31 July 2010


I was able to sleep relatively early last night (before 1am), and woke up quite early today, maybe around 7am!  And so I was able to go to school early.  I did feel hungry early though, like it was only 11:30am.  So I went home for lunch at 12am.  Actually I passed by the convenience store first to buy salad.  I finished the last of my chicken adobo.  Then...  I fell asleep, this was probably around 1:30pm.

At this point, there was no word yet from my friend as to what time and where is the meet-up for watching the fireworks in Tokyo and so I didn't try so hard to fight the urge to sleep.  I woke up maybe around 5:30pm and I have a ~2pm message from my friend saying we should meet up around 5:15pm.  Oh no!  I missed it.  I mean if I still went on, I would have made it to the meet-up place at 7:30pm.  My friend called and said it'll probably be all over when I get there.  So...  I have to wait another week before the next one.  So there's going to be one here in Atsugi next week, but apparently there's another one in Tokyo as well!

Anyways, after waking up, I went to the grocery, and bought quite a lot of stuff today.  I'm out of cash already!  I'll have to donate another 105 yen to the bank ("overtime fee" for withdrawing from the ATM on a Sunday).

I also bought me a "chi-zu piza" (cheese pizza) which is actually a Japanese style pizza with nori (seaweed, similar to the one used for sushi rolls), teriyaki chicken, tuna, corn, and mayo.  I had it for dinner while I was boiling chicken for... boiled chicken!  (Because I don't have all the ingredients to make tinola.)  I also boiled pork to make... nilagang baboy. :-D  And then ginisang giniling with gulaypechay to be exact.  I finished everything at around 12pm.

Ah, August and Everything After. :-)

30 July 2010

And it goes on and on and on

This has been happening since Sunday; I can't sleep not until past 4am already.  But last night was worse; I slept not at all, not until 9:30am this morning.  And so I woke up already at around 2pm.  And yep, I missed my class.  Maybe subconsciously I really did not want to attend that class; it is a very difficult class.  Anyways, I didn't really intend on missing class though.

I did have breakfast at around 7am when I already gave up trying to sleep already.  But because I slept past lunch, I first bought lunch at the convenience store and ate them at my desk.  I bought a rice bento meal with burger, chicken, sausage, potatoes, and egg, and a red sauce spaghetti with sausage and eggs.  People were surprised that I got me two orders.  I always get that.  I ate lunch already around 3pm.

5pm came and it was basketball time.  I played it a little easy the whole time.  The first game was a 3-on-3 and I forgot who won.  I think no one did because one of our players got injured.  On the 2nd game it was just 2-on-2 but my teammate, with the intention to stop our opponent from scoring, unintentionally hit him on the face and sent his glasses flying down.  Our opponent didn't like it and so he ended the match.  We were one point away from victory though, and well, so because our opponent ended the match, we did not get the opportunity to win.  Oh well.

And then as usual after basketball and a shower, I went home, hung up my wet clothes and towel, and drank a lot of water and sports drink (Aquarius, Coke's Japan version of Gatorade).  Because I ate lunch very late plus the lots of fluid intake, I felt full and decided not to eat dinner just yet.  Instead I brought my dinner to school, so that in case I feel hungry I could eat.

Today was warmer than yesterday, and it was so hot and humid inside the gym and even in the locker room.  My sports clothes were drenched, and even after showering, I still sweat a bit.

I'm being invited tomorrow to watch some fireworks in an annual festival held at the Sumida River in Tokyo.  Next week, the annual festival held at the Sagami River which bisects Atsugi will also feature fireworks.  There will be lots of street food, people dancing and singing, and lots of people!  There are many big and small festivals all around Japan, all featuring fireworks usually during the summer.  Can't wait to see one!

29 July 2010


The trouble continues.  Trouble sleeping that is.  What were you thinking?  Those deadma faggies?

Anyways, I was really intending to sleep early last night but no.  Ended up the same time...  But this time I woke up sooo late, almost 2pm already.  Why?

Because it's rainy and a little cooler today!  Hooray!

It is a big, welcome break from all those days of sunshine and humidity and highs above 35 degrees.  Daytime high today was 28 degrees.  Hooray indeed!

I do have a problem though with my umbrella.  So the one I brought here from the Philippines which I actually bought for around 5 USD in SG last December already has gout.  It can still work but it is bound to totally break soon.  So I bought me a new one, but only a cheap one, only 1 USD equivalent.  It is so weak.  Today I think was the first time I used it, and it is already showing signs of weakness.

The rain wasn't like long, continuous, heavy, torrential rain.  It was just a little shower for probably half the day.  But that and all the cloud cover was enough to turn today into more like May weather.  Love it.

But with the sudden change in temperatures comes a headache.  Can't hit two birds with one stone this time.  It is annoying.  Then again, maybe it's because of the sleeping in so late?

Or, maybe it's because...  So I woke up say around 1:45pm, took a shower, then went straight to school to do some pre-Nihongo-class studying, then Nihongo class, then back to my desk for a little work, then went home and had Pork Steak and Steamed Pechay dinner at around 7pm and...  Notice anything?  Yup, I had dinner relatively earlier than usual today.  But actually, it is my breakfast and lunch as well, relatively later than usual.  Maybe that's another factor.  In any case, the headache of course is annoying; it is difficult to concentrate and stuff.  Oh well, this too shall pass.  Can't wait to sleep!  And I really hope to be able to sleep really early today!  Can't be late for my 11am class tomorrow.

28 July 2010

Ho-hum... Do spices make you gay/bitchy?

I was so tired yesterday but still I had trouble sleeping.  So today I woke up a little late, had grilled salmon and steamed pechay for lunch first and then off to school. Work, work, work, then I went home only after 9pm, for my adobong manok and steamed pechay dinner, again. I didn't return to school again for the day. Did I say the adobo was just perfect? It was a jackpot. I hope to sleep earlier today and be early to school tomorrow. :-)

So, did that sound very much like yesterday except for no basketball yesterday.

So instead, let's add some SPICE by way of a spicy story.

So I'm new here in school starting this school year's Spring term in April, which actually starts officially around the 1st of April.  There are three of us newbies, the other 2 guys being from southern India.  They arrived maybe 2nd of April.  I arrived 16th of April.  So I'm like the newest of the new students.

Now, there is a total of 5 students here from southern India, 2 of which are actually a married couple.  There is 1 student from Bangladesh.  I think all 6 can speak the Hindi language.  There are also 5 students from China, 2 of which are actually a boyfriend-girlfriend couple.  There is 1 researcher also from China, 1 researcher from Taiwan and 1 researcher from Hong Kong, and all of them (8) people can speak Mandarin.  There is 1 Korean student, and 3 Korean researchers, all who can speak Korean of course, but also Japanese quite fluently.  Lastly, there is one Vietnamese and one Italian researcher.

Anyways, my 2 Indian "batchmates" and I will be here together for 3 years.  So at the beginning I consider them as my buddies around here as we all on the same footing.  The older, married batchmate, probably cannot take new-to-the-taste food, and so he goes home for lunch and dinner and eats by himself everyday.  So there is the younger batchmate, who is probably 10 years my junior.  At first, we would invite each other to eat lunch together, together with another relatively young Indian guy.  There was an Italian short-term researcher here when I first came here, and together with the Italian researcher, we all ate lunch together with some Japanese students and another gaijin (foreigner).

The Italians and the Japanese and the other foreigner had future lunch dates of their own, because what would happen is we would already go to lunch but they would have lunch a little later.  As for me, I was warned about some locals befriending you so as to practice their English, but once their English or your Japanese is much improved, they will ditch you just like that.  And so we were left to just me and the two Indian guys.  At one point, the more senior (by school years) Indian guy had a business trip and so it was just the two of us, the younger batchmate and I.

To tell you the truth it was quite difficult to get a conversation going.  He would usually be quiet, and even more so when those other nationalities are there.  One time, we had lunch with the Japanese and the Italian, and well I was making conversation with the two of them.  This young batchmate was dead silent the whole time.  Uninterested.  Sure, what we were talking about is something new to him, but it also was to us.

Anyways, things happened here and there and one day, at around 12:00 noon, I came up to the two Indian guys and asked them if we can go for lunch already (because on previous days we go to lunch at 12 noon, to avoid the "traffic" and rush of people at 12:30).  They said, "a little later."  So "okay," I said, and waited back at my desk.  We're in the same room, by the way, where all 13 PhD students and 1 researcher have our desks.  It's not so big.  1:10pm came and I was wondering, aren't these guys hungry yet?  So I come back to them and said, "Shall we go now for lunch?  We should go now, because the cafeteria closes at 1:30pm."  They're like, "We already ate lunch.  We thought you already ate lunch!"

Yup, I didn't hear the word "Sorry."  As for me, wanting to keep the peace, I just said, "Oh okay, it's okay."  And so I ate lunch by myself, an hour later!  If only I knew.  I thought, it might have just been a misunderstanding, although I thought if I were in their shoes, I would have passed by my desk to ask me if I already ate lunch or not.

