Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jeepney Press Cover

Cover Art and Design by Dennis Sun

10th Anniversary ARTICLE

JEEPNEY PRESS: Celebrating 10 ShiningYears

Ten winters ago in this month of January, Jeepney Press was born in Tokyo. The year was 2003; the year when the towering Roppongi Hills opened in Tokyo; the year when the PCCC (Philippine Community Coordinating Council), an umbrella organization of Filipino groups in Kansai area, was formed; the year when the monorail in Okinawa was launched; and it was also the year when the queen of showbiz talks and intrigues, Inday Badiday, passed away, while another queen, the queen of all media, Kris Aquino, revealed that she incurred a sexually transmitted disease in an interview on Philippine TV.

Despite starting with merely 12 pages, a circulation of 5,000 copies in print and distributed exclusively in Tokyo and a few major cities in Japan, Jeepney Press demonstrated itself to be unique among the other Filipino newspapers and magazines circulated in Japan. There was no news about politics, no gossips about your favorite celebrities, and the pages were limited to put more weight on content and substance rather than commercial advertising. That was the concept of Jeepney Press.
Published once in two months, Jeepney Press is a non-profit and non-commercial publication run by a staff of volunteers working towards making a unified, diverse and responsible Filipino society in Japan by promoting community involvement in issues concerning Filipinos in Japan. Jeepney Press encourages constructive, positive, educational and inspirational dialogues among Filipinos. It ventures to share knowledge and resources, strengthen existing relations and forge new ones with various Filipino communities all around Japan. Jeepney Press helps organize community-based cultural programs and collaborative projects like UTAWIT, a nationwide singing competition among Filipinos and Japanese, as one of its acclaimed projects that lasts for a whole year.

Now, ten winters later and more than sixty issues published, Jeepney Press takes pleasure in boasting 28 pages of art, design and literature, a circulation of 30,000 copies in print and distributed in various locations all around Japan from the warm tropical islands of Okinawa to the snowy cold alps of Hokkaido.

With Irene Kaneko as publisher and Dennis Sun as editor-in chief and creative art director, they started off the first issue of Jeepney Press with some of their Filipino friends living around Japan who shared their vision of helping the Filipino community.

Dennis Sun, a Global Pinoy Awardee by the SM Foundation, is the founder of Jeepney Press. For more than two decades, Dennis has been involved in the publishing, advertising, design and art industry in Japan. Because of his rich knowledge, connections, network and expertise in these industries, Dennis decided to create Jeepney Press for the Filipinos in Japan.

Jeepney Press interviews Dennis Sun.

First and foremost, why did you name it Jeepney Press?
I did not want to use the word Philippines or Filipino. I was looking for a visual word symbol that would represent the Philippines instead. At first, the word ADOBO came to mind but the publication could be mistaken for a culinary paper. I finally ended with “jeepney” because we are a country famous for our jeepneys as Thailand is for its tuk-tuks.  And jeepneys are colorful and they symbolize movement. So that’s half the title already. I wanted to have 12 letters (my lucky number) and jeepney has only 7 letters. I had to find another word with 5 letters. That’s how I picked up the word PRESS. I love that word because together with Jeepney, they form JP as initials, which could refer to the first letters of Japan and the Philippines, JP!

Why did you use a tabloid newspaper format and not a magazine?
Actually, my first choice is to create a magazine because I could be more creative with a magazine. I can have endless number of pages. I can create unique and interesting layouts. In the newspaper format, I am limited with the total number of pages. The pages are not glossy. Actually, the main obstacle is the cost of printing. Magazines are expensive to print. And printing preparation takes a week longer compared to the newspaper. Thus, Jeepney Press had to be born in a newspaper format.

Tell us about your staff of writers and the type of articles you write about.
During the few years before Jeepney Press was born, I had been actively going around supporting Filipino events and monitoring the situation of Filipinos in Japan. During these travels, I was fortunate and very glad to meet so many successful, educated, and established Filipinos in Japan. I asked them about my vision of creating a paper that would help upgrade the standard and image of Filipinos in Japan and they all gave their share of contributing articles.

Filipinos had a very bad image in Japan, most especially during that time. We were looked down as a people. I had to show our countrymen that we can be successful and make our dreams come true in Japan despite this low image of ours. We had to write about these successful Filipinos so the other Pinoys can have models to follow. This is basically why there are no showbiz celebrities featured in Jeepney Press. Why? Because our celebrities are these successful Filipinos in Japan. This is what Jeepney Press is for. It is about us.

And while the other publications then were written by Filipinos in the
Philippines who don’t know what was happening to Filipinos in Japan, Jeepney Press paved the way of having a pool of Filipino writers based in Japan.

How has Jeepney Press grown for the past 10 years?
From 12 pages at the start, Jeepney Press has more than doubled that number to 28 pages. From less than a dozen of people in the work force, we now have more than two dozens. From 5,000 copies, we now have 30,000 copies in distribution. Some writers have continued to write from the very beginning. Some have continued to send irregularly. Some have to go back to the Philippines. But new writers have joined forces with us. We also have a website and a blog online where articles even from the past can be read.

Is Jeepney Press involved with publication only?
Actually, Jeepney Press along with a few Filipino groups in Tokyo started the nationwide singing competition, UTAWIT. Now, Jeepney Press is spearheading Utawit, with Jeepney Press’ publisher, Irene Kaneko, as its chairperson for several years. Utawit was originally created to help promote Filipino talents and Filipino music in Japan. It also helps unite and empower different Filipino organizations all around Japan. I think it is the only festival that binds various Filipino groups across this country.

What are the difficulties you have encountered with Jeepney Press over the years?
On the part of the staff, it’s the waiting for the submission of articles that keeps me from moving on. I need to remind them many times about the deadline. You can’t start editing and proofreading and doing illustrations and creating the page layout if they haven’t given the articles yet.

Personally, on my part, once it’s Jeepney Press season, I have either to give up what other projects I have or I need to do my other projects at the same time as I do Jeepney Press. I cannot depend on other people to do the creative design because I have been doing it all by myself all these years. Even when I was sick with high fever, I had to work on Jeepney Press because there is a deadline to beat. Twice, I was hospitalized and we had to work inside the hospital. The hospital room was practically my office. Then, my dad passed away and I had to take a week leave but had to be back in Japan to get back with Jeepney Press immediately. You see, there is no stopping. It continues.

Also, I felt that I have sacrificed my other love, painting, because I need to give more time for Jeepney Press and my other design work. Once I find extra time to paint, I end up not painting because I just want to spend time to rest and go on a vacation somewhere. Once I get the energy to start painting, it’s back to doing the next issue of Jeepney Press.

What keeps you moving on with Jeepney Press?
You see, you really need to love what you do. I love art. I love writing and I love design. Most of all, I love my fellow Filipinos and I want to do something to help them grow. And I express this love for my fellowmen through Jeepney Press.

What do you want to tell your fellow Filipinos through Jeepney Press?
I want Filipinos to be successful with what they do. And I want to celebrate their success and share them to other Filipinos. I have seen and experienced personally how some Japanese looked down on us. And I want to tell other Filipinos that we are a great people and we need to work on what we need to improve to raise our flag and image in this country.

What qualities do you think the Filipinos in Japan lack?
I have always compared the Filipinos in America and Filipinos in Japan. Filipinos in America can speak English and have a good command of their language. However, Filipinos in Japan are generally not proficient in the Japanese language.
Although some could communicate verbally somehow, many are still at a loss when it comes to reading and writing in Japanese.

When a Filipino succeeds in America, I feel proud, of course. But when a Filipino succeeds in Japan, that is something else! It is because of the enormous cultural gap and language barrier that a Filipino has to overcome. 

So, does Jeepney Press include Japanese language articles in your paper?
Actually, yes. And I am hoping that the articles could spark interest that could lead them to seriously study Japanese and go to a Japanese language class.

Any future plans for Jeepney Press?
I have been dreaming of publishing books about Filipinos in Japan. I would like to compile some articles that have been published in Jeepney Press and make a book. I would also like to help publish books by other Filipinos in Japan. I am hoping that Jeepney Press is giving its writers hope to make publishing a book a reality for them.

Are there plans to celebrate your 10th anniversary?
Yes, but nothing is official yet. Please wait for the announcement in our next issue in March. So, if ever this celebration happens, it would either be in late March or early April in time for the blossoming of the beautiful sakura flowers.

Ten years passed and it has been a decade of realizations, accomplishments and fulfillment for Jeepney Press. Ten is actually a good number which signifies completeness. After ten years of expansive publishing journey, Jeepney Press moves onward to better serve Filipinos and looks forward to another ten year journey ahead.



by Alma R. H. Reyes and Dennis Sun

Sorry to disappoint you but not everything you read in the pages of history books is true. There are half-truths, fabricated myths, and still some that were omitted due to a variety of reasons: political, religious, economical, or personal. You will get disappointed to know that they didn’t actually happen. Or, there were some things missing in between. You’ll be surprised that what we were taught in school were actually censored. Yes, not only in movies, but even scenes in history books had to be repressed and suppressed.

This is basically what Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo, our renowned historian and professor from Ateneo de Manila University, and now visiting lecturer at Sophia University, is actually preaching. And, because of this, he is both hated and loved. He will disappoint you by telling you with all frankness and justification that some of what you have been taught in school are lies.

Disappointed? Dis- enchanted? Others get excited, though! Ambeth’s lectures and workshops are, indeed, a wake-up call. They open your mind and ask you what the truth is.

But wait, even Ambeth’s name is an enigma. Sorry to disappoint you again, but Ambeth is not his real name. Ambeth is actually a nickname that he had used all his life, and he is known by this name rather than the one written in his birth certificate. “I am seriously considering a change of name so my passport will carry Ambeth Ocampo,” Ambeth discloses.

Ambeth, your multi-awarded Filipino educator is also your favorite stand-up comic. He would use materials and ideas deemed non-conventional by other academes to spark reaction, response and reciprocation from his audience and students. Ambeth believes education doesn’t have to be boring. He admits he would use humor to get his message across.

Perhaps, because his lectures are too captivating and seductively intriguing, he had to take a pause and infiltrate the monastic life when he entered the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat in Manila where he was known by, don’t be surprised, another name: as Dom. Ignacio Maria, OSB. One wonders if he has infected the whole monastery with his recognized wit, humor and fun.

Ambeth served as Chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (2002 to 2011) and Chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (2005 to 2007). He is the most famous living Filipino historian of our generation, and an expert on Jose Rizal. He writes a bi-weekly editorial page column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and boasts more than twenty published books.

We are blessed to have Ambeth Ocampo in Japan with us as he uncovers more interesting chapters and connections between Japan and Philippine history. During one of his lectures in Sophia University, he explained that teaching history should go beyond dates, names, places and facts. He stressed the need to look into the “how and why” more than the “what, where and when.”

Ambeth Ocampo’s stories, whether you read them in books or in his newspaper columns, or hear them in his lectures, remind us that our heroes are simply human beings like us. So be prepared to  be shocked when Ambeth brings to life an episode in history, and unfurls you the skeletons inside the closets of our heroes!


JP: When and how did you start to focus on your research study on Rizal? Why this subject?
AO: I did not plan to be a historian. I started as a journalist who wrote history, and ended up as an academic. Why Rizal? Because he’s there; because he wrote a lot for a nation that does not read him; because he left me with twenty-five volumes of writing to perpetually mine for new insights relevant to Filipinos of our time.

