Monday, November 17, 2014

The Sebastian Lumawig Series: Chapter 2

Chapter 2

There was that familiar stillness in the room.  That stillness, which only she can recognize; no sound except that monotonous mutiny of the computer to that poised room, and that muffled traffic sound which had successfully infiltrated the thick walls of that old building. It was nine o’clock in the morning, and her boss had left the workplace before he even started the day work. It was, after all, his employer’s day of golf. Or maybe not, his face is painted with an irritating grin when he left her. "He is here again.." she remembered him whispering such a couple of times. 

She clicked at the save button and slumped her upper body against the office chair. She is 27 years old, but she looked older. Working for twelve hours a day and six days a week had evidently taken its toll on her. She decided to watch Youtube videos while his boss is away. She immediately clicked on a link of a video, and she smiled after watching minutes of it: "Wow, a baby answering math problems!" he thought. Then she clicked at the link of amazing video of a furry cat. "When the cat is away..." she sighed.

__________________________

Atty. Jansen Madrigal, M.D. MA, MS, Ph.D, and what have you, left his office early to meet who he thought would unlock the mystery of the world. He's jittery, cold, and struggling for air. This kind of excitement only happened twice in his life; first when he found out that he is finally going to be a father, and second, when he topped the country's bar examinations.

(under construction :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Sebastian Lumawig Series: "Old Soul" (Chapter 1)

I just lost my manuscript of 17 chapters (my months of labor and research). This chapter, which I sent to my own e-mail, is the only piece of it that I managed to retrieve. This is a reminder of the impermanence of things in this world. So, before things will get lost again, I decided to share it. Enjoy a piece of my novel. :)
_________________________________________________________________________
Sebastian Lumawig Series: "Old Soul"

Chapter 1

In seat 27, the cloud of existential ponderings caught the reflections in the glass window again. Slowly, those thoughts were drowned away as the bus passes by along the thirty-sixth streetlight. Another village just faded away.

An hour ago, he had deliberately walked along Session Road after stopping the meters at Maharlika Livelihood Complex. His bus won’t be ready until 1 a.m., that’s why he decided to walk.

The city rarely sleeps. The dark blanket cannot hide that buzzing energy of a constantly growing city – the night market thrives, and the drunks populate the sidewalks. How he missed that life.

In college, they ruled Assumption Road as young, confused, and highly intoxicated teens…too much energy, but nowhere to put it into. Until, they realized that they are really at the brink of wasting away their lives. Perhaps, the sin of most of the youth was their delusion that they are living the rock and roll life. The laid-back culture, born from television shows and internet fads has taught them credulous young generation to experience the high of this material world without any remorse. There is really no doubt about it: ‘Everyone wants to be a Rock star.’

He was 16 when he had his first taste of gin.  At first, he did it to impress some friends, but finally ended up using it to run away. Drinking is indeed an escape to another world – free from the agony of life’s pains, frustrations and disappointments…the tiring norm of life and the stress of everyday. And although it is not surprising at all that most of us would rather be intoxicated than to face the realities of life - the corrupted world, the angry parents, the strict teachers, the broken love life, or even the irritating neighbor -  Sebastian, or “Basty” as he was often called, escaped not away from the world, but from himself.

*****
The middle-aged passenger of Seat 34 had covered his face with a towel. An air-conditioned bus in a cold city is apparently the trend. But it is a six hour trip, and after a few more swerves down, the moist in the windows will dry up as the temperature rises.

Little by little, he started doing a better job in learning a balancing crash course. Rarely can one catch a nap under such circumstance. It is a feat that he had planned to achieve before the first bus stop. But the fates, may have had a different plan – to bury him into useless contemplation of his yesterdays.

******
In November 2, 1997, MENSA International, an organization which records geniuses, confirmed an unusual growing number of child geniuses in the last decade. World media was able to reveal startling discoveries of a number of child-prodigies and highly intelligent and exceptional children; of two-year olds reading adult books, of four-year olds speaking twelve different languages or playing the most complex musical scores, of six-year olds offering philosophical counter-proposition against the ideas of established thinkers, or re-structuring formulas of math and physics, of eight-year old inventors, and of teen-agers writing excellent novels which, supposedly, only a man of age, experience, and great wisdom can achieve.

