November 23, 2013

My First Day in Nagoya, First Day in Japan

Me at the streets of Minami-Ku with traditional Japanese Houses

Nagoya, Japan. It is the largest city on the Chubu region of Central Japan. It is the third largest city in the country and the fourth most populous city after Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka. Though very populous, the city's quiet and laid back attitude draws much visitors such as yours truly! It is also home to my family in Japan, the Hayashi's which welcomed me with both hands and homed me during my whole stay in the beautiful land of the rising sun! 

I dedicate this post to them, to my dear Ate Minneth who was the main reason why I had the beautiful chance to visit Japan, who cooked all those delicious meals and gave me all those laughs as we chatted and talked all the time till midnight! To Kuya Rin Hayashi who has been so kind to drive us anywhere and gave us laughs as well! To Hiro and Franzen and to Ate Zeny who were with me there as I unveil the beauty of Japan.

I arrived in Osaka, Japan at the eve of August 13, 2013 with Ate Zeny, the mother of Ate Minneth who will be my host and my family during my stay in Japan! The Kansai Airport was huge and amazing with its beautiful structure and its modern facility, it will really amaze you on your very first landing at that airport. We then drove almost 5 hours to Nagoya, my Home in Japan for the next couple of weeks.

When we had a stop at a Family Mart the night, I had a chance to savor my very first hours in Japan. It was amazing. the streets were so quiet and clean. I believe we were in the mountains but it was really nice and I felt quite emotional just as always when I arrive to a new country, thanking God for that chance, for that very moment, for that blessing to be somewhere far from home and explore the beauty of his creation, beyond my own world.

Fooling around on a Chameleon Mural on Nagoya, Japan

We had so many places visited but I will start with our very first day. After having lunch at Sugakiya, we went to Kuya Rin's place to fetch some things to bring and that's where I got this cool photo of this Chameleon Mural! Ate Minneth directed this shot as if it was licking my nose! Hahahaha Ate Minneth is such a funny lady and when we are together we both are crazy people!

We then went to a nearby Temple. If it is a Buddhist Temple, it's called a Temple but for the Shintos, they are called Shrines. In front of the Temple was this beautiful zen inspired building laid with beautiful flags. I was not sure if that was a Shrine or a Temple but the flags here in the photo below is different from the ones at the Temple in front of it.

 Me on the gates of what I think is a Shinto Shrine

 Me looking sporty at the gates of Kasadera Kannon Temple. I look slim on this one!

According to wiki, The Kasadera Kannon Temple was established by the Shingon sect. The temple has a Niomon entrance gate, a number of small subsidiary temples and a pagoda which is two storeys high. I got the chance to see these structures and it feels really peaceful while I was on the temple outskirts. You can really see the relationship of buddhism with nature as everything is lush and the winds give it a very spiritual feel all around the place.

We took so many pictures while I was wearing the Yukata that we got from the store near Kariya City. Ate Minneth was directing all the shots and I really enjoyed the experience because I both love pictures and there is just this unexplainable peace while I was in the Kannon. It was a summer afternoon but it felt really mild and calm with these soft breeze blowing around the Temple grounds.

Me on my Green winter Yukata and my "Kung Fu" shoes as Kuya Rin calls it!

It was definitely a very good first day and as we went to a spiritual place such as the Kasadera Kannon, it was kind of a blessing for me to be there as the whole 13 days that I was in the land of the rising sun, each and every day was glorious, peaceful, calm and truly nurturing not just to my system but to the mind as well. I can't wait to tell more about my Japanese experience!

Japan will always be a special memory but on my very first day in the country, up until the next days, I remembered the very big wish I had. That wish was that this trip may not be my last to Japan and that someday I shall set foot to this beautiful country again.

Me posing on the bridgeway up to the Kasadera Kannon Temple

Steven V( ` - ' )V

November 12, 2013

How Haiyan affected me as a Filipino

Strongest Typhoon in the Philippines this year 2013. Strongest Typhoon in the Philippines Ever. Strongest Typhoon EVER in History. Well those are just a few of the descriptions as to the Super Typhoon Haiyan or as locally known, Yolanda. Just plainly looking at the animated photo above, you don't need a deeper understanding to meteorology to know how strong the typhoon was that hit the Philippines just last week.

Personally, as the storm was passing, the highest Storm signal that our province of Cavite got was a Signal number 2. Though classes up to the High School should be cancelled, local government officials suspended classes up to the University level just like in the City of Dasmariñas where I am currently working as a College teacher. It was harsh, really! And even for us at the Luzon region, though the eye was far from us, you can really feel the presence of Haiyan at the night of the 8th of November. It was a friday night when the storm signal went from 2 to a lower 1 but as it went down, the winds went from strong to violent! My windows are clamming to and from its hinges and I really thank God all the windows are still intact despite the winds that are ready to slap any houses walls at anytime of that night.

Though winds were there and no rain was present, I was really thankful. But what kept me awake was the fact that what we were experiencing, miles away from the eye of the storm, is a nightmare! But how about the Filipinos living where the typhoon is to pass by! Well that broke my heart! And at that moment, I had nothing else to do than to just sit quietly, go up and down our house, pray, pray, pray. Until 3 in the morning I was awake and I fell asleep when the violent winds are still driving my windows.

It was really scary! And the next day, I went to the celebration of my High School friend for her 25th birthday. Well it was really fun of course meeting them and having to bond with them but at the end of the evening, me and some of the group started talking about the storm and the victims, I can't help but cry even in front of my friends! The Filipino has been so close to my heart especially when I started to mature during the College days where I thought to myself that from now on, I will not just be living for myself or my family but I will be living a life for the Filipino People! It breaks my heart to see them suffer! But what touches me the most is that in line with those tents and shattered houses, are survivors, with dead family and friends, still smiling a midst the destruction that they faced! It was fast, really it was! And for someone like me far away, all I can do is pray and send some donations via text but it was still very little for me!

All day today, All I thought was, can I stop my life right now even for just a week and immerse myself to the people there in the Visayas? Personally be with them and offer anything that I can help to make their lives even a little better from what they have right now. With all those news of hunger, thirst, looting and even thieving, who can resist the thought? But of course, I have my work and I cannot just leave my students behind so the best thing that I can do is to Pray and hope for those Bisayas! Of course there is Hope, Filipinos are creations of Hope high enough to make a country stand up just right after any storm. But I pray that on the road to tomorrow, it will be fast and smooth and the Warays, Cebuanos, Negrenses, Atis, Ilonggos, Antiquenos, Bicolanos and all the Bisaya and Filipinos affected will soon stand up and be living testimonies that Hope is there, it always is there.

May I also take this moment to thank ALL THE NATIONS who helped my beloved COUNTRY! May you all be continually be blessed by our Lord God and may you help many more people who are in need! Froma  humble Filipino, THANK YOU SO MUCH!