Kendo Musings: Grateful to those who have come a long way before us

Sensei. Amazing how one word holds so much meaning. I came across this article from one of the kendo blogs I follow. It made me reflect on how my sensei and all the others senseis I have met played a crucial role in my kendo journey. As a student who is still starting out in my path, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for all those who have come a long way before me. Now if only I can be more mindful of my thoughts and actions to reflect the gratitude I feel. It is something I have to work on.

I have taught myself to be silent about the many things I observed in our behaviors in the dojo. It is not an easy feat given my outspokenness. But it was a choice I made after noticing that many of us are quite selective in choosing who we listen to.

I think that as we progress in kendo, we are faced with the responsibility of being role models to our kouhais. Sometimes I reflect on what my kendo conveys to those who come after me. What value does my personal journey add to the culture we are cultivating in the club? I may be walking my own path. But how I walk it could influence and shape the kendo of the people who follow me whether I like it or not.

I have made many mistakes in this journey. And I expect to do more as I continue down the path. For this reason, I try (read: try really really really hard) to ask myself these questions:

:: Am I setting a good example first before I start “correcting” or “teaching” others?
:: Am I doing what I am telling others to do?
:: Am I showing respect to sensei by listening and doing what he says regardless of how I feel about it? Or am I using my “seniority” to influence others regardless of what sensei says?

I have been struggling with my training in the club for a long time now given its culture. It is something that I have not been able to fully understand. There have been several instances of blatant disregard for basic rules. I find it superficial how we approach learning the teachings of kendo. But I am trying my best (and hardest!) to continue training even if I have to drag myself to the dojo to do it. I just wish we can be more mindful of our ways, especially when it comes to dojo etiquette and how we treat sensei.

I realized that it is important for every student to know their teachers more. Only then can we truly appreciate our time with them as we take on our individual kendo journey. I guess only a few of us know what our sensei has done at the get-go. Looking back, I am grateful for the things he did for us like:

He hit the ground running. He just relocated in Davao at that time when he started meeting with our club manager to form Davao Kendo Club (DKC). Shipment of his stuff has not even arrived yet when he started training students already.

He unfailingly attends practices. He did this from the beginning when he was busy setting up his business. He made time for practice even if he had to travel all the way from Mati or from his other out of town business trips. He was, and still is, always there unless there is really an important reason for him to miss training.

He quietly procured over 30 sets of donated bogu by his friends. He paid for the shipment himself. Those were the bogu sets many of the club members are using now.

He is not paid to do it.  We do not even pay for gas money. When only three of us (Jasper, Pinky, and I) were training for at least 2 months before our club manager came back from Singapore — we each had to pay Php300-500 per session to cover for the venue rental fees. Sensei paid his share as well. That was how dedicated he was to teach us.

Most of the younger batches in the club may not be aware of this. But I hope we can think of the things he did the next time we see him. To feel gratitude and to express it in our actions, that is a part of the kendo I want to learn.


Passport Renewal at DFA Davao – Waiting is the Hardest Part

My passport still has nine months in it before it expires. But since I don’t have any upcoming trip in the next two to three months, I decided to renew it while I have the time to spare. The last thing I want is to rush through the process when I suddenly have to travel.

So early yesterday morning, I went to DFA Davao located at SM City in Ecoland. There’s no appointment system so many choose to line up to get a priority number. I heard from someone that queueing starts as early as 6:00AM.

I arrived a little after 6:00AM in the morning. And I was already 87th in line. But only few came after me so the line wasn’t as long as I imagined it would be. We were waiting in like a covered pathway. There were some stone benches built a few feet from each other. There were also a limited number of blue monoblock couch-type chairs that can fit 4-5 people. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough for us farther back in the line could use.

The queue when I arrived.

Queueing for long stretches of time isn’t a problem for me. I always make sure I’m armed with a good book and enough reading materials on my phone to ensure that I won’t get bored. I noticed that people have different ways to pass the time. Some just sit quietly doing nothing while others engage in conversations with people next to them.

I also noticed that some leave the line for a while without worrying about losing their spot. Everyone’s just being nice looking out for each other. It’s like waiting there creates a bond through the shared experiences of sacrificing time and energy just to accomplish an important task.

There was little activity between the time I arrived until around 15 minutes to 8:00AM when those in front started stirring. Some DFA personnel wearing blue collared shirts  with DFA Security printed on the back arrived and started handing out application forms. The priority numbers everyone was after were actually the last two to three numbers on the application forms.

