Vlog : My first month in Japan

Hallu everyone! I know I haven’t been blogging lately since I have very little free time, but I thought I would post a quick update. I’ve been pretty busy with school but I think I’m adjusting pretty well to living in a new country by myself. My first month was amazing (you can read about it in my April INSTABITS). I’m not going to talk about it again in this entry, but I figured I would share this short video I made of my first four weeks here in Japan. It contains a bunch of clips I managed to take of the places I visited. It’s not really a proper vlog, more of a compilation of the highlights of my first month here. Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

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INSTABITS : April 2018

Hello everyone! I’ve officially been living in Japan for over a month now. I have no idea where the time went, I feel like I just moved into my dorm the other day, and yet so many things have happened this past month that I feel like it’s been a lifetime since I landed in Japan.

This entry will consist of my Instagran posts for April. My flight to Japan was on April 1 (which happened to be Easter Sunday) so basically these are all pretty much photos from my move here.

My flight was in the evening so I was still able to spend time with friends and family during the day.

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Sir Taps, Dustin and Amie came over to say goodbye.

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Dustin and Amie even went with us to the airport to see me off ๐Ÿ˜Š

My parents came with me to Japan to drop me off but they had a different flight. I was worried about having to find my dorm by myself, fortunately our lab secretary and my tutor met me in Kyoto station and they helped me move in.

My lab is in the Yoshida main campus but I was placed in Obaku International House which is about an hour and 20 minutes away if you’re commuting. It can be a little tedious but the trains are very convenient and reliable (except for the one time someone committed suicide on the tracks, which I’m told happens a lot here … yikes!) Anyway I’m pretty happy with my dorm. I love how quiet and peaceful the place is. The next two photos were taken from my room:

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The sakura trees were in full bloom the day I arrived. This view made me feel like I was in a J-dorama

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And on my left side we have this quiet and peaceful scene โค But don’t be fooled, the cars (and especially motorcycles) passing by make a lot of noise. I tried to sleep several times with the balcony door open (to save on airconditioning since it’s usually cool at night) but I always end up closing it again because the noise kept waking me up.

The following photos were taken inside my dorm:

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I love that they pretty much provide you with everything so I barely had to buy anything for my dorm. (The TV didn’t come with the dorm though – my dad bought that for me since I brought my PS4 along.)

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I have a mini kitchen and a fridge. I stuck some polaroids of happy memories there.

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The entrance (tiny kitchen on the left, bathroom on the right)

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I love that I have my own bathroom. I was worried I would have to live someplace with a shared bathroom, but fortunately that’s not the case

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I’ve been taking advantage of the free water and tub by soaking in a hot bath every chance I get ๐Ÿ™‚

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I’m not sure if I mentioned it earlier, but the university I’m attending is Kyoto University. (That’s the iconic clock tower in the photo.) The city is exciting, the campus is beautiful and it’s one of the top universities in Japan. I feel really blessed to have been given a chance to study here. Right now I’m only a research student but we’ll see how things go after one semester ๐Ÿ™‚

As I’ve said earlier, my parents actually came with me to Japan. They stayed here for 6 days to help me settle in. Since I didn’t have that many things to do at the lab yet during my first week here, we usually went sightseeing after I leave campus.

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We loved seeing all the pink trees. (This was taken outside Nijo Castle. We went there to see the sakura trees but we were too late – they were already closing when we arrived)

Another place we had to visit was the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine

The iconic orange torii gates

There were lots of people there when we visited

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INSTABITS : March 2018

Hello everyone!ย This is the first blog entry I’m typing in my new home (at least for the next few months or so).

If you follow me on Instagram and you peek at my IG stories every now and then, you might have guessed that I’m now living in Japan. It feels so weird to say that! I’ve dreamt of this for so long, way back in high school, and now it’s actually my reality *mindblown*. I’m currently a research student at Kyoto University, and if things go well I’ll continue studying here to pursue my PhD *fingers crossed*.

I moved here on April 1, so photos of my new life here aren’t going to be part of this entry just yet, but it explains why I barely posted anything last March. I was really busy preparing for this new chapter. And when I did post, it was mostly pictures of despedida parties.

