Book Love – A Geek in Japan

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I’m finally able to snap my very first travel related book acquisition after not seeing my camera for (4) months.

I missed you Canon, you’ve been away for (4) months without me, at least one of us got to go away this year and had a really long vacation. I’m so envious, you got to see places I didn’t see. 

I bought the camera last January and been looking forward for another trip by myself this year and having to use this camera, unfortunately I wasn’t able to do so this time. It’s a promise I made to  myself but having failed for the first time ever since I started it, I just feel bad about it.

In any case, I’m loving this book. On An Extremely Brief History of Japan (page 10,chapter 1), it says that Japan was born of the love between two deities: Izanagi and Izanami. These two deities had a daughter named Amaterasu, and the long dynasty of Japanese emperors descends from her.

When I read the names Izanagi, Izanami and Amaterasu; I was like “Oh my, Naruto!” Kishimoto Masashi must have taken inspiration from Japanese history to create the Uchiha clan’s signature Izanami, Izanagi and Amaterasu jutsu.

When I got into Naruto years ago, I heard that tailed beasts like Kurama for instance came from Japanese folklore. But I didn’t know much about it other than that basic information, so when I read the chapter about visiting shrines and temples in Japan, I found out that sacred foxes or “kitsune” in Japanese is a common sight in Shinto shrines. They are believed to be messengers of Inari – the god of fertility. A sacred fox’ power can be determined by the number of its tails, the more tails it has means the more powerful it is. When it has nine tails, the highest number of tails it can have; it means it is of the most powerful kind.  I instantly thought of Kurama and nothing else. This just shows how Naruto is so attached and faithful to its Japanese heritage and history.

A Geek in Japan is definitely a great buy. It’s like a one-stop shop of everything Japanese, an efficient way of learning about the basics on culture and people without being seriously academic.

 

Quite a long walk home

Quite a long walk home today in wet, mucky, and sticky roads due to the heavy rain earlier this afternoon. At least I was listening to Angel Eyes OST to keep me from being bored as I walk one block after the other until I finally get a ride.

I specially like this part of the lyrics of Blue Bird by Jo Jung-hee.

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Kim Ji-suk and Goo Hye-sun, two of the main cast of Angel Eyes

Where do you go
when you’re lonely
Tell me
What you do
when you feel so blue like me

When I feel like that
I think your eyes
and your smile
And suddenly, the sunshine
appears close to me

Not surprisingly though, I wasn’t even sweating. Well that’s because it rained and it was already 12am. I managed to get home at 1am, as if I went to somewhere so far that it took me that long to get home.

Before I decided to go home, I had to keep myself busy with having kumquat tea while reading Invisible Woman on its chapter 15. When I finished the chapter, I started looking at the brochure I got from a tech shop as I was canvassing prices for a microSD. I couldn’t stay any longer after more than an hour at Dakasi because I really had to take a restroom break. It was still raining a bit hard when I checked outside, so I went to have ramyun as dinner. And then the mall closes.

As I got out of the mall, I heard the guard saying there’s floodwater along Espana Road and that kept me from going home. I stayed at a convenience store for an hour, I sipped coffee and continued with chapter 16. I was at the brink of deciding whether I’d go on and finish until chapter 18 or start heading home. Eventually, I decided with heading home and found lots of people waiting for a ride home. There’s no more floodwater but the next dilemma is getting a ride home when every passing jeepney or bus is full.

So I started walking and turned on my iPod to listen to the very beautiful Angel Eyes OST.

photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

If only I’m walking on a pavement as beautiful as the photo. Then walking in the rain wouldn’t be that bad.

The Japanese solo birthday dinner

Not many people who are non-family greet me on my birthday but I never really cared. I forgot my mom’s birthday recently and I just forgot mine last year, but I’m not exactly the forgetful type. Aside from my mom, there are only two friends who always remember: one who I’ve known since primary and was my classmate both primary and high school and one from college. And yes another new addition, a friend who I’ve known for about five years but have yet to see her in person; she’s living in California. I am always grateful for these three whom I can say I trust the most among my friends. And last but not the least, my 4th brother who’s in Singapore who suddenly remembered my birthday few days after but that’s okay.

Image from liquorette.deviantart.com/

Image from liquorette.deviantart.com/

I woke up on Wednesday 16 July and found three messages of greetings. And also found out the whole street was having a power outage due to typhoon Glenda, which means there’s nothing else to do as there’s no telly and no Internet. My high school friend who lives in front of my parent’s place told me that early in the morning about 6am or 7am, the plastic roof of their mini garage was taken away by the strong wind but they were able to get it back into place.  I didn’t see the flying tree twigs and small branches as I got up a little later than that.

