Lessons from Japan

Some years ago, I was riding an escalator with Grace in one of the malls in Manila. There were hordes of people riding with us and when we reached the restaurant where we ate with Maki, her then fiance, she told me that in Japan (where she earned her university degree), people never push and shovel their way up an escalator. Once they get hold of the railings, they would stand on the side and free the midsection to allow for those who are in a hurry to get up (or down) pass easily. And this is only one of those stories I hear from Grace on how disciplined Japanese people are.

Today, I am reminded of the Japanese’ discipline and the culture they live. While we share some ways of life common to Asians such as respect for the elderly, and even bayanihan… it is only in the aftermath of the utter devastation that I began to truly understand what bayanihan (camaraderie) really is… If we, Filipinos could just have half the heart, the spirit, the love and pride for one’s nation, and the Japanese’s courage to rebuild what was destroyed, would be great too? My answer is yes.

Here are some lessons that I hope my family and I could practice:

1. Be patient. The Japanese were without food, water and appropriate shelter for freezing temperature, they lost everything and yet, they never complained. The still formed long lines when relief goods arrived.
2. Be prepared. The people were prepared for an earthquake. This led me to think of my own family’s preparedness program. Are we prepared for a calamity? In our church we are taught principles of self-reliance and to always prepare for emergencies. We do have 72 hour kits and I still have to stack on food supplies.
3. Be positive. Despite the grim reality and being surrounded with remnants of the devastation, destroyed houses (and I could imagine dreams too), the Japanese people remained positive. In life, there would always be reversals, am I and my family prepared for times like these? I’m blessed to have a husband who never complains and is always optimistic about life and people. I hope these traits would rub on me too.
4. Love your country. The Japanese people’s belief on their country and leaders is something that Filipinos lack. I know this would start a long debate and countless explanations on why the Philippines is what it is today. However, I believe that if Filipinos stop believing (and working) that Philippines would be great one day, then who else will? The blood running in our veins would always be a reminder that we are Filipinos and no one else can lift up this country to greater heights except us.

Ok- I’ll stop there….

To the Japanese people, I’m praying that you will survive through the difficulties. My heart goes out to all the Japanese mothers trying to keep their children safe and make sense of all that happened. I hope you will stay strong in a moment like this.


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