JP2015- Day 1: Getting lost & Atami

My Japan trip started on March 8 and because it is an early morning flight and my family is away, I had to camp (yet again) at the airport. Seriously though, I can count the times that I didn’t camp at the airport because of the flight schedule. I’m used to sleeping on the airport floors though.

I was on CEB, Flight 5J5054. Check-in and boarding went exactly as promised. Actually, before this flight, I stalked its flight history and saw that it is early or on-time most of the time. Indeed, we left a little behind the schedule but arrived a little earlier at NRT. I didn’t have proper sleep this time not to mention that I didn’t avail an in-flight meal so to avoid the hunger, I slept during the whole flight. #streetwisetips

SO… I woke up and we are only an hour away to Narita!

After a fast lining up at the immigration and claiming my baggage, I’m off to my journey… TO FIND LUNCH! I was in Terminal 2 and I got  lost in NRT finding the ‘4F Food Court’ because apparently its floor is like a mezzanine. It is not connected to the escalators and elevators that you used going up from the arrivals area to the departures area. You have to pass by the check-in counters to go up. So before finding a place to eat, I searched for the post office to get my pocket WiFi.  The post office is at the 3rd floor and if you are facing the check-in counters from the departures entrance, it is at your left side. It has this sign- 〒

I had this lunch set at UCC for JPY1200. I discovered that this is expensive.

If you go deeper in this floor by going near the viewing deck, there is a 7-11 konbini (convenience store) where you can buy bento meals that are definitely cheaper than that. Konbinis were my best friends in Japan. I have read that there is a cheaper option for bento meals at bento shops though, but unfortunately I cannot find my way to one.

Afterwards, I went down the floors to get to the train tracks and have my JR Pass exchange order exchanged for an actual JR Pass at the ticketing office which is at the left side coming from the entrance of the train station from the airport.

The staff at the ticketing office is very helpful and she get me reserved tickets from NRT to Atami.

This reserved ticket has an English translation but for the rest of my Japan trip I wasn’t able to get an English one again. I missed the Narita Express train to Shinagawa for only about, 2 mins so I have to wait 50mins for the next one. :/ I practically stayed for 2 hours in the airport.

I arrived at Atami station at 15:14 (as you may know, public transpo in Japan is always on the dot) and was wondering how to exit the station when my host father tapped my back. The first thing that I saw when I went out the station is a foot bath. Atami is an onsen town indeed.

So I met with my host family and we went around Atami first before heading to their home. We went to Heiwa-dori, just in front of the station to check out Atami’s specialties.

Afterwards we get in the car to search for sakura. We passed by this kanketsusen (geyser) which is just along the road! When you take off the lid you will see a strainer, that my host family said can be used to put egg on for steaming. There are even kitchen tongs in water on the side. So it is like a public egg steaming place lol. There are 7 kanketsusen in Atami and there is a map and sign on each of it telling its history.

We also passed by the Atami plum garden with ume (plum) trees that are still blooming I think.

We then parked at a supermarket to go out and continue our search for sakura. We went to the Itokawa Promenade, where the river is lined with sakura trees. Unfortunately, the flowers have already fallen. Talk about early blooming sakura!

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Why is everyone in Japan?

It’s my childhood dream to go to Japan, heeeeeeeeee

I saw a lot of people going to Japan lately and I saw a lot more wondering why there’s a sudden boom of Japan visits for the past months, comparing how it is like going to Hong Kong now (HK is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Filipinos, I think because it is the nearest country with a cold weather, without any visa requirements).

I think these are the reasons why:

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Japan 2015: Preparation

Visiting Japan is my greatest (and most feasible) dream. I’ve been always told that I need a lot of money to go there because everything is expense most especially the airfare and you need to have a high amount of ‘show money’ for the visa. I was actually told that I needed to prepare Php300k for the show money and was given a safe estimate of Php100k for an all-in 7 days trip to Japan! Given that I am just a starting employee, fulfilling my dream to go to Japan seemed to be far-fetched.

HOWEVER… the odds suddenly became all in my favor and will you believe, I managed to spend only a little above Php40k all-in on my 7D6N Japan trip! In this series of blog posts, I will tell you about my Japan experience and how I managed to spend that little for a country that is notorious for having everything expensive.

Let’s start with my preparation in the Philippines!

Step 1. Airfare

You might be surprised why this is my #1 step in preparing for my Japan trip but I would not be going on this trip  if I wasn’t able to stumble upon this ridiculous airfare discount— Cebu Pacific’s Piso Fare! For my non-Filipino friends, piso fare means that the base fare for the selected flights of Cebu Pacific will only cost Php1 (piso) which is like, USD0.023! They usually release on days with something to celebrate (i.e. holiday season, national holidays and heck, even Pacquiao’s win) so I suggest you do this:

Cebu Pac and other budget airlines in the Philippines like AirAsia usually release their promo fares at midnight, but it depends as I got to know about the promo fare that I availed while derping on Facebook at around 7 in the morning.  (Cebu Pac didn’t pay me for this or anything, I am just a satisfied customer :) )

Overall, my roundtrip airfare for MNL-NRT-MNL with 15kg baggage allowance on both trips was Php6574 (USD149)! Generally, this is already such a big bargain but I think you can now go lower than this because they have removed the fuel surcharge after the long weeks of low fuel costs earlier this year. They released a Piso Fare without a fuel surcharge in January I think.

