Repost: I Want To Know You

By: Ryan O’Connell (Though Catalog)

I want to know you. You seem like someone worth knowing. Every day I feel like I’m surrounded by people with hard edges and sour faces but I get the sense that you’re different. Too often people seem to think that they have the answers to everything. Their faces are trapped in permascowls and they can’t be bothered with anything besides their own narcissism. You aren’t like that. You still ask questions. You’re still looking for the answers.

People with kind hearts make me feel dirty. Like I need to give my personality a bath or something. Rub it clean of my neuroses and judgments. But that’s a good thing. When someone inspires you to take a long hard look at yourself and question all of your bad habits, they’re someone worth keeping around. It’s all about finding that person who’s able to hold up a mirror to your life and cause you to reevaluate the noise. It’s all about wanting to be a better man.

I know you’ll surprise me. I know you’ll take a right turn when I’m convinced you’ll take a left. All of this may seem arbitrary (why does it even matter if you take a right instead of a left?) but it provides me with a giant sense of relief. Do you know what it feels like to go through life rarely being surprised? The person who you think is going to hurt you ends up leaving you alone at three in the morning. The person who will never understand your jokes or passions turns out to be a stranger forever. You sleep with them, go out to dinners, and even run away to a bed and breakfast on a long weekend, all in hopes that they’ll start to make sense to you one day. But they never do. They just get more and more foreign each day. Experiences don’t always breed intimacy. Sometimes they just make the distance more apparent.

I want to know how your weekend was (I never want to know these types of things but you’re the exception to all my rules) and I want to know how you got that scar on your knee (biking accident when you were twelve? Tell me more! This story is more riveting than The Hunger Games!) and I want to know about your mom and dad (Are they assholes? No matter! We’ll start our own family!) I want to protect you. I want to preserve your innocence and drink it up for myself. You learn from me and I’ll learn from you. Deal?

You’ll open me up like an orange, leaving a mess of pulp and sticky peels everywhere. Certain parts of my personality will be extracted and I’ll find myself feeling stuff I never knew was possible. It’s strange to think how many things we’re capable of without really knowing it until we have a proper catalyst — something or someone to bring it to the surface. Dig, dig, dig. No, you might need to dig a little deeper. I have a lot of crap sticking on top of the good stuff.

In order for all of this to work though, you have to let me know you. You have to let me cut you open and trust that I won’t accidentally hit a nerve. You have to accept me for my shortcomings and understand that you’re a better person than I am. I’m a little rotten. Please don’t let that deter you though. Because when I look at you, I see someone who makes sense. I see an anomaly — someone who’s untouched by all of the modern inventions and hang ups. I see someone I want to know.



I’m feeling humdurumdurum for almost a week now. Everyone is going home. And I too will leave in just a couple of days. No farewell tears since last Wednesday. Blame the weather, the cough, whatever, but I’m trying trying really not to shed any. I’ve been sending people off, waking up at 5:00am for last hugs, last laughter, last smile. I really hope I can still see all of them in the near future. It has been a boring ride, to be really honest about it. But what I would cherish are those rare moments that I’m the happiest. And I really mean truly and genuinely happy (shiawasen). And for good reasons, I am really happy that one year in Japan was spent with them.

Omedatou Gozaimashita ESD Girls!

one of those moments

I’m going back home in less than a month. I am not sure though what exactly I should be feeling about it. Anxious? Excited? I just know that my time in Japan is up and I should be making the best out of it. But why am I stuck inside my room? I have my September all planned out. But looking at my calendar, it seems empty. Been inside the house for four days, can’t wait to get out. Haissssh.

I should be excited right? I’m going to Solomon Islands next month. Will spend some quality time with my long distance boyfriend. Why do I feel crappy? Damn you randomness! I am a bit excited, I worked hard to get all visas necessary to go there. I exerted so much effort in making our relationship work. He did the same. We tried to make contact as much as possible. We will make it work right? Patience Joan, 2012 is the year. Focus on your timeline, and try to achieve those milestones. Haisssh.

Anyhow. This is how my last week of August looked like.


Last week of August well spent in Aomori Prefecture. Thank you for free field trips 🙂 Saw a lot of amazing things, did lots of traditional crafts, met a lot of interesting people. And I almost forgot, ate tons of apples, melons, honeydew and watermelons! Yay!


Puig De Fontnegra [Album Review]

Puig de Fontnegra blends African cultural heritage with upbeat funky new blends of Latin music resulting to melancholic but oftentimes intoxicating concoctions of world sounds. In their debut album with the single “Different is to be alone”, the group’s various ethnic backgrounds shine to the challenge of cultural globalization. Members originating from Latin America, South Africa and Asia, the musical blend is often confusing that attracts listeners further to the diaspora of cultures.