JP: They say that the Americans chose Rizal over Bonifacio to be our National Hero because Bonifacio was too aggressive and violent compared to Rizal. What's your comment on this?
AO: The question regarding “who should be our national hero” is not a historical but an ideological question. Rizal AND Bonifacio are National Heroes, so are other 19th century figures, like Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Emilio Jacinto, the Luna brothers Antonio and Juan, and even women like Gregoria de Jesus (Mrs. Bonifacio), Rizal’s mother Theodora Alonso, as well as Rizal’s sisters. To say the Americans chose Rizal as our National Hero is saying that Filipinos are so gullible and stupid they would venerate Mickey Mouse if he were chosen as a hero for us. For the record, there is no law declaring Rizal our National Hero. Heroes are not made; they are not legislated; they are there because people put them there; because people see something in heroes that inspire us to be heroic ourselves in our time, in our way.

JP: Rizal was well travelled. How do you think Rizal would have promoted the Philippines to the world should he be appointed as Tourism Secretary?
AO: Rizal will never be appointed Tourism Secretary because he is not a politician. If you read Rizal’s travel impressions, he would always compare what he saw abroad with what he saw back home. I’d like to think that Rizal was like many overseas Filipinos today who learn to love their country more when they are abroad. You see, there is truth to the saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

JP: If Rizal was a woman, how do you think Philippine history would have changed?
AO: It would be written from a woman’s point of view, and instead of being HIS-story, it would be HER-story.

JP: If you were Rizal, how would you plan your death the way he did?
AO: I’m not scared of death; that's where we will all end up some day. If I could plan it, I would want it to be quick and painless.


JP: As the most popular Philippine historian in this generation, how would you rewrite the history of the Philippines if given the chance? What aspects would you change?
AO: I write for a wider general audience, I don't write for academic historians, there is no fun preaching to the converted. I want history to be engaging not boring. I want people to find connections between events, and find the past relevant in their lives. I want a history that is fair and complete. For example, we study both the good and bad aspects of the Spanish, American, British, and Japanese colonial periods because these made us what we are today. There is no sense blaming the past for the present; what is important is that history gives us the perspective to guide us into the future. It is useless to even consider returning to the bahag and baybayin of the pre-Spanish past. History gives us the base from which we understand the present—a perch from where we spring to fly into the future.

JP: As a historian, writer and educator, which of these professions are you first, the closest to you, and enjoy being the most?
AO: I am basically a teacher; history is my subject area. Thus, research gives me my material, and I disseminate this by lecturing in a classroom or writing for the newspapers. I have been fortunate to have a job that I truly like, so it does not seem like work to me.

JP: How would you want history to remember you when you die?
AO: I want to be remembered as a historian who took history from the ivory towers of academia, and returned it to people where it also belongs.


JP: You have been coming back many times to Japan. How many times? Do you think it's "more fun" in Japan? Why?
AO: My first trip to Japan was to visit the Expo ’70 in Osaka. I was only eight years old then, and it made an impression. For the past decade, I have been coming to Japan almost every year. I wouldn't say it’s “more fun” in Japan. That's like comparing Rizal and Bonifacio! Japan is a beautiful country with a lot of history that may be that is why Kyoto and Tokyo are some of my favorite cities in the world, together with: New York City, London, Paris, Madrid, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and of course, Manila which is home, the city of our affections.

JP: What are some Japanese traits, beha-viors or aspects of Japanese culture do you admire, and not admire?
AO: I admire the Japanese sense of order, their cleanliness, discipline, and their aesthetic sense—the way they embrace moments of silence and solitude. I am fascinated by the way something so unnatural like a bonsai is made to look natural. On the other side of the coin, I see that in daily life this sense of order is so rigid they have a hard time adapting to things that are not in the script. They have difficulty thinking out of the box or dealing with issues spontaneously.

JP: What are your particular observations about Japanese students?
AO: Students are the same everywhere. I have always wondered why young people at the peak of their physical powers should sit in a classroom instead of enjoying all that life has to offer. Japanese students are quiet and not as participative as Filipino students who like to talk a lot either in recitation or during a lecture! I was told that Japanese students don't want to recite because that is seen as showing off. Japanese students will not ask questions as that would appear like challenging a teacher. What I had to get used to were students who sleep in class. This is unacceptable in the Philippines, and would merit being thrown out of class, but here we are told it is not meant to be insulting to the teacher, and that I shouldn't take it personally.

JP: If you were to bring one (1) item from Japan to the Philippines, what would it be?
AO: One item only? Gosh, there are many things I’d like to bring home from Japan. One inexpensive thing? It would be a furoshiki whose print reminds me of Japan; it is also a simple object with many uses. One expensive thing? I’d like to bring home a piece of Namban pottery from the 16th or 17th century—blue and white ceramic with a Jesuit symbol on it.

JP: If you were trapped in a Tokyo subway for six (6) hours during an earthquake, what three (3) things would you want to have?
AO: A book(s), a bottle of water, and a fan.

JP: Name three (3) things you would like Filipinos to learn from the Japanese.
AO: First, stay on one side of the escalator so others can go ahead on the other. Second, when the MRT or LRT stops, or when in an elevator, let people get off first before going in. Common sense as you know is not common, and in Manila I always wonder why people rush into a packed train without knowing that you cannot get in if you don't let people out. Third, don’t litter.


JP: You were in the monastery one time in your life and left. What made you enter the monastery and why did you leave?
AO: I was in a Benedictine monastery living a life of prayer, work, and silence. In retrospect, those were the happiest and most productive years of my life. Why did I leave? Because there was much I needed to do outside the cloister. My community was very patient with me, and allowed me to write and research, but it was taking a toll on me and them, so to simplify things, I allowed my vows to expire. Technically, I may return any time and should be accepted because I was not asked to leave. Neither did I break my vows of: obedience, stability and conversion of life. I often think of returning, but not yet.

JP: If you were not a historian now, what would you have been?
AO: Let’s put it this way. If I could live my life again, I wouldn't live it too differently. If I could live life again, I wish that I would have my present mind in a toddler’s body. 

Toddler or not, Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo opens our eyes to the many ways by which we can view history not merely as the seed of our past, but more importantly, the cradle of our present and future. He will be with us in Japan until the end of his teaching tenure at Sophia University in March 2013.

Hopefully, he would pursue to extend his stay so he could continue telling us more historical surprises!

REX ANGELES by Alma R. H. Reyes

REX ANGELES by Alma R. H. Reyes


Spanning about roughly twenty-five years of long and promising years in Japan, Rex Angeles has truly come a long way, from student, corporate man, model, actor, singer to administrator. Filipinos in Tokyo know him as the suave and cool tenor balladeer who often graces community events, concerts, singing engagements with foreign dignitaries, and receptions hosted by the Philippine Ambassador, not to mention live shows of his own. Many miss the other side of Rex’s career as model, actor, and school administrator. Rex speaks to Jeepney Press about his personal experiences and challenges in the world of entertainment and business.

“I first started as a model (for commercials and advertisements), then tried acting for movies and television, and went into singing later. But, I’ve always considered myself foremost as an actor. For me, acting is more of a greater challenge since you need to step into somebody’s character and pretend to be that person. Singing is more of expressing yourself from within,” as Rex describes his keen interest in acting. Rex’s first acting debut was in 1990 in the popular TV serial drama, FUZOROI NO RINGO TACHI Part 3 with powerhouse cast, including Kiichi Nakai, Mariko Ishihara, Saburo Tokito and many others. He portrayed the role of Jim, a Filipino factory worker. Some of his succeeding acting portrayals included Aguila, a Filipino exchange student who became a suspect in a murder case in KAYOU SUSPENSE GEKIJOU, a Malaysian sultan's son who was a rival of veteran actor Tetsuya Takeda in the movie PRO-GOLFER ORIBE KINJIRO Part 5, and a Filipino hotel worker in the comedy-drama TV serial PRISON HOTEL. He also did commercials, like Sapporo Beer, Lotte Gum, Asian Spirits, Vidal Sassoon, Nissan, Fujitsu, etc. Being in the cast of the long-running TV drama series, COACH (1996-1997) was Rex’s most cherished and unforgettable experience as an actor in Japan. “I really enjoyed working with the regular cast and crew of that production, like Koji Tamaki, Atsuko Asano, Anju Suzuki, etc. We frequently met at Koji Tamaki’s place and reviewed our scenes, laughing and joking about them. We enjoyed each other’s company and really got along well,” Rex recalls.
       In 2011, Rex was lucky to have been given the role of a Malaysian investigator in the successful movie SECOND VIRGIN, with multi-awarded actress Kyoka Suzuki and actor Hiroshi Hasegawa. Rex describes working in the Japanese production set, “In Japan, actors are extremely pampered by the production staff. We get serviced by a private car, meals, and provided with a complete set of wardrobe. Japanese actors are always prompt in the location shooting. Unlike in some productions abroad where the big stars sometimes come late on the set, in Japan, the big actors always come the earliest. Everyone is polite and courteous. There is no drama or intrigue.”
        Rex admires Johnny Depp and would like to try different roles that offer a more exciting challenge. “Being an Asian, I usually played the ‘good guy' in an Asian role. But, what I really want to do are the difficult roles, like being a retarded person, for example, where you have to develop your expression to the fullest without lines or a dialogue." Currently after a short break, Rex again started receiving offers to act in several TV variety programs set in location scenes; one of them is Beat Takeshi’s UNBELIEVABLE.

 “I joined the chorale group in college in Manila where I gained my professional training, but I was never really interested in joining singing contests and in pursuing it as a career. However, I got into singing when I was offered a guest appearance at the Johnny Litton TV show; I was spotted by Alpha Records' big boss and was soon offered a recording contract, which I eventually declined in the end," Rex recalls his early singing career. He is often invited to sing in many Filipino social events, sponsored by the Philippine Embassy, as well as the foreign communities and organizations in Japan. He has also been sitting as one of the judges in the yearly UTAWIT Grand Finals competition. Rex has done solo shows of his own in Tokyo—at the Tokyo Main Dining Restaurant and Bar in Shibuya, the Gigabar in Aoyama, Blues Alley in Meguro, JZ Brat, etc.  His first major concert in 1997 entitled "Rated R" was held at the Kitazawa Town Hall in Tokyo. He also did a "Jazz and Bossa Night" regular stint at the Tokyo Westin Hotel's The Lounge, singing mostly standard songs of Frank Sinatra, Burt Bacharach, Michael BublĂ©, etc. He maintains his style of singing ballads, mellow pop, bossa nova, and lounge music. “I’m not really keen on concentrating on singing alone as my main career. I think doing regular shows every week and touring can be exhausting,” Rex explains why he chooses singing more as a form of leisure.
Rex, however, is preparing for his next solo live show in Tokyo, hopefully, in spring this year. Be sure to mark your calendar when the notice is out!

Currently, Rex is the Director, Administrator and Co-founder of the Ohana English Pre-school in Yokohama. The school opened in 2004, but dragged on very slowly in the next three years. Fortunately, from its fourth year, enrollment peaked, and the school now is busy as a bee with a full calendar of activities. Rex explains his experience managing this school. “It was very difficult at first to manage the business. Obviously, you have to hire and deal with every staff, then recruit foreign teachers who have all sorts of demands. But, I have to accept that I won’t be young forever. I probably won’t be singing and acting all my life. Japan has blessed me with a heap of opportunities, and this is one way for me to return that blessing by offering my service to children.”

Balancing his routine as actor, singer, and administrator has been a great feat for Rex Angeles. No wonder his future can never look dull. Whether you spot him on the wide screen, on your home TV, or in one of the live houses in Tokyo, you will surely be awed by his tall, stark and debonair presence, and be reminded of a great thing a Filipino is doing outside his home country. Good luck, Rex! We surely look forward to seeing you more in the limelight!

