Preparation Before Flying to Japan

Monday, February 16, 2015

Last May 2014, I traveled to Japan with my best friend. But before the actual trip, I had to persuade my parents to allow me because it would be the first time I would be leaving the country without family supervision. I made all the necessary preparations and research, from budget to itinerary, to the point that I made an elaborate PowerPoint presentation to convince them. It was quite handy actually, so I am posting about it for readers who may want to visit Japan and also for my future reference.

First Step - Getting a Japanese Visa

my Japanese visa~

Getting a Japanese tourist visa is actually pretty easy -- if you have complete requirements. For my first trip, I successfully got my visa in less than a week last March 2014. I also heard that the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines will be more lenient in granting visas starting June 2014 to encourage tourism. That's good news. :) For my second trip to Japan last month, I submitted the same requirements, but to a different travel agency. This time, I got a multiple entry visa valid for 5 years! It's really helpful to have complete documents when applying. 

Take note that the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines only processes visa applications through accredited travel agencies. Here is the list of accredited travel agencies for Japanese Visa applications (compiled this info from their website):

Universal Holidays, Inc. )
Mezzanine Floor, Dusit Thani Hotel Ayala Center, Makati City
Contact Nos: 02-859-3857 to 60 

Discovery Tour, Inc. )
Unit 301 G/Floor Sagittarius Building, H.V.Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Contact Nos: 02-892-2849, 02-843-5832, 02-843-5083
Handling Fee for Tourist Visa - PhP 800 per person

Rajah Travel Corporation )
3/F Gercon Plaza 7901 Makati Avenue Makati City
Contact No. 02-894-0886

Reli Tours & Travel Agency ( )
Mezzanine Floor, Dusit Thani Hotel Ayala Center, Makati City
Contact Nos: 02-893-9226

Attic Tours Phils., Inc. )
Unit 202 Coko Bldg.1, Patio Madrigal Compound, 2550 Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
Contact Nos: 02-556-6301 to 05

Friendship Tours and Resorts corporation )
3rd. Fllr., Dusit Thani Manila, Ayala Center, Makati City
Contact Nos: 02-810-9622, 02-893-8180, 02-819-5644
Handling fee for Tourist Visa - PhP 1,200 per person

Pan Pacific Travel Corporation )
353 E.T. Yuchengco St., Binondo, Manila (main branch)
Contact Nos: (02) 521-3141 to 46

I went with Friendship Tours because it was recommended by a friend for my first trip. Their handling fee for single entry visa is PhP 1,200. For my most recent trip last week, I was granted a multiple entry visa. I submitted my documents to Pan Pacific Travel Corporation, Makati branch. Their handling fee is PhP 2,000, or PhP 1,000 if you book a hotel/ticket from them.

Here are the requirements for Tourist Visa:
  • Philippine Passport -- must be valid for at least 6 months, with at least 2 blank pages
  • Filled-up Visa application form -- this is probably available in the travel agency office, but you can download this from the Japanese Embassy of the Philippines website here. I suggest you fill it up and print before going to the agency to save time.
  • 4.5 x 4.5 cm ID picture with white background -- this should be PASTED on the application form, not stapled or taped. I submitted two pieces just in case.
  • NSO Birth Certificate -- ORIGINAL copy. You can get one delivered to your doorstep in 3-5 working days for only PhP 350 from this link. :) Take note that your NSO BC name should tally with the name on your passport. But if you already applied for a Japanese visa before, no need to submit this, just send them your old Japanese visa.
  • NSO Marriage contract (for first time applicants, if married)
  • Printed Tour Itinerary -- this is also available in the travel agency office, but again, it's best to print your own using this format
  • Bank Balance Certificate -- make sure the amount is sufficient to prove that you are capable of providing for yourself for the duration of your stay in Japan. 
  • Income Tax Return (Form 2316 or Form 1701) -- you can get this from your HR department if you are employed
  • If employed: Certificate of Employment -- also get from your HR department. This is to prove that you have a work to return to in the Philippines and won't go "TNT" or look for a job overseas.
  • If self-employed: DTI or sec business name registration with list of incorporators
  • Additional docs: roundtrip airline tickets and printed hotel/accommodation reservation
If you have all that, you're all set! Just submit to an accredited travel agency nearest you. :)

Rent a Pocket Wifi

This will be incredibly useful to access maps, food reviews, japanese translation apps using your tablet/smart phone. You won't ever get lost. :) Also, I got to post pictures on Instagram and send updates to my family at real time because I was always connected. Internet in Japan is so much faster, and it's unlimited too.

I rented my device from Wifi-on-the-go office here in Manila. It costs only PhP 450 a day. You can even divide that amount if you are sharing with friends. It can connect to a maximum of 8 devices! :) You don't need to rent one at the airport because you can already pick-up the device in Manila, two days before your flight -- how convenient is that! :) Just make sure you would not lose/damage it (or else you have to pay for the device itself) return it back to your pickup location

I got the E-Mobile device both for my trip to Osaka last year and my recent trip to Tokyo. The signal was great and reliable. There were just a few subway stations where it would lose connection, but overall it's quite strong and handy. It even had signal in Susono and Gotemba area near Mt. Fuji.

Why rent?
  • no need to hassle yourself in renting at the airport -- pickup the device in Manila and return it back in Manila after your trip
  • get unlimited internet connection anytime and anywhere, so it's perfectly fine if your hotel does not have wifi. 
  • access train routes and maps online
  • post pictures or status updates real-time
  • contact friends or family via Skype/Viber (or whatever social media account / messenger you use)
  • access updated rates of foreign exchange
  • know how to communicate a few words in Japanese via Google Translate
  • much cheaper than roaming rates and it does not drain your cellphone's battery as much

How to rent?
  • visit to order online or you may inquire at the accredited travel agency where you applied
     If you ordered online:
  • fill-up the necessary details (name, flight details, length of rental)
  • pay the needed amount via credit card (Paypal) or bank deposit
  • wait for an email confirmation or call from wifi-on-the-go office
  • pickup the device two days before your flight to Japan at the travel agency/wifi-on-the-go office
  • return the device two days after your trip

Things to Bring

This is already a given when travelling, but I'm listing down my personal to-bring list for future trips:

  • Passport with valid visa
  • Mobile phone with charger
  • handy-dandy iPad with itinerary and all my notes
  • sufficient pocket money
  • Printed airline tickets and hotel accomodation
  • clothes for the duration of your stay (swimwear for beach, warm clothes for winter)
  • toiletries and skincare products -- all in ziplock bags for safety in case they make a mess due to air pressure in the plane
  • wet-wipes (for cleaning hands, removing makeup) and moisturizer -- very very important in winter, and also to use in the airplane because my face always gets dry during/after flights
  • makeup and hair iron (because I can't go out in public without fixing my face and hair)
  • extra foldable bag for the flight back (when you shop too much and it won't fit your luggage anymore)
  • powerbank
  • hand carry bag for daily use (just enough to fit my wallet, phone, powerbank, and lipstick)
  • camera with charger/extra batteries
  • instax with film
  • sunglasses (I use these when I sleep on the plane / bus, especially if the flight is at wee hours in the morning)
  • neck pillow for long flights (it's a hassle to bring, but you'll thank yourself when you actually have it)
  • extension cord with universal adapter (so you can charge all your devices using one outlet. Take note that you must check-in this with your luggage.)

