Japan has always been a big part of my life because my mom lives there. I was always the one with the cutest school supplies in my grade school class and had the coolest toys in our neighborhood. Mom would send me tapes of Doraemon, Dragon Ball, and Sailormoon way before they were known in the Philippines. I was a skinny kid when I flew to Tokyo for the first time with my grandmother in 1990. Two months and several pounds after (the weight change was unbelievable), I went back home and dealt with school then that angst-ridden adolescence and never returned until 2008. I was 25 and realized that that was the longest time we’re in close proximity to each other. Sharing everyday things with her and as a bonus, experiencing Tokyo and its magic. When I was a kid all that mattered were toys and Disneyland. I was actually the one touring mom around Harajuku and Shibuya because ever since mom moved to Tokyo (more than half of her life ago) she’d only been there once. I had read books and had seen maps so it was just like thoughts materializing right in front of my eyes. Since 08, I do a once-a-year visit - that precious time with my mom and that Japan experience that will never get old.
March 11. I was having a good, sunshiny day with Wifey at Greenbelt. Wifey buys the Adidas x Jeremy Scott Flame sneakers and I finally get a compact digital camera (G12) – a break from the chunky 7D. I also found the cutest backpack - C-3PO. At the cashier of that store, I check twitter on my phone. My ribcage start to strangle my heart as I swipe my fingers up and down to read nonstop alarming tweets about a massive earthquake, tsunami in Japan. I couldn’t contact mom through phone so I emailed. My thoughts tried to push whatever kind of technology that connects emails. Rushed home. Email alert tone. Heart stopped. It read, “Diyos ko, akala ko mamamatay na kami.” I opened the TV. My heart collapsed. I was silently dying as I try to translate the things that were happening into something other than numbness. Phone rang. Tremors in my body weakened my bones. Chest was painful from stopping tears to run down my cheeks that would crack my voice.
They couldn’t walk. They were tossed around like toys in a box. Falling debris. Horrifying cries of the building. She was holding hands with my aunt but the quake was too powerful to unfasten them. Screaming, running and praying all around. When they got out of the building, the horizon offered a strange cloud formation and an oil refinery in flames. It started to rain. She said it was like starring in one of those Hollywood movies. The ground continued to rattle. My aunt’s husband picked them up before the wintery night could blanket them.