A Thousand Words

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. While I might be a better writer than I am a photographer, I agree with this statement. If you’ve been following my blog (or even if you’re a new reader), you’ll notice that I love including photos in all my posts – I think it helps tell my story the way I want it to be told through photographs. I sometimes let the photos do the talking to get my point across or for appreciation’s sake.

In participation with the #VantagePoint project, I want to share with you some of my favorites photographs. (The #VantagePoint project is by a startup company called light.co and they sell these really awesome compact cameras, which is unfortunately sold out (for now). As part of their marketing campaign, they shared the #VantagePoint project with me, which is basically me sharing a photo of my favorite location and the story behind it – which is what I love doing anyways.)

Since I took so many photos over the year, I thought that I’d showcase my top three photos from my travels.
(Disclaimer: please note that these are the top three best photos not because of aesthetic’s sake, but because of the memory that goes with it.)

1. El Nido, Palawan (Philippines)

This place took my breath away when I was physically there. Without a word, I made my way to the front of the boat and bravely took my phone out (despite my fear of it falling down the boat). I made sure the lighting was just perfect and waited for the moment to capture it. I assessed the positioning and symmetry with the grids. I made sure that there were different kinds of action happening everywhere that would make people want to look at this photo again and again. This was the highlight of my trip.

2. The National Museum, Manila (Philippines)

It was Independence Day when I took this photo and I went to the National Museum (one of my favorite places in Manila) to celebrate. When I left the museum, it was really windy and I looked up to see several flags proudly displayed out in front. It was really sunny as well, so I squinted, aimed my camera at the highest flag, aligned it to my grid, and shot. I waited for the right moment so that all the flag would show it’s entirety. I loved how the blueness of the sky made the colors of the flag pop out! I think this photo shows peace and nationality together.

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Sophie Makes: MUJI Naan (+ Curry)

During my not-so-recent trip to Tokyo, Japan last April, I bought a couple of things from MUJI. I got the usual stationary and some other little travel essentials. In Japan, though, I get the most excited about the MUJI food that they sell since most of what they’re offering is not available back at home. I was so happy to find a pack of handmade ready-to-make naan and couldn’t wait to try it out.

And so, I finally had some time yesterday to make them:

The instructions were unfortunately in Japanese so I tried my best to (“read”) translate and research on what to do. Luckily, I found this video of someone making it and tried my best to follow.

MUJI Handmade Naan (Serves 4) – 200g

First, I placed all the naan mix in a medium-sized bowl and poured in 100ml of water:

Then, I placed a teaspoon of olive oil:

I combined everything well, kneaded the dough for a few minutes, and covered it to let it rise (as shown in the video).

[Note: Nothing happened in the ten minutes I covered it to “let it rise”, so you can go ahead and skip to the next step.]

While I was waiting for my dough to “rise”, I heated up the MUJI Creamy Butter Chicken Curry.

After ten minutes, I took out the dough from the bowl, cut them into four pieces, and proceeded to flatten them with a rolling pin. I grated some queso de bola (“ball cheese” or edam cheese, in English) and stuffed them in.

While I was rolling out and filling the dough, I placed a medium-sized non-stick pan over medium heat (read that again, slowly) and drizzled some olive oil on the pan.

Once the pan was hot enough, I placed two of the naan bread on it and covered the pan (to trap the heat in).

I let it cook for around 3 – 5 minutes on each side (or until they turn golden brown).

Continue reading “Sophie Makes: MUJI Naan (+ Curry)”

Japan 2k17!

A bit of a delayed post since I’ve been having trouble uploading all the pictures, but here it finally is! 🙂

After 8 months, I’m extremely lucky enough to go back to Tokyo, Japan! I was in charge of creating the itinerary and planning other details alongside my aunt – which was a really exciting and awesome responsibility!I was looking forward to this trip for several months – it’s what kept me going in school (“Suffer now, enjoy later”) as I spent fewer hours sleeping and more hours into school work. Like my previous travel/ Japan posts (click here to read one), I’ll break down my trip per day. For this trip, I went with my grandmother and my two aunts (all from father’s side)!

