31 May 2010


Today might just be the typical day.  Woke up around 7:30 due to my alarm.  Got up 9:30am. :-D

Had coffee and milk+cereals and banana for breakfast.  Lunch was at the by-the-pound cafeteria.  Dinner was...  Picadillo and rice.  And banana.  :-)  Yummy.

School work the whole day.  Actually I was preparing for my discussion meeting with Prof. Tamura tomorrow.  I prepared a 14-pager document!  This is basically what I've been trying to brew for the past month or so.

And...  that's it.  Yikes, I should cook my marinated beef tapa tomorrow morning!

The miracles never end...

Today I prepared beef tapa marinate!

And...  I got to taste really good real Japanese food.  I was thinking I was getting tired of Japanese food already but after tasting Japanese food at this place called...  Yikes, I forgot.  Ootaya?  ...in Meguro, I realized the only type of Japanese food I've been taking is school cafeteria food, frozen ready-to-heat-then-eat food, and actually not much of convenience store food anymore, which tastes a lot better (though a little more expensive than cafeteria or frozen food).

Anyways, my day started out getting up a little late to catch the bus, which again on Sundays, comes only every 30 minutes.  So I rode the bike to Atsugi Trellis, half-way to the Hon-Atsugi station, and where there are more buses available.

And then back to Meguro church, and then to... Ootaya? ...It was Prof Germar's birthday and he treated us out - there were 4 of us who had lunch together.  Prof Germar and I also had a glass of Kirin Beer each.

Then we went to Musashi-Koyama shopping street.  It was basically an old street that was renovated to be pedestrian-friendly, complete with a translucent roof that protects from rain but still provides some daylight on the street.  And it was like 5 or more blocks long of shops.  There were 2 100-yen stores along the street.  McDonald's, KFC - the usual.  Supermarkets, grocery stores, shoe stores, bags, fashion, toys, books, "recycled" (2nd hand) goods, a sauna....  Yup, a sauna.  Kinda out of place, eh?

And then back home.  Well, back to Atsugi Trellis first, to pick up my bike and ride it home.  It was a difficult ride home.  I was so tired...

Then I had Picadillo for dinner!  Yum.

And I felt even more tired after eating dinner!  I ate so much.  Yum.  Yesterday I thought it was too salty, and it still is but it turned out fine, if eaten with rice.  Also I thought I should've put pepper, but it still turned out just fine.  I love Filipino food!

While I was heating my dinner, I marinated some thin slices of beef in beef tapa marinate, the recipe for which I got from this website: http://www.pinoyrecipe.net/filipino-beef-tapa-recipe-cured-beef/.

I'm excited to have Tapsilog on Tuesday morning. :-)

...Except it's not going to be the usual Tapsilog.  Instead of Tapa-Sinangag-Itlog, it will just be Tapa-Sinaing-Itlog. :-D

29 May 2010

Glourious Sinegang!

Okay now, don't hit me on the wrong spelling.  That's called literary license.  Ehehe.  If that's not enough reason for you, how about discrimination - why can Brad Pitt's Inglourious Basterds use "wrong" spellings?

Anyways, that is what it is.  I thought I should title today "Unusual," in contrast to yesterday's title "Usual," and let the Sinigang be a surprise.  But it is just too important a milestone for me here.

I got up the usual time.  Took my usual breakfast of coffee and something.  Today's breakfast something is a few pieces of Oreo cookies.  Then I did my laundry.  It's a gloomy, overcast day the whole day today (daytime high was 19 degrees = 66 degrees Fahrenheit), and even a little bit of rain later in the day - but no worries, the washing machine spin-dries the laundry dry enough for hanging indoors.  Of course they won't dry as fast as when they're under direct sunlight.  But I had to do this today because tomorrow I will most likely go to Meguro church again for the 12:00nn mass and then meet up for lunch with my fellow Filipinos taking or finished taking or yet to take their PhDs here in Japan.

Anyways, I had two batches of clothes hanging to dry already, and one more batch was still in the tub but it was already 12:00 noon and so I went to the DIY shop.  Again.  To try to buy a stove.  Again.

But this time I came prepared.  I learned that there are two types of gas lines here: the city gas ("toshi gasu") and the propane/LP gas ("puropen gasu"), and that my apartment uses the city gas line.  I even have a document that says what gas type exactly.  There are sub-types of city gas, like "12A", "13A", etc.; mine is 13A.  So I found my stove type, and got the cheapest one, although it was only 200 yen / 100 pesos / 2 dollars cheaper than the next one.  I noticed that one brand would have two different types of the same style of stove at the same price, one for propane and one for city gas.  So of course I took the city gas type of stove.

When I went to the cashier, I tried to confirm that what I was getting was correct.  I asked the cashier if it's okay, and she said yes.  Then I showed her the document, and again she said yes, it's okay.  So I said, okay I'll buy it.

And there was the start of today's miracles.

I also bought a tube to connect the stove to the gas line.  The stove, by the way, cost around 5600 yen / 56 dollars / 2800 pesos.  Imagine that.

Anyway, next stop was the 100-yen store, to get some "accessories" for the stove, like these aluminum-material table top surface protectors and aluminum-material tilamsik protectors.  I didn't need pots or pans or those big spoons for cooking (what are they called again?), because the person who used to live in what is now my apartment left his cooking stuff there.  That person is also Filipino, and well not for any reason but just to make sure, I soaked all stuff that I got for free (like those pots and pans, etc.) and that I didn't buy myself in boiling water, then scrubbed them clean, so they're all like new. :-D  I didn't also need to buy cooking oil, because there was already cooking oil.  The next thing to buy was...  Food to cook!

So down to the grocery store I went.  And I went crazy.  It's difficult being deprived!  My total grocery bill today was 4003 yen, if I remember correctly.  That's around 2000 pesos or 40 dollars.  I bought pork, beef, eggs, veggies, and spices for making sinigang, nilaga, picadillo, pork steak, and tapsilog.  I wasn't so sure which was beef and which was pork.  I was only 98% sure, and so there was a 2% probability I was wrong and I could just be wasting money.  But anyways, I asked other shoppers around...  "Is this pork?"  ("Botaniku desu ka?")  "Is this beef?"  ("Gyuniku desu ka?")  So I became 99% sure.  I was only 100% sure once I've cooked and tasted them!

Anyways, I guess the little doubt was fine.  I also bought three 1-liter cartons of milk, and bananas, and a few other items.  I think the total weight of everything I bought today was around 10kg.  And I only had one basket on my bike.  So anyways, it was a difficult bike ride back home, going slightly uphill with all that weight on the bike (some also on my backpack).  And then it was starting to drizzle.  Just very tiny drops though, like  the ones that come out from hairspray cans.  I don't know the effect though on the fresh veggies and meat I bought, if they got wet.  Oh, and on the stove!

Anyways, all those worries were secondary.  My primary focus was the food that I was going to prepare and eat that evening.  I got home around 4pm.  I left home to go to school at around 8pm, after taking dinner and cleaning up a bit.  (I haven't yet washed the pots and pots... :-D)

Guess what I cooked!



Nilagang baboy?




Pork steak?


Tapa, sinangang, and itlog?


All of the above!

Kidding.  I cooked Sinigang, then rice, then Picadillo.  :-D

The Sinigang looked like the real thing.  I bought "buto-buto" or boney pork parts - I think they're from the ribs part.  I also had okra (lady fingers), sitaw (string beans), labanos (but I used "Japanese radish" - which I think is just the same as labanos, except it's larger in size), a couple of green peppers, tomatoes, and onions, and of course Sinigang Mix.  The difference?  I can't find kang-kong, or patis, so I settled for some cabbage and just salt.  Actually it lacked a little bit of saltiness but in general, I loved it.  I've never been this full since coming here.  Getting full by Sinigang is not like any other feeling in the world.  I am truly thankful for the things that has lead me to this moment.

Oh, but wait!  The Picadillo was still cooking.  I got it wrong actually.  But I think it's fine considering it has been a long while since I last cooked Picadillo.  I think I was still in high school then - more than 17 years ago now?  On the contrast, this is already the 2nd time (and yes, only the 2nd time) I cooked Sinigang - the 1st and last time being around 5 years ago.  Both times, I used Sinigang Mix, of course.  But the first time around, I didn't check to see if the meat was tender enough, so it turned out a little too chewy.  And I think I didn't have labanos back then.