Because such unusual occurrence has inspired the usual religious hysteria that the end of the world is near…again, or that those innocent kids are allegedly sent by the devil, Dr. Shan D. Parker, the President of the organization, obviously not amused, embarked on a research that is intended to settle the minds of the paranoid religious figures of the different continents. After three years of research, the team concluded that the phenomenon is likely a result of the information explosion of the new age. Of course, many did not believe this. Dr. Parker himself doubted this. But the world must move on.

Towards the hyped-millennium, it did not take long for the world to forget this happening. There is so much cheap news; Hollywood and local gossips, political scandals, and day to day BS for most people to take account of it, nor inquire further about it. Besides, ‘this’ will not affect their lives.

In 2007, an intriguing old video from February 7, 1989 surfaced from Youtube, the video sharing website. It featured a toothless baby, about seven months or less, with a couple of adults who are presumably his parents.

In the video, it started with the man, perhaps his father, interrogating his endearing son.

“ Basti, are you okay?”

“Mam mam mam”, the baby replied.

“Okay, Basti. I’m going to ask you questions and you will answer “Daa” if yes, and “Hoo” if no, ok? I repeat “Daa” if yes, and “Hoo” if no…okay?”

“Daa!” shouted the baby to the laughter of the couple. The woman took the teether away from the infants grip. The baby understood that playtime is over.

“Basti…am I your father?”

“Daa!”

“Am I Handsome?”

“Hooooo!” the baby giggled at his own answer, and the adults laughed harder.

“ Okay Basti, this is more challenging…” The male adult pointed at the wall clock and asked, “ Is it 7 o’clock?” The parent rolled his realizing that he asked a dumb question..

“Hoo!....Da-da-da-da-da-daaa!”

“What?” The father looked comical than surprised. The clock shows that it is six o’clock.
“Da-da-da-da- da-daaa!”

The color of the adults’ faces  were immediately  drained. Six “das” may not be a coincidence.

“Basti… one plus one?” The woman quickly experimented.

“Da-da”

“Two plus one?”

“Da---da---da..” the baby almost sneered.

“Three plus two?”

“Da-da-da-da—daaa!” The baby victoriously stood in his walker.

“Basti….how many is One hundred divided by fifty?”

“Da—daa” the baby raised his two-fingers resembling a peace sign.

The astonished adults continued and the baby proceeded to give amazingly perfect answers. The video went on for fifteen minutes, and it soon became an internet hit, gaining millions of views from internet users around the world. And although a few skeptics have challenged the authenticity of the act, the video inspired other exceptional baby videos to be uploaded and soon, the 1997 MENSA report was resurrected. The traditional and the new media went crazier. (The end of the world is really near!)

 ________________________________________________________________________

The scent of the lowlands is undeniably inviting. The red bus parked at the gas station near a restaurant – the first bus stop is at La Union. The area was dusty, old, and the smother of rust in the structures had only enhanced the eerie feeling of being transported into an older time - without a calendar, it would feel like the nineties. But, the big lighted “V” and that, zen-architecture design of the comfort rooms can pull one back to the present world. Who puts black stones below the sink for design and art?

But he loved that feeling. It is simply ‘familiar’ to him. Maybe he can retire here somewhere along a good beach and spend his last years laying in a hammock with a young wife who will enjoy the properties he will ultimately leave after he dies. Life is wickedly predictable and boring.

He unhurriedly pulled out his wallet and examined its remaining bills. ‘Five hundred peso bus ticket, a hundred for the taxi cab, a hundred for Jolibee….’, he accounted for everything in his head and realized that he must have spent five hundred last night at the G-string bar for a beer. He may have even told the waiter to keep his change.

At twenty seven, he only has about P 32,000 in his ATM account. No savings, no car, no wife, and no direction. If his father is alive, he would have desired to go back to his death bed at such pathetic sight. But, he treasured the moments with his father more than he would consciously admit. One of those moments was his first bus ride with his father in the year 2001 when he was just 14 years old. It will always be the greatest adventure in his life.