Day 1: April 11

Our flight to Tokyo, Japan leaves at 9AM, so my family and I were in the airport by 5:30AM. After dropping our bags off, we headed for the airport lounge for a light breakfast (since they’ll also be serving brunch in the plane later on) as we waited for our boarding time.

Breakfast with a view!

I was itching to leave since at this time of the year, it’s really hot here in the Philippines and I’m missing the cool air of Spring. Fast forward to four hours, we finally landed!

(It was a rainy Tuesday afternoon. ANA’s windows are really cool – they can turn into different shades of blue depending on the time and the user.)

I was immediately hit with nostalgia when I saw all the Japanese characters all around and when I heard “arigatou gozaimasu” from the usual “thank you” and “salamat” that I hear at home. I was grinning from ear to ear as we made our way to the Narita Express to catch a train to Shibuya.

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Japan 2k16 Photobook

I know, I know.

I haven’t updated my Japan 2016 blog in a LONG time – but bear with me. I’m writing it slowly, and you should expect a post probably next week (if school work doesn’t drown me). In the meantime – I’m very excited to announce that for the past few months, I’ve been working on a secret project. I was looking through my past photos of my Japan trip when I was suddenly struck with inspiration – why don’t I make a photo album? 

So that’s what I did – I combined my photography, my brush lettering, and my photo editing skills together in one huge project.

It was a difficult process to choose only a hundred photos for the entire album – I distributed it to 20 photos a month (excluding the collages, it counts as “1 photo”) – but after much deliberation, I finally completed it. I arranged the photos in the order that it happened. If some photos don’t make much sense, it’s because it’s probably an inside joke or story. Maybe if I have the time, I’ll write about it in my future blog posts!

Without further adieu, here it is! The product of several sleepless nights, blood, sweat, and tears:

Update: I actually had this printed in hard copy via fotogra.ph! I highly recommend this company because the prices are really good, the service is speedy, and the outcome is perfect. Would definitely order again in the future!

Japan 2k16 – Week 11 (June 13 – June 19)

According to my planner, June 13 – 19 was Palindrome Week! Thanks to my incredible memory, I had to research on what a palindrome is again.

“A palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or other sequences of characters which reads the same backward or forward. Allowances may be made for adjustments to capital letters, punctuation, and word dividers.” (Reference)

or

a word, line, verse, number, sentence, etc., reading the same backward as forward, as Madam, I’m Adam or Poor Dan is in a droop.” (Reference)

Anyways – back to the blog!

Day 1: June 13

Today, my mom and brother will be flying back to the Philippines – unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see them anymore because I had classes. It was raining really hard today, so I felt really lazy to go home (I just wanted to stay under a roof and eat something warm). Thankfully, I only had one class today.

Winona (she’s dismissed the same time I am usually) and I were literally in front of the train when we decided – right then and there – to go to Sweets Paradise; for two reasons – one, we were hungry and it was lunchtime, and two – Sweets Paradise in Shinjuku had an Osomatsusan (おそ松さん) collaboration. Naturally, we had to go.

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If you’re not familiar with Sweets Paradise, it’s basically a buffet where they have a huge range of sweets up for eats! Aside from sweets, they also have salad, curry, pizza, and pasta – and of course, drinks. You can check out their menu and the prices here.

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Continue reading “Japan 2k16 – Week 11 (June 13 – June 19)”

Japan 2k16 – Week 10 (June 6 – June 12)

The Japan blog continues! 🙂

Day 1: June 6

After a fun (but tiring) weekend, we embrace the start of the week with a test (boo). Luckily, according to the flowchart and exam schedule, this week would be pretty chill – so we went out a lot.

Day 2: June 7

Today, the only thing due in school were some paperwork for one of my classes – so yey! I went back to the dorm right after to sleep and clean my room.

