Self-Studying Japanese

by Prex JDV Ybasco

Watching Japanese cartoons and dramas probably is the primary reason why I am taking up Japanese. Apart from that, their OSTs are amazing! They have a certain feel to them that even though I hardly understand them, I feel like I can do the impossible. However, there are always some moments when subtitles or English lyrics do not satisfy me. As they say, some things are lost in translation. I do not intend to live in Japan (but I certainly want to visit!) so I have decided not to take professional classes in Japanese and just learn the language by myself. After all, if language learning can be considered one’s hobby then how hard will that be?

I would not consider myself an expert in languages but here are some ‘strategies’ I have used to study Nihongo.

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Lang-8| 02 一番好きな映画 / My Favorite Movie

Original Post:

私の一番好きな英語の映画と小説はハーリポータです。高校生の時、ハーリポータ本を読んで始めました。英雄たちはすごくて楽しいです。ハーリが若すぎてとてもかっこいくて強いです。まほうはでかけるから。ハーリは二人友達がいます、ローンとHermione。ローンは笑うな人そしてHermioneは頭が良いです。ハーリは強くて怖いてきがいます。てきの名前はVoldemort です。でもハーリはたくさんなかまがいますから、大丈夫。

学生の時はホグワツに行きたかった。そして、まほうワンド使いたかった。まほうの世界に住んでいたらどこでも出来たと思った。電車の駅 9 ¾ も見たかった.まほうの世界を見られないことがわかるけどこのは私のバーカな夢です。



English Translation:

My favorite movie

My favorite English movie and novel is Harry Potter. (Please check the Katakana for Harry Potter.)

I first read Harry Potter when I was in high school. The main character is cool and interesting. Harry Potter is young but he is amazing and strong. He can do magic.Harry has two friends, Ron and Hermione (once again, please give me the Katakana for Hermione). Ron is a funny guy while Hermione is smart. Harry also has a strong and scary enemy. His name is Voldemort. However, it is just fine because Harry has a lot of friends.

I also want to go to Hogwarts when I was studying. In addition, I wanted to use a magic wand. I thought living in a magical world will let me go anywhere I wanted. I also wanted to see Platform 9 and 3/4. I know that it is impossible to see a magical world but it’s my stupid dream.

I still want to go to England so I watch Harry Potter movies once a week.

What do you think? What is your favorite movie?


高校生の時、ハリーの本を読始めました。主人公たちはすごくておもしろいです。ハリーはいですが、とてもかっこくて強いです。まほうをかけることができるから。ハリーに二人友達がいますハーマイオニーです。ロンは面白いです。そして、ハーマイオニーは頭が良いです。ハリーには強くて怖いてきがいます。の名前はヴォルデモート です。でもハはたくさんなかまがいるので、大丈夫。 

学生の時ホグワツに行きたかったです。そして、魔法の杖を使いたかったです魔法の世界に住んでいたらどこでも行けるといました。電車の駅 9 ¾ も見たかった。まほうの世界を見られないことがわかっているけど、これは私のバカな夢です。

Disclaimer: Harry Potter Quote JPG was from

Lang-8日本語Self Introduction

It is not a secret that I have been self-studying Japanese for about a year now. I am quite aware of my progress as I can read blog posts, answer reading articles and even exchange tweets with Japanese netizens. Considering that my main objective in studying is to be able to read manga – Japanese comics- in Nihonggo, nobody can say I haven’t achieved my goal yet. However, as I am about to take my Japanese examination in two weeks, I have to do my absolute best. After all, nobody wants to fail an exam.

One of my students has recommended this website, Lang-8.Com, a tool for language learners who want to hone their reading and writing skills and get feedback from native users. Have I mentioned it is also free?

lang 8

Learners can post a paragraph in their target language and its translation in their native language (in my case, I have put English rather Filipino). Here is a sample of my short introduction:

lang 8 1

Language learners get feedback from native speakers of the L’s target language:

lang 8 2

As in this case, I received recommendations on how I can improve my sentences along with explanations.