Planning your itinerary

I am very OC when it comes to planning my itinerary for trips abroad. The idea of getting lost in foreign places is not always fun, most times it can be very time-consuming and exhausting. I'm sharing a few helpful websites/apps that I used in planning my Japan trips. -- know which places to visit

This is my go-to website to search for anything about Japan, especially to know more about the tourist destinations. It includes top rated places to visit, opening/closing schedules, information in entrance fees, and the nearest JR/subway station. It summarizes the essential information on most sightseeing areas, so you won't have much trouble going from one website to another. There are so many places to see in Japan, so it's best to narrow down those that you want to see the most, and schedule them accordingly. 

HyperDia -- know exactly how to get to your destination

I use HyperDia while planning my itinerary, and also during the trip itself, while on-the-go. It's incredibly useful because it shows the exact train/subway schedules and suggests the most efficient way to get where you want to go. All you have to do is key in the starting location (nearest station) and the destination, and it will show you which line to take, where to transfer, how long your travel will be, and how much. You can search the train routes in advance so it's possible to accurately plan your itinerary to the minute. It's amazing. I wish they had it here in the Manila. 

Tokyo Rail Map+

If you're more of a visual person, this is an iPhone app that you can download to get a clear picture of your route. Since HyperDia presents your route in tabular form, it can get confusing when you're actually in the middle of the station and there are so many subway lines and colors connecting to each other. This app highlights on the map the exact route I take, and I use this to know how many stations left until I get to my destination.

I use both HyperDia and Tokyo Rail Map+ during my trip. During the times that I fail to follow my itinerary, I can revise spontaneously and not get lost because I get search for alternative routes right away. Oh, but wifi is needed to access them.

And I think that's about it! Plan ahead so you can maximize your stay. Enjoy Japan!

14 Things

Monday, December 29, 2014

Another year is coming to a close. I’m looking back at the faith goals I have written at the beginning of the year, and I’m simply in awe at how amazing God works in my life. He has given me an amazing roller-coaster ride of a year – scary because of the uncertainties I had at the beginning, exhilarating because of the challenges I've encountered and overcame, and unforgettable because of everything I learned and experienced – both good and bad, but mostly good. :)
Not arranged in any particular order, I want to jot down my top 14 this 2014 – things I’m thankful for, memories I don’t want to forget, and breakthroughs that the Lord surprised me with.

1. A year for my Career

I can honestly say that most of my 2014 was focused on work. I just had my one year anniversary of being a part of the labor force last March! I learned a lot of things, but at the same time I feel like it's just the start. I've taken more responsibilities, handled my own projects, experienced mentoring others, and at one point, I even thought that I have no other life besides work because it takes so much of my time and energy. 
This new year, I am praying for excellence at work, that what I do would exceed my boss' expectations. I also want to be able to accomplish things faster without sacrificing time or quality of work, and to have more work-life balance. I've got a long way to go.

2. Visited the Land of the Rising Sun

I ticked-off an item in my travel bucketlist, which was to visit the Land of the Rising Sun. Ever since I was a kid, I've always always wanted to go to Japan. It finally came true last May 2014 when I went to Osaka and Kyoto with my best friend. It was both our first time to go there -- we had a lot of funny and embarrassing moments, but we still had fun. I'll write more about it in a different blog entry.

Girls wearing yukatas in Arashiyama, Kyoto last May 2014

3. Adventure is out there

On the topic of travelling, 2014 was a year of adventure for me. I kick-started the year by going to Cebu for Sinulog last January, and then went to Japan in May. I was also able to go to other local destinations like Baguio, Batangas, and Boracay. I experienced getting lost a few times, being unable to converse with the locals, losing money in a foreign country, and was almost left behind by our plane going home. Those were scary, but I also experienced the good things about travelling out of my comfort zone. It taught me to be extra cautious, independent, and responsible. It also widened my perspective about the world.

4. Spiritual Growth

I finally finished one2one and attended Victory weekend last March. I also managed to attend my first Making Disciples class. Though it's not really about how many classes you take, being more active in church helped me because I am surrounded by an environment that encourages me to grow. It was such an amazing and unforgettable experience, to understand and feel how loved we are by God. And no matter what mistakes I have done in the past, He has forgiven me and sacrificed His life for me. This 2015, I want to be even closer to God, to walk His ways, and to have a heart so full of love for Him that my life would lack nothing.

I've been attending church ever since I was a little but I still learn new things about God everyday. I am so so so thankful for Ate Shyne, who continue to listen and put up with me throughout the year. We recently met up over lunch, and I was once again reminded of how I should put my complete trust in Him. Yes, I believe in Jesus, but sometimes I have this tendency of controlling my life or doing things on my own. When I pray, sometimes I would ask God for something while hinting that I really want just one particular thing. And then I get discouraged when it doesn't happen. It's like I don't completely trust in Him because I am pushing for something to happen without first asking for His will or guidance. Or I think that my prayers do not reach Him. I realized this year that we do not have to be in control of everything in our lives - just imagine whenever you ride a cab or a plane, you are putting your life in the hands of others, the driver/pilot. In the same way, I needed to lift everything in my life to Christ. We were never asked to understand or know everything about God, all God asks from us is to trust in Him. We may not understand everything, but by trusting God, we can have a grasp of His great love for us. He listens to us, and all our prayers are not in vain. When we pray, of course it's good to be specific in what we request but our hearts should be at the right manner. If it is in His will, it will be given at the perfect timing. Life is never out of control with Jesus.

5. Kids who became my Teacher

Another great experience I had in 2014 is when I volunteered to be a teacher at kids church. Last February, I signed up to teach two Sundays a month for kids ages 3-6 years old. Though I'm supposed to be like their big sister, I feel like I learned more from them than the other way around. I have no younger siblings, so my level of experience in taking care of children is quite low. Nevertheless, I learned so much. It was tiring because apart from dancing, doing crafts, and telling bible stories, we also had to maintain the peace and order in the classroom, and some kids were a challenge. But after teaching for more months, I managed to get close to the them. Because their personalities are different, as teachers we need to adjust in interacting with them and keeping them behaved. The experience is also fulfilling because I get to see and listen to the children talk about Jesus. Maybe they don't understand much of the stories now, but I know that seeds are being planted. As they grow up, I believe that seeds will grow fruit, and the teachings from the Bible will reflect in their actions.