Dennis Sun

by Dennis Sun

“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” - Steve Maraboli 

Habang sinusulat ko ito, ilang araw na lang, matatapos na ang taong 2012. Parating na ang taong 2013.

Panahon na naman ng wakas at simula. Nagtatapos na ba ang panahon? O tila ito ba ay nagsisimula pa lang? Bakit kaya natin tinitignan ang bawat bagay sa kanyang katapusan at simula?

We should stay away from this thinking of “beginnings and endings.” Rather, we should always think of life in a circle. Bilog! That’s the word; Marui in Japanese (Hindi yung department store!). It’s a cycle of life! Life goes on and on. Tuloy pa rin ang laban (kahit natalo na si Manny Pacquiao).

I remember during the end of the millennium in 1999 and the start of the new millennium in 2000, everyone was so nervous that the world would end because of a possible crash of the global computer dating system. Sabi raw nila, hindi naka program ang dating system na ginagamit nating computers beyond 1999. Worried na worried especially ang mga financial companies lalung-lalo na ang mga bangko. Baka masira o magka-error ang mga data files nila.

Natatandaan ko pa, new year’s eve of 2000, I stayed at home in front of my computer to see personally with my own eyes how the date in my Mac computer would adapt to the new millennium. Siempre, worried din ng konti so I saved some special data  burnt on several blank CDs. And what happened? Hayun! Adopt it did! Ganun lang naman. Like human beings, computer can find ways to analyze data as programmed.

Recently last December of 2012, we had the doomsday prophecy that was supposed to happen. (Come to think of it, they never do. Because if they did, we won’t be here anymore.) Scenarios like tsunamis, earthquakes, polar shifts and another planet or meteor hitting the earth were some of the things to happen. Well, we do experience some earthquakes in Japan and the Philippines. And we had the unexpected fury of Typhoon Pablo in the south. Many perished but again, life goes on.

By the time you are reading this, it’s mid January of 2013 already. Or later. And if you are in Japan, we are enduring the cold spells of winter. Malamig talaga ang winter even where I live which is in Tokyo. I wonder how our kababayan survive in Hokkaido—minus zero centigrade! In Tokyo, when temperature drops below 10 degrees Celcius, parang ayaw na natin lumabas ng bahay. Natatakot siguro tayo na paglabas natin, magiging snowmen tayo!

For me, especially because I have cold hands and feet, it’s definitely tough during winter. I need to put KAIRO inside my shoes to heat up my feet. Sometimes, I forget and I would have my feet frozen in no time. Naninigas ang mga paa! Taihen!

Good thing winter doesn’t last long. Come late March or April, we celebrate the blossoming of spring with the magnificent sakuras. Tiyaga lang ng konti. Konting dusa lang, sabi nila. Right now, we are in the midst of winter. Drink lang tayo ng hot ginger tea or green tea. Or better yet, go for pito-pito or sambong tea (para tangkilikin ang sariling atin!). Try using KAIRO pads when you go out. And during sleep, use a YUTAMPO to heat up your body inside the futon.

There are many ways to warm up your winter. Likewise, there are many ways to alleviate, lighten and relieve the pains, suffering and challenges in life. So, no matter how cold and painful life can be, it’s never the end of the world. Seasons will change. And in time, sunshine will come to brighten up your life.

Just GO and put your life to the best shape not because it’s new year. It’s because it’s NOW, the precious present!

Alma R. H. Reyes

Alma R. H. Reyes

“Look before you leap,
for snakes
among sweet flowers
do creep.”



Welcome to the year of the hissing Snake! We often view the snake as poisonous, dangerous, deceptive, or evil. In fact, in Chinese wisdom, the snake is wise, insightful, determined, willing to sacrifice its possessions, and is often successful in business. It may be emotional and affectionate, but does not show it. Being outwardly vocal and persuasive in its opinions is a striking quality of the snake. It could be exciting, and yet, dark and mysterious. As the saying goes, “a snake easily lurks in the grass.” For those born in 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, and 2001, and expecting this year, celebrate a rattling, slivery, and excitable year of high success!


New years are for new beginnings—for many, a new job, a new school, a new project, a new boyfriend, a new marriage (smile), or a new home. In the long years I have lived in Japan, I myself have moved domiciles nine times (!) excluding the two places I lived in outside Japan when I was away for five years. Yes, maybe I was crazy, for moving into apartments or houses in Japan can be a stifling ritual sometimes.

First, in renting a place in Tokyo, you are painstakingly subjected to the disturbing real estate and landlord system of paying 2-months “reikin” (gift or key money that doesn’t return to you), 2-months “shikikin” (deposit that supposedly returns to you after the end of the contract), 1-month broker’s fee, and the first month’s rent. Hence, you need to be prepared with a total of six-month’s rent just for the initial payment. In other cities outside Tokyo, the payment values may differ. In Kyoto, for instance, some real estate agencies charge 3-months reikin and 1-month shikikin, or 4-months shikikin, but zero reikin. The system seems to vary depending on the landlord, whereas in Tokyo, it is relatively standardized. Of course, we all know apartments and houses in Japan are incredibly small-scaled, especially in proportion to the amount of the rent. Studio apartments may range from  ¥70,000 up, while 2-3 bedroom flats can range from ¥100,000 - 200,000 or more, all depending on the building condition, location, close vicinity to the train station, etc. Imagine, for this amount of rent, you can find a place abroad for twice the size. But, then, again, this is Japan, right?

Then, here comes the rituals. We all know how the strict observation of Japanese customs and norms is so delicate in this country. Sometimes, if you miss a single step, or fail to obey the custom in the “proper” Japanese way, you can get ostracized. Ningen kankei (human relation) in Japan can be a very intricate learning process, and can cause friction, stress and harsh social pressure on Japanese and foreigners alike. For instance, the first thing you need to do when you have moved in to your new abode is to prepare small gifts for your immediate neighbors. You are expected to pay a courtesy visit to their homes, introduce yourself with the gift, a bow, and the usual “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu.” One time, I failed to do this promptly. My neighbor complained to my apartment landlady, and my landlady lectured me to make amends.

In some cases, when you go away on a vacation, leaving your place for a lengthy period of time, it is also an expected custom to inform your immediate neighbors about this, again, with the bow and “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu.” Then, when you return, it would be better to offer them some “omiyage” gift as a gesture of thanking them for looking after your place (even if they really didn’t do anything). If you live in a compound, the situation can be more demanding. If you hold a home party, you may be expected to invite your immediate neighbors within the compound (just for formality), even if they will most likely decline. It would sound polite to them that you excuse yourself in case your party may make some noise; therefore, asking for pardon in advance. Mendokusai (troublesome) deshou.

How about having trees and plants around your home? Periodically, watch out that the leaves don’t fall off on the property of your neighbor during a harsh typhoon or windy day! One time, I neglected to trim the branches of the trees, and my neighbor came buzzing on my door telling me it was time I look at my trees! For those living in houses, do you know there is a property line around your home, so that anything that stays beyond that line is outside your territory and responsibility? I was told that I cannot station my bicycle on the common pavement where the cars drive through, because that pavement is used by all residents, and is therefore not within my private property line. So, I have to make sure my bike is inside the boundary marking that designates my property. Oh wow. The truth is your neighbors won’t really care. But, observing that pretty, little norm just makes you look more “decent.”

Another custom that I just “love” is when your neighbor is having some home repairs done that may involve pounding on the wall, an electric drill, scaffolding on the exterior, or even the mere smell of paint, he or she will come to you to warn you in an apologetic manner as though the repair job may inconvenience you. When the repair is over, your neighbor will probably come to you again both to apologize and thank you for your patience, and offer you a small gift like fruits, soba noodles, or a piece of cake!

Oh Japan—rules, rules, rules…we live by so many of them! Compared to living abroad, in this country, we have to be more sensitive in giving respect to our neighbors who on the other hand, also demand a high level of expectation from you, whether you’re a Japanese or not. Comfort living in Japan? Good luck! May the Year of the Snake surround you with happy memories for your home, sweet home!

Shin-nen Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu!

Marcial Caniones

by Marcial Caniones

Kuya Pablo ... 


Ligtas kami lahat dito. Wala kang dapat ipag-alala.

May mga gasgas lang si itay sa kanyang kaliwang hita at gasgas sa mukha. Hinabol niya kasi si Oti ng muntik siyang matangay sa malakas na agos ng tubig habang kami ay daglian niyang tinawid sa ilog papuntang mataas na lugar.

Sa pagmamadali, buti nadala ko at hawak ko ang plaslayt at nailawan ko ang sanga ng kakawati at duon nakahawak si itay habang hawak din niya si Oti.

Si 'Nay at ate Ludy naman ay hawak ang tali na nakatali sa aking baywang upang hindi rin sila matangay ng ilog. Si' Nay nga lang ay hiningal at sinumpong ang kanyang hika.

Ok lang kami kuya. Pansamantala ay dito muna kami sa mataas na parte ng ating baryo -- dito sa pastulan ng kambing ni Manong Alan.

Buti ang mga kambing, daglian silang nakatawid bago tumaas ang ilog kahit wala ang kanilang pastol. Sinira nilang kusa ang buho nilang kulungan at nakatawid kaagad ng ilog bago rumagsa ang tubig.

Kung sakaling wala man umabot na relief at maubos ang nadala ni Ateng ng sardinas na lata, marami pa ang kamoteng kahoy na naman hindi naani dito sa taas. Marami din gabi at mga prutas na nahulog gaya ng sa bayabas na ibuburo ni Inay sa dala naming asin.

Wala rin kaming problema sa tubig sa ngayon dahil nagbagsakan mismo ang mga puno at bunga ng mga niyog. Siguro kahit isang buwan hindi kami mauuhaw sa dami ng buko. Sabagay wala rin naman kaming isasaing dahil hindi na namin naisip pa ng kumuha ng bigas sa pagmamadali.

Kuya, huwag kang mag-alala, si ' Tay at ako ay nakagawa agad ng aming pagsilungan gamit ng mga natumbang puno ng at sangang dahon niyog at mga kawayan na naputol na. Matibay ang aming nagawang barong-barong ni Itay.

Yung mga natangay nating kaunting gamit, ok lang 'yun kuya. Mapapalitan naman iyon di' ba? Ang mahalaga, ligtas kaming lahat, hindi gaya ng ibang mga kapit-bahay natin na marami sa kaanak nila ang hanggang ngayon ay hinahanap pa, at dasal naming lahat dito ay sana ay mahanap sila at ligtas pa.

Kuya, paubos na ang battery nitong padala mong laptop at 'yung broad band ay pa hinto-hinto ang signal. Send ko na muna sa iyo ito.

OK lang kami. Huwag kang mag-alala. Pinasasabi ni ' Tay at 'Nay. Ayos na sa amin ang mag-Noche Buena ng balanghoy, ginataang gabi at minatamis na niyog.

Bye na kuya ...



*** We, as people have always been resilient, resourceful and creative even in the midst of repeated disasters.

In the barrios, very few may have died not really because of hunger but because of panic, ignorance and fear. People will make do. Just like Manny Pacquiao, we shall rise again, often times even smiling even while in pain.

I am dedicating this piece to the brave, suffering, surviving, and at spur of momentary remembrance of bloops, people devastated, can even laugh ... triggered by pain and happiness at the same time.

We, as a Nation, are an irony, which is why we can never be put down!

We can cry and laugh at the same time.

We may become temporarily insane as individuals. During trials are we ever RESOLUTE collectively but in spirit.

This New Year, we need not change anything. We only need to open our hearts and love more, because LOVE is everything.

