Thursday, April 9, 2015

Japan Trip 2015: Friends New and Old in Osaka and Kyoto

A groupie before they bid me farewell for my lone journey to Kyoto
I look back at the week I spent in Japan and words come to me to describe it: mentoring; adventure; kindness; intellectual discourse; art and culture; international mindedness; serenity; order; discipline; risk taking; friendship.

For today, I will write about FRIENDSHIP.  

Friends Old and New

I think when people travel, they are bound to discover new ones and were helped by the good old ones. This happened to me at the onset. It was Ann Grace Bansig who pushed me to submit a paper in the IAFOR LibrAsia Conference. I remember it well. We were having a light dinner in Tokyo Tokyo last year when the idea of attending conferences in 2015 came about. There is no harm in trying so I told Grace and Darrel (who was with us at the time). After reading the guidelines of the IAFOR's Call for Papers, I submitted my paper on leadership and school librarianship. In less than a week, I got an acceptance letter. A few weeks after this good news, Grace sent a text message informing me of the good news she and Darrel received from IAFOR. We were all very excited at the opportunity to engage in conversation with librarians from different cultures and backgrounds. And yes, the idea of visiting Japan thrilled us to the bone!

A lot of friends helped me too in planning and preparing for the trip. Many of them wished to remain anonymous especially the kind of help they extended to me. I am sure of one thing though, I will do more random acts of kindness especially to travelers and librarians dreaming of traveling abroad to attend a conference. I will pay "it" forward.

With Ryota who is a Manny Pacquiao fan. He believes that Pacman will defeat Mayweather!
Candy May Schijf, a friend I have met over in FB, whom I briefly had an EB (eye ball) at the Rizal Conference in November last year, submitted a paper and it too got accepted. Her friend from DLSU Taft, Willian Frias got an acceptance letter as well.

So our company of three, became five. In December 2014, we met to plan the trip. We had constant convo in FB on flight details, lodging, logistics and visa applications. A week before the trip, Cristina Villanueva of UP Baguio sent word via FB since she learned that there are Filipino librarians attending and presenting in the conference. She too was a presenter and session chair at the IAFOR. We arranged to meet in Osaka during the conference.

Leaving Manila on different routes and plane reservations, we all met at Osaka International Convention Center on Day 1 of the IAFOR LibrAsia. Happiness!

At Tennoji Park. Our first encounter with the glorious sakura!

Dare and Grace

One dynamic of friendship I find worthy of reflection is that of collaboration. This is very evident in the relationship of Darrel Manuel Marco and Ann Grace Bansig. I have seen these two together in many instances where one's personality and strength complement the other. Where Grace lends energy and sprite, Darrel provides balance and introspection. In my imagined reality, I see them as a couple perfectly fitted to each other. But, sad to say, this is just me dreaming romantic dreams unsuitable for others to make it come true. The point is, good friendships thrive in all walks of life and in all peoples regardless of age, religion, cultural background and sexual preferences. This is the magic of friendship that is why, it must be nurtured and kept healthy.

Sadly, I didn't see Darrel and Grace present their paper on the Overseas Filipino Worker and Philippine Children's Literature since I needed to be in Kyoto on Saturday night. More on this in another post.

I am impressed to see both of them go beyond the horizon. How many Filipino school librarians venture into writing about children's literature, analyzing context and determining the constructs of knowledge found in these children's stories? Only a handful dare to do so. I think it is relevant that school librarians look at the reading materials that children read because, after all, school librarians bridge children to books and information sources. From what I read in FB, the duo dared to push the envelope during their presentation and they both accomplished this with grace. Congratulations!

As of writing, Darrel and Grace are still in Japan, meeting friends and having the summer of their lives! As I posted on FB, I wish them well and that their friendship may bring forth more collaborative endeavors in the future. 

Friends in Kyoto

I spent my last day in Japan in Kyoto. I took the subway from Osaka then made the connecting ride via the Limited Express in Kyobashi. It took me an hour to reach Demachiyanagi station. I met Lani De Vera there, a friend from way back. She teaches English in an IB school there. She treated me to dinner in a ramen house and the ramen was delicious! I spent the night at her place and the morning after, we met her friend, Midori-san.

With Lani and Yanagida-san who has been to Bohol and Cebu.
It was raining that Easter Sunday. I wore three layers of clothing but the cold climate got through my bones. This did not stop me from enjoying the walk down the Philosopher's Path. Lani and Midori-san planned a hanami but due to the rain, a change was imminent. Lani and I found ourselves in Midori-san's home. It was mid-way the Philosopher's Path. I just have to say this: the whole place was like a setting in a Miyazki movie. More on this in a future post. Again.

With Midori-san whose name means "green" in Japanese.
At Midori-san's home, we met Yanagida-san, her husband. He is a retired teacher. He likes taking photographs, traveling and listening to music. He showed me his CD of Celeste Legaspi songs. He showed me his album filled with his photographs of fall, winter, summer and spring in Kyoto, Okinawa and Mt. Fuji. He even offered his place for me the next time I am in Kyoto. Their hospitality warmed me enough to still the shaking coldness in my toes and fingers. Midori-san fed us a plateful of pizza, salad, fresh juicy tomatoes and sweet bread. The coffee was great too! The brunch was perfect for the long walk she had thought out for us to take.

The rest of the morning, Midori-san was with us as tour guide to the Nanzen-ji Temple. There I saw girls in kimono, a temple gate that reminds me of Avatar (think Aang and the gang), an aqua-duct, more sakura and rain. Lots and lots of rain!

At noon, Lani brought me to Kyoto Station where I started my journey towards Nagoya to Central International Airport. I have fond memories of these three cities: Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto. I meant to go back to Japan. God willing.

Now, I need to save up. And do more thinking and working and engagement in an endless conversation on matters that are relevant to the profession.

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