6. (Re-)Learned a life Skill: Biking

 For my 22nd birthday, my sister and her boyfriend got me my own bicycle! It's the Japanese styled one with a handy basket in front. Papa taught me how to ride a bike before, but because I had no practice, I forgot about it already. When I tried riding a bike in Kyoto, I could not even move an inch. It was embarrassing and I had to return the bike and walk by foot. But I got a bike for my birthday, I relearned and practiced at home. Now I can say that in 2014, I learned one important life skill – biking.

7. Friendship

My friends naturally played a big part of my year. This year I met people outside of my own circle and made new friends. And while I have friends that I've gained and lost, I'm most grateful for those that that stuck around. I also grew even closer to my officemates, my college bestie, and my high school barkada. My gratitude runs deep to them. Without their company and support, I would be depressed every single day at work. They tell me the things I need to hear when I'm down, and they're not afraid to be honest.

8. Clarity

2014 was a year of clarity for me. I mean this in the sense that I grew to accept myself, and the truth that things change, especially in matters of the heart. When something you least expect happens and it explodes on your face, at first you would not know what to do, and for me, my first reaction was to cry, like the really ugly kind of cry. Good thing I was in the warm company of friends and they let me go all out. =)) I was confused at myself when it happened, but I did not let myself wallow in sadness. I felt the collapse of emotional investments and the years’ worth of hopes, but I embraced my feelings. I accepted the pain of losing the person, or at least the idea of losing that feeling of love, and then willed myself to completely move on. Of course, it does not happen right away, but I am learning to let go.
After hearing the sound of a door clicking shut, I face the other way and see other doors simultaneously being opened. I am moving forward gradually, a step at a time. It’s quite cliché, but this year I learned that an end of a chapter is just the beginning of another. There is no rush because I know God is still writing my perfect love story.

9. Answered Prayers

I mentioned earlier that every new year, I jot down my "faith goals" to set my eyes on what I want to pray for and achieve for the year. Apart from what I have already listed so far, there are still too much breakthroughs and answered prayers that I couldn't possibly list all. I just want to name a few; I'm very thankful to God that -- my sister seems happier in her career, my brother is excelling and working hard in school, seeds are being planted in our household as our loving yaya finally joined the family in going to church, my eyes are less irritated and are getting better, new projects are coming in to the family business, and I see my family using their talents more and being on fire for God.

10. Provision

It was also a year that I really fully realized I am earning my own money. I was able to  buy more clothes, eat anything I want, and travel to different places without depending on my parents. Although I wasn't able to really save as much as I planned, I was able to pick-up something valuable. God blesses us with so much that our cup overflows – and it is then our responsibility to use those blessings to bless others. It's not just a matter of saving for a rainy day. A lot of the stories on the news featured the affluent lifestyles of famous figures in the Philippines - we would look at them in envy, or some even in disgust. But really, we should also look at ourselves and what we do with our money. I thought about why I am given what I have and what I have been doing with it. Are we just using what we have to glorify ourselves? This 2015 I am praying for prosperity and abundance that I may be able to bless more people with what I God provides me. Because all these things come from Him in the first place, I want to use them wisely. As 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." :)

11. Growing Strong

I may be weak but I'm growing strong. And I mean that literally. This year was my first year to go to the gym! Seriously. I tried yoga the past year, and it was nice because everything was peaceful and relaxing, but something was missing. A good friend of mine invited me to her gym. Curious and not knowing what to expect, I went with her to have a trail session last August. One thing I learned was I was as weak as a kitten!

My first time to try TRX suspension training
I was not fat like chubby fat, but I had no muscle at all. I could not do simple push-ups or planks. I was so out of shape that the gym trainer, my friend's friend, was the one who became tired after the session. I was challenged and convinced that I really needed the work out. I ended up signing up for the 10-session program. After months of 'training,' I was finally able to grow a bit of muscle. It's all thanks to Renz and Mark for being patient with me!

After a few weeks, I'm finally able to plank properly!

12. Ahia's talent and passion for art

My brother is probably my bestest best friend in the whole wide world. I'm so close to him though we're different in a lot of ways. He's suuuuuper kind and sensitive to others. He loves animals. He's really good in drawing and anything art-related. He sings, and he's really good at it. He doesn't eat that much. As for me, I can't stand animals, I always get scared when they come near me. I prefer writing over drawing. I don't sing at all, not even in the shower. I eat anything and I eat a lot. Anyway, this year, I've watched my brother grow more into the man he is. He started training vocally at church and using his talents for the Lord. It's funny because early in the 2014, I remember him having a panic attack because he did not want to go for auditions. We had to force-talk him to do it. He also started studying what he's passionate about in school. Most of the time he's up late working on a plate, but in the end the results are amazing. I see him excel at what he does. He's also helped so much with papa and mama in the family business. He's become more serious and motivated, and I am really happy for him.

13. Support and love from the Best Family

This year-end list wouldn't be complete without writing anything about my family. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be me without them. They give me so much support, love, and warm fuzzy feelings that I don't really know how I could thank them enough. They constantly support me in my work and dreams. They're patient and understanding despite my stubbornness. They go out of their way for my safety and happiness. They teach me and discipline me on how I should live my life according to His ways. I love them so them. For the new year, I decided to return the tradition of giving each one a handwritten Christmas card (I used to do this when I was younger, but I stopped a few years ago). I'm not yet done writing them, and writing won't be sufficient to express my love and gratitude, but it's a way to express my feelings. I'm hoping I could thank them and let them know I love them in more ways next year.

14. Knowing Jesus is with me always

It has always been about Jesus. Everything all points back to Him, what He has done and is doing for us. Personally for my life, knowing Jesus is with me always keeps me positive. When things get tough, I pray and He gives me strength. When I feel insecure or lacking, I am reminded of His great, deep love. I think about reasons why I shouldn't worry. My faith in Him protects me from the bad things -- like when riding the cab each day or walking in dubious streets, whatever evil is lurking is no match for the mighty angels from Heaven that surround me. With God by my side, I am complete.

Sinulog Twenty Fourteen: Tips from a first-timer

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Pit Senyor! Pit Senyoooor!"

I don't know how many times I have heard that phrase in one weekend. The receptionist at our hotel explained to us what it meant, but it's still a bit confusing to me. When Cebuanos greet you "Pit Senyor" with a smile (sometimes a high five or even a friendly hug), you say "Pit Senyor" back with the same amount of warmth and friendliness. After hearing it for probably a hundred bajillion times, I decided to join in the fun and shout "Pit Senyor!" like the rest of the crowd.

