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It was my dream before to go to Kyoto to see and experience the traditional Japanese culture at its finest. I thought it was impossible with the little resources that I have. But I realized that there was a way, but it would be a very difficult one: applying for the Monbukagakusho (MEXT) scholarship.

And I successfully got in. It took me courage to send e-mails to Japanese professors as my research background was far from my research interest. But a professor has accepted despite that and he was even kind enough to make the study plan (because we were nearing the submission deadline). I am now currently undertaking my Master’s in Kyoto University with animal virus as my research study. My labmates are all Japanese with me as their first and currently only foreign student in the lab. Still, they were very kind to me and would initiate English conversations even when they’re having difficulty speaking it.

I remember that I used to be ask, “Why did you want to study to Kyoto”? And I would always answer simply, “Because it’s like hitting two birds in one stone”. Aside from experiencing the Japanese traditional culture, I also would like to build up my career as a researcher. And nothing is better than going to one of the best universities in Asia, or even the world, which is Kyoto University.

The first two weeks was a long nerve-wrecking adjustment period. I had to finish a lot of paperwork while attending the orientations and the first day of classes. But now, thankfully, I have settled down. I currently live in a nice cozy apartment near Shimogamo-jinja.

And so my journey to Kyoto begins.

Kamogawa or Kamo River in Kyoto

I noticed some pretty flowers growing along the pathway in the place I am currently working at. It has a bright pink shade and looking very attractive among the greens. Attracted, I took some shots but they didn’t come out fine. So I practiced my editing skills with Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Since I have a pastime of browsing through pictures taken by such amazing photographers in Flickr, I got the hang and ideas of what looks good and what does not. So here is the result. I think it is much better than the original shot. I should really equip myself with a better camera.

At first, the thought of college graduation was too much of an idea to sink well in my head. Why, I’ve been studying for almost 16 years of my life! But anyway, it doesn’t matter. I plan (not just dream) of getting a Ph.D. So, I still have a very long way to go.

I was offered a “summer job” in a laboratory by helping out in a certain project. Had I wanted, I could have started the day right after my graduation. But I asked for one week of rest so that I can do a little bit of career planning and contemplation. And it was a good decision. I was able to confirm my resolve in doing graduate studies and research. My mind was always filled with college student’s worries back then that I wasn’t able to think a lot of my future career. So I used this one week in searching for information about scholarships abroad (hopefully).

So I am currently working on microorganisms, in short, microbes. I like the different colors of the media we use to culture them, prescribed according to their needs and how we can identify them. I also like working in the laboratory. The neatness, cleanliness and orderliness are very much accentuated.

By the way, the picture shown above is an XLD agar positive with Salmonella sp. Pretty, isn’t it? However, it’s pathogenic consequences isn’t as pretty as it looks.

This is a continuation of the previous Camaya post. As I said a while before, spent my time on the beach picking up shells underneath the pebbles, sand grains and waves. I am not too familiar with the seashell terms nor their taxonomy so after gathering, I just grouped them according to their general shape or appearance. They are so pretty to look at! Actually, very few of them still had hermit crabs inside. So the morning after that day, as I laid up the shells under the sun to dry them up and remove the fishy smell, I noticed some dried up hermit crabs upon collecting the shells at noon. Oh well.

Its been my childhood hobby to collect shells. I used to have lots of them before but now they’re all gone because I used them all up in my elementary and high school projects for decorative purposes.

Hooray for beach summer getaway! We went to Camaya beach resort in Mariveles, Bataan just yesterday. Although I am from Bataan, I’ve never been to Mariveles. So it was my first time to experience the steep zigzag roads along the mountains of Mariveles. But we were also welcomed by a beautiful view of rocky mountain formations and terrains. And I could tell that the mountains of Mariveles are teeming with rich flora and fauna. No wonder that researchers conduct regular biodiversity surveys in these areas. During the travel, I saw collared kingfishers, bee eater, some swallows, egret and soaring falcon-liked birds which looked like Brahminy kites.

And here comes the resort experience. Although the beach facilities were generally good, the food was disappointing. The entrance to the resort included an eat-all-you-can lunch buffet, and so since we’re in a beach, I was expecting seafood, dessert, and cold refreshments. However, each guest was only offered rice, pansit and two viands. I was expecting a more lavish menu. And I was not able to pick my own serving (since I eat less than average). The beach wasn’t so great as well. The water was not very crystal clear. There weren’t many intertidal and marine organisms, but of course it was expected since it is a beach resort. But I was still hoping I’d see some sea stars. There were a few jellyfishes though.

I spent all morning and early afternoon under the sun swimming and mostly by collecting sea shells. Collecting sea shells has always been my hobby, however, I’ve been in the beach only a few times. I will make a post soon about the shells I’ve collected.

As I became a biology major student, I have become more immersed in noticing the every detail in my surroundings every time I go outside. Especially when I took vertebrate and ecology subjects, I learned how to identify the birds little by little through sight and hearing. To my surprise, there were also other species of birds in our village besides from the ubiquitous maya! So I took the chance during the Christmas vacation to take photos of these birds.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)

Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)

Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

Long-tailed shrike (Lanius shach)

Shoeshine, the infamous resident cat of Pavilion 4, is biology students’ most favorite undissected cat. She garnered her name due to her habit of frolicking people’s shoes or feet. More than that, she is undeniably cute because of her short tail and markings near her eyes. She also is constantly getting pregnant, which is why students always tease her for being malandi.

This was when she was approaching me because of the food I was eating.