But, he knew in him that his father is only one of his 'fathers'. At least his dad is the only one he remembers. He knew that...even when no one believes in him.

"An old soul...that expression, because we knew, we feel..that deep inside of us that we have 'jumped',...traveled….From decades, even centuries. I recognize things, and try to remember...I tell myself that 'its as if I've have seen things before, that they are familiar..that I was here a long time ago..', that scary sense of familiarity...because I knew!"  ” He cried telling these to his parents when he was younger, but they just smiled. “Your bad dreams will soon  go away…” they said kissing his forehead.

He really wished that all of it will go away. He had fried his brains many times to do it. But he later discovered that all the memories lost in infancy (which only a few special people can recover) is sadly, only a tiny portion of what he acquires everyday. 

Who knows? Who dares to? The world leaves questions and gives no clue.
______________________________________________

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Japan Experience (Part 4 of 5)

“Your fortune says: The one getting this is a bright and idealistic person. Do not worry if you or your ideas are not being acknowledged right now. Be patient. You will have your own time….” Masuda-san smiled and returned the fortune paper that I got from the shrine.” “Souvenir.”  
My fortune paper
From the visits to shrines and the museums, we were divided into groups for our overnight stays in Omishima Islands. My group will stay at Inoue-san’s, the only Ichigo (strawberry) grower in the Islands. You have to wonder about the chances. For someone who will really work for La Trinidad’s tourism, and LT’s one-town-one-product promotions, what are the chances of staying with Inoue-san?

We met our gentle and friendly host and his wife a couple of hours before sunset, and after we had a taste of strawberry-ice and the exchange of tokens, Okasan (our host-mother) directed us to our room to prepare for the ‘onsen’. At first, the meaning of ‘onsen’ escaped me, then, I remembered ‘Jiraiya’ of the popular Naruto manga. Japan, for most foreigners, is abundant of at least two things: the sensored-things (advance technology of controlling light, water, etc.), and censored-things (hmmm..those things…and the others which includes the legendary ‘onsen’). :D
 
This is the actual 'onsen' we went to. It is a public bath where everyone is naked.
We met Mark outside the bath, looking depressed. He said he's 'done' with it. hahaha :) 
We had dinner after bath, and I can tell that my co-participants just had one of the most memorable experience in the country (whether, it is good or bad actually depends on who you ask haha). During the dinner, I have to constantly be wary of how I use my chopsticks since I seem to have forgotten my lessons about it. Perhaps feeling our uneasiness, Inoue-san brought ‘all’ the alcohol in their house to our extreme delight (and regret). In most countries even Japan, alcohol seems to solve everything (hehe). We were so happy, we communicated using drawings, and gestures…and music! We sang, we ate, we drank…this is the life!
Mimi (from the Senate), Migs (from Landbank), Atty. Joy (from the Office of the President) with our hosts.
We woke up at dawn witnessing a great coastal view (and surprisingly, without hangover). We went to their strawberry farm, their ‘Kiki’s Farm” after Kiki (their cat) which they manage themselves without any helpers. Not really a surprise since this is the land of innovations and advance technology. We had the best breakfast, and after that, even with a sad heart, we bid farewell to our kind hosts.
Inoue-san's Strawberry Farm
We went to Ochi-san's place, the organic farmer to meet our other classmates. Decades ago, he was called crazy when he started organic farming in their community. Now, he is living the life of a happy and contented man. The concept of organic-farming is founded on a very simple philosophy: ‘Nature knows best.’ “ The worm eats the bugs, it 'poops' and makes the soil rich, the plant uses the soil’s nutrients’ the other bugs eats the other bugs, and so on and on.” How I wish to retire young and spend the rest of my life in my very own garden.
Ochi-san on organic farming before he showed us his farm
We had our last bike rides and sight-seeing before travelling back to Matsuyama City. Somehow, the hotel missed us. The classrooms too. 
zzzzzz..... :
________________________________________________________________________
 The next days passed with exciting combination of lectures, exchanges and site/factory visits in our schedule:

@BEMAC (IT support systems on Ships)
Paper Factory at Shikokuchuo City (the top paper producer in Japan)
Imabari's Towel Museum
Imabari City "Business incubation center"
With students of Ehime University
Business Incubation Center Concept: New Entrepreneurs/ Business start-ups can lease offices on the centers at a very minimal fee for up to two years until such business is "incubated" or ready for the 'real world'. The center will also provide trainings in business management and even in business skills.
Another paper factory at Shikochuo city
____________________________________________________________________

One may find the factory visits boring, but it is actually quite enlightening. Somehow, at least we would know what we're talking about when we share our experiences and leanings about "industries". 

