GOLDEN: Ichigo Ichie

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This is for my newfound friends…

I am writing this because I don’t want to forget, I will never forget and… I am afraid to forget…

The experiences. The memories. The friendship. They are too precious—golden. I am writing this to remind me about my dearest friends and the wonderful things that happened in Kanazawa.


Incipience…

It all started when I applied for the Asian International Medical Students’ Exchange Program Japan for Philippines 2017 full of hope in my heart. Knowing that I got into the program, as one of the six Filipino medical student delegates, was a surprise. After a long patient wait from the day I was born, finally, I got to visit a foreign country. And I was glad it’s going to be JAPAN. It was a difficult application process and I think it’s better to spill the details of this application process in another story. But for all that matters, this experience was worth it. I can’t even begin to describe how worthy it was for me.

Why was I intrigued to join the program in the first place? Simple. I am fascinated with Japan and everything in it. Based from what I have read in articles in the internet, Japan is the ideal country—with the advanced technology, rich culture, good mannered locals, and discipline. As a medical student, I was interested more on their healthcare system. I was looking forward to everything that I can learn and grasp about the field of medicine. Saying this, my expectations for this program were very high.


The PHIL-ing of friendship…

We started as strangers, especially for me because I didn’t know anyone until our first meeting in the airport. I thought not knowing anyone would come as a disadvantage. But I was utterly wrong. It became the more reason why we were interested and yearned to learn about each other.

We were curious about what the others have to say. Everybody have their own stories to tell. And it gave us the interest to listen intently. Slowly we uncovered the stories of each other’s lives. Unexpectedly and unknowingly, we became closer and closer. What started as—let’s say—a loose connection became a bond strong enough that even distance, time or space could not break; a bond which will hold us together for the rest of our lives.

We were shattered pieces. And then we were whole, a masterpiece. I believe it was kismet that we were meant to be selected for this. We were the perfect team.


To our newfound siblings from Nippon…

I promise not to mention any names because I might miss someone. But please know that I equally value and appreciate everyone who in one way or another participated in the program. If you were present even for once in any of the events, you are part of this.

When we first met you, I honestly don’t know what to expect. But the first night was very warm. You were very friendly. You greeted us all with smiles imprinted in your faces. I learned my first Japanese word, “subeta,” and we had our first meal, your staple food ramen, in Kanazawa.

There were never any awkward moments nor dull ones with you. We didn’t hear any complaints from you, even if we sensed there were some problems.

We felt secured and loved. You were very welcoming and accommodating. You took care of us like your own brothers and sisters. You made great deal about respect, politeness and values so much, that we slowly adapted. And I thought that was great.

The last night was very heartbreaking. I was trying my hardest to contain my emotions. But to tell you honestly, I already had my first round of tears in my host’s shower. The separation was so painful to bear. We wanted to stay for a little longer. But it was time to go. That last train ride was even more painful when we saw you all running outside, chasing the accelerating train. It was a bittersweet farewell. さみしい!

I am extending my deepest and heartfelt gratitude to all of you, our dearest brothers and sisters, for taking care of us. From the night it all started to the day it ended, and everything which happened in between, there was never a moment to forget.

For just a short period of time, it was a roller coaster ride. You have seen the best and worst in us. Through sunny days and rainy days, though your busy schedules, through your missed classes, you were ALWAYS there for us. We felt really, really special.

ありがとうございました!


No barrier…

What is barrier? We didn’t know the definition of barrier. It was just a derogatory term created by people afraid to embark on a new world and step out of their comfort zones. Language, race, age, academic level, preference or personality differences did not even pose the slightest obstacles for us. We’ve learned a lot and we’ve seen a lot (*wink wink*).

What barrier? To us, it doesn’t exist. Because in AIMSEP, nobody gets left behind. Always.


Kanazawa: A Marsh of Gold…

Throughout our stay in Kanazawa, we were exposed to a variety of things. We’ve learned about their healthcare system and advanced technology and procedures, immersed in Japanese culture, and engaged in Japanese traditions and practices. We’ve learned about interesting places, stories and histories. We’ve ventured to museums, castles and gardens. We’ve tasted authentic delectable Japanese food. And one of the most challenging for me was mastering the art of using chopsticks given the short period of time.

It was a lot of memories that even a million words would not be enough to describe this wonderful experiences. I could sit all day talking about it. Because it was memorable from the beginning until the end—every moment of it, every second of every hour of every day of it. It may sound as hyperbolic, but believe me when I say it is only an understatement.

We did a multitude of activities. To name a few, we had a two-round friendly bowling competition (believe it or not, it was my first bowling experience), and a loud and convivial karaoke (where I sang the opening song). We cooked okonomiyaki and takoyaki for ourselves. We had drinking parties every night (that’s not an exaggeration, by the way), and a lot of drinking games (oh, I fell in love with sake). And we couldn’t go from one place to another without our Japanese brothers and sisters personally driving us around.

