Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jeepney Press January-February 2014

Jeepney Press January-February 2014

by Dennis Sun


UP TO SPEED! with Ms. Lita Manalastas-Watanabe 

by Eleanor Palima

January-February 2014

It is great to see amazingly driven Filipino women exploiting their strengths and pursuing their passion. Some are enjoying the rewards and sense of security from employment. Others have chosen to embrace change and to redefine themselves, becoming entrepreneurs. In either field, we see them all working hard for their continuing success.
Here, we get to hear from a remarkable Filipino woman, Ms. Lita Manalastas Watanabe, President and Representative Director of SPEED Money Transfer Japan. She chose to welcome the challenge of starting up a business in a country where women are known to be underrepresented in the boardroom and in a field where strict compliance to financial regulations is indispensable.  This feat did not go unrecognized. She recently joined the list of “100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World 2013.”

We posed a few questions.
Q: What brought you to Japan?
A. My very first trip to Japan was in 1995, when I was one of those chosen to participate in the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program sponsored by the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan.  Each of the then 5 ASEAN member countries and Japan sent 30 delegates each, headed by a national leader.  All the delegates converged in Singapore, and then boarded the Japanese ship Nippon Maru, which became our home for around 2 months.  We sailed from one ASEAN country to another,  participating in various activities on board the ship, and in each of the countries visited, including home stays. The voyage ended in Japan and we all flew back to our home countries full of good memories and lots of friendships made.  Those friendships lasted until the present.  Many of the delegates even fell in love with each other during the voyage, and eventually married.

In my case, it was a love at first sight with Japan, arriving in this country during the blazing autumn colors which I have seen for the first time.  And the rest is history – my decision to take up my graduate studies in Japan under a Japanese government scholarship; working as the Deputy Director for Investments at the ASEAN-Japan Centre headquartered in Tokyo; setting up and heading PNB Tokyo Branch;  meeting my husband Fumio; living/working in Japan since then.

Q: Why the shift to being an entrepreneur? What did it take to reach the decision?
A. I was the head of PNB Tokyo until 2006, when the Bank moved me to Europe, to be the Area Head for Europe, Israel and Africa.  I was living alone in Rome for several years, away from my family, and I asked the bank to re-assign me back, if staying inside the house as I cannot drive, my son busy with his studies, and there I was, too much time in my hands.

It was also the time when Japan implemented its Japan Payments Act, wherein not only fully licensed banks like PNB and Metrobank can do remittance business, but also non banks, provided they get the proper license from the Japanese financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency.

And so the wheels again turned, with me doing a flurry of emails, contacting a law firm in Tokyo to assist me in setting up my Japan company, flying for a one day visit in the Netherlands to present my business plan to a potential investor, and also making the same presentation to one of the richest Filipinos, for possible investment.

When the Dutch potential investor said “OK, for US$300,000 investment”, and the Filipino businessman said “I will match the amount”, and when the Dutch potential investor also confirmed that he will give his remittance system to me for free, I am in business!!!

Q. What challenges came along?
A.  The documentary requirements for a remittance license in Japan were overwhelming.  I was the one who worked for the full banking license of PNB Tokyo Branch, and the requirements were similar.  A lot of manuals had to be prepared, and the waiting time for the license approval was nerve wracking.  You do not know exactly when you will get it, but you already had to incur a lot of overhead – rent expense, some salaries for the staff who will back stop me during the license application, acquiring the necessary furniture and fixtures, the setting up of the computer system, etc.

I wanted to lease the computers, furniture, and other things that we need but I was rejected by around 6 leasing companies.  I had no business track record and it was difficult for them to just agree to lease to someone with no 3-year business history.  Same thing happened when I was looking for a potential office – very difficult for me to enter into a lease agreement.  I was always required to have a Japanese guarantor.  I could not also raise additional capital from Japanese banks. Same problem – no business track record.

I had to pray a lot, and have asked my mother to help pray that I overcome all challenges, and to get that license approval the soonest.
It was very stressful. I could not tell my husband that in case our license application with the Japanese financial regulator, the FSA, was disapproved, we will go bankrupt.  I already had an office wherein I could not get out of the 3-year lease I have signed, the computers, the furniture, the telephone system, etc., were already in place.  And I did not like my potential investors to sink in their funds before my license is approved/ released.  Never mind my own money/ savings at risk, but not other people’s.

Q. That was tough. More so, I suppose, with the additional players in the cross border remittance business. How do you find strength?
A.  I do not really believe in fortune tellers.  But one time, out of curiosity, I had my fortune read.  I could not forget what the fortune teller told me. She said, I could get anything I want, but I have to work hard for it.  Nothing will come my way easy, but all will be achievable if I work hard for them.
And I do work very hard. Even while I was just an employee and not running my own business, I was used to working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, not claiming any overtime pay.  Probably, it was also because I enjoyed the kind of work I did, and I could see the fruits of my labor.
But prayers (lots!!!) sustain me, and the full support and confidence in me of my husband and my family.

Q. You are apparently very focused. How do you tune out distractions?
A.  I love the work I do.  If I find my work, as work, I will probably find a lot of distractions. But since I enjoy doing what I am doing, it is really not work.  I also have a husband who understands and appreciates hard work.

Q.  You recently received an award. Can you tell us more about this?
A. One afternoon during the last week of August (2013), I received a call from the Consul General (ConGen) Joy Ignacio of our Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, informing me that the Embassy is planning to submit the names of 2 nominees from Japan to the Filipina Women’s Network based in San Francisco, USA, the organizer for the search for the Global 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World.

I was the nominee for the “Founders & Pioneers” category, an award category which “honor Filipina women in their capacities as chief executive, president, executive director or founder of a company… that they helped start, build, or significantly grow”.  The award category are for “trailblazers who have marshalled resources and applied innovative practices, processes and/or technologies in a new and groundbreaking way to address a significant business or organizational opportunity.”

Congen Ignacio and I worked very hard to beat the deadline for submission of the nomination (the next day after her call), and she stayed very late at night reviewing the lengthy documentary requirements, and finally making it.

Next came the interview by telephone, by the selection committee.  I relayed to ConGen Ignacio  that I had the feeling that I will make it, because during the interview, the interviewer sounded me out on whether I can be a panelist to the session “Make Me A Filipina Millionaire” if I am chosen.  I made it, and I was also chosen to be one of the 3 panelists to that session.

I flew with my husband to the USA for the gala dinner and awards night held on October 26, 2013 at the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco.  My son JC also joined.
It was a very rewarding 3-day working experience, together with the so many amazing Filipinas who flew from all over the world to be awarded the honor.  I learned a lot from the various sessions organized which were held in various venues.  One was held at the Google Campus in San Francisco, arranged by one of the awardees who is a Vice President at Google.  Filipino food was served for the first time at Google cafeteria and it was a hit to the employees.

In the keynote speech of Ms. Cora Tellez, CEO Sterling HSA, during the awarding ceremony, I was very pleasantly surprised to be given a special mention, the only one amongst the awardees that night, and I quote:
“I am reminded of an awardee I met the other day: Ms. Isabelita Manalastas-Watanabe, who started a remittance business in Japan.  She had many things going against her:  she is not Japanese, she is not male, and she had to overcome a significant barrier to entry in her industry, and that is, huge capital outlays in advance of opening her business.   Her story of courage, sheer determination, and a very clever way to raise capital among Filipinos in Japan is a celebration of defining success on her own terms.”

My husband and my son were the proudest of them all, that night, and I was of course, very happy.

Q. Any tips to aspiring entrepreneurs?
A.  Perseverance, lots of hard work, sufficient capital, knowledge of the business you want to start, and prayers, prayers, prayers, to guide you in your decision making.

We thank Ms. Lita Manalastas Watanabe for gladly taking time out of her busy day to share with us her own struggles, challenges and successes.  Indeed, it takes a lot to think through goals and to see through opportunities. And it takes a lot more to move forward and to be up to speed to stay on course.

Dennis Sun

DAISUKI! by Dennis Sun

January-February 2014

I’ll Be Home For Christmas…

Going home in December? Me? Definitely not! Ayokong maging Santa Claus. Hindi pa ako kasing taba at yaman na tulad ni Santa. Wait lang after some years at baka manalo ng lottery. But not now. Pauwiin niyo na lang ako ng ibang panahon, huwag lang during Christmas season.

Masarap man umuwi sa Disyembre pero napakasakit sa bulsa.  In English, meron silang term para dito: BITTERSWEET. Meron din silang term in Japanese: HORONIGAI (ほろ苦い). Masarap na masaklap! Masarap makita ang buong pamilya at mga dating classmates at barkada na nag iba na ang hitsura. Mga tumaba, tumanda, nakalbo, nabungi, at mga dating close friends na ngayon ay hindi mo maintindihan ang pag iisip nila. Hello, strangers! Friends ba tayo 20 years ago? Kay sarap balikan ang nakaraan. Pero pagkatapos ninyong mag reminiscing in the restaurant and the bars, walang dumudukot sa mga wallet nila. Parang hindi rin yata sila makabili ng wallet? This is so bitter! Ang pait! Sila na nga ang lamon ng lamon at laklak ng laklak. Ikaw pa ang pababayarin nila.

Christmas is, indeed, the happiest season in the Philippines. That’s why people from abroad are always looking forward to go back home during the Christmas break. Kay sarap umuwi pagkatapos ng ilang buwan na mawalay sa mga mahal sa buhay. Masarap ngunit masaklap. Kasi mayroon mataas na price tag. Una, mahal ang umuwi tuwing Christmas. Buti na lang sa iba na alam na agad ang date ng bakasyon, pwedeng bumili ng advanced ticket 6 months before the departure. Kaya, medyo mura pa. Eh paano naman yung hindi? Mahal ang airplane ticket if bought a few weeks before departure. What more with a few days? Swerte ka rin kung makakakuha ka kasi fully booked na halos ang mga flights.

I always avoid going home to the Philippines during December. Hindi lang mahal ang airfare. The airports are crowded. At dumarami rin ang mga magnanakaw sa international airport in Manila. Kung hindi man sila magnanakaw, maraming namamasko, este, nagpapalimos kasi pasko raw. I remember noong umuwi ako after Christmas, kulang sa kalahating kilo lang ang sumombra sa luggage ko, biglang hiniritan ako ni Pedro, “Sir, over weight po ang luggage ninyo. Huwag na po kayong magbayad. Bigyan ninyo na lang ng konting pamasko.” Sabay dagdag pa niya, “Sir, huwag po ninyong ibigay dito. Doon sa CR na lang ninyo iabot sa akin.”

Kung alam lang ni Pedro, ubos na ang mga pesos ko. Wala na rin akong cash at konting yen na lang ang natitira pang limousine bus at taxi pa uwi sa bahay. Kasi, kapag umuuwi ka, dapat nakahanda ang kadatungan. Inday, kung wala kang pera at may balak umuwi, huwag ka nang mangarap pa! At kung ayaw mong maubos ang savings mo for the year, mag isip ka ng sampong beses kung gusto mong umuwi.