It's my first time ever to visit Cebu. Actually, it was my first time to travel so far away from home without my family. I traveled with my college friends and we were all first-timers to join the festival. I've heard about Sinulog, but I did not know what to expect. It was one of the most tiring, fun, and adventurous trips I had so far. To give a glimpse of what transpired (and to warn other Sinulog newbies not to make the same mistakes we made), I am going to jot down my personal experience from the events that happened in those four days.

random people and new friends from Sinulog Invasion ♥ photo from Lina
- - - - -

TIP #1: Buy your Sinulog shirts early, or pre-order if you can, before sizes and good designs run out.

We arrived in Mactan International Airport at around 1pm, but my friends wanted to buy a Sinulog shirt from Island Souvenirs so we spent about half an hour shopping. I could not find one that fits my size (they're either too big or too small), so I did not get any. I ended up using a different (non-Sinulog) shirt for the Sunday festival.

After that, we got in line for a cab to our hotel. We opted for the non-airport type because it was cheaper. The line for regular taxi was too long that the next flight from Manila at 3pm landed already, and we met our friends that were from that flight. By the time we got to the front of the line, the taxi driver and airport security said we needed to divide into two because the cab could only accommodate four passengers max. The same rule applies in Manila, but they are more strict in Cebu. There were five of us, so even though we were all going to the same hotel, we had to split. The taxi driver also said that a lot of roads were already blocked because of the festival, so he could only drop us in Ayala Center, Cebu. He said our hotel was only walking distance from the mall. We agreed and decided to eat late lunch there so we could have energy to walk to our hotel later.

- - - - -

TIP #2: It's really best to take an early flight to Cebu to avoid the heavy traffic and road blocking, and to have a GPS/map app like Waze on your smart phone especially if you don't know your way around the city. Or you could have a friend that is a local who can lead the navigation for your group.

I got into waze and found out that our hotel was 15 minutes away by car, which was not at all walking distance. Although there were a lot of people, the traffic was still bearable and the roads were not totally blocked, so we felt a bit tricked by the previous cab. We could have gotten another cab, but we decided to try to walk. This was a bad idea. We spent about an hour walking and trying to find our hotel. My battery ran out so we got lost somewhere along the way, but good thing my friend had GPS to save us. It was already past 6pm when we got to our hotel, and we were exhausted. 

an hour-long walk to the hotel. Photo taken by Lina :)
- - - - -

TIP #3: If you're going to Sinulog to experience the annual paint party, book a hotel near Juana Osmena St. or wherever the venue is (so do your research too!)

We stayed in Hotel Fortuna from January 18 to 22, 2014. Even though we got lost the first time (because my phone died and we became totally clueless), the place was actually easy to find because it was near University of San Carlos, and there was also a 7-Eleven nearby. The Sinulog festivities actually start a day earlier (Life Dance - a "huge-ass outdoor electronic party on what is said to be the biggest stage ever built in Cebu" -- according to, but we skipped that because we could not take a leave off work a day earlier. We also missed Wet Weekend, an island hopping / yacht party hosted by Republiq in the morning of our flight. All yachts were already booked, so we could not get into the party even if we wanted to. Our hotel was clean and comfortable, and the staff was very nice. They would clean your room and change towels at your request, and they would always greet you at every encounter. The people at the front desk were also friendly enough to answer our questions for directions. Oh and there's free breakfast too.

The only slight downside is the location -- Hotel Fortuna is right smack in the middle of the parade where they close roads for the festival. We could not get cabs to get us anywhere, so we learned how to commute via jeepney. It's also quite far from Baseline, where held Sinulog Invasion (about 20-30 minutes of walking, depending on how fast/tired you are). After about two days, my friends and I felt like locals because we literally just commuted around town -- to the Taboan market, to Magellan's Cross and Basilica del Santo Niño, to Salinas Drive for restaurant hopping, and to IT Park for to check out Zubuchon and Barcode. I learned how to say "lugar lang" to get the jeep to stop (because the driver would not respond to "para po" or "tabi lang po").

I am so thankful for the Cebuanos because they were so so so friendly and accomodating! We got lost numerous times, but the locals would always point us to the right direction. There was even one jeepney driver who stopped parked his jeep at the side of the road to hail a cab for us because it was becoming late (and unsafe!). There was a bit of language barrier because we only spoke Tagalog, but he did not leave until we were safe in a cab who knows how to get us back to our hotel. So kind. But to save yourself from the hassle, do your research on which hotels are near the establishments that you would frequent.

- - - - -

TIP #4: For the street party, avoid bringing expensive things. And only wear garments that would be okay to put paint on, and closed shoes. Bring your own paint.

The annual street party happens every 3rd Sunday of January. This year it was held last Jan. 19 in Baseline. We were prepared for the crazy paint part -- we basically wore things that we won't feel bad about getting soiled (the basic white shirts and denim shorts). You can style your Sinulog shirts buy cutting the sleeves off (check out DIY videos from Youtube if you're not sure how).

For shoes, I made the mistake of wearing flip-flops. I thought that since we were going to walk a lot and paint was involved, it was a safe bet to wear slippers. I was wrong. Towards night time, all the trash, broken beer bottles, and all kinds of litter would be scattered everywhere. I had to look at my feet and watch my step all the time because it was difficult to see when it's dark. It's important to wear closed canvas shoes or comfy sneakers because slippers can be removed easily when you're not careful. 

while waiting in line for Sinulog Invasion to start

As for accessories, it's best to not wear any at all or keep it at a minimum. I brought cheap shades that I eventually lost in the middle of the event, while my friend had hers damaged.

Oh, and bring your own paint (like poster paint) and other toys like a whistle (to help make noise) and waterguns to make the party extra fun. This is optional though. We went there empty handed and managed to get ourselves almost fully covered in paint anyway.

For cellphone and wallet, it's best to only have less than P500 on you (to buy snacks, drinks, or emergency money). I placed my phone in a Ziploc bag to because I had paint all over my fingers. For my money, I placed it in a small plastic wallet (so small it's unnoticeable in my pocket) for safety. You can also use a plastic holder with neck strap. There are lots of pickpockets in events like Sinulog Invasion, so always always be wary of your belongings.

- - - - -

TIP #5: Make the most out of your trip by planning your itinerary

I mentioned this earlier in Tip #3, it's good to do research and plan your itinerary ahead of time.

