Cany's Q&A

Inari-san has been asking me to write for a long time, but I struggled on what to write and how to write it. I'm not sure why - I guess it's because I don't usually write things like this, but I have it now so I decided to just write my opinions down in an question-and-answer format.✌️

What did you feel in Japan?
When I first arrived in Japan, I felt like I was stepping into a dream. It was cold, and I was colder than I've ever been but I was excited about being in a new, unfamiliar place because I thought that I would learn so much - I did. I learned a lot about Japan and, through the people I've met (both locals and foreigners). I've learned enough to open my mind a little bit more.

A lot of people, even my friends and family here in the Philippines, have asked me if it was difficult to live in a country with a language I can't read and speak. Now that I think about it, they're right. It must have been difficult, but it wasn't so much for me. I was curious and that made me try to communicate with people even though I didn't understand what they were saying. It must have been more difficult for them to try to speak to me in English, and some couldn't speak English so I had to listen to Japanese, but little by little I learned a few words until I learned to create simple (and strange) sentences to help me go around without much difficulty.

What are the differences between the culture of Japan and the Philippines?
There are a lot of differences, I think, but I don't know if I can give a right answer because I don't think I fully understand Japanese culture, or know enough about the different practices and beliefs of the different tribes across the Philippines to give a good comparison.

What is your advice about how we can learn English effectively?
This is a hard one, because I don't think there's a single method that works for everybody, but, as I have always thought and I have mentioned to some of my students, learning English is just like learning any language. It needs dedication and it needs time. But I think, most importantly, it needs interest. If you really want and like to learn English, then you will find ways to learn it.

I can't remember a lot about my childhood, but I believe I started liking English started when I was 4 years old and I learned the English alphabet. After I learned those 26 letters I discovered that I could turn them into words, and I could connect words together and turn them into sentences. Those sentences were grouped into paragaraphs and written on pages that were bound together to create my kindergarten book. I remembered all the words in that book, from a poem about a chicken named Henny Penny to a story about a crocodile looking for a snack.

I've been reading books since then. My love for books introduced me to a language that was not mine, and up to this point, it is my love for books that help me widen my vocabulary and learn new phrases and expressions. It isn't just English. My two-year stay in Japan made me want to learn Japanese, and it is the thought of being able to communicate to my Japanese friends that makes me study Japanese even now that I'm back here.

I want to learn French and Spanish too. I know a few French and Spanish words, but I can't speak them because I don't read French and Spanish books, I don't listen to as many French and Spanish songs on YouTube, I don't watch French and Spanish movies, and I don't try to speak them out loud as much as I do English. If I did, I know I can learn the languages - because that is what works for me; because I am curious about these languages and I want to learn them.

I think that if you really want to learn a language, then you will eventually find your own way of learning it. But if you can't, I think it would help for you to learn it the way that you want to. If you like to read, try reading an English book. If you like to talk, try practicing with your friends (I did this when I was a high school student because my friends wanted to practice speaking English). If you like to write, try to write something and read it out loud. It doesn't have to be perfect - everyone makes a mistake, and it's the mistakes that help you discover your weaknesses so you can be a better you.

Philippine Tourism

About two or three weeks ago, one of my students went on a trip to Cebu, Philippines. Although I haven't been there, I hope that someday I will also get to see the beautiful beaches in Cebu. I think that Philippines has a lot of good tourist destinations, which is why I'm going to share three famous places with description from the Philippine Department of Tourism.

1. Banaue
A leading tourism destination in Asia, the Banaue rice terraces start from the base of the Cordilleras and reach up to several thousand feet high. Its length, if stretched from end to end, could encircle half of the globe. The rice paddies are fed by mountain springs and streams that are channeled into an irrigation canal that runs downhill through the terraces.

2. Palawan
For a long time, Palawan's bountiful resources, abundant wildlife and extraordinary natural beauty are known only to the many ethnic communities that thrive in these islands and a few other daring settlers who wanted to live in unpolluted surroundings. Ecology awareness is at a high level throughout the province. Puerto Princesa prides itself as the cleanest city in the Philippines. To protect its megadiversity, only eco-friendly programs are adhered to by tourist establishments. And there are strict ordinances against dynamite fishing, with only net and line fishing allowed.

3. Vigan
One of the earliest Spanish settlements in the country, Vigan was founded in 1572. It was once called Ciudad Fernandina in honor of King Ferdinand. Today, Vigan retains much of the patina of 18th century Castillan architecture as seen in some 150 stone houses which stand in the town's Mestizo District, notably Mena Crisologo Street. Many of these ancestral homes are still in good condition and some have been turned into cozy inns, museums, and souvenir shops.


In many countries, like the Philippines, doing household chores is part of growing up. Depending on where we grow up and how our parents train us, the chores we do are different: when I was 12, I had to take care of my 1-year-old baby sister on my own when her nanny was on a holiday and mother was busy; when my Irish friend was 12, she had to milk cows every morning and evening because her family lived in a farm; when my American friend was 12, she did the laundry of her entire family; and when my South African friend was 12, she helped her mother cook and her father garden.

When I was 12, I rarely enjoyed doing chores. Even though some chores are simple and easy, children prefer to play than help out and teenagers prefer to watch TV than clean or cook. When some of us leave home at 16, however, our years of doing chores become very helpful. We know how to cook, we can hand wash our clothes if we need to, and we know how to clean after ourselves. We learned to be independent.

Now that I and my friends are living on our own, doing household chores is a regular part of our lives, and a fun topic to talk about when we get together. Although we still think the chores we did were not interesting, we all agree that having done those household chores was a good thing and we're all thankful for our parents who told, and sometimes forced us, to do them.

Happy New Year!

Like many Japanese today, I went to a shrine to make a wish. In the Philippines, some people would go to church instead. Also, many families have superstitions for New year's Eve and New Year's Day like:

1. Making a lot of noise to keep away evil spirits.

2. Turning on all lights so that the new year would be bright.

3. Opening doors, windows, cabinets, and drawers to let good luck into a house.

4. Having 12 round fruits to have good luck during the 12 months of the next year.

5. Eating long noodles for long life.

Every country has its own traditions. Although I couldn't celebrate the coming of the new year like I usually did, celebrating it in Japan was also memorable. Happy New Year to everyone! May you have happiness, love, and good health! :)

The Goodbyes Have Started...

...and so has my sadness and nostalgia. Since July, I've been counting the days to August 15 like it was Christmas Day. Now that my students are starting to say goodbye, I'm starting to feel a little sad.

I believe that food, toilet business, and sleep are important to have a good life. But one of the things that make life special is the people around us - the people that turn seconds into good memories and minutes into unforgettable moments.

In March and April, I was worried that my students were too shy to speak English or to talk about anything. It has been a few months since then and, although their improvement has not been as amazing as Bomb, I believe that almost all of them have gained what they need to eventually speak English well: confidence.

I, in turn, have found something that has always been important to me: great people. People that have become a part of my life in their own way: by being noisy, nice, sweet, mean, naughty, quiet, shy, and just by being who they are.

Five more days, thirteen more lessons, twenty more hours to spend time with the great people I call my students :)