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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

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We had a field trip one time in my archaeology course to the Santa Ana Church, also known as Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned in Manila. It is a church built and dedicated to Our Lady. That reminds me, yesterday was Mother’s Day. I greet Our Lady a blessed Mother’s Day!

I was told that there were some significant archaeological remains discovered in the church: skeletal and material remains of people dating back to pre-Spanish period. It turns out that the land on which the church was built and beyond was a pre-Spanish cemetery. Nice!

For starters, I took photos of the exterior and interior of the church. The retablo was said to be original and very antique. Of course, the featured imahe is the Our Lady of the Abandoned, above the tabernacle. There was also a room full of statues of saints for devotees. Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, my patron saint, was there too.

Looks like the parish also has a site. Visit it here.

Things are getting busier now that I am gearing towards graduation. I hope I can manage. But anyway, one time during class, I was suddenly inspired to make a very short poem about my current favorite dessert. Ice scramble! They’re so cheap, that’s why. I like mine with extra helpings of milk powder and marshmallow, and of course, no chocolate syrup added. I buy my ice scramble in a kiosk named “Iskomai” where they named their ice scramble product as “Iskorambol”. Isko for scholar.

Bundok ng pinong yelo na kulay rosas
Tinaktakan ng matamis na pulbong gatas
Saka likidong tsokolate pang ibabaw
Swak na panghimagas sa taong uhaw.

Very rough translation:
Mountain of finely-shaved ice dyed pink
Showered with sweet powdered milk
Then add chocolate syrup to top
Surely a satisfying dessert to a thirsty one.

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.

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.

Aren’t those Triticum aestivum (wheat) seedlings cute? At this seed germination stage, you can already see the green coleoptile emerging from the seeds. We germinated wheat and rice seeds in Petri dishes to determine whether which seed will yield more seedlings. And it turned out that wheat was the answer!