I was up the night before until about 4:30am as I was repeatedly listening to ONE OK ROCK’s single “Mighty Long Fall” – main song for Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno that was posted on Tumblr, but supposedly to be officially released on the 30th this month. There wasn’t any strong winds yet during those hours, other than the quite strong pour of rain that got me worried if I should take the washing machine inside. Eventually, I only took in the laundry basins and my clothes that were still not dry. I felt relieved though the next day to find out that the washing machine was safe and that there was no flooding. It’s better to have a power outage than flooding.

So I couldn’t do anything else without any power. I couldn’t read because it was still so gloomy outside and I felt like I’d only hurt my eyes in doing so. I was supposed to go somewhere to deliver something but eventually opted not to. The weather was calm already so I decided to go out. Great thing, SM San Lazaro – the nearest mall was open when almost every establishment was close due to the typhoon.

At the very least, the only thing I could do for myself was a Japanese solo dinner of Miso Ramen and Tuna Sashimi for another year of the always reserved & no make-up face; solo geek; bookish and blogging nerd; the OC; the quiet fish and tofu dork; the mall wanderer; the loud music; everything Japanese, Korean and European; the non-provocative, non-expressive, non-political, non-feminine, non-perfectionist; the NBSB; the accustomed to occasional insults & rejections; the badminton and table tennis love; the struggling; the independent; the thrifty; the no-jeans; no one’s favorite; dream powers of invisibility, teleportation, time control and travel; dreaming of violin playing; Murakami & Harry Potter; coffee & fruit tea; Winter & Spring admiration; Lucban food; green salads; never wanting to be a “basically” and many, many more. 

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I am thankful for the weird, the good, the bad, the okay, the rainy, the sunny, and for everyday.

And thank you Karate Kid for the sumptuous meal and because you were open that day.

Bookshop Tour and Writing Workshop at the High Street

I attended yesterday (Sunday) my very first formal travel writing workshop with my good friend from college Anna. I’ve always wanted to at least attend a workshop once a year, be it writing or anything that’s related to my background; but most workshops always seem to be expensive. I happen to saw this from Rappler during my daily browsing routine on Facebook. Good thing, it’s fairly priced than most workshops I’ve come across with, so I decided to have a go.

Before this workshop, I’ve had some travel posts already here on this blog. However, I wanted to have something of a formal introduction and training to be better at it. Although of course, there isn’t any actual course that teaches anyone how to write travel articles, people from the Writer’s Block decided to help amateur and even professional writers by introducing their services and expertise on travel writing. And as I mentioned, they learned the trade by actually doing it first and not from a formal school education.

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Despite the not so convenient location at Fully Booked at Bonifacio High Street, The Fort; I enjoyed having to roam around the bookstore after the workshop, but I’ll save all this for later.

“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.”

– “Why We Travel” by Jonah Lehrer (The Guardian)

The speakers are the founders of Writer’s Block – Anna Santos and Nika Sarthou-Lainez, so we had a head start with an introduction to travel writing. They opened with the quote above from Jonah Lehrer of The Guardian. I guess there’s no betterway to put how travel has such an influence to anyone other than this. I feel and believe the same way as she said.

One of the best things from the workshop is understanding the mindset  “I’m a traveller, not a tourist.” I thought to myself, “Is there some distinction to a traveller to a tourist?” And yes there is a distinction. She mentioned that it’s not very advisable to go on a hop-on hop-off style, which I actually did with my mom in Kuala Lumpur. Well that’s because we had to stay for a day only.

“You are writing a story.” 

Many people have already written about Paris, London, New York, Singapore, Tokyo, HongKong and more; so what else can a writer write about Paris? I think no matter how many travel articles you read about Paris for example, there will be something different from each of those articles; they’re never the same thing because people will always have different experiences.

“You are on an adventure.”  You show, not tell. 

Most writers, amateurs and non-amateurs alike will mostly write a travel piece in a way that they’re telling everything – like they left the airport at this time and went to this and to that. Anna and Nika stressed that it shouldn’t be that way. Don’t spoon-feed the information this way, instead let them see what you saw with your words.

The Basics 

* Write an effective headline – A headline’s best when it’s simple, short and catchy that delivers your total message

*Create a catchy introduction – Share some historical trivia, quotes, personal experiences

*Introduce destination – What can be found there? What can you do, see, eat, unique?

*Include sidebar – Makes the article more interesting. Include best time to go there, accommodation, etc.