Anyways, my Picadillo turned out too salty.  The first thing I got wrong was I put too much oil for sauteeing the onions, garlic, and tomatoes (i.e. the ginisa part).  So it took a long time for them to release their taste and aroma.  Anyways, so I put the meat in.  But the next thing I got wrong was I put too much water after.  So it took a long time for the water to come down to a level such that it doesn't look like a soup.  Anyways, like I usually do, I season to feel (not to taste).  When I put in salt and soy sauce, there was still so much water.  When a lot of the water has evaporated, it turned out a little too salty!  My remedy for this is that I will eat them with rice anyway, which should tone down the saltiness a bit.  If it is still too salty I guess I'll need to add more water and then just heat again.  Hope it doesn't turn into soup, though!

Today, I "seasoned to feel" also because I didn't know exactly how much weight of meat I bought!  Can't find any indication of weight in the labels.  But anyhow, the Sinigang I prepared is good for 2 meals (so 1 more Sinigang meal to go).  The Picadillo I prepared I think is good for 3 meals.  So assuming I will eat them for dinner, I have food until Wednesday evening.

By the way, one other new thing I tried today is to eat at the foodcourt on the 3rd floor of Atsugi Trellis, same floor as the 100-yen store.  I tried this McDonald's-like Japanese fastfood place, I think it's called Dom-Dom.  They have this promo, 100 yen off this 550 yen set meal that includes fries and drinks and this chicken sandwich.  I got lost in translation for a little while with the cashier who was trying to ask me something but I didn't understand her.  Anyways...  The chicken sandwich was sooooo juicy and sooooo yummy, I wanted more.  Medically that translates to: too oily, too fatty, and too much sodium.  But it was really soooo juicy and sooooo yummy and well it was toooooo small actually in size, and that is one other reason why I wanted more!  This is a must try.  It's a new kind of chicken sandwich experience I've never had with any other chicken sandwiches.  

Then again, who cares about chicken sandwiches if you've got Sinigang, right? :-)

28 May 2010


Warmer today than yesterday, though.  Daytime high was 23 degrees.  Everything else is the same.  Oh, except we played basketball.  And I didn't have rice anymore so I bought dinner at the convenience store.  And there aren't any classes today.  Starting next week and until around mid- to end of July, I'll have 1 class during Wednesdays, 2 classes on Thursdays, and 1 class on Fridays.

I re-arranged my furniture a little bit to accommodate my much awaited and much anticipated gas stove!  Today I confirmed what kind of gas line I have - it's the city gas line, different from the other type which is propane gas.  I'm still a little confused but basically I just need to bring a piece of paper to the store and show to them what kind of stove I need.  I'm excited to cook Filipino food.  After almost a month and a half, I miss it so much already.  I'm buying my stove tomorrow.

Dunno if I've posted it on this blog, but the other day, some of the Chinese students heated something on the microwave - it smelled like Nilagang Baboy.  Suddenly I craved for Nilagang Baboy also!!!  And Sinigang.  And Pork Steak!  And Tapsilog!  Hmmm, I wonder if I can make Sisig...  Yup, I'm not a big fan of Adobo.  I'm generally not a fan of very salty and fatty food, and that is actually my problem here.  Usually it's fried breaded _____.  Fried breaded pork (e.g. tonkatsu).  Fried breaded chicken (i.e. chicken nugget).  Fried breaded beef (i.e. burger).  Fried breaded fish (i.e. fish fillet).  Fried breaded shrimp (i.e. tempura).  Fried breaded squid (i.e. calamares).  They all come with egg (to bind together the breading)......  Together with the cooking oil which I don't know what they used (vegetable oil or something else?), it's the big, scary monster called....  Cholesterol!

I want to taste Kinilaw also...  Yeah, I know I can make Kinilaw even without the stove actually.  My problem with Kinilaw is that fish is generally expensive!  And...  I can't yet read the Hiragana/Kanji labels at the grocery.  Like there's this dilis-looking fish at the grocery but I'm not sure what it is and what it is intended for.  Has anyone ever done Kinilaw na Salmon?  Ehehehe.  Salmon meat is the only one I know that it is what it is when I see one.

27 May 2010


Today was Lesson #5 in our Nihongo class, and as our sensei said, after 5 lessons, there is a quiz.  And so we had a quiz!  I wasn't sure if it was open notes but I tried not to open my notes.  I think some of my classmates had notes open.  Maybe it was okay, but I wasn't sure.  Anyways, I think I still did better - than those who didn't study at all. :-D  Ja ne!

What time is it?

Nan-ji desu ka?

That's about most of the new things we learned today at Nihonggo class. How to say the time, in Japanese.

Other than that it's the usual day. Lunch by the pound. Reading (or trying to). I ate dinner here at my desk; different ulam, but practically the same as yesterday. No basketball. Boring.

But oh, I passed by the library today to return the 2 books I borrowed weeks back, and borrowed 4 new books. Well, actually they're not so new - the newest book of the 4 was published 1991. English books are hard to come by here in this school. The English books are stacked so deep inside the library, if you didn't know or aren't really interested, you won't find it. And they don't really have the newer English books there. But maybe they're with the professors...

What time is it? Time to study and prepare for my July 1 meeting with the professor about my research topic!

26 May 2010


Felt like the real spring weather today.  Not too warm, not too cold.  Little bit rainy from around 12:30 to around 7:30pm.  And other than that, it's the usual day.  School stuff.  Basketball.  Busy.  Lunch at the usual place.  Dinner as usual: my rice, veggies, and frozen dinner (burger "chunks" actually :-D, ate them with Heinz tomato ketchup).

Basketball was 2 against 3, me and Mr. #1 Basketball Player from Korea (we all think so), against the two guys from China, and the girl from Italy.  We beat them in the first game, but they were scorching hot from the outside in the 2nd game where we lost.

After basketball, I checked out my weight and I registered at 86kg (189lbs) - 1kg (2lbs) lighter than my usual when I was in Manila!  And I was wearing shoes, jeans, and two layers of clothes.  But I'm still "overweight." :-(  My BMI is bordering around 25, and assuming 23 is a good BMI to maintain, I still need to lose 5~6kg (11~13lbs)!

I was supposed to eat my dinner at my desk, but I forgot to bring my eating utensils!  So after heating my food I had to bring them home and eat there.  Not a bad thing to do, to eat dinner at home away from the work-work-work environment at school.

On my way home, being so thirsty after basketball, I bought a drink from a vending machine.  I thought a Coke or Pepsi would go well with my burgers. It's a good thing the vendo on the way home did not have any.  So I thought I will buy one of my favorite drinks, a thirst quenching drink only from Japan: Pocari Sweat.  The 500mL bottle was 150 yen, 10 yen more expensive than from the vendos inside the campus.  I thought I should just try out the other brands.  I tried this drink called "Calpis Soda" - I don't really know what it is but it tasted great.  I guess it's soda - but what flavor, I don't know.  At some point I thought it might be milk soda...  Is there such a thing?  But well it quenched my thirst.  That together with 500mL of another thirst-quenching drink only from Japan: Atsugi Water Company's tap water.  :-D

25 May 2010


Last night actually I had trouble sleeping, for a lot of reasons.  Maybe the green tea iced cream???  Anyways, I was able to sleep only at around 7am, I think, after taking my breakfast.  Yup, 7am.  And got up at 10:30am.

So I was finding it difficult to sleep last night, and then at around 4am I noticed there was some light already behind the curtains.  At around 4:30am I looked outside and saw there was sunlight already!  I checked my sunrise/sunset calculator and found out that indeed here in Japan sunrise is around 4:30am during this time of the year.  To pass the time, I was playing some what I call "mindless" games like Minesweeper and Backgammon, but I also finished a number of easy Kakuro puzzles.

Anyways...  Obviously lack of sleep is not good for anyone.  Your mental faculties won't be functioning 100%. (Just enough to blog.  Haha.)  And physically I know I would have trouble sustaining my usual physical activities.  And generally your blood pressure goes up when you lack sleep.  Yikes.

I didn't plan on playing basketball today, for the reason being I wanted to rest until our next basketball game.  My teammate (from China) and I lost two games to the other team (Korea+China) last time and I thought it was just because of exhaustion from playing 3 straight days, and we want to win our next one!  So 5pm came and so everyone was getting ready to go to the gym.  The plan was to play ping pong if it is possible (usually the ping pong area is being used also for Futsal - indoor 5-a-side soccer/football).  I didn't bring the proper for-basketball attire and I said I would just come to play ping pong, but if there was no ping pong I will just come back to my desk.  So there was no ping pong and I wanted to just shoot some hoops.  And then there was just 3 of them - and me.  And then...  Well they convinced me to get my basketball gear (from my apartment), and they'll wait for me.