I, in particular, experience a lot of first times. This made my stay in Kanazawa extra special. There were a lot of first-of-many-firsts experiences for me. And that particular incident which happened in the old traditional Japanese house during our weekend getaway was a sui generis. I was embarrassed. But it was one of my best (or worst?) memories. Thank you for taking care of me.

I have no regrets.


Zen… Meditate…

Zen was introduced to us when we visited the D.T. Suzuki Museum. It was indescribably peaceful. This one sole Zen phrase, 一期一会, struck me so much. It became my favorite. It is read as “ichigo ichie” and it means “Treasure every encounter, for it will never recur.” This pretty much describes my experience in Kanazawa. I have to enjoy every moment of it, good ones and bad ones, because this might be the last time, and other experiences might not be as comparable as to this one.


Building memoirs…

In the beginning of this journey, we were strangers. Then, we were friends. As each day passed, we have grown into best of friends. And towards the end, we were not just best friends—we were FAMILY. A family composed of diverse people with different interests bound by experiences. We may have different mothers and fathers, nevertheless, we were brothers and sisters.

My high expectations were not only met, they were surpassed.

I have learned a lot, experienced a lot, and most importantly, enjoyed a lot. This experience gave me a new perspective. It made me realize that it wasn’t the place that matters more, but it was the people in it. I may have gained knowledge and experience through this program, but the real treasure was gaining friends. And THAT is priceless.

There was only one word fit to describe this whole journey—GOLDEN.


Snippets…

Photo contributors:
Brylle Domerson Turalba
Trysh Danielle Olives
Jose Orlando Nicolas

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Sentiments of a Teacher

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Four days from now, it’s over.

As I was reading the “essays” of one of my classes, I can’t help but feel a little emotional and saddened.

I feel this would be the right time to reflect and concatenate what happened throughout the semester.

January to May 2016. This was my first time teaching. I am not the typical instructor you have looked up to, not even praised for excellence. I am not the most diligent. I am not the most inspirational. I am not the perfect instructor. I am not the best. But this I am sure, at least I did my best.

Teaching doesn’t come in singular form. You don’t just teach, you also get to inspire, motivate and push people to their limits. That is probably the reason why this profession is considered to be the noblest of all.

As the semester proceeds, there are things that I have come to realize:

  1. Common is not always best. At the start of the semester, I have only remembered those who made an impression, those who performed best and worst, or those who are deviants. Common is good. But don’t settle for common. Settle for unique. You have to be different to stand out among the rest.
  2. Respect begets respect. I have students who are undoubtedly smarter than me. I have seen that their ardent interest in learning is far greater than their satisfaction of belittling their less-of-an-equal teacher. They still respected me. I admire those kind of students. Humility is always what gets me captivated in a person.
  3. Mutual learning. Teachers are superior from students. I don’t believe in this statement. Superiority should be replaced by respect in the teacher-student relationship equation. Learning is sharing. Sharing stories and experiences with one another. One of the reasons why I love reading essays; because I get to learn something from the student, both ideas and their personality. I learn as their teacher. They learn as my students.
  4. People diversity. I also learned to appreciate even more the diversity of people through the virtue of my students. There are those who are really good. And there are those who are not. Those who are vocal and those who are shy. Diversity in academic performances, personalities, and preferences. But at the end of the day, they are all here for one purpose: to learn. No matter what they think they are doing. I haven’t learned to pick someone over someone. Instead, I have learned to love everyone for every one is different. Individuality is what makes a person beautiful.
  5. Nobody is stupid. I personally believe that there is no such thing as “bobong tao.” It is how you look at someone and how you set your standards that determine the boundary between the “bobo” and the “matalino.” However, every person is good in ways others are not good at. That alone sets him aside from others.
  6. Not all efforts are properly compensated. No matter how hard you try, there are things that you can’t achieve. This doesn’t mean you give up. You adjust your focus instead. Maybe you are just doing it wrong. Determination is key.

Five months, and I can say that it was also difficult for me. The student-to-teacher transition. The challenges. The throwback topics. The new lessons. The semi-heavy workload. The preparation of quizzes and exams to the checking of papers. And the non-work-related problems.

It finally comes into a conclusion. As my students asked, “Sir, in one word, how will you describe your journey?” I said, “Blessing.”

Warriors today, Saviors tomorrow

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Not so long ago, the memories I have the night before our board exam is still vividly imprinted in my mind.

Emotions surge.

Paranoid? Yes. That I may have left something, that I double, triple, and quadruple checked everything I needed for the exam: NOA, pencil, eraser, sharpener, and so the long list goes.

Anxious? Yes. That I may not woke up early, as I always did during my estudyante years, that I have slept 12 midnight and just to woke up 2 in the morning.