On our third day in Cebu, we initially planned on going to Oslob to see the whale sharks, but we were too tired from the event in Baseline that we decided to skip it. (If you plan on going though, you may ride a bus to Oslob at Cebu South Bus Terminal beside Elizabeth Mall). Because we did not push through with Oslob, we had one free day to rest. We took this chance to visit local tourist spots like the Basicila de Sto. Nino and Magellan's Cross. The Basilica was insanely crowded because of the occassion, so we did not take too long there. Magellan's Cross was closed because of reconstruction, but we managed to peek and take pictures through the windows.

It was also our last full day in Cebu, so we tried to make the most out of our time (eating, walking, and eating again). For cheap but hearty traditional meals, drop by Salinas Drive to try out The Original AA BBQ and Chikaan Sa Cebu.

one huge bowl of Pochero at The Original AA BBQ

For desserts and cute place to chill, go to Cafe Caw across Bright Academy, Gov. M. Cuenco Ave. The ambiance there is really nice and girly. Our friends and I spent a few hours just talking over cupcakes and coffee.

For affordable and fresh Cebu pasalubongs like dried mangoes and danggit, go to Taboan Market. They are much cheaper there than in other souvenir shops in the city. Of course, these are just my personal recommendations.

- - - - -

TIP #6: Eat Cebu Lechon. For pasalubong, reserve or buy them early!

A visit to Cebu would not be complete without eating Cebu lechon. Stocks run out quickly especially during Sinulog season, so if you want to bring lechon home as pasalubong, reserve them a few days early before the day of pickup. For THE best lechon, I heard Rico's lechon and CnT Lechon were at the top of the list, but they already ran out of stocks during the last day of our visit (which was Tuesday). I've only tried Zubuchon in IT Park -- it was juicy and yummy with crispy skin.

Zubuchon for dinner on our first day in Cebu

If you want to scour the city for Rico's and CnT Lechon, Rico's has a branch in The Ridges Commercial Comples near the airport (just a taxi away), while CnT has a branch in the 4th level food court in Ayala Center Cebu. 

My friends and I felt dejected because we could not bring lechon as pasalubong. But good thing there was a Zubuchon branch in the airport! The only problem is they don't have stocks at that time, but we were told that delivery for stock replenishment will be arriving soon. Even though our boarding time was already a few minutes away, we decided to wait in line patiently for our takeout lechon. (We were desperate!!) It came to the point that the speakers were already announcing our names and my friend had to talk to the FAs and pilot if they could wait for us for 5 minutes more. The plane almost left us but we managed to run to the boarding gate in time. It was a funny experience, but the lechon was worth it.

Despite the traffic and crowded places, Sinulog is a great time to experience Cebu -- from culture, food, and its people. I gained new friends and saw old ones. I stuffed my tummy without hurting my wallet. It was a very exhausting but fun experience. I wish I could visit again next year!

EDIT (10/12/2017): And I actually did manage to visit Cebu again! I had to much fun at Sinulog that I booked for Sinulog 2016. The trip had the same amount of paint and crazy, and probably a lot more people than my last visit. Because it was a last minute thing, a lot of hotels were all fully booked. Do check out Southpole Central Hotel located at 29 Junquera Street if you're planning on visiting Cebu any time soon! They have the best quality rooms at very good prices. If you want to know more about Sinulog, read more about this awesome festival here ( ).

Keeping your Nails Clean and Healthy

Monday, June 17, 2013

As many of you know, I have a weak spot for pretty nails. Back in college - which wasn't so long ago - I used to paint my nails with very intricate and quirky designs. From plain solid colors to designs with small gems and stickers - I could not go a day without nail polish on. This went on for so long that my nails started to have a permanent yellow or blueish tint. No matter how many times I clean my hands and nails, the stain would not go away. Now, applying nail polish is completely safe*, but sometimes we need to give our nails time to breathe. The more layers of polish and colors we put on our nails, the more chemicals accumulate, causing more yellowing.

So how do we solve this problem of yellowing?

You can take a break from applying nail polish for a while and just let your nails grow until you can trim the yellow part off. I tried to do that, but the sight of the stained nails bothers me. I just end up applying polish to cover it. If you absolutely must apply nail polish (like me, lol), remember to use a base coat to protect your nails from absorbing any pigments from regular polish. I use OPI Original Nail Envy - it keeps my nails strong and healthy. 

OPI Original Nail Envy

Another way to remove the yellow stains is to use a nail buffer.

I bought this Orogold Cosmetics Hyacinth Exquisite Manicure Set when I was in Shangri-La mall the other day -- the kit included a 3-Step nail buffer, nail file, tea tree oil for the cuticles, and a hand & body lotion. It was overpriced for a nail kit in my opinion, but the salesperson was so friendly and convincing that I ended up buying it impulsively. Really. Excellent. Sales talk. The whole kit is regularly priced at PhP 2,550.00, but I got a discount and bought it at half the price + got a few nail buffer refills for free.

Orogold Manicure Set
What made me buy this expensive nail kit was the nail buffer. I tested it on my thumb nail and it worked like magic. It made my nails smooth and really shiny in less than five minutes, without the use of base coat or a clear gel coat! Okay. I know you can probably get a similar product at a muuuuuch lower price, but this thing claims to have Colloidal gold or something in it. I'm not sure if I should believe it and I don't know if it's significantly better than other nail buffers, but it worked great for me. I just don't like the squeaky sound it makes when I rub it against my nails.

To use the nail kit, first remove your nail polish (if any) with a polish remover. Then file your nails in one direction until you get your desired shape and length. Filing in both directions would weaken your nails and cause them to break easily! The provided Orogold nail file is said to be for "gentle, non-abrasive shaping." It does the job like any normal nail file, in my opinion.

Then, use the 3-Step Buffer (my nail buffer has four steps, but I think the sides with Steps 3 and 4 are the same): Step 1, the roughest edge, removes the ridges and unhealthy/dry outer layer of your nails. It takes off the surface ridges as well as any stains from polish. Step 2 smooths out the roughness / marks made by the first buffer. The buffing movement also stimulates blood circulation. The 3rd step, my favorite part, adds a finishing shine to the nails by transmitting the natural oils and moisture of our nails through the surface. Do take note that you can only do steps 1 and 2 ONCE a month. Excessive buffing can be unhealthy because it would make the layers of your nails thin and brittle.

Next, apply drop of cuticle oil or the tea tree oil over your bare nails, cuticle, and under-nail tip. Massage it until it's completely absorbed. Do this several times a week to keep your nails moisturized and healthy.

Lastly, use the 24K Body Lotion to nourish and soothe your skin.

Ingredients (as seen on the box):

The Hand & Body Lotion contains Aqua, Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoaraffin, Laureth-7, Ceteareth-25, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Fragrance, Gold, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Methylisothiazolinone, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.