My shoes were actually at my "office," on the 3rd floor.  So I went up to the 3rd floor first to get my shoes, walk back down, and then walk to my apartment.  Inside my apartment, it was so hot.  I left my curtains on and so because it was a sunny day there was like a greenhouse effect inside the apartment.  I was sweating!  But I changed already to my basketball shorts and shirt and socks, and then I decided I should just go to the gym by bike.  It is farther away than my "office" building, and so I could save some time and we might be able to play longer instead of walking.

And so we played one game, up to 20.  It was very tiring, especially for me.  We were down 12-7 I think at probably the midpoint of the match.

But we won, 20-14.  Yay!

And just one game we played because we thought it was better to play less but often (like eating less but often), and one of the guys had a meet-up to go to.  And so here I am.  Tired, physically.  And mentally.  I wasn't able to do much today, in terms of studying and stuff. :(  Need to go double time tomorrow.

For lunch, it was the usual, by-the-pound.  For dinner, I was supposed to have these gyoza-looking frozen food, like the others I bought which you just microwave and then eat.  But no, it wasn't microwaveable!  Yikes!  I guess I have to steam it or something.  Oh well, it can wait another day.

The high today was 26 degrees, but it felt hot and humid like Manila when I was walking around 1:30pm from the cafeteria back to my office.  Tomorrow, the forecast high is 23 degrees, sunny but with chances of rain.

24 May 2010

Still rainy

It has still been rainy the whole day, nonstop!  Except maybe around 7:30pm when it stopped.  But it's not like very heavy rain, but it's just continuous.  And for 2 days straight now.  Forecast tomorrow is sunny and clear in the daytime with a high of 26 degrees, and partly cloudy nighttime.  Rain comes back Wednesday and it maybe raining until Friday!

Maybe because of 3 straight days of basketball (Wed-Fri) and then biking on Sat and then Tokyo on Sun (and waking up earlier than usual), I felt tired already, earlier than usual, last night.  And this morning I woke up at around 10:30am already!

Other than that, it's the usual day.  Lunch by-the-pound.  Reading, etc.  Dinner at home.

Dinner was my own cooked rice, the usual frozen side veggies, and...  I tried this new frozen ulam - I was not sure if it was pork or chicken at first but it turned out to be chicken.  Tasted good.  There were 12 pieces in one pack, but I only finished 9.  For dessert, I had about a quarter pint of green tea ice cream.  Yum. mee. :-9

23 May 2010

Meguro Church, Tokyo!

I was supposed to attend an event in Tokyo today, particularly at the Komaba Campus of the University of Tokyo.  The event starts 9am and will be until 5pm.  That meant I have to get the 7:20am bus to get there on time.  That meant I had to be up 6:30am latest.  I've never been up that early here!

But I did try, and I had my alarms set at 6:30am...  To no avail.  I woke up at 7am but got up at... 8am!  I was ready to leave at 9am.  The latest I would arrive at the event venue would be 11am.  I would miss the Sunday mass at the venue.  I cancelled my trip there.  Instead I took the 10:20am bus to get to Meguro Church.  I got to the church around 12:10pm already!  Almost a two hour trip!  (Inclusive of the waiting for the trains, and the walking.)

Anyways, this is by far the largest church I've been to since coming here.  More Filipinos as expected.  But also more non-Filipino foreigners.  And like in the mass I attended in Tachikawa, there was a baptism ceremony for two adults and one very cute little girl, as well as a First Communion ceremony for the two newly baptized Catholic adults.  Of course, it's Pentecost Sunday so the priest was wearing a red vestment. :-)

I also met up with Prof Germar, one of my master's thesis advisers, at the church.  And after mass we saw some of my former undergrad schoolmates from UP (also BS Civil Engineering grads) who are now taking their PhD, masters, or working here in Japan.  We decided to have (late) lunch together at this "Italian" place (I'm sure my Italian colleagues here in TPU would disagree), but actually what I like about that place is that it's tabehodai (eat-all-you-can/buffet).  The second thing I like about the place is that it can be as cheap as just 1000 yen for a buffet lunch meal!  Of course, I like that it's Italian.  I like fresh green salads with Italian dressing.  And Caesar salad with grilled chicken.  There was also "spicy" chicken nuggets, and a few other yummy stuff.  Just a few.  There was only one pasta dish on the buffet menu.  Overall, it's not great but... it's great (for me)!  Oh, but I have one complaint about the place though I would understand why they do it: they have very small plates for the buffet!  Each plate was just probably 6 inches in diameter.  So imagine how many trips I had to make!

On my way home, I dropped by the Atsugi Basu Senta (bus center) to look for the ramen place I used to visit 5 years ago with my colleagues back then (who have since earned their PhD degrees).  It was closed!  I don't know if it was only closed on Sundays or open only at certain times but...  Well there's one less place to visit.

By the way, it was rainy the whole day.  A little cool but not so cold - people were wearing plain t-shirts still.  Daytime high was just 21 degrees.

For dinner I cooked my own rice yet again, and ate siomai (Tagalog for Chinese dumplings) dipped in Kikkoman soy sauce, some side veggies, some takoyaki, and a banana.  The frozen takoyaki doesn't come close to being like the freshly prepared ones.  But it was a hearty meal.  Thank God for all the blessings.

P.S.  Last night before I drank my milk and went to sleep, I made one bowl of sinigang soup - I brought with me some Knorr Sabaw ng Sinigang (or is it Mama Sita Sinigang Mix?), dropped about a teaspoon into a bowl of hot water, and voila.  Didn't taste the same as the real thing though, maybe because there's no pork, veggies (most specially onions and tomatoes!), and fish sauce in there which add to the overall flavor of the real deal.  Oh well, I loved it nonetheless.  Thank God indeed for all the blessings.  :-)

22 May 2010

"Atsui" + Goodbye Sinigang

It's "hot" again today - for some locals and some who are used to winter weather.  Daytime high was 27 degrees.  Just right for me.  In contrast, that's the nighttime low in Manila nowadays!

Lunch and dinner was my own rice, plus convenience store ulam and frozen veggies.  I did some groceries today - took me 2 hours including the 12-minute bike ride each way!  But that also included a walk from the grocery store to the "DIY" store where I was supposed to buy a stove already.

Have I told you I've been craving for Sinigang now?  That is why I want to buy a stove already!

Back at the "DIY" store, I examined all the available stoves and chose one stove (the cheapest one).  I was not sure (can't read Japanese yet) if it had a tube to connect to the gas line.  So I got one tube also.  And off to the cashier I went.  Then the cashier was saying something that I didn't understand.  But I got that she was saying that the stove was for propane gas lines only.  So with the little Japanese I know, I told her I don't know what type of gas our gas line is and that I will not buy the stove and tube anymore.  Goodbye Sinigang, I will have to wait again for you...

21 May 2010


"Hot day" today, maximum temperature was around 29 degrees.  As warm as 24 or 25 degrees, people are already complaining about today being hot but up to around 29 degrees, I found it to be just fine.  Sunny and clear skies.  Forecast high for tomorrow is 25 degrees.  Forecast high for Sunday is 20 degrees.  Imagine that.  In my favorite tropical country, the Philippines, particularly Manila, you wouldn't usually get a nearly 10-degree change in daytime high (or low) in a span of 3 days.

Anyways, no classes today.  Just reading, reading, reading.  But we played basketball - very competitive basketball.  I lost 2 games out of 3. :(

One new thing I did today was to get my bank passbook updated.  Guess where I did it.  At the ATM machine!  Aside from the usual services including cash withdrawals, you can update your passbook and make deposits using bank ATM machines.  The downside is, these ATM machines that are particularly far away from "civilization" (i.e. from urban/downtown areas) are "open" only from 9am to around 7pm, on weekdays. Anyways, updating your passbook using the ATM is really very convenient!

Mara received a postcard from me today - 11 days after I sent it from here!  Well the good thing is, it arrived.  :-)

20 May 2010


When I got to our Nihongo class, our sensei had
written on the blackboard.  And then I was the very first one he called, and while pointing to the writing on the board, asked me "Aquino-san ikura desu ka" ("Mr. Aquino, how much is this?").  So I answered as best I can...  "Ju ni oku san sen yon hyaku go ju roku man nana sen hapyaku kyu ju en desu."  Our sensei said "Subarashii!" and clapped his hands, encouraging everyone else to clap their hands.  Subarashii (すばらしい) means one or more of the following, according to Google Translate and Dicts.info: Great, Marvelous, Fabulous, Nice, Beautiful, Incredible, Stunning, Tremendous, Fascinating, Super, Gorgeous, Glorious, Sensational, Mighty, Heavenly, Raving, Crucial, Rare, Posh, Rip-roaring, Bang-up, Magnificent, Splendid, Wonderful. One other word that means practically the same thing is "sugoi." (すごい)  I would add "cool" as one other possible meaning of "sugoi" or "subarashii."  Anyways, I know One who could be called Subarashii using all those meanings..  Clue: He is actually Three Persons....  Even more subarashii!