On succeeding days, my batchmate and I have class until 12:30pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and so usually I would still invite them to have lunch together.  Hey, we're all foreigner students here, right?  We could learn about each other's culture and stuff and talk about our situations as foreigner students.  But no.  And then I noticed that they're not inviting me to lunch anymore.  At one point, they were like totally avoiding me already!  As in my batchmate-classmate in the 'til-12:30 class was avoiding eye contact with me right after class, and then go straight to meet up with his boyfriend Indian guy and have lunch together.  I was like, what's going on?  What did I do?  Lots of things happened since that first time they did not invite me to lunch, and well, I don't really know what caused all this to happen.  Do they feel insecure?  Or, fine, there's not so much "chemistry" (because mostly I start the conversation and they don't probably have any interest in other people or are ready with questions to ask or tools to interact), but to me I would at least exert some effort.  But no.

Well now, my attitude is, I have offered them my friendship and they have rejected it.  This is how they want it, and so this is how it will be.  We are but professionally related.  I don't need them and certainly I won't willingly offer them help unless asked to by our professors. They are not my friends.  But, of course they are not my enemies.

If you were wondering, I did not confront them about it anymore, (with the intention of confronting them diplomatically, of course) because well I think their culture is not like that.  These people have issues and instead of opening up to the challenge, they group together and wallow in their sadness.

So why am I even talking about them?  Like I said, we're just adding a little spice to this otherwise one-paragraph of a blog post. :-D  There is one other spicy story I have reserved for you in a future "boring" blog post. :-)

27 July 2010


Woke up a little late, had pork steak lunch and a little cleaning first before going to school.  5pm came and it was basketball time.  It was 3-on-3 this time, which was better for me.  Not yet 100%, but I managed to stay a little competitive.  No betting though.  We played a total of 3 games, I think.  And I think we won only one game?  Or none, I forgot.  So as usual, right after basketball and a shower, I went straight home for my first adobong manok dinner.  It was perfect.  Ate it with steamed pechay.  After that very nice dinner and a little cleaning up again, I felt so tired, I decided not to go back to the office anymore.  I hope to sleep earlier today and be early to school tomorrow. :-)


Here're some new Japanese words (and characters) for you, if you don't know these yet.

たんじょうび おめでとう!
Tanjoubi Omedetou!

That means...


Literally, tanjoubi means "birthday," and omedetou is a greeting that could go by itself which means "congratulations."  So if you combine the two, you could get how it becomes "Happy Birthday!"  It's not strictly or literally a 1-to-1 translation, which is apparently so in the culture here.  People don't celebrate their birthdays here, or at least not just with anyone, not just with officemates or fellow students or what.  Two locals have recently had their birthdays without any hint of anything.  Otherwise, people don't announce their birthdays nor do people announce their birthdays for them (unlike what HR people do in the Philippines).  IF they do celebrate, they would be with close/long-time friends or family only, and it is the celebrant who is treated out.  Much like the practice in the rest of the world.  I think it is only in the Philippines were the celebrant treats everybody else out!

Lastly, sometimes an "o" is added at the beginning of a word for more "politeness."  So tanjoubi could be otanjoubi.  Like cha (green tea) and kane (money) are usually called ocha and okane.  By the way, this "politeness" thing in the Japanese language - I sort of get it, because it's almost like the "po" we use in the Filipino language, but like the "po" in Filipino, sometimes I just see it as either a discriminatory thing (i.e. who is in authority and who is not) or used without intention (i.e. some people would sarcastically use "po" even to those he/she doesn't need to use it for).  You would notice service people - bus drivers, cashiers, etc - use "polite" words, but usually only them.  But in Nihongo classes, foreigners are always taught the "polite" way.  So when we go out into the real world of Japan, you would find that what you studied in class is not anywhere useful.  One classic example is, "wakarimasu ka" which means "Do you understand?" or "Do you know?," and is the "medium polite" way of saying it (yes, there is an even more polite way of saying it).  Instead when somebody approaches you with the question, you would hear "wakatta ka" - which you wouldn't understand unless someone taught you that beforehand, but otherwise it would not be taught in Nihongo class!  So in some sense, it feels like we foreigners are being taught/told to be polite when speaking in Nihongo to Nihonjin(s) or Japanese citizens.  Well, I guess that has merits of its own.  Many Japanese appreciate your efforts to try to communicate to them in their native tongue (and most specially when you're not Asian because if you are, at first you might pass as Japanese to them and therefore beforehand they expect you to actually speak in Japanese).  They would extend their kindness to you if they notice you are not so well-versed in Nihongo or Japanese matters.  But if you get to a certain level of fluency, that extension of kindness is also left behind.  Lastly, of course the best way to learn a language is to be around Japanese-speaking people always. That's how babies learn, remember?  I'm still a Nihongo baby!

Well, like P-Noy having spent just 3 weeks in his 6 years in office, I am but only around 3 months into my 3 years stint here.  Let's see what happens.  :-)

26 July 2010


If yesterday I woke up at 2pm, today I woke up with just 2 hours of sleep.  I can't do anything about; I wasn't sleepy anymore.  It wasn't too early; 'twas just right.  Was relatively early to school.  Had yummy postek and salad for lunch.  Work.  Felt so sleepy.  Had yummy grilled salmon, steamed pechay, and carrots for dinner.  Back to work.  Tried communicating back home via Skype, YM, GMail Chat, and Chikka, but  I ended up with a PC-to-Phone call via Jumblo.  And it was still a little bit choppy.  Maybe because it's peak time.

Oh, today was hot as usual, though maybe upto 3 degrees cooler than the hottest it has been.  Only 33 degrees Celsius!  (90 degrees Fahrenheit)  Yeah, right.  I just discovered that actually because of the high humidity this time of the year, it actually feels more like 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).  Welcome to summer.

And then Somebody said, "Okay you have had too much sun!"  All of a sudden, thankfully just after I got home, this big thunderstorm sweeps through town with very, very strong wind, thunder, and lots of lightning.  The wind was nothing like I've experienced before, not even during thunderstorms in the Philippines.  Maybe the thunderstorm winds here are stronger than those in the Philippines?  Anyways, thoughts of flying debris blown away by the strong winds crashing through my glass door leading to balcony tried to knock on my door.  Ah, but everything was safe.  During any kind of storm, it is safer to stay indoors.

Surprisingly when I stepped out, the weather was so cool!  Suddenly it felt like 25 degrees or cooler!  And not much humidity.  It felt like a really nice summer day today, one without much heat and humidity!  I think, Somebody was just thoughtful enough to think that this place badly needed a bath after those 15 days of pure, summer.  This is actually the cycle of nature; too much heat, particularly near water, brings rain, which cools down a heated area.  This is why while most of the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing very hot summers, it is rainy in the Philippines.  There's always a balancing force that restores things back to order.  This is why when the world warms and we start to experience extremely warm temperatures, expect extremely cold winter-time temperatures as well as very strong rains, floods, and windstorms.

One other thing I did today was read P-Noy's SONA.  Is it just me, or was it quite an inspiring speech?  I liked his inaugural address as well.  A couple of hours though after reading his speech, I was able to watch the video of his speech at http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/07/26/10/state-nation-address-pres-benigno-s-aquino-iii-video.  I thought I liked the written version better. :-D  Anyways, it is sad that some people, with closed minds to change, have what I would call "stupid" things to say about P-Noy.  I read something to the tune of...  "Why is he dining out with these media people?  Because he needs to continue polishing his image to the media?  Why doesn't he dine out with the poorest of the poor?"  Uhmm, duh, I'm sure he'll do that one of these days.  He's been in office for only around 3 weeks.  I'm sure he'll do that within the next 6 years!  Ah, these doubters, these "mga may pakialam."  It is exactly that kind of thinking that will bring us down.  Our downfall as a country would make them happy - because they could say "I told you so."  Anyways, those kinds of things, let's ignore.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you are Pinoy, just give your best at what you're doing.  That is P-Noy's call.  I believe in it.  It is the only way.  Change starts from each one of us.  No need to wait for your neighbor to change.  Be first.  God bless us all!

25 July 2010

Where did my Sunday go?

Woke up really, really late - 2pm.  Caught the 3:50pm bus, just in time to make the 4:14pm train going to Komabatodaimae station for the 5pm English mass at the chapel, just less than a 5-minute walk from the Komabatodaimae station.  When I got to Hon-Atsugi station to board the train, it hit me.  I haven't eaten lunch yet!  It was going to be another 45 minutes travel going, plus the 30-minute mass before I can eat.  Can't wait!  So I grabbed me a chicken sandwich at BK.  Took me 15 minutes (including the wait)!  So now I was going to miss half the mass.  Oh well.

I tried doing my grocery shopping at the SATY (department store) basement this time around.  I noticed that the prices are generally more expensive (like the cheapest 1L of milk and 5kg of rice is 99 and 1850 yen respectively, versus 88 and 1650 yen respectively at Atsugi Trellis), and my bill was nearly 6000 yen (or around 4150 yen without the 5kg rice).  I guess overall it wasn't bad.  I didn't buy any breakfast or snack food though.  I did forget to buy tomatoes for cooking; I only got me some cherry tomatoes for a salad.  I am to prepare chicken adobo (my first time to), pork steak, and grilled salmon.  I'll eat these with veggies on the side, of course.  I bought pechay and some kind of lettuce, as well as the cherry tomatoes.  I didn't find any peeled and ready-to-eat, sweet baby carrots though I still have half a small pack of it at home.  Thankfully the bananas here (by Dole) are all not-so-ripe yet, unlike at AT were usually the bananas are good for only a day.