My first upload for March was this group photo with some of my fellow MEXT scholars. We formed a Line chat group and arranged our schedules so we could process our visas and travel documents together. Afterwards we had lunch at Tenya. Japanese food to get us all excited about moving to Japan ๐Ÿ™‚

The girls and I wanted to have one last get-together before I leave, so we booked a spa afternoon at I’m Onsen. We called it my “deSPAdida”:

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I’m not sure who suggested the onsen, but I guess that also works to get me hyped up about my new life in Japan. I’ve never been to an onsen before this, and I was quite nervous, pero sabi nga nila – test of friendship daw XD

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It was an interesting experience. Para lang kaming ulam na hinahanda para iserve. First we were steamed (steam room), then we were roasted (sauna), then boiled (onsen), tenderized (massage) and stuffed (buffet).

Of course, like a real onsen, we wore yukatas around the spa:

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Yukata party ๐Ÿ˜™

Amie’s birthday was last month. We ended up having an impromptu celebration at Starbucks:

At first there was only Amie, Rona, Ma’am Ianne and me. Then people kept showing up (some knew we were there, others just showed up by chance).

We ended up with such a large group from the office that we joked that we could hold a meeting there.

Shoefie after one morning “run”. Although to be honest I spent most of the time walking. I miss running. Like real running. I’ve been plagued with ITBS since November and haven’t been able to run properly ๐Ÿ˜ฃ It usually starts to hurt after 2km and I have to alternate between running and walking after that until the pain gets so bad that I have to stop โ˜น

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INSTABITS : February 2018

Trying to post this before March ends. This past month has been extremely busy. A new chapter of my life is unfolding and I’ve been occupied with all the necessary preparations. I’ve also been trying to spend as much time with friends and family while I can.

The girls and I met up to catch up on each other’s lives. Huge changes are happening, not just for me but for all of us. We talked for so long that Aprille lost her voiceย  ๐Ÿ˜‚

We chatted away over coffee. This was my first time trying food from Starbucks (I mean an actual meal, not just dessert), surprisingly it was pretty good.

Dustin and I went to the Dessert Museum last month with his cousin. Naturally we took a bunch of photos. I posted a lot of them on Instagram but I’ll only share a few in this entry, otherwise it would end up looking like a blog entry from our visit. I’ll probably post a separate entry with all our pictures sometime soon.

The first room we went to was the donut room.ย They were cute but painful ๐Ÿ˜‚ย (because they were made out of wood … I bumped my head a few times)

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Next was the marshmallow room ๐Ÿ™‚

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Candy land makes everyone jump for joy ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿญ

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Bubble bubble bubble pop ๐Ÿฌ
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These are supposed to be cotton candy, but according to Camille they look like human organs XD

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If only all baths were this sweet ๐Ÿฌ

Sugar high! ๐Ÿญ๐Ÿญ๐Ÿญ

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Color Manila Run 2017

From the title you can probably tell that this post is obviously late. But then again, when have I ever posted on time?

Back in January 2017 (more than a year ago, oops) Dustin and I joined the Color Manila Run. We’ve been dreaming of being part of the Color Run for a while now, so when the opportunity came up, we decided to sign up for it. We did it on impulse, without considering other factors, such as how we would get to MOA by 4am that day, and the fact that we signed up for a 10k run when we hardly exercised over the holidays. Thankfully Raf opened his home to us (and even gave us a ride to MOA early that morning), and the run wasn’t that intense since people were more concerned about taking photos than actually running.

This was my first 10k run (and Dustin’s too I think). I remember we were so nervous days before that we ended up over training and giving ourselves mild electrolyte imbalance. We both had to spend an entire day in bed and almost missed the race. Thankfully we recovered in time and we had a great experience.

I posted a few photos from the race on my January 2017 INSTABITS, as well as my Week 1/52 of my 2017 project, and this weekend I finally finished editing a very short vlog from that day. Enjoy ๐Ÿ˜€

 

(Silly me forgot to change my GoPro housing so it was covered in colorful dust after this race… Fortunately it still works)

Phuket (Thailand) 2017 : Diamond Princess Cruise

My last entry for our Singapore – Malaysia – Thailand cruise last February. It’s been more than a year so I should probably finish uploading all of these.

After Penang, our next stop was Phuket, Thailand. The port was small so we had to take a tender to go ashore:

It was Ezra’s first time going on the tender. She was pretty excited.