Anyways, that's all the fun there is today.  It's another rainy day, with daytime high of 24 degrees and nighttime low of 19 degrees.  It's not that cool, but it's cool enough for me - I need at least 3 layers of clothes (1 sweater, 1 shirt, 1 jacket).  And it's the usual day.  Lunch by the pound.  Just-microwave dinner (with my own cooked rice though).  No basketball.  Books, books, books.  Hey, what on earth am I here for? :-D

19 May 2010

So Tired

Today, it's the usual day.  I did take a bath though in the morning.  As in, dipping in the bath tub, and not just taking a shower.  Rainy day and a little cool!  But not so cold.  Thus the warm bath.  Actually this is the 3rd time I've taken a bath.  The Japanese style is to take a shower before dipping in the tub.  So after you take a bath, the water is still generally clean and you (or others) can use it again for a dip.  You just need to warm it up.  The bath tub at the apartment is a little cramped, for Western standards.  I mean I have to be almost like in a fetal position to fit in.  The point in Japanese-style bathing is just simply to dip, to relax, and warm the body.  Actually they usually do it in the evening, just before going to sleep.

Anyways, it is the usual day.  Busy day with the books.  Lunch by the pound.  Basketball.

But actually it was too much of basketball.  I left school and went home at around 8:30pm, to take dinner at home, but at around 9:30pm or so I was already feeling sleepy.  Thus the late post.  This after cycling Saturday and Sunday, a little bit of walking on Monday, and basketball on Tuesday and Wednesday. No basketball tomorrow, I guess.  Time to rest first. :-D

18 May 2010


Today's the hottest it has been here in Atsugi since I arrived just over a month ago.  29 degrees!  Nighttime though it's cool and comfy and pleasant.  Not all blue skies today, but still very nice.  I just need to wear one thin jacket on top of my shirt and undershirt.

Aside from that, it's the usual.  Reading, reading, reading.  Lunch by the pound.  But...  Oh, for dinner I ate my own cooked rice, and heated these frozen ready-to-eat shrimp nuggets, mini-burgers, veggies, and... pizza!  I ate the nuggets and burgers with Heinz ketchup.  Yum.  The pizza - I guess it was pepperoni and mozzarella on it, and I think bell peppers...  And CORN.  This is the 2nd pizza I've tried here - they like their pizza with corn.  I guess it's the Japanese style.  Just as "Hawaiian pizza" would have pineapples.  Very different from Italian pizza - go ask any Italian.

And then...  Well we played basketball!  Fun as always.  Have to go back to the books now, and chat with Mara.  One class each for the next 3 days.  Yikes, I have less than 2 weeks to come up with a more refined research topic idea!

17 May 2010

Pleasant Day

It was as "warm" as around 26 degrees today, and all blue skies, all day long.  Very pleasant.  Wonderful.  Nice for walking or biking around.  I did get to walk around campus.  Went to the Modi (memorial) Library and got me 7 books (6 of which are identical in topic but it was difficult to quickly assess which was the best book to suit my needs).  No basketball for me today.  Biking the last two days is tiring!  Anyways, other than that, it's the usual by-the-pound lunch, hitting the books and the internet and doing some reading, my own cooked rice + fried chicken fillet from the convenience store that I bought last Saturday + cherry tomatoes that I bought from the grocery store yesterday = dinner, and...  A surprise call from Mara (not via Skype, mind you).  And that's what my Monday is all about.  Very pleasant day indeed...... :-)

16 May 2010

Laundry, Bike, Mass, Grocery

Woke up quite early and did my laundry.  I think I should do my laundry weekly, at least for my colored clothes.  The washing machine is too small for 2 weeks worth of my colored clothes.  It was sun-shiny the whole day.  Yay!

Lunch was my own cooked rice, and this Okra dish and this mixed fried stuff (sausage, burger, chicken, hashbrowns) I bought from our friendly neighbourhood convenience store.

Then I went by bike to the Atsugi Trellis (or AT), but only just to park there.  I took the bus going to downtown Atsugi, then walked as usual to the Atsugi Catholic Church.  I hesitated on bring my bike all the way to the church because I didn't know if there are areas particularly in downtown Atsugi where bikes are not allowed.  I think there might not be any.  Anyways, it's also a 30-minute bike ride from home to the church.  Quite long.  It's downhill going there, but it's uphill coming back!  So by parking the bike midway, it wasn't as tiring, and at the same time I saved around 90 pesos in bus fare!  Actually, me not being used to riding the bike, my knees are feeling a little tired even after just 15-minute bike rides to AT (and another 15 back)!

Then Mass.  I learned that the priest's name is something like Father Brunsfield or something.  There were battalions of Filipinos in church today.  Most churches here don't have weekly masses in English, so many Filipinos tend to attend mass in different churches.  I think a lot of the people in attendance today were from outside of Atsugi.  Anyways, the usual "issues" you would encounter in the Philippines: you can actually HEAR people "whispering," friends who see each other only once a week so they "catch up" on each other's stories, and then lots of babies crying, and toddlers and early elementary school kids running around... during the mass!  I think the priest noticed the unusually noisy crowd today and asked to have a moment of silence after communion.  Didn't work.  My theory: English is not the Filipino's first language!  It didn't register.  The priest was too kind to not insist on the moment of silence, or to ask everyone to keep the noise down if not totally out.  If I had another choice, I wouldn't attend mass there again!  While I try my best to listen to the readings and the homily and to all the prayers, it can be really distracting.  Specially in such a small church.

One other thing I noticed was that many songs were unfamiliar.  Personally I knew "As The Deer" and "You Shall Be Clothed in Power from On High," but I don't think the others knew those songs.  I didn't know many of the other songs.  And then, like the choir in Tachikawa, the choir doesn't adjust to the situation.  Back in Tachikawa, the song ended already but the guitarists kept on playing; they insisted the song should end in the way they think it should or in the (only) way they know how.  Unnecessarily took up people's time.  When you are leading people into prayer or a choir and a people into song, you stay aware of what's happening.  You don't just pray.  You don't just play the music and sing.  Anyways, of course I will still attend mass in Atsugi during the 3rd Sunday of the month.  In fact, I would really like it if there were masses in English every Sunday in Atsugi!  Oh and as usual, the priest briefly spoke in Japanese during his homily, to the ~three or more locals present.

Anyways, so back to AT I went.  Bike's still there.  Great!  And I dropped by my favorite store - the 100-yen store - and bought a couple of pitchers.  On my previous visit I bought these filters you attach to the faucet.  From what I know, tap water here is safe to drink.  Whenever I drink straight from the tap, I don't have any problems at all.  But I noticed that when I refrigerate tap water and drink it later, there's some kind of smell and taste that comes out.  I thought it was just the container...  But it was really bad!  But when I started to use that filter - no more of that bad taste and smell.  So now I plan to store water in the fridge in the new pitcher I bought.  Actually the other pitcher, I will use for making iced green tea.

How to make iced green tea: steep one green tea bag in a mug of hot water for around 3 to 5 minutes, remove the tea bag, put the green tea in a 1 liter pitcher, add water and ice until you have a liter of green tea, then add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (or to taste).  Voila!  Tastes like C2.  I'm excited about this.  I've done this before.  Now, I can save on some vending machine expenses. :-D

Anyways, so I did my groceries and only had this on my list: banana, ketchup, and juice.  And then the "difficult" part about doing the groceries: you tend to buy more than what you listed!  But it's not that I won't consume these other things I bought.  I bought my dinner for tonight: sushi, teriyaki chicken, cherry tomatoes on the sides, and banana.  But actually I also bought my dinner for the succeeding nights: ready-to-heat-then-eat takoyaki balls, pizza, side veggies, shrimp cake, and... I forgot what else.  There are so much interesting stuff here, food-wise, and not just the usual Japanese food, but also Japanese-style food.  Like their desserts and stuff.  Last night actually I had this interesting ice cream sandwich that cost around $1.30 equivalently.  Yummy.  Very, very yummy.