Alam kaya ng mga kapamilya at kaibigan natin na napakagastos kapag umuuwi tayo? Sa airplane ticket pa lang, isang buwan na salary iyon lalo na kung part timer ka lang. Yung binili natin mga omiyage at pasalubong sa kanila, isang dagdag na buwan na salary na naman. Yung mga gastusin natin sa pang shopping, party at lakwatsa sa Pinas, dagdag isang buwan na salary pa rin! Tatlong buwan na salary ni Juan ang gastos kapag umuuwi. O ano, Juan, gusto mo pang umuwi this Christmas? Matagal pa naman ang susunod na Pasko kaya pag isipan mo talaga at pagipunin!

Napaka TSUMETAI ko raw. Eh ano pa ba? Malamig na ako kung malamig. Eh kasi, it’s winter. Everything gets cold, even my KOKORO! Nagyeyelo na nga!

Wish ko lang, isipin natin kung paano natin gamitin ang ating savings. Pinaghirapan mo ito, kuya at ate, at alam ko kung paano ka nagtrabaho na parang kalabaw. Huwag mong gastusin ng pa sige sige. Ikaw din. Pag ikaw ang nagkasakit, sino ang tutulong sa yo? Sa sariling pera mo rin kukunin yon...kung meron pang natitira. Sa bandang huli, ikaw pa ang mangungutang sa iba.

MOKA Not Mocha

Tanong ng mga friendships, “Uuwi ka this December, Dennis?” Hindi ako umuuwi tuwing December at alam na ninyo kung bakit. Pero last year, kinain ko po ang sinabi ko. Umuwi po ako. So kung nakita po ninyo ako sa Pinas o nakita ninyo yung mga pics ko sa FB, hindi po clone o photoshoped ang mga iyon. Totoong ako po iyon.

On November 28th of last year, I received a letter from the governor of our home province of Pampanga.  I was chosen as 2013’s recipient for the Most Outstanding Kapampangan Award (MOKA) in the Mass Media category. MOKA is the pinnacle of all awards conferred by the Province of Pampanga to its outstanding sons and daughters who excelled in their respective endeavors.

Wow! I was so elated not because I was getting an award but because some people or group from so far away are giving me recognition and are proud and happy for what I have been doing here for the past 10 years. Naku, salamat na lamang at hanggang sa probinsiya namin, nakita nila ang mga pinang-gagawa ko dito sa Japan. Buti na lang at sa isang dekadang lumipas sa pagpupuyat ng Jeepney Press at naitagon ang award na ito. Hayan at bigla akong napauwi sa Pinas. Buti na lang, early December! Kasi nakaplano na ang Christmas and New Year vacation ko sa Bangkok.

I had to go back home to receive the award. It was going to be the best gift a son could ever give his mother this Christmas. My dad passed away the year before so I didn’t want to lose this chance for my mom to be happy while she is still alive. I wanted her to be proud of his son.

Well, the award is, actually, also for Jeepney Press and to everyone who is part in making its every issue a possibility for a decade. I would like to express my appreciation to you all in Kapampangan:
Dakal pung salamat kekayu ngan!


If Japan is my second home, I consider Thailand, my third. When I feel like going home to Pinas but not go back, as in “feel lang ba,” I go to Thailand. I feel more freedom when I go to Thailand. It is a time and place where I can pamper myself without the guilt. I don’t have to think about work, family and friends. Just me. Thailand is a little more expensive than the Philippines but it is still cheap in comparison to Japan. And I feel safer being in Bangkok than being in Manila. Natatakot nga akong sumakay ng taxi sa Maynila. I try to contact who among my friends are available so they can pick me up at Manila airport and bring me to my hotel. Kasi, sila na rin mismo ang nagsasabing magingat sa mga taxi. Napakarami na raw mga modus operandi ang mga taxi drivers sa atin.

So, every winter holiday, I am most probably in Bangkok. Dahil isinilang talaga akong gala (dahil may nunal sa talampakan), hindi na ako maliligaw sa Bangkok. Alam ko na ang mga pasikutsikot. Ang mahirap lang doon ay ang language. Tulad ng mga Hapon, karamihan ay hindi marunong mag Ingles. Paminsanminsan, makakaencounter ka ng communication problem sa pagsakay sa taxi o pag-shopping. Yung English accent din nila ay medyo tagilid. Minsan, kinakausap ka na at hindi mo namalayan na English na pala ang salita nila. Well, ganyan talaga when traveling abroad. Shoganai!

Thailand and the Philippines are so similar. We both boast the best beaches in the world. Our countries have the same climate and same people. However, there are millions of tourists flocking Thailand every year while the Philippines just get a fraction. Punungpuno ng mga gaijins from every part of the world. Their tourism industry is really booming. How I wish this would happen to our country also. I think Thailand has gone far ahead of us in terms of economy. Well, if you have been there once, you know what I am talking about. I hope more Filipinos will visit Thailand so they will see what our country is missing and what we can do to our country so it would improve the way Thailand has done to its economy.

O, Thailand pa lang yan. If we talk about Singapore, mas lalo na silang advanced! Singapore was formed only as a country in 1965 when Malaysia granted them a separate sovereign state. Wala pa silang 50 years pero look at what they have done to their young country! You will really see the cleanliness and discipline just by looking at the place. The trees outside are well trimmed! Parang mga giant bonsai trees (how ironic)! Yung mga punong kahoy natin sa lansangan, pinababayaan na lang lumaki. Kaya kung may bagyo, grabe ang kalat. I think trees in the urban areas should be trimmed regularly. Japan does it also. Trees along the streets in Tokyo are well maintained in size and shape. Yung mga trees sa jungle, they should be left in their natural habitat. Pero, what’s worse is that we kill our forests with illegal logging! But do Filipinos even care? Basta pagpeperahan, sige lang ng sige.

Si Tita Yoly

After that dreadful mega typhoon, I saw how the global community got united to help the Philippines. Lahat din ng Filipino communities in Japan made charity events to help raise funds to send back home. I really hope that the funds went straight to the people “in need” and not to the people “in greed.” Marami na naman ang yumaman dahil sa bagyo at mga nasalanta. Maawa naman sila!

During this difficult time, I worked for a major Japanese media company in trying to locate the 130 missing Japanese in Tacloban. Just through google, other internet sites and a few international calls, I was able to locate 27 Japanese residents there. Aside from them, I know there are still hundreds of missing people due to the typhoon.

I pray and hope that wherever they are, they find peace. And I pray more this new year that we instead find what is missing in us. Filipinos have so much love already. But we lack discipline and honesty. I pray we find these in ourselves this year and the years to come.

Christopher Santos

UTAWIT 2013 Champ: John Alejandro

January-February 2014

A few years back, UTAWIT's champion was contestant #13 who sang Nais Ko. This year, another contestant found himself in the exact same disposition. Some speculated that history might repeat itself. Others were skeptical that it was too much of a coincidence to warrant favourable odds. That contestant proved that the fine line between history and odds is simply perseverance with prayers as he emerged as this year's reigning UTAWIT champion. In the tradition of ushering in the new title holder of the most coveted award for pinoy vocalists in Japan, Jeepney Press presents to you your new UTAWIT champion, John Alejandro.

Jeepney Press (JP): How did you start singing? Who influenced you to sing?
John Alejandro (JA): I started singing when I was in high school. My grandfather is a well rounded musician but although love for music runs deep in our family, I feel I found music on my own. Or I guess music found me, as well, because no one taught me how to sing from an early age. I grew up loving it. In high school, I have a friend who listened to Beatles  and we just sing along to the music. I grew up surrounded by the voices of great singers like Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley coming out from an old phonograph player. Nothing can be more basic than that.

JP: When and where did you start performing publicly?
JA: 1987, at Shakey's Pizza in Cebu. I am thankful for the discipline that comes from collaborating with other musicians  from the start.

JP: What music genre do you love performing? Why?
JA: Pop rock, rap, rock & roll; dance music. I think it fits my personality and my husky voice. I love adapting my vocals to various genres of music. It's a challenge but I am happy to be able to cover a wide range after years of singing.

JP: What was your biggest achievement as a performer?
JA: Apart from winning the UTAWIT 2013, waxing a recording album under Vicor Music Philippines in 1996, singing at   Planet HOLLYWOOD in Indonesia,  and singing in a European and American tour cruise ship.

JP: How did you know about UTAWIT ? How many times did you join before ?
JA: I heard about UTAWIT through a friend. I joined six times before winning. But those times helped shape me to being the performer that I am now.  I am happy I got the grand prize at a time that I have solid grounds, vocally and  professionally, to represent the Filipino music in Japan.

JP: Why did you join?
JA: For my son, and I want to prove that I can really sing.

JP: How did you prepare for the contest this year?
JA: Physically, I exercised really hard and sleep a lot for vocal resistance. Mentally, I just prayed and relaxed.

JP: Why did you choose Nais Ko ?
JA: NAIS KO is not an easy song. Vocally, it's very challenging. I love the fundamental message and lyrics of the song.

JP: Which artist(s), local or international, influenced your singing the most ?
JA: John Lennon, Bon Jovi, Brian Adams, Rod Stewart, and our very own Mike Hanopol.

JP: People have always known you for your ethnic image. Why did you decide to build on that image ?
JA: I visited Thailand in 2007 and found these ethnic clothes sarongs that look like pants but very soothing to wear. I  just love the unique fashion of it ! From then on, I started using wrap around sarongs, sandals, and bandanas. It's a mixture of expression for being Asian, Filipino, and cultural, which I am proud to maintain as I blend it with the modern  music I render. It marked a striking distinction for me.

JP: How do you plan to grow as an artist going forward?
JA: I realized that I need to adapt my style here in Japan. That calls for me to embrace the creative need as an artist to  reinvent one's self constantly and cater to my audience.  God willing, I want to have a trusted manager to help me grow  in this business.

JP: Now that you are the reigning Utawit Champion, a title that can only be bestowed to only one person in a year, how  do you plan to create the most out of it?
JA: The title is a platform that comes in a trophy. That aspirational platform is for me to promote my music and the vision of all other Pinoy talents here to represent our artistry with excellence. Personally, it puts me into sole command  responsibility to bring myself to the next level in all aspects.

JP: Did you expect to win?
JA: You don't join a contest not hoping to win. It's different from expecting. Definitely, I did not expect to win but  certainly I wanted to. But when you're out there competing and the pressure is on, eventually you will just find yourself praying so hard and simply  wanting to perform well.

JP: What was your feeling when they were announcing the winner? How did you feel when you emerged as the new  champion?
JA: Very nervous during the announcement, and totally overwhelmed. I was very emotional specially when I saw my kid.

JP: What was the symbolic meaning you wanted to impart when you removed your bandana at the end of your song?
JA: That I respect individual freedom and the right to be able to try different things. Luckily, the judges' attention and the audience impact came as a bonus.

JP: Any message to our readers and to the Filipino communities in Japan?
JA: To all our kababayans, specially my contemporaries, you will never fail if your determination to succeed is strong  enough. Sometimes it's not mere talent that will lead you to win. Through PRAYERS, be thankful for whatever you have. Learn to always give back. All for the Glory of God. Mabuhay po ang Utawit, ang musikang Pilipino, at ang  pagbangon ng Bagong Pilipinas!

