March - April 2014
Unang bagsak ng snow sa Tokyo, nasa Manila ako. Pero bago pa nag-snow, grabe na ang lamig. Kaya I was so happy going to the Philippines because finally, I can escape the freezing winter even for a few days. I was riding the limousine bus from central Tokyo going to Narita International Airport and the snow is starting to fall heavier by the minute. Pagdating sa airport, nag-pile na ang snow sa daan. Buti na lang, hindi na cancel ang flight. But it was delayed for some minutes because they had to spray the whole airplane for anti-snow. It was actually the first time I saw it done looking outside from my small window inside the plane. Vehicles circle around the plane spraying de-icing fluid on the wings. The fluid prevents a build-up of snow and ice on the wings and tail of an airplane which is crucial for a safe take-off. Wow! I was able to escape the wintry white Tokyo. Four hours later after take-off, I landed in the summery Manila!
I was back in the Philippines with the wrong attire. My friends in Facebook were all commenting on how cold Manila was. “Parang Baguio raw!” Wow! Buti na lang lumamig ang Manila. I brought sweat shirts and long sleeves shirts mostly. Pagdagpa ko sa Manila airport, I was feeling the global warming! Anong Baguio ang pinag-sasabi nila? It was the start of summer heat already. Umiinit na ang panahon. I brought the wrong clothes. Wala akong pwedeng isuot! Sa loob ng airport, all eyes were on me. Ano ba? Yes, I was wearing my jacket at hindi fur coat!
The following day, I asked my friend to bring me to the nearest ukay-ukay store to buy summer wear. At my age, I don’t need to buy expensive and branded things anymore. For as long as the quality is good, the design is okay and the fit is comfortable, pwede na sa akin yon! At pwede ko rin naman ipamigay sa aking mga pamangkin ang mga binili ko bago ako umuwi sa Tokyo kung saan naghihintay ang lamig sa akin. Change of attire! Costume change! Parang showtime!
While in Manila, I had the chance to meet old friends. Some are now directors of big companies, doctors of hospitals, and deans of colleges. Wow! I wanted to ask myself, “What ever happened to me?” Nakatira sila sa mala-palasyong bahay at merong mga maid na nagsi-silbi sa kanila. Pati tubig nga, inuutos pa ang maid para ibigay sa kanila.
Although ganoon din kami pinalaki ng magulang namin na puro asa sa mga maid, pagkatapos tumira ng mahabang panahon sa Japan, parang hindi ko na ma-take ang nag-uutos sa mga maid. Kasi dito sa Japan, ginagawa lahat natin. Magluto, maglaba, maglinis, mamalengke. Kaya noong unang panahon ko sa Japan at nag-iisang tumira sa maliit na kwarto ko, puro piniritong itlog at hotdog ang nasa menu ko araw-araw. Kung tinatamad naman, pakulo nalang ng mainit na tubig at ibuhos sa cup ramen. O diba? From Continental, naging Chinese cuisine agad!
Pero tanong ko, bakit ang mga Pilipino dito, bakit puro kahon-kahong cup ramen ang ibinibigay na pasalubong sa kanilang mga pamilya sa Pinas? Kapag nasa airport at may bitbit na box of cup ramen, siguradong Pinoy yon! Wala ba sa atin noon? Eh, pagpunta mo sa mga supermarket sa Pinas, marami naman cup ramen ang binebenta doon. Hay naku, Inday, pinapagod mo lang ang sarili mong magbit-bit ng kahon ng cup ramen. Bumili ka na lang doon at mas mura pa.
Tsaka, did you know na hindi maganda sa health natin ang mga cup ramen? Cancerous po ang mga ito. Instant ramen and other instant cup noodles are considered junk foods. Yes, ramen may have its origin in China but the cup noodles were invented in Japan. But it doesn’t mean that if it’s made in Japan, it’s healthy. The way the noodles are manufactured is very unhealthy. They are deep-fried in oil. And the instant soup mix has more fat in it, not to mention a lot of sodium, monosodium glutamate (vetsin!), preservatives and other “mysterious” ingredients!
