The “ONE OK ROCK 35XXXV Manila Concert” United Filipino Jrock Fans

I’ve been listening to this band for a while, and when their songs were featured in the Rurouni Kenshin live-action trilogy, I knew they were gonna be big. Aaaaaaaannddd I was right, fast forward a few years, now they’re touring around the world.

Last year, they announced they were having an Asian tour on early 2016 and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! It’s about time a Japanese band comes to perform in the Philippines! I was pleasantly shocked when I found out Philippines was included. ‘Cause at first, I believed only a few people would be listening to jrock/jpop (Japanese rock/Japanese pop) music (and they are most probably animé fans too). Yes, the Rurouni Kenshin movies were a hit in my country, but chances are no one would be curious enough to check out the band, or so I thought.

So last Jan. 19, ONE OK ROCK made history and had their first-ever concert in the Pearl of The Orient. Taka, Toru, Ryota and Tomoya performed their hits and the Filipinos, to my surprise, sang along to all of their songs, and those include the lyrics in Japanese! I noticed that they altered some of the Japanese lyrics to English but it turned out that the fans knew the Japanese version better. Most Filipinos don’t even speak Japanese, unless you count “arigatou” or “konnichiwa” as “speaking Japanese”. LOL. But apparently, the Filipinos were well-versed in their songs.

My friends and I were situated at the back of the VIP standing section so for the most part we could barely see them, but who cares. HAHAHA. We were having tons of fun headbanging and jumping to the energetic music. The euphoria is definitely on a whole other level when you’re listening to it live as compared to just when you’re playing music from your ipod. And can I just say, Taka’s voice, as well as the energy of the whole band, didn’t waver one bit throughout the whole concert!! They most certainly didn’t disappoint the crowd and gave an awesome show! Fortunately, I somehow managed to get some “decent” shots!

Continue reading “The “ONE OK ROCK 35XXXV Manila Concert” United Filipino Jrock Fans”

Paradise Palawan Part 1/2: Puerto Princesa

Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines, situated in the country’s southwest side. So if you’re going to the Philippines, make sure to include it in your list of must-see destinations!

A week in Palawan is probably just the right duration of stay to see everything it has to offer. When I spent a vacation there however, I only stayed for 5 days ’cause I only checked El Nido and Puerto Princesa. So I’ll definitely come back another time to visit Coron. 😉 In this post I’ll be talking about Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan.

Before that, here’s an overview; there are lots of travel agencies offering cheap deals for the complete Palawan experience. This is ideal for relatively large groups or those who don’t want the hassle of DIYing their itineraries. But for people (like me) who’d like to have a personalized trip, or perhaps you hate getting up too early, or maybe you just prefer to travel at your own pace, it’s best to come up with your own schedule with the help of some good amount of research.

Most of the accommodations in Palawan offer packages that you can avail upon moment’s notice (although to be sure, buy them at least a day in advance) which include the price for the tour itself, transportation fees (both by land and sea), and even lunch. The prices only vary a little bit for each hotel/hostel in Palawan. They usually don’t exceed 2,000php. In the case of Puerto Princesa, the Underground River and Honda Bay tours are the most in-demand tour packages around. You can purchase them individually or as a combination depending on your preference.

Honda Bay tour is an island hopping adventure and since we were headed to El Nido (which has lots of Island Hopping tours as well), we just settled on the Underground River tour. So from the city proper, it took us about 2 hours by van to get to the port where the boats to the Underground River are.

This is the view when we arrived at the port. Breathtaking.
This is the view when we arrived at the port. Breathtaking.

A VERY IMPORTANT TIP: DO NOT, BY ANY MEANS, SCHEDULE YOUR UNDERGROUND RIVER TOUR ON A WEEKEND, especially during summer. We had to learn this the hard way ’cause our tour was scheduled on a Saturday. And guess what. We arrived there at around 10am, but we had to wait at least 2 hours to get to the boat, and almost an hour in front of the cave before our tour actually began!!

Near the shore are various souvenir shops and food stalls where tourists can check out while waiting for their turn to ride the boat.
Near the shore are various souvenir shops and food stalls that tourists can check out while waiting for their turn to ride the boat.
At least the scenery while waiting was calming enough... LOL
At least the scenery while waiting was calming enough… LOL

The tour guide will be the one to call you once it’s your turn to ride the boat. It will take you to the island where the underground river is. Upon reaching the shore, it’s just a short hike to the entrance of the cave itself.

Underground River Entrance
Underground River Entrance
Stalactite formations at the cave's entrance
Stalactite formations at the cave’s entrance

The local boatmen are also the tour guides inside the cave, explaining how the various cave structures were formed, as well as providing a little bit of background info on the history of Palawan. Plus, they are very humorous!