I was told that the first twenty for renewal will be given priority. We’ll be the first ones to be accommodated as soon as the DFA’s office at the mall opens. Thankfully, there were only a handful of renewal applicants so I was one of the 20.

They left as soon as they finished issuing the application forms to everyone in the line. Anyone who arrives after this will have to wait for the mall to open and fall in line outside the DFA office.

Another round of waiting begins after we got the application forms. Some left for a while to eat breakfast somewhere while others just stayed in the area. Finding a place to eat was no problem. Starbucks at the Annex was open and I saw some people holding McDonalds coffee cups so I surmised there must be one nearby. I also heard that there was a carinderia across the street from the SM.

Finally, the mall opened at exactly 10:00AM. It took us a long time to get in because of the security check. I found this mildly frustrating. While I commend the meticulous bag checks the security guards were doing, I just thought that given the number of people who flock to DFA Davao daily they could have developed a system to make the security checks less time-consuming. All three of the security guards seemed to be doing a job that one person could easily handle given that there’s already a scanner.

As soon as we’re in, it was a few minutes more of walking to the DFA office at the 3rd floor. I approached the guard calling out numbers and showed my current passport and told him I’m applying for renewal. He waived me in. There were three counters directly in front of the entrance doors. I think the duties of the three personnel there was to do initial checks of the application forms and requirements as well as to answer queries.

I was instructed to proceed to the passport renewal window. But before I reached it, I was told by one of the staff in the area to have my passport photocopied. I told him I brought a copy. After checking it, he said it wasn’t within standards so I need to have the original photocopied again. I fell in line at the photocopying area and waited a bit before proceeding to the renewal window to submit the requirements.

Luckily, I have an e-passport so I was only required to submit a photocopy of the 2nd page and a valid ID. I submitted the forms and the passport copy then I was told to proceed to Window 7 to pay for the renewal fee. I paid Php950 (20 days). Those who want to expedite the process will have to pay Php1200 (10 days).

Next stop was where I got my photo and e-fingerprints taken. I only waited for about 5 minutes before my name was called. It was a fairly quick process so I couldn’t believe it when I was finally headed to the exit after less than 20 minutes of processing my passport renewal.

I’ll have to say that the mall set-up was a definite improvement from DFA Davao’s old office in Jacinto St. And I guess I really got lucky yesterday for finishing everything faster than I thought I would.

What running teaches you

Have you ever ran so far that you begin to wonder if you would ever make it back? When pain dogs your every step that it becomes a constant struggle to the finish. When you eventually find yourself learning to cope because it is either that or crumble on the dirt road.

Running changes you in many ways. Subtle changes that may go unnoticed for a while. But sooner or later, you begin to see the telltale signs of a different you.

One day you will realize that you are not the person you used to be. You begin to yearn to be out on the road and watch the world come to life. And regardless of your skill level or the distances you run, you feel a strong sense of kinship to every runner you pass or see on the road.

You learn that the only way to finish what you set out to do is to ignore that annoying voice  that tells you that you can’t do it. You drown the voice by focusing your mind to the beauty you see around you. The subtle shift from dark to light as the sky welcomes the sun. The silence gradually broken as everything around you stirs in preparation for a new day. The soft caress of the wind as it hits you from all sides and the way it makes every nerve in your body come alive. All that and more are the sights and sounds that you begin to look forward to each time you run.

The struggle between your mind and body is still there. But you begin to live with it. You know that it is the ever present challenge that would define your decision to stretch yourself beyond your limits or not. Then it just happens one day that you realize the voice in your head urging you to stop and rest have gone quiet. It is as if by sheer will and courage of spirit you were able to silence it.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about that sense of quiet you achieve is that you’re now able to listen to that part of you that pushes you to go farther. It tells you that you’ll always find a way to go back no matter how far you go. That the only way for you to know how far you can go is to not worry about how you’re going to get back. Because you will.

Only after you’ve gone and pushed yourself beyond your limits that you’ll realize you had it in you all along. The ability to make it happen.

[Posted on my other blog last January 29, 2011]

Davao Kendo Club Turns Two

Davao Kendo Club turns two today. What started out as a fledgling group of six pioneer members has now over thirty kendokas in its ranks. Led by our founders Phillip Lim sensei and Mr. Johnny Teofilo Lardera Jr, DKC spent a fun weekend celebrating its second year.