It was my first time with Cebu Pac and I was prepared with my contingency plans if ever my flight got cancelled or delayed. We departed not exactly as scheduled but we arrived a little earlier! If you are skeptical, check the flight history of 5J5054 here.

Take note that what I did was a gamble, because I do not hold a visa yet and this ticket is basically, non-refundable and non-transferable. Even name change is not allowed. I do not recommend flying on a budget airline during peak seasons, I haven’t experienced it but have seen that it is such a pain in the ass.

Expense 1: Airfare- Php6574

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10 Signs You Are An Easterner

Inspired by 11 Signs You’re A North Girl. Why is the title not ‘East Girl’, you ask? Because equality.

1. Popular meet-up places are all convenient for you to go

Makati? Sure! Katipunan? No sweat! Ortigas? No problem! Cubao? G! Actually, anywhere is convenient that you’re probably just lazy to go further north or south.

2. Everything is actually near… if there’s no heavy traffic.

Period.

3. You ride patok jeeps on a daily basis

You have probably been on one of those jeeps that go VERY fast, even on an uphill zigzag, with songs booming with bass, as if making your heart pound fast with the driving isn’t enough. Some roads can get very wide and roomy that jeepney drivers even attempt to dance with the beat. And by dancing I mean, they actually freaking try to make the jeepney dance. Oh, don’t forget: “Diretso lang po, bawal ang malapit” and “Galing po tayong terminal (which doesn’t officially exist), diretso po ang bayad“. Where did those rules even come from? Hello LTFRB?

4. You know a lot of routes going to the metro

C6, Floodway, Ortigas Extn, Marcos Hiway, Imelda Ave. Easterners have a lot of alternate routes that you are always sure to find a way home. We even have routes to Quezon and Laguna. Unless it floods, everything will be fine.

5. For your tea fix, you go to the nearest Infinitea

Because you know, you have no choice. Marikina may have a lot more options but further east, Infinitea stores have been appearing one after another. This is how we do.

6. You eat malunggay pandesal and toasted siopao on a daily basis.

You have probably noticed the rapid increase of Budongs and 3N Bakeries. You have probably joined the long queues, even.

7. C5 and Ortigas Ave Extn can be your best friends and your worst enemies.

If they don’t cooperate, it’s either you go around and end up on EDSA or take the rocky road of C6. Now choose.

8. You have second thoughts on going to a place that isn’t exactly reachable by MRT/ LRT.

What about your stored value card, right?

9. You have probably tried sitting on a center seat or being a sabit on a jeep.

Places in the east do not have strict rules against overloading a jeepney. When you go further east, who cares about being a sabit even if the road is a downhill zigzag with a looming cliff at the side of the road?

10. Why go to Tagaytay when you have Antipolo?

Anyone wanna go to LA (Lower Antipolo)? Or the Upper East Side? But then again I may be just biased.

 

Something inaccurate? Something I missed? Share it on the comments section! :p

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[HOW-TO] MozillaPH Strategic Planning

Last Jan 10-11 MozPH had our annual strategic planning where we will set our goals for 2015 in relation to how our previous year turned out. For this planning, I have to admit I spent a lot of time researching on how to properly do a strategic plan as I want us to do better than last year’s session.

I read a lot of articles on the Web and read, drum roll please, Strategic Planning for Dummies! (seriously, it helped a lot). I used a lot of plan documents from other organizations including those I am involved with and also referred to the Mozilla 2014 plan on wiki.mozilla.org/2014. On this post I will discuss how we did our planning session to give a little help to communities who want to do their annual planning.

Pics are from the FSAPH Strat Plan, which followed the similar format as the one for MozPH. We didn’t take pictures on the actual planning. :p

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Remembering 2014

Here’s another post where I will apologize for the lack of posts, which come to think of it, who am I even apologizing to? Well, perhaps I need to apologize to the one sponsoring my domain? :p Maybe I can blog more this 2015. Hey, I’m still torn between keeping my personal life private and blogging about my thoughts.

Anyway, this post should be about 2014, the year that was.

When asked about 2014, this one word immediately pops in my mind– uneventful. Pretty odd for me to say.

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Reflections on MozFest 2014

This was written starting on my flight home to MNL then continued at different places (i.e. public transpo, on my table etc. lol)

I am writing this while on the plane and sort of experiencing a turbulent flight but interestingly the seatbelt sign is still not on. And at last, I had a meal that actually has taste (very tasty roast beef, bell pepper, sauce, onions and more pepper comparable to our local beef steak) after four days of eating bland food.

The topic of how I developed a picky attitude over British food though is not what I intend to write in this 15-hr trip, because hey, the fish and chips I had was nice.