Well the plus side about all this is that my refrigerator isn't so lonely anymore...  (Yeah right!)  Ehehehe. :-D

And then so I got home, took my hung-dry clothes inside the apartment (but I didn't fold them yet - I don't know if they're all dry already), packed some rice and then ate dinner here at my desk.  Yikes, the biking today and yesterday is really draining, but I welcome it because I think it's good for my health.  I hope to bike more regularly!

That's it for now.  Time to chat with my love. :-D

15 May 2010


I feel so tired the whole day today, but more so now after biking 10 minutes to Yamada Denki (the "electrical" shop which sells computers and so on), and biking 10 minutes + walking uphill 5 minutes back.  Fun exploring these new places here in Atsugi by myself.  Actually I remember being accompanied 5 years ago by one of the then-masters students to Yamada.  But it's all a blur because we got there by car and so I didn't really enjoy the scenery and the other stores.  There's a "Wild-1" camping and fishing store.  And a Shoe Plaza.  And AOKI Men's Apparel.  By the way, remind me to buy a shoes as an extra pair when I get back to the Philippines.  I don't have any shoe size here!!!!  Are they all that short and small-footed?  Or, I am just too tall.  The bike ride was really fun.  Thank you Lord for the sunshine!  No rain so far...  Yikes, I hope it doesn't rain on my designated laundry day!

14 May 2010

P.S.: Weather Forecast

Yesterday I mentioned that the forecast for today was some rain.  Nope, no rain and only (some) sunshine the whole day today...  Until it was around 8:30pm.  TGIF indeed, indeed!  I'm looking forward now to (attending the English) mass on Sunday right here in Atsugi! :-)  For tomorrow, the forecast is the same as today: cloudy in the daytime, and some drizzle in the evening.  Yikes, this weekend is laundry weekend.  If based on the weather forecast alone, I should do my laundry early Sunday morning. :-)

Class... then... BASUKETOBORU!

Class.  Then lunch at the by-the-pound cafeteria.  Then a little bit of studying and stuff.  Then...

Basketball!  We played 3 games and here are the teams:

Game 1:
  Team 1 - Korea+Japan*+Italy** (Win)
  Team 2 - Philippines+China+India

Game 2:
  Team 1 - Korea+China+India***
  Team 2 - Philippines+China****+India (Win)

Game 3 (did not finish):
  Team 1 - Korea+China****
  Team 2 - Philippines+China (Leading 7-5)

* The player from Japan was replaced by the player from China****.
** The player from Italy is a girl!  She knows how to play.
*** This player from India is a little bit shorter than the other player from India.  Both players from India are beginners in the game of basketball.
**** This player from China is taller than the other player from China.

Then after, I had a nice meal for only 500 yen at the old cafeteria.  A torikatsu (fried breaded chicken) meal that comes with veggies, I had another dish of veggies, miso soup, and rice of course.  :-)

Summary of the day so far: F. U. N.

Then when I got back to my desk, all the Chinese students gathered around one of the Chinese students - who was showing videos from his wedding ceremony late last month!  It was a typical Chinese wedding, based on many Chinese traditions, but of course modernized already.  It started early in the morning, there were lots of gift-giving (via what we Filipinos call "ang-paw", those red Chinese envelopes with money inside), fireworks, carrying the bride two flights of stairs up, and photo ops for the families and so on, etc.  And they also had pre-nup pix!  Very, very, very interesting.

So what do I call a day that has been so fun already...  and then it's topped off by another fun and interesting thing?

Indeed, indeed: thank God it's Friday!  God bless everyone!  :-)

13 May 2010


Let me see.  Today was Nihongo class day.  The rest of the day was all about studying and reading.  Interesting thing was...  Now I know how to count from one to one trillion in Japanese! :-)  Other than that, today there was some kind of fire evacuation drill and so the old cafeteria is closed the whole day.  But of course we usually eat at the new cafeteria (the by-the-pound lunch).  No basketball or gym today.  Yikes, no exercise today, other than the walking around campus and the apartment!  But anyways, I'm excited about the weekend, because I am planning to go to Yamada Denki (Yamada Electrical/Electronics store) to buy a webcam.  Denki means electric, I think.  The Japanese do not have a word for "electronic," I think.  So you would hear them say "I will go to the electrical shop to buy an mp3 player."

Oh, and today was... not rainy.  Yay!  Although yesterday's forecast for today is rainy.  Nay!  Yes, people.  PAGASA is doing just fine.  If you're not a meteorologist or didn't study meteorology, don't put the blame on them if they go wrong.  In Taiwan as well, I heard that one time recently their meteorological agency made a forecast that a typhoon will pass through one of their populated cities, so they had schools and businesses closed, and everyone "safely" at home.  Then the typhoon went 90km off from their forecast path.  The US as well was not ready for Hurricane Katrina.  Don't be too harsh on your own.

The forecast for tomorrow here is rainy as well.  Let's see what happens. Ja ashita ne.

12 May 2010

Class, Bike, Basketball

Got to my desk around 10:30am, and was just in time for my class at 11:00am.  The class was interesting - actually it was more of a discussion rather than a lecture.  We talked about this and this.  Very interesting indeed.

There are two of us students there, the other a Japanese who speaks and understands little English.  But we had some common opinions, probably being both human and Asian.  But Japan being developed and the Philippines developing was probably the difference.  One particular difference in situation is that in Japan, the birth rate is going down and the population is probably decreasing.  It is the opposite in the Philippines...

Anywho, since class ended at 12:30pm, and since my usual lunch buddies eat at 12pm, I ate lunch at the by-the-pound cafeteria by myself.  Not so bad.  Today my lunch was just around 700yen.  My lowest priced by-the-pound lunch cost me only around 650yen.  My most expensive by-the-pound lunch was probably 850yen.  Right now my budget is just 800yen per meal.  It was a good meal as usual.  I had my usual share of leafy veggies.  I just don't like that a lot of the meat are fried and with breading, therefore meaning it uses eggs.  Cholesterol.  I should really get a stove and steamer soon.  I don't plan on using my rice cooker for steaming again because the fishy-oily smell from the steamed fish clings to the rice cooker's pot!

Aside from a stove and steamer, I also plan to buy a bike when I get my first "salary" (basically my subsistence allowance) and when I know I have enough money for my basic needs.  But actually today...  I now have a bike to use!  Not my bike, I just borrowed it.  I rode it around tonight.  It is a pleasure to ride in a bike.  Problem is, I'll have less walking exercise around the area now.  I should just make sure now to play basketball or do some running more regularly.  But actually, it's just a 5-minute walk including a 4-storey climb up some stairs to get from my apartment to my desk.  I plan to use my bike only though to go to Atsugi Trellis, where the nearest grocery is.  But I also plan to explore Atsugi more with my bike, as well as go to some other stores which I haven't gone to by myself before, like the Yamada electronics store, where I also plan to buy later a webcam so that I can make video calls from my school computer.  The only problem with going there is, my place as well as the school is on top of a hill so going there is no problem, I'll just be cruising down the slope.  The problem is going back.  Oh well, part of the exercise.  Or of course I could just walk up the slope.

Well that's about it.  I really like riding the bike.  And so much more in this weather.  Oh, I played basketball. The "kompyang" unfortunately put us two taller guys together in one team, and the not-so-tall guys on the other team.  So it was not so competitive but it was still fun.  Basuketoboru ga daisuki desu.  I love basketball. :-D

11 May 2010

Workshop... Cocktails!

As mentioned yesterday, today is workshop day.  A technical tour of TPU research facilities (i.e. various wind tunnel testing facilities) was held in the morning, then a buffet lunch, then the workshop proper, then continuation of the technical tour, then cocktails (stand-up dinner), then...  Here I am.  Full.  Drank a little bit of Asahi beer :-D

Fun, fun, fun.  It is fun to learn.  :-D

For dinner there was lots of sushi, and lots of fruits.  I ate a lot of those because they are much more expensive here in Japan (comparing to prices in the Philippines).  And, long day for me, but, these few words just about sum it up.  It was rainy the whole day, but it wasn't such a bother. :-)  Tomorrow is class day (just one class), and studying day. :-D

10 May 2010

Mission Accomplished...and then...

Mission: Get my Alien Registration Card from the Atsugi City Hall, and my Work Permit from the Immigration Office in Shin-Yurigaoka.  Both offices open at 9am.  I got up at 9am.  And left past 10am already.  Sigh.