As the club celebrates another milestone, I think that its fitting that we look back to the person who in behalf of his club has helped connect our founders together. I'm also personally thankful to Kristopher Inting senpai for sending me this email several months after I first sent him one inquiring if there was a kendo club in Davao. I wasn't expecting the message, which made me appreciate the gesture even more. I think it showed commitment to promoting kendo in the country. I wasn't able to join the club's first practice on May 31, 2014 -- four days after receiving this message. But I was finally able to join the second about two or three weeks after soon after Lim sensei returned from a business trip abroad.
As the club celebrates another milestone, I think that its fitting that we look back to the person who in behalf of his club helped in connecting founders Phillip Lim sensei and Sir Johnny together. I’m also personally thankful to Kristopher Inting senpai for sending me this email several months after I first sent him one inquiring if there was a kendo club in Davao. I wasn’t expecting the message, which made me appreciate the gesture even more. I think it showed commitment to promoting kendo in the country. I wasn’t able to join the club’s first practice on May 31, 2014 — four days after receiving this message. But I was finally able to join the second about two or three weeks after soon after Lim sensei returned from a business trip abroad.
Davao Kendo Club with guests from Cebu Kendo Club and Ono Masahiro sensei. (Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
Davao Kendo Club with guests from Cebu Kendo Club and Ono Masahiro sensei.
(Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)

Gracing the club’s two-day celebration were Cebu Kendo Club members together with 4th Dan Masato Kosuge sensei. Hong Kong-based 6th Dan Ono Masahiro sensei likewise made a suprise visit with his son Kotetsu-kun. It was Ono-sensei’s fifth visit to the club and a second for his son who joined us this time as a kendoka. At six years old, little Kotetsu-kun impressed many of his much older senpais. He carried himself in his kendo-gi and hakama well. And he looked especially adorable when he folded them all by himself after practice.

Cebu Kendo Club and Masato Kosuge sensei (Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
Cebu Kendo Club and Masato Kosuge sensei
(Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
With Ono Masahiro sensei (Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
With Ono Masahiro sensei
(Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
Kotetsu-kun with a friend
Kotetsu-kun with a friend

It was a fun and fruitful event of people who share the same passion and dedication for kendo. Some of the highlights include:

May 28, Saturday

Kyu Exam

Screenshot from DKC's Facebook page
Screenshot from DKC’s Facebook page

Grading panelists:
3rd Dan Philip Lim sensei
3rd Dan Matsuda Kazuya senpai
1st Dan Johnny Teofilo Lardera

Assisted by:
1st Dan Paul Minoza
Ikkyu Jasper Lardera

Kihon and Jigeiko with Ono sensei sharing tips and insights to the bogu class and visiting kendokas.

Ono sensei with the bogu class (Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
Ono sensei with the bogu class
(Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)

Dinner and party at Ponce Suites

Group photo of some of the first and second batches (Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
Group photo of some of the first batch and second batch members
(Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)

May 29, Sunday
Team and Individual Shiais with Ono sensei, Masato sensei, and Kazu senpai serving as shinpans

Medals and certificates (Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
Medals and certificates
(Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)

Robert Carabuena’s team won the group shiai. He also snagged the top spot for the individual event after besting second-placer Jasper Lardera in an intense final match.

Jigeiko with the senseis and DKC’s two shodans who will be seeing action in the upcoming ASEAN Kendo Tournament in Bangkok this July.

Jigeiko (Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)
(Photo credit: Reida Renovilla)

As I look back to the two years, here’s a shout out to everyone who has been part of the club:

  • Founders, instructors, officers, and ALL active and inactive members of Davao Kendo Club (1st to 6th Batch!)
  • Ono Masahiro sensei
  • Naoko Morishima-sensei, Tomo Akita-sensei, and all our Senpais from Manila Kendo Club
  • Kristopher Inting-senpai, Rikki-senpai, Gek-senpai and Igarashi-sensei of IGA Kendo Club
  • And recently met fellow kendokas from Cebu Kendo Club and Masato Kosuge sensei

Domo arigatou gozaimasu!

A Fascination for Tenugui

I have developed a deep fascination for tenugui ever since I started my kendo journey. I now regret the times that I did not take a closer look at all  those tenuguis I have seen in various stores and at the airport souvenir shops in previous trips to Japan. The few ones I own were either gifted to me or given as freebies for some kendo gears I bought. So it is really a happy day for me when a good friend who is in Kyushu sent me a message earlier followed by photos of tenuguis for me to choose from.