Our first stop was the Thai Cultural Village:

We were greeted by performers wearing Thai national outfits:

We were ushered into the theater for the performance:

They performed various traditional dances that showed off the rich Thai culture

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INSTABITS : January 2018

My first Instabits entry for 2018 is over a month a late – not a good start XDย  Things have been a bit busy here lately. Big changes are coming in the upcoming months and I’ve been doing my best to prepare for them. It’s a little stressful, but extremely exciting as well. I’ve been going through a rollercoaster of emotions these past few weeks, and I expect it will get even worse once April is here. A new chapter is coming guys! I’m excited and scared at the same time ๐Ÿ˜€

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I started the year off by buying a new vlogging camera : the Canon G7x mark 2. For the past 2 years I’ve used my Canon Vixia Mini X to vlog, but it’s been having problems these past few months and it finally gave out in January.ย  I may have only used it for two years, but it has served me well. It went with me to Thailand, Greece, Spain, Italy, Montenegro, Gibraltar, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and the USA. If I could I would repurchase the same camera, unfortunately Canon doesn’t make them anymore. However I’ve heard great things about the G7x so hopefully I’ll end up loving this camera too ๐Ÿ˜Šย So far I’ve been impressed with the picture and video quality, but I do miss the wide angle the Vixia Mini has, as well its amazing audio.

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My relatives in the US are addicted to Ocean Star Dimsum. They go there practically every other weekend. I got the chance to eat there twice during our visit and I can see why they love it so much.

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Usually after dimsum they would go downstairs to get some Half and Half (it’s a popular milk tea place there). Here’s a group photo we took while we waited for everyone to finish their drink.

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Since Raffy has never played in the snow, my aunt took us to Big Bear Snow Play. I’ve only been here once before, back in 2012 (blog entry HERE). We had a blast spending the afternoon sliding down the snowy hill.

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We also found Olaf (or a haggard version of him)

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I don’t own any winter clothes but fortunately I have a sister that’s the same size as me (more or less :p)

For our last few days in the US, my parents book a 3-day cruise that would take us to Catalina Island and Mexico. Unfortunately Ezra wasn’t able to join us because she had to work.

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On our first day we docked at Catalina Island. It’s tiny but beautiful.

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It rained most of the day but we still had a good time

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I ran into this fella while we were there. According to Ezra and Kurt I’m a seal (don’t ask why ๐Ÿ˜ฃ). They found this statue back in 2015 during their honeymoon and named it “Sealmela”. Finally got the chance to see it in person ๐Ÿ˜‚

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Since Catalina Island is tiny, the best way to explore it is with these golf carts that you can rent near the port. We rented one for 1 and 1/2 hrs and got to see a lot of the island. First time driving in America whooo ๐Ÿ˜‚ (If you don’t count the time I drove around my Aunt’s neighborhood for a video shoot with Kurt and Ezra)

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Diamond Princess takes us to Malaysia (Kelang & Penang)

Hallu everyone! Finally an update on our Singapore trip/cruise which took place last February. Yes, this entry is almost a year late XD

If I remember correctly, we left off after our had just arrived in Singapore and we spent our day wandering around the Cloud Forest at the Gardens By The Bay (blog entry here). The followingย morning, we headed to the Cruise terminal to board the Diamond Princess

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After 5 cruises, I finally made it to Platinum Card status ๐Ÿ˜€

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This basically means I get preferred boarding (goodbye long lines) and free internet on the ship (hooray!)

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Ezra was really excited about being back on the Diamond Princess, since her last cruise was also on this same ship (Japan cruise blog entry here)

She was most excited about the buffet

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Her goal on the cruise was to fatten up (since she lost a lot of weight in the US), while my goal was to not eat too much XD

After lunch we took a nap, attended the safety drill then checked out the sail-away party that was happening on the pool deck:

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Ezra with her ice cream – still trying to gain weight

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*Near~ Far~ Wherever you are~*

We spent our first day on the ship relaxing and eating. That evening my parents and I went back to the pool deck to watch Dr. Strange on the big screen.

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(The vlog for this day can be found at the end of this entry)

The following day the Diamond Princess docked in Kelang, Malaysia:

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INSTABITS : December 2017

Happy 2018! This entry’s almost a month late but I was still on a vacation high up until a few days ago so I haven’t had time to blog (plus my laptop crashed the other day and I had to reformat it). Things seem to be in order now, and I’ve finally accepted that my vacation has ended, so I can finally finish writing my last Instabits entry for 2017.

