SUNSETS AND SORROWS

FFfAW Challenge – Photo provided by Footy and Foodie

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I was thirteen years old when I became fond of sunsets. It always brings me realizations. It makes me ponder on the day’s events, reflect on the big or little mistakes I did and smile at simple or noble deeds I made. It reminds me that as the day comes to an end, no matter how good or bad it had been, tomorrow will be another day.

As I stand here in the parking area, sadness overpowers the feeling of appreciation for the beauty of the sunset in front of me. Starting today, I will watch the sunset without the man who taught me to see its beauty. I will say goodbye to each day with sorrow, not knowing how I’ll face tomorrow.

I wipe away my tears and gather the strength to say my final goodbyes to my father in front of all who came to his wake.

DISCIPLINE IN ACTION

Visiting Japan: Part 1

I know it’s very, very late for this blog but I just want to share my experience and appreciation during my visit in this country, so humor me.

I worked in a manufacturing company for four years and it’s not everyday that employees were given a chance to visit other countries, but two years ago, June 2015, that was exactly the opportunity that burst at my door. I was selected to join a 4-day business trip to Osaka, Japan (yeah, I know. 4 days ONLY?!).  It was so sudden that I did not have time to think if it was because of my performance or just part of my responsibility that I was selected, but whatever the reason was, I was just thankful and excited at that time. It was my first time and my excitement was very catching that my four middle-aged companions joined me in preparation, jumping up and down.

The flight was 2:00 P.M. It has been 7 years since I last boarded an airplane and since I was the youngest in the group, I got the window seat. Shallow as it may sound but I was amazed at the sight of the clouds. I was like a child again, watching through the plane window, marveling at God’s creation. I silently uttered several thanks to Him for His creation and for giving me chance to behold.

ETA was 7:00 P.M. Japan time (our time is one hour earlier), and after having dinner at a Japanese fast food, we bought breakfast for the next morning in a convenient store and headed straight to My Stays Inn Hotel. We had no time to sightsee because of the dark and the time and we needed to prepare for tomorrow’s schedule. I shared the room with my colleague and together we appreciated its coziness. Every corner and every tool has its own function and like stupid kids we tried using all of it. Because the hotel also had free Wi-Fi, I spent an hour posting and scanning pictures before meditating on my devotion and tucking myself to sleep in the comfortable bed.

My first morning in Japan was a refreshing one. I woke up 4:00 A.M. Japan time and the light outside the hotel window in that early hour proved that it really is the land of the rising sun.

(I guess I’ve already gone to very detailed descriptions of what I did on the first night and first morning. Sorry.  So I guess this is the point in the article where I need to give helpful points with my experience and not just story-tell.)

First, I think I need to give a little background of the company that I’ve previously worked with. The company is a manufacturing company producing sporting goods (e.g. baseball, hockey, and lacrosse gloves) and business and fashion bags imported to the US and Japan. It is like an outsource factory of the head office “Trion” based in Osaka, Japan. The founder and CEO is a Japanese and though we have American customers too, I learned to appreciate more the Japanese customers (no discrimination or offense meant). Also, I was assigned in the Japan-Line business unit so that explains the Japanese-sided mindset. He-he. One of the reasons of our visit in Japan was to have a deeper understanding of the Japanese culture and way of life. As a Research & Development Department Supervisor back then, I really had no idea what to expect but then I had come to realize that my previous company had both challenge and opportunity in business with Japanese as customers and end-users of the products. Here are some of the interesting, if not helpful, insights from my Japan visit:

High Technology Level. Almost all things are automated: the parking lot, sliding doors, even the toilet flush. I also noticed a common techie thing in almost every corner of the places we went to: vending machine. I found this amusing and I don’t know why.  They make all their stuff automated to be more convenient for the user and to save time and space. This made me compare it with the technology level of our country and saw the big gap in which we still need to develop.

