NOVEMBER 16, 2008
I have many blogger friends here who are blogging about their adjustments in the Philippines. They are sharing their experiences both good and bad to warn their fellow citizen just in case they want to visit, move or settle here. According to them, they feel that they have to share what they have gone through because it’s something they don’t have when they move here. Nobody warn them about the consequences and because of these, they never enjoy their stay.
Moving to a new place is not easy. It would take a lot of adjustment. I personally experienced this because my dad was in the army and he used to move from one place to another and sometime, we have to go with him. It was only when I started studying that he decided to retire so we can settle in one place. He preferred to settle in a little Barrio along the bayside at the foot of the mountain. That was his dream place. He had motorboats which he used for fishing. The sea has been an extension of my playground. Every Saturday, we usually hike to visit his coconut farm at the middle of the mountain called “Balanga” and “Sarimao”. We would hike at least 4 to 5 hours before we reach the place. I used to climb trees to get my favorite fruits; mango, dalanghita, guyabano, santol, guava etc… Dad has a green thumb and he can grow any tree 🙂 I grew up with abundant fruits and fish. I also help drying coffee beans both “barako” and the regular ones. Life was simpler then until Martial Law has been declared.
I won’t elaborate Martial Law because it’s for another post but as far as I can remember, it was a chaos. Many of my dad’s comrades has been killed so we decided to leave the place and moved in the city. I lost my childhood. At grade 4 I had to transfer and leave my friends. It was a painful experience.
After high school, we moved to Manila and it was another adjustment. But these moving and transfers made me flexible. When I have my first regular job at Kawasaki Motors Philippines, I was selected for company training abroad. I had been to Japan twice for 6 months, first in 1990 and 1992. That was a great experience. I had my trainings at Sumitomo Wiring Systems (SWS), Yokkaichi City, one of the biggest corporations in Japan.
Dad like a typical army is always ready. He helped me with my preparations. He gave me a checklist of important things that I have to prepare. Because Japan is not an English speaking country, he advised me to enroll Nippongo. I learned my basics at Pros International, it’s a language school located at the second floor of Manila Hotel Nikko then. It’s not a very difficult language since I learned my basics in just 1 month. Dad gave me books and magazines to read about the culture and ways of the Japanese people so I can easily get along with them.
He told me that I must bring the following to make my life easier:
- Biscuits good for at least 3 days just in case I don’t like the food and grocery is not scheduled yet.
- Pack of my soap, shampoo and toiletries including pads for my period.
- Medicine kit with cotton, band-aid and basic meds for first aid.
- Sewing kit with needles, thread of different colors and scissors
- Manicure set. Complete with nipper, nail cutter, pusher, brush, acetone and nail polish
- Beauty products. My face powder, make ups, lotion, cologne etc…
- Drawing tools. I have a complete set of water color, brush, colored pens, pentel pens etc…
- I also have a complete set of hair cutting materials. Yes, I can cut my own hair lolz!
- Writing tools. Stationeries, envelopes, pad papers and notebook. PC and mobile phones are not yet popular that time so post mail and long distance call were our means of communication.
- My Bible & rosary, magazine, a Japanese-english and English-japanese dictionary, and Japanese grammar book and recipe book.
- Camera and films, my favorite cassette tapes and CDs and of course my walkman (No iPod yet then)
- My little scrabble set and playing cards
- He told me not to bring many clothes and footwear since I can buy those things at the mall. He just told me to bring formal clothing for important events.
- Of course I also brought a frame of our family picture so I can still see them while I’m away.
Those things are not too bulky so I just have 1 big bag and a hand carry bag. We were leaving on the month of May so dad asked me to bring a warm jacket and insisted that I wear a type of dress that would fit for cold season. He told me to bring an extra sandwich in my bag just in case I don’t like the food so I won’t get starved.
Before leaving, we still have to go at the company for further orientation, they were surprised because I had the smallest bag while my other officemates has bulky bags like a cabinet 🙂 They were making fun of me because I am wearing winter clothes and summer was at its peak then. But daddy knows best. He saw my ticket and we will be stopping at Korea, and he told me that Korea is a very cold country.