Roger Agustin

Musings Of A Sarariman
Forget the year but tomorrow is another day…

January-February 2014

Writing for a publication is a tough job (in fact tougher than my real job), since I personally don’t consider myself a good writer. Months before the deadline, I always have tons of ideas to write, but when I finally sit down for the final composition, everything goes blank in my head and I have to start basically from zero. As nervous as it can be, it is an excitement itself because I can start with fresher ideas and all of them will come within an hour. Even in my college days where I had to write my own articles and the editorials, almost all of them were written in last minute bursts! There were no word processors yet and no computers to save, mostly notes and scribbles, so the whole article itself would have to be composed and completed within my head before I even wrote them. And here I am still, amidst the busyness of the year end commotion, looking at a blank screen doing my last minute write up!

2013 is almost over but with the whole world as busy as ever with so many political strife and catastrophic events happening here and there, I have not heard anything yet of what’s to come in 2014. They said it’s going to be better. Come what may, for a sarariman, there is nothing more exciting than the end of the year. Exciting means so much work to be done before the long 年末年始 (Nen- matsu-Nenshi: year end and new year) holidays but at the same time celebrate the year-long work with 忘年会(Bonenkai), especially after receiving the year end bonus (It doesn’t matter whether it’s less than last year’s. It’s still worth thanking for to get one. That’s the sarariman spirit.). Bonenkai is normally translated as end-of-the year party but directly translated it means Forget-the-Year party. It doesn’t really mean you have to forget everything about the year, it simply means forgetting the bad things, celebrate the successes, and move on looking forward to a brighter year. The real bonenkai parties are done with small groups, usually with people who are either in the same team or who are working on the same project. Although not really a rule, one important part of the bonenkai is the 無礼講 (Bureikou). From its name, anybody is allowed (I think) to express or vent out anything setting aside office formalities, seniority or the office hierarchy, but of course to a certain extent without being so rude or disrespectful to the bosses. Out of curiosity, I once asked my peers if ‘accidentally’ hitting my feisty boss was ok as being drunk could be a good excuse. Well, hmmm, maybe, if you’re really drunk and if he doesn’t remember it the next day, you know, ah maybe you should not….and there goes the usual ambiguity in a Japanese answers to a tricky question.

And oh, by the way, the bonenkai doesn’t end up in just one round (一次会 Ichijikai). The ichijikai is just a starter, drink some, enjoy the food and the casual conversation. Parties in Japan are well timed to no more than 2 hours since there are people waiting in line reserved for the next round. So we all have to leave the place but not go home yet because there’s another round called 二次会 (Nijikai: Second Round) You can actually attempt to call it a day at the first round but it is not recommended for the sake of company.  By experience, I believe the nijikai is where the real bonenkai starts.

Everybody’s a bit drunk, sobriety almost gone, one can be his true self shifting from the ‘tatemae’ to the ‘honne’ side. While the first round is done at places where a lot of noise could be tolerated, the nijikai teams tend to choose a quieter place where they can have a more serious conversation about what they really feel at work. The 三次会 (Sanjikai: third round) is actually an option, limited to people who can still go home late, or who wants or can still drink more. The sanjikai is typically paid by the boss so he has to go if everybody wants to have the third round. The toughest thing with these bonenkais is if it happens to be in the middle of the week, you still have to go to work the next day. Tomorrow is another day they say. So getting it planned on a Friday is a hard test for the organizer.

One particular thing worth noting is the meticulous planning involved in such bonenkai parties. A 幹事‘kanji’ is assigned from the team who usually is the either the newcomer or the youngest member. He would be the party organizer who will make all the reservations and all other arrangements that may include negotiating the best price for the menu. His ability to efficiently organize the party and to make everybody happy becomes the barometer for his ability to cope up and manage his own work and his relationship with his peers. Good or bad, bonenkai is still part of the sarariman’s company life after all.

Finally, for all bonenkai goers: if you drink, don’t drive; if you drive, don’t drink. Follow the first one, it’s easier. Just a few minutes ago before I finish writing this up, I just got a mail for an invitation to a 新年会 (Shin-nenkai: New Year party), and I have not even gone to any of those bonenkais yet!

Here is my best wishes for a prosperous 2014 to everybody. Dewa minna-san, akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

Renaliza Rogers

Dos Mil Katorse

January-February 2014

Heto na naman ako, nagsusulat ng aking annual start of the year article. Parang kahapon lang ako nagsulat ng aking year ender article eh, tapos ngayon, heto na naman? Ambilis talaga ng panahon! Biruin mo, isang buong taon na pala ang nakalipas? Palagi kong iniisip na nung kamakailan lang kami nag paputok ng new year, tapos ngayon, new year ulit. Ganun kabilis!

According sa "relativity theory" daw ni Einstein, in simple terms, "When you sit beside a handsome man/pretty woman for one hour, it feels like a minute. But if you sit on a hot stove for one minute, it feels like one hour!" Ika nga nila, napakabagal ng panahon kapag meron kang hinihintay o masyado kang bored sa buhay at hindi mo gusto ang mga nangyayari. Pero napakabilis naman nito kapag masaya ka o nag eenjoy sa iyong time. So it goes without saying na naging masaya ako sa taong nakalipas kaya siguro napakabilis.

Four to five years ago, naaalala ko, napakabagal ng panahon para sa akin kasi andami kong hinihintay at wala akong nagagawang productive sa buhay. Hindi ako nag eenjoy at wala ako masyadong kaibigan. Nag ce-celebrate ako ng pasko at bagong taon nang may inaabangan. Last year, abala ako sa trabaho at masasabi kong maganda at masaya ang takbo ng buhay ko. Ang taong 2013 ay naging mabuti sa akin at parang hangin lang itong biglang mag-gu-goodbye at welcome 2014 na kaagad.

Traditionally, gagawa na naman ako ng aking mga new year's resolution at tulad ng dati, ang aking number one resolution ay ang mag diet o magpapayat. Siguro, simula nung ako'y magdalaga at nagsimulang magka-crush at maging conscious sa aking body figure ay ang pagda-diet na ang aking naging yearly resolution. So, pagpalagay na natin, 10 years ko na itong new year's resolution at 10 years ko na rin itong hindi tinutupad. Siguro nga many more years to come akong magiging consistent sa aking yearly #1 resolution hanggang sa ako'y kumasya sa size 30 na pantalon.

Ang aking number 2 resolution this year ay medyo iba na. Wala naman talaga akong #2 resolution noon eh pero ngayon meron na at ito ay ang mag-ipon ng pera. Siguro eto, mas mahirap kesa sa aking #1 dahil sa aking kakarampot na sweldo, araw-araw na mga gastusin at sa aking "gastador" personality. Tulad ng pagpapapayat, ang hirap gawin! Sa pagda-diet, sariling appetite mo ang kalaban mo at ang hirap hindi-an ng sarili mong kumain! Animal lover ako at ang aking appetite ay parang isang napaka-cute na tuta na humihingi ng pagkain. Tinititigan ako nito with its puppy dog eyes at nagpapaawang mukha. Ang hirap nitong tiisin at wala akong magawa kundi hagisan ito ng pagkain. Ang pag-iipon naman ay naiiba. Pagkatanggap ko ng pera ay sasabihin kong 2/3 lang gagastusin ko at itatabi ang 1/3. Okay na sana, kaso biglang may susulpot na gastusin na hindi ko pinlano. Biglang may babayarang bill na hindi ko naalala. Biglang may kailangan akong bilhin dahil naubos. At biglang kailangan ko nang gastusin ang aking itinabing pera sabay sabing, "Sige, sa susunod na sweldo na lang ako mag-iipon." Pero ganun pa rin. Nagiging cycle na ito.

Ewan ko ba kung ano ang problema at bakit hindi ko magawa ang aking mga resolutions. Dahil ba unrealistic ang mga ito? Hindi naman eh. Napaka-realistic nga ng mga ito at andami-daming mga tao na nagawa na ang mga ito with much success. Dahil ba wala itong mga kwenta? Not true. May kwenta ang mga ito dahil ang pagda-diet ay mabuti para sa kalusugan at ang pag-iipon ay paghahanda para sa sariling kinabukasan. O baka naman dahil kulang lang ako sa determination at discipline?

Siguro nga kulang lang ako sa pagpupursiging matupad ang aking mga pinangako sa aking sarili. Tamad kasi ako minsan eh. Okay, hindi minsan pero palagi akong tinatamad. Para ngang naging resolution ko na rin ang "bawasan ang pagiging tamad" eh pero ibang topic na yun. This year, priorities first na kaya pagpapalitin ko na ang order ng aking resolutions. Ang aking #1 ay ang mag-ipon at ang aking #2 ay ang mag-diet. At sa #3 ay ang disiplina sa sarili upang maisakatuparan ang dalawang nauna.

Wish ko for this year, maging kasing bilis ng 2013 ang taong 2014 para isa lang ang ibig sabihin nito: naging masaya ako sa buhay at nag-enjoy kahit papano. Yun nga lang gusto ko, mas marami akong ma-accomplish this year at mas marami akong magagandang experiences na maranasan. Saka na rin, of course, yung generic at routine wishes na kalusugan para sa aking pamilya at mga minamahal, kasiyahan at kaginhawaan para sa aming lahat. Sana makayanan namin lahat ng pagsubok at syempre, world peace (at sana po, maka-recover na ang mga nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda). So, hayan na ang aking New Year resolutions and wishes. And to celebrate the new year and new promises, makabili nga ng cake pang dessert...

Dr. JB & Nelly Alinsod

A New Year Prayer

January-February 2014

Diyos na Makapangyarihan, salamat po sa Bagong Taon! Tinatanggap ko ang lahat ng bagong oportunidad at karanasang dadalhin nito sa aking buhay. Tinatanggap ko rin ang dakilang pag-asa at kasiguruhan na Ikaw ay kasama ko sa bawat sandali ng taong ito. Alam kong hindi Ka nagbabago. Diyos, nalulugod ka na magbigay ng habag at awa sa mga nagtitiwala sa iyo.

Taglay ang malaking pananampalataya, aking inaanyayahan ang bagong taon ng  pabor, kasaganaan at proteksyon na bigay mo. Aangat ang buhay ko sa mas mataas na antas ng husay at dedikasyon. Panginoon Diyos, tinatanggap ko ang lahat ng karunungan at yaman na kailangan ko upang makapamuhay ayon sa iyong layunin. Matutupad ko ang kalooban mo sa buhay ko sa taong ito.

Panginoon, salamat sa tagumpay ng buhay ko sa taong ito. Dinedeklara ko na ang mga tulong na binhi ng kasaganaan ng mga nagdaang taon ay mabubuhay at magbubunga sa taong ito. Naniniwala ako sa bago at masaganang ani dala ng taong ito.  Salamat sa Iyong pabor, pagpapala, tagumpay, kasaganaan at mga bunga sa lahat ng bahagi ng buhay ko.

Panginoon, itinatalaga ko ang aking sarili sa iyo sa taong ito. Nais kong tuparin ang kalooban at kaharian mo sa buhay ko tulad ng pagtupad sa langit. Ibinibigay ko sa iyo, sa iyong bayan at sa iyong layunin ang buhay ko. Nais kong sumikat ka sa buhay ko. Dahil dito, muli kong inihahandog ang buhay ko upang maging kagalang-galang, banal at kagamit-gamit na sisidlan sa iyong mga kamay. Buong-buo na isinusuko ko sa iyo ang aking buhay. Lahat ng ako at lahat ng meron ako ay pag-aari mo. Ikaw ang aking Diyos at Panginoon.