Self-Service. It was fun and exciting but also challenging to experience their services in the restaurants, hotels, convenient stores, or even the transportation. Most of the places encourage self-service because their technology is enough for the customers to know their way around. So, if you will plan a trip to Japan, you would want to research a bit or else you’ll get stuck in some hotel trying to figure out what to do with some stuff. He-he. Just kidding.

Passion for Sports. As a sporting goods manufacturing company, baseball is one of the sports that my previous company cater and we had a chance to watch a live baseball game. The teams were Orix Buffaloes vs. Saitama Seibu Lions at the Hotto Motto Kobe Field. It was my first time and I was really excited. I personally appreciated how Japanese love baseball. Even before we went inside, I can hear the cheering of the audience that made me hoot in delight. There were almost a thousand of audience inside the field which consisted of kids, teenagers, adults, and even old ones. Though it rained in the middle of the game, the audience still did not leave. They waited until the rain subsided and continued rooting for their best team. At last, I finally understood how baseball is played, with all its rules. This is the best part of the trip for me because after realizing the pressure and big challenge that we will face when we go back to work, we finally had the privilege to watch how exciting the game is in which the products are used. We were privileged to be able to share their love and excitement for this sport, even for just a short time.

Discipline and Trust. So often has it been said that Japanese are very much disciplined. Some of our Japanese bosses even said that they liked it here more in the Philippines as their impression of us Pinoy’s are happy-go-lucky and down-to-earth, no pressure in following all the rules. Hearing it, I became proud of how our culture affects other citizens, but not until I saw the Japanese culture. I then began to wish that our country can adapt some of their present practices.

  1. They are very organized and systematic. All the places we went to have systematic processes which all the citizens follow that even the smallest item has its own proper location.
  2. They value time. They move, walk, and talk in a manner that they mean no time should be wasted. Even the Japanese staff who were with us ensured that we are in time with our schedule.
  3. They all follow their system and their rules. Their clean environment is proof enough of their discipline. Also, I saw how trust is very important in their work as well as their way of living. They even have this vegetable stall in the street without any salesman. All you have to do to “buy” is pick up the vegetable or fruit that you like and leave the payment in the money container.
  4. They are very professional in terms of work and business. They are actually very workaholic, working to show their support to their family. Even the old ones still work (as security guard, convenient store cashier, etc.) Even so, I also noticed that they are generally courteous: they make sure that they will not pass by other people without giving a small greeting.  

Even for a short period of time that we were there and with all the pressure from work and busy people around, I was privileged and grateful to be able to see and understand the culture and way of living in Japan. Though I am not in the same company now, I will definitely not forget the learnings and experiences that I’ve gained from that trip, especially with my seniors who were with me. With that, gratitude overwhelmed me, and I will always feel that way. (Uh-oh, I guess I’m reminiscing. Better end this article before I cry and the tone becomes all mushy or something…)

It was only after that trip when I’ve realized that discipline is important for a nation to improve and develop its potentials. Japan, before, is not as civilized as it is now, but it has built its own reputation through the years and the citizen’s discipline definitely has a great contribution. Discipline may seem like a trite word especially for millennials like me, but I’ve witnessed it in action, I’ve seen the result, and what better thought would I have in mind? Will it sound gibberish if I say (or write) that this is what our country needs now?

For the travellers out there, I would definitely recommend to include this country in your list. You’ll not only enjoy the trip, but you’ll get home packed with a lot of personal learnings, mainly about discipline in various aspects, that you’d want to adapt. Well, I hope. 🙂

Photos will follow. I am still filtering my album and selecting pictures that are best to go with this article.

Black

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Photo from pixabay.com

He never had a chance to spend time with his family until they left him. That seems to be his biggest regret.

Black became his companion. He felt the loyalty of a brother, the care of a friend, the longing of a son. Black became his family’s only memorial.

Now, he will be the one leaving.

He wished to stay to give back all the gratitude for Black but he has to face the same war that orphaned him.

He knelt down to bid his final goodbye. “Thank you, Black. Your loyalty and care deserves sharing. I hope you find someone worthy.”

