Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Surprise!

Now my hands is totally occupied by Valentine's day gifts. It is my first gift to receive from my husband on this day.

Then, I finally made sort of sense that why my husband insisted to go to his working place, University since yesterday.

In this morning, I was in the house to finish some of my freelance work. My husband sent me a message via google chat whether I really come to the campus or not and what time. Now I understand why he asked me in this morning.

I thought he was going to ask me some work to do. So that is why he wanted me to be there today. Ok, ok ok...I will go!

It is rainy day. I was bit lazy to go out. But promise is promise(I am very Japanese :D). I left for the campus by bicycle. Along the way, rain began to fall hard. Eventually I was wet even I used umbrella. My small pink umbrella just covered my upper body.

I was so wet and messy when I arrived University. As soon I arrived, two students approached to me holding several items and asked me whether I am a wife of a worker by mentioning my husband' name.

Yes, I said. I haven't concentrated on these people's talk yet since I was still fixing myself. One of students handed me three items, three big red and white balloons, cake and flower.

I instantly interpreted that these gifts might be for workers from University :D A student explained about these stuffs in Tagalog but I understood half of what she said. Then, I concluded the conversation by saying: I will tell and hand these to my husband. He was still in the class room. In this way, I stupidly answered to her.

She puzzled and showed me a small card which was attached to the box of cake.

In the card, I found a message: Ik hou van ... By the way, this is Dutch.

My eyes followed the message and found my husband name at the end of message.

Oh, no...

These gifts are for me!

Unromantic Japanese woman here has never thought of it. Hey, but if I think the situation, why unknown students who delivered these gifts could approach me? It is strange.. They were informed usual my parking location by my husband..

He likes surprise. It is very his way.
I was so surprised and happy at the same time.

Why I was surprised? 
He admittedly says he is not a person to give a gift. In fact, I am always the one to pick gifts for someone in occasions, birthday, Christmas and so on.

In addition, first gift he gave me was a piece of broken glass which was washed by waves for long time (I do not know whether it has specific name or not). I bring this small piece when I travel. From this experience, I understood his idea of gift is with some stories and memories.Things itself is not so important for him..

Flower and cakes?? what happened to my husband? 
These are typical gifts on the days. I have never received these from him. (by the way, for us it is not normal!)

Then, I analyzed this might be a sort of Valentine package..

Later, I learned he helped student's entrepreneurial idea on that day: deliver these flower, balloons and cake with message card to loved one. They might be business admin students. So I made sense of this kind of choice.

I should have given an advice to the student for improvement of their service because my hands was really occupied by these gifts. It was nice box of cake had small handles..and so on.. 
However and of course...I am happy and thankful for him.
I felt that he thought of me even he has been quite busy past few weeks. Gifts will be gone soon but moment of excitement and surprise will be remained as a memory of Valentines' Day.

Thank you, agom ko. * Agom = husband/wife in Bicol language...
In many ways, it was surprising Valentine's Day.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Story of Valentine's Day

Here in the Philippines, Valentine's Day is pretty alive in different way from my country. Romantic Filipino tend to be more romantic except my husband. Maybe in his way, he is romantic but it is not applicable to his wife.

How romantic Filipino is?
While I was working in a NGO, I observed gifts- whole big cake and bouquet - were delivered in our office on the day. This was for my male colleague.

Both cake and flower is quite big. I could see the sender spend a lot of money. Not only the amount she spend, but also I could see she made an effort to do it on the Valentine's Day. I was quite amazed at her courage.

However, my colleague who was supposed to receive these was not in the office. His presence was not controllable but surely sad.

I thought my colleague will keep these but...

One of colleagues opened box of cake and started to cut it. OMG! is it fine with him? Some explained they somehow broke up. Hey! but girl still sent this to him on this day. It must be the sign of willingness going back to the relationship.

Among my colleagues, they know each other well even their love life. So in this sense, as long as they say it is ok, it must be ok. But I felt guilty to have a piece of cake.
Her romance certainly feed us not him. We badly enjoyed a piece of cake.

The story did not end here.

Another colleague started distributing flowers to other colleagues. They asked me whether I liked flower or not. Yes, I like it but flowers from that bouquet?    

Eventually, a whole cake and rose bouquet have been gone.

This happened in the weekend. I did not hear any complains or comments following week. I decided not ask him what happened to him and that girl. But I thanked that girl to provide us nice snack in the long afternoon working hours.    

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dancing in the Philippines

In general, Filipino are born entertainer. Amazingly, many of them know how to sing, dance and so on. I am always amazed at their performance. 

Every weekend, I was forced to listen songs from neighboring houses. From this, I realized not all of  them are good singers :) but still their whole weekend videoke party shows they know a lot of songs.  For me, they are human juke-box music.