Day 3: June 8

Winona, Pam, and I planned on going to Ueno Zoo – but due to time restraints, we changed our plans instead and went on a mini-food trip, haha! It was around lunch time when we headed to Tokyo station after our classes. Tokyo Station is an interesting place to stop by when you’re in Tokyo – since the station is filled with shops (you don’t even have to get out of the station)! We decided to hit Ramen Street first to eat the best ramen there. After some research and debate, we lined up at Rokurinsha (六厘舎) – which is known to have the longest lines (you can check out their menu here – it’s in Japanese though, so use Google translate). Luckily, we arrived before the lunch crowd, so we only had to wait approximately 30 minutes. The store is relatively small, so it only seats about twenty people.

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This ramen shop is known for its tsukemen (つけめん) noodle dish (it’s a type of Japanese noodle dish in which you dip the noodles in a bowl of very thick soup first, then you eat it). To learn more about the difference between tsukemen and ramen, you can read about it here.

We all ordered the original tsukemen dish – which cost us just ¥850! The dish arrived really quickly, and before you know it, we were stuffing our faces with one of the best noodle dishes I’ve ever eaten. This is the first time I’ve eaten tsukemen, and I’m happy to know that the dish lived up to the hype.

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We were really full – the fullest we’ve ever felt, and that’s saying a lot; BUT the food trip must continue.

Continue reading “Japan 2k16 – Week 10 (June 6 – June 12)”

Japan 2k16 – Week 9 (May 30 – June 5)

And the Japan blog continues! I made a promise to myself to try to finish my blog before classes begin next month. Now, without further adieu, here’s the blog post for May 30 – June 5!

[Heads up, this is a long post.]

Day 1: May 30

Today is the first day of midterms week, and I admit that it’s off to a good start (so far). We had our Japanese oral exams (which went pretty smoothly, thank goodness) in which my partner Tiffany and I had to create a script / scenario in which she is a waitress and I am a customer in a restaurant. [Thankfully, I was able to apply the script in real life situations as well.] Actually, the oral exams are the easy bit of Japanese classes – the difficult part is grammar, vocabulary, and – of course – the Chinese characters, Kanji.

There’s another exam tomorrow, so my friends and I headed straight to the dorm to study.

Day 2: May 31

Today’s exam is kanji, reading and writing, and listening. A triple-combo attack to poor Sophie. Still, the battle’s not over because…

Day 3: June 1

…there’s another test. Today is the last day of hell week midterms! YEY. The test today is grammar (nooo) and particles (it’s crazy how many particles Japanese has). After the midterms, I had one more class then I’m free! My family is in Japan right now for a business trip, so I headed for Kawasaki (really far from Tokyo) and to meet them.

The trip was worth it though since I haven’t seen my dad in a couple of months (and the food was delicious too).

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Day 4: June 2

Just a few more days to write papers and study, then I can finally rest during the weekend.

(but we had ice cream because we literally live five minutes away from a Baskin’ Robbins)

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Day 5: June 3

I’m really jealous at how everyone back at home is lining up to watch Me Before You as it won’t screen here in Japan. I’ve been dying (haha) to watch it ever since the trailer was out. I also wondered if I would cry as hard as I did reading the book. (Spoiler: I didn’t.)

Continue reading “Japan 2k16 – Week 9 (May 30 – June 5)”

Japan 2k16 – Week 8 (May 23 – May 29)

I’m ashamed to say that I’m already back at home (in the Philippines) and I still haven’t finished writing my Japan blog posts 😦 I’m catching up right now to make up for it (and the one month break helps too haha!)

Day 1: May 23

Today marks as the first day (for my friends back home) of the third term in my home university! Good luck guys! Hehe. I went shopping for a bit today in Shinjuku’s Uniqlo for a few shirts and stuff haha. The weather’s getting hotter – so I needed some lighter clothes / summer clothes!