Okay, okay. It’s hard to describe a non-existent band. Particularly, harder to describe its music without tracks. I was bored today, and decided to follow this simple instruction posted in my friend’s Facebook page.

1. Go to Wikipedia. Hit “Random Article” or click The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2. Go to “Random quotations” or click The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3. Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days” or click
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4. Use Photoshop or similar to put it all together.

Puig de Fontnegra is a cool name to name a band if I’m from Latin America or I have been there even once my life. But the name sounds so, how to say, world music genre. Although I like world music, I’d rather have a non-existent reggae band. The quotation I got, on one hand, is pretty sad that contextualizes the present Americans, thus, “to be different is to be alone”. It is quoted from Suzanne Gordon in her article/book entitled, Lonely in America.  The photo credit goes to Scott MacBride, for being the third photo in “explore the last seven days”. His Flickr photostream can be found here: I have no ownership to any of the photos, title or album name.

I know you guys are as bored as I am. Why don’t you try it out? 🙂

3776.24m Up High

I didn’t really know what to expect. I just knew that it is 3776.24m high, the highest mountain I climbed. It is, so far, the only mountain I climbed outside Philippines.

Mt. Fuji or Fujisan is the highest mountain in Japan and people describes it as having “an exceptionally symmetrical cone”. Prior to this climb, I saw Fujisan from bird’s eye view. It was a beautiful sight. I was awed on how perfect its shape is. And was very lucky, to view it with the classic snow on top image.

View of Fujisan from the plane (months ago)

For this trip, we joined the “Sunshine” tour group. It was composed mainly of college students, first time climbers I assumed. They all looked enthusiastic and “genki”. The trip from Osaka to Yamanashi Prefecture took us 10 hours, with several pit stops along the way. Two of my friends joined me in this trip, at first I was thinking of going solo, but I was quite happy that they accompanied me even though one never climbed a mountain in her life and the other have several experienced but still, same as me, not enough to actually know what to expect.

This is us on our way to Fujisan

The climb started from Kawaguchiko 5th Station. Rain was already making its way when we arrived. We changed to our rain gears, had an early dinner and prepped up for the start of the climb.  I am not perfectly packed for this climb, but my gear I think is adequate. I may not have the fancy walking sticks and boot-type hiking shoes, but I have my reliable 30L Dueter bag, my La Fuma comfy shoes, a rain gear, pocket oxygen, 1L of sports drink, trail food and extra windbreaker.

I didn’t expect the 5th station to be as spacious, it was different from the usual drop-off stations in the Philippines. This one is really tourist-friendly. There were several restaurants and omiyage shops. There were also stores to load up with proper gears before starting the ascend. The price is relatively more expensive, so better buy everything you need before your trip. But if you would rather go up with a light pack, then buying drinks up the mountain huts is okay. It costs aroungd 500 yen for a 500ml drinks.

Kawaguchiko 5th Station

Early dinner (part of the tour package)

With our eyesore rain gear

After the prep work, the guide oriented us with the ascend to the 7th station. He said that it will take us roughly 4 hours to ascend, with stop for every 20 minutes. He mentioned to keep paced so as not to over exert the climb. He also mentioned that it will be rather steep and rocky for this part of the climb. I suggest to do some stretching before starting, an important aspect of the climb I neglected to do. Call me lazy, LOL!

Orientation with our guide

For this climb, we took the Yoshida trail. It is as most sites describes the easiest trail up to the summit (I wonder now what “difficult” will be). And it is also the most crowded trail during climbing season (July to August). Starting the trail we were met with mixed of rain and fog. But still the trail is very much visible. The first 20 minutes were easy, to say the least. But as we go further up, the harder it gets. As the sun goes down, some of the excitement I had started to fade. I started to feel uneasy and out of breath. I look at the sight below, and thought that the fog was starting to rise up causing my vision to be unclear. What I wasn’t aware was that the altitude was starting to affect me. This realization hit me when I inhaled my first portable oxygen. After two mouthful, my vision was back to 20/20.

posing with my friend’s Fuji hiking stick

Our guide pointing to an invisible 7th station 😀

Still a long way up

Around 6th station

After the 6th station, that’s when I stopped taking photos. The trail was so steep and rocky, add that it was already pitch dark, it was quite impossible to stop just to camwhore. With exhaustion, I don’t think I have enough energy to lift my arm and push the button. We were the last to arrived at the 7th station. We were quite impaired with one not having her own headlamp and another with altitude sickness. We were exhausted and hungry, both of them immediately slept upon arriving. I ate noodles before going to sleep. It was freezing cold in that area. Unfortunately, my bed space was between two futons. My lower body covered by one while my upper body barely covered by the other. Good thing I brought along a hand warmer, that kept me warm while trying to sleep.