This is a good way to put to use the grammar structures I have been learning in textbooks and to help me memorize words that I don’t get the chance to use in conversations. I am planning to put my answers in my textbook’s writing activities in Lang-8 and hopefully I can improve really fast.

I also have to do my part and help language learners like myself improve by editing their sentences when I have the time. I cannot just receive and not give, right?

Visit :

The Peculiars

The Peculiars

A Book Review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco


“There are peculiars all over the world,” Miss P, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


Having a different world where diversity is tolerated and encouraged is a famous theme in the fantasy genre that it does not come as a surprise Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children reminds me of Harry Potter, Pendragon, and X-Men . Special beings mingling with normal humans, wise old people taking care of the young ones and passing on the legacy, protagonists having to live up to their peculiarity, their gifts, the nature of their powers–this formula contributes to MPHPC being a page-turner.

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Some kind of ADDICTION

Some kind of ADDICTION

Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco



They say that in order to forget about an old addiction, you have to find a new one.


I have to be honest. About a year ago, a mania took over me: marketing my book. I remember juggling the scanty breaks I had to memorize Hiragana, Katakana and Kanjis and promote To Be Continued. Trolling Goodreads, Amazon, and even Book Review sites, I sent hundreds of emails to a number of people to read and review my book. The hunger was real–I just had to find that one person who could say something good about my baby, and then another, and another. It all became too much until I could not recognize who I was anymore. Such was the life of an amateur self-published Author.


Then, one of my first acquaintances in publishing wrote a blog about how he turned out to be a Marketing Agent and not a writer. I was ashamed of myself when I figured out, I had been living the same kind of life for a number of weeks–not that there was something wrong about being an Agent because there is none; it was just a path I did not choose to take. I was so preoccupied with marketing my book, getting rejected, nursing my broken heart, getting positive feedback, feeling over the moon–in that cycle– I did not even have time to write a chapter for my next novel. “Nobody stops being a writer” and it was so embarrassing to stop caring about doing  what I loved just because I wanted to look for someone who would read the first product of my sleepless toils.


Depression hit me hard. Not as hard as some people in the world to drive me to insanity and cut people from my life. The better term I guess for this was frustration. Was I trying to get famous? Believed me when I say  I laughed a hollow one because I had not even thought about that. I enjoyed how words and stories weave inside my head, flow through my fingertips and stain my paper and I still do. Was it wrong to share that creativity to the world? No it was not. What my biggest mistake was I forgot that I had started writing for myself, without having any regard to what people might say about my works. I bore my first children in Fanfiction.Net and let them roam around freely, and whether readers found them interesting or boring I charged every review to my experience. Why was it more difficult to let go of my novel then? When my thoughts could not reach beyond this boundary, I told myself, it was about time to put my pen down and look for other things that could inspire writing again. I needed a distraction.


Another whirlwind of addiction came and it swept me away with it. I got in touch with Foreign music again, a reminder why I started blogging in the first place, Music. Getting busy because I enjoyed Japanese and Korean music helped boost my enthusiasm in learning 日本語. I could pick up words and even write faster in Japanese. At last, there was something I could do so easily!


The plus side of it all was I learned to enjoy making friends online which I honestly find difficult to do in real life. It was so much easier creating an alter ego whose persona nobody could judge. There were challenging moments because nobody could pierce through the shield called internet. It was difficult to love wholeheartedly and receiving love came with a tinge of insincerity. The people I chose and who chose me in return were different though. I could not help but trust them.


Then, I decided to give my online friends copies of my book. Little did I know that this could put more pressure on me. A piece of me could be judged–what is even worse was the idea that they would not read nor judge it all because it was mine and they would rather have a great relationship with whom they thought I was–another image that I built to protect myself. I laid myself bare, subject to scrutiny.


I was back to square one. Before I knew it, I started getting busier, trying to forget what these people might say about me or my book. The internet proved to be a good distraction once more because I was able to see book review jobs~~I could review novels and get copies of them for free. It was perfect. I barely had enough time to worry about the addictions that became too much to bear. However, I missed those who gave me a reason to be more accommodating in social networks. Yes, I could listen to the group we follow, I could buy the rest of the CDs, I could have followed the group without interacting with them but to my surprise I couldn’t. It was not as fun.