Today was hot as usual.  My inner shirt caught some sweat and I was not able to change shirts immediately when I got home; I almost caught a cold.  Good thing I noticed it early enough and so I changed when I did notice that I was about to catch a cold. The heat and humidity is really a little bothersome.

Of course I only cooked the adobo and the pork steak.  The grilled salmon is reserved for when I am about to eat them.  Which maybe the next day. :-D

24 July 2010

Wa pao la

That is what I said after eating... Shabu-Shabu! :-)

Anyways, almost the usual Saturday except I got up really, really late.  But I was able to finish my laundry and hang them up for drying.  Then lunch, the last of my cooked meals for the week, nilagang baboy.  Then I went straight to the "regular" Saturday seminar, by bicycle of course, because it is not so easy to walk just yet.  My ankle feels much better though, thanks to the good, long sleep I enjoyed last night.  Thank you, Lord!  I think what happened was I tied my shoes too tight after the injury, and that may have caused the pain.  I didn't notice any significant swelling so maybe it wasn't a sprain?  Yikes!  Well, I don't know.  Today it feels like there's a very minor sprain somewhere inside.  As mentioned I still can't walk straight, but I can walk now.  And even do brisk walking.  But riding the bicycle is not a problem at all.  Plus it's just two minutes to get to school by bike then the short walk from the bicycle parking area to the seminar room (or to the office), compared to a 5 minute walk, completely on foot.

Anyways, after the seminar, went back to the office, did a little teeny beany bit of work, while Skyping with Mara. :-)  And then off to Hon-Atsugi we went!  By bicycle!  As I've mentioned before, it's about a 30-minute bicycle ride, but it's not so boring because there's two of us on this trip so we could chat a little bit.  At the restaurant, called "Nabezo," our two more senior colleagues who got there by bus were just waiting for us.  So there was 4 of us at Nabezo.  Then we started ordering, and the food started coming!

Because one of our colleagues didn't eat pork, and there was no seafood or chicken on the menu, we only had beef as meat.  Tofu was another source of protein, but mostly it was veggies, veggies, veggies.  Did I mention this is tabehodai, i.e. eat-all-you-can?

So there was me, the Filipino, and I was with one Japanese researcher, and two Chinese.  We learned how to say "I'm full" in our respective languages.  So I taught them "busog ako" or "ako ay busog."  And I learned...

Wa pao la.
Wa chan la.
Wa chans la.

Respectively, those are Chinese (Mandarin) sentences for:

I'm full.
I'm more than full.
I'm practically dead because I ate too much.

Actually at one point I thought I was like, wa chan la.  But after some time, I became just wa pao la.  The trouble though was, we had a 30-minute (or so) bike ride ahead of us.  Uphill.  Well, it wasn't a problem.  We were very happy about the food, though my Chinese colleague said that this time he did not eat that much because if he did, he would find it difficult to sleep early enough.  It is summer, though.  The temperature was not so bad as it was already around 8pm, but it is still summer.  Humidity!  And the daytime high was 34 degrees.  I was like soaking wet when I got to the office.  But it was all still worth it.  I like trying new food and new places, and interacting in such an international setting, sharing stories, words/sentences, and so on from each other's hometowns.

By the way, so while I saved 520 yen for a roundtrip bus fare to and from Hon-Atsugi for this Shabu-Shabu escapade, the Shabu-Shabu price itself was... 2000 yen.  It is a little bit expensive, but for an all-beef meatfest, which they say is all-Australian beef, I think it's still not bad.

23 July 2010

Usual Friday?

...Nope.  Not until around 5:30pm.  I went straight to class, had lunch, back to work, then off to the gym to play basketball.  The score was 1-0 when... bam!  I injured my ankle again; this time the right one.  This time a little bit worse than the last.  I am getting too old.  Subconsciously I seem to think there are things I can still do that I used to be able to 5 years ago.  While the mind can think of the many different things I can do with a basketball in my hands, the body cannot follow as religiously as before to the mind's wishes.  Mind over matter almost doesn't matter anymore, not in this case.  Not when the body is truly incapable of what the mind can perceive.  This is similar to trying to finish a 42 km marathon in 10 minutes.  No matter how much the mind wills it, the human body even of the most athletic human on earth cannot ever do it in 10 minutes, or at best, not without any undesirable consequences to the body or the mind.

Unlike the last time I got "injured," which healed after a 5 minute break, this one did not.  I was so sad about not being able to "exercise."  I can't move.  I can still shoot, but I can't run after balls.  The pain is really more than the last time.  So after seeing that the resting wasn't helping "heal" the pain unlike before, I went straight home.  It was difficult, of course.  I had dinner.  Then right after dinner, lights on and table not yet cleared, I fell asleep.  I think I needed the sleep though.  When I woke up in the middle of the night, maybe around 10 or 11pm, my ankle felt better.  Although maybe, chatting on Skype also made it feel even much better. ;-)

22 July 2010


Today I got up earlier than usual and got to the office earlier than usual.  At 11am, I paid off the whole of my loan to TPU.  I could pay in 3 payments but since my money is not earning interest in the bank (yup, no interest for savings accounts in banks here), I thought what the heck, for peace of mind; one less thing to worry about.  Then a little bit of work.  Then 12 noon was my medical check-up schedule.  The usual schedule is in early April but since I arrived here mid-April, I missed it.  So I should not miss this medical check-up or else I need to pay money to get a medical check-up outside of TPU.

Anyways, I was told to go to the main building 2nd floor.  When I got there, I waited in line a bit, only to find out  that I should go first to the 1st floor.  When I got there, I was held yet again.  The lady there, noticing that I brought with me a Japanese-speaking friend, said that I should have studied Japanese first before coming to Japan.  Who is this lady?  So basically I'm scheduled already for this medical check-up because I missed the one in April and that's what we told her, but she doesn't trust that we actually arrived in mid-April! So she made a dozen phone calls first.  She was saying, if we missed the April check-up, then they can only accommodate me if I have some illness and otherwise, I should spend for a medical check-up outside of TPU.  Aaaargh!  What is it?  Is it because I'm a foreigner?  Is it because I can't speak Japanese?  Why wasn't she informed beforehand?  These people.  What could have been a 10 minute stint turned into 45 minutes.

I am glad that it is over.  By the way, it was my 3rd X-ray in a span of 14 months: May and December last year, and now July this year.  Come the next medical check-up, it will be my 4th X-ray in a span of 24 months.  I'm radioactive.  (No, I consulted with a doctor friend and she said it's fine.)

Also, although they are using not a digital sphygmomanometer, they reported my blood pressure to the nearest 1 mmHg (i.e. 132/78).  Yeah right.  Of course it should be reported 130/80 instead, but anyways, that is good news to me a bit.  I probably have 120/80 blood pressure in the morning.  I am thinking about bringing it down to 110/70.  So that I can eat more burgers!  Ehehehe.  Kidding.

Anyways, thankfully there was no blood extraction.  I wasn't psyched for that.  And if there was, no one told me beforehand that I shouldn't have eaten or drank anything for hours before going to the medical check-up!  Apparently it was only for researchers (i.e. PhD graduates already); no blood extractions for students.

The urine test was quite fast.  I wonder if it is as comprehensive as the urine tests I get in the Philippines.  Basically I give them a sample in a paper cup, they put some paper in it and immediately they know the results.

I am glad to know my weight is down to 85 kg, from 87 kg when I got here (and from a high of around 92 kg when I went to the US last year).  I thought my BMI now is below 25, i.e. I'm not overweight anymore.

But surprisingly my height measured 183.5 cm only!  Whereas I thought I was 185 cm.  Maybe I was kuba when they measured me?  So actually given that height and weight, my BMI is 25.2!  I'm still overweight!!!  Anyways, just 1 more kg down, and I'll be fine again.  I think I need to lose a lot of skin in the belly area...

What else did they do...  No, what else did they not do...  They didn't bother asking me about my family's health history!

Is Japan's medical practice this much less sophisticated than in the Philippines???  Or are professional medical service fees so expensive here, such that it's a significant increase in cost to require the medical check-up to ask about family history, and hence companies usually do not get such "sophisticated" medical check-ups?  Anyways, this is a medical check-up for students only.  And there's probably thousands of us here.  And they have to spend for all of that.  Of course, for most students here, they paid quite hefty tuition fees that are supposedly inclusive of this medical check-up as well as some level of health insurance.