Inside the cave
Inside the cave
I'm quite amazed I managed to take this shot, considering how dark it was in the cave.
I’m quite amazed I managed to take this shot, considering how dark it was in the cave.

It was an educational tour and I was amazed at how big the rock structures were inside. Even though we had to wait a long while, it was truly worth it. This was the highlight of our stay in Puerto Princesa. In my next post I’ll be talking about El Nido! 🙂

ONE OK ROCK to embark on an Asian Tour this 2016

ONE OKE ROCK Asia Tour
ONE OKE ROCK Asia Tour

 

It is ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Just when I thought ONE OK ROCK has performed in every country except mine, they released this! Moreover, I’m pleasantly surprised to know that they have a lot of fans in the Philippines! I’m guessing they knew about the band from the Rurouni Kenshin live-action movie series (which I think appealed many, whether they read the manga/watched the anime or not). It’s great that the Filipinos are now more open to Japanese acts, compared to before when only anime fans liked jpop/jrock. Although ONE OK ROCK’s songs are mostly in English now (with a mix of Japanese), to me, they still have that jrock vibe to them. And that’s what makes them awesome! Not to mention their high energy performances!

I can’t wait to see them next year! 🙂

One Piece Tokyo Tower: An Otaku Paradise

This theme park is the first of its kind in Japan, and just last March it became open to the public. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to experience it in its first week of operation.

Once you arrive at Tokyo Tower, you can purchase the tickets at the counter which also includes an access to the tower’s observatory area.

It is an elevator ride to the One Piece Theme Park, after which you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff and this impossible-to-miss signage/photo spot:

Tokyo Tower One Piece
Tokyo Tower One Piece!!

Upon entry to the theme park, it’s gonna be one fangirling/fanboying moment after the other! With walls decorated with some excerpts from the manga (with special effects!) to life-sized character figures, as well as theme park games and frolicking pirate cosplayers, One Piece aficionados will surely think of this place as heaven on earth.

My favorite part of the theme park was the Zoro’s Soul of Edge. It was a short but fun game! The other attractions had a lot to offer as well. It was just One Piece geeking overload! Moreover, we were right on time to witness the ONE PIECE LIVE ATTRACTION “Welcome to TONGARI Mystery Tour”. The actors nailed it! My favorites were Zoro, Sanji and Luffy 🙂 I was really impressed with the actor who played Zoro, I mean working with the sword props, that wasn’t easy!! :O And we were given glow sticks that we used, which made it an interactive live show.

glowstick
The glow stick that was given to each live show audience
liveattraction
As you can see, the audience sat on the cushions that were laid out on the floor when watching the live show.

I had a really great time trying out all the attractions, and it really helped that I knew some Japanese, especially in the Nami’s Casino and Chopper’s Thousand Sunny Tours. A must-visit place, especially for the One Piece fans! Allow me to show you also my picture of life-size (that’s right LIFE-SIZE) Portgas D. Ace figure:

My favorite One Piece character :)
My favorite One Piece character 🙂

 

Here is the link to the official website for more info. 🙂

Shibuya – A Window to Japan’s Urban Culture

Shibuya is known all over the world as an iconic metropolitan venue with tall buildings on every side, as well as a sub-culture haven.

Getting off at Shibuya station via JR Yamanote Line, once you get out of Exit No. 8, you’ll be greeted by a ton of people hanging out near the Hachiko Statue. The statue is known as an art built in memory of a dog, Hachiko, who waited at Shibuya Station everyday for almost 10 years for his master to return. Then from that point you could walk over the busiest intersection in the world, known as the Shibuya Crossing.

I went to Shibuya to meet my Japanese friend and of course see the things the place has to offer. We went to an obscure ramen place, and what I noticed is that most restaurants have these vending machines where you would place your order and give your payment (this goes to restaurants in other places in Japan too), which I find very convenient. And of course, the food was superb!! 🙂

We then checked out Tower Records, and Tokyu Hands (a large-scale shop for almost anything, really, but for the most part, those who like to do DIY projects). There are also many arcade places all over the area where many students hang out with their friends.

 

Afterwards, we visited the Meiji Jingu. It was a very calm and quiet place, as expected from a shrine, a perfect place for meditation located in an evergreen forest in the heart of Tokyo (totally amazing!). It was a good way to end my day in Shibuya. 🙂

 

I’m impressed at Japan’s way of fusing urban/modern structures with nature. Shibuya is a perfect example of a place that shows Japan’s passion for technology and respect for nature. I mean how can a forest even exist in the middle of a city?! Ask the Japanese. 🙂