INSTABITS : June 2019

Happy leap day everyone! God gave us an extra day this year, hopefully you were able to spend it wisely 🙂 I made good use of my day by sleeping in until 9:30 am. Then Ray picked me up we could go to some recycle shops to look for Q Posket collectibles. He also took me to play at some arcades (I mentioned in a previous entry that recently this was how I prefer to unwind from the work week). We also ran some errands like going grocery shopping and cleaning my house. I was even able to give Ray a haircut and myself a DIY facial once we got home. And now I’m sitting here writing another blog entry while Ray is watching some anime that I don’t know. It may not sound like a very exciting day for some, but I’m very happy because these are things I don’t normally get to do on regular days. These kind of days are extremely rare for me, and I treasure every one of them.

Today was great, but for now let’s take a quick trip back to June 2019 for this entry.  June was probably my most stressful month of 2019, but it was also one of my best ones. It was a crucial month for me, PhD-wise, a turning point of some sort. In my past entries I kept mentioning how stressed I was because of a conference I was preparing for. That conference actually took place this month, so all the pressure from the previous months lead up to this moment. On top of that, I was scheduled to give *another* seminar right before my conference (literally the week before my conference). These seminars are done to update our professors and colleagues on the progress of our research. If you recall, my last seminar was around the end of April. After that we had a 10-day break because of Golden Week. This meant that for this seminar, I only had roughly a month’s worth of data, which wasn’t very much considering the many times I failed in my experiments. Fortunately, I was able to pull it off by coming in early and staying late at the lab. I also gave up a few weekends even though I really didn’t want to since Amie was actually in Japan this month as a visiting researcher in Kobe University. I wanted to spend my weekends catching up with her, but a lot of times I didn’t really have a choice. I’ll get to that later, for now let’s get started on this month’s IG posts.

On the first weekend of the month, Amie visited me in Kyoto. Ray and I took her to some famous locations around the area.


Of course we had to show her Fushimi Inari


And Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillon)

(I already took her to see the Bamboo Forest and Kimono Forest in Arashiyama when she visited me in Febraury)


Here’s a nice shot Ray took of me at the view point at Mt. Inari

The following weekend, Amie and I both did overtime work at the lab on Saturday, but she was able to visit me again on Sunday. This time we took her to explore Kawaramachi (downtown Kyoto).


We found this milk tea place while we were walking around. During the time this was taken, there weren’t a lot of milk tea places in Kyoto yet, so we were pretty excited to try it. However, they’ve recently started popping up and I’ve been seeing more of them around. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to try most of them.

The third week of June was when things started to really heat up. I had my seminar that week, which was a huge success (praise God), however I still wasn’t able to prepare the samples I needed for my conference. This meant I had to work overtime at the lab and I had no choice but to sacrifice part of my weekend again. I don’t have a problem with working on weekends, I’ve done it willingly many times before since I started my PhD, I just really didn’t want to do it this time because I wanted to make the most of Amie’s visit. However, I also knew that this was a crucial period, and sometimes we need to make sacrifices. If only you could graph my emotions that week – you would see two huge spikes : one rising up after my successful presentation, and one pointing down because I was so scared that I wouldn’t be ready for my conference.

If you noticed, in the paragraph above I said I sacrificed only “part of my weekend”. It was a very difficult decision because this was the last weekend before my conference, but it was also the weekend that Amie and I reserved to go to Universal Studios. We thought of cancelling because my conference was in 3 days, but this was our last chance, since my year pass would expire that weekend. In the end we decided to push through with our plans. I made up for it by staying super late at the lab on Friday night, and even coming in to finish my experiments after we returned from USJ on Saturday night. And of course I worked all Sunday, only leaving the lab for a short period to attend our church’s Sunday service. I probably got a total of 9 hours of sleep that entire weekend. (All of us actually … since Ray and Amie stayed with me at my building while I finished up my experiments. I told them to go home and rest so they would have energy for our USJ adventure, but of course being the supportive friends that they are, they didn’t want me to be alone in my suffering.) My body hated me during this time, but it was worth it in the end because we all had a great time at USJ.