We also went to Harajuku for a bit just to eat some crepes:

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Day 2: May 24

A few weeks ago, I applied for a baito (or part-time job), and today I get my first shift – well, a trial shift; but a shift nonetheless. I applied in a nearby conversation café wherein I basically have to sit down with a couple of Japanese people and converse with them in English for three hours. I won’t say much about what happened during that shift, but I can tell you this – that shift would be my first and my last for the entire trip (haha).

Day 3: May 25

Today, my friends and I had classes until 3 in the afternoon. I was so restless because we were going to Ikebukuro (also known as the “female version of Akihabara”) for several reasons: first, we were going to buy tickets for Tokyo DisneySea (yay!); second, we were going to visit the Pokémon Center (double yay!); and lastly, we were going to Animate (the one-stop shop for animé merch).

After classes, we quickly ran to the train station and made our way to Ikebukuro. We bought our tickets to DisneySea (so excited) and went to the upper floors for the —

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Pokémon Center!

We ran in – no questions asked. I had two things in my mind that I would want to buy; first, a Piplup (don’t judge) plush toy and a gym badge – any badge. Fortunately, I was able to find a really cute Piplup plush – and at a reasonable price, but the gym badges – alas – were limited edition and sadly out of stock (for good).

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Continue reading “Japan 2k16 – Week 8 (May 23 – May 29)”

Japan 2k16 – Week 7 (May 16 – May 22)

Yes, yes. It’s been a quite a long time and I’m really sorry about that! I’ve been so busy these past few weeks – busy exploring Tokyo and the weight of school, of course; but now I’m taking the time to update on my exchange program here! 🙂 I hope you enjoy reading as much as I had recollecting these memories!

Day 1: May 16

Today was a very ordinary day in school. I went through the usual routine of going to school, having Japanese class, then going back to the dorm to rest and do homework – BUT there’s a good reason why I didn’t go out today.

Day 2: May 17

Today, I was supposed to go to the Louis Vuitton exhibit near the school but decided not to anymore as the weather was terrible. It was raining really hard the whole day, so after school, I asked Winona: “Hey. Do you want to have doughnuts and coffee and wait for the rain to stop?”, whereas she agreed. We went to Krispy Kreme in Shinjuku (near Toho Cinema) and did just that. Now, there was a Taito station near the doughnut shop so I wandered inside and saw a giant Snoopy stuffed toy inside one of the UFO machines.

I didn’t believe that I would win something like that – but then:

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I WON. Winona and I were laughing so hard because our faces mirrored the same expression like: “WOW. I ACTUALLY WON. I GUESS I’M NOT THAT MUCH OF A LOSER AFTER ALL.” HAHA.

The day pretty much brightened up afterwards – both figuratively and literally.

Continue reading “Japan 2k16 – Week 7 (May 16 – May 22)”

Japan 2k16 – Week 6 (May 9 – May 15)

This week was a pretty chill week (nothing really exciting happened except for a few exceptions)! Hope you enjoy my re-cap!

Day 1: May 9

Today, my friends and I went on another midnight run to Lawson in our second attempt to buy Ghibli Museum tickets. Notice my use of word: attempt; meaning we failed again as tickets are not yet on sale (sadly). Other than that mishap, it was a regular school day again!

Day 2: May 10

After school today – Winona, Pam, and I went to Iidabashi for our job interview. Yes, I applied for a part-time job here in Japan at an English Language Cafè. Basically, it’s like a cafè wherein Japanese people or other foreigners go to in order to practice conversational English for an hour at a rate. Luckily, later on, I was e-mailed that I passed the interview and that I needed to go and have a trial session before they announce that I got the job!

Day 3: May 11

After school today, one of my classes had a field trip to the Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park.

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The field trip was not only very educational, but it was also very enlightening. I got to birdwatch for the first time and see some plants and other living things in its natural habitats.

I also met up with my cousins in Shinjuku and spent the rest of my evening going around with them!

Continue reading “Japan 2k16 – Week 6 (May 9 – May 15)”