Besides, there are times like these 'after classes':



Click link for Part 1 ---------> Japan experience (Part 1)

Click this link for Part 2-----> Japan Experience (Part 2 of 5)

Click this link for Part 3----->Japan Experience (part 3 of 5)

Friday, October 31, 2014

My Japan Experience (Part 3 of 5)

The days of lecture started quickly as if to remind us that we came to the land of the rising sun to learn and not just to tour around. Just like the autumn season, we counted the hours of lessons in our fingers as they fall in our eager ears. Let me give my top 5 early realizations from the lectures of Japanese officials, economists, bankers, and business people:

1. "Stakeholder Capitalism" vs. "Stockholder Capitalism" - Although this was highlighted by Odano-sensei of Shiga University. This became more evident in the lectures of economists of the province. Stakeholder capitalism promotes passion and dedication of work as one will be deeply immersed in an organization. The respect for seniority, and 'oneness' of goal, is only the basic element of such kind of economic structure, unlike the 'stockholder capitalism' of the west (which has been adopted by our country) which gives more value on the upper management and 'stockholders' or owners of organizations and companies. (I will dedicate another blog article for this to explain further).

2. Partnerships and Linkages are needed formula to success. - There is no hero in Japan because everyone is a hero in their own work and duties, they call this “Kiba”. In fact, there regard for calling cards, and the exchange thereof, are symbolic of their value towards partnerships, coordination, and participation.

My classmates with one of the lecturers
3. Discipline. - Because of their 'oneness', their thoughts are always for their country. "If I throw my garbage here, the place will look dirty and I don't want my country to look dirty", "If I disobey traffic laws, somebody might suffer because of my recklessness, I don't want a countryman to suffer because of my untoward actions." In the Philippines? Nahhh...

4. Honor – This is a typical Japanese way. In the lecture by the officers of Iyo bank, they explained the importance of rendering loans for business start-ups at zero-percent interest rate. When I asked them about what happens upon default when the borrower fails to return the loaned money? The officer, to my deep embarrassment said, “Japanese people will always return what they owe. If their business fails, they will find other ways to return it, even though it will take a lifetime to do so..” Perhaps that is why even in their business structure, one does not obtain a crucial position if he/she doesn’t have the skills to do the job - it means that ‘one only eats what he/she can swallow’. Because when that person fails in that job, the 100th floor window will openly welcome the ‘dishonored’.

The Sake Boys: (from left; Lucky, Mark,
Me, Jamz, Migz, Regin)
5. Passion - Their passion for their work were perhaps reinforced by their rebuilder generation (the generation after the war who vowed to rebuild Japan from its ruins). With such attitude, all of the people work, not primarily for money, but to become the best of what they do - regardless if one is a maintenance worker, bus driver, teacher, or government official, as long as they are the best. (Photo on the side is taken during our courtesy call to the Ehime Governor's office. Their government office is so passionate about their tourism identity and goods. I will have a separate article about their OTOP promotion and marketing).
_______________________________________________________________________________

We were relieved and excited that we will have at least a couple of days away from the 'classroom' to visit the coastal towns of Omishima Islands and Imabari. When Maro-san boarded the bus, he, just like any great tour guide would, presented a very good theme for our trip: 

 "Don't think...feel" (By Bruce Lee) :)

"Today's theme is, Don't think...Feel.. by Bruce Lee.." So, for this part...I'll stop my musings and perhaps, just relive the memorable moments I had on the Islands. (Below are some of our Pictures)

Great guys!