As I said, my "appointment" was at 12 noon; we got there 11:55am, and left maybe 12:40 already.  I went straight home for a yummy ginisang giniling with pechay lunch.  And went back immediately to school, because I had class at 1:30, which is the last session for this semester, and then again at 3:00 (my Nihongo class).  After class, I did some work, and then went home for the last half of my lechon kawali for dinner, together with a green leafy veggie (lettuce?) + cherry tomatoes + Italian dressing + bacon bits salad.  The lechon kawali as you know I fried yesterday (or was it the other day?), and so today I microwave-heated it. It still wasn't so bad.  But I guess after another round of refrigeration and then reheating, it won't be so good anymore.

And that's about my day.  I'm still doing a little bit of work.  I'm sort of not used to this pace, but I like it.  I'm literally managing my own time, unlike in my work experience in the Philippines when you are asked to manage your own little time, i.e. it is always deadline yesterday and so there is practically little to no time to manage!  My analogy to that work environment is this: if you give me only 10 minutes to run a 42 km marathon, there is no amount of time management that can help me finish running 42 km!  But that's what is almost always expected (silently demanded) of us there in the Philippines!  So now I have a little extra time.  So actually this really needs a lot of management and paying attention to, otherwise I can just find myself in a lull.  Then again, maybe because it's only my first year of this PhD stint.  The more senior PhD guys say the 2nd year is the busiest.  Others say, the 3rd year is the busiest.  As for me, I'm thinking, I'm already too old for that.  If I can finish this thing in under 3 years, I will!  Oh well.  We'll see.

21 July 2010


Busy day.  Went straight to class - the last day of our Wednesday class which is about evaluation of the environmental efficiency of buildings.  Then lunch.  I did the "2nd part" of the cooking for the Lechon Kawali, which was basically to fry it.  It was yum-mee.  Ate it with Dole sweet baby carrots (which are already peeled and ready to eat after some washing) and the typical sawsawan/sauce prepared and used by Pinoys for Lechon Kawali.  Then back to work.  Studied Nihongo a bit - because tomorrow it'll be a little tight because of some things I need to do and a shift in schedule.  We also went out to pay for our rent today.  We need to go with the "older" guys here because they know which buttons to press on the Japanese-only ATM rental payment service. It's a 5-minute bike ride away also; we can't just make payments from the ATMs right here in school.  We left school around 4:30pm instead of earlier because it was just too hot today!  37 degrees!!!  That's a record high since I came here, but I asked one of my Japanese colleagues and he says it is not totally unexpected, but yes it is not the usual summertime temperature highs they've experienced before.  It's exceptionally hot this summer here in Japan!  I heard somewhere up north, in Nikko, it was as high as 38.5 degrees!  This after having exceptionally low temperatures in April when I arrived, which was around 3 to 7 degrees.  This is already more than a 30 degree temperature difference in a matter of 3 months!  But, again we are talking about extremes here (or nearly extremes, is the worst yet to come?).  It is all just unusual.  I look around and it seems that the houses look less attractive and homey; ah the weather really has something to do with it.  Last year when I went to the US east coast also around summertime there, it was so hot, I didn't feel like I was in the US, because all of my previous visits where in the Bay Area (west coast) and during early spring (between March and June) or at the start of winter (sometime between November and February).  And then dinner.  Dinner was also yum-mee.  It was Nilaga.

My Nilaga "feels" different this time, because previously I was using this more like a lettuce veggie, but now I am really using cabbage which I think goes better with Nilaga.  I still used pechay, of course.

Anyways, about tomorrow, basically a medical check-up was scheduled for me at 12 noon since I missed the one scheduled in early April.  I was told I cannot move the schedule, and so I told my professor for my 11-12:30 class tomorrow.  Thankfully, he and all my classmates agreed to move the class to 1:30-3:00.  So my schedule tomorrow is like, 12-12:30 medical check-up, 12:30-1:30 lunch, 1:30-3 wind engineering class, 3-4:30 Nihongo class.  Yikes!  So that's why today I'm already studying for Nihongo tomorrow.

20 July 2010


Yeah.  Usual thing.  Woke up, went to school, did some work, back home for lunch (finished the last ni-pizu of my chicken from Sunday), back to work, basketball, dinner (ginisang giniling with pechay - yummy!), then back here again for a little more work.  Nothing new today, except that a new visiting researcher/professor started here in TPU today.  No betting in basketball today, because our opponent's teammate went to the beach last weekend and did not put any sunblock on.  It was a fun, easy basketball game.  Just right for me.

I did post something new on another blog of mine.  Check it out at this link: http://coachpotato-consumerwatch.blogspot.com/2010/07/philippines-bureau-of-customs.html

19 July 2010

Hot! but Yumm!

Well if we were talking about the weather, no surprise there.  Daytime high this "Marine Day" holiday Monday was 36 degrees!  Hot indeed!

But we might as well be talking about the Thai cuisine we tried, at a restaurant called "Guan" in downtown Atsugi.  We could have biked going there, but it was so hot, so we took the bus.  Going to and coming from.

We ordered pad thai (noodles; they also call it "yakisoba" so that it's a little bit familiar for the Japanese, but obviously it is very different from yakisoba), beef green curry, and this spicy seafood dish that tasted more like Chinese than Thai food.  But they were all yumm.

Shouldn't I say yummY?  Well, for 3 and a half people (Ali-san, Okada-san, and me and my belly), those 3 dishes just weren't enough; no, not for me.  We even had 1 and 2/3 cups of rice each.  And all-you-can-drink water.  So yeah, it's bitin.  Yumm.

Right after lunch we went straight back to TPU, which was again on Open Campus mode.  A lot of high school students were there, possibly seniors graduating soon and looking for a college to go to.

And then it was busy, busy, busy.  In the evening, I finished two of the yon-pizu left of my nana-pizu chicken. :-D

By the way, I was able to get back my RONJIE.COM domain name.  So if you enter RONJIE.COM on your web browser's address bar, you would be brought to my main homepage, from which you can find a link to this blog.  God is good! :-)

18 July 2010

Sunday, Bloody (Scorching Hot) Sunday

Was about to entitle this post Sunny Sunday, similar to a post I wrote months ago.  But that Sunday was a pleasantly sunny Sunday.  It was a welcome surprise amidst the cold, rainy spring days. But now it's summer and oh baby.  Daytime high today was 35 degrees.  That's the record high since the first time I've visited Japan.  In the coming nights, the nighttime low is as high as 26 degrees.  Another record high for me.

By the way, "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" is a song by the world famous and legendary (i.e. now they're senior citizens) band, U2.

Anyways, woke up not so early.  I was able to take the 1:20pm bus, and so I arrived at Hon-Atsugi around 1:40pm, 20 minutes before the start of the mass.  Haven't eaten lunch yet so since I've been craving for real fried chicken (not the filleted chicken), I ate fried chicken.  Kentucky style. :-D  Actually I ordered one that comes with a chicken fillet sandwich.  The sizes are too small - 810 yen total.  So expensive!  I was so hungry, so I ordered a nana-pizu setto with koru-suro.  Figure that one out. :-D

Anywho, so off to mass I went.  The usual Filipinos there.  You know, those who see each other only during Sunday mass so they catch up, and they play with the very cute babies during mass.

After mass, I decided to go to the Smile Company, a second-hand (Tagalog: ukay-ukay) shop.  No wait, it's a mall (or department store)!  They have a 5-storey building along a national highway!  It was quite a long walk from Hon-Atsugi station, and this was around 3:30pm.  Scorching hot indeed.  It was interesting to find lots of... well, interesting stuff there.  Like a 980 yen (10 dollars, 500 pesos) guitar!  And iPod touch for only ~25,000 yen (250 dollars, 12500 pesos), nearly 40% off a brand new price.  There are some clothes that are just 100 yen (1 dollar, 50 pesos) each - but mostly women's or children's clothing.  The jeans - they were still in the 5,000 yen (50 dollars, 2,500 pesos)  range.  Yikes.  Clothes in general are way too expensive here.  My friend says you're lucky to find a shirt below 3,000 yen (30 dollars, 1,500 pesos) here.  I wanna buy an I (Heart) Tokyo (in Kanji) shirt!  Actually, I found some being sold online for only 2,685 yen plus shipping, it goes up above 3,000 yen.  Oh boy.  Maybe next time.

I also dropped by the 100-yen store, and saw an unfamiliar Pringles flavor.  Apparently it's a "Spareribs"-flavored Pringles, although it also shows the world-famous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign.  (Well, it's not really that world-famous, but most Americans and Vegas tourists would know what I'm talking about.)  Let's see how it will taste.

Anywho, so today I cooked Nilaga, Ginisa (Giniling), and...  Lechon Kawali, at least the first part of it.  Midway through cooking Nilaga, I realized I didn't have enough black pepper and onions anymore so I made a quick trip to the convenience store.  While before I said it was unconveniently out of the way, now by bicycle it is quite near and more so because I found a really short (and not so slopey) route going there!  There was no crushed black pepper!  Big problem.  There was ground black pepper though.  Good enough.  And the onions I thought were too expensive.  Then I saw sliced onions in a pouch!  Scallions actually, more commonly known as spring onions.  I thought I should try it out.  So I bought it.