WARNING : Photo-heavy post ahead :p

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I ordered these Nestea Milk Tea powders from Lazada last month because milk tea is life โคย My favorite is the Hokkaido milk tea, probably because it’s the sweetest of the three XD

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I watched Coco last month (if you haven’t seen it I totally recommend you go and watch it because it’s a beautiful movie) and I wanted to do a Coco-inspired self portrait for my 52 week project, but I didn’t like how it turned out. Since I spent a lot of time doing my makeup I figured I should at least use it for an IG photo.

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I won this adorable mug from our clan’s Christmas party ๐Ÿ˜€

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I received a post card from Sir Taps last month. Thanks Sir! have Brunei in my collection now โค

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My Virtual Race entitlements arrived ๐Ÿ˜Š This is the first time they came in the mail (I used to get them through Raf). This was the first Virtual Race that I had a hard time finishing on time because a) I was super busy with the SFRC and didn’t have time to run and b) when I finally found time to run I injured my knee and had to finish the rest of the race by walking.

The following four photos are from our cell’s sem-ender/Christmas party which was held at our house:

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Thanks for a fun night girls! Sa uulitin! My Wii is working again now, so we can have game night at my place soon ๐Ÿ˜€

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Surface Interface Research Group sem ender ๐Ÿ™‚

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Seoul Kitchen recently started serving these adorable hot chocolatesย  so of course I had to try itย ย โ˜ƒโ˜•

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Starbucks with C201 roomies (minus Maam Ianne). I drank a lot of Starbucks last month because people keep inviting me for stickers for their planner (since they know I don’t collect them). Then when I got to LA I ended up drinking even more because Ezra wanted me to taste all the holiday flavors so she kept buying them for meย โค

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Week 52/52 : Everything has changed, and yet I am more me than I’ve ever been

I made it! I almost didn’t think I would, but I couldn’t bear the thought of not finishing this project. I’ve been doing this for 9 years now (since 2009) and I’ve never not finished, so I wasn’t about to start now.

On that note, however, I would like to announce that this is my last year doing the 52-week project. I first started doing 52-weeks as a way to motivate myself to take photos and learn more about photography, back when I had my first DSLR and I was still experimenting with it (Canon Rebel XTi whooo!). This project forced me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I learned how to play with lights and shadows, how to utilize my environment, to be resourceful, and discovered the wonderful world of photomanipulations. I met a lot of inspiring people through this project, mostly on Flickr (shoutout to my Pink Tuesdays, Flickr Adiks and Filipina Flickrites friends!) During the first few years I had a lot of free time, and I was able to upload regularly every week. I was even able to shoot and edit 52-week portraits for my sister (which I really miss doing). However, these past few years I’ve discovered a lot of other things I want to try that is non-photography related, and I haven’t devoted as much time to this project as I would have liked. You may have noticed that my uploads have increased significantly during the past few days. That’s because I fell so far behind on this project that I had to practically post one portrait a day just to catch up. The 52-week project has been an incredible journey and 90% of the time I loved what I was doing, but it does take a lot of effort and there were moments when this project caused me great stress (mostly when I ran out of ideas for portraits). 2017 was an amazing year, packed with so many adventures and memories, and it seems like a great time to say goodbye to this project. I have a feeling 2018 is going to be even busier and filled with more adventures and responsibilies, but I welcome the challenge.

For those who are rejoicing about the fact that they won’t be seeing my face plastered on their FB feed from now on, I’m sorry to disappoint you but you’ll still be seeing a lot of me :p I’m not going to stop taking photos, especially not self portraits, I just won’t force myself to upload once a week (which I haven’t been doing anyway). I’m not sure what I’ll do yet. Maybe I’ll just post my portraits on Instagram, or maybe I’ll create a separate album on FB for them if I end up shooting a lot. Who knows. But I’ll definitely still be uploading them.

To end this, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me with all my past 52-week projects (alam nyo na sino kayo) Thank you for the support, critiques, and encouragement. Thank you to everyone who I managed to persuade to take my photo (I know I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes – I’m sorry if I made you take the shot over and over again :p). And thank you to everyone who shared this unforgettable journey with me ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks Kurt for the photo!

(Quote in the title is byย Iain Thomas)