In case you need photo proof:


The three of us at Hogsmeade


Amie and I at Minion Park


We tried to dress up as minions too

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INSTABITS : May 2019

Wow, two posts in two days? I must really be serious in my efforts to catch up on updating this blog. (Or I’m just avoiding doing real work by telling myself this is important too.)

Last night as I sat down and started trying to write this entry, I realized one thing. I didn’t have a single Instagram post from May 2019. Not one! I think this is the first time this happened. *shocked face* I mean, I’m sure I posted something during the month, except they weren’t taken during the month of May itself. They were probably late uploads from the previous months. Which makes sense, because if I recall most of my May was spent at the lab, trying my best to finish my experiments and oftentimes failing miserably. I didn’t really have much time to go out and enjoy myself I suppose. So, I guess I sort of get a free pass when it comes to writing this entry. Yay.

I did post some things on my IG stories, and I put together the video compilation last night. Even this video is much shorter than usual, and more than half of it came from things I posted on the first week of May, which was still part of our Golden Week holiday. Wow…

INSTABITS : April 2019

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to write one of these. And if you’re attentive, you might realize that I started my previous blog entry with this exact same sentence. However, I’d like to point out that I did have a disclaimer there that said I will be busy again once the new semester starts, and I was right. After finishing that entry, I haven’t had time to update this blog again until now.  Currently, it’s spring break here in Japan, so I have a little bit of free time. I still have to go to the lab everyday, but we don’t have weekly progress reports and seminars until April. I figured it’s a good chance to log on here and post a quick update.

It’s been almost 6 months since I updated this blog. For a while I sort of gave up and figured I should just stop posting here, but I really started to miss it. And to say that I have no time to blog is not completely true. I do get some free time every now and then, it’s just that I’ve been doing a lot of other things during my free time lately. I don’t want to bore you by giving you an update on every aspect of my life, so here’s a quick list:

  1. I am still alive, but PhD life is really starting to take a toll on me. There are days when I don’t even want to get out of bed because I feel like nothing makes sense, and I have zero motivation. I’m told this is normal, so there’s that. It’s not all bad though, I have had a few small victories here and there.  Like how I managed to publish my first paper (which you can see here : LINK TO MY PAPER )
  2. I’ve picked up the hobby of going to the arcade. It’s been a huge stress reliever for me. During the work week I motivate myself by visualizing the arcade games I would play that weekend. I love it, but it’s expensive hobby and I’ve been trying to cut back a little. I don’t want to stop going completely, but I’ve been trying to control myself since I’m not sure how long my stipend can support this newfound interest of mine. If you’re interested, I started an arcade instagram account (@Arcade.Wonderland), as well as an arcade youtube channel (click HERE to see it).
  3. I started a new blog! It’s probably not the best idea since I can barely keep this one alive, but I wanted a separate one for all about my travels and adventures. Please check it out at There’s not much on there yet, but hopefully I’ll find time to get some posts up. I debated on posting this Instabits entry there, but I decided I’d like to keep these posts on this blog since this is where I started doing these.

And I suppose that’s it? I realize that those are just basically some shameless self promotion links, but it really is what has been eating up a lot of my free time lately (mostly the arcade stuff XD). Most of my other life updates will be included in my Instabits entries.

I forgot how I used to start these posts, so I guess I’ll just jump right into it then 🙂

First photo for April was this group shot from the KAPS welcome party. This picnic marks the end of my first year here in Kyoto. I remember my own welcome party very clearly. I can’t believe how fast time flew by.


Check out those beautiful sakura trees. Our KAPS president had to arrive extra early that day so she could grab a good spot. Normally we have our picnics further up the river, but she said the place was packed. We were lucky to find this location.


This year’s hanami was extra special because these were the last sakura blooms for the Heisei era. In about a month Japan would have a new emperor and the Reiwa period would begin.

