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Nagoya cityscape as seen from my favorite study carrel.

I’m supposed to be finishing up my report instead I keep on taking pictures. I bet the kids practicing baseball below thinks I’m some kind of a stalker (that is if they ever do notice me). Anyway, the view is the only reason why I kept on requesting this study carrel even if the sun does hit it in the afternoon as it sets. The view more than make up for the discomfort.

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I was supposed to write this ages (years) ago but for some reason was not able to. Still, I loved this experience with my friends so much  and I really want to write something about it. I guess recounting it makes me feel I’m back home…

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It wasn’t in the plan. Salve, Sherma and I were supposed to just attend a book launching courtesy of Armine. The thing is we were late and Sherma was the only one who heard part of the program (she heard the part where the author informed her guests that lunch will be served after the program!). But owing to Armine’s clout (she personally knows the author) we met with the author, conveyed our apologies for being late, bought her book and had it signed, had our picture taken with her and ate the free lunch. 😉

Afterwards, since none of us wants to go home yet and malling did not appeal to any of us we decided to go on a belated tour of Old Manila.

Starting with the National Museum

I am particularly interested in this area of Manila since one of my professors in college once remarked that the original plan of this area was to resemble that of Washington D.C. where major government agencies of America are located. The person who designed the layout was the architect Daniel Burnham – the same person who mapped out the City of Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Incidentally, he was also the architect of the building that currently houses the National Museum. As interesting as it’s history and architecture maybe, the treasures within are also of great value. But since I do not want to go on and on about the artifacts and paintings and wealth of information one can gain here just try and visit it for yourself. The place however does not house the works of great Filipino masters such as Amorsolo, Juan Luna etc. It’s still in the old museum which is quite a disappointment. It would have been great to see the Spolarium once again. sigh…

Luneta… perceived by contemporary Filipinos as a place to be avoided. For some reason it’s just not cool to go there. I however do not agree, the park has so much to offer – great sculptures, at least three gardens (which I wouldn’t have known existed if not for Lakbay channel!) and rich history. The place has witnessed a great number of events marking our history through the ages.

A virtual plethora of sculptures dotted the park but I was particularly drawn to this sculpture. Although it embarrasses me to admit it I forgot the title of this particular piece. When I tried searching the net for any info I was unsuccessful. Apparently there is no inventory of sculptures found in Luneta. The emotions that the piece evokes was what  has drawn me to it. Sadly it’s not prominently displayed where more people may be able to admire it.

Gardens Galore

An Orchidarium that I think would really be spectacular if we came at a time when all the orchids are in full bloom and not raining. There’s a falls there though – called Cascade falls. I’m not sure if it’s man-made or not. Actually we went there in search of good food… and found the restaurant closed!

So off we went to another garden. Who knew that there’s an incredible array of gardens to be found in Luneta. I certainly don’t!

Japanese Garden, as the name suggests, it evokes the same atmosphere as the gardens found in Japan. The same serenity which is incredible owing to its location – smack dab in the middle of Metro Manila. It has a pond with a bridge crossing through it. Its simple lines echoing the Japanese aesthetic.

It even has a gate that usually, in Japan that is, heralds the existence of a temple but in this case it merely serves as an architectural feature which nonetheless adds to the general air of being not in the Philippines but in another land. Hmmmm… the gate does however marks an important site – it marks the area where 13 patriots were executed during the Spanish Period known in history books as the “trese martires.” The engraved words in the marker are as follows:

Trece Martires de Bagumbayan

Here 13 patriots were executed by the Spanish authorities on January 11, 1897. Ten were masons, namely: Numeriano Adriano, Jose Dizon, Domingo Franco, Eustacio Mañalac, Geronimo Cristobal  Medina, Ramon Padilla, Antonio Salazar, Moises Salvador, Luis Enciso Villareal, and Faustino Villaruel . Benedicto Nijaga, Braulio Rivera and Francisco L. Roxas died with them. All were patriots.