Jackie Murphy

Kaya ba? Kaya pa? Kakayanin!

January-February 2014

Sa katatapos lang na taon, inisa-isa kong hinimay kung ano ang mga makabuluhan na nangyari, walang kuwentang nangyari at mga bagay na pinag-ukulan ko ng panahon at pinagkaabalahan ko ng mahalaga at mahabang oras.  Kasama na siyempre diyan ang mga mahal ko sa buhay at mga kaibigan ko.  Dahil kung may saysay at mga magaganda nga naman ang nangyari ay gusto ko itong ulit-ulitin at yun ang gagawin ko ulit.

Isang nakakagulat na bagay ang sobrang tumatak sa isipan ko: kung ano at bakit at paano nangyari sa isa kong malapit na kakilala ang isang bangungot na hanggang ngayon ay di ko lubos maisip at pilit kong ayaw paniwalaan.  Itatago ko siya sa pangalang Emily.

Kagaya ng isang karaniwang Pilipina, si Emily ay unang na- ngarap maiahon sa hirap ang pamilya sa Pilipinas pagkatapos niyang makapag-asawa ng Hapon.  Kayod-kalabaw kung maghanapbuhay sa siyudad ng Saitama.  Halos ayaw niyang mag day off kasi dagdag pang-school allowance nga naman ng mga anak niya ang kikitain sa araw na yun.  Si Emily ay butihin at ulirang maybahay, walang bisyo, mapagmahal na asawa at maasikasong ina sa kanyang tatlong anak.  May mga panahon noon na tumatawag siya sa akin para humihingi ng payo tungkol sa buhay may-asawa, trabaho, negosyo at iba pang investment matters.

Nitong nakaraang tatlong buwan ay umuwi siya at nagbakasyon sa Pilipinas para asikasuhin ang mga papeles ng kanyang mga nabiling ari-arian doon.  At dahil sa family friend siya, inasikaso siya ng aking family during her whole stay there.  Noong unang araw pa lang ay may mga text messages na akong natanggap sa aking nakababatang kapatid na medyo wala sa timpla kung kausap si Emily. Pagod lang sa haba ng biyahe yan  ‘kako at makakabawi din. Sunod na araw habang ako’y nasa trabaho isang emergency overseas call ang aking natanggap. ‘Dadalhin na namin siya sa mental hospital, Ate’ ang narinig kong garalgal na salita ng sister ko. ‘Ha?’ At dahil wala akong kamalay-malay, tanong ko naman: ’Sino ang pasyente?’ ‘Eh di si Ate Emily’ sagot naman ng sister kong halatang tuliro kung ano ang susunod na gagawin.  Bigla akong napaisip…’si Emily talaga? Mental hospital agad-agad?’ ‘ Halos di ko mapaniwalaan ang mga sumunod na narinig ko:  ‘Iba-iba ang mga sinasabi niya. Nagwawala…inihahagis lahat sa labas ng bahay ang laman ng kuwarto, nagsasayaw, nagdadasal  bumubulong sa sarili at mayamaya ay pagulong-gulong sa poolside na ikina-alarma ng mga taong nag-uusyoso. Nang madaling araw naman ay kanyang pinindot ang emergency alarm na ikinagulat, ikinaalarma at kinainis ng mga kapitbahay.  Dumating na ang barangay para tulungan siyang dalhin sa mental’ ang pabalitang sabi sa akin ng kapatid ko …tsk  

Ilan ba sa atin o sa mga kakilala natin ang may mga tendencies na ganito? Bakit sa isang mabuting tao nangyari ang ganito? Ano ba ang kanyang nagawa? Saan ba siya nagkamali? Ito ba ay kusang nangyayari na lang o may mga bagay na nagtulak sa kanya para mangyari ang ganito?

Hindi natin maiiwasan na tayo ay binabayo ng stress sa pamilya, sa asawa, sa mga anak, sa TRABAHO at usaping pinansiyal lalo na kung tayo ay nakatira sa ibang bansa. Pero paano mo haharapin ang mga ganitong aberya kung ikaw ay: walang makausap (dahil nasa trabaho lahat ang mga kaibigan at kakilala mo?), walang mapagsabihan ng sama ng loob? Gusto mong tawagan ang bff mo kaya lang meron din siyang mga pinagkakaabalahan o di kaya’y pareho mong may mga problema ring kinakaharap. And your other choices?  Kung yung huling taong akala mo’y kakampi mo ay di mo mapagkatiwalaan at sa huli ay siya pa ang kakalaban sa ‘yo! Ayy, iba na lang! Eto kaya? Tumawag ka sa pamilya mo sa Pinas pero mas malayong marami ang problema nila kesa sa ‘yo? Huwag na rin! O dili kaya ay may naturingan kang may pamilya sa Pinas pero mas pipiliin mong huwag na lang tumawag sa kanila baka mag-alala sila ng sobra sa kalagayan mo  o mag-alala kang baka ikaw ay utangan ng wala sa oras? Wala kang maka-text man lang…??? Hayyyzzz,  ano-ano ba ang pwede mong maging alternatibo kung sa ‘yo mangyari ang ganito?

Huwag nang magpatumpik-tumpik pa!…pwede kang mag-karaoke mag-isa at mag-ngawa-ngawa ka doon…who cares about how you carry a tune… hmmmp! Pwede ka ring manood ng sine mag-isa! Sumilip ka sa maingay na 'pachinko parlor'! Kumain ka sa mga restaurant na matagal mo nang gustong puntahan! Kung napagod ka nang dumalaw sa madalas mong puntahan na coffee shop at kung napagod ka na sa kakalinis ng bahay mo pwede ka ring dumalaw sa simbahan at humingi ng tawad at pasasalamat sa Diyos.  Bisitahin mo ang mga matagal mong di nabibisitang mga kaibigan at pasalubungan sila ng dalawang tumpok ng ‘mikan’  o isang supot ng butong-pakwan! Pwede ka ring manood ng mga paborito mong movies sa internet. Huwag ng makinig sa radio ng mga nakakaiyak na tugtugin at baka lalong maisip mo lahat ang iyong mga pinagkakautangan at bigla kang maluha: makinig sa mga nakakaindak na kanta at sabayan mo ng sayaw…kesehodang parehong kaliwa ang paa mo…hmmmp!

Sa  kalaunan pasasalamatan mo ang sarili mo kung kaya mong dalhin ang mga problema mo ng di ka nakakaabala sa ibang tao at di mo nakakalimutan ang iyong kalusugan.  Di natin kakayaning ma-solve nang sabay-sabay ang lahat ng problema sa mundo. Lahat tayo meron niyan: di ka nag-iisa! While there’s still time left, be more independent from others and if you have the chance, do the things you're dying to do during your idle moments.  After all, life is what we make it!

Happy reading!

Anita Sasaki


"Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain
For your dreams are tossed and blown
Walk on, Walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone." - Rodgers & Hammerstein
You'll never walk alone

January-February 2014

Pagsapit ng bagong taon, lagi nating naiisip na panahon ito ng pagbabagong buhay at may bago ring pag-asa. Masaya ang ating pagsalubong ng Pasko dahil ito ay ang “first coming of our Lord” at ito rin ang advent season or tawag nilang “season for waiting.”
Katuwaan naman sa iba ang “season of waiting” daw ay ang waiting for gifts, waiting for bonus. Grabe ang pagiging masinop at paspasan sa paglinis, pagluto at paghanda ng masasarap na pagkain kapag alam natin na meron tayong bisitang darating sa bahay. Ano pa kaya kung si Baby Jesus. Kailangan tayong maglinis, maghanda ng masasarap na pagkain sa pamamagitan ng paghanda ng ating mga puso at sa pagkakaroon ng mabuting asal sa ating kapwa.
Nito lang nakaraang Nobyembre 8, 2013, malupit na bagyo  ang sumalubong sa ating bansa sa lugar ng Visayas. Libu-libong mga tao ang namatay, nawawala at mga survivors na teribleng nasugatan ng dahil sa trahedyang ito. May mga senyales nga bang ipanahihiwatig sa atin ang mahal na Jesus? Senyales na kailangan ng mga Pinoy na ibago at itama?
Ang tanong ng marami ay, “Bakit sa Pilipinas?” Lumalabas sa ating puso ang pagiging matulungin at malasakit sa ibang kapwa Pilipino tuwing may malaking crisis o trahedyang dumarating sa ating bansa. Doon din natin nakikita ang pagkakaisa at sabay sabay binabangon ng mga tao ang anumang nawalan nila sa buhay: bahay at mga ari-arian o maging mga binawiang buhay na pamilya o kamag- anak. May kasabihan daw, “There are blessings in the storm.” Sabi naman ng marami, “The strongest storm on earth strucked the strongest people on earth the Filipinos.”
Dahil tayo ba ay PILI na chosen ones? At tayo pa ay PINO pa-refined ones? Kaya tayo ay PILI na, PINO pa or the modern chosen Israelites. Marunong daw magdala ng problema ang mga Pinoy kahit malaking trahedya pa ito. Pag dumating ang bagyo sa buhay ng mga Pinoy sige lang at alam nilang on the road ang MMGA (Mama Mary & Guardian Angel). Nakikita ko na pagkatapos ng super typhoon Yolanda ay lalo tayong mag-niningning na Perlas ng Silanganan. Kaya babangon ang Visayas. Babangon ang Pilipinas. At babangon ang mga Pilipino!

Isabelita Manalastas -Watanabe


Take It Or Leave It! Send questions to:

January-February 2014

Dear Tita Lita,
Bakit po every time na lagi akong umuwi sa Pilipinas, lagi ako ang taya? Kakain kami ng aking mga pamilya, mahigit sampo kami sa mesa, inaasahan nila na ako ang magbabayad. Lalabas kami ng aking mga dating high school classmates at college mates, ako pa rin ang taya. Iinom kami ng aking mga kabarkada, ako na naman ang taya. Gumastos na nga ako ng pamasahe sa eroplano, mga omiyage nila from Japan, gagastos pa rin sa shopping at lakad-lakad sa Pinas. Pati pang- shopping ng pamilya ko, ako pa rin ang gagastos. Paano po ba ako makaka-relax sa Pinas kung tumataas ang blood pressure ko sa super dami ng gastos? Butas na po ang wallet ko. At kung laging ganyan na lamang, sa susunod, baka pati bagong wallet, hindi ko na rin kayang bilhin.

Dear Joey:

Hindi ko napigilan ang tawa ko noong mabasa ko ang katanungan mo.  Hindi ka nag-iisa!  Palagay ko, hindi lang sa hindi ka nag-iisa, lahat tayong mga umuuwi, lalo na kapag December/Christmas season, ay pareho ang himutok. Butas-na-butas ang bulsa, at talaga namang stressful.

Napansin din iyan ng asawa kong Hapon.  Bakit nga daw kapag kinokontak niya ang kanyang mga kaibigan sa Pilipinas na Pilipino at mag-de-decide mag-reunion at kakain, ay walang bumubunot.  So siya palagi ang taya.

Ang ginagawa ko ngayon, hindi na lang ako nagdadala ng pasalubong from Japan.  Dito sa Japan, wala halos mabibili ang JPY 1,000, pero sa pera natin, mahigit na itong apat na raang piso – hindi maliit na halaga sa atin. So iyong hindi ko ibo-blow out, binibigyan ko na lang ng pera.