During the picnic I was telling Anna how stressed I was about my studies. A few days before this picnic, my professor told me that I had to redo almost all my experiments because there was something wrong with my set up. Anna comforted me and suggested that we make the most of this day by going to USJ. Our year passes were about to expire and we agreed that we should make the most of them. So after the introduction of new members, Ray, Anna, Mandy and I escaped from the party and headed off to Osaka.


Unfortunately, due to traffic we made it to the park just one hour before closing. We managed to get on our favorite ride (Hollywood Dream), but by the time we were done all the other attractions were closed.

To make the most of our visit, we ended up just running to different places in the park that is normally packed with people to take some photos


Like Hogsmeade


Here’s a rare sight of Hogwarts Castle without the usual crowd of people


We also took some photos with Jaws because there’s usually a long line at this place

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INSTABITS : March 2019

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to write one of these. I still have a few weeks left before the new semester starts, so I have a little more free time than usual. Once the semester begins, I expect I will be extremely busy once again.

I guess I should provide a bit of an update first.  I’m pleased to report that I survived my first year as a PhD student. My second year will begin this October. So far it’s been really challenging. My second semester was especially brutal. I had a conference to prepare for, two seminars to present, and a paper to write. It would have been fine, but my experiments kept failing, which meant I had no data. I was cramming up until two days before the conference. There were days when I’d just wake up and just cry in bed because I felt so lost and helpless. Sometimes I would even just burst out crying in the middle of my experiment. But thankfully I got a lot of encouragement from the people around me. I would receive messages from them praying for me, which really helped. Of course I spent a lot of time praying too, and with the grace of God I was able to hold on to hope and make it through. I know I’m not even halfway through my PhD journey yet, and I will be facing many more challenges, so I’ve been trying to prepare myself for that.

Currently it’s still summer vacation at the university, although that’s just for bachelor students. Graduate students like me still have to go to the lab everyday and do experiments. But the atmosphere’s much more relaxed so I felt that this was a good chance to catch up on blogging.

Alright, now for the photos

Started the month with a pajama party for the ladies at our church. It was also a farewell party for Ate Jo since her family will be moving to Osaka. At the party I got to play with Ken-chan, my first inaanak here in Japan.


Such a cutie ❤

I was blessed to be asked to be godmother to another baby this month:

Pretty baby Hesed. Godmother to two adorable babies, I feel so happy 🙂

This month I experienced my first boodle fight in Japan, thanks to Ate Daisy. She moved to a new house and prepared this for us during her house blessing.

As I mentioned earlier, Ate Jo and Pastor Joseph recently moved to Osaka. This photo was taken after Pastor Joseph’s last Filipino service at church:


So blessed to have been part of this group

This month I had two visitors in Kyoto. The first was Trixie:

She was here with her husband for his birthday. We were able to meet up for sukiyaki one evening and catch up.

The last time we saw each other was 9 years ago, can you believe it.

My second visitor was my kupo, Brinky-doodle. She had just finished her Masters course and this trip was her graduation gift to herself. Ray and I took her to Iga Ueno Castle, where she took this nice photo of us XD

On the way there we passed by this tea plantation in Uji and stopped to take photos.

Look are neatly the tea hedges are arranged

Brinks wanted to see sakura but she arrived a bit too early. There were only a few that had bloomed already.


We found this one tree there so we took a few photos

Ray took these pretty close up photos of the few sakura that we saw


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INSTABITS : February 2019

Golden Week is over and we’re back to our regular schedules. I thought I’d finish this entry before things got too busy again.


This month Yehlen celebrated her 3rd birthday. Ate Elaine held a unicorn themed party at their house. She and Barret did a great job with the decorations. I loved all the details.

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Barret designed the cake


Ate Elaine found these cute unicorn plates


And these adorable napkins

They even made a photobooth for the guests


Ray and I tried to take a photo with a birthday girl but she wasn’t in the mood to pose. There were too many kids there at the party and she just wanted to play with them.

