreams; for the sake of our loved ones. However, we do not know our life span. We also can not anticipate accidents, calamities and sicknesses. So, to capture our future now we must have protection through insurance.
We are being practical by covering ourselves with insurance such as life insurance, personal accident insurance, medical insurance, even memorial plans. When we protect ourselves, we are actually protecting our dependents. It is our responsibility to ensure that our loved ones will not suffer financially when something untimely or accidentally happen to us.
4. Capture Your Future by managing your limited resources
We can capture our future by exercising proper stewardship of our limited resources. Let us adopt the saying, ‘kapag maliit ang kumot, magtiis na mamaluktot’. Live within our means. This requires discipline and humility. It pays to be humble and simple. Mahalaga na hindi butas ang ating lalagyan upang makaipon tayo. We can postpone luxuries for the time being. The earlier we start building our savings, the earlier we can enjoy luxuries in life. There is time for everything and everything has a season. Teach our young the value of stewardship and you will never regret it.
5. Capture Your Future by trusting God
The most important decision one can make is to secure his eternal destiny. When Christ cried out on the cross, ‘It is finished!’, He declared that anyone can actually have eternal life if he believes on what Christ did on the cross – settling the penalty of sins; and by trusting Him as our saviour, we can have eternal life. Your eternity is captured and secured if you have Christ in you regardless of who you are and what you have done. Just come. Just as you are.
Salamat po. Hanggang sa susunod na ‘Isang barya, hatid ay saya!’