Can't wait to eat these foods! :-D

P.S. last night as I went to the convenience store to buy my dinner, I noticed that nearby there was some kind of celebration or something; they had tents set-up with lights, and there were some fireworks (I only heard them; no more fireworks when I got there).  On my way from the grocery, they were also setting up another kind of mini-festival; they have a truck that converts into a stage and there was someone singing (or rehearsing for her performance).  They have lots of celebrations during summer, usually with fireworks.  I heard that every first weekend of August there will be the largest fireworks display in Atsugi at one of its famous tourist spots, the Iiyama Kannon (a 10-minute bike ride from TPU!)  Actually it might be the only real tourist spot here in Atsugi.  They also have hot springs ("onsen") there.

17 July 2010

So close, yet so far away

The date was set, 12noon to eat lunch at a Thai restaurant near Hon-Atsugi.  I wasn't really invited, so I "thickened my face" (hahaha, that's a Filipino expression and it's supposedly in Filipino) and volunteered to come with.  12noon came... and went.  It was postponed for Monday lunch.  I was hoping to start this true long weekend right.  True because on other long weekends we would have a seminar on Saturday, making it only really a two-day weekend.  Right because it is a long weekend, and Monday's holiday is called Marine Day (or "Sea Day") and technically I should be out enjoying the sea!  I haven't really dipped in saltwater this year, have I?  Yes or no, I want to now!!!  It is so hot.  It is so summer!  Can't wait to make a full turn of all 4 seasons.  Can't imagine winter!  1 degree Celsius!

Anyways, so we're here in the now, without any lunch date anymore.  It is sad.  So I had to pamper myself.  I got me a Salt & Lemon Chicken, "Poteto," and Corn Syrup.  Also known as Salt & Lemon McChicken, French Fries, and Coke (which comes with high-fructose corn syrup).  Well, the chicken tasted great.  Tasted salty and lemony in just the right kind of way.  I'm lovin' it.  Oh, this is the nearby McDonald's I talked about 3 months ago on this same blog.  Pap-parap-pap-pa...

Actually while I headed for McDonald's, I knew there was another restaurant beside it, named "Skylark Gusto Cafe/Restaurant."  On its windows were posters of what looks like Tapsilog.  Mmm, I thought about trying that out first.  Maybe they have healthier food than McDonald's.  So I parked the bike, got inside, and...  There was what seemed like a line of people queued up to sit.  But there was no attendant.  There was one person that seemed to be the maitre'd, but he ignored me.  I really didn't know what was going on.  It seemed like there were so many empty tables.  Then again, it seemed like there were few wait-people (waiters and waitresses) and maybe they're too busy.  I stood there for a minute and nothing.  So I guess it was a sign: "Go pamper yourself at McDonald's."  Why are things good to the senses (in this case, the sense of taste) bad for the body?

From McDonald's, I thought I was already halfway between TPU and the grocery so what the heck, I thought I should go grocery shopping already.  And so I did.  I bought stuff for making Nilaga, Ginisa, and...  I'm still debating whether I'll make Lechon Kawali or Pork Steak.

Anyways, I did not yet cook anything today though because I felt so exhausted.  I took lunch at McDonald's around 1:30 or 2:00pm.  I got to the supermarket around 3pm and left maybe around 4pm.  It was clear skies and a sunny day.  It was really, really hot!  And that, plus playing basketball last night, probably contributed to my exhaustion.

I was also thinking about going to the Toys R' Us here in Atsugi.  Yes!  Yes, there's a "Toizarasu" here in our small little town!  Well, Atsugi, land area-wise isn't small.  Hey and we have plenty of McDonald's here.  So we're not really small.  But anyways, again I was too tired to go there.  It's a 20-minute ride on slope (downhill going to, uphill coming from) each way to the place.  Hopefully Monday.  Tomorrow is the 3rd Sunday of the month which means downtown Atsugi (after mass) for me. :-)

By the way, dinner was konbini food.  I craved for egg.  I haven't eaten egg in a while.  So I got some salad with half an egg in it.  And I also got this gyudon (rice topping), which also has some egg. :-D  I was surprised to learn that the dressing that comes with the salad is a Ceasar.  Love it! :-)

16 July 2010

3 months

Today marks my 3rd month since leaving home and, of course, it hasn't been easy.  But it's not very, very bad; "I'll live."  Some problems are here and there, unavoidable, and just needs managing.  Aside from today's "monthsary," nothing is special.  Went straight to class, got home, ate my yesterday-bought convenience store ulam (burger, chicken, sausage, potato balls) with ready-to-heat-and-eat frozen veggies and the last batch of my own cooked rice.  Did a little work.  Played basketball.  Forgot my knee braces, but I was still fine the whole time.  Got a little bit of my form back.  But, one typical "injury" in basketball: landing on someone else's foot!  This causes a kind of ankle sprain.  But I'm a (self-proclaimed) "veteran" of ankle sprains now and I knew what to do - hold them high and apply pressure (tighten your shoes) to keep it from swelling; i.e. let the blood flow out of there!  After a 5 minute rest I was almost back to normal and shooting just as well as before the mini-incident.  No one won the "betting" again.  That's probably 3 weeks now since anyone has won.  Anyways, as usual I showered after basketball - like everyone does.  Well not straight from after basketball, I rested a bit and let my sweating come to a halt first before I went into the shower.  It feels good to shower after sports!  Yeah, I know about the Pinoy myth that you shouldn't shower right after sports, but why is swimming an exception?  Anyways, I looked it up and it's safe, mga kababayan.  The important thing is you take a warm shower.  Not a hot one because you could get burned (duh!  but actually because your body temperature is warmer than usual, you might think the water is 3 degrees cooler).  And definitely not a cold shower, because that could cause muscle cramps, which is fatal.  After shower, as usual I went home to park my basketball stuff but since I didn't have any food to eat, I went to the convenience store to buy my ban-gohan (dinner; night food/rice).  But I actually didn't eat any rice.  I instead got a salad (I really liked this one), two kinds of pasta (baked ziti with shrimps, and the usual red sauce spaghetti), and apple iced tea.  Very nice dinner.  I think the last time I had pasta like these was still back in Manila.  On my trips to the "Italian restaurant" tabehodai place, there wasn't any pasta on the buffet menu.  You have to order it separately.  Of course as I mentioned, last time I went there, I ordered pizza (with a very good crust).  And then I find myself back here, typing away on the computer.  Tomorrow is another day.

By the way, we don't have any seminars tomorrow, and Monday is a holiday which means it's a long weekend!  I don't know yet what I'll do though; I haven't made plans yet.  I'll ask around and see.  Have I mentioned?  The school will be closed from August 12 to 17 - as in no entry, and no electricity (so no access to our computers here as well).  Some of the PhD students here are thinking about going up Mt. Fuji.  Yikes, I haven't climbed a mountain before!  Walking for 6 or 10 hours (with stops), I can do better than running 1 hour and 30 minutes for a 10 kilometer marathon!  Of course the problem is the thin air in high altitude.  Plus, as with any long duration physical activity, hydration is important.  So I'm bringing with me some cans of O2 (oxygen) and powdered "Pocari Sweat," and some water of course.  Basically the trip starts from the 5th station, which is 2,300 meters up.  The summit is at 3,700 meters.  There is a total of 4 more stations before the summit, but as you can expect, prices rise exponentially for goods sold at each station.  And, there's a price to pay to enter each station.  But anyways, the hike up is generally easy, and climbing season is only mid-July to mid-August, I think.  But it gets as cold as around 2 or 3 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Farenheit) there in the wee hours of the morning.  The start of the climb should be timed well in order to get to the summit just exactly before sunrise, which thankfully is around 4:30am here in Japan.  If you arrive early, you'll have to endure the cold for hours! If you arrive too late, of course you miss the sunrise.  Anyways, the climb might be 6 to 10 hours, depending on the pace of the people you're with. :-D  I have maybe three weeks to think about this really hard, and to do some preparations (i.e. cardiovascular exercises).  I'll keep you guys posted.

15 July 2010

Start of summer?

Oh and as if on cue, today being July 15, the middle of July, summer sets in.  Well it's not exact.  Basically, by next week, it really is summer.  Highs have been in the 30s in Celsius (mid-80s in Fahrenheit) the past week actually.  And the forecast for today, tomorrow, and the days after that are sunshine, mostly sunshine, and sunshine, respectively!  Hmmm, the thought occurred to me that in 6 months' time, the temperatures here will be near zero (or in the 30s in Fahrenheit)!

Apparently, our last days of classes are next week.  And I heard we don't have a seminar this Saturday and that this coming Monday is a holiday (long weekend!), "Marine Day," and that for one week in August (maybe the 2nd week), TPU will be closed so it's sahmah bakeishon time!  I really wanna swim in warm water.  No, definitely not hot like in hot springs, or cold like I think the seawater will still be cold here even during this "summer" time.  I hope not.  We'll see.  :-)


The usual Thursday...  Two classes, one being my Nihongo class.  Lunch was the last of my pork adobo, but since I didn't have veggies anymore, I heated up some microwaveable frozen Japanese-style veggies (i.e. seaweed and mushrooms with carrots and sesame seeds).  For dinner, I already ran out of cooked food, so I bought me a couple of bentos from the convenience store, and capped it off with banana.  I also bought my tabemono for tomorrow, a bunch of fried stuff (chicken, burger, sausages).  I still feel sleepy.  And that's about it...