Nervous? Yes. That I couldn’t get back to sleep, despite my advice to complete the 8 hours of sleep.

Excited? Yes. That I showered 5 hours before the start of the first exam and went out as early as 5am to the testing site.

Delusions of grandeur? Yes, of course. Who wouldn’t want that? You know what I mean. Didn’t you also want that for yourself? The problem is, I was losing hope. I believed they were only delusions, literally, that time. But then, it was still a good motivator to start the day right.

Excited? No, I lied the first time. I wasn’t excited. 😅

Dying? YES! So yes! I felt like the weight of the pressure is killing me. So, yes!

To all the board exam takers tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, calm yourselves. Stop thinking even just for a while, clear your mind and PRAY. You are warriors! Tomorrow you will go to the battlefield with your wisdom as weapon and your prayer as armor. You will conquer all. Because I know you are well-prepared. You have been preparing for this day since the start of your college years, although not as apparent as your major subjects in third year. You will walk into that testing room with only a pencil in hand. And you will walk out with a trophy instead.

Next week, those precious 3 letters you have been working so hard to get will finally be yours to claim.

TIWALA! LABAN! PUSO! Do your best! God bless you all, future RMTs!

#LabanRMT #RoadToRMT #BuhayMedTech #SavingLivesThroughOurEyes

Anong kwentong “results day” mo?

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September 16, 2015 was the day. The most awaited day of the year. After three long days, which seemed like three long years, after the 2-day licensure examination for medical technologists, this day has finally arrived. In fact, the three-day wait was even more nerve-wracking, self-losing than the examination days itself. This was the day the results are going to be released. Everybody was nervous. Each was doing something or anything just to put out the thought of the results. Even I was keeping myself busy for the time being. I wanted to do something, anything!

I woke up feeling anxious. Never have I felt this kind before. I know what this day is. And I was having trouble keeping that out of my mind. I checked my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to kill time, until I ran out of things to do. I decided to go out instead. I didn’t want to be waiting for the results in my room, pressing the F5 button and refreshing the web page every second. I only wanted to check the internet once, when the results are finally there!

So, I went to SM Baguio that afternoon. I texted a friend, and said I would be waiting for them there. Unfortunately, I waited for years, like a potato waiting for myself to rot. Just kidding. Only for two hours. I was checking some books to read in the National Bookstore when another friend called me through phone. Rumors were circulating that Saint Louis University (by the way, this is where I graduated my Bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science) garnered a 100% passing rate, and had 3 topnotchers, ranking second, third and seventh.

The rumors spread like ink in water. It was so fast, like pabebe, walang makakapigil. Many of my batchmates who took the exam were already congratulating us. My friend, who I was waiting for, also texted me “Hoy Brylle, punta ka dito sa boarding house namin. May results naman na daw. Bilis!” That time, I was about to scream in joy. I chose to believe the rumors. We were already convinced about the results. I didn’t know what I was thinking then. Because of the euphoric feeling, I forgot to ride a jeepney to their boarding house. I rushed out of SM, dashing through the crowd, skipping in between each step, along Session Road. It was drizzling but I didn’t care. All I was thinking was the results. So I dashed and dashed until I reached their house. I felt like my adrenal glands were about to give up because of the adrenaline rush.

We checked the internet for verification. Nothing was there. But Facebook statuses of our friends were really convincing. However, this was the point where we had our doubts. It was 4:30 PM. Before the exam, someone announced that results will only be released on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at “5:00 PM onwards.” We checked the internet again, still wasn’t there. So we decided to check it in the PRC office ourselves.

We rode a cab, and I wanted to switch off my phone because I didn’t want any further rumors to get in touch with me. Kasi ayoko na umasa (walang hugot, lol!). Fortunately, my phone was also low in battery and it switched off by itself. At the PRC office, we confirmed that there were still NO results. The feeling of pressure came back to life for the second time, for the reason that SLU has consistently garnered 100% passing rate for more than ten (I lost count) consecutive licensure examinations. We decided to wait instead in an internet shop, since it was already 5:00 PM. 5:30 and there were still no results. See, even the PRC broke promises (again walang hugot). We verified through the internet that the circulating rumors were actually the results of the past licensure exam last March 2015. We stayed there until 6:00 PM.

We went back to SM, tired of waiting for the results. We ate dinner at a nearby stall next to the cinema. Then we decided to watch a movie. The movie “The Maze Runner 2: Scorch Trials” ran from 6:50 PM up to 9:00PM. The movie was over and still no results. SM was about to close. They decided to go to another shop, while I wanted to go home and sleep.  I walked my way to our house just to kill time, hoping the results would be released when I got home.