I got to City Hall and I was done around 11:00am.  Yikes!  I got to the Immigration Office around 11:40am (they have lunch break at 12 noon).  Yikes!  And I noticed the machine that dispenses the number (you know, "take a number and wait to be seated"?) wasn't there, and already there was a sign that says "Lunch break, 12:00~13:00".  I asked if they can attend to my needs, basically I just need to get my work permit already unless my application was denied.  The lady apparently told me to get a number first.  Yikes!

It was 5 minutes before 12 when they put the number dispensing machine out again, and I got a number (# 129; it was still #79), went straight to the counter, and gave my passport.

Then it became 12:00.  The guy at the counter apparently was announcing that it's lunch break already therefore everyone should just come back at 1pm.  Oh boy, a one hour wait.  But I stared at him for a little while and apparently he was ready to give me my passport with work permit.  And he did.  At 12:00.  So apparently I got there just in the nick of time!  Thank God.

And so back to school I went.  Got back to TPU around 1:20pm I think.  The bus was packed, as in Edsa-MRT rush hour packed!  I was deciding whether I should wait for the next bus or try to "fit in."  The next bus was not until 20 minutes later!  So...  Funny thing was, the bus felt "full" already when I got on, but after a couple of bus stops and a few more passengers getting on, we all still fit!  Apparently there were some who were refusing to give way and make space.  Oh well, who wants to be cramped in an enclosed space, like sardines!?

And then back to "work" - reading here and there.  And then 5pm came...  Basketball time!  Or not.  Someone was using the gym.  The basketball gym is also an indoor soccer (futsal) gym, a volleyball gym, a dodge ball gym, and a badminton gym.  So...  We have competition.  For using the gym, that is.  And we don't have the "right," because we're not "paying members" of any of the sports club who have the "right" to use the gym.  Oh well.  So running we just went.  I probably ran around at least a kilometer.  We were hoping that by the end of our running, the badminton and volleyball players would be packing up already, and so we can play basketball.  Nope.  As Okada-san said, "not our day today."

And so here I am a little tired again.  Tomorrow...  is an important day here, we are hosting an event.  I look forward to new learnings tomorrow, and free lunch buffet and dinner.  Ja mata ne!

P.S. I also discovered a Chinese restaurant in downtown Atsugi.  I am craving for Hainanese chicken.  Or anything not fried!!!

09 May 2010


Unfortunately no...

I got up early enough.  Had brunch of canned tuna and banana and my cooked rice.  Left early enough.  I got to the Minami-Rinkan station early enough.  I got to the Yamato Church early enough for the, supposedly 1:30pm mass, or at least according to this, this, this, and this.  Sigh, and I thought the Philippines was so behind when it comes to website updating.  I can't read Japanese but apparently the masses there are at 10:00, so that means I have to leave home 8:30am next time.  I have to look for another church to go to for my 2nd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of the month.  Well, I look forward to mass again in the Atsugi Catholic Church next week.  So...  No communion for me, but I resort instead to this for a homily.  It comes out a day late though because it's from a church in the US and it's already Monday here in East Asia when it is Sunday there and when the video comes out.

The area around the church and the Minami-Rinkan station is much like a developed sub-urban place ("probinsya," in Filipino colloquial terms), but it is just like Tokyo: mostly flat and mostly 2-storey homes and only a very small part where there are many commercial and tall buildings, very clean, well paved roads, disciplined pedestrians, very few moving cars relative to the number of people.  I saw a KFC there right outside the station.

Anyways, I was feeling tired so I decided to just go back to Atsugi.  I still have to buy groceries, and I wanted to look for an ATM machine where I can probably use my Philippines-based ATM card.  Could be expensive though.  My ATM card is Cirrus/Maestro/MasterCard affiliated.  I had no luck in downtown Atsugi; all the ATMs I saw there only accept Visa and Diner's Club and AmEx and some Japanese ATM networks.  I only discovered that there's a Burger King, Mister Donut, and Baskin & Robbins.

And then after dropping off my groceries at home, I went straight to school and had dinner here - my own cooked rice, and grilled squid and salad I bought at the grocery store.  And banana.  What a no-day.  But thankfully I am all safe and have something to eat.

By the way, I also subscribed to http://www.dailygospel.org/ so I regularly receive the daily readings. :-)

08 May 2010

Seminar Day

Woke up late, and had brunch for lunch.  Spanish-style sardines and my own cooked rice.  Attended the seminar at 2pm but it finished early, before 4pm.  I then dropped by the mini-library to look at the available references there.  I tried a coffee vending machine; one shot: 70 yen.  Not bad.  Actually I tried only the Nescafe brand.  The Japanese brands like UCC are 100 yen!  Ehehe.  I'll try them next time.

By the way, yesterday while I was about to take a shower, I discovered that I left the gas line on and probably the fire burning for around 24 hours for my shower's water heater!  Thank God nothing happened.  I really don't like this having to manually turn on and off the gas line; I'm just not used to it.  But yeah, I should get used to it.  Other than the risk, my concern now is...  I wonder how much my gas bill is!

So, Sunday again tomorrow and it's my first 2nd Sunday of the month.  So I had to look for another church.  I found that the 2nd nearest church could be just 50 minutes away from my apartment: the Yamato Catholic Church.  Unfortunately it doesn't anymore have or I can't find its official website, so I can't confirm the actual English mass schedule.  So I'll try anyway.  Based on other websites, their English mass schedules are at 1:30pm every 2nd and 4th Sunday, and maybe a Tagalog mass at 1:30pm every 5th Sunday.  I might just frequent this church, except of course on the 3rd Sundays of the month when I will go to the Atsugi Catholic Church (just 30 minutes away), on the 1st Sundays of the month when I might go to the churches in Hiratsuka or Fujisawa (over an hour away), if I am going to the nearest IKEA I might as well go to mass at the home of the Yokohama Diocese in Sacred Heart Cathedral (also known as Yamate Church), and if I am going to Tokyo anyway so I might as well go to one of the churches in Tokyo.

When in Tokyo I might not go to Tachikawa again; it just too far.  The shortest commute times would be to the church near Yotsuya (where I heard, many Filipinos are regulars) and near the Todai (Tokyo Daigaku = University of Tokyo) Komaba Campus.  I could go to the church in Meguro to meet up with my college friend, Coy, though she's staying here only until August I think.  Or in Kichijoji or Roppongi.  Many choices in Tokyo; the catch is it's at least an hour and 30 minutes away on average.  But for these places I'm considering, they're just within 15 minutes from Shinjuku.

I prepared this matrix to help me decide which churches to go to:
Hopefully the schedules don't change and this could help fellow Filipinos and/or other English-speaking people find the nearest church from around here in Atsugi.

For dinner I'll just buy ready-to-heat, freshly-prepared meat and vegetable ulam to accompany my rice.  Oh and I should not forget to get some bananas!

07 May 2010

No Class, No Sun

So as mentioned yesterday, no classes today.  But there was also no sun today, but there was rain.  Not so cold though, still Baguio-like weather.  This might become the usual day for me after a few months.  Whole day in front of my computer, reading, studying, writing, organizing stuff.  Except at lunch break, then to the gym to play basketball or lift weights or run, and then dinner.

I was supposed to go to the Atsugi City Hall to pick-up my alien registration card, but I thought I am going to the Immigration Office on Monday anyway, so I can hit 2 birds with 1 stone and save JPY 520 in transportation costs.  So I did not go.  Besides, it was raining.

For studying, I did a little review for our Nihongo class.  So now I supposedly know these Hiragana characters already:
あ い う え お
か き く け こ
が ぎ ぐ げ ご

a   i   u   e   o
ka ki ku ke ko
ga gi gu ge go

It's interesting to note that the g* syllables are the same as the k* syllables, except there's a symbol similar to a double quotation mark.  Notice the similarity?  Now I only need to remember the ten vowels and the k* characters, and I already know 15.  There's a total of 71 basic Hiragana characters representing vowels and two-letter syllables, plus 33 Hiragana characters representing 3-letter syllables like "kyu" or "ja" (equivalent to
"dya"?).  Yikes!

Well that's Lesson 1 so far.  I have to review Lesson 2 before the next class.  If I play "Mahjong" often, I would have known at least 9 Kanji characters - the Kanji for the numbers 1 to 9!  Actually I do know 1, 2, and 3: 一, 二, and 三.  Easy enough, eh?

One interesting thing today is...  we were able to play 3-on-3 basketball!  Our 4 fellow PhD students from India decided to join us for a little exercise... basketball!  But basketball is not a very popular sport in India, just as cricket is not popular in the Philippines or in the US or even in Japan, and so...  Well it was a different kind of basketball, but it was still fun.  I think our newly baptized basketball buddies had fun as well.

