Author Archives: runningturtle

3 Things

Jason Mraz’s new single, 3 Things, is the right song at the moment as I begin to end a chapter of my life. After more than 3 years of living in Japan, it will finally come to an end on June 29. I can say I lived the life in Japan. Travelled thousands of kilometers to visit places I want to see, enjoyed the scenery, and specially, eat what that place is famous for.
The weeks before leading to my departure of this wonderful country were really stressful and sad. But there is a limit for most of the things we enjoy in life. For me, it is bursting that bubble I’ve been in since I worked here. From living in Tokyo and moving to Osaka, I had a better chance to see most of Japan. Sadly, not all places in my list had been crossed out. But the good part about it is that I have something to look forward to and visit with my loved ones in the future.
Some of my fondest memories happened here. I proposed on top of Mt. Fuji. I had my first marathon in Tokyo. Felt one of the costliest and strongest earthquakes of our time. Life was not always good here. Of course we can never run away from the stress at work and other responsibilities when you start living here. I was feeling down a few days ago when I had to rush packing my things, settle my accounts and all the other preparations. For a moment it felt like, “Was it worth it?” Then I start remembering the wonderful things that happened here and what lies ahead. Hey, I am coming home to my country where my family is. Singapore is just a few hours away from Manila.  But I will surely miss this country. Bittersweet it is…..

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. 🙂

THE RING

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.

LOCATION LOCATION

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.

PREPARATIONS

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’s VISIT

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.

THE TRIP

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.

THE CLIMB

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.

Updates

My last post which was last September 2012 was never posted then and I just found out today. So, how was my September 2012 to May 2013?

September 2012 – From the previous post, I went to Singapore to visit my girlfriend and spent my birthday there. Spent the night in Sentosa and had my birthday treat in Universal Studios. The Battlestar Galactica ride was one of the awesomest rides I tried.

DSC_0205

MBS
MBS 2012

DSC_0474

October 2012 – I received news I didn’t make it in the lottery for the 2013 Tokyo Marathon. A co-worker and one of my supervisors joined the lottery too. We all failed. Also, it was around this time when I first heard of new plans regarding my work here in Japan. Something I looked forward to and scared me almost everyday. The usual working hours in the office from morning until night kept me from doing runs every other day, and I guess I gained a lot more kilos around this time.

November 2012 – Autumn was fast approaching and I was getting bored. Just in the nick of time, my dream camera came out on a big sale a few weeks before the official autumn colors hit Tokyo. So, Aki(D7000), was born, loved and was my constant companion almost wherever I go. November was also the time when my office buddies from Manila came to Tokyo. Drinking buddies!!!!

DSC_1111

DSC_0780

DSC_0100

December 2013 – Yuletide season and winter kicked my ass this time. It was a sad and cold season. But then again, Autumn colors were still around the early part of December so I had a lot of photowalks with my friends. Day before Christmas, was my most impulsive day. I was around with my friends when we stopped by an electronics shop for them to look for iphone and ipad covers. I was just going around the apple products when one saleslady beside me shouted “1 Macbook Pro for sale, half the original price!”. I didn’t mind her and everyone was ignoring her. Then the manager of the area shouted the same lines and again I was there beside the announcer. I ended up buying that laptop right at that moment. How often do you find a half the price, over the top specs Macbook Pro? Hence, Eve was born. Loved and part of my daily geek life now. There were some parties at home where everyone would gather. Eating and drinking til dawn. Merry Christmas!!

DSC_1789

DSC_1766

Nishiaraidaishi

DSC_2090

DSC_2116

January 2013 – We started 2013 with a bang! We spent New Year’s eve together, again eating but this time, no more alcohol. We were planning to catch the first sunrise of the year near Tokyo bay. The sun was covered by the clouds but it was worth it. Specially when Mt Fuji decided not to be shy on that day. January was also the time I had to go to Osaka on a business trip for a month with some trainees to work with our new customer. Since I was only supposed to be there for a month, visiting the important spots around the Kansai area was a must.