14 July 2010

New bed

Last Sunday I ordered a shingeru beddo furemo (single-size bed frame) from Amazon.co.jp, and it was scheduled to arrive this Wednesday between 10:00 and 12:00.  Guess what.  My class was at 11:00.  I e-mailed the Amazon Marketplace shop owner to send it before 11:00, but to no avail.  Thankfully, the order arrived around 10:30am, and I was able to assemble it and make it in time for class!  Ahh, the comfort of sleeping above the floor.  Don't get me wrong, nothing wrong with sleeping on a mat/futon/mattress on the floor, but it's just a little less effort to go up or lie down when your bed is almost as high as your knee.  Anyways, this past 3 months has also been the longest time I've slept on the floor.

The bed I bought has steel pipe legs and frame, but on it is a wooden platform (not as strong as the typical wood used for building homes though), and that together with my current futon was enough for me.  I was earlier pondering on whether I should get a real (foam) mattress but I decided to try this set-up first.  Works well for me.  I also like that there's probably 40cm (16 inches) of space underneath the bed, so there's extra room for some storage, and that sort of helped tidy up my room.  Of course, I also did a little brooming to clean up the room.  Dust kind of accumulates here in a matter of weeks.

Other than that...  I still feel tired from yesterday.  My head's not "in the game" so much.  I had pork adobo with steamed pechay for lunch, and steak for dinner together with this cabbage salad with sesame oil and chili garlic for dressing, which I bought from the convenience store because I didn't have any veggies anymore.  Is it still called salad even if there's only one ingredient?  Ehehe.  Anyways, I also bought banana (first time I ate banana in a number of weeks now) and ice cream, which seems like a plain vanilla flavor.  I have yet to try it out, but I'm sure it's tasty.

13 July 2010

Two lectures

Starting at 1:30pm, there was going to be two lectures given by one professor from Australia, and one from Germany.  Supposedly we should be at the venue by 1pm, because we have to arrange the tables and chairs.  I woke up, still a little groggy, at 11:30am.  I didn't get to eat lunch until after the lecture, which was at around 4pm already.  And then basketball at 5pm.  And then dinner at around 8pm because I took a little rest first, and cooked my meal.

No one won the "betting" again.  Lunch was adobo with steamed pechay.  Dinner was grilled salmon and steamed carrots.  The steamed carrots didn't come out like steamed this time; I think it was microwave cooked (or dried) and not just steamed.  I should only steam them together with pechay, which somehow traps the moisture and doesn't get microwave-cooked/dried like the carrots.  Actually, next time, if I'm thinking of steaming, I should just buy these ready-peeled baby carrots already.  One less thing to worry about.  Also for some reason, I can't estimate the proper amount of salt to put.  My salmon turned out a little too salty for me.

12 July 2010

Amazon.com -m +.jp

Twice in the past month or so, I ordered from Amazon.co.jp (the Japanese version of Amazon.com) and their deliveries usually arrived in the morning.  So yesterday I ordered something again from Amazon expecting their delivery to arrive in the morning.  It arrived at 4pm.  Wasted day spent waiting.  Well, not really.  I am able to log on to my work computer from home, so I was able to do a few things here and there.  Thankfully I have good-enough internet access today, from home.  Two days ago, the connection was really, really bad.  Now with the arrival of my newest purchase from Amazon, I hope those bad connection days are a thing of the past.

I remember now the other type of bread that we were served at Bombay, the Indian restaurant where we ate all we can last Saturday: Parota!  (or Paratha.)  I found a nice site that lists all types of Indian breads, with photos:
So Nan is supposed to be spelled Naan, apparently!  And that type of Indian bread that I like very much, which is almost similar in texture to tortillas, is called Papad.  Now I really know.  I like Naan better than Paratha, specially the Garlic Naan.  Yummy.

One other bizarre, surprising-to-see-but-not-really thing I encountered yesterday was...  A road accident, right here in scarcely populated, suburban/rural Atsugi.  I was on my way home on the bus, when the bus driver suddenly stepped on the breaks.  No, it wasn't to avoid the accident from happening, but it was because there was already traffic building up and a little bit (as in a teeny weeny little bit) of commotion.  I wondered why. Initially I thought someone was going to disembark but realized his stop just passed, and so the driver was hesitating whether to stop or not.  Alas, when I turned to the right (the other side of the road), there lay a person (apparently a girl) lying flat on her front on the road!  And everyone was like, just watching.  I also saw stuff scattered here and there.  I was wondering what happened there!  The first thought that came to mind was that the girl was riding a motorcycle and then an accident happened.  I initially thought those stuff scattered were body parts!  Then again, I was probably just in shock of what I saw, and apparently everyone too, who were all just standing there.  No one was trying to help the girl.  Maybe they were waiting for the police?  I thought, man, if you ever get involved in accident here, you might not get help as soon as you need it!  Anyways, maybe the accident was very fresh.  But, it wasn't like people were shock.  They were just standing there with almost blank faces.  Or at least, that's what I can recall.  Actually, I don't recall seeing any blood - so that probably rules out the scattered body parts bit.  It was just probably the shock.  Now, come to think of it, one other possibility was it was a demonstrator who wanted to cause such a commotion by blocking the road.  Or that she was just ever so slightly bumped but then she made it look like it was a very serious accident so that maybe she can make huge claims.  She was just so flat on the ground, hands on the side, legs unfolded; it didn't feel natural, actually.  Well, how's that for an early Halloween true story.  Scary.  Upon seeing what had happened, I did say a little prayer for the poor girl and her loved ones.  If it wasn't such a big accident, for whatever actually happened, may God bless her!

So, on to today.  Lunch was YUM, MEE.  It's as Y-U-M-M-Y as it gets with a 5-letter word: S-T-E-A-K. What did I do with it?  G-R-I-L-L.  ed.  :-D  Well I did put a little too much salt, just a little too much, but it wasn't so bad.  I also put pepper and garlic flakes as well.  The meat was so tender and it was just naturally juicy, for some reason, but not as fatty and oily as the pork steak cuts I bought.  No need for steak sauce.  I ate it together with steamed carrots and pechay.  Perfect combination.

Dinner was Pork Adobo.  Either I put too much vinegar or didn't put enough soy sauce, but it's still good.  I ate the Adobo with steamed pechay.  Yummy!

Because of having to stay home, I drank a lot of fluids today.  I almost finished a carton (1 liter) of this "vegetable" juice by Kagome, one of the leading juice/beverage brands here in Japan.  This is 225 yen per carton, if I remember correctly; much more expensive than the 150 yen per carton (again, if I remember correctly) brand I bought last week.  Compare that to the 88 yen per carton for a regular fruit juice carton.  But this Kagome one has more ingredients: 21 different veggies and 3 kinds of fruits!  Carrots, bell pepper, broccoli, asparagus, pumpkin, eggplant, radish, maybe onion, and various types of leafy vegetables, plus "ringo," "orenji," and "remon."  (Apple, orange, and lemon.)  It's not great, but it's really good.  I hope my body can absorb the vitamins and minerals!

11 July 2010


Well, no, I wasn't drunk last night, but "for my age," and not really being a regular drinker, it was a little bit more than I could take for the next day (today) to be normal and as if nothing happened yesterday.

Anyways, Windows Media Player has this problem of not playing playlists right away (which serves as my alarm) because it asks you if it is okay to "erase" the previous playlist with the new one, even if they're both the same.  And so my alarm didn't work and I woke up quite late; too late to get to the 12 noon mass in the 2-hour away Meguro area.  But actually I was also feeling a little bit like, I want to rest some more!  Anyhow, I had to go to mass and so, without having eaten lunch yet, I left home and took the 3:20pm bus.

I got to Hon-Atsugi and suddenly I felt the hunger so I had me a quick, whopping meal. :-D  I got to Komabatodaimae (that translates to "In front of Todai/Tokyo Daigaku/University of Tokyo, Komaba campus") station at just before 5pm.  Took me a little while walking, then I got in time for the Gloria part of the 5pm mass at the Piarist Catholic Chapel.  The mass finished at only a little past 5:30pm.  Wow.  So it took me 1 hour & 40+ minutes coming here, attended a 30-minute mass, and took another hour and 40 minutes going home.  I didn't ever think I'd be commuting that long this regularly!  In the Philippines, while traffic is slow, I usually travel only an hour and a half at most, particularly when I haven't yet found the "optimum" route, though usually it comes to around just an hour or less when you use the train system.  Of course this is no comparison to my situation back in the Philippines were I lived in Metro Manila and worked and went to mass also in Metro Manila.  Here I'm like in faraway, provincial Bulacan and I have to go to mass in Metro Manila.

