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Yearend holiday still ongoing. After experiencing internet deprivation for several days, I am back. Now up and running. To kick off things, I am uploading what I wrote last week after having my Japan to Philippines flight delayed.


Date: December 20, 2007 10:30 am

Current Location: Aboard Northwest Airlines (Flight 71), flying over God-knows-where.

Current State: Trying to avoid boredom through introspective thinking


Yes, you read it right. I am not yet in the Philippines. The airlines canceled our flight yesterday evening. Was I pissed off? You bet I was.


After 3 hours of waiting in the lounge and 2 more hours of it inside the aircraft, we were informed by a faceless voice that our flight will be delayed due to some technical problem. The airlines booked us into a hotel and rescheduled our flight to 9 am the following day.


Oh thank you very much! This is just great”, I sarcastically muttered with just a little bit of extra volume upon hearing the unwelcome announcement. Just the thing I need to jump start my vacation. Tired, hungry and terribly disappointed, my spirits dropped down a notch. Seems like Japan is not willing to let me go just yet.


After grudgingly shuffling my way back past the Japan immigration, I heard a male American voice call out to me, “Hey, over here!”. Huh? My brain furiously tried to make sense of the situation. Was that guy talking to me?.


Just as I was about to ignore him, he called out for the second time, “Hurry. This way…” , while pointing at a deserted elevator. Various images of the Hollywood-popularized male Caucasian serial killer type flashed through my mind. Years of living in Japan conditioned my brain to an environment where people pretty much left you alone to yourself unless you ask for help. This is a situation that’s quite out of my day to day comfort zone.


Probably seeing my obvious reluctance, he said, “Don’t worry I won’t bite”. The urge to always be polite and avoid offending people won over. I stepped into the elevator and followed his lead.


It turns out that the man was simply doing an act of kindness. He has been to so many of these frustrating flight delays that he knows the hotel’s location like the back of his hand. Apparently, you have to get to the hotel ahead of everybody in the same flight or else, you’ll get stuck with a 30-minute check-in process and a crappy room. I internally blushed with shame over the malice-tainted, general lack of trust.


We chatted for a while and then he asked me if I was a Filipina. I said yes and anticipated the question that I knew is coming next. “Do you work in a bar?”.


I laughed and said no, I work in the software industry. Poor guy blushed and profusely apologized. I smiled and said that it’s alright, that I didn’t take any offense. Deep inside I thought to myself — yes, it’s alright because this just made us even. We were both victims of stereotyping.


In the ideal world we could just look at people and not box them in a category. In that world the Japanese will not be workaholic, cold fishes from the outset. All Indians will not automatically smell like curry. The British will not be perceived as an unfeeling race with stiff upper lips. An American will not be a rude, bossy, loud-mouth. The Germans, not Hitler’s spawns. And the Filipina will not be a maid, a mail-to-order bride or an entertainer by default. In this world, all will begin at equal footing. Each will be seen as an individual, with different lives, professions, traits, pluses and minuses.


But alas, euphoria can only exist in theory, for the players in the real world are fallible humans. Mere creatures looking at the world with mortal eyes and tainted experiences. Every now and then comes a soul born with uncommon wisdom and a heightened sense of perception. These are the people destined to drastically change the world with extraordinary deeds. But for the most part, mankind is composed of run-of-the-mill beings who struggle daily with their limitations.


It is in man’s nature to generalize things he does not fully understand. As my college professor once pointed out, this ability is one of man’s greatest strength and weakness. This same skill, which makes it easy for him to comprehend the signs and patterns of his world, makes him vulnerable to the trap of over-simplification. Dangerous given the fact that things are often not as simple as they seem.


This is a lesson I learned most vividly in this journey. Indeed travel (even delayed ones) can have a broadening effect.


Current Location: Nagoya Centrair Airport
Current State: So excited!

Here I am sitting in the Sakura Lounge of Nagoya Airport waiting for boarding time. I am trying the airport’s internet connection and may I say, it is fast (maybe even faster than the Hikari connection in my house). Makes me want to start downloading movies while waiting.

It’s 2 1/2 weeks of yearend vacation in the Philippines for me. I am currently in the state of discharging my mental batteries so pardon me if the blogs you will be reading in the days to come may seem half-baked.

This will be my first Filipino Christmas in 3 years. Mom was so excited that she prepared for it weeks in advance. Me? I am on tenterhooks… waiting to be pleasantly surprised.

Here’s what’s on my vacation to-do list.
1. Bridesmaid duty. My cousin’s getting married and it seems that I’m the maid of horror honor.

2. See friends again. The usual get-together dinner. Time for some catching up.

3. Hide. It’s Christmas, I’m in the Philippines, and I have more than 25 godsons and goddaughters. Need I say more?

4. Hide some more. It’s Christmas and I have numerous relatives of all sizes, ages and shapes, living within the hundred mile radius.

5. Prepare for the food fest. With my mom excited over the prospect of having her daughter over for the holidays, I am anticipating stuffing my face full with all sorts of goodies in the fridge. Diet be damned.

6. Shopping. My all time favorite. Be it in Japan or in the Philippines, there’s no denying this passion.

7. Computer tutorial sessions. I am bringing home the laptop I am currently tapping on as a gift for my parents. (so I can be free of the hugely expensive international call bills that have  been haunting me for years). The last time my folks touched a computer, the monitor was still green (yes, it has been that long). I am guessing computer crash lessons are in order.

8. Simbang gabi. God, I missed the dawn masses scented with the aroma of puto bungbong. It conjures up so many happy memories.

9. Shop for the “bilins” in my list. As is the custom of Filipinos living abroad, the one who goes home to the Philippines for a vacation gets saddled requested to buy stuffs that one can only find in the Philippines. (One might think I’m planning to build myself a Filipino drugstore with the variety of medicines in my list)

10. Go sightseeing. I hope I can wake up early in the mornings to actually get to do this one.

Well then… Batangas/Bulacan, Philippines. Here I come! By the way, just in case I get too lazy to update my blog — Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!!!