The 13 paid the highest price possible for the freedom and independence of their country having perished for so great a cause. They deserve to live on in the hearts of their grateful countrymen, to their memory this marker is raised.

The Chinese Garden, on the other hand, exudes a different air all together. Whereas, the Japanese Garden is defined by its tranquil environs,  the Chinese Garden is full of motion and energy. Straight off, you’ll see people roaming around the intricate layout of the garden as opposed to the meditating people in the Japanese Garden. The designs both at the gate and the various cottages dotted throughout the garden is both lavish and rich.

After the gardens, we decided to go to “The Walled City of Intramuros,” which is quite near. And what better way to get there than go there on a “calesa.” Our first ever “calesa” ride, an exhilarating one at that. You would also find your kutseros to be polite and extremely knowledgeable of the history attached to the whole area and of various buildings.

“Calesa” is a horse-drawn carriage that has it’s origins during the Spanish Period. “Kutsero” [ku·che·ro], on the other hand, refers to the person who handles the “calesa.”

Intramuros

From the latin words “intra” and “muros” which literally means “within the walls.” Intramuros was build in 1571 and was the old capital of Manila (Maynilad back then) – a city within a city. It’s historical significance for the Philippines cannot be emphasized enough. Who hasn’t read accounts featuring the place from history textbooks. And if you’re like me (which I doubt) you would have wondered what it would feel like to actually be there. Stand there and retrace a prisoner’s footsteps in Fort Santiago.

And end up in the very cell where a national hero – Jose Rizal – was incarcerated for the last time. The very place where he wrote his poem. The very place that witnessed his anguish, fear and acceptance.

Thinking back, it was truly an escape for us. One that did not cost us much but paid us outstanding dividends in terms of satisfaction. All Pinoys, I think should make this journey. It’s one way of looking at our past as a country. Hopefully by looking back we will find something to look forward to in the future (eventhough there is not much to look forward to now. Still, one can always hope). I assure you, you won’t regret it!

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Gone were the milling people around me. It was as if I was alone… free to luxuriate and immerse myself in this special world. There was both a feeling of wonder and calmness. I felt I could stand there for eternity and never feel the passing of time.

And I thought…

So this is what it feels like to witness firsthand the work of a master!

It was Claude Monet’s Soleil l’evant (日の出).

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NOTO BENE:

The ScRibbLeR attended the Impressionist Exhibit with her friend Kaishi at Nagoya City Art Museum (名古屋美市術館). Unfortunately, taking pictures inside was prohibited (which is as it should be!) :-).

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What more can one ask?

Yet again, I’m playing paparazzi (evil grin :-)) Took the picture in one of my lunch breaks fall of last year. It was at the amphitheater in front of Meidai’s main library. Sigh, the fall leaves were wonderful! then lo and behold, I heard the pleasant strains of a guitar being played. The best thing was – the guitar player was quite good looking (well from afar anyway. don’t know if the same will be true up close!) hmmm…. and don’t ask me who he is, coz I simply don’t know ;-).

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The ScRibbLeR at Kamikochi, Nagano. A day-trip with friends for Kouyou (紅葉). Kouyou literally means colored leaves or autumn foliage. Autumn is the time for Japanese to go to the countryside and the mountains to enjoy nature as the leaves turned from green to red, yellow and orange.  It’s a really interesting period and a much awaited one. Weather reports will usually include the best time for it. It’s a breathtaking sight and a wonderful opportunity for camera enthusiasts (like yours truly and a bunch of my friends).

Photo taken by Ronel (I think) or it could be Chi-chen 🙂

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This is it!

I have barely slept 3-4 hours or so a day for more than a month in preparation for this. Not even when I took my entrance exam for college and NSAT did I study this much.

I’ve just taken the written and oral exams a day ago and yesterday respectively. As usual it was nerve wracking knowing full well that in some instances my Japanese proficiency is still not enough. However, I’m hoping I have convinced them during the interview that I will be able to reach the level of proficiency needed during the 2 years required to finish my Masters. Thus, here I am at school. Waiting for the results to be posted. Needing someone to talk to so much to relieve the stress and not finding anyone.

