Saturday, January 20, 2007

Eh-hum # 128

YES! Finally an update! Sorry for the delay!

Writing this around 2:00 in the morning (Japan time) while eating Y70 worth of potato chips, my favorite junkfood. I normally sleep around 12 midnight, but my Internet connection is faster during the wee hours of the day/morning and my Nihonggo class scheduled at 10:00 am later was postponed for next Saturday. In short, I have some free time.


As I mentioned in my previous post, I signed up for a Snowboarding trip to Nagano from January 4 to 9. Initially, I had no intention to join the trip because I would rather spend the Y35,000 (which all participants had to pay for the hotel, meals and rental of equipment) to buy a new digital camera. But I went anyway and I am glad I did.

One reason was the SNOW. You may ask, is it not snowing in Kobe? Well, in areas near Mt. Rokko, it did snowed, like twice. According to reports, Kobe is currently experiencing a warm Winter. At almost 9 degrees centigrade, I guess that is pretty warm. But I am not complaining, honest.

I had a splitting headache when we first arrived at the hotel in Nagano. Mainly because we traveled by bus therefore I did not get any sleep. The breakfast wasn't any help because it was cold (in fairness, we always look forward to dinner time). But when we settled in our rooms, I was able to catch some ZZZZZZ's. It was short but sweet, plus the room was comfortably warm as opposed to the chilly air outside. I was bunked with five other students: 2 Chinese, 1 Mongolian and 2 (South) Koreans. They're nice young ladies, but I was the odd-man-out: they all speak good Japanese. *Sigh*, even on vacation, I am still thinking about grammer and vocabulary. Eh-hum

Shortly after my power nap, we set out to the snowy hills for snowboarding 101. Wearing layers of clothing for warmth (the temperature was between -8 and -10 degrees centigrade) plus a pair of heavy boots made quite difficult to walk to our first spot. Moreover, we each had to carry our boards through the slippery and soft snow. When we got to our spot, we did some stretching exercises and the lesson commenced. It was chaotic.

First lesson was distributing your weight on the board, then putting pressure on your toes for movement, then on your heels to stop. Stretch out your arms for balance and keep your eyes forward. You can also use your shoulders as guide to make a turn. It sounds simple enough, but it was a challenge, especially for beginners. Everytime I get on the board, I fell down flat on the ground. Thank goodness the snow wasn't like concrete. And then there's the ski lift. Tried it only once, it was scary as hell. I was tempted not to get off the lift when it reached the top. I couldn't feel the ground at the end so I jumped with disastrous (and a little bit funny) results: I fell flat on my face and had to be pulled out immediately so not to get hit by the revolving seats and other skiers/snowboarders who will get off. Because of that, I was more than happy to give my ski lift points to my Mongolian roommate (and impromtu Japanese tutor), Hana-san.

Judging from how many times they would walk to a good spot then go down a hill, most of students were bent on mastering the sport (particularly those from Europe and the US). As for me, I was there to enjoy myself and (try) to forget that I have some papers to write and assignments waiting for me back in Kobe. Part of the experience was admiring the falling snowflakes and the trees covered in snow; it was, like in the song, walking (or snowboarding) in a winter wonderland. Two of my friends, a fellow Pinay and an Indonesian, even made a snow, uh, person...TWICE. I recorded them while doing it and the end product was a short instructional video on how to make a snowman, Filipino and Indonesian style. It was pretty funny.

We left Nagano at 7:30 pm. Though it was brief, and we were not exactly ready to go back to school, the scenery and the snowboarding provided a much needed break for us hardworking students. As it turns out, Japanese winter is not so bad afterall.


And now, some pictures.

Me, one of the (crazy) ski instructors and Titiek-san. Hmmmm, it just occured to me that we forgot his name...hehehe, bad.

Snow queens: Me, Titiek-san, Hana-san (holding snowboard) and Adelle-san (seated)

One of our "training spots". Its higher than it looks. Abunai deshou...especially if you go unsupervised.

A self-portait: Me in winter/snowboarding clothing.

Work of art: the Snowperson with candy for nose and candy wrappers for eyes and mouth. And a hat...heheh.

*Notice that my number is 27. Its quite a significant number for me, especially since its 2007. Eh-hum

Monday, January 01, 2007

Eh-hum # 127


Yes, as I am writing this, its already 12:30 midnight here in Kobe, Japan and the first day of 2007, and also my cousin's, Tin, 24th birthday.

2007 is the year of the Boar, or the Inushishi in Japanese. While the Chinese Year New is days away, perhaps weeks since I am not really sure, it wouldn't hurt to know Chinese animal predictions for 2007. People who were born under this sign may or may not experience the following:

This is a year when the Boar person is into its own year. You would be more prone to accidents and health problems. However, there is a lucky sign which would help you through most troubles. Meanwhile, you would be very adventurous, thus contracting many unnecessary troubles. You should think twice about what you want to do. If in doubt, get a friend to help you.