The first photo my friend sent. I liked it. But I was not sure if it would be appropriate for kendo so I asked if there's anything that's used specifically for kendo.
The first photo my friend sent. I really like it. But I was not sure if it would be appropriate for kendo. So I asked if there’s anything that comes with a more kendo-related design
Sakamoto Ryōma ("a Japanese prominent figure in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period in Japan." - from Wikipedia)
Sakamoto Ryōma (“a Japanese prominent figure in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period in Japan” – from Wikipedia)
In black
In black

I took the “safe” route and picked the black tenugui. Next time, I will definitely go for anime-themed designs. I would love to have a Naruto and Totoro tenugui — among many others. For now, I am excited to have another one to add to my small collection. I am happy to say that each piece comes with a tale that brings back good memories.

An Unexpected Gift During the Asian Championships in Aioi
My first tenugui. I did not even know what it was for when I got it. I cannot recall who gave it to me. But it has to be one of the athletes, organizers, or volunteers I met during the Asian Championships in Aioi in 2002. I received it on the day of the Opening Ceremony. It never fails to bring back great memories that include a marching band that ended their repertoire with the Doraemon song.

A Surprise Freebie When I Bought My First Kendo-gi and Hakama
There was no mention of any freebie when I ordered my kendo-gi and hakama. So I was surprised to see this when I opened the box. I have used it since I started wearing bogu so it has faded quite a bit.

The Free Tenugui That Came with My Bogu
I got this free tenugui when I bought my bogu. I do not usually go for red. But it was the only available color for the freebie they were giving away at that time.

A Gift from the Japanese Umpire at the 2015 World Rowing Masters Regatta
There were only three of us jury members from Asia during the World Rowing Masters Regatta. It was great to see that the Japanese was a familiar face. I have previously worked with him during the 2008 Asian Olympic Qualification Regatta in Shanghai. On the last day of the master’s regatta, he gave all of us umpires a tenugui each. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. It seemed like a fitting parting gift for a memorable event.

I may not have many tenuguis right now. But every piece I own is precious to me. I cannot wait to collect more. And hopefully, each one will come with its own story.

Pre-Kyu and Kyu Evaluation: Reality vs. Standard

I think one of the saddest ways to live is to act against your true nature (except if you’re inherently evil then it might be for the best). For several months now, I’ve been trying to restrain myself from speaking up to avoid annoying or offending people who don’t see things from my perspective. And it’s been making me unhappy. It continues to diminish the joy I find in learning kendo.

As a learner type, I’m naturally curious. I tend to ask a lot of questions. I need information and details to better grasp whatever it is I’m trying to do. But I realized that it’s a trait that sometimes gives me a lot of grief. Fortunately, I’ve been around people in sports, work, and organizations who share a similar mindset. Lately, I try to keep that in mind when my questions are met with responses that leave me demotivated. It’s uplifting to think that somewhere out there are people who take time to see where I’m coming from.

“Reality vs. Standard”

Just recently, I asked one of the officers regarding the kyu evaluation scheduled during the weekend of the club’s 2nd anniversary. I learned that the Manila-based senseis and senpais who previously visited us won’t be able to join us this time.

This got me thinking who’d be the third 3dan instructor who will serve as panelist for the kyu evaluation. From what I understood from some of the articles I’ve read about kendo grading, at least three 3dan senseis/senpais typically conduct kyu evaluations. I thought this was the standard.

I immediately regretted asking when I read the response of one of our senpais. He summed it up to “reality vs. standard” to support what the other 1dan senpai said. The kyu grading panelists will be composed of the two 3dan instructors and one 1dan senpai. He said that the reality is that there are only four of them in Yudansha (two 3dan and two 1dan). It’s not realistic to stick to the “standard”, which I take refers to my perceived lack of flexibility on the issue. He also added that it’s the club sensei’s discretion who to promote. On this I couldn’t agree more.

Given our circumstances though, I think we don’t exactly have to follow the formal kyu evaluation process if we’re lacking one 3dan kendoka. It’s up to our two instructors who they want to recommend for promotion. I just don’t understand why we have to rush through the kyu grading process. As the MKC senseis said and did during their last visit, club instructors can recommend a kendoka for shodan grading regardless of their kyu rank. Still, I see the value of doing kyu assessments since it gives us an idea of our progress. It can also help us identify the things we need to improve on.

I felt mortified when I read their exchanges which were shared to me by the officer I asked the question to. It made me think that I shouldn’t have asked. The question was not meant to be critical. I only sought to understand why we’re not doing it like other clubs do.