104 words

This is my first try to join a Flash Fiction. Pardon my wrong grammar or shallow story if there be any. I’m just a frustrated writer.

RE: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

First off, the following words are not from some broken hearted person. Tapos na ang Hearts Day for that corny lines. He-he.

I’ve been to a place of lushes trees and green mountains where you can hear the sound of birds and the hush of leaves. Well, I think you get the picture. It’s the perfect place to do some serious thinking, reminiscing, soul-searching, at iba pang pag-iinarte. So kahit papaano, despite the busy schedule (wow!), I had time to reminisce about life, some stuff, and the likes.DSC_7375DSC_7351

What hit me the most during my inarte moments was the reminiscing about the past. Where did the time go? Have you asked the same question and felt the same sentiment? Yung parang tinakbuhan at dinaan-daanan ka lang ng “time” na hindi mo na namalayan, lumipas na pala? That feeling? With that, a more important question comes to mind: what did we do with time? Is it spent worthily? Time worth differs for every individual so this question is for everyone to answer.DSC_7382DSC_7378

I’ve also been to a museum-type of place where I got to appreciate the remains of history. These relics can make us remember what was done and sacrificed before but it cannot literally make us go back to the past. It’s the same with what we have now. We can always remind ourselves of the past: events held, people mingled with, achievements completed, things owned, words said, mistakes made… but we can never go back to it nor bring it to present. Blue as it may sound but the bright side is what we can do with the present. Present times may not be always good for everyone. Tragedy happens, relationship fails, pet dies… Though there will always be some inevitable changes, we can always count on what was declared in Romans 8:28: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”.

After the dramatic pag-iinarte in the mountains, I was splashed with cold water when I came back to the real world here in the city. I thought that remembering the past was enough until I got back to the real battlefield of life where tons of tasks are waiting to be finished, piles of bills are accumulated, loved ones are depending on you… This gave me realization that though there should be recollection moments, getting stuck in it will make people forget what is ahead. We all have responsibilities which are all pointing to our goals. There are still hundreds of days to count for the New Year. It is not too late to list our New Year’s resolutions, bucket list, or other lists that you can think of. This can help us hit our goals and get ready for the future that we do not hold and we are uncertain of. Scary as it may seem but we can be comforted with the promise of God: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future”. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Vic Sotto and Pauleen Luna already tied the knot after the controversial relationship. Pia Wurtzbach already recovered from the awkward experience on the Miss Universe 2015 and claimed her crown. San Miguel Beermen hit the records by winning the PBA Governor’s Cup Finals with a historic comeback. They all had a bright welcome for the New Year. What would be our share? What I just mean is: there are so many wondrous and exciting things around us if we just look around. It is never too late to start anew for this year. There will be more trials and treats that life has to offer. Let us not let those pass us by. So, this is me, greeting you a blessed new year ahead and suggesting that we move forward with our lives at present and look to the future with the past in mind.

REFLECTION

mirror-reflection-hd-wallpaper-picture-d01I’ve always like mirrors. Not because I’m vain but of what image it shows me…

I sighed. I waited until the moon put itself to view as I wondered how I would face the sunlight again. I read myself to sleep just like what I do every night and then I was surprised to find myself standing up again to face another day. I fixed myself and prepared to put on the mask I always wore. I walked out and faced the people with a different aura. A whole lot different from what I feel inside. Like an actress in a play I climbed the stage and worked my best to carry out the script the writer and director handed me. I forced myself to act what they expected me to be.

I tried to walk away, not that I want to be alone nor did I want to be crowded by people who didn’t know who I really am.

I saw a crowd. They seemed happy. I knew that from the smiles they’re wearing, like they don’t have to pretend. I can’t help but envy them. Unlike what they do, I’m not used to expressing myself to others. The feelings I’m keeping at the back of the mask all stayed locked up.

