The Best Day of Our Lives Yet…
I have lived 3 decades. One can consider the generation I belonged to lived the kind of life which is kind of complete. Being born in the early 80s, we don’t get the same techie stuff we are so addicted with today. Air conditioning is for the rich, a colored tv can say something about a person’s social status and kids play in the streets. I had a very different childhood. I was loved by two sets of families, and was brought up by God knows how many babysitters. There were stories of distant relatives taking care of me as a baby, going away to Leyte for summer vacation with my godmother and her family, growing up in Brunei for my years 1-4 of my grade school, going back to Bataan to finish the rest, entered or should I say “shunned the world behind me” very exclusive school for highschool and entered a university which was very diverse. I took on a job, stayed with it for the longest time, and I am still here, doing what I can.
I grew up with video games around me. From Atari to NES to SEGA, personal computers and up to now, my PS3. I grew up in the time when a party line was still around, the sound of the ring of the telephone with a real bell, to a time of pulse tones, my Nokia 5110, 3310, 8210 to the time when Sony Ericsson camera phones where the in thing to the present-time smart phones.
One thing I really regret was I was not really able to enjoy fully my childhood. I can’t remember if I climbed a tree, played tag with my neighbors when I was younger. But I do remember playing ball with them when I was in high school. My teen years were very much different from any ordinary kid. But we did try our best to live as normal as we can, and we enjoyed it. Who wouldn’t ? Having 80 plus guys as your brothers was fun. The corniest joke, the littlest prank was always worth a lot of laughter.
Why so serious? I have a story to tell. I have enjoyed my life, mostly lived it on my own and with maybe 1/4 each of my 2 families, spent most of it with my friends and yes, I have decided, that it is time to settle down. Not because I am lonely or it is about time because of my age. I am doing it because I am happy and I can’t wait to live our lives together.
So I planned on proposing to Ice this year. And we did! But these memories will come and go, and I want to share what made me the happiest if not the grumpiest person you know. 🙂
When I first decided that I wanted to do this, the first thing that entered my mind was, “is a ring necessary?” My family came from humble beginnings. My parents had to break every sweat and blood just to get me through college and have a comfortable life. So I thought, maybe we can go through the engagement without it. But, knowing how hopeless romantic yours truly is, and I got the idea that the engagement ring can be something like an heirloom to be passed on to our family, I pushed through with the idea. I went around the streets of Tokyo and Osaka just looking at the designs, and have an idea of their prices. My only advice, DO NOT BUY IN JAPAN!! hahaha I found the design I wanted, talked with different people in the gems and rings industry until I found the right one. But, there is something else that comes with the ring. I gave that to Ice to throw her off of the idea I was going to propose to her.
There is one place here in Japan that I know Ice and I share the same admiration. Mt. Fuji. At first I was thinking of maybe doing a proposal during the cherry blossom season around the lakes with Mt Fuji at the background. But spring was not the perfect time since I had a lot of things to handle and preparation time was very limited. So I moved it to summer, longer time for preparation, and we can climb it to the peak. I don’t know what got into me that made me think of proposing up that mountain. I am an adrenaline junkie and I know Ice and I are relatively fit to do this, so I want to make it very memorable. Besides, a proposal during sunrise on Mt Fuji would be the perfect setting for the both of us.
Although I already planned on doing this last year, I always get an idea or two during my long walks or just spending my alone time along the river of my previous residence in Tokyo. But it is really hard to make plans when you don’t actually hold the future. All you can do is pray and hope that everything will be answered. I made formal preparations by talking with my parents about my intentions which was very much welcomed. All it needed was for me to open up to them on how I feel. Yes, I am very secretive, quiet or even shady when my family asks about my personal life. When I got their approval, and I was already finishing up some plans here in Japan, I asked permission from Ice’s mom. Getting the approval of everyone and favors from common friends for something for Ice made it all almost complete.
Ice arrived on the evening of August 8 via Narita with a connecting domestic flight to Itami. As soon as we arrived in the apartment, I made her eat dinner and gave her my first gift. This is the gift we call Chiyo right now. And it was meant to throw Ice off any idea that something special is happening during her vacation.