Best na huwag kang mangumbidang kumain sa labas, kung hindi ka prepared na ikaw ang magbabayad.  Or kung masakit sa loob mo. Pero palagay ko, kahit minsan lang, imbitahin mong kumain sa labas ang pamilya mo, tapos, tapos na!

Iyong mga former classsmates naman, ang ginagawa ko naman, ay sa bahay ko na lang ini-imbita, parang reunion baga. Tapos, order na lang ako ng palabok at soft drinks, ayos na.  Hindi masyadong magastos, pero nagkita-kita rin naman. Huwag ka ng magpa-beer – sabihin mo na lang, nag-umpisa ka ng mag-healthy diet para humaba-haba pa ang inyong pag-re-reunion taon-taon, or kung kailan ka man mauwi sa atin.

At kapag nag-blow out ka, dapat maluwag sa loob mo.  Otherwise, walang grasya iyon. Isipin mo na lang, na mas maswerte ka kaysa sa marami na nasa atin.  At babalik at babalik din naman sa iyo ang grasyang binibigay mo ng maluwag sa iyong kalooban, in some other ways.

Tita Lita

Dear Tita Lita,
Isa po akong trainee dito sa Aichi-ken. Mahaba po ang oras namin sa trabaho at mababa rin ang sweldo. Engineer po ako sa Pilipinas na kinuha dito para maging "trainee" daw. Pero ang trabaho po namin ay parang sa mga factory worker lang po. Gusto ko pong malaman kung anu-ano ang mga paraan kung paano ma-change ang visa ko to working visa at kung paano makahanap ng ibang kumpanya. Meron po ba kayong advice? Maraming salamat po.

Dear Teddy:

Marami na rin akong narinig na complaint na katulad ng inilahad mo sa iyong sulat. Maganda actually ang intensiyon ng bansang Hapon noong ginawa nila ang law para makapunta dito sa Japan ang mga trainees na katulad mo.  Dapat talaga sana, trainee.  Kaya lang, may mga kumpanya dito na siguro nga ay inaabuso ang sistema para makakuha sila, in effect, ng cheap labor. Meaning, hindi talaga trainee in the real sense of the word, kundi iyon nga, cheap labor.

Kung mayroon kang maha-hanap na magha-hire sa iyo dito sa Japan, ang company na iyon ang mag-a-apply ng iyong “Certificate of Eligibility”.    Pwede kang mag-download ng information/requirement documents to be filled up from the Japanese immigration home page. Madali ang mga documents na kailangan sa iyo (resume; proof na university graduate ka; copy of passport; filled-in application form.  Iyong mag-i-sponsor sa iyo, mas mabigat ang mga required documents:  signed employment contract mo; copy of the company’s Toukibo Touhon (company registration) issued during the past 3 months on the date that they will file the sponsorship documents; proof of company’s corporate tax payment; guarantee letter; and signed application documents, etc.).

Dapat ka ding umuwi muna at maghintay ng approval.  Kapag nakatanggap ka na ng Certificate of Eligibilty from the Japanese immigration office/Ministry of Justice, pumunta sa Japanese Embassy, dala ang iyong passport, at pwede ng i-issue ang visa mo.  Once visa is stamped in your passport, you have to leave within 90 days of stamping of your visa in your passport and enter Japan.

Tita Lita
Dear Tita Lita,
Sumulat po ako dahil kailangan ko po ng payo tungkol sa aking buhay. Gusto ko na pong hiwalayan ang aking asawang Hapon. Matagal na po kaming hindi nagsasamang matulog. Meron siyang sariling kuwarto sa bahay. Ako po, doon sa sala na lang natutulog. Hindi naman po niya ako binubugbog tulad ng iba. Binibigyan din po niya ako ng konting pera na pang gastos sa bahay at pagkain. Madalas, hindi po siya umuuwi sa bahay. Sabi po ng ibang kaibigan ko, nakita siya na meron kasamang ibang babae. Mahigit 40 taong gulang na po ako. Hindi po tapos sa pag-aaral sa college at walang karanasan sa trabaho. Hindi rin po ako magaling mag-Hapon. Talento po ako dati bago po ako kinasal sa kanya. Wala po kaming anak. Nalilito po ako kung ano ang magandang gawin. Ano po ang magandang payo ninyo sa akin?

Dear Linda:

Kung may kahit kaunti ka pang pagmamahal sa asawa mo, i-try mong i-repair pa ang pagsasama.  Kung talento ka noon, siguradong maganda ka. Dapat i-maintain mo ang iyong pagiging attractive para maakit mo ulit ang kanyang atensiyon. Sa inyong sex life, hindi masamang ikaw ang mag-initiate ng move.  Kasi kung wala na kayong sex life, magiging marupok na ang attention niya sa iyo.  Kung wala kang trabaho, at wala namang anak na inaasikaso, edi ang dami ng iyong spare time?  Magpaganda ka, mag-stay slim, mag-aral ng Japanese (inquire from your Kuyakusho kung may mga libreng lessons), at pagbutihin mo rin ang pagsilbi at pagkarinyo sa iyong asawa.

Huwag kang papayag na mag-divorce kayo, dahil kung hindi, automatic, mawawalan ka ng visa (unless permanent resident na ang visa mo sa Japan).

Tita Lita

Dear Tita Lita,
Gusto ko po sanang dalhin ang mga magulang ko dito para dito na sila tumira at mamalagi at para ma-antabayanan ko sila sa kanilang pagtanda. Pwede po kaya yon? At pwede po ba silang maging mga dependents ko para under sila sa aking insurance? Isa po akong permanent resident sa Japan.

Dear Lorie:

Mayroon na akong nai-advice noon na similar ang tanong sa akin. Sure, you can apply to have your parents stay with you.  Ang dami mo lang dadaanang butas.  Ako noon, hindi na-approve, kahit na maganda ang trabaho ko sa Japan at kayang-kayang suportahan ko ang mga magulang ko kung titira sila sa akin. Ang reason:  may iba pa akong mga kapatid doon sa atin, at ang sabi ng nag-interview sa akin, e di suportahan ko na lang ang mga magulang ko, in the form of sending monetary support sa kanila, kasi mayroon naman daw na mag-aalaga doon sa kanila na mga ibang anak nila. Baka kung solo kang anak ay mas malaki chance mo.

Check the hompage of the immigration office for the various requirements.

(Note: Iyong mga magulang ng mga Pinoy sa America, karamihan, ayaw doon.  Kasi  confined sila sa loob ng bahay (dahil nga car society doon, at palaging kailangang mag-drive kung may pupuntahan kahit grocery shopping lang).  Sa Japan, hindi siguro maiinip ang mga magulang mo kasi maraming makikita kahit bumaba lang sa apartment/bahay mo).

Tita Lita
Dear Tita Lita,
Hindi po kami magkasundo ng aking mga biyenang Hapon. Hindi po kami magkasama sa bahay ngunit araw-araw ay nandito sila sa bahay dahil kapit-bahay po namin sila. Mababa na ang tingin nila sa akin dahil isa akong Pilipina, isang dayuhan at masama pa ang pagtungo nila sa akin. Bago pa po kami kinasal, kumontra na sila sa amin. Pero buntis na po ako kaya walang magawa at pinakasalan ako ng asawa ko. Ang aking asawa ay isang mama's boy. Hindi kami magkasundo ng kanyang nanay. Lagi niyang kino-kontra ang mga sinasabi ko. Napaka-URUSAI po niya sa akin. Laging merong nakikita. Puro pintas na lamang ang kanyang bibig sa akin. Minsan, hindi ko na lang pinapansin. Minsan, naiiyak na lamang ako. Minsan, talagang inaaway ko siya. Sinisiraan po niya ako sa aking dalawang anak. Hindi raw po ako ulirang ina. Pero ang feeling ko, mas pipiliin ng asawa ko ang nanay niya kesa sa akin na asawa niya. Liligaya pa ba kaya ako sa aking dinaranas dito sa Japan?

Dear Claire:

Buti na lang at hindi kayo magkakasama sa isang bahay!  Kundi, kahit matutulog na lang kayo, nandiyan pa rin ang urusai mong biyenan, at pagkagising mo, kita mo na rin kaagad mukha niya at sira na ang araw mo.  Pasalamat ka na rin at may sarili kayong bahay, kahit punta pa ng punta diyan sa inyo.

Itong mga anak mo, hindi ko alam kung anong edad na sila.  Kasi, kahit ano pa ang paninirang gawin ng biyenan mo sa iyo sa iyong mga anak, kung ikaw ang nagpalaki sa mga bata at naramdaman nila ang iyong pagmamahal sa kanila from the start na pinagbubuntis mo sa kanila, hanggang isinilang mo at  hanggang lumaki na sila, hindi sila mag-iiba ng tingin sa iyo at ikaw ang kanilang mas higit na mamahalin at paniniwalaan.

Kung mahal mo ang iyong asawa at siguradong mahal-na-mahal mo ang iyong mga anak, makakapagtiis ka sa masamang trato ng biyenan mo sa iyo.  At sigurado ako, in the end, ikaw ang mananalo.

May kaibigan akong Pilipina na ang asawa ay Hapon din. Hindi rin sila magkasama ng bahay ng biyenan niya, pero nasa upper floor lang ng mansion ang biyenan nakatira. Sobra ka-salbahe. Minsan, nasa ibaba ng mansion ang kaibigan kong Pilipina, binuhusan ba naman ng tubig from the veranda ng mansion ng kanyang biyenan.  Isa lamang sa napakara-ming pang-aapi na dinanas niya sa kamay ng kanyang bruhang biyenan. Pero si santang kaibigan ay nagtiis dahil love niya ang asawang Hapon at ang kanilang nag-iisang anak.  Noong magkasakit si biyenan, pinagluluto siya ng kaibigan kong Pinay at nag-offer tumulong for anything – grocery shopping, etc.  In the end, hayun, sobrang pagmamahal ang isinukli ni biyenan, at ang ganda-ganda na ng kanilang relationship.

Mahirap ipag-pray ang isang taong galit ka.  Pero kung magawa mo, ipag-pray mo na sana, mag-change for the better si mother-in-law mo, at isama mo na rin sa prayers mo, for the Lord to give you strength to continue being good kahit inaapi ka niya.

All the best to you, Claire.

Tita Lita

Jasmin Vasquez

Ano Ne!
Bagong Taon, Bagong
Buhay, Bagong Pag-asa

January-February 2014

Maraming mga trahedya ang nangyari tulad ng baha, bagyo at lindol sa iba't-ibang bahagi ng mundo.  Ngunit itong Bagyong Yolanda o tinatawag nila na "Typhoon Haiyan" ay marahil ang pinakamatinding nagdulot ng sakuna na tumama ng malakas sa iba't-ibang bahagi ng Tacloban, Leyte.

Isang bangungot sa ating mga kababayan na maraming nagdusa, nagdalamhati sa hagupit ng bagyong Yolanda. Nakakalungkot mang isipin pero maraming mga batang walang malay na maganda pa sana ang mararating kung napaghandaan lang ng maayos ang sakunang dumating.  Nakakalungkot ring isipin ang mga anak na iniwan ng magulang upang makipagsapalaran sa ibang bansa at mabigyan ng magandang buhay pagbalik sa Pilipinas.  Ngunit wala na sila.