In the end the ladies and I enjoyed the photobooth on our own




Kuya Ryan visited Kyoto this month. He brought back some ingredients for Filipino dishes and invited us to enjoy them with him at at Pastor Joseph’s house. It’s been a while since I had munggo and tuyo. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

February 11 was a holiday so my friends and I took a little day trip to Shirakawa-go. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site popular for its traditional farm houses. Some people call it the Christmas Village because it’s especially beautiful during the winter months. It looks like the inside of a snow globe.


This architecture style is called gassho-zukuri. This region gets a lot of heavy snowfall in the winter so the houses are designed in such a way that the snow will slide off easily from the roof. The houses are aligned so that it provides shelter from the cold winter winds and shade from the harsh summer sun.


I’ve been wanting to see this place for a while so naturally I took lots of pictures. (Well, I asked Ray to take lots of pictures of me XD)


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INSTABITS : January 2019

Happy Golden Week everyone! A new era is upon us. Heisei has ended and Reiwa has begun. I have a few days off from school so I can spare a bit of time to update my blog again. I’m treating this blogging time as a reward to myself for surviving my presentation and the two weeks of anxiety it gave me. I’ve attended so many conferences and have done numerous presentations over the years, but somehow it just doesn’t get easier for me. If anything I get more and more nervous to give presentations as the years go by. But I’ve long accepted that it’s part of the career and I suppose in some teeny tiny way, I do enjoy it. Especially that rush of excitement I get after a talk/presentation is over.

Let’s get going with these IG posts then. Surprisingly there’s not a lot for January. My first few days were packed with activities since I was still in the Philippines back then, but I guess I didn’t post that much. In fact, most of these were uploaded just a few weeks ago when I realized that I was going to start writing this entry soon and I still had a lot of photos I haven’t shared. Some of these pictures are also from my FB page. I guess I posted them there but forgot to upload them to Instagram.

My flight back to Japan was on January 5, so I was pretty busy meeting friends and spending time with family as soon as the new year kicked in. Sir Taps, Dustin and I scheduled a trip to Tagaytay to eat bulalo because it had been raining nonstop for the past week and hot bulalo sounded perfect. Funnily enough, the day we went to the Tagaytay was the day it finally stopped raining.

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They took me to Leslie’s, which is famous for bulalo. It was my first time there.

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Their bulalo was amazing! I can’t wait to go back there and have some again.


Afterwards Sir Taps took us to Starbucks Domicillo. Usually when people invite me to go to Starbucks in Tagaytay, we go to the one in Twin Lakes, or the one along the highway. This was my first time at this branch. I guess it’s pretty new and not a lot of people go there yet because it’s a little hidden.


Chai tea with a view


On our way back to LB, we stopped by Nuvali so I could get a haircut and a much needed treatment. Hair salons in Japan are quite expensive so I’ve only gone a few times these last couple of months.

That evening we had dinner at our house with my parents and friends.


My parents really missed having these dinner parties with my friends so I’m glad we were able to squeeze one in during my visit.


The following day my parents and I visited Doc Beth at her clinic (Ocean of Youth) for a facial. This was a real treat for me because I haven’t had one since I left the Philippines. They’re expensive here in Japan so I’ve mostly been relying on myself to get rid of my blackheads and whiteheads. #oilygirlproblems


The morning of my flight I was able to have breakfast with Jason, Amie and Rona. We ate at IRRI cafeteria which I really missed.

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INSTABITS : December 2018

Finally found a bit of time to blog again. I think this is the most I’ve fallen behind on posting an Instabits entry. It’s already April and here I am writing about my December IG activities. But the main reason I blog is so that I can look back on fond memories, so I suppose it still serves its purpose.

On the first day of December some friends and I went bowling as part of Tita Nenita’s early birthday celebration. She loves to bowl so we thought it would be the perfect way to make this day special for her. It was my first time bowling in probably about 10 years (or more?), so I was a little rusty. But I still had a great time.