DSC_2263

DSC_2298

DSC_2238

Kobe Waterfront
Kobe

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
Kyoto (Kinkakuji Temple)

Osaka Castle (2013/02/07)
Osaka Castle

February 2013 – After visiting most parts of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, I decided to take a few hundred kilometers more to the west. I booked a bus and a local Japanese inn and headed to Hiroshima. There, my fascination regarding the Hiroshima bombing was fulfilled. The hunger for making most of the trip led me to Iwakuni and visited one of the famous bridges and castle in Western Japan. On the was back from Iwakuni, I visited Miyajima, the sacred island famous for its bright red gate on the shore and Mt Misen. Mt Misen tested my stamina, hiking only for a few kilometers, climbing rocks and steep elevation made me a weakling in front of the senior citizens climbing that mountain that day. It was a very spiritual trip for me and on my way back to Osaka, I promised myself that I will visit that lovely place again with my loved ones. February was also the time I had to come back to Tokyo and end my short business trip.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)
Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Kintai-kyo Bridge
Kintai-kyo Bridge

Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima) (2013/02/10)
Miyajima

March 2013 – After a few days in our Tokyo office, I was met again by my bosses that I had to go back to Osaka for another business trip this time to for a more challenging role. I spent 2 more months in Osaka, occasional trips to Kyoto and around Osaka on the weekends.

DSC_5351

DSC_5314

April 2013 – Spring in Kansai was a different experience. The farthest trip I went to was in Yoshino, Nara where I wanted to catch the cherry blossoms in the mountains. It was also around this time when I learned these business trips will have to stop and I had to move from Tokyo to Osaka officially. I went back to our Tokyo office for a day, and said my goodbyes to my bosses and co-workers there. It was a night of booze and last partying with my japanese big brothers at work. Now comes the saddest part on my last return to Tokyo. Cleaning up my apartment. Packing 2 years worth of stuff and throwing away 2 years worth of junk was never easy. I spent my nights with my friends for dinner (I was already a bum at this time) And on my last day, the movers came to pick up my stuff and brought them to Osaka. I took the afternoon train to Osaka with a very heavy heart. Tokyo will always be one of my favorite cities I’ve lived in.

DSC_5999
Osaka Castle(Spring)

DSC_6368

DSC_6281

DSC_6145

DSC_7181

DSC_7147

DSC_7145

IMG_3412

IMG_3422

IMG_3419

May 2013 – I spent the Golden Week fixing my new apartment. Setting up my network, where to place my tv and gaming console and where to keep my stuff. I visited one of the shrines famous for their overwhelming number of torii (red gates) and hiked the low mountain of Mt Inari. I also had the chance to come back to Manila for a short business trip and meet my family for just a night. It was short, but definitely worth it. May in Kansai is a great time to visit different parks. I had to return to the parks I visited earlier in March and April and things looked different in a span of a month and 2.

DSC_7234
Fushimi Inari

DSC_7329

DSC_6815

DSC_6801

The coming months will surely be busy again. There is a planned trip on August and of course, more projects coming in. Until my next post regarding that upcoming trip. Really excited for that one!

Questions…

(This post was saved in my drafts since September 2012 and I forgot that this was never posted then. Updates on this site from September 2012 til June 2013 will be posted soon.)

I have sort of forgotten about this blogsite of mine. Honestly, I have not been doing a lot of running after the Tokyo marathon. But I spent a lot of time on my bike instead.

The past months were painful and challenging for me. I guess it comes naturally when you have reached that point in life where you question your self-worth. But then, there were days also where everything seemed perfect. Those days, either good or bad, molded me to who I am at this moment. And I will always be thankful for everything I have learned a lot about myself because of these experiences.