Anyways, on the way home I dropped by the grocery store to buy my food for the week.  I was planning to buy salmon for grilling, as well as side veggies (pechay and carrots), and pork adobo and pork nilaga.  Alas, there was no more ribs/buto-buto part for the nilaga, so I just ended up buying... steak. :-D  I bought a little extra side veggies to go with my soon-to-be-grilled steak.  :-D  Not bad actually - each piece of meat that sells for around 180 pesos at a nothing-fancy restaurant in the Philippines, costs me only around 125 pesos here.  Of course I have to do the cooking, and if you have to consider my current hourly professional rate, then it is a very expensive......  nevermind. :-D

I also bought pizza for dinner.  Ate it with ground black pepper and Tabasco.  Yummy.  Oh, and today was generally rainy, and my umbrella, which I bought for around 300 pesos (6 dollars) in Singapore is now starting to show some signs of ageing.  I better get me a new umbrella!

10 July 2010


Ah, a break from the consecutive busy, not very interesting days.  As I mentioned, I slept quite early last night, and woke up quite early today, around 8am in fact.  I did my laundry - and finished my laundry at around 10am. I was thinking, should I go to the grocery already?

I got the bicycle, but I ended up in school.  And I didn't leave school anymore until the seminar, which was an interesting one.  Delivered by a current University of Tokyo professor who was formerly a UN officer, it was about disaster risk reduction, which is the trend now versus yesteryear's disaster reduction, which he explained was very different from disaster risk reduction.

Anyways, the seminar ended around 3:15pm, and I was debating again whether I should go the grocery already?  I thought about it and thought about it, and next thing you know, it was 5:30pm already.  Our meeting time for our "group date" was 6pm in downtown Atsugi - a 30 minute bicycle ride.  So what the heck, grocery shopping can wait till tomorrow.

And then wow, the food was good.  It was Indian food, all-you-can-eat, and I haven't ever eaten that much since I came to Japan.  There were samples of Tandoori Chicken, Samosa (a kind of potato empanada dipped in ketchup), Fish Fry which was really good, Cauliflower Fry which was also surprisingly good, and then the all-you-can-eat nan, this other bread, Indian rice, and 4 kinds of curry - ebi (shrimp) curry, chicken curry, keema (mutton) curry, and vegetable curry.  Yum-mee.  We were told it's drink-all-you-can as well, so I had a couple of beers.  Turns out it wasn't drink-all-you-can for beer.  I should have just tried the Lasi.  And the Mango Lasi.  There's always a next time.  I heard that at that restaurant, it was only eat-all-you-can because our Indian colleagues arranged it so, and that there needed to be at least 10 people.  I think there was 17 of us.  Fun!  I really love the bread (nan), especially the garlic nan, and the keema curry!  Of course the Indian way was to use the hand, and maybe I and every one tried doing that but it wasn't so comfortable so thankfully there were spoons and forks and knives. :-D

After dinner, some went home and some wanted to go out for some more drinks, and so I went out for some more drinks.  I didn't know Atsugi had such cozy places for just relaxing and chatting with friends over some drinks.  I also got to speak with some Japanese, and supposedly I was to exercise my Japanese, but I ended up exercising their English. :-D  Anyways, because I was getting sneezy with beer, I had what they call a "Kiwi Sour" drink.  It's basically Kiwi (fruit) with "Sour," which was kind of a Japanese alcoholic thingy.  It wasn't so strong.

By the way, I learned that "draft beer" is nama bi-ru in Japanese.  Here's a joke for all ye Pinoys: Use nama bi-ru in a sentence.... Di ka nama bi-ru e! :-P

09 July 2010

Japanese written language help

This is another interesting tool to help you out with your Japanese written language skills: http://www.furiganizer.com/.  Furigana basically means small text that "translate," typically Kanji to Hiragana so that it's easier to read for people who haven't had the time to study the 1,000+ Kanji characters out there.

Anyways, Friday was the usual.  As usual.  Class in the morning: though this time I wasn't 100% into the class, because after Thursday's meeting with the Professor, I thought I had much to do - in my structural wind engineering field - and meanwhile this class was about environmental wind engineering.  It could be useful in the future, but not now.  It is a very difficult subject matter to internalize.  Then again, I remember: no pain, no gain.  Lunch again was at the by-the-pound cafeteria, and dinner was the last batch of my nilagang baka.  And then basketball as usual, wherein no one won the "betting," but we won the no-betting match which was a 3-on-3, which was as international as it gets: 2 mainland Chinese, 1 Taiwanese, 1 Korean, 1 Japanese, and 1 Filipino.  Well actually before, instead of the Japanese it was an Indian.  And even before that, instead of the Taiwanese it was an Italian.  Cool.

Talking about international, you can see how more unfortunate others are in some respects.  Some people have lived all their lives in generally closed societies, for example, marrying only within their own large clan, or not being able to go out of their country or watch a lot of movies, or shows, or news events, or even international sports events that are not in their country.  And so as you might imagine, they are not very open to many new things.  It is difficult for some of them, for example, to eat Japanese food (even those that are not contrary to any religion, like the fish/seafood and vegetables), to learn even just a little Japanese language, to use chopsticks, to be a friend to people other than their own, to go out and explore Japan (and there is much to explore) by themselves, to understand that there is such a thing as postcards and not just greeting cards, to be considerate of others in terms of their own personal hygiene habits that they've grown up with, and the list goes on and on and on.  I nor anyone can't do anything about them, of course.  It is all up to them to open up and really go international, instead of bringing their closed, little society (little compared to the global society) with them to this international setting.  But what could they do - or anyone - brought up "shy," to be coming from such "closed" societies.

Anyways, there are one or two stories I will tell you guys about in a future post.  Until then, my Friday story continues:

So as usual, after basketball, I go straight home to eat dinner.  But I was so tired this time from the basketball.  And right after dinner, I felt so sleepy and so I fell asleep!  That was around 9pm or earlier, I think.  I was so tired, I fell asleep with two of the lights on (the kitchen and the main room lights)!  Also, this time around, my knees are feeling better - but there's a little pain in my ankles this time, pain that I haven't felt since I ran a 10 km "marathon" in 2008 (which I haven't done since ~1992).  I am now and back in 2008 nearly 50 lbs (22 kg) heavier than I was when I first ran (twice) back in the early 90's (I was still in high school, and was still 14 or 15 years old).  Is this what growing old means?  Ha ha!  I didn't think this would come this early, at least not the physical aspects.  I know 50+ year olds who are more fit than me, and I thought I could be like them. I can accept that I can't jump as high as before, but feeling all these things is something I didn't expect.  Of course, this is a product of being an engineer in the Philippines (a.k.a. very busy) and having practically no exercise in the past 5 or 6 years.  This time, I'm hoping to make this a regular thing, and hopefully get some of my "groove" back.  I'm not expecting I'll be as athletic as I was like 6 years ago when I was already at my sports prime, but I'm just hoping to get some back.

08 July 2010

So you want to live in Japan?

This is quite an interesting vlog (video log; a more advanced form of the blog, or weblog):  YouTube - unrested's Channel.

Anyways, Thursday was like the usual.  As usual.  Class in the morning.  Nihongo class in the afternoon.  Except I had a meeting with my PhD supervisor / professor, and I think it turned out well.  I felt good afterwards.  The one bad news though was that I won't anymore be able to visit Belgium next year.  The Professor suggested I consider conferences that will be held in Jacksonville, Florida, USA or Istanbul, Turkey.  Hmmm, let's see...  Other than that, lunch was at the by-the-pound cafeteria, and dinner was the last batch of my nilagang manok.

07 July 2010

Template + Learn Nihongo

Here is going to be what you will often hear from me now: Anyways, today was work, work, work.  And then more work.  Lunch was picadillo.  Dinner was nilagang beef again.  :-)

That's the template for describing my usual days here as a PhD student.  Except maybe on weekends when I do get a chance to go to town and go around.

Anyways, if you are interested, here are free, easy, short online lessons about Nihongo, the Japanese language:


If you are more serious about learning Nihongo, I would recommend signing up for a Nihongo class near your area, or get an online tutor for Nihongo.  Otherwise, learning from the above links could help you if you're just visiting Japan for a few days, like, as a tourist.

06 July 2010


Isn't that the same as yesterday's post title.  Anyways, I woke up surprisingly very early today, just in time to take out the garbage before the 8:30am "deadline."  Supposedly you're not allowed to take out the trash after 8:30am, and you're only allowed to take out the designated type of trash for the day.  In our area, Iiyama, it's plastics and paper on Mondays, PET bottles and cans on Thursdays, and "nabubuloks" on Tuesdays and Fridays.  And supposedly, you're not allowed to take out the trash the night before.  As you can see, there is a very slim window to do it, particularly if you sleep relatively late and therefore you wake up relatively late.  But I heard and I see from the other gaijin (foreigners) here, Korean and Indian specifically, "it's not necessary to follow the schedule."  I still do follow the schedule but as you can bet, it's difficult.  Sometimes I would have food wastes that need to wait over the weekend and a total of 4 nights before I get to throw them.  I can't imagine what it would be like when it's winter, it's snowing, and it's freezing cold and you have to throw the garbage so early in the morning, the coolest part of the day!

