A fun-filled day: part 1. Lunch with Nishida

My day started with lunch with Nishida, a Japanese businessman setting up the Philippine subsidiary of MSI Corporation. MSI was my host company during my internship, and I’m greatly obliged to them for the opportunity to see how the Japanese software industry worked. I was nervously thinking of what they might want assistance with, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was a social call. We met at the lobby of Shangri-la Makati and walked to Zen for (unsurprisingly) a Japanese lunch.

I had fun chatting with him in Japanese. He said he must’ve been to
all the Japanese restaurants in the area, and he proceeded to list
them. They were just imitations, he said, but they were much cheaper
than food in Japan so he wasn’t unhappy. He had some problems figuring
out the bento box system at Zen, so I tried to explain how it worked,
and I also asked for the Japanese menu. (Good thing my mom and I
peeked at the Japanese menu a week or two ago!)

We then chatted about life in a foreign country. I told him how I’d
quickly made friends through free conversations with volunteers,
technical conferences, and nomikais (informal get-togethers). He’s
been in the Philippines for over seven months but has been having
problems making Filipino friends. Although he went to a few karaoke
bars (you know the Japanese and their karaoke), he didn’t really get
to know people there. As he said, women there just hit on you because
they want to marry a Japanese guy. I laughed and told him I have a
wonderful boyfriend; he doesn’t need to worry about me. He has a
Filipina assistant who sometimes teaches him about Filipino culture
(what to do and what not to do), but they can’t hang out because they
work together. All the other people he knows are Japanese, so they
chat in Japanese. As a result, he doesn’t really feel comfortable
chatting in English.

Of course, I offered to switch to English so that he could practice.
He declined, saying he was just so relieved to find a Filipino who can
talk to him in Japanese. I told him a lot of people learn Japanese
because of anime, and offered to help him look for friendship circles
and other things like that.

We also chatted about cultural misadventures. Food was, as always, a
source of great humor, from balut (which we both can’t stand) to
chicharon (which he found absolutely horrific—how can anyone eat that
sort of stuff? I just grin). He told me about this morning’s phone
call. When he called up the house to confirm our lunch, of course he
asked for “Chua-san”—I always used my last name in Japan, following
convention. My dad answered the phone, and it took some back-and-forth
and a bit of panicking on Nishida’s end before my dad realized the
call was for me. Heh. That’s also why I tend to call guys by their
first names instead of by their last names, even if that _is_ their
nickname…

(You can ask Ernest about the very first time I called him up. See,
his nickname was not only “Baello” (his last name), but he also had
the same name as his father_, so I couldn’t just ask for “Ernest”…
To be safe, I specified his _full_ name instead. That made his mom laugh.)

Anyway. We’ll take care of introducing Nishida to some other people
and taking him out to see some places; it’s the least I can do to
repay my obligations to the volunteers who helped me so much in Japan.
I wish Dominique was there. They’d probably have gotten along very
well. My mom might have fun chatting with him, too; she’ll know how to
make him feel relaxed. Tita Raquel, definitely. I wonder who else
among our friends can help the poor guy… =)

「それではおまえにねこを一匹とってきてあげよう」と、おじいさんはいいました。 “I will get you a cat, my dear,” said the very old man.

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