The Cuticle Oil contains Mineral Oil, Isopropyl Myristate, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Oil, Propylparaben, BHT, D & C Yellow No. 11, D & C Red No. 17.

After a month of trying the product, I can say that I am still quite impressed by nail buffer - my nails are still glossy and healthy-looking even though I haven't been retouching them with the 3rd-step buffer. And I don't have to buy any other nail buffers because I was given refills that would probably last me for more than two years (since I can only use them once a month). My nails look healthy and are stain-free. It's also easier for me to apply polish now because the surface is really smooth.

As for the lotion, it's non-greasy and scented like Hyacinth. It's hypoallergenic and great for dry skin. The gold ingredient in it is said to have anti-aging benefits - prevents wrinkles and reduces dark spots. I asked the salesperson if it has SPF, and she said yes. It doesn't say on the label though. Does it really? She mentioned a bunch of other skincare benefits (that I couldn't remember because they sounded like medical jargons), so I hope it would be worth the investment. I don't think it has SPF and there are better anti-aging products in the market, but I bought it anyway as it comes in the set. I also don't really feel the 24K gold in the product, but then again, I'm don't know how gold should really feel on my skin.

Despite the nice smell and feel of my pampered nails, I thought that my purchase was not really worth it because I seldom use the nail kit. I only buffer my nails once a month at most, and I currently have other hand lotions that I could use. There's definitely one lesson learned for me, and I'm telling you guys: Be a smart consumer! Don't get carried away with all the sales talk, especially if it's ridiculously expensive. Don't get me wrong though - as someone who works at a luxury brand for cosmetics and perfumes, I do believe that our skin deserves the very best products and care, but it helps to do your research first before buying anything new. 

* unless they have harmful chemicals like Toluene, Formaldehyde, Dibutyl phthalate!

A Life-Changing First Quarter

Friday, March 22, 2013

In my previous blog entry, I talked about things that I was thankful for in 2012. With the boring monotonous lifestyle I have been having, one would expect me to live with the same old routines and day-to-day adventures. But now, three months into 2013, I am simply overwhelmed. February 2013 was the month a lot of changes happened in my life. Some life skills were learned, my personality developed, and my perspective widened. March is another story - it was the time that I became officially employed, attended our first press event, and ultimately realized how lil' old me can actually fit in this industry.

After I finished my thesis in mid-December, and I started bumming around the house. I ate a lot of junk food, read a lot of books, watched a number of films and series, and played Skyrim (yes, I play Skyrim) like there is no tomorrow. I actually considered myself as a productive bum because I was gaining so much knowledge of popular culture. But the time came when I grew bored of being a bum and getting fat. I wanted to challenge myself and do something more with my time. I wanted to learn how to cook and drive, but I didn't want to spend my savings and 紅包 money for ingredients and driving lessons. So I started looking for a job.

My sister saw a job opening through her friend's friend's Facebook post, and she sent me a link. I emailed my cover letter and resume to the address, and about 30 minutes later, someone contacted me. I had my first job interview the next day, and when I got home, I got the feedback via phone call. I was told that the company cannot hire me yet because I have not yet officially graduated. Even though I am done with all my units, I do not have the documents (my diploma or transcript of records) to process my application. But then, they saw how I was bored at home (I think that was the exact words), so they wanted to offer me a position as a Project Assistant. I can work like a freelancer or intern while waiting for my graduation. The compensation they offered was just about enough to cover my daily transportation, food, and miscellaneous expenses. I thought about it for a day, and the next day, I came back to the office to sign the contract and start my orientation. So much has happened in just three days.

I wanted to have a good start in my career (who doesn't?). I wanted to be in a company / work environment that I would be excited to go to every morning. During our church's prayer and fasting week, I asked God for no delays in my graduation (because I applied late) and to give me a job that I would love and enjoy. I specifically prayed for a position that would help me grow in my career and as an individual - with colleagues that I can be friends with and that would also help me in my walk with God. I felt a bit insecure because I was pursuing a very corporate career in marketing even though I did not have a business degree. But then this opportunity came up, to work even before I graduate, to learn and earn some experience and to beef up my non-business-related resume. That month, I once again realized how great God's timing is. When He answers prayers, He gives you the very best. 

Looking back, I actually miss my nonexistent bum days. I was not able to maximize my post-thesis freedom that much. I have less free time and I only get to hang-out with friends during weekends or after office hours. But with the quarter of 2013 nearly over, I can genuinely say that I am happy where I am now. After my month-long contract as a Project Assistant, the company officially hired as an employee. I recently got my first payroll, and of course, to celebrate these first fruits of my labor, I am giving a portion to the church and to my family and yaya -- I can finally (and proudly) say that dinner is on me! ♥ With the new work environment (and a shorter commute!), I also have more responsibilities. I get stressed and tired sometimes, but so far, I am enjoying what I do. I learn something different each day. I am starting to love this new routine and the independence that comes with it. ☺

My Top 12 of 2012

Thursday, January 03, 2013

It's the first week of January! I can't believe another great year has passed. Being at this time of the year gives everyone hope and encouragement. We are at the start of another chapter of our lives. If there was one thing you failed to do last year, this year, we can start afresh. Anyone can choose to change for the better at any time of the year, but it seems to have greater relevance when one changes as the whole world changes. It's a brand new year! The irony of the holidays is that we are both at the beginning and end of something big. In this blog entry, I would like to take time to remember the significant events that happened to me in 2012, and welcome the things that He has in store for me in 2013. Not arranged in any order, these are the things that I am most thankful for last year: 

1. A great OJT experience at Meg Magazine

seen in the Meg April 2012 issue
One of the things I have always wanted to do was to work in a publishing company. MEGA Publishing Group (now called One MEGA Group Inc.) has been my top choice when I answered my OJT information sheet. I remember being so nervous two years ago when I was thinking about the internship interview. In the span of a month, God blessed me so much in my work. I not only learned about my experience there, I also met new friends and got credited for my work, published in the magazine! When I first saw my name on print, I was so so SO happy. I know it might not be a big deal for some, but I was genuinely glad I was given the opportunity to contribute and write a page of the 'Fashion Pop' segment of the magazine.

Read more of this unforgettable experience in detail in a previous blog entry

2. Blogging 

Yes, this little corner of the Internet changed my life in a significant way, too. I created this blog as a space for me to just express my thoughts and experiences. Writing is something I enjoy doing. When I do not have the creative juices for writing prose or poetry, I can write about myself and my life (self-centered much?) through blogging. Haha. I used to 'blog' endless uninteresting things years ago in Multiply and Wordpress, and I re-blog a bunch of entries in Tumblr. Why not take that into another level by really writing something more original and personal, more me? Thus, the creation of this blog. It's a place where I talk all I want about absolutely anything under the sun. Maybe writing or journalizing bits of my life is a form of cyber-catharsis. I feel good about myself afterwards. Plus, I am really happy and grateful to know that people actually read my blog. Thank you!