Mountain hut at 7th station

Can you see the space between the two futons, that’s my bed space 😀

After less than an hour of rest, by 1:05am we have to prepare for the ascend to the summit. Both of my companions were hesitating to climb up again. Both think of quitting, they asked me what I think about it, I just said that they are almost there and I cannot decide for the both of them. Along the way, I lost one of my friend. With throngs of climbers making their way to the summit, I have no time to go back and look for her. Luckily, I saw her joining another group. And I learned after the descent that with less than 20 minutes away from the summit, she decided to climb down. So it was just two of us who reached the summit that day. We arrived less than the time expected. It only took us 3 hours to ascend from 7th station to summit. Exhausted, hungry and cold, we waited for the sun to rise.

After seeing the sunrise, I completely forgot my exhaustion. I just stared there for 40 minutes, admiring the span of greatness in front of me. It is not everyday that you have that view. Seeing hundreds of people witnessing the same magnificent sight, I was completely satisfied and contented. Never in my life I have ever dreamed or imagined that I would climb Fujisan. And being up there, I was proud of myself.

The descent is a story on its own. It took us 4 hours from summit to 5th station. I never run out of breath but it definitely semi-busted my knees. Just imagine climbing 1700m up and going down the same distance but now with gravity pulling you down. And the trail sliding your feet almost same as water. But I enjoyed going down the most, seeing people’s proud faces, everyone seemed to be “genki”, laughing and running as they made their way back. I sang a song or two on my way.

I wrote a letter to two of my friends who joined me in this tremendous feat. I told them that climbing is more than reaching the summit, it’s about conquering our fears and insecurities. The challenge, I told them is within our selves. It is about pushing our limits and seeing what we can achieved. And I believe we did achieve something up there. One who had altitude sickness who still reached the summit and the other one who climbed her first ever. For myself, it was about climbing on my own. I always depended on someone whenever I climb. There was always someone pampering me and carrying my load (both literally and figuratively). I always doubt my capacity to achieve something, I always think of quitting even before trying. But this time, I let go of all of that and just climb. I have to be honest, those thoughts occurred to me while ascending, but I pushed it away. And took those small steps that helped me reached my destination.

I conquered Fujisan, and I conquered myself. Banzai!


To help you assist with your climb, here are some sites that helped me prepped up. Of course, the actual experience itself I would say is very different 😀 : (English site, this site really helps you ready for your climb, it’s honest and complete) (English site, all you need to know about climbing Mt. Fuji) (Sunshine tour, Japanese site, I suggest for first time climbers to join tour groups, well, I’m just saying. Lol! Package includes transportation, food, mountain huts, guide, onsen bath, souvenir and certificate) (English site, it helps to know what weather to expect)

Tokyo Drift: Shin-Osaka/Tokyo in 2 days

The Tokyo trip was short. It was not for fun to begin with. It was school. We went there to visit Ministry of Environment, House Food Corporation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JICA. It was more like a courtesy visit to these organizations who have been supporting our programme here in Japan. Our schedule was quite loose so we were able to squeeze in Disneyland (free tickets!), Emperor’s Palace, Sky Tree, Senso-ji and Ginza.

There was lots of walking involved. Japanese loves walking. Various train rides through Tokyo Metro (drained my allowance here). And of course, camwhoring.

The highlight of the trip (besides being in Tokyo) is riding the famous shinkansen. More specifically, riding the Nozomi line! Nozomi is the fastest train service in Japan. One way ticket costs around 14,000 yen, roughly $180 or 7500 Php! It’s almost the same price as plane tickets, the only difference is, this takes you to the main city.

Shinkansen was so amazing. There was big legroom, same as business class! Recline seats! Come on! There’s also a smoking area, vending machine, plane-like toilets and sockets! In short, it was very very comfortable. The only minus to it is that lights are on the whole train ride. Maybe I can suggest plane-like individual lamps? LOL.

However, I don’t suggest Shinkansen for backpackers. Too pricey. But if you have the budget and wished to visit Kanto area and Kansai area. Then Shinkansen is the most convenient way to travel. It took us 3 hours from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo. You can also avail 5-day JR tickets. But for us residing here, that option is not available. JP Pass is only available for tourists. Although we are “tourists”, we don’t have the same amenities. Boo!

We weren’t able to visit the most famous sights in Tokyo like Akihabara, Shinjuku, Harajuku and Shibuya. [Ooops, I forgot! I saw Tokyo Tower from afar. LOL.] But those two days were for me enough. I don’t have the money to travel back that’s why. :p Meals and train rides alone were expensive. Dang! But it was fun. I had fun with my classmates. At least we can already cross out Tokyo in our itinerary. Our one year is almost up! 2 months to go!

So what’s next? MT. FUJI!!!!!