Ang buhay nga naman ay hindi mo masasabi at mapipigilan kung ano ang nakatakdang mangyari.  Wala ring nakakaalam kung hanggang saan lang tayo mabubuhay.  Nakakalungkot isipin ang mga pangyayaring naganap.

Dahil sa nangyaring ito, maraming bansa ang nagkaisa at nagbigay ng tulong sa ating mga kababayan sa Pilipinas. Dito sa Japan, halos lahat ng Filipino Communities ay gumawa ng kani-kaniyang pamamaraan at pagtatanghal ng mga charity concerts, solicitations at iba pa. mga kapwa.  Katulad din ng mga Filcom na gumagawa ng mga charity concerts. Nagtatanghal sila ng isang palabas na talaga namang pinaghihirapan nila para makatulong sa mga taong nagiging biktima ng mga sakuna na dumarating sa ating mga kababayan. Dahil dito, sobrang saludo ako sa lahat ng mga taong may ginintuang puso.

Dahil bagong taon na, sana ay baguhin na natin at nawa ay mabago na ang mga kaugaliang hindi maganda. Panalangin natin na sana ay wala ng trahedya at sakuna na dumating pa muli sa buong mundo. Isa itong tapik ng Diyos sa atin para maalala natin na lahat tayo dito sa mundo dapat ay pantay pantay lamang. Gawin kung ano ang tama at hindi lang sa ating mga kapwa tao kung hindi sa inang kalikasan din.  At dahil malapit na rin ang araw ng mga puso, sana po ay magmahalan tayong buong tapat. Lagi nating pairalin ang pagmamahal at magkaroon tayo ng malambot na puso sa mga taong nangangailan ng ating tulong at pagmamahal.

Sa kabila ng lahat ng nangyari sa ating bansa, alam ko na madali tayong makakabangon kung ang bawat isa ay magtutulong-tulong at magkakaisa. Huwag na tayong maghintay pa ng kung anumang matinding trahedya para lang tayo magbago at mag tulong-tulongan. Marami pang pagkakataon para magbagong buhay dahil lahat tayo ay may pag-asa. At ang pinakamahalagang mensahe: Ang pagbabago ay hindi naman dapat tinatapat tuwing bagong taon lamang. Ang pagbabagong buhay ay pwedeng mangyari sa anumang bahagi ng taon. At itong pagbabago ay dapat gawing tapat, makahulugan at makabuluhan sa ating mga puso.


Karen Sanchez

Papalit-palit Lang

January-February 2014

Ang bilis ng pagpalit ng panahon. Pagkatapos ng  undas, pasko at ngayon naman taon na ang magpapalit at kasunod na rin ang Valentine’s Day. Ang pinakamalungkot kung iisipin ay ang ating pagtanda. Nakakalungkot  isipin na tayo ay tumatanda na pero yun po ang isang riyalidad sa buhay ng tao na mangyayari't-mangyayari. At kagaya ng mga kalamidad na nangyari, kailangan natin itong tanggapin. Lubos kong binabati ang lahat na sana maganda at masaya ang kani-kanilang nakaraang pasko.

Ayon sa Chinese Astrology, ang nagdaang taon ay "Year of the Snake." Ngayong 2014 naman po ay "Year of the Horse." At ang mga ipinanganak daw sa taong ito ay matatag, malakas, matalino, malikhain, masipag ngunit mahihirapan amuin kapag sila ay nagkamali. Lahat naman po tayo ay hindi perpekto. Bawat isa ay may mga positibo at negatibong mga pag-uugali at hindi po basehan ang ibat-ibang taon nang kapanakan sa pag-uugali ng tao. Dahil ito ay nasa sa ating lahat, kung paano tayo hinubog ng ating mga magulang, kung ano ang ating nakalakihan o nakasanayan. At sa tulong ng ibat-ibang aspeto ng lipunan na ating ginagalawan, sa ating mga napag-aralan at karanasan ay lumalabas kung ano at sino tayo ngayon. At sa sinasabing katangian ng mga kabayo ngayon natin higit mas kailangan ang ganito upang sa ganun ay mabilis tayong makakaahon o makalimot sa mga hindi magandang nangyari sa ating mga buhay-buhay noong nakaraang taon. Kagaya nga nitong bagong taong darating, may mga bagay na hindi natin inaasahan at walang makakapagsabi sa mangyayari sa kasalukuyan. Parang sa showbiz, papalit-palit ang mga bida, ang ka-relasyon at ang "role" na ginagampanan. Kagaya din nating mga ordinaryong tao sa mundo, lahat tayo ay may kanya-kanyang ginagampanan at responsibilidad sa pamilya, pamayanan, bayan at buhay ng iba. Minsan, isa tayo sa nagiging inspirasyon ng iba upang ituloy ang buhay na mayroon sila. Dahil bawat isa sa atin ay binibigyang pagkakataon na maging parte ng buhay ng may buhay. At minsan hindi natin namamalayan na may mga bagay tayong ginagawa o sinasabi  na hindi man natin sinasadyang makaapekto sa iba ay naapektuhan natin sila maganda man o hindi. Marahil ay sadyang ganun ang buhay sa mundo, masalimuot, mahirap, malungkot, masaya pabago-bago, at papalit-palit.

Marami sa ating mga kababayan ang malungkot sa paskong nagdaan dahil na rin sa sunud-sunod na kalamidad na nangyari sa ating bayan. Kung noon sa Pinas ay sabay-sabay mag Christmas dinner o noche buena at nagka-"countdown" ang buong pamilya sa pagsalubong ng bagong taon, maraming handa sa lamesa na hindi nawawala ang nakaugaliang may mula anim hanggang labing-tatlong mga bilog na prutas kasama ng handa na pinaniniwalaang magbibigay suwerte sa bagong taong papasok, na tineternohan pa nang pagsusuot ng makukulay na polka dots at floral sa pagpasok ng pera at kaligayahan sa bagong  taon. Ngayon maraming pamilya ang tiyak na wala sa isa dito ang makakaranas. Nawa sa tulong natin at ng ibang tao ay naibsan ang kanilang lungkot, pag-aalala at paghihinagpis sa mga naranasang trahedya. Tulad ng mga Hapon na isa sa mga nag-alay ng malaking tulong sa bansa o nagbigay ng maagang pamasko o regalo sa mga nasa-lanta, sila din ay nagdidiriwang ng bagong taon at masaya ang mga tao lalo na ang mga kabataan sapagkat makakatanggap sila ng mga maliliit at may ibat-ibang desenyong sobre o futo na naglalaman ng pera at tinatawag nila itong "otoshidama" na ibibigay ng mga magulang, lolo at lola, mga kapit-bahay, o kamag-anak. Para lang din kapalit ng pasko sa atin kung saan ang mga Pilipino sa pasko ay nakakatanggap ng aginaldo. At ang pagsalubong ng mga Hapon sa bagong taon ay tulad din sa atin kasama ang pamilya at pinagsasaluhan ang unang almusal sa unang araw ng bagong taon. At nakakatuwang isipin na iisa ang tema ng handa sa mesa ng bawat bahay dito. Ito ay ang kamabuko o fish cake, puto, rice cake o omochi o pagkaing gawa sa malagkit na bigas na pinaniniwalaan nilang magdadala ng pagkakaisa at pagsama-sama ng mag pamilya at may beer o alak, ocha o green tea at magkakampay sabay bati ng happy new year. At pagkatapos ng almusal ay magbibigay na ng otoshidama ang matatanda sa mga bata. At pupunta ng onsen o spa para mag relax o kaya ay jinja o templo para magdasal.

Iba-iba ang pagsese-lebra ng bawat tao, bawat lahi o bawat lugar sa mundo, mapapansin ang lahat ay kasama o hinahangad na makasama ay ang nag-iisang itinuturing na pamilya. Mapapansin natin na saan man sulok ng mundo, ano man ang kulay, relihiyon, at pagkatao, makikita dito ay ang kahalagahan ng tinatawag nating pamilya. Ang pagmamahal at pagpapahalaga ng bawat isa kahit ang iba'y nag-asawa na o may sarili na ring pamilya, at magpalit-palit man ng kinakasama, magpalit-palit man ang panahon ay mananatili ang nag-iisa nating kinagisnang pamilya. At sa anumang pagsubok ng buhay, kapag ang iyong pamilya ay laging kaagapay, tiyak na lahat ay makakaya lalung-lalo na pag nagtutulong-tulong o nagkakaisa.

At sa mga naiwan nating kababayan sa Pilipinas, sabay-sabay nating salubungin ang bagong taon nang may tatag, may tapang at may tiwala sa Diyos na sa kahit anumang trahedya o pagsubok ng buhay, lahat ay makakayang lutasin o lagpasan. Ang pagmamahal sa pamilya at kapwa ay magbibigay ng lakas ng loob sa bawat isa, sa ating lahat para lumaban at harapin ang lahat ng suliranin na ating nararanasan o mararanasan.

Muli maligaya, masagana, mapayapa at matatag na bagong taon at advance Happy Valentines Day sa ating lahat. Pagpalain nawa tayong lahat ng ating Poong Maykapal ngayon, bukas at sa mga susunod na mga araw.

Jeff Plantilla

Isang Araw sa Ating Buhay

January-February 2014

Dumarami ang mga Pilipino na sumasali sa mga singing contests sa labas ng Pilipinas. Kahit hindi sila nananalo hinahangaan pa rin.
Kailan lang ay nanalo ang isang 14 anyos na babaeng malamang na Pilipina sa isang singing contest na ipinalabas sa TV sa Japan. Ingles lahat ang  kanta niya, at hindi yon naging hadlang sa kanyang pagiging kampeon.
Ipinakikita sa mga manood ang buhay ng mga sumasali sa contests.  Ipinakikilala ang  kanilang pamilya  at nalalaman ng mga manonood ang kanilang hangad na maging sikat na manganganta.
Minsan, ang mas mahalaga ay yung buhay sa likod ng pagkanta kaysa sa pagkanta mismo.

I am Rose
Si Rose Fostanes ay nakatira sa Israel.  Siya ay 46 years old. Medyo malusog siya at masayahin. Kung titingnan ang kanyang hitsura, wala siyang kaibahan sa maraming  Pilipino. Siya ay isa sa mga taong makikita mong naglalakad sa kalye sa Pilipinas,  napaka ordinaryong tao. Tulad din ng iba pang mga Pilipino madali siyang ngumiti at magbiro. Tumatambay kapag walang trabaho, nakikipagkwentuhan sa kapwa Pilipino.  Magaan siyang kausap. Sa madaling salita, si Rose ay isang karaniwang mamamayang Pilipino.
Sabi ni Rose, “I am still single because I have been working for how many years that I forgot to find somebody… for me.” Paliwanag niya na, “I am here in Israel  [working] as a caregiver…I love my job because I love to take care of old people and to give them some attention.”
Nakatira siya sa isang maliit na bahay sa Tel Aviv kasama ang tatlong kaibigan na nagtatrabaho din bilang “metapelet” o caregiver. Kapag lalaki ang caregiver, “metapel” ang tawag sa salitang Hebrew.
Nagdesisyon siya na sumali sa X Factor Israel, na matagal na niyang napapanood. Sabi niyang baka iyon ang maging dahilan para mabago ang buhay niya. Sabi niya, “God knows… how we sacrifice. That we are helping our family.” Sabi pa niya, “Maybe if I win…my life will change.”
Sa araw ng kanyang pag-audition, nakasuot siya ng karaniwang t-shirt at jeans, hindi inayos ang buhok, at naka rubber shoes. Dala-dala niya ang dalawang plastic bags na siguro ay kanyang baong pagkain.  Para siyang bibisita lang sa kabilang barangay.
Hindi niya akalain na napakalaki pala ng stadium at napakaraming tao ang naghihintay. Ang mga judges sa X Factor Israel ay mga popular at magagaling na singers ng bansa.