3. Getting Cultured the Chinese way

May 2012 was the month my parents (and some aunts and uncles) went to Xiamen to visit the ancestral home and celebrate my Ape's birthday. We (the youngsters) didn't get to come but I heard lots of stories from my father when they arrived home after a few days. Through pictures, I got to see where my grandfather grew up and ultimately where a quarter of my blood came from. They also brought home gifts and some authentic Chinese tea, which I really liked. 

Intersection of Carnarvon and Granville road in TST
Though I have studied in a Chinese school for twelve solid years of my life, I never really got the chance to experience the culture in a real and personal way. June 2012 was the month my siblings and I went to Hong Kong for a (late) vacation. It was my first time ever to venture out of the Philippine shores. The first time we got out of the MTR and got to see the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, I really felt that I was in another world. Indeed, it was a great time to unwind, experience new things, and shop like never before. I also got to spend time my best friend, who is living in HK now. At that time, I only had school two days a week, so fortunately, I did not miss any class. 

4. A Fun Way to Gain Calories

It has been ages since anyone in the house used the oven for baking sweets. My sisters used to bake lots of cookies and cupcakes back in the day, but they grew up and went on with other hobbies. One day I told my brother that I was craving red velvet cupcakes. He told me "then go bake some." - I know that probably doesn't sound inspiring in any way, but that started the whole hobby. He accompanied me to the supermarket to buy ingredients and I baked. And baked and baked. 

unpiped red velvet cupcakes fresh from the oven
Through the whole year, I managed to create various calorie-filled goodies. I earned a few bucks by selling a few cupcakes and cookies, but I mostly just give them as gifts for my loved ones. My victims They commented that I have gotten a lot better, from baking cupcakes and cookies to cakes and fondant designs. ☺ I am still not very good, but I enjoy what I do/create, especially when I give them to people as personalized gifts.

5. Getting to know his Family

2012 was also the year I got closer to Ivan and his family. I met his parents and siblings the year before, but I was incredibly shy (I still am) and quiet that I blushed too much. I told myself that I have to get over my shyness and improve my social skills because no one likes a boring and excessively blushing girl. Fortunately, Ivan helped a lot in being the middle party so there were no awkward situations. And because I spend so much time with him, I naturally got to spend time with his family, too. I was able to bond with his sister when we planned to go to the soft opening of the The Mind Museum last March (but we were late so we ended up eating in Serendra instead) and when we attempted to make mochi ice cream balls last August. I got to talk with his parents more (and even had an brief heart-to-heart talk with his mom!!) when I accompanied them for a last minute shopping before his study trip to Korea.

To say that I am happy and honored to be introduced to his folks is an understatement. They are incredibly sweet and kind to me, and more than being thankful for having Ivan in my life, I am also very thankful for the people who made him that way. 

6. My Sister's Wedding

Achi and my (now) brother-in-law got married just last October. It was such a lovely and heartwarming event. The venue was magical and the ceremony short but gushingly sweet. A lot of people laughed and cried; we were all so happy to witness how God's promise, a perfect love story, came to be fulfilled. At the reception, my brother and the groom's sister sang a wonderful duet and the parents had their speech (papa was funny and great). After years and years of waiting and praying (and months of stressful wedding-planning), achi finally got married to the love of her life under the sky (which is, according to her, how she always pictured her dream wedding to be). God is so great. ♥

♥♥♥ (Photo taken by Ces Tan)
Her marriage not only led to changed in the way I live (literally, because she doesn't live in our house anymore), but also inspired me to really come to God to "experience the best version of [my] life" (-- her exact words). I am so thankful for my achi and my new brother, and also to the Lord Jesus for bringing those two together.

7. Leveling-up in School Spirit

When I was in my first year of college, I remember getting free ice cream because the our school's basketball team won a game against ADMU. Although we didn't get in the final four that year (or the next couple of years), I get instantly fueled up when I watch the UAAP games with my sister or my friends. I think it is safe to assume that most Lasallians are high on animo, or (school) spirit. This year, my best friend decided to make the most out of our stay in college by really participating and cheering on our basketball team live.

Animo! ☺
It wasn't my first time to watch a game live, but I had way so much fun this time. Suddenly, I became a huge fan(girl). Because of my best friend's influence, I was able to understand the games more, and why it matters to a lot of people. I remember feeling extremely cheerful and tired from shouting and clapping when the Green Archers (finally!) secured their spot into the final four. Yes, we did not win overall, but cheering on the Green Archers was an exhilarating experience that I will surely remember in college.

8. A Dream Come True that was Nick Jonas

my view of the stage ☺ it was a bit far, but I was happy. 
October 2012 was not only the month where my sister and her boyfriend tied the knot, it was also the month I ticked off something from my childhood bucket list. After nearly six years of waiting, I finally managed to look at the Jonas Brothers in the eyes at their concert a few months ago. I am a huge Jonas Brothers fan and I am prouuuuud of it! I remember dichi asking me, "If you had a chance to attend one concert in your life, whose would it be?" I answered the Jonas Brothers right away. And my wish came true! I was fighting back tears at hearing the first few notes of the opening song. It was such an amazing concert. They were amazing performers. They sang all of their hit songs. The rendition of Lovebug gave me goosebumps. Nick said he heard it was wonderful in Manila in Hello Beautiful. He also sang Wedding Bells. I have nothing left to say.

9. The Bittersweet End of my Academic Pursuits

no more thesis work!! ☺
I am very happy to announce that I am finally done with all my classes, my final thesis, and yes, with school!! Writing my thesis was such a roller coaster ride. I have been working on it the whole year and it was physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. I cried so many times over it, and sacrificed sleep and social life just to get it done. It was all worth it. Mark 11:24 (NIV) says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." - it is such a powerful verse! You can overcome absolutely anything through Him! Apart from the wonderful feeling of freedom, I am so happy that I am able to honor and thank my parents for investing in my education. Now, I am just waiting for graduation to make everything official. Thank you, Lord!

10. Experienced the Legen.. -wait for it- ..dary!

And by that, I meant college parties. Okay, it's kind of big deal for me because I was already in my senior year of college and was never allowed to attend college parties before. Ever. I know I'm not missing out on a lot because I am not really into drinking or dancing, but it was something I should at least experience before I graduate. Fortunately, my best girl friend was always with me and I had a great time. I literally felt like a kid in LIV last November - we played with paint guns, ran on muddy fields, and had fun under the rain. The aftermath wasn't so pretty, because I got paint all over my clothes and I kinda ruined my sister's shorts, but it was a lesson learned.

