The thing that I’ve developed the most hatred for in Japan is the act of “paalam.” I hate the word in two different contexts though.

One: Asking Permission

The first definition of “paalam” that I’ve become unaccustomed to. Living alone takes heaps of responsibility on my back but I also have a few welcome benefits. I can just walk out of the house anytime and stay out for as long as I want. It’s weird that nobody gives me shit for missing dinner or whatever, but I really don’t mind it. It also helps the the transport system in Tokyo is way safer than taxis in the Philippines.

When I get home, I’ll probably hate having to ask permission from my parents to go out and enjoy myself. I’ll have to get used to the social anxiety brought about by phone calls and text messages telling me to go home. I find that I’m enjoying myself more in Tokyo; not because my parents aren’t here, but because they’ve trusted me enough to live here by my own rules. Too bad it doesn’t change the fact that when I get home — kailangan ko nang magpaalam ulit. [Tagalog just because “making paalam” just doesn’t sound right]

Two: Saying Goodbye

The second common definition of “paalam” which is often used in insincere farewells to Filipino teachers: “Paalam at salamat po!”

I’ll be saying it sincerely for the first time in a few months; albeit in a different language. Before I left the Philippines I couldn’t say goodbye to a few people I wanted to say goodbye to; such as Norbert Brema, Stacy Liu, Maximilian Lechtleitner [hope I spelled that right] and all the other exchange students. I’m probably not seeing them for a while and that makes me sad. 😦

I’m doing the same thing in a few months to the excellent friends I’ve made in Japan; Fran Gomez, Emma Sayers, Ophelia Groth, Mark Hakanson and Demetri Psyllakis. I’d also be saying goodbye [again] to Fumiki, Ayano and the other Japanese who’ve gone to the Philippines. As these goodbyes are coming soon, they break my heart the most.

When I get back to the Philippines, I might have to say goodbye to the Japanese students almost immediately; Nobuo Igarashi, Junki Oida and Negi Fukushima — who were fantastic teammates in Futsal. In a few months then, the entire batch of exchange students in Ateneo will be leaving, and that ALWAYS sucks.

Doesn’t help that I had to go “paalam” to my parents and my little brother before I left the country. I probably miss them the most.

So even before I return to the Philippines, nagpapaalam na ako — to my friends, then to my parents, and eventually to friends again.

Hindi talaga ako masasanay magpaalam. Bitin, noh? Eh pucha kailangan ko na mag-aral. じゃねえええ

One thought on “Paalam

  1. Shit man, I can’t believe I’ve been missing your blog this whole time :)) This entry is really good. Like you, I know what it feels like… kung sanay ka na sa vida soltera tapos pagbalik kelangan na magpaalam ulit. I think that living alone has really given me ownership over my own life, and hey, if I fuck up, I fuck up.

    I hate saying goodbye though. Although I try not to think too much of it – you’ve got facebook, skype, and occasional airline specials. I actually think that humanity’s suffered because goodbyes are so much less permanent – tragedies have one fewer device they can believably use :))


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