WORK: You have chances to try something new. You should stay mobile. You would favor trading, travel, import/export businesses. You do not favor the financial market or gambling.

WEALTH: Income through hard work would be better than speculative. You would make more money through businesses of public relations, human resources, marketing and entertainment businesses.

ROMANCE: Your relations would be volatile. However, you seem to be able to get off trouble every time.

HEALTH: Even though the boar person gets tired easily, you still have a lot of energy at work. Be careful of a bleeding sign.

For businessmen and women, please take note of the following "lucky" or favorable industries (Fire, Earth and Metal) this year:

Automobiles, especially those from Japan and Germany
Wind-related businesses, such as windmills

Electronics and computer/storage media (such as computer parts, consumer items, mobile phones), but competition would be fierce

Communications and Internets: machines would become smaller and smaller and yet more and more all-encompassing




Show business

Metals and Machinery

New building materials

House renovations

Food businesses

Real Estate values would become far more selective. While most sectors would somewhat slow down, quality ones would continue to prosper in growing areas such as Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Southern California, Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, etc.

If you want to know more, especially the predictions for those born under other animal signs, please click here.


I attended a pre-New Year dinner with other Filipinos last December 30. It was a simple gathering, but a meaningful at that. They have become my second/third family here in Japan, and I am soooo glad that I am able to spend time with them, it really keeps me missing home too much. For today, or rather yesterday by the time I post this, I decided to stay in my room and do some laundry. Not exactly the ideal thing to do when hours later, 2006 will end and 2007 will begin. But, I decided to stay put so that I could speak with my family at home and greet them a Happy New Year.

I am always excited to call home, which I do once a week, and I know my Mom looks forward to it as well. My Dad, after almost a decade on land, has decided to work overseas. He'll do it for 9 months (or less) and afterwards will be working most likely in a maritime/nautical school as an instructor. He hasn't reached the retiring age, so he really wanted to "continue" his work as Master Mariner. Calling home, which is now easier thanks to technology, keeps my Mom from being lonely. Our house used to be occupied by six people; but since my Dad and I are overseas while my sister's living near her workplace, that's down to three (Mom, my brother and Merly, our household companion of 20+ years). But she gets to speak with Dad like every single day, which is really cool. I am glad that everything is going smooth, and I thank God for that. For this New Year, instead of the usual resolutions, I would like to offer a prayer I found online for my family, relatives, friends, and even to complete strangers:

Grant me the strength from day to day, to bear what burdens come my way. Grant me throughout this bright New Year, more to endure and less to fear. Help me live that I may be, from spite and petty malice free. Let me not bitterly complain when cherished hopes of mine prove vain, or spoil with deeds of hate and rage some fair tomorrow's spotless page. Lord, as the days shall come and go in courage let me stronger grow....Lord, as the New Year dawns today help me to put my faults away. Let me be big in little things; Grant me the joy which friendship brings. Keep me from selfishness and spite; Let me be wise in what is right. A happy New Year! Grant that I May bring no tear to any eye. When this New Year in time shall end let it be said I've played the friend, have lived and loved and labored here, and made of it a happy year. Amen.

Minutes before the clock struck twelve, I opened the television to see what the Japanese are busy with to welcome 2007. One and perhaps the most traditional, is a visit to a shrine and offer prayers for the coming year. Next, an orchestra playing classical pieces such as the score used during graduation (forgive me, am not quite familiar with classical music). And for the young ones, a new year countdown concerts. There was one that caught to my attention, because I have never seen anything like it (as a matter of fact, I have never been to a real concert, ever, hmmmm). It was held at the Tokyo Dome and the performers were...all...Japanese...boy rather elaborate costumes and sporting fancy hairstyles I may add. And to my amusement, the audience were mostly, if not ALL, Japanese girls and women. Hehehehe, kakaiba talaga; the guys were singing and dancing on stages that moves around (or travels) the venue, so that the audience can catch a glimpse of her favorite singer or teen idol. The girls go in a frenzy, but since this is Japan, they do in an organized manner. Even the waving of their homemade signs expressing their undying love to their favorite band or singer was done in unison. Its unusual, but its quite amusing. Omoshiroi ne, eh-hum.

While writing this, I am doing an assignment which I have to pass before I go to Nagano for a school-sponsored Snowboarding trip. While I wish I could spend the winter break by doing absolutely NOTHING, but since I am a student here, I have some serious homeworks to do. Sigh.

By the way, Happy New Year Again ;).