I couldn't have asked for better company ♥
I also managed to catch up with fellow 109 batchmates in the TOTEM graduation party last December. It was like LPEP 2k9 all over again, some batchmates I don't see that much were there. At the end of the fun night, I realized how everything led to this liberating yet agonizing truth at the back of my head - it was a graduation party. I'm graduating. I'm getting old.

And it's definitely something to be thankful for.

11. New Friends, New Experiences

This one is a bit general, but the year would not be complete without making new friends and trying out new things.

I am very grateful for the people that I have met this 2012 - colleagues and bosses from my internship, classmates that I met from cross-enrolling, friends from FAST09 and ACG, and fellow lit majors who were a batch younger than me. I'm not a very outgoing person, and I realized that the older I get in school, the more difficult it is to really be close to someone and/or keep in touch with people. During my last term, I was almost always alone because some of my friends have class or have graduated already. I knew that giving myself 'alone time' is kind of healthy and liberating, but it's also pretty lonely. That's why I am really truly thankful for the people who kept me company, encouraged me, and cheered me on (especially with my thesis!!) the past year. As cl
iché as it might sound, I wouldn't get to where I am now if it weren't for those people.

Having new friends also means sharing new experiences! I had so much fun flying with my girl friends in AntiGravity Yoga, assisting local bands and block sections in Faastigan, visiting the zoo for an environment project, and helping fashion editors in styling for a magazine shoot (to name a few)!

12. Close and Comfortable

Apart from all the new things I have encountered last year, I am also greatly indebted to the things that remained the same, with people that were already familiar to me - my good ol' friends and family. After achi got married and moved out of the house, I got to annoy hang out with my brother more (since he took over the room next to mine and dichi's, while his old room became an entertainment room). It made us literally closer than before. ☺ I miss my achi, but it's like nothing much changed. Our new family set-up is not really 'new' because I felt like my brother-in-law was already my big brother long before he got married to achi.

It was also the year I got to spend more quality time with my high school friends. We never really hung out together during school days because our schedules clashed, but this year we coincidentally had similar breaks. Eanne and I became almost inseparable because we would usually eat lunch together. I was also able to bond with Kaye more because of her demanding school projects (which is kinda ironic). Maybe it's just me, but I think that the moments we shared this year is more meaningful and heartfelt. I have known these guys almost my whole life. It's really nice to know that we still find time for each other despite our busy schedules.

high school never ends ♥
Aside from my high school friends, I am thankful for my college buddies, too. Tricia graduated last October and I was still in school, but that did not stop us from meeting and chatting almost every day. She was always there to listen, whether it be about my insecurities, rants, or dilemmas in school. I think we have both gotten closer last year, and I am really looking forward to how our friendship would grow even more this 2013.

My lit loves, Marian and Nikki especially, were also with me when I had my Dark Ages, a.k.a. thesis blues. They, too, were suffered from the same unhealthy feelings of stress and panic, and it was nice to know I was not truly alone (even though I technically am, because it was an individual work). They were my constant companions, from stress-eating to researching in the library. We encouraged each other and ranted together.

Ivan has also been a significant part of my year. Before his term in Korea, I had spent a great deal of time talking and being with him that he has become like a default presence in my life. We became more comfortable with each other last year. I am thankful that until today, I have someone like him - a best friend who understands me, a crying shoulder who comforts me, brother-figure who cares about me, and a personal stress ball who listens to my problems.


So much has happened last year that the blessings I have received from Him do not fit this list of twelve. I am thankful for so much - for my growing family, for the good health of my loved ones, for my upcoming graduation, for my successful OJT, for Ivan's stay in Korea, for a revival of my passion in reading, for my supportive friends, for my first trip abroad, for high school reunions, for an awesome college life, and for all the happiness. 2012 was a great year, but I know 2013 will be even better. ♥

Because we are Human

Thursday, November 15, 2012

While I was writing a paper on the human reason, I randomly remembered a film by Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon. I watched it over a year ago in my Introduction to Philosophy class. It was quite an old film, but watching it makes you ponder about things regarding life, humanity, and morality. Some questions that popped into my head were on the idea of lying and selfishness. This is not a review of the film, and some of you may or may not agree with me in some points.

Is it okay for man to lie because he is human?

According to Akira Kurosawa's Film, Rashomon, men lie because they are human, and for the bandit Tajomaru, lying is okay. Sometimes people lie to save themselves, or to get what they want. It's inevitable in life. In my opinion, though, I don't think being human is a good excuse for lying. Not telling the truth can harm others, or it can lead to something worse, like breaking of relationships and trust.

I asked the opinions of a couple of people, and they also believe that lying should not be considered “okay.” In fact, it may be one of the things people hate the most. A female friend told me that, “Although humans have a lot of flaws and the freedom of will, we should still choose to be honest and tell the truth. Another student thinks that, “Lying is the same as intentionally deceiving one person. If you can't tell the truth, then it is better to not say anything at all.”

If you're a believer of God, the Bible (NIV) says in Exodus 20:16, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." and Proverbs 11:3, "Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people." Honesty shows your character, and when you speak the truth, it helps other people too. Even so called “white lies” are not okay. If a person lies to make another person feel better, I do not think it would work because that person deserves to know what you really have to say.

Can a person live and survive without being selfish?

The word 'selfishness' can mean a lot of things. A definition I got from the dictionary is that it refers to the “arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others.” In the movie, the answer to my question was 'No.' To be selfish is to be human. In Tajomaru's case, though, he already knew that the lady was the wife of the samurai, and yet he made plans to steal her away from him. The samurai, too, was selfish in the way that he left his wife and was led to the woods in hopes of getting a new sword.

Though there is nothing wrong with doing something to get what you want, but it becomes wrong when the means of attaining happiness hurts others. I agree with the answer that the movie provided because though man can act selfless, he cannot always think of other people first. Nothing would progress in your life if you would not think and do something for yourself.

A friend shared with me her thoughts on this, saying that it is part of human nature to be selfish. “Yes, man is capable of being selfless,” she said, “but men fall short of the glory of God, so I don't think it's possible to entirely not be selfish.” I agree with her on that. It makes one think that although we can be generous to others, we are still, by nature, a little selfish. But that does not mean that being selfish makes you a bad person. The tendency for humans is to do things to please themselves.

An article by Scott Hughes, “Moral Philosophy – Selfishness and Kindness,” describes that being selfish and selfless could be compatible with each other. You can be kind to others and at the same time act according to your own interests, to be happy when another person is feeling happy.

In the view of the Bible, Romans 15:1-2 mentions, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (NIV) This means man must not always think of himself, and when he sees another man, he could reach out and help. ☺