I don’t know how to interpret the answer I got. Because the message I’m getting is that it’s okay to tweak “standards” to fit the reality. But aren’t standards set based on principles that serve as the foundation of whatever it is that a sport or martial art seeks to promote?

I initially had no plans of taking the upcoming kyu grading. But I decided to consider it and take the pre-kyu evaluation the officers arranged as a show of support. Because I share the same belief that Anthony Bourdain succinctly expressed. “I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.”  And people don’t have to give me the same courtesy for me to do it.

Pre-Kyu Evaluation

The same officer I usually address whatever questions I have was kind enough to send me a private message on Facebook at 12:19PM yesterday. She told me that pre-kyu evaluation is scheduled at 5:00PM. I was grateful for the information because I probably would have missed it if she didn’t tell me. I thought that the pre-kyu was during our regular training time.

I almost backed out of the pre-kyu evaluation though. I suddenly felt unprepared because of the following:

  • In the kyu evaluations conducted by the 7dan, 5dan, and 3dan visiting senseis in November last year the requirements for the ikkyu grading were  only Kirikaeshi, Jigeiko, and Kata 1-3. I was told yesterday that I need to do Bokuto 1-9, Kata 1-3, Uchikomi-geiko (5 men-5kote-5kote/men-5do), Kirikaeshi, and Jigeiko. To put it in context, we don’t practice bokuto or kata during our regular training schedule. While it’s often included in the one extra weekday training, not many are able to join such practices because of work or other reasons. So it’s up to us to practice it on our own at home. I’ve been focusing more lately on kata 1-3 thinking those are the only ones I need to do if I decide to sign up for the kyu grading.
  • While practicing yesterday with the 1dan senpai conducting the pre-kyu assessment, I was told to step backward after completing my strike as Shidachi in kata #2 and to step backward (as Uchidachi) as the Shidachi starts moving backward towards the end of kata #3. I was confused because it was different from what I’ve been practicing. It’s not what I’ve been seeing on the video I use as reference. It didn’t match the step-by-step instruction for kata 1-3 I found in my research. Thinking that I may have been practicing the wrong things chipped away what little confidence I have going into the pre-kyu preparation. I didn’t want to push through because I needed time to learn what I’ve being taught at that moment. I simply can’t change my routine and expect to have a fighting chance of performing well without ample preparation.

Thankfully, the senpai in charge of the assessment told me to just do what I’ve been doing since it’s only a pre-kyu assessment. Somehow, I finished everything without feeling bad about the results. I know I gave my best given the circumstances. I still need to improve on a lot of things. But that’s the whole point of doing kendo. There’s no dearth of things to improve on.


There is no comfort even on the side of the majority

It is not often that I find myself on the side of the “majority”. But that’s exactly where I was in this recent election. For many of my friends, it may have seemed like I made an uncharacteristic, easy, and “popular” decision. Many of them made a different choice.

Did I cop out? Did I abandon my principles? Did I just cast my vote for someone who will bring us all to the gates of hell as his detractors would like to believe? These are the unpleasant questions that have been plaguing me since I made my decision.

It did not help that the candidate I supported acted opposite of what I expected in several occasions.

I took Duterte’s word when he said that he will not run for president. As our longtime mayor, I knew him to be a man of his word. And despite my cynicism, I am still naive to believe that he was among those people who mean what they say. So I was confident that he will not run.

I did not want him to run not because I did not believe in him. I just wanted him to finally enjoy the quiet retirement he had been hinting at. I was also worried of what seeking the highest position in public office would do to him. I have known of good men ruined by politics. I have long been cynical of what taking on a position in public office can do to people with integrity. Those who compromised their principles became part of the systemic problems. Some of them may not have been involved in institutionalized corruption. But they became part of the problem when they chose to turn a blind eye to it. Those who held on to their principles were either undermined or left powerless. Some chose to resign to preserve their integrity. I did not want a leader I trust and respect to suffer the same fate.

Amidst all the drama that ended with him filing his candidacy, a part of me still hoped that he will not run. I considered not voting for him in a bid to prevent him from abandoning his retirement plans.

The campaign period was brimming with vitriol and negativity. It revealed the character of many of my friends on Facebook. The election related content flooding my news feed was overwhelming. I felt helpless every time I see people sharing and spreading misinformation. I felt powerless amidst all the bullying and name-calling. I cringed every time the person I decided to support did things that contradicted my beliefs. I thought long and hard if I should vote for him. In the end, I did what I believed to be the right thing. I trust the man that much.