We, Japanese also like to sing a song. In facet, karaoke was born in Japan. But we sing inside the room with soundproof and we do not dance much.

My Japanese friends tried to join Filipino dancing together however, movement is not smooth as Filipino does.   

I often observe people dance to entertain guests and audiences in public place. In the shopping mall, workers all of sudden started to dance. In someone's youtube video, flight attendant danced when they gave passengers safe-instruction.  Prisoners in Cebu,  dances in front of visitors of prison. They have several dance numbers. 

My nieces like dancing. I shoot video of their occasional "dance show". They enjoy watching these videos later on. 
Even profession far from performing art do dance such as traffic enforcer.  I was wondering whether drivers can understand his sign or not.

While working in NGO, almost every time I visit places, they prepared dance numbers and performed for us.

Do not misunderstand! Filipino does not dance anywhere. I observe even inside discotheque, some does not dance. Somehow some are conservative as well. They say they are shy!  (I am sure they know how to dance.)

From these examples, I notice there are less individual performers. They usually practice a dance and perform it as a group. Dance is still tool to express themselves but it go along with their social life. It is not about to express whatever individual want. 

Dance is not only owned by professional either people who love performing art. They grow up with these. Whatever reasons, I am quite enjoying to see their talents. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tailor-made Barong Tagalog

It was my first time to see the process how tailor-made Barong Tagalog was made. After seeing this, I want to recommend to persons who are coming often to the Philippines for some reasons to make tailor-made one.

My husband needed the Filipino traditional cloth- Barong Tagalog which is see-through long sleeve with elegant embroideries for his PhD defense on December last year.

First, we tried to find a ready-made one instead of tailor-made because we thought the price of a tailor-made might be higher than another. It might be yes but sometime not. We found the most economic option was tailor-made.

The justification making it tailor-made was, of course price. But aside from this, we though to make it to totally fit my husband's - sexy as he claimed - body is also good idea. We could not find good design at the same time totally fit his body.

We went to one of the oldest shop in the Naga city which had already existed when my husband was still very young. We approached one of sale ladies and explained what we wanted. 

She showed different design and prices of pieces of cloth. All of them were see-through with different kinds of stitchwork. Most of them were off-white but there were also colored modern one such as blue or green. We surely went for white, classical one. I believed this one suit to my husband the most.

I picked one which I thought of very classic, simple, not so expressive but elegant. My husband said he trusted me to decide the right one for him. It wasn't bad to hear what he said but this is actually his favorite phrase once he is certain degree having difficult or lazy to decide something :D So I valued this word half.

His "sexy body" was measured by a tailor. Tailor had quickly done his job. Only we had to do there was to pay the half amount and wait for 3 days to be made. We waited this for days and picked up after the typhoon Ruby had already been away from the Bicol region.

Doneness was satisfactory for me. My husband was the same feeling as mine but except one point - he could not manage to wear this without someone's help. Barong Tagalog has mainly 2 types of design: one has button until the half of the shirt - around upper tummy: another has all like a ordinary blouse. We picked half one.

He might need someone's - most probably I will be the one- help every time when he wears this. He does not like it. But for me, less button might be easy to take care. And I am sort of having fun to see my husband to up both hands and wait me to put this on. It is like a small child cannot wear cloth alone yet. 

In my country, Japan, one of anchors in TV news show ordered Barong Tagalog and asked a tailor to ship this to Japan. He wore while reporting news in Summer time of Japan. Unfortunately, I haven't seen him to wear that on TV but I saw the picture.

Wearing this, my husband defended his dissertation.  He looked a bit handsome with that.  Therefore, I want to recommend him to wear this everyday :D

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sensational media report in the Philippines

News report in the Philippines, for me is very sensational and sometimes fun to watch.

Like other countries, news report here often show dead body. Today's TV news, often show a suspect being shoot dead. This kind of news come with quite sensational pictures. 

In Japan, TV news does not show dead body and also media is usually not able to shoot these. Audience can see only blue plastic sheet covered area where the incident happened. If someone died in the murder case or accident, at the most, body bag appear in our TV News.

I got used to Japanese reporting style. At the very first time, it was quite shocking to watch these seines even it is News show.

Reporting style here made me sometimes laugh. On the other day, there was the news: young guy peeped girl's skirt or did secretly shoot the video (I forgot detail). It is very serious matter for victims. And of course, as a female, I was angry with this kind of crime!

But I laughed at that. What made me laugh? The reporter went to the police station and asked a suspect the reason why he did that.

The reporter goes to places where these suspects are kept and directly interview them. That is quite surprising for me because I have never seen such a scene in my country. In Japan, we see suspect only the time s/he was convoyed by police and their face is covered.  