The written exam itself was really difficult. As usual I just tried to answer the easiest questions first and leave the hardest for later. I was particularly anxious for the translation part of the exam – English to Japanese. I hope my translation was not too weird . Oh well, it can’t be helped. But the area I got in so much trouble with was Question Number Two – semantic analysis of Japanese transitive and intransitive verbs. I was literally squeezing my brains out for whatever dregs of intelligence or information still remaining there – hahaha! Good thing I was still able to answer it although due to time constraints I was unable to finish it.

TRIVIA : It was snowing when I went out of my apartment to go to the University for the interview. 🙂 Any piece of cheeriness is good right. I took heart and went with a smile. I guess it was effective since during the interview although I was a bit nervous I was still able to answer the questions and even bantered with the two professors who were interviewing me – one of which is my adviser and the other is you might call a co-adviser. And they even noticed the parts where I got really excited which is an explanation about the term “lingua franca”. Since I told them its a reality in the Philippines. I wrote a lot about it so I guess at least that one question went well.

February 15, 2008

3:38 PM

At a convenience store (Family Mart) inside the University behind my College

Still waiting and writing this blog. Wanting time to move fast yet at the same time wanting it to slow down. A mixture of emotions which is quite understandable since this is IT! I’m refraining from calling anyone not until I get the results although I talked to Ronel a while ago asking about the results. Told him I’m still waiting for it and will inform everyone the minute I get it.

3:43 PM

I’m feeling this funny thumping of my heart. I can barely breathe and I find myself consciously taking deep breaths just to relieve this constricting feeling. As I write this passage, I am trying to distract myself by eavesdropping on the conversation of the two guys near me. hehehe… I think they are looking at a site written entirely in English and both of them can barely understand it. And they are asking how come it’s this way or that. hahaha! See how pathetic I’ve become? I’ve been reduced to writing about other people’s conversation without their consent.

3:54 PM

Can’t help but review in my mind what was said during the interview. Although I clearly remembered Machida Sensei remarking that overall I did well in my exams. And they asked me how I was able to study and told them by myself mostly and also with the help of my tutor – Akiko and of course the classes I attended which was taught by them. Looking back those classes were a revelation in terms of analyzing Japanese sentence constructions. One of the memorable things I’ve learned and it was the first time I’ve encountered such an analysis, was the way the verbs are analyzed by dividing them into different grammatical categories.

Basically it’s this way:   Verb base + Aspect + Voice + Tense + Modality

Previously I analyze Japanese verbs in terms of the suffix attached to the verb base and looking at the affix as one whole morpheme. Never thinking it can still be divided in even more smaller morphemes.

4:07 PM

Still waiting… I’m thinking of going to the entrance of the College of Letters Building by 5 PM. That should be enough time to post it right? I find that as the time draws near my anxiety escalates. Have I convinced them that I will be able to even more improve my Japanese during the time required to finish my masters here? Have I shown them a comfortable and confident aura that would make them think so? The only thing I remembered was that I was giving them my usual megawatt smile. I find smiling bolsters my spirit and makes me feel I can do anything. I also remembered literally chanting in my head – “Please, Please God! Help me!” – during the written and oral exams.

4:26 PM

My hands are getting cold my heart is still beating a mile a minute and I have come to the realization that the results is about to come. And I can no longer do anything about it but wait and hope. Although whatever miracles that was supposed to have happened must have happened over the past two days and I can only stay here and type and think about it and wait.

4:42 PM

Talking with Ako-san… finally able to calm down. Although there is still the funny feeling in my stomach.

4:54 PM

I am going now, with butterflies in my stomach, I am going to check the results. It feels like I’m about to open a door. I do not know what lies behind it which makes me scared and at the same time excited. There are very few moments in one’s life where one can recognize a turning point at a time when it is happening to them. Win or lose I am facing it.