We went to Round 1, where they had these colorful bowling balls 🙂

Around October 2018, Ray convinced me that I should take the JLPT N4 exam. Even though I wasn’t very confident, I decided to give it a try. My exam took place at Ritsumeikan University on the 2nd of December. After the test, I took some time to walk around the campus to relieve some stress.




Just like Doshiha (and KyoDai of course), their campus is beautiful.


University campuses always make me feel at home. Probably because both my parents were university professors (my mom still teaches to this day), so even as a child I spent a lot of time in a campus settings.

Ray’s birthday falls on December, and every year he holds a party at his house for friends. Since it’s the holiday season, people treat it as a pre-Christmas party and gift exchange games are usually done.


Guests were asked to wear festive colors 🙂

Anna, Mandy, Ray and I decided to use our USJ year pass again to see how the park looks around the holidays. As expected, it was beautiful.


We took photos by this giant tree




We even waited for the light up that evening

And of course no USJ trip is complete without dropping by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter:


At the Hogsmeade entrance


In front of the Hogsmeade tree, where the decorations “magically” rearrange themselves every now and then (you can see it on my stories video at the end of this entry)


Since it was quite cold, we ordered some hot butterbeer to warm up our bodies

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INSTABITS : November 2018

Hello dear reader (or readers, if I’m being optimistic). This is my first Instabits entry of the year and it’s from November 2018. I’m still really behind on blogging and I don’t think I would be able to catch up anytime soon. I thought I had a good chance over the winter break, but I concentrated on editing vlogs from 2 years ago and didn’t have time to write anything aside from my 2018 Highlights.

Anyway, my November started off great, mainly because my parents were still in Japan with me. If you read my October 2018 entry, I mentioned that they arrived around the end of the month for a quick visit. We couldn’t really go sightseeing during the weekdays because I had to go to the lab, but one of the things I love about having an apartment close to the university is that my parents can drop by during my lunch break so we can have a meal together. Or if they don’t feel like going out, I can go home to have a quick lunch with them.


Here’s a photo from when they visited me at the university so we can eat at the nearby Yoshinoya (my parents love their gyudon).

That afternoon we decided to do a bit of sightseeing. My parents haven’t been to Gion yet so we took a train to get there. It was a spontaneous idea so my dad didn’t have his camera, and our phone batteries were dying, but we decided to make the most of it anyway. Thankfully my mom brought her selfie stick and I had some juice left on my powerbank, so we were able to take a few photos.


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We dropped by Yasaka Jinja and I saw this scene which screamed “Japan” so I had to take a touristy photo


One of the places my parents and I went to during their visit was the Arashiyama Takao Parkway. This was early November, so the trees in the city haven’t fully changed colors yet. I thought it would be nice for my parents see some bright red trees so Ray and I took them up here.


Obligatory portrait with the momiji (Maple tree)

I was actually here in October too because Ate Shirley wanted to see the Cosmos flowers. Unfortunately there weren’t a lot of them then (but we still took photos, like this one:)

This time when we visited the field was covered in them! Of course we had to take photos again:

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2018 Highlights

Happy 2019 everyone! I hope everyone is looking forward to what this new year has to offer. My social media has been flooded with 2018 highlights, and I figured since I had no plans to leave the house today I might as well do one myself. I used to make a blog entry like this every year, but these past few years have been so busy that I gave up. I’m glad I have some time this year to write another one.

Here are some of the things that made my 2018 incredible (in no particular order)

1. Awarded the MEXT Scholarship and moved to Japan to pursue my PhD at Kyoto University


Being a MEXT scholar is a long time dream I didn’t think was possible. For those who don’t know, I actually applied in 2016 but I didn’t make it. Of course my confidence took a huge blow and I started to believe that my dream of studying in Japan was not going to happen, that it wasn’t meant for me. But support from family/friends and God’s promises kept me strong and I tried again in 2017. I received my notice of acceptance around the end of January 2018 and things took off from there 🙂


Living in Japan has been something I wanted to do ever since I was young. I think I was heavily influenced by my uncle, who was also a MEXT scholar. He always had wonderful stories about his experiences in Japan, and I think that’s what started everything. Also, both my BS and MS advisers were MEXT scholars, so my desire to study in Japan grew as I was mentored by them during my student years.