In the Philippines, before suspects are sentenced, it seems they are already socially punished. Is it part of cultural difference?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Vendors - coming from somewhere

Provincial life is convenient more than I thought. If a person is really lazy to go out, s/he just stay in the house. Then, vendors are coming to your house to sell different items. You may not need to go out often to buy something necessary for your life.

In the morning, first vendor is a bakery. Around 6 o'clock, they go around our street by beeping their special horn. Because of this sound, we know they are here. Some of vendors come by bicycle, some come by motorbike. They sell mainly bread for breakfast such as pandesal and pan Legaspi. Each vendor bring different shapes, size and price of bread. It is nice that these bread is newly baked in the morning. Vendor usually says it is still hot.  

After baker, next vendor is selling drinking water. In Manila and other places, I go to water station with my water container and order one container of water. Then, a shop delivers it. Here they are coming almost everyday. 
But time they come is not fixed, which is problematic for me. So, sometimes  I wait so long before I go somewhere.
It was my first time to see them when I started to live in the province. Their truck with water tank remind  me a car with vacuum device for a pit latrine. (my old house in Japan has this, so truck with vacuum regularly came to our house.) By the way, this water comes from the mountain. 

Taho vendor also roams around in the morning. Taho is soft tofu with sago pearl  and sweet brownish source, which can be a snack either breakfast. Taho vendor usually shouts like "Tahooo... taho ". They pronounce first syllable "Ta" stronger and other parts weaker and longer. It 's like this ... TA hoooo. And in the second, they pronounce it very short, like taho. Resident of course,recognize it. 

During the morning, aside from taho vendor, I sometimes see vendor of banana cue, arroyo (colored rice cake), fish vendor and so on. 

Another vendor shouts what they sell. Siraaaa, sira...I was wondering they are selling something torn or defective? Because these-torn and defective- are meaning of word, sira in Tagalog. 

But they sell fish! Sira in Bicol is is same spelling of sira in Tagalog. Hummmm...
Anyway, I do not need to go to market to buy "sira" because they come to our place. 

I see furniture and broom stick vendors too. But I do not see them as often as in Manila. I think that people here hire a carpenter to make own furniture or people buy more cheaper one. So selling the furniture cannot be profitable. And vendor might be discouraged to walk around long way to reach few houses in my place with heavy items. 

After lunch, ice cream vendors come.  Sometime, dried fish vendors also come. Some other vendors such as fish vendors might come back again.

After dinner, balut vendors starts walking around. Balut is a developing duck embryo, which is believe to be good for nutritional fortification and pregnant women. I do not voluntarily eat this. 

Big city like Metro Manila has also vendors roam around your vicinity.  But it is not seen as often and regularly as province.

Whole day, these vendors are everywhere in the street.  When I work in the house, I sense time.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Vulcanizing - fixing my bike-

Within 6 months, I experienced flat tire twice. 

My husband optimistically said flat tire was caused by rough road. 

It is true that road is rough, in addition there are some wholes. But I argued it cannot be the main cause of flat tire because I tried to avoid these wholes and not good condition parts.

And, first flat tire happened just 2 weeks after I bought it. It happen before my bike experienced going through these rough roads.

Then, what? 
It is about quality of exterior. In fact, once I changed back of exterior, no more flat tire and there are some cracks on exterior. Bike shop admitted that quality of tires originally placed was not good because it is made in XXXX(name of country). Shop clerk even said new exterior is made in Philippines so it will be fine and he smiled with  thumb up. I will see the quality of made in Philippines.

My point in the conversation with bike shop owner was that they could have given me an option to chose better tire when I purchased it because it is wasting money and resources at the end.

They explained these removed "old" tire will be recycled but I argued that the process of recycle, energy will be used.

This kind of "friendly conversation" tend to be endless. Then, I stopped saying anymore. It was great learning for me check thoroughly quality of this kind of stuff. In fact, old exterior had crack soon after I bought. How bad it quality was! 

Proverb says penny-wise and pound-foolish, But nowadays I think it should be added wasting resources. 
Then again, I went to vulcanizing.

Even though, I was not happy with flat tire, I enjoyed seeing the process of vulcanizing. 

Vulcanizing is scientific term. First, I checked this word in dictionary.

By the way, in the Philippines people learn math and science in English. Then, they are familiar with what it mean. Me? No!
After checking this word in English dictionary, finally I got what it is.

The show is sort of small family business. Last and this time, (maybe) sons of this family fixed my bike.

Both of them were amazingly quiet but did good job.  


Pictures I posted show its process. 

1) to hung my bicycle against fence.

2) to remove interior 
* not to remove exterior

3) to inflate interior and detect whole(s)  by soaking tire into a bowl of water.
* He found 2 wholes this time and showed attrite exterior to me.