I have just spent my 30th year on this earth with Ice. Living apart from each other is one of our daily challenges we had to go through. It was a fun but short vacation. And in those 6 days spent with her includes one of the reasons why I had to revive this blogsite. As a gift, she compiled the contents of this site into a coffee table book. Who would have thought that I will have my own book? Something tangible, something that can be browsed anytime and preserved.

On my way back to Tokyo, again I begin to ask myself, why do people in love have that bad luck of being away from each other? How long can one endure the time and distance til they meet again?

And so I’m back at doing my daily routines; fight my way across the morning crowd, endure the long hours of work, late dinners, late lights out.

Tokyo Marathon 2012!

20120227-062550.jpg

Runningturtle is offciallly a marathoner.

It’s a Go!!!

It is official!!! I am running the Tokyo Marathon 2012!!!!

I received the notification this afternoon, thanks to Ice for informing me and asking me to check my mail.

Out of the 282,824 applicants, I have about 12 percent chance to get selected in the lottery. I really am bad in the game of chances. And I never get to win any cool stuff in rafles or even win in bingo. But this is really great. Just when it counts the most!!!
I can’t wait to buy a new pair of shoes for the event cause my 2 yr old lunars may not actually survive race day, some thermal clothing for winter and long hours of training.

So come February 26, 2012, with the finish time of about 5-5.5 hours, I will complete my first marathon, my first international event and probably the most expensive event I will ever join.

Let’s do this!!!! 行こう!!!

MY LAST TWENTEEN

Somewhere in Tokyo
Along the Tobu-Isesaki Line

I am celebrating my 29th year on earth today. And for someone who wants to stay young forever, I am not so bothered anymore. First, I still look ridiculously young for my age. I was asked to show some identification to verify my age whether I am an adult or not several times this year. Another instance was when I visited my alma mater before leaving for Japan to get some important documents. The security guard asked me to file an excuse slip for supposedly forgetting my school id. I shyly told him that I graduated in ’04. Ok! It is not my fault, maybe the youth of today behaves and appears to be more mature than I am. Either that or I just really look young. Haha

Last year was my first birthday I celebrated with 3 out of 4 of my parents. Probably the only celebration I can remember with my family in Bataan. This time, it is my second birthday here in Japan. I spent yesterday night cleaning my room, talked with Ice for my midnight greeting and fell asleep. This morning, I woke up early for a quick run and just like every year, wherever I am, It rains briefly. There is a small belief in our province that when it rains on your birthday, it means a shower of blessings. I have always half-believed that. And thinking back I always have been blessed.

For this year, a prayer has been answered and for almost a year of carrying that burden, I feel that the worst is over. I am now here in Japan, working my ass off most of the time but I am enjoying it. I really couldn’t complain loving the Japanese culture and people. Although it sucks that there are still stereotypes regarding foreigners in their land, I know that the people I met here are not hypocrites in front of me.
Third, I finally had the chance to give back to my family all the support they gave me when I was a kid. I don’t really call myself an OFW cause I really don’t know my status but having these “duties” for my family makes me feel like a real adult. Fourth, I am just so thankful I met Ice and us being together for many months now.

Tomorrow I will be holding a small party in my apartment. A few drinks and food and probably some online gaming. A good friend told me in 2007 to celebrate your birthday no matter where you are or how sad you are, you have to celebrate with the people you are with. I did at that time in my apartment in Kozukue, Yokohama. And I am doing it again not because I am sad. Life for me now is too short to worry about the petty things, to get easily ticked off of something that didn’t go my way etc etc. I know I still am a work in progress. And yes I do miss my family and wish I am with them today.

I have two wishes in my heart right now. And it is just between God and me. There are a lot of things I want to achieve, to discover and to live for and I am looking forward to that bright future.

To everyone who greeted me today, I thank you for remembering me. I wish I can celebrate with everyone today but you are all with me in my heart and prayers. Thanks!!