We took the long and cheapest way to Fuji. There is a seasonal set of train tickets that are being sold here in Japan. It is a ride all-you-can train passes on all JR lines but cannot be used on the bullet train. So, a 2 hour travel from Osaka to Fuji on shinkansen was about 6hrs on an ordinary train, lots of transfers, and a big chance not to be able to sit during the trip. We left early Saturday morning, and we arrived at our hotel around early evening in Kawaguchiko. We had dinner, and rested. The next morning, I was up early because I was really excited and with a really upset tummy. I went around town going through the details of my plan and praying for good weather. We went biking to a lake near our hotel but cannot view Mt Fuji because of the clouds covering it that morning. We had lunch and siesta to prepare for the climb in the afternoon. Then it rained….
And pray I did. Even contacted my relatives to help me pray to make the rain stop. The rain stopped after an hour or two but Fuji was still covered with clouds. I did get to sleep for a while and we both prepared to pack our bags and get ready for the climb. We took the bus from Kawaguchiko to the 5th station. Had a bit of photo sessions since it was also our monthsary that day. Everytime I opened my bag, I always made sure to feel the ring box which is taped underneath my camera compartment inside the bag. And with a silly smile, I’d call Ice so we can move to our next agenda. We had an early dinner of ramen, checked our things one more time and we started the hike.
For the climb, we promised each other to stop and go back in any case of rain or one of us can’t go any longer. We climbed really really slow. The average time to complete the hike was 6-8 hours. We finished ours in almost 11 hours. But of course this included our long rest at different stops, rest for water, rest for food. It was dark, it was crowded, it was tiring. But one thing that maybe got us going was that the sky was so clear. The sky was so clear that it was full of stars with the occasional “shooting star” since it was the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. My prayer was answered. We even saw a fireworks festival from the side the of the mountain we were climbing. There are times when the path is nothing but small rocks with about an incline of 20-30degrees. After passing through a few huts at the 7th station and after a long rest, we were surprised that supposed “easy” climb turned out to be something worse. I know it will be steep, but I didn’t know that there will come a time that I had to be on all fours to get up safely. And yes the climb felt forever with that kind of terrain. I was humbled by the old and ageing senior citizens who would easily overtake us and small kids calling to their parents to catch up to them.
It was around 3am, somewhere between the 8th and 9th station when I started feeding Ice the idea that it is ok if we don’t make it to the top for the sunrise. I told her, we can wait for the sunrise somewhere at the 9th to the summit and rest and continue our climb after the sunrise. I was already imagining what it will be like, and I was not happy about it. And yes, I am the luckiest guy in the world with Ice not quitting. She even picked up her pace climbing ahead of me and me catching my breath every step. There were times I had to call timeout for oxygen and she seemed fine.
By 4am, dawn was breaking. We had about an hour to make it to the summit and we got caught up in traffic. Some hikers decided to stop along the trail and wait for the sunrise from that point. Thanks to the group of younger people climbing ahead of us, they kept on repeating to their group that they need to climb faster to catch the sunrise. I went ahead thinking I need to get a good spot for us. Ice came a few minutes later. We settled for a while and after a few minutes, we prayed just before the sunrise, thanking Him for guiding us and keeping us safe during the climb and good weather. We watched the sun rise above the clouds. We were crying. I was crying for a lot of reasons, the things we had to go through, the beautiful sunrise, all the preparations, the perfect timing, the perfect weather. I was the luckiest SOB that day. Every request and favor were answered.
After watching the sunrise, I gave Ice my phone, and made her watch a small video I prepared for that day. She thought it was just one of those compilations we used to make for each other. But as the video kept going and waiting for my cue from the vid, I GOT DOWN ON MY KNEES, SAID “I SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS A LONG TIME AGO, I AM SORRY IT TOOK THIS LONG AND YOU HAD TO GO THROUGH WHAT WE DID TONIGHT. WILL YOU MARRY ME?” She said “YES, OF COURSE! YES!!” I don’t think she heard or understood any of the things I said because of the strong wind.
With the people still climbing to the summit and the people behind us as our witness, on top of the highest mountain in Japan, I felt God’s love through the warmth of the sun and Him blessing our little engagement.
We had ramen again before descending. I thought everything would be easier since it is the descending part. For me and Ice, we hated it. It took us about 5 hours to descend, had to share a bottle of water because I forgot to buy at the summit, dust flying around, painful legs and feet and the hot sun. We saw a restroom after 4 hours of descending, we both took pain medicine to get relief from the pain and by the time we got to the 5th station, we looked like the most ragged-down hikers from the summit. We were dirty and panting but we still have that silly smile on our faces.