4) to cut rubber into small pieces covering these wholes

5) to rub interior with a file and to place a piece of rubber and cover whole

6) to press a rubber by using small equipment.  When the equipment presses rubber,  fire is needed to make rubber stick to the tire. 

7) to wait for few minutes

He placed tire back to wheel. Then, it had done...It took about 15 minutes and costed 30 pesos to cover two small wholes.

It was very interesting process to see because in Japan, we just use kind of sticker to cover whole either change interior. Besides, I am the one who do this most of the time. 
 Materials for fixing tire is very accessible. 

Here,  there are many professions to make your life bit convenient at the same time possibly makes you bit lazy to do such a daily stuff by yourself. 

Is it good? 

Some people may say yes. But for me, not so...there are many consideration why I said no. First, I like to do such stuffs instead of asking someone to do. I grew up doing such things by myself.

Second, I sort of concern people has only one simple skill. 
In fact, I observed a person has only one (simple) skill asking  the house owner to let him do his job on the house.   

Anyway, this kind of phenomenon is nothing new. Being competitive is observed in everywhere. It is not my business as well but I am still wondering how these people can survive in monetary society if their skills are not needed by people anymore. 


For now, I simply hope I won't experience flat tire soon. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Looking after Sari-Sari store is full of wonder

Most of visitors from at least my country Japan, wonder how Sari-Sari store works.

I have opportunity to look after mother in law's Sari Sari store, sometimes, which feed my curiously very well. 

What is the Sari Sari store?
Sari-Sari store, some explain as convenience store. Maybe convenience store may be suitable explanation in term of variety of goods. 

But usually size of store is not big as convenience store and customer is not allowed to take items in his or her hand to have a look. Customer needs an assistant to take a look what you need.

What does Sari Sari store have? daily stuff, seasoning ( stock cube, pepper, sugar, salt, oil, soy source and so on), detergent for clothe and dish, soup, softener, shoe paste, foods (eggs, sometime rice), snacks coffee, powdered juice and so on. I roughly estimated number of items around 100. 

I mentioned it is small store. Then you may wonder how 100 items fits in the small store because each items are relatively small. 

For example, pepper is sold by one small pack (it may be 2 grams or so). Most of all items mentioned above is sold by small packs. Customer comes and buy when s/he needs.

Automatically price per item will be impossibly big. 

What is the best selling items?
Even though all items are related to daily life, but there are sort of trend. Based on my observation, items below are sold very well.

Cellphone load, most of people use prepaid cellphone, which means they have to buy load time to time because prepaid load has expiration. For example, if you load 30 pesos worth, expiration is 15 days. So time to time, people come and load.  

Instant coffee is also one of well-sold items especially in the morning.  

Snacks, in general children come to buy lorry-pop, candy and stiko. Stiko is the best seller! But what is stiko? Stiko is wafer stick with/without chocolate. According to the another sari sari store owner mentioned one plastic container will be sold in a day.

Ice cube especially sunny day, is one of most sell-able items. It takes sometime to make it because owner of store have to pour certain amount of water to the small plastic and tie this plastic nicely. I am not good at that. 

Prices of some items.
cellphone load: amount of load plus 2-3 pesos. 

instant coffee: 5-9 pesos (depends on the brand but nescafe 3 in one is 6-7 pesos now)
stiko: 1 peso/per stick
Ice cube: 3 pesos/1 big cube ( I think 500 ml)
candy: 1 peso/1 candy
egg: 6-7 pesos/1 egg

We would see the store won't earn that much even it have many customer every day. Another store owner said they can earn 1,000-2,000 pesos. But it also depends on the location ( it is nearby the school or there are less competitor and so on) 

Learning local language
Bicol language is dominantly used in local community. And of course, when they buy daily stuffs in Sari Sari store, they speak in Bicol language. Experience attending the store made me learn some vocabularies. 

But at the begging, it was sort of disaster. For example, customer wanted to buy egg but he  used unknown word. I know egg in Tagalog but not in Bicol. I asked him to point it. Then, I could finally figure it out. Egg in Bicol is sogoc.

Problem is not only not knowing local language, but also knowledge of product. Customer often mentioned name of product. I know some of these such as palmolive (shampoo), Joy (dish washing detergent, which also have different sizes)
Sperma...I did not know. It was brand name of candle. Candle in local language is candela.

And sometime, I did not know price of some items. Eventually, I asked mother in law. It happened often.  

I still haven't leaned how to transfer cellphone load. There are various options aside from price. Especially, Smart (telecommunication company) 's loading is complected.  I was quite discouraged to do so then I ended up asking my nephew to do so if he is around :D

Well, I am still having fun to occasionally sit in the sari sari store to welcome customers because through this I somehow see people's daily needs and learn new vocabularies. 

I want to visitors experience buying something from local sari-sari store not in the super market.