*** Host: "Kumusta ka ate?"
Contestant: "Malungkut po ... kamamatay lang po nung isang Linggo ng nanay ko dahil sa TB, wala po kaming pambili ng gamot at pambayad sa oxygen."
Host: "Kawawa ka naman, eto ang P5, 000 huwag ka ng umiyak, ganyan talaga ang buhay... lahat naman tayo ay mamamatay ...
Host: "Anong gagawin mo?"
Contestant: "Sasayaw po ..."

O ... bigyan ng JACKET ... ang lahat ng nagbabasa nito!

Jasmin Vasquez

Ano Ne!
ni Jasmin Vasquez

Araw Ng Puso

Bakit dito sa Japan, ang Valentine's Day ay para lamang sa mga lalake?

Katatapos lamang ng Pasko at Bagong Taon. Marahil di pa rin natin naililigpit ang ating mga dekorasyon na ating ikinabit sa ating mga tahanan. Nakakatamad pang kumilos dahil ito ang buwan na pinakamalamig dahil sa pag-ulan ng yuki o snow at lalung-lalong mada-dagdagan pa ang lamig kapag sumapit na ang tag-tunaw nito.

Kapag dumarating ang date ng February 14, ano ang unang sumasagi sa iyong isipan? Halos ang buong mundo yata, bukod sa Pasko, ay isini-celebrate ang araw na ito. Ito na rin yata ang may pinaka-romanti-kong celebrasyon--"Ang Araw ng mga Puso." Nangunguna dito ang mga mag-asawa o di kaya ay magkasintahan. Karaniwang nagbibigay ng bulaklak ang lalake sa babae. Gayundin ay nagpapalitan ng kani-kanilang mga regalo ang bawat mag-kasing irog. Kakain sa labas o di kaya ay manonood ng sine. Ang sarap ulit-ulitin ang mga ganitong okasyon kung ikaw ay mayroong minamahal. Sayang nga lang, hindi ko yan mararanasan dahil single ako ngayon...hahaha. Nagpapatawa lang po, masyado tayong seryoso.

Isang araw ay may nag-comment sa aking huling isinulat sa November/December issue ng Jeepney Press, "Jasmin, ang ganda ng iyong sinulat. Parang naalala ko nung aking kabataan. Totoo yon mga sinabi mo na:  ”...nangu-nguha kami ng mga tansan at ginagawa naming tamborin at gumagawa ng tambol mula sa lata ng mga gatas para makapag-caroling at ang saya-saya noon kahit walang gaanong pera.” Natuwa naman ako dahil nagustuhan niya ang aking isinulat. Sinabi ko sa kanya na ang susunod kong topic ay tungkol sa araw ng mga Puso. Bigla ay naisipan nya akong tanungin. Maaari mo bang isulat kung bakit dito sa Japan ay medyo iba ang selebrasyon ng February 14. At bigla din akong napaisip, bakit nga ba? Pinangako ko sa kanya na sasagutin ko ang kanyang katanungan. Marahil marami din sa inyo ang hindi pa rin nakakaalam ng tunay na kasagutan.
Sa ibang mga bansa, ang araw ng mga puso o Valentine’s Day ay araw ng dalawang taong nagmamahalan. Ngunit dito sa Japan, iba ang ibig sabihin. May tinatawag sila dito na St. Valentine's Day at White Day. Ang February 14 ay araw ng pagbibigay ng chocolate ng mga babae para sa lalake, at matapos ang isang buwan ay sasapit naman ang March 14 upang ang mga lalake naman ang magbigay ng kanilang regalo sa mga babae bilang kapalit sa kanilang natanggap sa araw na iyon.
Nag-research ako at napag-alaman ko na ang St. Valentine’s Day pala ay mula mismo sa bansang Hapon hango sa isang Japanese confectionery company na itinayo simula pa noong taong 1958. Ang mga babae lamang ang magbibigay ng regalo sa mga lalake at iyon nga ang chocolate. Matapos ang isang buwan ay kailangan suklian din ng regalo ng lalake ang isang babae bilang kapalit sa kanyang iniregalo dito. Ang White Day naman ay pinaniniwalaang nagsimula at hinango sa pangalan ng White Marshmallow Manufacturing Company na itinayo noong 1960's. Ang marshmallow naman ang kapalit sa chocolate na iniregalo sa lalake ng babae hanggang sa tumagal at lumipas ang mga taon nadagdagan na ng ibang mga candy, bulaklak at iba’t ibang regalo na nais mong ibigay hanggang sa maging popular sa pagdaan pa ng mga taon.

Ibig sabihin nito hindi araw ng mga puso ang February 14 dito sa Japan. Kaya kung iisipin iba pa rin tayong mga Pinoy pagdating sa puso at pag-ibig. Kahit ilang beses na tayong nasasaktan, hindi pa rin tayo tumitigil magmahal. Masarap kasi ang pakiramdam ng nagmamahal ka at lalo na mahal ka rin ng mahal mo, kaya para sa mga single na katulad ko, huwag tayong malungkot dahil hanggat tumitibok ang ating puso ay pwede pa tayong magmahal.

Para sa taong nagtanong sa akin tungkol sa history ng St. Valentine's Day, sana ay nakatulong ako sa kaunting sagot na aking naibigay. God bless us all.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Marty Manalastas-Timbol

by Marty Manalastas-Timbol

ALAM NYO BA…na parang kailan lang at Valentine’s day na! Pag labas nitong article na ito, tapos na ang Pasko at tapos na rin ang taong 2012. Bilis talaga ng panahon...tatanda na naman tayo ng isang taon.

ALAM NYO BA… marami sa atin ang naninibago o nahihirapan sa bagong patakaran ng immigration. The current alien registration system will be abolished with the start of the new residency management system. Yung mga di pa nakakaalam ukol sa bagong immigration law or yung new residency management system, check the website of the Immigration Bureau of Japan .

ALAM NYO BA…na ang stress ay isang dahilan para maging sakitin ang isang tao o di kaya’y maging dahilan o sanhi ng pagkamatay ng isang tao? It’s no surprise that stress can make people sick because stress can control your body and make you weak and sickly. Stress causes deterioration in everything, from losing appetite to eat, to heart ailment or from common cold to cancer. Make sure you are aware that what causes your body ache is not simply because you are tired, but because of stress. If you think you are not sure about how you feel, consult your doctor or siguro be more positive and have faith.

ALAM NYO BA…na ang sambong ay isang herbal medicine na nakakatulong sa mga may problema sa kidney or a cure for cough, colds and hypertension. Sambong ay isang shrub that grows wild sa mga tropical climate countries gaya ng Pilipinas, Africa o India. Mas ginagamit ang Sambong sa Pilipinas. Sambong is used as herbal medicine na ginagamit sa paggamot ng isang sugat, sa rayuma, anti-diarrhea at lalo na sa mga may kidney stones. May nabibili na ngayon sa mga drugstores sa Pilipinas na Sambong tablets.  Para sa karagdagang inpormasyon ukol sa Sambong at ang health benefits nito, check ninyo itong website:
(Source: Medical Health Guide)

ALAM NYO BA…that Jeepney Press will celebrate its 10th Anniversary sa taong 2013. Simula Enero 2013, we will be celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Jeepney Press.

Happy New Year po sa inyong lahat and God bless you all!

Loleng Ramos

by Loleng Ramos


Kapatid, Manigong Bagong Taon! Tatanda na naman tayo, tatagal na naman tayo dito sa Japan pero ang maganda, mas iikli na ang paghihintay natin sa kagampanan na ating mga pangarap. Meron ka bang pangarap? New Year’s Resolution?Anong plano para sa taong ito? May mga nagsasabing, “Masarap ang mangarap,” pero ang totoo, masama ang hindi mangarap. Sa isang pangarap nagsisimula ang lahat. Isipin mo na lang kung wala kang minimithi? Di ba mabigat ang ating katawan? Walang buhay, nakakatamad! Sa pagsu-sweldo na lang, di ba kung gusto nating halimbawa, makapag-pa-kisame ng bahay sa Pilipinas, mas ganado tayong mag-overtime. Kung mas kailangan natin ng pera para mas malaki ang maipadala natin sa Pilipinas, iisip pa tayo ng side business, “Magtinda kaya ako ng sinampalukang panimpla sa Japan. Sige, sa pag-uwi ko magbabaon ako ng marami pabalik dito.” Di ba nakakagana ang trabaho? Sabi nga, hindi ka raw bibigyan ng Diyos ng problemang hindi mo kaya, kung mas kailangan mo ng pera, sabi lang ni Lord, “Mas sipagan mo pa ang pagtra-trabaho kase alam kong masipag ka at matyaga.”  Syempre pa, sa bawat tiyaga ay may nilaga. Hindi mo mamamalayan, isang araw nakaipon ka na pala ng hindi lang pang-kisame, pangpagawa na ng buong bahay. Isang paalala lang, sa isang pangarap ay isa ring responsibilidad, baka mamaya magaling ka nga mag-ipon pero napadaan ka lang sa pachinko, gusto mo kase ng mansyon na at buo mo na ang pera para sa isang bungalow, sinugal mo ang naipon mo. Kapatid, huwag kang magpapa-udyok, masasayang lahat ng iyong pagsisikap at baka masira lang ang isang pangarap na halos hawak mo na!

Paano ba ang mangarap? Nakakabasa ka ba ng mga artikulo ni Brother Bo Sanchez? Isa siyang preacher sa atin, Nagbibigay siya ng mga inspiring words of wisdom. Subukan mo siya hanapin sa internet at marami kang inspirasyon na makukuha mula sa kanya. Sabi niya nga, pangarapin mo ang mga bagay na halos hindi mo akalain na papangarapin mo kase tila imposible, sa Diyos at sa bigay Niyang kakayanan sa iyo, walang imposible? Ang importante lang, sa pag-buo mo ng pangarap, kasama ang liwanag ng pag-iisip. Ang ilang mga great dreamers kase katulad ni Adolf Hitler at Napoleon Bonaparte na tinagurian ding mga anti-Christ ay mga taong pambihira ang pangarap. Nais nilang mag-hari sa mundo, napakataas ng kanilang mga pangarap at halos naabot nila, pero dahil maitim ang mga pangarap na ito, para din silang ibon na sa taas ng lipad at bilis ng pagaspas ay nabalian ng pakpak at tuloy-tuloy na bumulusok sa lupa. Si Walt Disney naman, ang siyang utak ng isa sa pinakamasayang lugar sa mundo, Disneyland: California, Tokyo, Paris & Hong Kong. Sabi niya, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Tapang ang kailangan sa pag-abot natin ng ating mga pangarap, kase kung napapansin mo, kapag meron tayong isang bagay na gustong mangyari o gustong makuha, meron palaging may mga pangyayari na tila haharang sa atin sa pag-abot nito, pero ang mga balakid na ito ang mas magpapatatag pa sa atin at magbibigay ng direksyon. Nagsasawa ka na bang mag-trabaho sa gabi? Tipo bang mas gusto mo na ngayon iyong hindi ka lang nasisikatan ng araw, ikinatutuwa mo na rin ang masikatan nito. Kaya lang ang trabahong hawak mo ngayon sa gabi nga lang, paano ang gagawin mo? May nahahawakan ka bang pera? Umpisahan mo mag-ipon iba kase kapag meron kang hawak na sarili mong pera parang mas panatag ang loob mo na kaya mong ingatan ang sarili mo. Isang araw makikita mo naririyan na ang pagkakataon para makalipat ka ng trabaho. Kung wala ka namang trabaho at ayaw mo pang umuwi sa Pilipinas dahil pakiramdam mo may pagkakataon ka pa para makapag-hanap-buhay dito sa Japan, dapat din sigurong maging matapang ka at lumapit sa isang mapagkakatiwalaang Filipino na maaring makatulong sa iyo. Kung ang pangarap mo naman ay isang maayos na pamilya pero malimit kayong mag-away ng asawa mo, na kung pwede lang hiwalayan mo na siya, pero iniisip mo ang kapakanan ng mga anak ninyo, gawin mo ang lahat para maitama mo ang lahat. Naipakita mo na ba ang lahat ng katangian mo sa asawa mo para mas bigyan ka niya ng halaga at respeto? Alam mo, ang maganda sa isang pangarap ng isang tao ay sa kanya lamang nakasalalay ang katuparan ng kanyang pangarap. Hindi maaring gagawin ng nanay mo ang pangarap mo para sa iyo, pangarap mo iyan, diskarte mo yan! Totoo merong mga tao na sinuwerte na tila hindi man lang nakatikim kahit konting sakripisyo sa pag-abot ng kanilang  mga pangarap (manalo kaya ako sa Lotto?) pero iba ang hatid na saya ng katuparan ng isang pangarap na pinaghirapan mo, na pinagpaguran mo, mas makinang, mas nakakataba ng puso, mas may halaga!