After I wandered, I came back and looked at the mirror. I was glad because I didn’t see the mask I wore. Instead I saw myself. I saw my face, every expression I’m hiding. I looked again, expecting to see my face, but I didn’t. Instead I saw all the things I’ve done and heard the words I’ve spoken. I saw the people whom I cherish and who are so close to my heart. I became conscious of my mistakes and smiled at the noble deeds I’ve done. I reflected on it all, through that little mirror. Just a while ago, I was confused and dubious and perplexed. All was gone the moment I took a gaze on that reflection. Things became crystal clear. Little by little, I absorbed the worth of each detail of my existence.

I’ve always liked mirrors because through them, I was able to see the truth behind all the scripts in the play. With them, I can glimpse, every so often, at the old and real reflection of my face, of my life, of my soul…

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LIFE BEHIND BARS

Jail1It’s not every day that you get to spend a day with people like them. This is what went trough my mind when we visited the place. It may sound cliché but it’s true. Add up the approaching Christmas season, it’s a bonus.

I look at them as others will: woeful. So I prepared myself for how I’m going to talk and act around them. Yet nothing surprised me more than the realizations that experience gave me after visiting them.

Muntinlupa Bilibid Prison. I know of the place but it was my first time to actually visit inside. I went with my friends to minister to the inmates, to give them some goods and Christmas presents, to give them inspiring messages. I was excited and nervous at the same time since I really had no idea how to interact with those people. To make the long story short, we went there and I was surprised by the way the inmates welcomed us. They treated us like old friends, because they yearn for interaction with “outsiders”. They were separated from their families; some even do not have families who will visit them. We gave them simple gifts which they regarded as the best gifts people can ever receive. They listened to our inspiring messages and they were bold enough to say that they were moved and encouraged. This stirred our hearts. They have this school where they learn basic lessons and study livelihood activities. They gave us some of their projects as their gifts to us in return. They also had this presentation in which they showed their talents in singing, dancing, acting, and a lot more. It’s very gratifying! Yet, it’s not only because of the happiness that they brought to us that made this experience truly worth it. It’s the realizations that struck me.

Unlike those inmates, we are free. We have our families but some of us often forgot how to appreciate our families or the people around us. We can buy material things but some do not get satisfied with what that they have and what they receive. We can hear and see inspiring things around us but others do not take heed of the messages of inspiration or rebuke. We are free but oftentimes we can also consider ourselves imprisoned, of selfishness, anger, struggles, stress… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not concluding that inmates are better than us. However, when we hear of prison, we immediately think of people with shattered lives, but after getting to know those inmates, it seemed ironic to me. Yes they are not perfect. They are imprisoned because of their past, deprived of many privileges that other people enjoy, but we can all learn from the lives of most of them, if not all, to make a better change in our own lives.

We visited them there to minister to them, to share our blessings to them so that we can inspire them, but it turned out that I am the one who became more blessed and inspired… and that made this Christmas season experience worthwhile.

Writer’s Note: Even though this experience actually happened a long time ago, those inmates’ smiles and gratitude that reflected true joy really cut deep which no heart can ever forget…

THE ROAD.

IMG_20150422_211642The road is long and winding.
Even with all the trials, hurt, and hardships faced along the way, there’ll still be more to encounter.
Oftentimes the rebukes, criticisms, and reprimands received were almost too much to bear, but there’ll be more to endure.
There were a lot of tripping and stumbling, sometimes wrong ways were taken, and there’ll still be more to expect.
It may seem like the travel taken was already way too far, but the journey waiting ahead is way longer.
The trials and hardships, rebuke and reprimand… they’ll never be enough to make me into what God wanted me to be.
It doesn’t matter that the road has too many surprises in store, because it is not the road that He is trying to change; it is my self (my character, my perspective, my desires) that He is changing, molding me into His image. The road is long and winding and He’ll always be like a tour guide faithfully watching and giving reminders to a traveler who oftentimes get lost in the way because of not following correct directions and not keeping in mind the lessons learned from the past and sl;kdfgnfdjkbnagklpnawr[goinbja;ba.

The Road. Bow.