I'll miss these guys..
Story telling time to Iwanaga Shrine
Every space along the way were transformed to parks
Oyamazumi Shrine
Imabari Castle, Imabari City
Itadakemasu!
Biking in the bridge

                                  "Don't think...feel"

Click link for Part 1 ---------> Japan experience (Part 1 of 5)
Click link for Part 2----------> Japan Experience (Part 2 of 5)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Japan Experience (Part 2 of 5)

We arrived at Tokyu Inn at Okaido, Matsuyama City about past dinner after many hours of passing by farms, forests, and coastal towns. The city is different from Kobe where we came from. Kobe City is a very new city which was actually rebuilt from the rubbles of disaster, while Matsuyama is an older one which had survived the rage of typhoons for many years because it was sheltered by mountains. Still, it has the cleanliness and order of Singapore, and the feel of a Baguio city night because of the autumn season.

We met a towering Japanese man in his 30s who introduced himself as Masuda (san). We later found out that he was the coordinator from JOCA (Japanese Overseas Coordinating  Agency) who will coordinate all our activities for the program. He guided us until we checked-in in our comfortable rooms. There was the bath tub, the bed, the TV….and of course, the wifi. Great! Not bad for a two week stay at the hotel.  

Surely, the day went fast to another dinner, and because we were in a foreign country, we decided to have it somewhere with a foreign touch – no convenient store, no mcdonalds…it must be a Japanese restaurant. We finally settled in a place with “300” on it because we assumed that the meals must be about 300 yen. After spending an average of about 800 yen for every meal, we figured that we can save our allowance with this 300 restaurant. Without any picture on their menu, and servers who can’t speak much English, we were doomed to just order ramen (haha).  Well, some were brave enough to just order anything to their delight/ surprise/ disappointment depending on who you ask. What surprised us most actually is when one of us attempted to offer a ‘tip’ to the server. The young server’s color drained as he immediately said: “no stealing!” We were quickly reminded that we are not in the Philippines anymore, and that the Japanese find giving ‘tips’ offensive or insulting.
The famous/'infamous' 300 resto/bar haha
It finally hit us that we were really in a ‘sake bar’ (surprise, surprise). My thoughts drifted to what I am doing with my life, while my batch mates are taking the Bar exams, I’m here in a bar..drinking my beer. It makes a funny story, but what’s funnier is the realization that there is so much in our Filipino culture/attitude that we have to change:

First is our culture of “entitlement”.  A friend said you would distinguish a filipino from a foreigner, not by how he looks but for how he acts. A Filipino will leave his plates on the table after he dines, he doesn’t have the initiative to help the servers by returning his tray to the wash area. In his mind, such is the waiters’ job and that he is entitled to that full service. In Japan, and in many developed countries, what they get they put it back. This applies to a lot of issues – we do not segregate our garbage because we think that it the basurero’s job, we do not clean our surroundings because we think that we are paying taxes, and that it is the government’s job: trabaho nila yan eh, ba’t pa natin gagawin? We felt entitled to a lot of things. This tendency can even explain the view that the Philippines has a ‘beggar culture’ (I’ll explain this in another blog article), or even our 'pa-sosyal culture'. Or even the reason why we don't promote bicycles as a common mode for transportation when many of our neighboring countries have already done so.

Second, is our money-centered attitude. The server’s reaction towards the ‘tip’ sprouted from their very old culture that those who hold the most money are the dirtiest. In fact in ancient Japan, the merchants (business people) are said to be the lowest in the social ranks (lower than the farmers). This is also evident in their economic practice of “stakeholder capitalism”. Such system doesn’t put the biggest regard on money-gaining, but on ‘efficiency’ in their work. Mostly, their dream is becoming the best of what they do, and not about getting the most money. In the Philippines, many people are worshiping money in a sad state of corrupt “garapalan” system. A friend told me that a japanese who visits the Philippines every year notices that the road is always re-blocked every time he visits our country. He whispered, “If this happens in my country, the engineer or contractor would have committed suicide…” In the Philippines? Nahhh…

Third, is our culture of mediocrity. “Tama na yan…Okay na yan..” Such is our mantra towards a sad state of backwardness. We do not have the initiative to do the best and become the best because we tend to easily box ourselves in a helpless case of excuse. I’m just being honest:  I also find this in my character.