5:07 PM

I remembered was it Sakuma Sensei or Machida Sensei (?) asking me what will happen to my scholarship if ever I continue my Masters. I told them it will be extended and I have already submitted the application forms for it months ago.  Hearing this they nodded.  EXTENSION – what a nice word to hear. But not in this case. Apparently the results will be posted at 6 PM. So I have yet to endure an extra hour of anxiousness. Just when I though I will finally know the results now this. This is torture!

5:36 PM

I e-mailed Ako-san, telling her the results will not be out until 6 PM. Ah! I’m on tenterhooks. Then Ronel called again asking for the results. Good thing too since I was able to forget my anxiety for the moment. As usual he’s in Sakae and will be going to his favorite store – GAP. He also told me about a good item to buy as omiyage in one of the shops there. Will be checking it out once I get the time. As for now, still waiting, still nervous and there’s still nothing I can do about it. SIGH!

5:56 PM

Finally! This is IT! No more hits and misses. I will finally know the results. My heart is once again beating so fast. My stomach is fluttering. My hands are getting cold (although that I can probably blame on the weather). I can barely breathe. Deep breaths Tayns, deep breaths. I’m about to go and open the door.

6:00 PM

I never knew how much courage it takes to take a step towards a building. How much courage it takes to look at that piece of paper. How much  courage it would take to make sense of it all.

Ah! there it is my examination number. I PASSED!

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NOTO BENE:

To all my friends who have supported and worried about me. Thank you. I would not have made it without any of you. I am truly grateful for the support you have given me.

  • Salve, Sherma and great great (to infinity) grandpuppy – thank you for your support. I am sorry for worrying you guys in the months I have been quiet. Although I found it not reassuring at all that after using both of your brains none of you can come up of ways on how you will cheer me up if ever I fail. 🙂
  • Akiko – Thank you for your endless patience and consideration. Thank you for explaining terms that I am unable to understand. It is without a doubt through your support that I was able to make it.
  • Ako-san – Thank you for being patient when I needed someone to listen. And thank you for sincerely rejoicing with me when I made it.
  • Kaishi-san – I know your support has always been there. Thank you. It looks like will be seeing a lot of each other for the next two years. Maybe will get to visit each others country by then.
  • Renzy, Weena and Ronel – hehehe… What can I say? Thank you. The support of the La Familia has allowed me to be confident and truly work hard for it.
  • To my Family who’s support has always been my strength. I am grateful to have you all.

TRIVIA: At the time of finding out that I passed I had this uncontrollable feeling of relief and excitement that when I saw Jaja-san (a fellow examiner who incidentally also passed) we just hugged each other and laughed. And in my excitement I do not know who I grabbed, I don’t even know if the person is male or female, I just grabbed him/her and hugged the person. So giddy with excitement I started calling all my friends and family about the results. In my excitement I wandered around the university forgetting where I parked my bicycle. And as I write this passage I am still smiling and thinking this is real. It is truly happening – I passed the entrance exam.

Thank you Lord for hearing my prayers.

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Hi peepz,

You know who you are. I know I haven’t been keeping in touch with you lately and it’s been some time since I last posted anything. Sorry about that. Let’s just say I’m having my period of introspection… hahaha! Salve and Sherma, if you were here you just might get the dreaded text message or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just hunt you guys down since I just need someone to cheer me up. Or maybe I just miss hugging you guys. Sigh! Luvy and Mae, can you believe me existing without hugging anyone? (point of clarification: I only hug girls my really close girl friends).  Or Missy Ai, I just might drag you to yet another session of i-max screening with food tripping interspersed (I just hope we don’t get jinxed yet again!).

Point of the matter is… it’s December. This will be my second Christmas here and I’m not there. I just feel so alone and so out of touch. I can hardly feel that it’s the holiday season which in hindsight is a good thing since I just might burst into tears during class… I can just imagine… (so not cool!)