Iba-iba ang ating mga suliranin at iba-iba rin ang ating mga pangarap. Pinagkalooban tayo ng lakas para sagupain ang lahat ng problema at inspirasyon para mangarap. Bakit hindi natin gamiting mabuti ang mga instrumentong ito para sa mas makulay at mahusay na buhay? Huwag lang tayong makakalimot tumawag sa Kanya at makikita mo kapatid.  Bagong Taon, bagong buhay!

Dr. JB & Nelly Alinsod

Prayer for a Blessed 2 0 1 3
by Dr. JB & Nelly Alinsod

Lord God Almighty, we receive the New Year as a gift from you. The old has gone and a new life is in front of us this year. We believe that there are new opportunities, guidance, blessings and favor to make our life better this year.

It is our desire that this year will end according to your plan and purpose. So, we confess our need for your presence and guidance as we venture into this year. Help us to live our days purposely that we may present to you a wise heart. We need your mercy in our times and seasons that we may rejoice and be fulfilled.

You alone, O God, know what this year holds for us. We have our goals, plans and expectations but the challenges before us are beyond our control. Please equip us with your power and grace to meet each day as you planned it to be. Help us to humbly entrust everything into your loving hands and to seek your will more than our desires.

Gracious Father, in life’s uncertainties, let your unchanging love casts out all our fears and gives us stability. In the face of heartaches and miseries, may your comfort be our refuge. When temptations besiege us, help us to surrender our stubborn desires to your will and help us to bravely pay the price of the life that is pleasing in your sight. In our pursuits for a better life, open our eyes to the deprived, the hurting and the lonely in this world so we may respond with compassion to meet their needs.

Lord, we pray for our nation. May peace, justice and prosperity cover all our land. Help us to build national harmony, quietness and happiness. May equality and fairness saturate all levels of our society, as we become responsible citizens. Unite us to pray for the good of our country and remind us always that a nation is blessed when God is the Lord [Psalm 33:12].

As we begin our journey into this New Year, we are thankful for all the goodness you gave us in the past year. Permit your mercy to lead us to repentance and your goodness to humility. May your love and concern for us be our anchor of hope as we commit ourselves to make you the focus of our life and aspirations for this year! We will travel this year with faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Jeff Plantilla

Isang Araw sa Ating Buhay 
ni Jeff Plantilla

May mga Hapones na nagsasabi na ang Osaka ay ang kitchen ng Japan. Pero nung sinabi ko ito sa isang Hapones, hindi siya sumang-ayon. Sa tingin niya, yung lugar niya ang kitchen ng Japan. Basta’t pagkain, malakas ang interes ng mga Hapones.

Kalagayan Ng Pagkagutom
Ang pinuno ng regional office ng Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) para sa Asia-Pacific ay isang Hapones. Nagbigay siya ng isang report sa isang meeting sa Bangkok nitong Disyembre 2012 tungkol sa kalagayan ng pagkain sa buong mundo. May ilang bagay sa sinabi niya na magandang malaman. May isang bilyong tao sa ngayon na nasa status ng “chronic hunger.” Ito ay yung mga taong talagang mahirap at hindi kumakain ng sapat sa bawa’t araw. Nguni’t may isa pang bilyon ng mga tao na overweight at kaya may problema sa diabetes, at iba pang mga sakit sa katawan. Sa gitna ng mga taong ito, may dalawang bilyong tao na  may “micronutrient deficiency,”  yung mga taong  may kulang sa ilang bagay sa katawan tulad ng vitamins.

Marami pa rin ang may problema sa pagkain – may nagkukulang ang budget sa pagkain at may nagtatapon na ng pagkain dahil sobra na ang dami.

Ang rehiyon ng Asia-Pacific ay may pinakamataas na economic growth rate sa buong mundo. Ito ang may pinakamagandang economic outlook. Pero 62% ng mga taong gutom ay mula sa Asia-Pacific. Ibig sabihin, kahit mataas ang antas ng paglago ng ekonomiya sa Asia-Pacific, hindi pa rin ito sapat upang mapaliit ang dami ng taong gutom. May napakalalaking mga bansa na sakop ng Asia-Pacific na may napaka-maraming mamamayan. Mahigit sa dalawa at kalahating bilyon ng mga tao sa buong mundo ay nasa Asia-Pacific. Kaya malaki ang problema tungkol sa pagkain. Sinabi rin niya na ang paglaki ng  mga siyudad, pagdami ng tao sa mga siyudad, ay dahilan ng pagbaba ng dami ng pagkaing napo-produce. Nababawasan ang mga magsasaka sa probinsiya, at ang mga lupang tinataniman ng pagkain (palay, gulay, prutas at iba pa) ay nagiging subdivision o housing projects o commercial zones. Dagdag pa rito ang mga disasters – bagyo, lindol, tag-tuyot, baha at iba pang sakuna – na bumabawas sa pagkain at nagdadagdag sa pangangailangan ng pagkain.

Pagkain Sa Japan
Isa sa mapapansin natin sa Japan ay ang dami ng pagkaing mabibili. Marami ang galing sa iba’t-ibang panig ng mundo. Kilalang-kilala na ang saging, pineapple at manga mula sa Pilipinas. May salmon na galing sa Norway, karneng baka mula sa Australia, prutas mula sa California, at iba pa.  Karamihan sa mga ito ay may mataas na kalidad, at minsan ay mura.

Mas mahal yung pagkaing galing sa Japan mismo tulad ng bigas, gulay at prutas. Mara-ming nagsasabi, at nakikita naman natin, na ang magsasakang Hapones ay hind tulad sa ating magsasaka na mahihirap. Sa imbes, sila ang may malalaking bahay sa kanilang kanayunan at maganda ang buhay kahit pagsasaka lang ang ikinabubuhay.

Napatunayan sa Japan ang benepisyo ng land reform, na ipinilit na gawin sa  bansa ng mga Amerikano upang mawasak ang lakas ng mga maimpluwensiya at mayamang pamilya na sumuporta sa pamahalan nuong second World War. Samantalang sa Pilipinas, walang land reform na nangyari sa loob ng 50 taong pamamamahala ng mga Amerikano. Si General Douglas McArthur ay parehong naging opisyal na namuno bilang bahagi ng gobyernong Amerikano sa Japan at Pilipinas. Nguni’t  magkaiba ang kanyang programa, lalo na tungkol sa lupa, sa dalawang bansa. Kung ginawa kaya sa Pilipinas ng mga Amerikano ang land reform na ginawa sa Japan, aangat din kaya ang buhay ng magsasakang Pilipino?

Bigas Bilang Kultura
Nung minsang ginawang madali ang pag-import ng bigas mula sa ibang bansa, may nabalitang pagtutol ng ilang mga Hapones. Nakita ito sa isang photo sa dyaryo ng isang negosyanteng Hapones na nagtapon sa kalye ng bigas na imported para sabihin na hindi niya ipagbibili ang ganuong klase ng bigas.  Gusto niyang ipahiwatig ang halaga ng bigas japonica na dapat ay solong bigas na itinatanim, ipinagbibili at kinakain ng mga Hapon.
Dito lumalabas ang malalim na dahilan kung bakit ang bigas japonica ay mahalaga sa mga Hapones. May sinasabing ang bigas japonica ay kaugnay sa kulturang Hapones. Ang kanilang pagkain tulad ng sushi ay nangangailangan ng bigas japonica upang maging tunay na pagkaing Hapones.
At dahil dito, mahalaga na mapangalagaan ang bigas na ito at hindi mawala dahil sa pag-i-import ng mas mura at ibang klaseng bigas mula sa ibang bansa.

May nabasa ako na ang bigas na itinatanim ng mga taga- Mountain Province (kasama yung sa rice terraces) sa Pilipinas ay kapareho sa bigas japonica. Maaaring tama. Ang butil ng bigas na ito ay kapareho sa hugis ng bigas japonica – may pagkabilog at maikli – hindi katulad sa ating karaniwang bigas sa palengke sa Pilipinas.

Pero hindi  kailangang bigas japonica ang gagamitin para makakakain ng sushi sa Pilipinas. May natuklasan kami ng asawa ko sa isang mall sa Pilipinas na sushi at lasang tunay na sushi ngunit bigas mula sa Pilipinas ang ginamit. Ang sekreto ay ang paghahalo ng bigas na malagkit sa bigas milagrosa at yan instant bigas japonica! May nabalitang isang paraan upang mapangalagaan ang bigas japonica ay ang paglimita sa dami ng bigas sa palengke. Dahil ang pagdami ng bigas na ibinibenta ang magpapababa ng presyo ng bigas. Sa ganitong paraan, protektado ang kita ng mga magsasaka. Sinusuportahan ng gobyerno ang magsasaka sa hindi pagtatanim ng palay upang hindi dumami ang palay at bumaba ang presyo ng bigas sa palengke. May kita ang magsasaka  kahit nagbabawas ng pagtatanim ng palay!

Nguni’t nagbabago ang panahon at isipan. Kung noon ay kayang itapon sa kalye ang imported na bigas, hindi na ngayon. Una, tinatanggap na rin ang imported na bigas dahil nasasarapan na rin sa ganitong kakaibang uri ng bigas. Pangalawa, dahil sa hindi magandang kalagayan ng ekonomiya, hindi na masyadong mahalaga kung ito ay bigas japonica o imported, ang mahalaga ay kung ito ay abot-kaya ng bulsa. Nguni’t kahit  nagbabago na ang isipan at panglasa ng mga Hapon, malakas pa rin ang pag-iisip ng mga taga-gobyerno at ng mga magsasaka na pangalagaan ang pagtatanim ng bigas japonica sa gitna ng malakas na puwersa ng free market. Naging malaki ang epekto ng “Lehman shock” sa ekonomiya ng bansa at sa pag-iisip ng mga Hapones. May mga pamilyang nasira – nag-divorce ang mga mag- asawa - at naghirap ang pamilya. May isang TV show na nagpalabas ng isang documentary tungkol sa isang biktima ng Lehman shock. Bumagsak ang negosyo niya at nag-divorce sila ng asawa niya. Umalis siya ng Japan at hindi na nakikita ang apat na anak. Nagdesisyon siya na tumira sa Paraguay – sa isang community ng mga Hapones. At bilang hanapbuhay, nagtitinda siya ng himono – sardinas na pinatuyo at iniihaw bago kainin – na siya mismo ang gumagawa. Ang paggawa at pagtitinda ng pagkain ang tunay na isang mahalagang pinagkukunan ng hanapbuhay.