I got home and still no results. I gave up waiting. I decided to take a sleep and check the results tomorrow instead. Just as I was about to fall asleep, one of my batchmates texted me. I regretted I opened my phone. I should’ve let it stayed switched off. She texted,”Oy, Brylle top 1 ka naman. Tapos 100% tayo!” I ignored it once. But someone else texted me the same. That was when the adrenaline rush started all over again. I wasn’t feeling sleepy anymore. Just the thought of it made me stand up instantaneously like a cadet. I drummed my pillows in excitement and nervousness. All the feelings I have experienced in the entirety of my existence came rushing back to me and I felt them all at once. I clumsily picked up my phone to open its cellular data. The web page was slowly loading, even slower than a slug. So I instructed my sister to open a new tab on her laptop and search for the results on Google. That too was taking so long. So I opened my laptop, and started loading the web page. Literally all of our gadgets equipped with internet connection are loading all at the same time. I received a bunch of text messages on my phone but I ignored them all. I need to see it for myself, before I believe any of those.

I opened my messenger. Our internship group chat was active. Group 3C (it was my group during our university-based laboratory first term internship) were all online. I could not load the web page so I asked them to screen shot the results. The picture, as expected, was taking too much time to load. Then I finally saw it. 3 examinees tied in the number one spot with an average of 90.70. What I could not believe is that I was one of the three. I literally could not believe it. I immediately called my Mom when I saw the results. Even she could not believe what was happening that night. Because it was right after the exam, I texted my Aunt Lorna to lower their expectations because the exam was out-of-this-world difficult. I told her that I thought, for that moment, I would not even pass the exam. That was the reason why they also were finding it hard to believe.

I haven’t slept much that night. I was feeling overwhelmed and elated. The fact that we were the largest batch of SLU graduates who took the exam and passed the exam with a 100% passing rate (243 out of 243)  already made my hair stood up, what more could I possibly describe the feeling of landing among the top spot? 

It is an honor and a responsibility, to serve as an inspiration to others. I was inspired, and now I am going to inspire. That a simple boy from a small, farfetched town can dream, and dream big. That a boy of high hopes can reach a seemingly impossible dream. That a boy can dream. That a boy can hope. That a boy can become.

I promise I won’t put this chance to waste.

The next day was another story.

Do You Know How It Feels?

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Do you know how it feels to be hurt?
Do you know how it feels to cry all day?
Do you know? Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?
Do you know how it feels when someone you love has gone away?

Do you know how it feels to forget your love was gone?
Can’t remember a thing about the day it happened
Do you know? Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?
Do you know how it feels to have a heart that can’t be mended?

Do you know how it feels to lose someone you cared?
To keep asking questions that are left unanswered?
Do you know? Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?
How to say for sure that you’ll gonna be better?

Do you know how it feels to constantly wonder?
Why he hasn’t breathed or moved even a bit?
Do you know? Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?
Do you know how it feels to know that life has no cheat?

Do you know how it feels to say goodbye?
To be worried that your eyes begin to well?
Do you know? Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?
Do you know how to say something you cannot tell?

Do you know how it feels to be left behind?
By someone who is so kind and pure inside?
Do you know? Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?
Do you know how it feels to be torn apart inside?

Now that he’s gone in this world and
Now that he is in heaven
We’ll remember his teachings,
Our memories he has given…
…us will never be forgotten
Through our whole life we will bring.

(…in memory of my beloved grandfather Federico Turalba.)

13 Things I Like About Her

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  1. Her smile. A different kind of style. She wears it, I imagine, as she walks down the aisle.
  2. Her voice. That left me no other choice, than to hear it in rejoice.
  3. Her eyes. Pretty as butterflies. Caring and glowing that never dies.
  4. Her face. With a touch of grace. Its curves, with my fingers, I’d love to trace.
  5. Her instrument. Her talent is God-sent. She’s strumming those strings, and my feelings augment.
  6. Her parents. Understanding, funny and blessed. In time, I’d love to ask for their consent.
  7. Her awkward dance. I’d take her hand if given a chance. I love this kind of one-in-a-lifetime romance.
  8. Her humility. Down to earth, it’s not ability, nor responsibility. Being humble is involuntary.
  9. Her simplicity. It is of at most beauty. She doesn’t try hard, and is not fancy.
  10. Her jacket. When I stare, makes me sweat. It makes her cool and hot, she’s really my bet.
  11. Her attitude. Compassionate and knows gratitude. Plus, I’ve never seen her angry nor rude.
  12. Her imperfection. Because perfection is fiction. She believes mistakes is where we learn our lesson.
  13. Herself. 

I.N.T.E.R.N.S.H.I.P.

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If someone asks me, “As of your current status, how would you describe ‘Internship’?”

I would simply answer,

I
Never

Tried
Enough!
Reality
Never
Strikes!
How’ll
I
Pass?

That is INTERNSHIP!

(-_-) *sighs