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December was such a busy month that I didn’t notice it passing so quickly. Today is the last day and soon a new year will unfold. And I have almost forgotten to post about my enchanting trip to Kobe Luminarie.

Kobe Luminarie is held every December in which illuminations are built in memory of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which struck Hyogo Prefecture on January 1995. I was still young back then so I didn’t know such a disaster happened in Japan. It must have been very hard during that time in Kobe. But now they have largely recovered and that is very good.

There was a huge crowd of people as expected. Saying it ‘huge’ in this post is actually an understatement. Because it’s so huge and large-scale that they have to slowly direct all these people to the illumination site so there were a lot of walking and detours.

It was really a spectacular sight. Though I must be frank, illuminations are still grander in the Philippines.

And so for the reflections of this past year..

I remember back then, I said during last year’s December that I will definitely have a different Christmas next year.  And sure enough it happened. I received many blessings, so many that sometimes I can’t contain my happiness to myself. I am very thankful. I was taking my master’s program from the University of the Philippines during the almost first half of this year, and then I transferred during the second half  at Kyoto University.

It was just dream before, going and studying to Kyoto. I didn’t know it could be possible. It’s all thanks to my sensei, he was so kind to accept me in his lab even though my background is different from their research interests. And the lab members are also kind to me, friendly and helpful. And I should note that I am their first and only international student.

I think the most important lesson I learned this year is to believe and to have courage. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here today.  I am just so glad. I hope this coming year will also be a blessed one for me. Let’s do our best! 頑張りまあしょう!

Happy New Year! あけましておめでとう

My friends and I had a pre-Christmas dineout in Suzu Kin, a Japanese restaurant located along EDSA. It was well worth the money. We unanimously agreed that the dishes were quite authentic, although I must say that we are not much knowledgeable in Japanese cuisine. Still, truly oishii! The prices were actually much cheaper than I expected. We ordered three separate and two shared dishes: tempura udon (1st picture), katsudon, something soup with soba noodles, spicy tuna sashimi with mayonnaise (2nd picture) and my most favorite, chirashi-zushi in donburi style (3rd picture).

It was actually our dream to dine in an authentic Japanese restaurant and I am very glad that we tried this out. Now, where should we dine next?

This year’s lantern parade, in my opinion, was better than last year’s. Lanterns were generally more beautifully and interestingly-designed. Although it’s a bit disappointing that there was no fireworks show in the end which I was very much looking forward to watch. I heard that the money for the fireworks show will be put to better use to donations for the Yolanda typhoon victims which I think was a very good and noble cause.

The parade was already moving when we ran down from Vinzon’s Hall. Maybe just enough time to have a glimpse of the former Ms. Universe runner-up Venus Raj who was with the CSWCD.

We watched the parade in the amphitheater although the view was not that good. It would have been better if the people in the parade turned their lanterns around so that the majority of the audience from the back could see them more clearly.

I think this was the most beautiful float in the entire parade. The float was inspired from the legendary sarimanok of Maranao people. Just look at the intricate details!

Of course, the Fine Arts people had the best stuff. Their theme this year was Filipino folk legends, epics, traditions, etc. which was a very cool choice! I was not able to remember the names of the float but some familiar ones were bulol of the Ifugao, t’nalak dreamweaver of T’boli and wedding tradition of some ethnolinguistic group in Mindanao.

I hope I would still be able next year’s lantern parade.

My whole self achingly and overwhelmingly cries for rest and peace of mind. Too much load of papers was very tiring, submitting them halfway-done was heartbreaking, thinking ideas was mind-boggling, and racing through the time was stressful. But I have really no choice these past weeks because they come one after another, sometimes more than one at once. I feel like crying often times. For a perfectionist me, I wish I had the chance to do them long before the deadline so that I can pass them to my heart’s satisfaction. I wish for more time. But now I have to let do and let God. Just keep doing things, budgeting time, offering work for silent deep-hearted prayers.

This was also the reason why I haven’t recollected myself for Christmas. But I hope I will have more time now that Christmas vacation has started.

As we spent our family vacation in Singapore some last weeks of December 2012 until New Year, we also decided to visit Malaysia in a day trip to Legoland. We rode buses which stops by the Immigration office to stamp our passports. As we entered Malaysia, we were welcomed by the heavy traffic, a reminiscence of Manila. We also rode the wrong buses so we ended up in an unfamiliar place. All is well in the end as we were able to get there but almost lunch time. So before we entered the theme park, we had our lunch in KFC. However, there was a brownout as we were ordering our meals. And this to happen in the middle of a hot humid day!

The Legoland theme park was pretty okay. I had fun and there were also some very interesting Lego constructions. However, there were no big trees for shade! And it was drizzling occasionally during our visit. I must say that the theme park was still undeveloped in a certain degree. There is still much room for improvement and new stuff. Still, I liked it. As expected, the rides had driven me almost mad. I hated riding on fast-paced and stomach-lurching rides but the thoughts of spending the afternoon worthily also crossed my mind. If the children could do it, why couldn’t I?

So here are some photos during our visit. What I liked most were the heritage constructions in each country, especially in the Philippines. Although I must say that they should have chosen a more popular site.

These ones were taken above ground in a certain ride which I can’t remember the name. You could see almost everything up here.

I rode this one. I think it was called Technik? That downward slope was really frightening. I also happen to have a fear in heights. But I am glad that I conquered it.

These photos were miniature heritage constructions from several countries, many of which presented were from Asia. Shown here were some town in England I suppose, Taj Mahal from India, a typical Philippine provincial rural setting, and Angkor Wat from Cambodia. I think Angkor Wat was the most beautiful construction because of the earthiness of Lego colors.

Last year’s Lantern Parade was definitely better than this year. I was even on the parade itself with my co-Bio Majors because it was a CWTS requirement for all College of Science students to create and parade their own lanterns. You could clearly see the authenticity of work of each institute. In our case, we made animal-like, virus-like, DNA-like, plantlike and many other sorts.

This year’s floats were also not as good as last year. I wonder what happened. I still had fun watching from afar in amphitheater, but there were some boring moments. Fine Arts’ floats are always amazing though. College of Engineering’s jeep transformer was the best in my opinion.

The fireworks display was also short. Our view was even obscured because it was displayed at the oblation. They maybe decided to put it there due to last year’s fireworks malfunction. Still most people probably didn’t have a good view since almost all of us were in the amphitheater.

Here are some of the pictures during Lantern Parade. These pictures are from a friend of mine.

Truly, it’s good to be home.

I haven’t been able to left Metro Manila since the start of the second semester. Field trips and appointments have taken all my weekend, though I also did enjoy these activities. And as soon as I was home, my grandmother and my mother commented how thin I have become. That was probably because I did not have enough money during the last weeks before vacation. And when I have eaten my first meal here, I felt so full. Now I am going to gain weight again.

I also have colds for almost a week and a half now. I hope I get well soon. But it’s also my fault because I was not eating well before I was sick, and I haven’t taken any medicine. It started with a sore throat the day just after our choral competition. It’s getting better now I think, but I am still not able to sing well. Just yesterday night, we had out caroling with my orgmates and still couldn’t sing in high notes. Sigh. But I believe I will get well soon. I just need to have more sleep and positive attitude.

This semester is also probably has the most liberating schedule I ever had in my college life. I have so many free time that I was even able to accept a position in one of my organizations and make plenty of fundraisers. Maybe God really willed it to be. I am going to cherish and treasure all these time to plan ahead for the next semesters.

And now I thank God for this very long Christmas break. I will try to finish all the work before our family getaway to Singapore.