Well that's it for today.  Wish I could taste some steamed chicken breasts.  Ja ne!

06 May 2010

Class Day!

3 classes in a row today.  This will be today only, hopefully.  But it was fun.

Thankfully the 9:30am class (which is only actually a make-up session for our Friday class) was postponed to 1:20pm.  The good news is, no classes tomorrow!

But what happened was I had class from 11:00 to 12:30, then lunch, then 1:20 to 2:50, then 3:00 to 4:00.  It was very tight.  Anyhow, had lunch at Cafeteria 2 (by the pound lunch) - I love it there.  More for less.  And...  My 3rd class was actually my Nihongo (Japanese language) class!  It was the first time I attended; it was a fun class.  Everyone gets to participate!

I learned what wind engineering is in Japanese: kaze kougaku.  Watashino senmon desu.  (It is my major.)

Anyways, I learned a lot too, and was able to practice my Japanese numbers from ichi to sen (1 to 1000).  One interesting fact: the former capital that preceded the current Tokyo is Musashi, which encompasses Tokyo and parts of Saitama and Kanagawa, and which is somewhat an abbreviation for 6-3-4 (mu, san, shi) = the total height in meters of the currently under-construction Tokyo Sky Tree.  Last we checked it was around 350m tall already.  Yup, "six" is either "roku," "mu," or "mutsu," and "four" is either "yon," or "shi."  But of course, "roku" and "yon" are the commonly used translations.  My birth year is sen kyu hyaku nana ju nana.  Exciting!

Anyways, our Nihongo-no-sensei (Japanese language professor) commented that this year, there is no Spring.  From winter, it turned into summer immediately.  Yikes!  Well actually it still feels like spring, but yeah, it got a little warm the past couple of days but maybe only because Someone wanted the Japanese and tourists here to enjoy the long holiday weekend.

Anyways...  I feel so tired already.  I ran 1 km / 10 minutes on the treadmill, did some weights, shoot some hoops...  Ayayay.  Wellp, no class tomorrow, but I have to go to the city hall to pick up my alien registration card.  Until next time... :-)

05 May 2010


Nope, I'm not talking about the denim brand.

Instead, these are the things of today that are very similar from yesterday.

1. It's a holiday.
2. Woke up a little late. (Though not as late as yesterday.)
3. Had late breakfast. (Bread and cheese instead of oatmeal.)
4. Had late lunch. (Today I had really late lunch; I didn't have an appetite early enough.)
5. Did some school work: reading, literature searching, and organizing files.
6. Went by bus to Atsugi Trellis to buy food at the grocery store.  (I forgot to buy bananas and cheese yesterday!  Oh and I didn't buy sushi today.)
7. Got home past 8pm already. (Though today I walked from AT; it was a 20 minute walk.  I saved 170 yen, and even beat the bus, which comes at 30 minute intervals on Sundays and public holidays.
8. Steam-cooked salmon, pechay (bok choi? pek chai?), and carrots, and heated my pre-cooked rice, and ate all of that.

Yikes, the days when short blog posts (with subject: "Busy day," and body: "I was so busy today I couldn't write anything new on my blog.") are near!  Yikes!

P.S. Today I noticed that there's a perforation on the label of the apple-juice-in-a-plastic-bottle I was drinking.  So I checked my guide on how to dispose of garbage, and apparently I should separate the label, and the cap from the bottle.  Labels and caps go into the recyclable plastics group, and plastic (PET only) bottles go into their own group.  Bottles should be at least rinsed.  I don't like having to organize my trash this much!  Oh well.  When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  I wonder if they are so strict.

04 May 2010


I woke up rather late.  Had rather late breakfast.  Rather late lunch - Konbiini (convenience store) lunch.  Salad and chicken nuggets!  And I ate the rice I cooked yesterday.  And then rather late dinner.

I left TPU to catch the 6:50pm bus, and got down at AT (Atsugi Trellis, pronounced by the Japanese as Atsugi Turelisu, and where the 100-yen/Daiso store is, and where the grocery store is), and bought...  salmon, pechay, and carrots, and a few other grocery items.  I bought some sushi! :-D

I also bought 2kg rice grains and bread (for breakfast)... and two 1.5L bottles of juice, one orange and the other - I wasn't sure yet if it was watermelon or apple juice, and I was hoping it was apple juice because if it was watermelon juice, I could've just had water and sugar...  Well not really...  Anyways, good thing it was apple juice!  Cost of each bottle is approximately $1.37.  Not bad.  The cost of a 500mL Coke bottle from the convenience stores or vendos is $1.50, approximately!  I didn't buy milk anymore, because I think it is the reason for...  Let's just call it "liquefaction" in the morning.  :-D

So I got home a little past 8pm.  And...  I had steamed salmon, pechay, and carrots for late dinner! :-D  I still ate the rice I cooked yesterday.  The leftover rice is still good for two more meals.  I learned from Coy, my friend who I met up with last Sunday in Tokyo, that it is more cost-effective to cook, if you can cook one whole week's worth in one sitting, and then you just heat, heat, and heat. That's what I did with my rice.  The steamed stuff - I don't think I can cook them now, and then just heat them later, it just won't be the same.

Anyhow, the salmon I bought - I don't know if it was edible by itself - like in sushi - I tried to chew it but, I don't know, maybe it's not cut as thin as it should be for sushi so I wasn't really able to gulp one chunk down, and so that's why I went on with steaming it.

Ah, maybe it's now my specialty: steaming.  Haha.  I like to steam fish and veggies, not only because it's easy enough to do, but also I think it's healthier than frying and tastier than boiling and so possibly overcooking the veggies.  When I had a one month stint in Singapore, I did a lot of steaming.  Of course, steaming then and now is just a consequence of not having a stove.

Soon I want to cook Sinigang, my favorite Filipino dish.  And "Pork Steak," Filipino style.  (It's like the Filipino-style "Beef Steak" or "Bistek," except you use pork and lots of onions, caramelized in soy sauce and tropical lemon or kalamansi).

By the way, I ate the steamed fish and veggies with Kikkoman all-purpose soy sauce.  I like that Kikkoman is not so salty (though I'm sure it still has a lot of sodium), so it went well with the steamed fish and veggies.  I forgot to put some salt on the fish before steaming!  But, I think it turned out well even without the salt.

And that's my day.  The rest of the day I was in front of my computer, doing work ("researching" stuff), reading a book (studying), and organizing my personal electronic files (pictures, documents, etc).

My first time to "cook" is the only new highlight of my day here in Atsugi.  It is a holiday, still.  Tomorrow is still a holiday as well.  And so anyways, I received a reward for cooking.  Upon getting back to the school, there was Mara online!  Yahoo!  I'm chatting with her right now.

Until the next blog post, then! :-D

03 May 2010

Tired, but Thankful

After Three straight days of Two-on-Two basketball and a trip to Tachikawa on the outskirts of Tokyo...  And then making Tupi my newly washed clothes.  I felt Tired today, particularly after Tanghali.  Felt sleepy in the afternoon, I really wanted to nap.  I did, for a few minutes, on my desk, but I don't know how long a nap it was.  And no it wasn't that warm today, not like yesterday in Tachikawa and particularly inside the church when I regretted having to wear long sleeves under my polo shirt.  High today was around 24 degrees though, nice.  I took a little 20-minute jog at around 8pm.  I did that to get some food because... I don't know if that's how long rice really cooks but it takes really long here.  Is it my rice cooker, is it the type of rice (Japanese sticky rice), or both?

But anyways I am also Thankful that Today is a holiday.  And Tomorrow, Tuesday.  And on the Third day, Wednesday.  I am also Thankful that I finished my report for my Building Environmental Efficiency class, although is not due until Wednesday next week.  But I will be busy the Three school days (Friday, Monday, and Tuesday) prior to submission date, and even Friday, so better to finish early.  Some of the guys here are talking about taking a trip somewhere this weekend - I don't wanna miss that!  Anyways, now that I finished that one report, I have time to study for my other class, which is on the Atmospheric Boundary Layer, and to do a literature review for my research topic for which I have to meet up and discuss with my Professor on June 1st.  I am not so confident of having just 3 weeks for that.  But anyways, I have 3 weeks, I just need to plan my steps carefully and use the 3 weeks wisely. :-D

Oh, and Today I watched Terebi (Japanese for "TV" or television) on my "zero"-yen phone! :-D  It's free TV, so it's like as if I have a portable TV except it's built in my phone.  Actually, it's a slightly different technology that our traditional TVs have.  Read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1seg.