*Let photos tell your story

*Avoid making it sound like an advertorial – Use first person voice, insert quotes from relevant sources

Common templates for easier writing. 

*By category – segregate topics into separate ideas or subheadings

*Dear Diary – narrate events in chronological manner (Day 1, Day 2)

* Theme oriented – think of an umbrella theme that features different subjects

*Listicle – list format, curated information in digestible bites

*Tips of how-to’s – helpful advice for the reader

*Seasoned traveller – emotional attachment of the writer to the place is the highlight of this style

Other highlights that are not exactly related to the workshop. 

Lunch with Anna at Figaro. We had Pork Tenderloin in Asian Pesto Sauce. I initially wanted the fish meal but it wasn’t available, we made the right choice with this. Appetizing indeed! Fairly priced.

I like to go around bookshops whether I buy something or not, but most of the time I don’t buy anything. A bookshop is always one of my favorite places to go to, I just like hanging out there – going to every section of the shop as if I’m buying something. So after the workshop, Anna and I went around Fully Booked from the basement to the 5th floor. This is probably the biggest bookshop with a great interior. Powerbooks used to have a big branch too at Megamall but then it was transferred to a smaller space.

An artwork of books. I don’t remember seeing this the last time I’ve been here, which is why I had to take a shot of it.

“Write books not blogs.” It’s funny, had to take a snap.

For all manga geeks.

Another set of artworks at the 4th floor near Starbucks. I wonder who made this. It’d be really nice to have your walls actually look good as this.

“Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.”

This is me with a shot by Anna who was my one-day photographer.

At the end of the workshop, we were asked to fill out a feedback form. I noticed that the speakers are very focused on just one category – that is straight out travel writing, which is why they might not understand the kind of writing I have. And in relation to the guest speaker’s comments about what I wrote during the practice, I suggested that it’d be really nice to have someone who travels, attends concerts and writes about them as a guest speaker on their next workshops, so they can also comment on varied kinds of travel writing.

I re-angled my previous post about my HK trip last June because I couldn’t think of anything else to write. When she saw it, she didn’t know how to make comments about it. I totally understand, not everyone writes the type of topics I write, which means not everyone can relate to it. I also understand it’s not something mainstream travel magazines would have an interest on, well maybe but I’d have to change how it’s written. It can be suitable for the events/concerts section if they have one. But as I indicated, if I ever wanted to pitch the story – it would be Sparkling because it’s a K-pop magazine.

I titled the story, “A Legend’s First Under the HongKong Sky.” So what I wanted to point is how my second time in HongKong is different than the first time – not by going into mainstream and popular tourist sites but mainly from watching an event. I also wanted to highlight the fact that HongKong is one of the top destinations of culture, entertainment events like this.

Anna and I had a discussion about it over dinner at 7-eleven. We both agreed that it is still travel writing even if your main intention to go to that place is to watch or attend an event.  One way or the other you will still come across some of the places; things you’ve seen before and also see some other things/places you haven’t noticed before during your stay, on your way to the event, while waiting for the event to start, while waiting for the train or bus, on your way to buy food or whatever.  There is always something new to a place you’ve been before no matter how many times. In totality, you will always have to mention the place and some of your new discoveries and not just about the event.

***

Before I forget, a snapshot of freebies from the workshop. I wasn’t so satisfied with the size of the free coffee though, it happened to be the same coffee brand I bought at Mercury Drug few days ago before the workshop. It was the size of a shot glass. I was expecting a size bigger than that. Delicious coffee though, white coffee from a Malaysian brand called Chek Hup.

 got a complimentary copy of Travelife Magazine (Oct-Dec '13) that I happen to love reading whenever at Starbucks. Got my certificate of participation and my notes. Oh the London themed card holder is not free though, I bought it. I noticed an error though, it should be "at Fully Booked" not in Fully Booked. Anyway, whatever.

I got a complimentary copy of Travelife Magazine (Oct-Dec ’13) that I happen to love reading whenever at Starbucks. Got my certificate of participation and my notes. Oh the London themed card holder is not free though, I bought it. 
I noticed an error though, it should be “at Fully Booked” not in Fully Booked. Anyway, whatever.

 

 

Thoughts on 18 ways to make the best of your twenties

Thoughts on 18 ways to make the best of your twenties

This is nice but I have to make special mentions to these:

Coming out on no. 1 and 2 for me: Travel in your early twenties as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to take risks. [I’m so glad I did because having to go on my own overseas for the first time is a big risk. It was really fun though. It’s a nice big challenge to throw myself out there and find my ways as I explore the city for the first time as a tourist. And tackle language barriers, getting lost and finding my way. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of.]