So I figured since I’m so down and all why not make a list that will make me even more melancholic. I guess it’s one way of confronting a problem right? maybe if I have a really good cry I can get it out of my system… so here it is – the things I will miss this holiday season:

  • I will miss the Christmas decorations one sees on the streets, in the mall and in every house from the most humble to the richest. Especially the parol (a Filipino Christmas lantern shaped like a star which is constructed using bamboo sticks and colorful paper).

  • I will miss the blaring Christmas songs over the radio in the jeepneys, tricycles, buses, malls and from the house of my not quite so deaf but might as well be deaf neighbor (in my case the neighbor is actually a relative).

  • I will miss the puto bungbong (a purple colored grounded and glutinous rice cooked in bamboo tubes and placed in a special steamer. Once cooked the resulting sticky rice cake is often topped with butter, sugar and grated coconut.) that one can buy after simbang gabi (shameful admission this might be, that was one of the reason why I attend simbang gabi not to mention the wish you can make when you complete it).

  • I will miss karoling– kids going house to house to sing Christmas carols for some coin.

  • I will miss the cacophony of sounds produced by their improvised musical instruments usually made of bottled soda caps, pebbles and tin cans (which may not be harmonious but nevertheless charming).

  • I will miss the kids singing their thanks after you gave them their coin – “thank you, thank you, and babait ninyo, thank you!”

  • I will miss writing down “The List” – names of people that  I will be giving gifts to.

  • I will miss trying to remember the name of my latest inaanak then failing that writing the description of their progeny instead i.e. daughter of Ate Baneng’s sister, son or daughter of some aunt or other, etc.

  • I will miss the buying frenzy in the mall for Christmas gifts but most especially the trips to Divisoria where I usually end up lugging a sackful of goodies.

  • I will miss scouring the malls and every nook and cranny of Divisoria for that perfect gift for one of the people in my list.

  • I will miss the gift-wrapping mania that takes over me after I bought all the gifts and making some sort of system to monitor whose gift is which.

  • I will miss the manito-manita. The series of gifts one gives and receives before the big day according to theme –  circular objects, long object, soft objects, etc..

  • I will miss the office Christmas parties which is most often than not a costume party so everyone ends up wearing the weirdest of ensembles and everyone will think it’s cool.

  • I will miss receiving the Christmas bonus and the various freebies the company gifts to its employees.

  • I will miss giving the gifts I selected for each of my friends and of course receiving gifts from them as well. Hehehe…

  • I will miss the feeling of buying a round-trip ticket home for only 2,000 pesos mainly because I bought it weeks before I go home.

  • I will miss the feeling of packing all the gifts to take it home for the holidays.

  • I will miss the feeling of anticipation one gets when you know that in just an hour or so you will be home with your family to celebrate the holidays.

  • I will miss the feeling one gets when you see your family outside the airport.

  • I will miss the hugs and kisses, the laughter and the bickering – just the feeling of togetherness with my family.

  • I will miss grocery shopping for noche buena.

  • I will miss preparing the one and only dish I know how to prepare which unfortunately my younger brother can’t eat –  chicken macaroni salad. He is forever asking me to learn a new dish to prepare one he can actually eat, hmmm… maybe next Christmas 🙂

  • I will miss my mom’s barbecue, gelatin, special meatballs… my younger brother’s spaghetti. Sigh…

  • I will miss the noche buena with my family.

  • I will miss seeing first hand the expressions in my family’s faces when they opened their gifts.

  • I will miss sending text messages to friends on Christmas and new year’s eve. Actually, trying and persevering are the operative words, since everyone has the same idea as you so the lines are naturally busy but by persevering and patiently pressing the resend button one eventually gets through.

  • I will miss  receiving consecutive text messages from those same friends some unexpected all returning your greetings.

  • I will miss my niece’s shriek of laughter and kakulitan, my mom’s kalambingan, my dad’s excitement for his garden, my younger brother’s kakulitan and his updates about the latest anime, video games and such, my kuya’s stories and my sister-in-law’s bungisngis.

  • One thing I will NOT miss though – my flight back to work, back to the grind and to the smog, pollution and traffic of the metropolis.

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