Even though they are made in Japan, Japanese, generally, don’t eat them. Japanese know for a fact that they are very bad for the health. Usually, ang kumakain ng mga cup ramen ay ang mga bagong naging independent children na hindi marunong magluto kaya popular din ang mga cup ramen sa mga binata at dalagang Hapon. Ang nanay na Hapon, nag-stock lang siya ng cup ramen sa bahay for emergency purposes. Kung nagmamadali at walang oras na, pwede niya itong ihanda sa pamilya.
Yung tatay ng Japanese friend ko, nagka-cancer of the stomach. Sabi niya sa akin, noong binata pa siya, puro cup ramen lang ang kinakain niya araw-araw. Kaya kung gusto ninyong magka-cancer at pati na rin ang inyong pamilya, I recommend you eat cup ramen everyday!
Sige, dala pa kayo ng pasalubong ng cup ramen! KJ (kill-joy) naman daw ako. Masarap kasi ang lasa ng cup ramen. Hindi ibig sabihin na masarap ay maganda sa katawan.
After a week in the Philippines, I had to brace myself again to face the cold Tokyo. A few days after my arrival, the second heavy snowfall of the year fell covering most of Japan. Akala ko, na-escape ko na ang heavy snow. Binalikan ako pag-balik ko. Feeling ko, nasa Hokkaido tayo dito sa Tokyo. Kapal talaga ng snow. It’s really very rare that we experience these kinds of snow storms and blizzards.
Tokyo is not a snow city like Sapporo. We were not built for snow. So, whenever there comes a heavy snowfall, Tokyo suffers. Ang daming car accidents on the road. Kasi walang snow chains ang mga tires ng sasakyan. Hayun, the cars slide and then bump into each other. Tayo naman naglalakad sa kalye, our shoes were not built for snow, as well. Madulas at minsan, mabilis maging tubig ang snow at kung inapakan mo ito, lulubog ang sapatos at pasok ang malamig na tubig. And the snow gradually mixes with the dirt on the road at nagiging putik! Dapat, naka botas during snow. At ang mga train, they cannot follow the schedule anymore because maraming delayed na.
Snow, snow, snow. How we loved and longed for it when we were still in the Philippines because we didn’t experience it there. I think it’s not good and enjoyable to live in a snowy country. It’s very hard! Ask the people up north in Hokkaido how they survive. I think it’s better to just be a tourist and enjoy the fun of snow. I still need to visit Sapporo to witness the Snow Festival every February. I am sure I will enjoy snow on a different level.
I look forward to the coming of cherry blossom season. Last year and the many years before, I did not take the time visiting the parks to enjoy and contemplate the beauty of life by viewing the sakura flowers. There was the earthquake a few years back, and perhaps I was busy with work. This year, siguro, I will take advantage of the whole “hanami” week and take good pictures which I will post in my FB. My timeline will surely turn pink with all the photos of sakura flowers I will post!
Can you imagine how much hype and attention these sakuras bring to the whole country? The timing of their blossoming can even get primetime news on TV. Cherry blossom season is different depending on where you are in Japan. In Okinawa, the flowers begin to bloom around January. Up north in Hokkaido, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom around May. Most blossoms appear for just a week show. Some even less if the weather is bad. Wind, snow and rain can wreck havoc on these delicate flowers.
For us in Japan, sakuras signify that winter has come to an end even if it is still cold outside. But once these flowers bloom, we know it’s a long line of other many flowers coming in view. It will be definitely be spring time!
Tanong ko lang, meron na kayang mga sakura trees sa Pilipinas? Hindi raw tutubo sa init ng Pinas? How about planting them in Baguio City or Tagaytay? Sakuras in the Philippines! Why not? At kung meron man, baka mamumulaklak ang mga iyan during the Christmas season. It would be a spectacular sight for Christmas in the Philippines. Then, we can say good-bye to Christmas pinetrees!