Malaki na rin sa ngayon ang negosyong 100 Yen shop dahil maraming Hapones na ngayon ang gusto ang murang bilihin na galing sa Japan at ibang bansa. Sa lugar namin, nawala na ang dalawang grocery stores at napalitan ng isang 100 Yen shop na may pagkain at ibang bagay na kailangan sa araw-araw na buhay. Nagbago na ang pag-iisip ng mga Hapones tungkol sa mga bagay na binibili kasama ang pagkain, kumpara sa aking dinatnan mga 17 na taon na ang nakakaraan.

Bigas Bilang Export
Ilang bansa sa Asya ang pinakamalaking exporters ng bigas sa buong mundo. Sobra-sobra ang kanilang inaaning bigas kaya’t nakakapag-export sila ng marami. Kaya nga sa ibang rehiyon ng mundo (north America o Europe), kapag bigas ang hahanapin, ang bigas mula sa mga bansang ito ang mabibili.

Nguni’t kung maraming mamamayan ang nagkukulang sa pagkain, isang bansa sa Asya ay sinasabing hindi dapat nag-e-export ng bigas. Sinasabing sa imbes na mag-export dapat ay sa sariling naghihirap na mamamayan nagbebenta o di kaya ay nagbibigay ng libreng bigas.

Need And Greed
Sinabi nung taga FAO na sa pangkalahatan ang dami ng pagkain ay hindi sapat sa dami ng pangangailangan. Kulang ang pagkain para sa dami ng taong kakain. May mga disasters na sumisira sa mga pananim at lupang taniman. Kulang na ang lupang tinataniman sa ilang bansa sa Asya na hindi na kayang magpalawak pa ng kanilang taniman. May problema din sa tubig, kulang na para sa pagtatanim o anumang gawain sa pagpo-produce ng pagkain.

Nguni’t ang isang mabigat na dahilan ay yung problema ng hindi pantay na pag-ikot ng pagkain (food distribution). Kahit na hindi pareho ang dami ng pagkain sa dami ng kakain, kaya pa ring mapakain ang hindi kumakain nang sapat kung ang pagkain ay umiikot nang maayos. Akma pa rin ang sinabi ni Mahatma Gandhi: “There is enough on Earth for everybody's need, but not enough for everybody's greed.”  Kapag maraming pagkain masaya ang lahat. Yan ang pinagmulan ng mga matsuri at fiesta. Nguni’t kapag nagkukulang ang pagkain, maraming problema ang lumalabas. 

Doc Gino

Doc Gino
Pisngi Ng Langit

Mga suliranin sa puso
dahil sa isyu na ito dinaraos ang Valentine’s Day, narito ang ilan sa may mga suliraning pampuso. Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

Tanong (T): Dr. itatanong ko po sana if pwde png magamot ang butas sa puso? kasi ang babaeng pinakamamahal ko mayroon na skit na ganun :( gusto ko po siyang tulungan na mapagaling ung skit nya khit magkano po gagastos ako guma-ling lang po siya help nmn po doc... please ...
Doc Gino (DG): Ang paggagamot ng butas sa puso ay depende kung ano ang sintomas ng tao at kung wala namang sintomas kahit na may butas, sa tingin ko ay hindi naman dapat galawin. Upang makatiyak, mas mainam kung siya ay magpapakonsulta sa isang "cardiologist" upang masuri nang mabuti at mabigyang-payo.
T: Dr,  itatanong ko lang po kung anu ang sanhi ng pagkakaroon ng butas ng puso ang isang sangol.. kc po ang anak kong babae ay 8months na ngaun. nung 6months po siya nalaman ko pong may butas ang puso niya... pinatingin ko po siya sa pediatric cardiologist at napaultrasound ko na ang puso nya... sabi ng doctor 2 ang butas ng puso nga, di ko po alam kung bakit siya nagkaroon ng butas sa puso, saka di naman po siya nangingitim pag umiiyak,
DG: Ang pangingitim ng sanggol sa tuwing iiyak ay isa lamang sa mga sintomas ng pagkakaroon ng butas sa puso. Mas mainam kung ikaw ay bumalik sa iyong "pedia-tric cardiologist" upang malaman kung ano ang naging sanhi nito para sa iyong anak.
T: ano po ang kailangan gawin pag may butas ang puso? operation po ba talaga? wala na po bang ibang way para gumaling ang bata? tanong lang po ;) salamat po.
DG: Hindi naman lahat ng butas sa puso ay nanga-ngailangan ng operasyon. Mayroong mga kaso na kusang nagsasara. Ilan sa mga dahilan ay ang laki ng butas, lokasyon nito, at edad ng sanggol. Ipasuri ang sanggol sa isang "pediatric cardiologist" upang malaman ng mabuti ang kondisyon ng bata, at kung ano ang mga posibleng mangyari.

Renaliza Rogers

Ni Renaliza Rogers

Anong Bago?

Bagong taon na naman, 2013 na. Ang bilis ng panahon. Hindi na ako mabibigla kung maya-maya eh 45 years old na ako ng hindi ko namamalayan. Ang buhay ko'y medyo ganun pa rin, salamat sa Diyos at buhay pa. Hindi pa naman pala katapusan ng mundo. Sabi kasi nila December 21, 2012 daw magugunaw na ang mundo. Kaya't hindi ko na tinupad ang resolution ko last year (ang mag-diet) kasi wala rin namang kwenta ang magpa sexy kung magugunaw din lang ang mundo. Palpak pala ang mga walang hiyang mang-huhula at heto ako't lalo pang lumusog.

So, 2013 na nga naman, na survive na natin ang "end of the world." Isang taon na naman ang lumipas pero anu-ano nga ba ang nagbago sa personal nating mga buhay? Eto ang tanong na palagi kong tinatanong sa sarili ko...ano nga ba ang nagbago sa buhay ko sa loob ng isang taon?

Marami nga naman ang nagbago. Natural lang naman yan sa buhay ng tao. Ika nga, walang permanente sa mundo kundi ang pagbago. Pwede namang bagong tina ang buhok ni lola, pwede ring bagong gupit si Nonoy, bago na ang trabaho ni Juan, bago na rin ang shota ni Neneng at kung anu-ano pa.

Sa taong 2012, nagtapos na ang aking buhay estudyante nung Marso. Kung tutuusin, pang habambuhay tayong estudyante ng buhay pero ang kolehiyo ay may hangganan. Matapos nun, naging tambay ako ng kaunti, aasa-asa sa konting inipon na galing sa baon at kung anu-anong raket, hanggang sa nagsawa din sa buhay tambay at naghanap ng trabaho after a few months. Sa lahat ng trabahong pwede kong pasukan, ang pagtuturo pa ng English ang aking kinindatan. "Mabuti nang tamad kesa pagod" ang aking pilosopiya sa mga panahong iyon kaya ang magaang trabaho ang aking pinili. Buti naman at nag-eenjoy ako kahit papano sa kakarampot kong sweldo.

Sa taong 2012 din, apat ang inampon kong kuting na pinagpupupulot ko sa kalsada at lahat sila'y namatay sa hindi maipaliwanag na dahilan. Noong una'y natagpuan ko si "Juice" at ang kapatid niya  sa damuhan na basang-basa sa ulan at may tali sa leeg. Nilinis ko sila't pinakain. Naunang pumanaw ang kanyang kapatid makalipas ang tatlong araw dahil sa pagtatae. Si Juice naman ay naging malusog at kamuntikan pang  madala pauwi ng kapitbahay naming Koreano nang hinanap nito ang nawawala din nilang kuting. Ngunit isang araw ay biglang nanghina si Juice at kinabukasa'y natagpuan ko na siyang walang buhay kaya't nilibing namin siya sa ilalim ng malunggay.

Makalipas ang dalawang buwan ay animo'y parang tukso at nakatagpo ulit ako ng dalawang kapapanganak na kuting sa tapat ng bahay. Ito'y sina Jimmy at Winston. Naging masaya sila dahil inampon sila ng aking pusang si Ursula at pinadede kaya't sila'y lumaki at lumusog sa loob ng dalawang buwan. Ngunit ang masaklap ay nasagasaan si Ursula sa labas ng bahay at nawalan ng foster mom ang dalawang pusa. Isang araw, bigla din silang nanghina pareho at, tulad ni Juice, bigla ko na rin lang natagpuang wala ng buhay kinabukasan sina Jimmy at Winston. Sa ngayon, sina Bob at James na lang ang natitira sa aking mga pusa. Ang lima ay nailibing na sa ilalim ng malunggay.

Isa pang bago sa bahay namin ay nadagdagan nanaman ang aming palamunin. Meron kaming bagong tuta at ang pangalan niya'y Mike. Christopher ang orihinal na pangalan niya nang bigla siyang ibinigay sa amin ng akin tiyahin. Kaya lang, masyadong mahaba ang Christopher kaya't Mike na lang. Kung ikukumpara sa pitong taong gulang kong asong si Stanley, napakapangit nitong si Mike. Kung sila'y naging tao, mestizo itong si Stanley at si Mike naman ay masyadong jejemon na ubod ng payat. Ang nakakatuwa lang sa kanya ay animo'y tuwang-tuwa siya tuwing nakikita niya kami. Tuwing darating ako sa bahay, hindi na magkaintindihan sa saya itong si Mike. Tatakbo siya't sasalubong ng kekembot-kembot ang pwet. Sa sobrang tuwa nga minsan, siya'y napapa-ihi.

Marami nga namang nangyari sa 2012. Sa taong din iyon, sumakabilang-buhay na ang aking mahal na lola. Napakalungkot pero masaya na rin kahit papaano dahil siya'y nakapag-pahinga na sa piling ng Diyos. Oo, sa panahong iyon medyo nagunaw ang mundo ng aking pamilya. Siguro nga'y iyon na ibig sabihin ng mga end-of-the-world theorists.

Kung aking iisipin, mas masaya at mas kuntento ako sa buhay ko ngayon dahil sa nagdaang taon. May mga natapos na yugto sa buhay ko at may mga nawala pero may mga panibagong simula at mga bagong dumating sa buhay ko na mas nagpaganda ng aking pananaw at mas nagpamahal ng buhay sa akin.

Sa ngayon, wala munang masyadong resolution. Magsumikap muna sa abot na makakaya upang maging mas maunlad, masaya at makabuluhan ang taong 2013 para sa akin. At kung sakaling kapusin man, okay lang, kakayanin! Hindi bale kasi may makakain naman at mataba ang malunggay.

Karen Sanchez

Mga Tula ni Karen Sanchez

Buhay sa Japan
Sa Manila ako'y naging isang tindera,
Ng mga damit sa SM at Glorietta
Nangarap na makapangibang bansa,
Nang maiahon ang aking pamilya
Sa Brunei at Malaysia ako'y naging turista,
Nagtrabaho kahit walang karampatang bisa
Sa kaunting kita, hirap at pagod ay di ininda,
Makapagpadala lamang sa aking
mga kapatid at ina
Kaibigang Hapon sa akin ay naawa,
Kami'y nagkasundo at dito ako'y
kanyang dinala
Upang kanyang mga magulang
ako'y mag-aalaga,
Pag nagkasakit at sa kanilang pagtanda
Sa simbahan, mga Pilipino'y nakilala
Dito rin ay nag-aral ng Hapon na salita
Trabaho ay marami, pag masipag ka
Edad o edukasyon rito ay di alintana
Dito, kailangan tiis, sipag at tiyaga
Oras man o trabaho ay may halaga
Maging ikaw ay Hapon man o banyaga
Pagkat karamihan buhay dito ay kanya-kanya
Ngunit para sa akin pamilya ay nangunguna
Kaligayahan ko'y ang matulungan sila
Magsakripisyo man, para sa kanila
Alam kong ang Diyos
ako'y kanyang pinagpapala.