3. Don’t stay at a job you hate. [ Enough said. I did twice, the other one was really pushing me. It was so unreasonable. They were really trying to pin me down so I would quit voluntarily. The other one was an all-out favoritism. Just couldn’t take it anymore.]

4. Learn to save money. [ I saved money and I spent my first ever savings to travel overseas. But I need more savings so I can travel more and save for the sake of saving. It’s a hard work indeed but when it’s there, it’s a super nice feeling to have accomplished it on my own, though sometimes with a bit of help. ]

5. Spend quality time with your friends that doesn’t involve going to a bar and texting other people. [ I saw some longtime high school friends just recently. I haven’t seen two of them for quite some time. It’s always nice to hang out with friends you grew up with because as Tom Hiddleston said, the friends that you grew up with are the friends who know you best. ]

6. Don’t worry about what others think of you. Act goofy and be embarrassing without shame. [ I don’t act goofy and I can’t really, but I’m a little weird. Some or most people think being quiet, having your own world is unfriendly, anti-social, lonely and boring. Some even think it’s is highly unsual when they see someone eating alone, quick to judge that person to be lonely and alone. I care not. I was once even called mute just because I don’t talk much just like what others do. This is probably the worst I’ve ever received from anyone. ]

7. Learn to embrace getting older and remember turning 30 is NOT the end of the world. [ Tom Hiddleston is one BIG inspiration to me about this. He’s so passionate and his outlook in things and anything are what makes him beautiful. I may be a little worried but I’m quite confident when it’s there, I won’t even care at all.]

8. Don’t waste time with getting into passive-aggressive fights, online or IRL. [ Ever since I got into the whole K-pop fandome, first with SS501’s Triple S, Shinhwa’s SHCJ, Tom Hiddleston’s Hiddlestoners; I never want to engage in any fandom online rumble just because this and that fandom wants to prove theirs are better than the other. And same goes with responsing to haters. Responding to them just feeds their ego and makes them feel good because they got your attention. ]

Photo from thoughtcatalog.com

Christmas dinner treat with the editorial team

I’m posting my last minute blog post for the year and for the month.

It took me (9) months to finally be able to give a treat to the editorial team on Dec.19 with my editor (girl in black) and our senior and junior graphic and lay-out artists Kuya Oliver and Ate Jube. I treated them to one of my favorite Korean restaurants as they haven’t tried the authentic Korean cuisine yet. I’m glad to hear the day after that they enjoyed the meal despite feeling really heavy.

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I consider my work with them as one of the best blessings I’ve had this year. I love this work in all honesty, despite some shortcomings in terms of pay. I get to go to events and learn new things, I get to read a lot too. They’re one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with since I started working.

I’m not sure how long will I stay with the team and the company. I have plans this coming year and hope to really clinch it this time to further help my Mom and hopefully to start my dream masteral studies. In any case, it was a wonderful year to share with these good people who taught me some things and guided me in the company.

Happy New Year everyone!!! And I’m really thankful for God for this year and for the good people and experiences.

May everyone be blessed with a wonderful year ahead full with guidance and blessings from God. Full of laughs, smiles, good vibes, savings, more travel, humility,gratefullness, less stressors, good health and safety at all times.

As for me, I wish for myself the same things of laughs, smiles, positivity, of travel, savings, health, less stress, blessings, safety to me, my family and friends, new work environment overseas, and of course more Tom Hiddleston because he really makes me happy even though I haven’t seen him in person.

First-borns

The First-borns

It says here first-borns are: perfectionist, leader, responsible, highly motivated, strong need for approval from people in charge. In my case, all these are not true.

The eldest is the most difficult person to get along to. He likes to blame others but himself. Everyone is at fault but himself. Can’t cook rice without burning it even when he’s just downstairs, leaves food and rice rotting, washes dishes lazily and just leaves them near the sink, can’t flush properly, wastes food, doesn’t like repeated food, selfish, shouts at people whenever feels like it, impatient, leaves keys when going out, disorganized, unrespectful, no initiative, no care for others, bossy, takes things without permission, irresponsible, always first when it comes to food, he only buys this and that for himself but never for the house. And he never listens. He always has a defense for himself.

I can say more but I wouldn’t be done here if I do.

I don’t know if it’s got to do with him being the pampered one. He had a nanny to cook for him even when he’s already in high school, while the rest of us didn’t. We didn’t ask for it either.

Everything he does stresses other people. So, I just stay away as much as possible. We’re not lucky with our eldest, honestly speaking. My Mom didn’t raise him that way. He created the way he is now.

[ Image from rappler.com ]