Fourth, is ‘blaming’. We have the tendency to blame everyone and everything for something that we could’ve changed and we can change our selves. As of writing this, a so-called intellectual accused me of praising a colonial power which had abused our country in the war, (while he is working for a Spanish company). We must understand that we are living in different times in which we all have learned the scourge of war. But to blame them for our economic status, or for our personal problems? Besides, one cannot blame a whole race because of some political policies of a few people. But then, we are one of the most racist people in the world.

Perhaps we were raised that way. When we were kids we were conditioned to believe that Filipinos are the best people in the world, even though in many times, we are not. How does the story go again? There was the Filipino, American, Japanese, and 'Negro' (yup we were raised not to be politically correct from the start) having a contest in which the Filipino always wins somehow. So its no wonder that we regard ourselves so special to entitle us with many things, or to just 'blame others'. (Another blog article about Filipino monkey pride is coming).

Sorry for going on heavy again. But, I don't want to be that guy who was given the rare opportunity to travel and learn, but haven't learned anything, or haven't shared anything. So sorry again but, the truth will hurt most of the time. There is still hope though. There is still hope for change...:)
______________________________________________________________________________

The next day, we attended the briefing for the activities in Ehime. We met with the JOCA heads and JICA representatives. Well, lectures can be boring sometimes, so I’ll just post our picture with our coordinators (below). (Maro-san (yup, just like the km.4 restaurant hehe), the one with the fan on the right, would guide us in our Omishima Islands adventure in the coming days).

Briefing at Matsuyama Community Center

Click link for Part 1 ---------> Japan experience (Part 1)
Click  link for Part 3--------->Japan Experience (part 3 of 5)


Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Japan Experience (Part 1 of 5)

For most late 90s kids like me who grew up watching Dragon Ball Z, SlamDunk, Yuyu Hakushu and other Japanese animations, an opportunity to travel to Japan is undeniably a dream. That is why when JICA confirmed that I will participate in a 3-week Training for Young Leaders under Economic Administration (industry promotion) in Japan, my excitement, and perhaps confusion, led me to a series of blunders which ultimately caused me my part-time teaching job  at Saint Louis University. Most of the time, juggling many things in the air is never a good idea. But as the 'eternal student' (cough cough :), I am a sucker for experiences. I just want to try it all.

On October 4, even with a heavy heart because I will miss my little angel, I joined the Pre-departure seminar at Holiday Inn and Suites. As I checked in, the luxurious atmosphere of 4 and 5 stars hotels reminded me again of the vast disconnect between the rich and poor - between the wealthy guests and the street kids scattered on the 'gates of hell' (which is Manila according to D. Brown). In a world that celebrates the 'excess', meeting the other 'Young Leaders' to, perhaps, discuss how to make this world bearable is exciting and challenging at the same time. After all, the participants are young and competitive agency directors, lawyers, bankers, politicians, heads of offices, and what have you, each having the vision  to contribute to the development of the country, and maybe to the world. As for me, the endorsement of Mayor Edna Tabanda, may have done the magic. Truth to be told, it was she who lobbied for JICA's assistance for the Benguet General Hospital during her time. But maybe I also do have the credentials (cough! cough!), come to think of it,  I was also accepted in an India grant which I turned down. Still, how I got in the program is amusing if not a mystery.:)

My Economic Administration classmates at the PDOS (Photo by Vidz)
Meeting the participants from Economic Development, Rural Development, and Small-Medium Enterprise Administration courses, I was able to squeeze in that rare circle of JICA trainees. Through my own years of countless Leadership Seminars, Kapihans, and Trainings, I have lost the instinct to become intimidated. I've seen it all I guess; the 29 year-old municipal mayor and 25-year old board member in our Luzon Successor generation forum, the 21-year old bank owner in the Ateneo-YKLD and so on. When you start thinking that you are good, there will always be someone who is better than you. That, I have proven in many times. Fortunately, the other 44 participants are mostly friendly and accommodating. From the general orientation, cultural presentation, up to the language training, the participants were kind and supporting. Maybe because we came from different parts of the country (I represent the Cordillera region!), and that  idealist bond of nationhood has found its way to the expected success of the group's training outside the country. Maybe.
_________________________________________________________________________________

