Note: I was able to retrieve an old typewritten diary that I wrote in 1996.
Summer of 1996 at the dance hall; I was so tensed practicing our dance steps for the event later as it was my first time in two years to dance in front of the public. Good thing, I was in the company of Jenny, Ronna and Ness; they were my shock absorber. I wouldn’t be this tensed had the audience were not foreigners! We finished the practice by lunch time and we were expected to be back by 2:00 PM. The guests were expected to arrive by 2:30 PM. I felt exhausted but I had to make it.
At exactly 2:30 PM, 25 Japanese teens and 5 Japanese adults entered the room smiling. We exchanged pleasantries; the Filipinos, in Tagalog while them, in Nippongo. You wouldn’t know by their genuine smile that they came straight from the airport. The program started with a brief speech from one of the Japanese adults. It was followed by a Japanese song performed by the Japanese teens.
The following day, we toured them around the province. A Japanese teen greeted me with a broken “Maganda umaga, binibini.” The tour went fine; the two adults Kadaka and Tosho asked me a lot of questions. Kadaka-san was fluent in English while Tosho-san had a hard time understanding me. I didn’t see myself as a fluent conversationalist but some of them thought that I was!
When we reached Bagac, we got off the tourist bus and started the ceremonial hiking. I became fast friends with Yoshie and Yuka. Yoshie was good in music; she played the piano well. We show them the Filipino-Japanese Friendship Tower.
“Friendship? Like you and me?” Yoshie said to me.
After the tour, we went back to the hall for lunch. Kadaka-san asked the group to mingle with each other. The Japanese teens were distributed and soon I was in the company of Yoshie and Kazume. They were so friendly and adorable, we could be friends forever! A tall, white and handsome Japanese teen approached me and said, “Nice dance.” He was pertaining to the event yesterday. My Filipina friends blushed upon hearing this. He was their favorite! He got a camera and took pictures of us. My heart could melt at that time!
Kadaka-san and Tosho-san teased me if I wanted to go to Japan someday. Of course, I said yes! (Now, I don’t know if they meant going there through a marriage for convenience, travel or work! LOL!)
That night, there was a mini-party at the hall. I was able to meet more friends like Keiko. The tall, white and handsome Japanese teen approached our group. I asked his name again because I couldn’t remember.
“Takayuki. But you can call me Tako,” he said smiling.
He said something in Nippongo and the group teased him. One of them translated it in English.
“He said, you’re the prettiest!”
“Yes, you are a beautiful lady, ” Tako seconded.
Another guy named Yozuka, the rebel-without-a-cause and the Mr. Nice Guy named Takeshi seemed to agree. I was not used to hearing flattering words; I felt the gush of blood on my cheeks.
The newspaper dance with Tako was a success because at his towering height, he could lift a petite woman like me. He was gentleman enough not to take this opportunity at his advantage. At one moment, I thought I could hear his heartbeat. His hands were cold and I wondered if it was the air conditioner or his feelings that were revealing him. At one point, he asked my age.
“18,” I said, “What about you?”
The newspaper dance was tiring so we just rested after it. He asked about my hobby and I found out that we both loved swimming. Yozuka made face.
The next game was trip to Jerusalem. Conscious of each other’s feelings, I decided to be prim and proper by not choosing to sit down on Tako. After the warm-up games, we had disco until the early hours of the morning.
The next day was their last stay in the Philippines. I brought a small address book and asked them to write down their name and address. Tako wrote a heart symbol. The brief and unforgettable time with him became a treasured memory.
“Happy trip, Tako,” I said.
He held my hands and said, “Why don’t you come to Japan?”
“Maybe someday?” I said.
Takeshi smiled at me and said “Sayonara.”
Yozuka bid his farewell and said that he would never forget a girl like me.
The Japanese girls were more emotional, they were crying while saying their good-bye. I found myself crying, too in the company of Yoshie S, Yoshie, Yuoko, Keiko and Kazume. They were my instant friends and what an instant good-bye! It was the most dramatic demonstration of love and friendship that I would cherish forever.
Fast forward to 2018. As I was reading this piece of shit (joke!), I couldn’t help but notice that my young self was too vulnerable about falling in love. My young self was too naïve and too focused on the romantic side of love (no wonder, I had some heartaches before!)The good thing was, I was able to feel that electrifying moment.