I really have a smart dad. He was so right. My officemates who were wearing sexy clothes and thin blouses were swearing when we had our stopover. Icy cold wind touched our skins when we walked at the tarmac to take a Cathay domestic plane to Japan. They can’t even walk and they were all trembling. Since our baggages were in the compartment, they cannot get their jackets. I was so thankful that my dad told me to wear proper clothes and keep a jacket in my hand carried bag.
We arrived at Osaka airport at 12pm. We were all starving and we have to wait for our guide. Thanks to dad, I have 3 sandwiches which made me full. Of course I’m not greedy so I shared it with them. We were 10 trainees then and they were apologetic for teasing me and very thankful for that sandwich.
Indeed, I had an easier life than my officemates. I have a complete supply of my basic needs while they have so many clothes in their baggage. It was after a week that we were allowed to go at the grocery but since most of the products were labeled with Japanese characters, they don’t know which is which. And because they never give time to learn the basic Japanese language, they can’t communicate with the Japanese sales persons. I had a month supply of my personal needs so I already knew the labels before my supply runs out.
Of course they forgot to bring the lists I had above, they borrowed my scissors, my nail cutter, my nail polish, my needles etc… They told me it would be too costly if they would buy those things in Japan. Those were just one of the reasons why I adore dad 🙂
Because I knew the basic language, I had the easiest task and most of the time, I just have to translate their concepts from Japanese to English and let me do the explaining for my group. I was also assigned to do a lot of Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese concept of making suggestions that will improve production operation. First, I have to observe the old method making a time study then I have to introduce a new method which is more effective, speedy and will save cost and time.
If my new method is proven to be effective; of course I have to implement it for at least a week and if it brings positive result then, I have to document it and submit it to the management. The great thing is that, they would pay you for that. From the simplest to complex suggestions and implementations that you imparted, it will be paid accordingly and take note, I earned a lot from that and that’s my edge because I knew the basic language. I can explain and defend my suggestion kahit pa nga barok niponggo lang haha.
Japan, is a very clean country. If you throw something on the road, say it’s a candy wrapper, a Japanese walking behind you will stop, will pick it and throw it in a trash can. I swear, you will be very embarrassed if you do that.
They are very honest. I accidentally left my wallet at the counter and the cashier was running after me to return my wallet. They also follow traffic rules strictly. I remember when we spend the night at the city, then we have to go home at dawn, we hired a taxi. Stopping at the junction, we noticed that there was no car because it’s too early then but he was patiently waiting for the green light. My officemate who was sitting at the front seat teased him and asked him to go on red light anyway there’s no car and no cop around. He sternly said: “No! That’s why there are so many accidents in the Philippines” and we all laugh and marvel at his good attitude.
We had funny moments though. Like for example when we were at the park, and we really have to use the toilet, we have to wait for somebody who will walk in or go out because we don’t understand the signage and we have to endure what we feel.
And the first time that we used the vending machine hahaha! 🙂 It’s terrible. So embarrassing, we dropped the wrong amount of coin and it was stuck and we have to ask for an assistance to fix it. We also meet a Pinoy friend who want to make fun of us. He told us seriously that every bottle has a deposit, all we have to do is to return it inside the vending machine so we can get the coin deposit.
I didn’t took it seriously but one of my officemate did! (siguro matinding pangangailangan) She was trying to return the bottle inside the vending machine and pressing the button hoping that she can get the coin when a Japanese asked her why she’s doing it. She was crying when she went home because of that incident.
Those were part of great experiences. I made a lot of friends and they even go to the Philippines to visit us. 4 of my officemates married a Japanese, Teresa Lontok Watanabe, Lynette Garcia Kawakami, Fides Cardenas and Goy but sadly I lost communication with them when I was transferred in Tarlac. More than a decade had passed before the mobile phones and Internet arrives and I can’t trace their locations anymore.
I wish to meet them one day in the internet like my childhood friends from Bicol who found me through my “Promdi from Pasacao Post” .