Mga Hapon at Hamon

Mula noong pangalawang digmaan
Mga Hapon sa Pilipinas ay nagpuntahan
Manakop para sa kapangyarihan
Ngunit sa Amerika ay naging talunan
May maganda't pangit na kainahinatnan
Ang iba'y lumisan at may ibang nanirahan
May pinakasalan at may naanakan
Kagandahan nito, sila'y di napapabayaan
Bansang Hapon sila ay pinagkakalooban
Karapatang makapagtrabaho at manirahan
Taon man ang mga nagdaan
Tinuturing sila rin ay mamamayan
Karamihan "Japan" ay gustong puntahan
Kung bakit, ito'y sa maraming dahilan
Sa pamamaraang pangkabuhayan man
At sa gobyerno batas ay pinahahalagahan
Sa pulitika malaki din ang kaibahan
Mga namumuno pag di kaya,
pwesto binibitawan
Sa Pilipinas di man sapat ang kaalaman
Ang iba'y di naiisip, sila'y maluklok lamang
Buhay nga naman ay para-paraan lamang
Maganda man o hinde ang mga pinagmulan
Mahalaga ay kung paano ka lumalaban
Sa hamon ng buhay,
Diyos nama'y di ka pababayaan.


Isabelita Manalastas - Watanabe

ADVICE NI TITA LITA   Take It Or Leave It!
by Isabelita Manalastas - Watanabe

Dear Tita Lita,

Gusto ko sanang magtanong tungkol sa TRAVEL INSURANCE na binebenta sa mga international airports at mga travel agencies kapag bumibili ng ticket. Do you think it's advisable to get one whenever I go back home to Pinas? Sa isang linggong uwi sa Pinas, parang isang lapad din ang presyo ng travel insurance. Lagi po akong bumibili kapag umuuwi. Pero sabi ng friend ko, sayang lang daw ang pera. Ano po ang advice ninyo?


Dear Lito:

Ang asawa ko, Hapon siya, ay laging kumukuha ng travel insurance bawa’t trip niya outside of Japan.  Ako, tulad ng maraming ka-Pilipino natin, na siguro ay sanay pa rin sa “Bahala na” attitude, ay hindi rin sanay kumuha ng travel insurance. 

Sabi naman ng asawa ko, para din daw naman sa kanyang mga mahal sa buhay ang kanyang desisyong kumuha palagi.  Kung may mangyari daw sa kanya,  pwera pa sa may makukuhang insu-rance benefits, ay hindi na mahihirapan ang family member niya to fly to the place kung saan nagka-disgrasya, dahil kasama iyon sa kanyang kinukuhang insurance benefit.

So, kanya-kanyang desisyon iyan – Bahala na, kung ma-di-disgrasya;  o, sige, mamuhunan ng kaunti, at baka kung saka-sakaling may mangyari nga, ay may matatanggap namang mga benepisyo ang mga mahal sa buhay ng naka-insured.

Tita Lita

Dear Tita Lita,

I am covered under the National Health insu-rance in Japan where I pay only 30% of my medical expenses and the remaining 70% is paid by the government. Should I get sick in the Philippines or in another country, can I claim the 70% of the bills from the Japanese government if I show them my hospital bills? Salamat po!


Dear Mirasol:

Pwede.  There is a form that you will have to fill up and submit to your health insurance company, to get a refund.  How much you will get back will depend on your health insurance policy.  Generally, it is the lowest bill for the two choices:
(1) equivalent medical fee if performed in Japan; (2)  -70% of the local fee.

For the Japan National Health Insurance members, check-out their website for more information, and to download all the necessary forms:,99427,99,156.html

Importante ring malaman mo na pwede ka lang mag-claim kapag nagkasakit ka while you are outside of Japan, hindi iyong pupunta ka outside of Japan, to seek medical treatment. 

Tita Lita

Dear Tita Lita,

I am 55 years old, Filipino, divorced from a Japanese, and working as a waiter in a Pinoy club. I have a permanent resident visa. My question is about the pension system in Japan. Although I have been paying my Japanese taxes, I haven't paid anything for the national pension. Can I still qualify to enlist in the Japanese pension? I am worried about my future. Is the pension important? Do I need it? And if I don't qualify anymore because of my age, what do you advice me to do instead? Please help me.


Dear Lester:

Nasa sa iyo kung gusto mong mag-member sa pension system ng Japan.  May kakilala akong Haponesa na nag-decide hindi siya mag-me-member.  Sabi niya, mag-se-save na lang daw siya from her salary for her old age.  From her opinion, baka daw pagdating ng araw na entitled na siyang mag-pension, ay bankrupt na ang pension system ng Japan. Well, opinion niya ito.  Ako, personally, mas gusto kong i-rekomenda sa iyo na mag-member ka, basta’t sa tingin mo ay you will really stay in Japan for a long time, until retirement mo.  Otherwise, kung mag-member ka, at ilang taon ka lang nandito, tapos hindi mo na itutuloy, baka hindi sulit.  Pero kung mga 10 taon ka pang magta-trabaho dito, good siguro na mag-member ka. After kang mag-retire, at least you can look forward to receiving your pension.

Tita Lita

Dear Tita Lita,

Meron po akong 2 million yen savings. Nasa bangko lang po siya ngunit napakaliit ng interest sa Japanese bank. Totoo po bang mas malaki ang interest sa Philippine bank? Kung ganoon, di mas maganda kung i-transfer ko na lang ang savings sa Philippine bank? Pwede po ba ang yen savings sa Philippines?


Dear Charito:

I interviewed the head office of one of the biggest Philippine banks in the Philippines, which offers Yen Deposit Accounts.  Buti at may kinikita pa kahit kaunti ang Yen savings mo sa Japan. According to the Philippine bank, which I interviewed, non-interest bearing ang Yen A/C.  May required pang minimum deposit at minimum maintaining balance na JPY 50,000.  So, kung gusto mo talaga ng Yen A/C, better na nandito sa Japan ang iyong savings.  Kapag nasa Pilipinas, dapat ka pang nandoon para mag-withdraw, at saka depende din sa Yen availability kung makaka-withdraw ka in Yen (pipirma ka ng waiver when you open your Yen A/C in the Philippines, that you understand that you can withdraw yen only if available, and if not available, then the bank has the option to pay you in another currency).

Tita Lita

Dear Tita Lita,

Ilang beses na po akong nag-apply ng credit card sa Japan at ilang beses na rin po akong na deny. Arubaito lang po ang trabaho ko at puro mga sideline. Marami naman akong napundar na pera sa bangko. Ano po ba ang mga requirement para magkaroon ng credit card dito sa Japan? Wala na po ba akong pag-asa? Sa Pinas kaya, pwede po kaya akong mag-apply kung sakali? Minsan, nauubusan din ako ng cash pag-uwi sa Pinas dahil dumarami ang gastos. Kaya sabi ko, maganda rin ang meron kang credit card na dala.


Dear Nena:
Ako din, years ago, when I first applied for a credit card in Japan, hindi man lang ako nakatanggap kahit rejection letter.  Basta’t wala na lang akong narinig from the company.  At that time, ang laki pa nga ng sahod ko.  Ang conclusion ko noon, baka ayaw kasi gaijin ako.  Or dahil hirap silang mag-communicate sa atin in English.
Iyong case mo, siguro hindi magiging very attractive for the card company kung ang trabaho mo ay hindi regular – meaning hindi ka permanently employed.  Kung gusto mo ng debit card, instead of a credit card (debit card – kung ano lang ang laman ng card ang pwedeng gastusin;  sa credit card, kahit wala ng pera, pwede pa ring gumastos, tapos later ang bayad, with interest), kontakin mo ako sa 03-6268 8010.  Baka matulungan kita – either Visa or Mastercard. 

Tita Lita

Jose Miguel Parungao

by Jose Miguel Parungao

Arlene Esperida

Walang Sabit
by Arlene Esperida

Marivic Oyama

ni Madam Marivic Oyama

Ibayong pag-iingat ang dapat gawin sa pagpasok ng taon dahil nasa iyo ang aggressive sword # 7. Huwag basta magtitiwala sa mga taong hindi lubos na kakilala dahil maging kaibigan ay hindi mo alam kung ano ang kanilang balak sa iyo. Mag-ingat sa mga bagong makikilala gayun din sa mga matatamis ang dila kung mangusap dahil sila ang may mga maitim ang balak laban sa iyo. Upang ma-ingatan ang mga mahahalagang bagay, magdala o gumamit ng talisman for protection at ilagay sa ilalalim ng unan. In February, isang mapayapa at tahimik na salubungin ang bagong taon ng mga ahas. May mga bagong oportunidad na darating ngunit maging maingat sa pagdedesisyon dahil maaaring makagawa ka ng mga bagay na hindi kayang unawain ng iba.

Maganda ang pasok ng taon sa iyo at magtatamo ka ng tagumpay sa iyong mga plano. Malaki ang pagbabago sa iyong buhay ngayong pagpasok ng taon, nakapila ang mga magagandang pagbabago na darating sa iyong buhay. Iwan mo man ang taon ng Dragon, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang magandang kapalaran sa iyo. In February, hindi imposibling pumasok ang tagumpay na dala-dala pa rin ng nagdaang buwan. Ingatan ang taling humihila dito para tuloy-tuloy ang pasok ng suwerte sa iyo. Ito ang tamang panahon upang magisip at magplano ng mahalagang bagay. Iwasan ang pakikipag talo ng walang kabagay-bagay.

Magtatapos ang taon ng mapayapa at maganda ang pasok nito sa iyo, ngunit dahil sa bilis ng iyong mga ginagawang desisyon ikaw ay nagiging pabigla-bigla. Maging mahinahon at isiping mabuti ang mga susunod na mangyayari. Ingatan din ang iyong kalusugan dahil madali kang kapitan ng sakit. In February, maging pokus sa mga gawain dahil nasa iyo ang tagumpay sa pananalapi at maging aktibo sa mga gusto mong gawin. Magsaya at magkaroon ng kompeyansa sa sarili dahil kaya mong gawin ang lahat ng iyong naisin. Isa ka ring magaling na leader at epektibong manguna sa grupo. Panatilihing ang pagiging mabuting ehemplo sa mga kasamahan sa trabaho.

Mas maganda ang darating na buwang ito sa iyo kumpara sa mga nagdaang buwan. Ito rin ang simula ng iyong kasiyahan dahil mas mapapabuti ang iyong pakikisama sa mga kaibigan at kapareha sa buhay. Makakatanggap ng pabuya sa mga ginawang pagpupursige sa trabaho. Maaari din na mapunta sa seryosong usapan ang iyong relasyon. Ingatan lamang na huwag masira ng ibang tao ang magandang samahan. In February, may mga magagandang oportunidad din na darating para sa taon ng ahas, ngunit ito ay may dalang gulo o hindi pagkakaunawaan sa samahan. Huwag makipagtalo at umiwas na lamang. Huwag seryosohin ang mga bagay at maging mahinahon sa pakikipag negosasyon. Ito ay magbibigay sa iyo ng mabuting impresyon.

Mag-iiwan sa iyo ng illness star ang nagdaang taon ng Dragon. Mas magiging mahina ang iyong katawan keysa dati dahil sa dami ng iyong trabaho, hindi ka nakakapag-pahinga ng sapat, madali kang mapagod at madali kang kapitan ng anumang karamdaman. Magagawa mo rin ang iyong mga responsibilidad kung hahatiin mo ang iyong oras sa trabaho at pahinga. In February, puno ng pangako ang dala sa iyo ng year of the snake dahil sa pagiging positibo, madadagdagan ang iyong determinasyon at madali para sa iyo ang pagtitipon dahil na rin sa taas ng iyong kakayahan na ipakita sa kanila ang iyong angking talino. Maganda ang takbo ng buhay pag-ibig, iwasan lamang ang masangkot sa isang sex scandal o third party.