This Is My Life
Kinanta ni Rose ang kilalang kanta ni Shirley Bassey, na unang nakilala nung 1960s pa.  Nagsimula ang background music at binigkas ni Rose ang mga unang salita … “Funny how a lonely day…” agad na naramdaman ng mga judges at mga manonood ang galing niya sa pagkanta.
Sa unang bahagi ng kanta, laman ang pagdududa sa sarili. Nagtatanong  ang isang tao kung ano ba ang ganda ng buhay :
Funny how a lonely day, can make a person say
What good is my life
Funny how a breaking heart, can make me start to say
What good is my life
Funny how I often seem to think I'll find another dream
In my life
Till I look around and see, this great big world is part of me
And my life

Nguni’t sinagot din ang pagdududang ito at nagpahiwatig ng paninindigan:
This is my life
Today, tomorrow, love will come and find me
But that's the way that I was born to be
This is me
This is me

This Is My Life
And I don't give a damn for lost emotions
I've such a lot of love I've got to give
Let me live
Let me live

Kinanta ni Rose ang “This is my life” na puno ng damdamin. Halos para siyang umiiyak nung sinabi niyang “I don’t give a damn for lost emotions.” Ipinahihiwatig niya ang mensahe ng kanta hindi lamang sa pamamagitan ng kanyang magandang boses kundi sa  kanyang mukha, at kamay.

Ken, Ken, Ken, Ken
Dalang-dala ang mga judges sa pagkanta ni Rose. Lahat sila ay nagre-react may napaluha nang konti, may hindi makagalaw, may galaw nang galaw ang ulo dahil dinadama ang pagkanta, at ang isa ay hindi mawala ang ngiti. Ganun din ang mga nanood sa stadium, hindi tumitigil ang palakpak habang kumanta si Rose. Pagkatapos ng kanta, standing ovation ang lahat – judges at mga manonood.  Naka-X ang mga kamay ng mga manonood na ibig sabihin ay X factor. Napa-wow ang host sa nakitang reaction ng mga tao.
Napaiyak na rin si Rose sa nakitang pagtanggap sa kanya. Sabi ng mga judges:
• The song you chose was so right for you
• It was perfect…it was so… perfect
• It was wonderful. No words…you have the X factor.
Apat na Ken (oo) ang natanggap ni Rose.  Pasok siya sa next round.
Pagbalik niya sa likod ng stage, sabi ng host, “You are a very, very special woman”. “I told you” ang sabi ng kasamang kaibigan.
Mapapanood ang buong audition sa YouTube. Si Rose ang pinakahuling nasabihan ng Ken, Ken, Ken, Ken. Ito ang url:

Next Round
Sa second round, ang mga nakapasang contestants lang ang nasa stadium. Isa-isa uli silang kakanta.
Na-interview uli si Rose. Sabi niya, “I feel that everybody is looking at me like I am an alien.” Akala niya na walang sinuman ang kakausap sa kanya. At nagpahayag din siya ng maaaring dahilan kung bakit ganito ang maaaring mangyari, “The Israelis see Filipino[s] working .. cleaning houses. Maybe they…[will be] shocked [and ask] what this Filipino is doing here.” Bagama’t seryoso ang mga salItang ito, napangiti  ako sa kanyang pagsasalita. Parang hindi ingles ang salita niya kundi yung salita sa Pilipinas. Napaka-relax ng kanyang pagsasalita – hindi siya gumagaya sa accent ng ibang tao sa pagsasalita ng ingles (halimbawa ay accent ng mga Amerikano).
Nagpapahiwatig siya ng takot, ng pangamba sa mga kasama niya sa contest. Iniisip niya ang maaaring nasa sa isip ng mga kasama niyang Israelis. Siguro naiisip niya na kung sila ay pinagsisilbihan ng mga Pilipino sa bahay, hindi kaya sila mailang na makasama ng isang Pilipinang tulad niya?
Nguni’t mas malakas siguro ang takot niyang hindi niya magawa ang dapat para siya manalo sa  X Factor. Kaya sabi niya, “This is not a game. I am competing not only for myself… for my family because I want to help them. They are very poor in [the] Philippines.”

My heart … doog… doog… doog
Ninenerbiyos si Rose kaya sinabi niya, “If I make one mistake my journey in X Factor will be gone and maybe [my] dream to be something else will all be finished.” Kaya sabi niya na ang kanyang puso ay kabang-kaba (doog, doog, doog sa kanyang salita).
Nung siya ay tinawag na, kinanta niya ang “You and I” ni Lady Gaga. Medyo nabigla ang mga judges sa kanyang kakantahin. Hindi siguro nila maiisip na hindi lamang siya pang Shirley Bassey kundi pang Lady Gaga din. Kinanta niya ang “You and I” ayon sa kanyang style ng pagkanta.  Kung sa una ang mga kapwa contestants ay medyo hindi pumapansin kay Rose, biglang nabago ang mga mukha nila at nagpapalakpakan habang siya ay kumakanta. Humanga sila sa kanyang mataas na boses. Standing ovation sila pagkatapos ng kanta. Ayos na naman si Rose.

You have to fight
Sa interview sa kanya sa second round ng contest, ipinahiwatig niya ang kanyang determinasyon na makamit ang gusto niya. Sabi niya, “You have to move, you have to fight, you have to make your best.”At nagpahiwatig na rin siya ng pag-asa, “Maybe it is not too late for me to have a good life.”
Magagaling at mga bata pa ang mga kasama ni Rose sa X Factor. Talagang mahigpit ang labanan.
Si Rose ay isang halimbawa ng taong hindi kaagad nakakakitaan ng galing. Nguni’t kapag nabigyan ng pagkakataon, nagpapalabas siya ng galing na kahanga-hanga at nakakabigla dahil hindi inaasahan. Hindi naging hadlang ang kanyang status bilang isang “metapelet,” bilang isa sa mga Pilipinong may gawaing maaaring hindi kilalang mataas na antas. Hindi naman talaga ito dapat maging problema dahil may dangal ang bawa’t isang hanap-buhay.
Sabihin na nating dahan-dahang ipinakikita ni Rose ang kanyang galing at ang kanyang pagkatao habang dahan-dahan siyang umaakyat papunta sa final round ng X Factor Israel. Iisa lamang ang ating dapat isipin para sa kanya:  galingan mo pa Rose.
Sabi nga niya, you have to fight. Ken!


Abie Principe

Shoganai: Gaijin Life
Pilipinas: Miyembro
ng Global Community

January-February 2014

In the wake of the recent devastation in the Philippines, 2014 is a year to reflect on the past, and to look toward the future with a new perception of what could be. Sa madaling salita po, dapat matuto tayo sa nakaraan, at maging bukas ang mga mata natin sa posibilidad ng mas maayos na kinabukasan.

Maraming nagsasabi na hindi daw maayos na hinarap ng gobyerno ang sitwasyon ng mga nabiktima ng Bagyong Yolanda. Panay ang batikos, kaliwa-kanan, puro batikos. Pero kung mapapansin ninyo, maraming mga organisasyon ang totoong tumulong, na hanggang ngayon ay tumutulong pa rin. Ang mga organisasyong ito ay halong Pilipino at dayuhan, at isang magandang ehemplo ng totoong international cooperation. Dito nakita na sa kadahilanan ng mga social networks, online access to news at mga instant means of communication, totoong global community na nga ang mundo. At dahil sa global community na nga, hindi na rin nagtatagal, o lumalaganap ang mga mentalidad na mapagsamantala sa mga kapwa tao. Kung noon, maaring pagkakitaan ang disaster na nangyari sa Pilipinas, ngayon, agad-agad nakikita ang mga mapagsamantala, at naibabalita agad sa buong mundo. Isa na rin itong paraan para hindi mapagsamantalahan ang mga bikitima ng iba’t-ibang mga disaster.

Napansin ko rin na dahil sa tayo ay miyembro ng global community, ang mga organisas-yong totoong tumutulong at hindi nagyayabang, hindi naghahanap ng “photo-op,” kundi, tahimik lang na tumutulong, at ibang tao ang naglalagay ng mga gawain nila online. Ika nga ng bibliya, true charity is silent. So, let us silently help, and pray for the people in the Yolanda affected areas. 

Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa lahat ng tumulong at patuloy na tumutulong sa mga kapwa kong Pilipino, at nakakataba ng puso na maraming mga hindi naman Pilipino, at nagpapakita ng concern at pagnanais na makatulong. Totoong naramdaman ko ang pagiging kasapi ng isang global community.
Bagama’t bago na ang taon, marami pa rin tayong mga lumang problema na dapat hanapan ng solusyon. Sana itong 2014, hindi natin makalimutan ang mga kababayan natin na nangangailangan ng tulong, at hindi rin natin makalimutan na tayong lahat, ay kasama sa mas malaking komunidad, hindi lamang bilang mga Pilipino, kundi bilang mga mamamayan ng mundo. 

Warren Sun


January-February 2014

Saging tayo dyan! Bili na kayo ng saging!  Ang saging o banana ay isa sa pinagmamalaking staple fruit ng Pilipinas. Hindi lang ito masarap, murang nabibili at laging available sa buong taon, kung hindi, marami pa itong health benefits para sa ating kalusugan.  Ano ba ang mga health benefits na nabibigay nitong fruit na ito?

Good source of Potassium and Magnesium. Ito ay tumutulong sa pagbibigay ng normal blood pressure, heart protective at pabor sa ating mga atleta dahil isa rin itong energy-boosting fruit.
Soothing Protection from Ulcers. Dahil sa antacid effects ng saging na tinatawag na protease inhibitors, inaalis nito ang bacteria  sa loob ng stomach para matanggal ang stomach ulcer.

Improving Elimination. Naaalala niyo ba na pinapakain tayo lagi ng saging kapag meron tayong Diarrhea? Ito ay nagsisilbing replenishment sa nawalang important electrolytes na nakakatulong sa pag regulate ng heart function at pati narin ang fluid balance sa ating katawan.

Eyesight Protection.  Ayon sa pananaliksik, ang pag-kain ng tatlong saging sa isang araw ay magbibigay linaw sa paningin at magbi-bigay ng mababang risk sa anumang klaseng vision loss.

Build Stronger Bones.  Ugaliing kumain ng saging dahil ito ay nagbibigay ng calcium sa ating katawan na kilalang nagbibigay lakas ng buto.  Ayon sa isang pananaliksik, ang saging ay may rich compound na tinatawag na fructooligosaccharide na nagbibigay ng vitamins at digestive enzymes na pinaniniwalaan nakakapag bawas ng risk ng colon cancer.