Anyways, today was work, work, work.  And then play.  Basketball, that is.  Tiring as usual, but not as heavy on my knees as before.  I think I'm getting used to my own weight.  The last time I played basketball regularly and this heavily, I was probably 20 lbs (9 kilos) lighter.  Anyways, as usual there was "betting," but like the past few game days, there was no winner.  Our "rules" are that you can win the betting if you win the first two games.  As you can guess, we usually split those two games.

Anyways, I found some info on an apartment similar to the one I used to stay in: レオパレスグリーンヒルズAYA|賃貸はレオパレス21.  Pretty interesting.

Lunch was picadillo.  Dinner was nilagang manok and steamed pechay again.  I love Filipino food the most. :-)

05 July 2010


Busy day.  Woke up late though - feeling the exhaustion from the last three days.  I had late lunch and late dinner.  Lunch was nilagang baka.  Not bad.  Dinner was nilagang manok and microwave-steamed pechay.  Loved it.  Problem was...  there was a caterpillar in the pechay!  Yikes!  Not something I expected from Japanese produce.

04 July 2010


When you spell out Tokyo in Hiragana, and then romanize it, it comes out actually as toukyou.  Basically the two instances of "O" in Tokyo are supposed to be long "O" sounds, thus the "u".

Got up around 9am this Sunday, took the 10:20am bus, and I got to Meguro church a little late as usual, this time during the responsorial psalm.  After that, my Tokyo-based Filipino friends/colleagues and I ate lunch at Plates & E.A.T., the "Italian" tabehodai (buffet/eat-all-you-can) place nearby again.  But it is so cheap, by Japanese standards - just 1000 yen with a chicken Caesar salad or minestrone soup.  But I took the 1300 yen option that comes with a Margherita pizza (though pasta or a Shrimp and Broccoli pizza was another option).

After that, one of my friends had to get a haircut, and so off they went.  As for me, I went around Shinjuku before heading home.  I went this time to another side of Shinjuku and saw a demonstration rally of Japanese who are opposed to keeping the American military bases in Okinawa.  I also went to the GAP store there because signs outside said "Final sale, upto 50% off," which translated means "You really want to come here."  It was really so tempting to buy something, but I didn't find anything I could use.  They have shirts that are just 900 yen - my friend says you are lucky to find shirts below 3000 yen here.  But, I thought I have better uses for my money.

When I got to the station, I missed the express train.  The next train was a rapid express train though that is headed to Fujisawa (and not to Odawara, my direct train), that was leaving 20 minutes later.  I got to sit there and guess what.  That train I took eventually caught up with the first train that I missed.  By the way, "express" train means it skips some stations, so it's fast particularly when you're travelling rather long distances.  And "rapid express" means it skips a lot of stations, and so it's even much faster.

When I got to Atsugi, I went around the SATY department store a bit, to checkout the bicycles again.  I think last week, they were on sale - the 15800 yen was 12800 only - but I wasn't sure.  This time, no sign of any bicycles "on sale."  So I thought, what the heck, I'm ready for a 15800 yen bicycle.  One other thing I had to think about was what color should I get.  The most common color is silver and I thought if I had a very distinct color bicycle, it might be more attractive to bicycle stealers.  Yup, although very, very, very rarely, bicycle stealing could happen.

Last stop was the grocery - I had to buy rice.  Some ice cream were on sale, almost 50% off.  So I bought a couple.  One ice cream is around 125 yen, and they were now just around 65 yen I think.  By the way, "one ice cream" here is a conservative single serving (almost like just one scoop).  They don't come in pint sizes or larger.

Dinner was picadillo.  Yummy.

03 July 2010

Long day

Saturday was.  Woke up late.  Had lunch of frozen, ready-to-heat-then-eat ulams.  Then off grocery shopping.  Then cooking.  It probably took me 4 or 5 hours total to cook 3 dishes.  And it was very tiring.  I prepared nilagang baka, nilagang manok, and picadillo (also known as "giniling").

I was supposed to cook nilagang baboy, but when I got to the supermarket, they surprisingly did not anymore have the boney/ribs part of pork that I usually buy for nilaga or sinigang.  So I settled with beef.  I think I bought beef that was intended to be as a steak though.  Hope it comes out well.  Actually it doesn't look like nilagang baka.  Then again, it's been a very long while since I last had nilagang baka and I don't really know what it looks like.  I have a lot of lettuce and pechay as veggies in this nilaga.

I was also supposed to cook tinolang manok, but since I can't find any chayote, and of course green papaya, I settled with just a plain boiled chicken dish.  I like the chicken soup that is a result of this dish but it's all chicken.  So I also bought some more pechay for blanching or steaming, to go with this nilagang manok.

And the picadillo.  It always tastes good.  One of my favorites.  I like that it is easy to eat, too.

One of the "toy" purchases I made this Saturday, particularly from the 100-yen store, is this microwave rice cooker thingy.  It can cook at most one cup of rice.  I tried it out and voila, rice!  And it cooked in the microwave for just 18 minutes.  But actually, I think I did not put enough water in it.  So it turned out a little on the crunchy side; not how I want rice.  But of course, food is food and it is always a blessing. :-)

I also bought a microwave steamer thingy.  I'll try it out on veggies or dimsum next time.  Today I didn't pass by the office at all.  We didn't have any seminars or what.

02 July 2010

How to fold a shirt in 2 seconds

Hai, dozo!  Click the link.  Here's another link.

I tried doing this and sure, it's easy but it doesn't work for me because I fold my clothes 2 times (they are tri-fold), as opposed to the once-folded/two-fold.  My tri-fold clothes take up less horizontal space so I can group them into more groups.

Anyways, today is the usual Friday.  Ho hum.  Food was the same as yesterday.  Class as usual.  And I did play basketball, but only for fun.  I got my shooting back but, as people here would say, it is "no meaning," because there weren't anything at stake.  The good thing was, it was good exercise and not too exhausting.  My knee feels great now.

I felt sleepy in the afternoon - I think it's because of the heat.  But actually it's not so hot, not like in Manila.  It was as high as 29 degrees today, but the last couple of days as well as the next 5 days sees 23 degrees in the evening - no need for air-conditioning, unlike two or three couple of nights ago when I had to turn on the air-conditioning.

Knock, knock


July, who?

Look into my eyes. Can't you see they're open wide. Would July to me, baby? Would July to me?


Or is it "would I lie to you?"  Ehehe.  One of them songs from the early 90s.  My decade, my songs.  I find it interesting that some people my age consider 80s songs as their songs, and the 80s as their decade.  Or maybe I grew up much more slowly than them...?  Ehehe.

Why am I telling corny jokes?  It's been a happy 31 months.  :-)

01 July 2010

But wait, there's more!

In Nihongo class, I learned that the Japanese system(s) of writing - Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana - only came into existence here around 700-800 A.D.  Kanji of course being adopted from China, and Hiragana and Katakana being derived from similar sounding Kanji.

Basically the Japanese didn't have any form of writing prior to visits to mainland China in that period...  Much like the Philippines?  Although of course we do have our own traditional writing system (check this out: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/tagalog.htm), but our culture is that we don't really like documenting or writing things down.

Having gone to China (Hong Kong, Shanghai), Japan, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore, I thought there are a number of these Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, or (local) Singaporean that could pass as a Filipino - until you hear them talk.  I realized this is the one physical definition of "Filipino," that he/she speaks Filipino.  I realized here that, unless I tell people so, and for as long as I can speak good Japanese and with the proper accent, no one would think I'm not Japanese!  I find it funny that one time I was in the US, I answered the phone with a somewhat American accent, and then it was a Filipino on the other line who was like trying to exhaust all his English language skills (with a very distinctive Filipino accent) to try to converse with me - who he thought was not a native Filipino speaker like himself!  So anyways, what I'm saying is, it's really your language that defines your nationality.  If you can speak like a native does, people could actually "mistake" you to be a native.  Or consider you as brother.  But I do find it annoying that some people think they know English very well, and are very boastful of the fact that it is even one of their national languages, but make very basic grammatical mistakes like...  "Too much tired is there."  What????  Well of course I understood what that means but, come on, man.  The originators of English supposedly taught you English.

Hum again

Hmmm.  Things are starting to get boring now.  Nothing new or amazing today again from the usual stuff, except that in Nihongo class we're now studying Katakana characters, and today we had our 2nd quiz.  I'm thinking to take a new direction with regards to my blog post topics, to spice things up.  Ah, yes.  Spices.  They can certainly change things.  Like how people "smell," or at least that's what some people say.  What I think is, if you don't bathe or shower, you smell.  If the temperature is cold, fine, no need to bathe/shower everyday.  If the temperature is quite warm (like nowadays), please take a shower because for sure we will all sweat, and only then will the difference between what we eat will come out.  Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sweating; we shouldn't be ashamed of it.  It's a natural process.  But anyways, relatively unfortunate for Filipinos who pride themselves of "not smelling," unlike others, only because it's generally warm in the Philippines and so we bathe/shower regularly, (by the way, pride is always bad; "Love is not proud," says the Bible) there are some who are really out there and, I don't know if they even know it.  One other guy around here thought that we should have an air freshener here in our room.  Nope, that wasn't me.