We boarded the plane without any hassle on October 6, probably because we hold the red (official) passport.  This will be my 3rd foreign country to visit (after Singapore and Malaysia), but still I find the flight experience so awesome (especially because of the free lunch and drinks haha). When we landed at Narita airport, I quickly searched for their toilet. I wanted to check this myself----->
Yup. That's the japanese 'washlet', a bidet with automatic features like anus and genitalia washing, seat warming, and deodorization. Some even have music players or some other added features. For me, this wonder is already the ultimate epitome of the easy and comfortable life. :)

We transferred from the a connecting domestic flight to Osaka and boarded a bus to a Daiwa Roynet Hotel at Kobe.  We were tired and hungry by the six-hour journey, but still energized by the excitement. The view from the bus windows alone will surely make one understand the difference between a developed country and a developing one. We were extremely amazed. We realized that we are now really in Japan.

We decided to roam around their streets after we checked in to look for somewhere to dine in. Because it is past 11, only a few food shops are open. We decided to try the one near our hotel and tested our language skills to give our orders. Thankfully, we remembered "Sumemasen" (Excuse me), "Kore" (This), and "Arigato Guzaimasu" (Thank you). Who would know that my father's Karate kata exercises also taught me to count in Japanese (Ichi, ni, san...). When we successfully ordered our food, we became overconfident that the language barrier will not really be a challenge to us. We were dead wrong (haha).

The next day, we went to the JICA-Kanzai center to a 2-day briefing about our finances, the Japanese economy (a separate article for this will be uploaded soon including the effect of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to their 'rebuilder generation') and to review our basic Japanese language skills for the last time. The photo below shows my 14 classmates in the Economic Administration Course (the other courses are Rural Development and SME Dev.). We were reminded that most of our training will be held at Matsuyama city, Ehime Province under the Shikoku region. Hence we would have to prepare for a six hour bus ride the following day.


Roaming the streets of Kobe for the last day reminds me of a January-Baguio City when I was younger. The feel of a chilly Burnham park minus the crowd and the noise of heavy traffic plus bicycles, clean streets, and the view of the coastal parks made me understand why basketball star Kobe Bryant was named after this city. (Picture below shows a view of Kobe City.)


We departed from the JICA center by bus to the Shikoku region. As usual, I took the window seat to have the perfect view of the places which we will pass by. The travel gave me a glimpse of the difference of big cities (like those in the Kanzai region), and rural areas (like most of Shikoku region). The images below are among the views from my bus window:

Japan's Efficient Highway Systems
Coastal Towns
Farm towns
Another farm area. Yes, their zoning ordinances are followed well.
I thought that Japan is only about technology, but from the many farms that we saw, my contemplation shifted to our country's current acceptance that Services and Industry had already taken over our Agriculture-based sector in our economy.To understand what I mean, take a look at the current share of sectors in our GDP (data from DTI and BOI ):

I wondered how Japan managed to excel in both Agriculture and Industry sectors, even after 1950s when they lost the war and the US predicted that it will take them more than a hundred years to get back on their feet.  I will give my conclusions in the other parts of this article.

For now, let me reminisce. :)


                               .............................................End of Part 1....................................................

Click this link for Part 2-----> Japan Experience (Part 2 of 5)
Click this link for Part 3----->Japan Experience (part 3 of 5)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Ten Commandments in Answering Bar Exam Questions (By Atty. R.A. Sarmiento)

The Ten Commandments
in Answering Bar Exam Questions
by Atty. Ralph A. Sarmiento (10th placer, 1997 Bar Exams)

I.
Thou shall not abandon your common sense.
II.
Thou shall leave your personal biases at home.
III.
Thou shall answer only what is being asked.
IV.
Thou shall not invent facts.
V.
Thou shall write legibly and clearly.
VI.
Thou shall not write unduly long answers.
VII.
Thou shall not brag about your legal knowledge.
VIII.
Thou shall not criticize the problem.
IX.
Thou shall always state the legal basis of your answer.
X.
Thou shall not make an unjustified conclusion.