After Work Addiction

Platform 2, Tamachi station
Waiting for the 21:06 train

So after a few months of planning and pushing myself to go to the gym after work, I finally did it. I usually run in Nishiarai along the Arakawa riverbank or do some routines in my room after work when I get to go home early (which hardly happens) from work. This morning, I went through the Tokyo morning rush hour with a large gym bag. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. I had to get off the train to make way for people exiting the train or else I’d be carried away by the current of people. I even opted to leave my bag in Ueno to make my morning commute easy.

The rest of the day at work was slow moving. I had an official project around 4pm and was praying to finish it before 6pm. Sadly I had to stay for another hour to confirm things with my officemates.

At exactly 7pm, I was already eating an energy bar and psyching myself for what I thought would be a gruesome evening. I changed and went to the training room which was full. I had never seen a gym that full before. I went to the track instead for my cardio workout, ran about 3km in less than 20 mins, out of breath and thirsty. I went back to the lockers to leave my phone and proceeded with my main goal for tonight. I just had one observation in my 45 minutes in the weights and machine area; people here are just damn polite. They would leave the machines to make way for those in line even though they are just catching a quick break. They would even say sorry if their set would take a long time. How come I never had that experience in my previous gym in Quezon city?

Then came the scary part… Shower time… Hmmmm. Let’s just say that I am not comfortable with people walking around the locker full naked and no doors in the shower cubicles. Hahaha…but this is something I had to do. I finished my shower and changed in less than 10 minutes, had my supplements and took the train home.

So here I am, looking for a new route home since my train to Kita Senju is so delayed.. but I feel good, never felt my body so alive. Must be the adrenaline but who cares, I need to do this more often.

And oh yeah, I lost 8lbs since I got back from my summer vacation. 🙂 I am somewhere along the Chiyoda line now.. until my next post, running_turtle wishes everyone a good night/day.

BER MONTHS….

Platform 2, Tamachi station
1815 to Nippori

Finally, the 3rd quarter of the year officially began last week. Aside from adding another year to my life on earth, it is my 10th month here in Japan (that was fast). Autumn is coming soon, and Christmas. 🙂 But before that, I just came back from a 10-day trip across SE Asia with my loved ones, registered for the Tokyo Marathon 2012, and managed to get through the busiest season in our company.

Now that I am finally registered for the marathon, I began training last week and I’m still having problems in motivating myself to go back into my running form physically and mentally. I added about 30lbs since I arrived Japan and nearing the obese section in the BMI index.

I started eating less and changed my eating habits and I believe it is working. I still need to buy a weighing scale to prove this. But according to my officemates, I look thinner compared before the summer vacation began. Honestly, I love eating… Plus the food here is really good. But even before then, when I was still running in Manila and even eons before that, I can practically eat anything without gaining weight. I guess this is part of ageing. I was alarmed when one day I was having a difficult time wearing my shoes and tying my shoelaces. Going up 5 floors would make me huff and puff. And if there was a point in your life when you felt stronger, body and mind functioning well as if anything is possible, you tend to get depressed for being too lazy to squeeze in a routine or two before the day ends.

So I am currently on the beginning stages in my pursuit of getting back what I lost a few months back and hoping I get picked at the lottery for the marathon. Yes! There is a lottery. The quota of 30k runners was met on the first day of registration and yearly around 300k hopeful marathoners apply. By October, the lottery results will be out but even if I won’t get picked, I have a target that by February 2012, I must be in my best form, and maybe run 42k on my own on race day.

UPDATE:

I have been busy the past month with work and preparations for the long holiday date-trip with my girlfriend a week and a half ago that I was not able to update this site. There is still a post pending to be uploaded about the large quake here in Japan which I have not finished yet plus the week long trip to almost 1/4 of central japan. I hope I can finish them all in 2-3 weeks. Stress here at work is neck-high right now and I can’t even run because of the long working hours… anyway, ’til this site is updated, matta ne!!!