I am flying back home from the city that has a special place in my heart (nope that is not because of my MozFest crush but well, ok yes it is a factor lol) because it is the venue of my awesome weekend with people that I admire and most importantly, people that keep on inspiring me. The wonderful, most anticipated Mozilla event every year that is MozFest.

Last year I came to this event to participate. My goal was to learn from people globally and bring home with me ideas (and community gossip, yes) that our community can make use of. Most importantly, it gave me an idea that served as the opportunity to make a dream of mine come true. That dream was to spearhead the first, biggest public-facing event for the Mozilla Philippines Community. It is a little dream, yes. But at least it is a dream that actually happened, all because of how this event showed me that it can.

This year I challenged myself. I want to be part of the group that leads the generation of new ideas at MozFest. Wow much high level such words wow.

I am now here at MozFest as a community builder. I used to be a student leader back in college and I still have this liking for it (guess it is really hard to get over this student-to-workforce transition) so I proposed a session at MozFest where we talk about how students can get into this opportunity to become young leaders of Mozilla communities. And because I am part of the FSA Eboard lol I am biased! :-p

Student Involvement in Mozilla Communities Session. Photo by Christos.
Student Involvement in Mozilla Communities Session. Photo by Christos.

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Oh, hey.

I usually say that declaring yourself as ‘busy’ means you are not accomplishing anything and is not very good at managing your time. But well, I’ve been doing a lot of things that I can’t find the peace of mind to blog about what’s been happening!

We have finished the MCC Web Design Workshop Series last May which I blogged about here and things got pretty crazy since then.  We are preparing for our biggest event yet which I am leading, I am now actually going to start pursuing my master’s degree starting this August, I am going to talk before some thousand  audience  at the biggest IT students gathering in our country on September and I suddenly become the Community Manager of the Mozilla Philippines Community.

What the hell just happened in the past month?

 

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Updates

It’s been a while since I last had something here! Just a quick rundown of what I’ve been doing  since I last posted:

MozPH Community Meet-up in Cebu

Sir Bob, Ryan and I went to Cebu to meet-up with potential community members there. We met a lot of new people and we sure had lots of fun. Cebu is a rising tech city in the south and it is awesome that we have Mozillians over there. As a follow-up on the event, the team went back last May 17 to have a MozTour with the college that houses the largest computer lab in the Philippines.

MozPH Women’s Month Celebration

From March 15 to March 29 we had a series of all-girl events all held at Palet Express. I have blogged about these events on the Mozilla PH website. It is my first time to organize an event series for consecutive weeks and I enjoyed the pressure of it.

April is the Holy Week and graduation season in the Philippines so we deemed it is pretty hard to organize an event, especially for me as I have to make myself available  for possible weekend work in preparation for our company’s ISO audit by our certifying body. Also, as the MozCamp season becomes near, I was very lucky to get invited to attend the MozCamp Design Session in San Francisco last April 23-25. Unfortunately due to some personal commitments I made on the 26th, I have to leave by April 24 (US time) to be in the Philippines by 4AM on Saturday, as I have to attend an officemate’s 10AM wedding and a 4PM graduation ceremony of a loved one. That day was kinda dreamy because I spent a lot of it sleeping while on the way to the venues and while not actively participating. I coped with the jetlag fast, apparently.

We started this May with the launch of the beautiful Firefox 29 and we are now off to our last day of our first month-long web design workshop series on Saturday. May is good. I have learned more about teaching the Web and I hope to improve my skills on that. Other than that, I believe the facilitators discovered a lot about themselves too in terms of teaching and we really hope to improve our workshop series program in the future. We received one hell of a huge good news and I am looking forward to take advantage of that opportunity in accomplishing my goal in improving how we teach the Web. Good luck to me!

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Appreciation Post: Slack

I am a huge fan of online collaboration. Even though I am not in the IT industry, my lifestyle needs it and heavily depends on it. It was on college where I learned to use them mostly for backup and collaboration with people for academic and student org purposes. I have tried a lot of productivity apps and all that techniques just to find which ones suit my lifestyle. I have lost track that sometimes I only remember the sites I registered to when I receive promotional e-mails from them! Right now, I still use those tools sometimes for work, but most of the time for my organizations whose members live far from each other. In the Mozilla Philippines Community, we have been using MoPads (Etherpad), Google Drive & Calendar, Facebook, IRC, Hangouts and Trello to do our planning sessions without having to meet up. Imagine the clutter of having to always check multiple sites and having to bookmark a lot of links just to keep a project together! We usually talk on Facebook, then when an idea pops up we take note on a certain Etherpad and so on. We sure have a hell of a hard time backreading.

A friend introduced me this new service, Slack, which was on preview release when I signed up. It was love at first sight.

Slack is an online communication tool, which aims to bring everything together in one place. If your organization is like ours who uses a lot of different services just to work on a single project, you’ll love how Slack brings all of those in such an organized place where you can easily browse and backread.

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