If there was one thing that stood out for me from this experience, it would be this: There is no comfort even on the side of the majority.

Trying to keep an open mind was a constant challenge. It seemed like everything has to be in black or white. It was narrowed down to good vs. evil. Expressing an unpopular opinion could get you bullied or ignored. It does not matter if you are on their side. It was like pointing out things that may not be favorable to the candidate I support was unacceptable. I was uncomfortable with supporters who seemed blind to the misconducts of our candidate. I have come across people who try to rationalize the wrong things regardless of the evidences presented. It was a lonely place to be in. That spot where I did not seem to belong to a fixed box or line.

And it is not over. We may have made our choices and the majority’s choice has won. But I could still sense a great divide perpetuated by opposing beliefs. All I can do is to offer a silent prayer to the universe that the president-elect will get his chance. I hope that those who wish him ill would give him the benefit of the doubt. For our collective good. For our country. Most of all, I hope that I made the right choice. If I was wrong, let it be a mistake that will not cost us the freedom and dignity we are entitled to as humans.

A Better Experience in Voting this 2016 Philippine Election

election 2010

My experience voting in yesterday’s election was better than six years ago. I only had to wait for three hours to cast my vote. The voting process itself only took me about less than five minutes.

It was a definite improvement from 2010. But there are still many things to improve on. I hope they can fix the current system to further cut down waiting time.

As for the teachers and volunteers, they really are the silent heroes in my eyes. I observed many of the volunteers yesterday who passionately did their jobs despite the challenges. I was impressed by how they managed to stay professional and upbeat despite the problems that came up.

The Hague Supermarket Items That I Miss

I love going to supermarkets when traveling. They are easily the best places to find necessities that I opt not to pack when I want to travel light. I also find it comforting to find familiar items which remind me of home.

Staying for three months at The Hague entailed a lot of cooking and grocery shopping. This meant frequent trips to the nearest supermarkets like Albert Heijn, Aldi, and Konmar. There were also visits to the open-air markets that I always enjoyed.

It has been years since that short stay but I still miss some of the items that have special spots on my list of favorite things:

1. Stroopwafels

stroopwafelNothing prepared me for my first taste of these delicious treats. And they quickly became part of my daily life while I was there. The chewy confections were the only snacks I made sure I had in stock. I took a particular liking to one brand that has the finest (at least in my limited experience) small-sized and scrumptious stroopwafels. I found them at the first supermarket I visited. Thankfully, they were also available in the other supermarkets and small grocer stores so it was easy for me to get them. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the name of the brand. But I still have a picture of the packaging in my head.

2. Cheese

cheese-shopI was not a cheese person before that trip. But I became a convert during my time at The Hague. Not only because Holland/The Netherlands is the home to the famous Goudse kaas. It was also because it was the first place where I found a wide array of cheeses almost everywhere. The supermarkets and open markets were veritable treasure troves of so many cheeses in all shapes and sizes. I could not even pronounce or read the names on the labels of some of the cheeses I found at the supermarkets. I just grabbed whatever looked good to me. Later on, I decided to sample as many kinds and that has been one of the best things that I did in my brief stay there.

3. Rookworst

This sausage is not only tasty. The cooked variety is also the most convenient and easiest to prepare. It is excellent for meals any time of the day. And I even loved making sandwiches out of them — with whatever cheese I had on hand.

4. Chocolates

The supermarkets’ chocolates aisles are little slices of heaven on earth. The Hague’s close proximity to Belgium and its other European neighbors famous for their chocolates meant there was no shortage of delightful treats to try. I opted for brands that were unfamiliar to me. And I was never disappointed with my picks.

5. Ice cream

I am ambivalent about ice cream. I could probably live without it. But I developed an appreciation for it in my sojourn at The Hague. It was probably because of the many Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs selections for me to choose from.

There is more to the city than these items that makes me yearn to go back.  I may not have been to many places yet. But The Hague will always have a special place in my heart.


When Discernment and Sport Collide – The Wisdom of Yuzuru Hanyu

I am a huge Yuzuru Hanyu fan. Win or lose, he has never failed to amaze me. I find his performances inspiring regardless of the results. His tenacity and ability to bounce back quickly from falls and defeats are just some of the things I like best about him. But it is his wisdom that really get me. He has this uncanny knack of saying things that exemplifies the true heart and mind of a champion in sport and in life.

I came across this collection of Yuzu quotes in the past. I decided to repost them here to remind me of the good things and the possibilities when discernment and sport collide.

(Source: SEIMEI)