More than a decade ago, I was an “Otaku”. Otaku is a Japanese term for people with extreme and obsessive interest in Anime. It started with my childhood heroes: Voltes V, Sailormoon, and sentai series (Bioman, Fiveman, Mask Rider Black. I spent my high school life watching all anime series available: Fushigi Yuugi, Yuyu Hakusho (locally named Ghostfighter), Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X), Ranma 1/2, Gundam Wing, and whatever anime that would be shown in ABS-CBN, GMA (remember “We Are Anime”?!?!?!), IBC, and AXN (thank you cable TV!).
|Let's Volt in! Is volt really a verb in the first place?|
|Fushigi Yuugi cast. This was our PC wallpaper back them|
One exceptional by-product of being an Otaku: my Amigas.
|The bangs days|
Gathering information was challenging. The dial-up internet costs Php 100/3 hours (early ISP Bonanza days) or as low as Php 100/4 hours (Rebel). I would actually save a bit of my allowance so that I would have my OWN prepaid internet card which I use for anime research and mp3 download – NOT for school stuff.
|The Sailormoon cast. Crushing over Mamoru back then.|
Sharing that information is tricky. Back in those day, a CD burner costs Php 10,000. Good thing a good friend has one. A blank CD would cost at least Php 30 and there were no generic CDs back then. We learned how to use Hyperterminal and File Spliter (1995 version) to share and transfer our song downloads.
|Kept this sketch of Heero Yuy by a friend.|
Once a month, we spend one Saturday UP Anime@Arki where we watch the non-mainstream Anime series or the original dubbed version. The fee costs somewhere around Php 80-100-ish pesos. I saved a chunk of my allowance for that.
When everyone was busy dealing with puberty, puppy loves, deodorant choices, hair cellophane, and teenage drama, I was busy learning the Japanese names of the anime characters, learning the chords of the songs, researching about the eye colors of my fave characters, memorizing their seiryus, trying to sketch, downloading their whole OSTs using my dial-up modem and dreaming about really landing in Japan. My teenage years were quite drama-free, and kept me out of trouble. I went home straight from school to catch up whatever is showing at AXN at 6:00pm. My parents never had to impose a curfew on me because I was home early everyday. Funny how a geeky hobby can keep me away from teenager troubles.
|How we studied Nihonggo: Research the lyrics with translation. Print in scratch paper. Buy multi-colored gel pens. Underline/encircle/box the same worlds in both languages.|
Now, it is time to make the dream a reality. I knew Japan was an expensive country. I had to save. Only, I didn't have adjust my spending as much because I was applied the same principle and discipline how I saved for my Europe trip. Despite pay increases, I kept my spending level the same.
Time oh time. I had to budget my 2012 leaves because I already had the tickets for my Korea and Indochina trips. The next round of holidays were during the first week of November. I had to skip going home to the province for this year. The holidays:
October 26 – Eid Al-Adha
November 1 – Holiday: All Saints’ Day
November 2 – Declared holiday
By January 2012, I already plotted my chosen dates. Pending ticket booking. I only have 10 days to experience the magic of Japan.
Booking the tickets
Cebupacific offers promo flights going to Osaka. BUT, these promo tickets are the non-refundable, non-rebookable, non-transferrable ones. I was quite apprehensive buying 5J tix because Japan requires a visa. Despite scoring a SK visa, I still had visa fears from my Schengen visa application experience. Also, 5J flies to Osaka. I wanted to do Tokyo and Kyoto; Osaka would just be an optional side trip.
I scouted for other airlines that can take me to the country of my teenage dreams. Cathay Pacific (CX) offered a Manila-Narita (with a stopover at HK) roundtrip flight for $463.58, with a 20kg luggage allowance. I bought in February to seal in the flight dates and really do Japan 2012. Pricey? Yes, not so budget-friendly. But I was willing to pay for some peace of mind that I can refund my money in case there are some visa troubles.
I would’ve wanted one my Amigas to go with me for this dream trip. Someday, I hope that we can all do that. For now, I going to this my way.