Sa pagsisimula ng taon, tataas ang iyong antas sa larangan ng trabaho. Sa mga may kinalaman sa pagnenegosyo mas mapapabuti at mapapahusay ang pagpapa-takbo nito, dahil may naghihintay sa magandang kapalaran sa iyo. Iwasan lamang ang padalos-dalos na desisyon dahil ito ang magdadala sa iyo ng problema. In February, maging pokus lamang at magtatagumpay ka sa iyong mga proyekto ngunit makakaramdam ka ng mga panghihina ng iyong katawan kung hindi magiging maingat sa mga kinakain. Magkaroon ng sapat na tulog at health habit upang ma-enjoy mo ang iyong excellent star sa buwang ito.

Sasalubong sa iyo ang magandang kapalaran sa pagbukas ng taon. Aanihin mo ang tagumpay mula sa taas. Maganda ang kalalabasan ng mga nagawang desisyon dahil magtatagumpay ang lahat ng mga plano. Maganda ang pasok pagdating sa pera dahil isa ito sa mga buwan na masu-werte para sa iyo. In February, ang buwang ito ay puno ng pagsubok at balakid sa iyong mga plano. Maging mahinahon at gamitin ang pagiging mapamaraan mo sa pagresolba ng mga problema upang malagpasan mo ang mga dumarating na pagsubok.

Ang # 5 yellow misfortune star ay nasa iyo at ito ay magdadala ng mga hindi inaasahang pangyayari. Hindi ito ang tamang panahon upang mag plano ng mga bagong akitibidad lalo na kung may kinalaman sa iyong trabaho. Iwasan ang pakikipagsapalaran lalo kung alam mo na hindi maganda ang kalalabasan. Huwag magpaka-bayani na pasukin ang problema ng iba dahil mayroon pang mas importanteng bagay na dapat unahin. In February, maganda ang pasok ng iyong buhay pag-ibig, ngunit huwag paiiralin ang iyong puso sa paggawa ng desisyon dahil ito ang magdadala sa iyo sa kapahamakan. Makakasakit ka lamang ng kalooban ng iba. Umiwas sa maling relasyon dahil nasa huli ang pagsisisi.

Masuwerte ang dating ng taon sa iyo dahil magaan at madali ang pasok ng pananalapi sa iyo. Maraming mga bagong oportunidad ang darating na mas dadag-dag sa iyong pinagkaka-kitaan. Panatilihing bukas ang pintuan para sa mga taong gustong mag-abot ng tulong sa iyo. In February, ang # 5 misfortune ay nasa iyo ngayong buwang ito ngunit dahil sa paglabas ng iyong # 8 auspicious star ay malalagpasan mo anumang balakid o kasawian ang dumating sa iyo. Kung may mga bagong idea, hindi ito ang tamang panahon upang ihatag sa iba ang kaalaman. Gawin ito pagdating ng takdang oras.

Pag-ingatan ang iyong kalusugan dahil mahina ang dating ng iyong pangangatawan at madali kang mahawa sa mga may sakit. Kumain ng masusutansiyang pagkain, regular na ehersisyo ng katawan at tamang pahinga. Magbakasyon kung kinakailangan para mabawasan ang bigat na dinadala ng iyong katawan. Makakatulong din ang pagsusuot ng mga alahas. In February, nasa kahinaan ngayon ang iyong pag-ibig at madali kang madala sa tukso at temtasyon. Para sa mga may asawa, sikaping magkaroon ng family bonding at huwag hayaang masira ng ibang tao ang inyong pagsasama.

Kung mayroon kang isang bagay na dapat ipagbunyi, yun ay walang iba kung hindi ang salubungin ang bagong taon na dala ang kasaganahan at tagumpay sa iyong buhay. Walang nagplano sa mga bagay na ito dahil lahat ng ito ay para sa iyo. Hintayin at magsaya na lamang sa mga maliligayang araw na darating sa iyong pribadong buhay. In February, ang year of the snake ay nasa paligid at may dalang robbery star. Ito ay magbibigay sa iyo ng kapahamakan, pagkawala ng mga bagay at kaguluhan. Iwasang magtiwala ng basta sa hindi kakilala, maging low profile at mahinahon. Iwasan din ang sugal.

Magandang panahon para mag saya at magbakasyon kasama ang pamilya. Mas lalong gaganda at bubuti ang samahan ng mga kasamahan. Paglalakbay kasama ang buong pamilya ang siyang magbibigay ng kaligayahan sa bawat isa, may pera man o wala set your heart and you will find money. In February, huwag masyadong i-stress ang sarili at kung magagawang mag-relax at magbakasyon, gawin ito ng malayo sa prisyon o pressure. Dahil mas makakatulong ito sa iyo maging sa personal na buhay o sa trabaho. May mga balakid na darating sa iyo ngunit maiiwasan mo ito kung hindi ka papatol o hindi ka masasangkot sa anumang kaguluhan o sigalot sa trabaho.

Sally Cristobal-Takashima

by Sally Cristobal-Takashima

Unang Pasada

Facing the East while awaiting the first sunrise of a new year gives a deeper meaning to the ritual of truly welcoming Year 2013.

In Japan, many Japanese prefer to be awake just before sunrise. But, in the Philippines and in the United States, late New Year Eve parties take a toll on merrymakers and heavy drinkers so they wake up much later in the morning, some still with headaches recovering from a hangover.

But, anywhere in the world, people try to catch up to relax so they can start the year refreshed and ready to tackle the new challenges of the Year of the Snake.

Habang sinusulat ko po itong article na ito, marami pa rin mga taong malalim na nag-iisip kung ano talaga ang mensahe ng 12-21-12 or the End of the World. Hindi naman daw ibig sabihin ay delubyo pero sa dami ng mga likas na mga sakuna, baha, lindol at iba pang mga kapahamakan ay maraming nagdadalawang isip na baka nga delubyo ang hinaharap ng mundo natin. Huwag nating lahat paniwalaan ang mga balita at sa halip ay alamin ang dalawang parte ng isang isyu at intindihin sa tulong ng pag-aaral.

Ang problema na dagsa ng impormasyon ay nililito ang mga tao dahil hindi na malaman kung sino ang paniniwalaan. Ang reaksiyon ay ang pagtanggi ng impormasyon o ang pagwawalang bahala sa mga pangkasalukuyang isyu, pagtawa o pagbibiro.

Ngunit maganda ang nabasa ko na bagong daloy ng makabagong sigla ang mapapasa mundo upang maalis kung ano mang katamlayan ang dumaan sa buhay ng tao. Ito daw bagong sigla na ito ay makakatulong sa pagpapatupad ng ating mga panaginip.

Most of all, Dec. 21, 2012 was the end of the Mayan 5125 cycle.

While you are reading the first issue of Jeepney Press 2013, you might still be eating some of Japan's New Year delicacies. The Toshi Koshi soba served early in the year is from Nov-Dec harvest. Like the Filipinos eating noodles/soba, it relates to a wish for longevity and recovery from debts and unhappiness.

Osechi Ryori started in the Heian Period (794-1185). It is a collection of various Japanese dishes arranged in tiered lacquered boxes called jubako. Each dish of osechi ryori carries with it a message, symbolism or a wish.

Kazunoko (herring roe/fish eggs) means Prosperity for descendants, a wish to be blessed with many children. Kamaboko (broiled fish paste) or white and pink kamaboko is for festivity. Datemaki (sweet rolled omelet with a castella flavor) symbolizes a man’s happy days who wears fine clothes and is having good times. Konbu (a popular seaweed used for making soup broth) symbolizes joy. Kuro Mame (sweet black soybeans is for good health. Tazukuri (dried sardines cooked in sweet sake and soy sauce) is for abundant harvest. Tai (sea bream) is celebration of a happy event. Shrimp is for longevity, and also  Zoni (clear soup with Omochi).

The celebration of special days is a Japanese custom of Chinese origin. The women are busiest in December and they have to complete the cooking, cleaning on or before New Year’s Eve. Some believe that the heavy work will help atone for their sins. Nowadays osechi ryori are sold in department stores but it is still cheaper to make them at home and mix with ingredients bought from stores.

Ohakamairi during early January can be tedious because of the traffic congestion. There is always a fight between my daughter and her 4-yr old girl about buying the Doraemon castella when we pass the temple stalls selling overpriced oden, yaki soba, takoyaki etc. The little girl often gets her way—hands down. It is New Year after all.

We go to Ohakamairi to visit my husband’s parents. The ritual starts by pouring water on the tombstone by using a bucket and a ladle provided by the temple. The water washes the dust, dried petals and leaves from previous visits. Then, the offerings of sake or shochu, flowers and incense are done followed by silent prayers. There is no hanging around, sitting on the grass, enjoying the fresh air like what we always do in Manila Memorial Cemetery. The ritual in Ohakamairi takes no longer than 15 minutes or more with picture taking.

As of this writing and it is mid-December, we have already made hotel reservations at a hotel famous for its onsen and breakfast. The onsens in Arima have a long history. It is said that great Emperors of olden times traveled for days just to rejuvenate themselves in the mighty onsens of Arima, in Hyogo Prefecture.

Filipinos visiting Kansai, I suggest you make Arima Grand Hotel the hotel/onsen of our choice next time you visit Kansai. It is a bit pricey but for New Year, everyone splurges.

Now for our Kansai update. The grand gathering of Philippine communities in Kansai to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Philippine Community Coordinating Council was held in Dec. 2nd at the Osaka Hilton Hotel. Filipinos from as far as Gifu, Nagoya and Hiroshima graced the occasion. PCCC granted awards and recognitions to various persons and groups who have supported PCCC in their various projects and events. Various lively Christmas parties were held in Nara, Shiga ken, Suita City, Osaka and Kyoto, all well attended by members, friends and supporters.

The Philippine Consulate General held a Concert of Philippine Classical Music at the Osaka International House. The event commemorated the Birth Centennial of Filipino National Artist Felipe de Leon and the 65th Death Anniversary of Filipino composer Francisco Santiago. The performers were Eri Yoshida, a lirico puro soprano who has performed in Italy, Austria, Philippines and Japan. Joseleo Logdat, a Filipino baritone made his debut performance with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008. He has performed in operas , among others, Pagliacci and La Boheme. He is now in Hiroshima taking his Master's Degree course.

The Osaka Prefectural Government invited the foreign residents to attend an Exhibit and a Lecture on Tsunami Storm Surge Disaster Prevention. We shall encourage more Filipinos to see the exhibition to raise awareness on how to prepare for any natural disasters. For New Year, let us hope that developed countries keep their promise of raising climate funding for poor countries to $100 billion dollars. About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year causing a lot of destruction. ( Let us thank Philippine United Nations climate negotiators for urging the UN to wake up to the realities of global warming and finalize their financial assistance program to nations affected by natural disasters.

Last but not least, let me mention about a very talented and already a champion in various junior golf competition-Ruji Nozawa, 13 years old from Kyoto and son of a Japanese and a Filipina from Cavite. He is a person to watch. Minasan oen shimasho. He is well focused and on his way to realizing to be a major golf player. Ganbatte ne Ruji kun. Behind Ryuji's success are supportive, multi-tasking Mom, Daisy and Dad whose first priority is the care of their family.

Feliz Navidad and Prospero Anyo Felicidad. Suma inyong lahat ang Masaganang Bagong Taon to all JP readers.