Promote Kidney Health. Ang pag-kain ng saging araw-araw ay nakakabawas ng risk ng kidney cancer.  Ito ay may antioxidant phenolic compounds na nagbibigay proteksyon sa kidney.

Weight Loss.  Isama kainin ang saging sa iyong diet program.  Natural ang tamis nito na pweding palitan ang pag kain ng dessert.  May soluble fiber ito na pinapabagal ang digestion para ma feel po na busog ka parin. Sabi daw nila na ang pag-kain ng isang saging bago mag lunch ay may konting chances para mag over-eat.

Hindi tulad ng ibang prutas at gulay, ang saging ay patok na patok sa mga Pinoy. Masarap itong gawing banana Q, minatamis na saging, pang sahog  sa halo-halo, banana shake o smoothie, sahog sa puchero, palaman sa tinapay na kasama ang peanut butter, bilo-bilo, ihalo sa cereal or muesli, at marami pang iba. Kahit saan ka titingin, parte ng buhay na natin ang saging.

Tippi Delarosa

NOTES: Of 2014 And
Moving On

January-February 2014

Last week I received a private message from a friend who seemed to be having a hard time moving on from a relationship that had long ended already. We’re talking decades here, not months. Apparently, she and the man had a brief affair before he got married. She said they were in love at one point. He validated her statement, but added that he chose to marry another. “My wife is my destiny,” he tells me. How I got entangled in the said affair of the heart is another story. Both were close to me – he was my first love, she was our close friend.

By the way she sounded, it was quite apparent that she has had a hard time moving on. I wanted to reach out and comfort her but since we live oceans away from each other, I couldn’t.  In between telling her story, she would often quip “oh but it’s so long ago already.” Yet the hurt was there. I heard it in her voice. How he left her in spite of what they shared haunts her to this day. This didn’t make me sleep for a couple of nights. Next thing I knew I was already talking to the man concerned. Let it be said that my relationship with my first love is one for the books. Despite our teenage disagreements, we have remained friends. In fact, we are not just friends; we are close friends.  They say curiosity kills the cat, but I would have nothing of this until I get to the bottom of the pit.

According to him, he already had a girlfriend when his relationship with our close friend intensified. They both didn’t expect things to turn that way but it did. It was then that he realized he had to make a choice, and chose he did.

After listening to the two versions of the story, I wondered: how difficult is it to move on from a painful past? The man said that it took him years to recover from the guilt; the woman is still trying to make peace with her past.

Their story is not unique. I’ve been there, done that too. The only difference is that when I move on, I trudge fast forward no matter how difficult the journey is. I am the kind who will try to save the relationship as much as I could but once I decide to say goodbye, there is no more turning back. I feel intensely, yes but when the cup runneth over I can as easily disengage. Such is why up to now I cannot understand why it is easier for some people to dwell on the past. Then again, it is just me.

Speaking of moving on, I also have this weird tendency to befriend all my exs. Others may cringe at this, but it makes me feel uncomfortable to be at odds with an ex. After all, we shared something special at one point in our life. Many of my friends find this weird but I often reason out that exs make the best allies. They know you and no matter what happens, they will always have a soft spot for you in their heart.

As we enter 2014, we will be given numerous choices again. These choices go hand in hand with moving forward. It may not be easy for most of us to let go of the past, but it won’t do us any good to cling to it either.
So let us all march forward and work our 2014 with hope in our hearts. Life, after all, is beautiful.

Sally Cristobal -Takashima


January-February 2014

The other day, I was on my way home from work when I saw a new and attractive kanban of Yoshinoya saying “Sukiyaki 580 yen.” My feet just headed to the store and caught me by surprise.  I almost never go to Yoshinoya. In no time, I ordered a steaming Japanese Sukiyaki in less than 10 minutes. I sat, ate, paid and then went home. No need to wash dishes as I have chosen not to eat at home. Life can be so easy. Pero hindi kagaya ng home made Sukiyaki na pwede ka pang mag okawari pero hindi bale na dahil paminsan-minsan lang naman.
Kaya lang sa pagka busog at feeling warmed up, wala na pala akong pambayad sa bus pauwi kaya natawa na lang ako sa sarili ko. “Bukas pa kaya ang bangko?” tanong ko sa sarili ko. After checking my purse ay nalaman ko nagpalit pala ako ng bag so wala din bank card. So, the only option was to call my “sa hirap at ginhawa” na better half to come and pick me up.
You got to keep warm when the cold weather whisper into your ears.  The last thing that I need is the flu accompanied by sore throat, headache and the like.  On the other hand, my kitchen remedies are ready: there is enough garlic, ginger, cayenne, lemon and many more in my fridge. I just bought rolled black seaweed (kombu) the other day, the type served when you order Nishin Soba only where the fish wrapped in the kombu is bigger.
With the kombu purchase, I’m almost ready to face the challenge of Winter.  Sunshine is best in preventing the flu and all doctors will attest to it. For my New Year’s Resolution: Do not believe everything the doctor tells you. Read more on natural remedies instead of spending a fortune to enrich Big Pharma. Talagang maghihirap ka pag puro gamot na lang ang pinaglalaanan ng iyong pinaghirapang salapi.
Alam niyo ba na ang sistemang pang pinansyal sa mundo ay itinuturo na mag enjoy ka sa buhay hanggang maubos na ang limit ng credit cards niyo?  Para malubog ka sa utang at para kumita ang mga credit companies from interest charges. Lalo na ngayong holiday season, yung mga light ups here and there takes your mind away from controlling your expenses.
Kung pwede lang ikandado ang wallet or bulsa. At ngayon holiday season, kahit sa anong bansa todo ang shopping.  Na misinterpret yata ng mga tao ang kasabihan "God loves a cheerful giver." Kaya ayan naging “king for a day and a pauper for a year.”
It will be early January by the time you read this. Most likely,  nakauwi na kayo sa Japan or still enjoying the sunshine in Boracay. I don't know but I feel a bit tired after the holidays and need a rest before the first day back to work.

And now bringing you some news and thoughts from Kansai:  Community leaders of various Philippine organizations trouped to Tokyo to attend the "President Benigno S. Aquino Meets the Philippine Community" on Dec. 12th. This was a side event because President Aquino was in Tokyo to attend the Japan-ASEAN Commemorative Summit. He also attended Sophia Ceremony where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate.
During the joint press statement with his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, the two leaders discussed cooperation in disaster management and reconstruction in the wake of typhoon Yolanda, economic concerns, maritime cooperation, people to people exchanges and the Mindanao peace process. They also exchange views on prevailing regional issues of mutual concern.
In the morning of Dec. 12th, community leaders from various areas in Japan convened for a productive Disaster Preparedness Training which was sponsored by the Philippine Embassy, Tokyo and the Network of Filipino Social Development Workers in Japan (NetFil). Mga Komunidad na Nagkakaisa Communities Helping rank Ocampos, a licensed social worker. He may be invited to other parts of Japan to give a presentation. Please contact Consul General Marian Ignacio of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo for details. The genuine efforts exerted by many communities to solicit donations in cash and in kind for those afflicted by typhoon Yolanda is truly commendable. Ipinadama nila ang kanilang pagmamalasakit sa kanilang kababayan at handa silang tumulong sa abot ng kanilang makakaya. There were also groups that held charity concerts, raffles and candle-lighting ceremony and group prayers as somehow this humble offerings eased the pain they felt for the typhoon victims.
We, Filipinos, in Kansai wish each of you the best that Year 2014 can bring. Let us all hope for a brighter, safer, prosperous New Year.  

Alma R. H. Reyes


January-February 2014

As the Snake of 2013 hissed its way ferociously from one catastrophe to another, now the Horse of 2014 gallops briskly on rocky paths and fallen debris of bloodstained horrors and memories of the preceding year, as it clears the misty air in anticipation of hope and positivity.

Because the horse is a symbol of transportation in the Chinese calendar; therefore, it provides a steady ride to people’s destinations—a carrier for travel and speed. During the 5th century, special Japanese folk rituals sacrificed white stallions, which were symbols of the sun and rain. Every year at the Ise Shrine, sacred, white horses are led to the divine gods in worship of the sun. Horses in Japanese tomb paintings were believed to possess supernatural powers, such as having the ability to communicate with gods and humans. In Shintoism, horses are vehicles for deities and messengers between the earthly and heavenly worlds. One of the most famous Japanese tales, the Tanabata (meeting of two stars every July), depicts the “mukaeuma,” the greeting horse, which is now a straw horse ornament hung on gates and trees to welcome visiting gods.

Those born in the Year of the Horse are said to be competitive, and self-determined as leaders and freedom-seekers. They pursue to win in battles, rise in nobility from a distance, and are conscious of their appearance, speech and stature. While horses are intelligent, they need to be tamed by humans. Therefore, they need to be guided and groomed as they may lose their way.

The horse’s guidance is probably what the Yolanda typhoon victims needed when the horrific storm surge gushed across the entire province of Leyte. In the opening issue of Jeepney Press this 2014, many writers will be talking about the Yolanda typhoon calamity, the wreckage, the despair, the disbelief, the suffering, and the displacement of souls, of hopes, of dreams…

Citizens will be uttering (as they already have) sour grapes, mockery, insults, frustrations, disappointments, anger, remorse, and endless blames, for every misfortune plucks a bitter mouth.

Yet, looking from above, there are still but a handful of ancient churches, unblemished tourist spots, and majestic coastlines that will always remind us of these sacrificed cities’ priceless jewels, frequently explored by nature lovers.

Leyte, as we know, is a fertile, agricultural land that is not only remembered for Magellan’s first sail to the island of Limasawa in 1521, and the first American landing in 1944, but also for being a major forest reserve that produces sweet bananas, potatoes and coconuts.

Tacloban was originally a barrio (village) of Basey, Samar. Fishermen used bamboo trays called “taklub” to catch fish, crabs, and shrimps, and the place where they fished was called “tarakluban;” hence, the formation of the town’s name. Several outstanding landmarks will always be treasured in our memories: the Price Mansion, Gen. MacArthur’s official headquarters and residence; Redona Residence, official residence of President Osmeña; the MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial, with the panoramic horizon of the Leyte Gulf and Samar islands; the Battle of Baluarte Marker, significant spot of the historic war against the Japanese Imperial forces; the Palo Metropolitan Cathedral built in 1596; Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum that housed important paintings and relics by renowned Filipino artists—these, and more precious gems should inspire us to rebuild and restore the glory of the city.

On the other side, the unimagined earthquake that shook Bohol on October 15, with a magnitude of 7.2 also leaves us with agonizing scars. With over a thousand recorded injuries and more than 70,000 structures destroyed, the intensity of the earthquake was believed to be comparable to thirty Hiroshima bombs. We will always remember the 1,260 exquisite cone shaped Chocolate Hills, the Tarsier trail of one of the world’s oldest monkeys, the Baclayon Church built in the 18th century, Loboc Church built in 1683, and other numerous historical watchtowers and monuments. Most of all, our eyes will always feed on the marvelous deep blue sea, and spectacular marine life that Bohol has always been popular for, to divers, surfers and regular tourists.
Souls have perished; hearts have been broken. Mending these sunken wounds, re-hoisting the banner of hope, and reconciling with our unselfishness and honor may feel like a lifetime mission…but the torch is ours to bear, to give Courage, Comfort, and Light to those who seek it.

Shin-Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!