So, That's all for now.  I look forward to Tomorrow, Tuesday. :-D

02 May 2010

Whew, Watta Day!

Got up early, did my laundry - whites, colors, and whites that have stains.  Then left them to dry.  I was too late to get to the 12pm mass in Meguro to meet up with a friend from college, Coy, who is taking her masters in Public Administration (or something like that).  I left TPU at around 12:30pm, took lunch in Hon-Atsugi, then off to a route I have never taken before.  I got off at Noborito, transfered to the JR Nanbu (train) Line, and got down at Tachikawa.  Then it was a 10-minute walk to the church.  The Google Maps directions led me to the back of the church, so I walked around one block to get to the front.  I arrived at the church at 3:15pm, in time for the Alleluia before the Gospel reading.

Anyways, of course the mass was in English.  The priest was Caucasian, but I don't know where he is from, but if I did not know that he was Caucasian, I would've thought he was Filipino because of his English accent.  Interesting.  Like the previous English-speaking (but apparently from a non-English-speaking country) priest, he was fluent in Japanese, and gave his homily also in Japanese - to this Japanese guy.  Apparently that Japanese guy, an adult, was getting baptized that day.  I loved that scene.  It was also his first communion day!  "Omedetō gozaimasu ne!"  (Literally, "Congratulations [to him], right/eh?")  It was really cool.  I wanted to take a video but... well I regret not taking a video.  Oh well.

His baptism rights were right after the homily, and it was given by the priest in Japanese.  After that, the priest was continuing with the mass... in Japanese!  He momentarily forgot it was an English mass.  But of course, back to English it was.

As expected, most of the mass attendees as well as the choir there were Filipino.  3 guitar players in the choir.  Then one "egg (mini maracas) shaker."  Maybe 6 singers.  And there was a drum-box drummer.  I liked the choir at the Atsugi Catholic Church better... :-D

But unexpectedly, I heard 3 Filipino songs in the mass - "Si Kristo ay gunitain..."  "Kordero ng Diyos na nagaalis..."  and...  I forgot the 3rd one, but it was a communion song.  I don't know if any of the songs during the early part of the mass were also in Tagalog.  The "Our Father" is a version we sing in the Philippines; I don't think it is sung elsewhere where there aren't that many Filipinos.  "We Remember" was also sung.  As well as "Take and Receive," and for the Recessional Song it was "For God So Loved the World," I think is the title.

Anyways, the mass finished at around 4:15pm and I had to meet up with Coy at 5pm in Harajuku.  I got to Harajuku at 5:30pm already!  That church is that far!  Approximately 2 hours from my apartment (2.5 hours with some time for eating), and approximately 1.25 hours to Central Tokyo.  It was probably 45 km from my apartment, and around 25 km to Central Tokyo.  It was probably 45 km from Central Tokyo to my apartment.  (In case you don't know yet, it's just a 2-minute walk from my place to my school. :-D)

So I met Coy, and the first thing we did was go to Softbank to ask about their mobile phones.  I got a plan with a 2-year contract for ZERO monthly rate, and also I pay ZERO for the phone itself, because I am a student, and because I used my credit card.  Credit card to pay for what?  Anyways, the ZERO monthly rate, which is normally 980 JPY monthly, is what they call the "White Plan," which allows FREE same-network calls and texts (i.e. Softbank to Softbank users) between 1am and 9pm.  Not bad!  But then there's the catch.  The phone itself doesn't come with a charger!  So I had to pay to get one.  JPY 1155.  Okay, not bad.  That is practically what I paid for the phone.  PHP 500!  (By the way, 100 JPY = 1 USD, approximately, so 1 JPY = 1 US cent).  And another catch is, or at least that's what I think it is, is that I have to enroll my account for mobile internet services, which is 315 (or was it 350) JPY monthly.  Minimum.  Still not bad.  So technically I'm paying 350 monthly.  But actually once I use the internet, there will be charges.  Yikes!  *self-control*  But there's a cap though, so in case I use the internet excessively, I won't pay hundreds of thousands of cents.

But anyway, my mission was accomplished.  Get the cheapest phone and cheapest monthly rate, using a phone company that most of my fellow students also subscribe to so that our calls to each other are free, and now I am able to make emergency calls when needed, and people can call me when needed, and in case I am lost I can access the internet and take a look at maps and so on.  I really hope I don't need to make emergency calls.  I also set my billing to be automatically charged to my credit card so, no worries there.  I'll be paying hopefully just JPY 315 or 350 monthly, or PHP 160 or USD 3.50 equivalently.

Actually I had a choice between a nice looking phone model and this model that I got which has....  TV!  Chance to learn Nihongo!  Ehehehe.

Anyways, it took us probably an hour at Softbank.  Next stop was dinner.  But we also passed by Takeshita-Dori (Takeshita Street) which is the popular teenage hangout street in Harajuku.  Coy bought something at this women's socks (i.e. also print/colored stockings) place.  Yikes, I forgot the name.  Interesting looking "socks" though.  Expensive if you ask my Philippines-based how-much-things-should-be standard.  We also passed by The GAP.

Dinner was at this ramen place.  I forgot the name!  Anyways, Coy says it's her favorite eating place in Harajuku, and then the ramen we ordered, said Coy, is one of the more popular ones from the long list of different types of ramen (i.e. different ingredients).  And indeed it was delicious.  I forgot the name!  But there was pork in it, and it was a little creamy - maybe with milk or butter?  The pork also, was so tender.  I loved it.

Coy and I left Harajuku at around 8:20pm - so I was just in time to catch the last bus, 1.5 hours later, from Hon-Atsugi back to school.

What a day.  Yay to Sundays! :-)

Missing Mara... :-)

The moonlight making the night bright
The cooling rain giving the greens life
The warm sunshine to enjoy the breeze
Without all these, my heart is not at ease

The rustling leaves providing shade from the heat
The pink cherry tree petals that color roads so neatly
These are all gifts from the One above that I treasure so dearly
As you are, as you are

01 May 2010

May Day; No Pain, No Gain 2

Hello May, hello spring, hello good weather.  Well actually I underestimated the cold and wore not enough layers of clothes and it felt cold in the morning.  But not so cold; the past few days I didn't have to wear gloves or a scarf or a beanie/tuque/bonnet.  Daytime high today was 23 degrees.  That's like a Manila evening in December/January/February.  Daytime low is 12 degrees; currently - it's 9:40pm here - it's still 18 degrees.  Just like an air-conditioned room.

Anyways, today I was late to school, but I did cook my rice for my two meals today, and ate the food I bought yesterday for lunch - 12 pieces of siomai (Chinese dimsum, with pork filling I think) and a handful of mixed veggies.  For dinner I ate my imported can of Century Corned Tuna and another handful of mixed veggies.  Guess what.  I didn't spend a cent/yen today!  Yay!  But my projection though stays the same; my cash is just enough until June 18, assuming I don't make too many trips, buy anything, and stick to maybe a maximum of $8 (800 yen) per meal.  I did get a break though - one of my basketball "buddies" treated me to a bottle of Pocari Sweat.  Yum.  Oh, and I played basketball again today.

I was feeling the muscle pains today, and I thought I should take a break from basketball.  But what the heck, I love basketball, played for about 2 hours maybe...  And now I feel great.  I guess the pain will just haunt me again tomorrow... :-D  But overall, I think this is good.  "No pain, no gain" again comes to mind. :-D

Today there was a seminar, a professor from Italy.  His field is in hydraulics - not wind engineering - although of course hazard assessment and fluid dynamics are two common areas between the two fields.  The first one though was a little difficult to digest all at once, or not for me being into structural wind engineering; he was talking about algae and stuff.  The second topic he discussed was about climate change - which was a little bit interesting.

I learned how to use my washing machine.  This is how it goes: press on, press start, and voila!  That's it!  It'll determine the weight of the laundry and the necessary amount of water and probably the length of time it needs to do the washing, and rinsing, and spin-drying.  Great!  Oh, of course I have to put the clothes and detergent in.  I haven't bought fabric softener yet...  Yikes!  Let's see what will happen. :-D

And that's about it.  Short day.  Tomorrow is Laundry day.  And mass in Tokyo.  And go around a bit in Tokyo.  And meet up with a friend who's also a graduate student.  And maybe get a Japanese mobile phone so that I can make emergency calls (but I hope I don't have to make emergency calls!).  I still don't know if they charge for incoming calls...  I hope not!

Ja ne!