Right now I’m a D1 student at Kyoto University. I never imagined I would be studying here – one of the top universities in Japan. I’ve only been there for 9 months, but so far it’s been an incredible experience.

2. Got baptized and strengthened my personal relationship with God and other Christians.


One of the best things that happened to me this year was strengthening my relationship with God. I actually started attending bible study in 2017, but I didn’t get baptized until early 2018. Believe it or not, what drove me to truly seek God during this time was when I failed to receive the MEXT scholarship. As mentioned earlier, it really shattered my self confidence and got me thinking about a lot of things – like my purpose in life. It was then that several people encouraged me to read the bible. I had a hard time understanding it at first so Amie offered to be my bible study leader. Through her guidance I started to get to know God personally and it’s been an incredible journey. This experience showed me that He has great plans for us. If I had been accepted into the MEXT scholarship when I first applied, my life would be so different, and mostly likely not for the better. Moving to a different country was extremely difficult, and graduate school is no walk in the park. The only thing that keeps me going at times is my faith.

Also, becoming a Christian really opened up my world. I met so many incredible people on the same journey as me, and together we push each other to grow spiritually.


Of course one of the first things I did after I became a Christian was to look for a church in Japan. With God’s guidance I found the Assembly Kyoto Church (AKC). I am forever thankful that I was lead to this church and I met so many people here who has become my family in Japan.

3. Travelled + explored new places with friends and family

This year was extremely busy but I still managed to travel and go sightseeing with loved ones:


In January my mom and I went to Big Bear Mountain with Ezra, Ninang and Raffy, where we had fun sliding down a snowy hill over and over again.


Also in January my parents and I went on a cruise around Mexico and Catalina Island.


In February I went to Ilocos with my parents and Dustin. We explored Vigan, Paoay, Laoag, Batac and Pagudpud.


Dustin and I also went to the Dessert Museum in February. I know it’s not anywhere far and doesn’t really count as “travel”, but I really wanted to go here and I’m so glad we got that chance.

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INSTABITS : October 2018

Hallu everyone! I had a bit of free time again so I figured I should update this blog. Also, my parents have hinted that they’ve been waiting for this entry because they know it will include them (especially the IG stories video at the end), lol.

On the first week of October I went on a lab trip to Biwako. It’s only about an hour away from Kyoto, and a lot of people go there to relax because of the scenic view. Our lab goes on a trip every year but I’m told that this year was extra special because it was Sensei’s 60th birthday. We stayed at the Biwako Ryokusuitei Onsen, which was beautiful. I heard they have great onsen facilities but I wasn’t comfortable being naked in front of strangers so I didn’t go in. I just spent the afternoon exploring the hotel.

My tutor and I are the only girls in the lab so we had this entire room to ourselves. It was nice to have all that space 🙂  Although now I’m thinking about how lonely I will be next year after my tutor graduates. That means I’ll be the only girl and I would be in a room by myself. I’m praying that another girl will join our lab in April 🙂

For Sensei’s birthday dinner, we had a traditional Japanese feast. It was so fancy, I’ve never had anything like it before.

The first course. I think we had about 4 or 5 more courses after this. I was so full I could barely move by the end of it. My favorite was the grilled beef and the fish.

October 8 was a holiday so Ate Shirley’s family invited Ray and me to go to Arashiyama Takao Parkway to see the cosmos field. Unfortunately we were a bit early so they weren’t in full bloom yet. That didn’t stop us from taking photos though:

Thanks to Ray for these shots. I love them~ They have a very “spring” feel to them (even though they were taken at the start of fall).

This month I played badminton for the first time here in Japan. Ate Mariyah booked a court and invited us 🙂 I don’t have photos of us actually playing, but here’s one we took outside the gymnasium:

Hope we can play again soon!

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