I can conclude my blog here, in a state of depression… or hopelessness, whatever I want to call it. However, comes with it is an anticipation of acceptance and that is what I am addicted to.


Seriously, I think I need a rehab.

Running for Happiness

Running for Happiness

by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco


4:02 AM

For the nth time you asked yourself why you had chosen to run.

It was a twenty-one kilometer marathon that started at 4 am. With that distance and God knows how much time you needed to cover it, you couldn’t help but think of seemingly mundane things. As you breathed in that sharp cold morning air, thoughts kept pouring in—or out with your sweat, mingled with the carbon dioxide you exhaled.

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Signed Sealed Delivered, Tax Included

Signed Sealed Delivered, Tax Included

by Jahzeel Dionne V Ybasco

Dear Actors in Business Suits and Polished Shoes,

I saw your advertisement. You have a new commercial again. And no, I did not say it is a political advertisement. How could I? Wasn’t it last year when I started seeing your face on television and posters, it was not even the election period then? You even claimed those ads had been paid for by your friends. Come on. How much did you pay for that? I wonder if the money you spent could have been used for a better purpose. I for one thought you could have started putting up the school you promised in the beginning of your term—but I guess you can’t remember that.

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Falling Out of Love

by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco

It starts as a seed. Then it grows roots. When it is watered and taken care of properly, it develops into a bud, then a plant. Who knows whatever it may grow into – a beautiful and fragrant flower or a sturdy fruitful tree or a graceful and dainty vine. What it becomes we will never know when disrespectful and indifferent people carelessly trample upon it. That is how some of the most poetic of us describe love and falling out of it. I have felt this before and ever encounter has been painful. What I used to look forward to, now I have learned to detest. What I eagerly looked for, now I desperately try to evade. It is an experience that is not entirely foreign but it saddens me just the same.

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Hunger for Continuous Learning

A reflection on David Robson’s article “A five-step guide to not being stupid

By Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco

I came across an article in entitled “How not to be stupid.” I find it very interesting as it has given five techniques people can use to motivate themselves to keep on learning.

It is indeed very difficult to go against the tide of our educational system. What appears to be the focus of our education is being able to pass examinations that put people into their respective categories. The result is often achieved as students pass their examinations. However, they seem to be half-baked and unprepared to face the real world. Many employees in different industries admit that they barely use what they remember in school in their respective fields. It appears as though a four-year diploma is only a spring board to earn a job yet the period of time spent in studying is not enough to equip one with real-world knowledge. Although this fact is discouraging and may render teachers and students alike hopeless, I look at it as a challenge.

I took up my Masters without being a graduate of Master’s Degree in mind. I felt that I was powerful enough to choose my own degree not depending on my parents’ money. It is refreshing to see learning from a different perspective, something that will not be measured by grades or points in school but by professional and personal development. There is satisfaction in learning what I love not because I want to have a job but because I want to learn.

This is the same satisfaction I have in learning Japanese. In high school, I only wanted to learn it because of animations and their rocking soundtracks that I wanted to understand better. Although I still use the same excuse in studying the said language, I am filled with exhilaration when I create sentences, read expressions and understand puns in Japanese.

When I receive comments regarding how I love studying, I feel extremely proud of myself. As an educator, I can only give what I have and unfortunately, due to some concerns, I cannot ensure a 100% transfer of learning to my students. There is a big reason why I keep on learning: no matter what the percentage of learning I can transfer, it will be significant. I have a hunger for leaving an imprint in this world and I want people I connect with to remember how I think, even if they can’t remember how I treat them.

Behind all these reasons, the underlying motivation why I do what I do is I don’t want to find myself stupid. I don’t want to find myself in a space where I can’t understand a single thing just because I have not used my time to read more books or develop my language skills. I cannot afford to  be proud of or complacent with what I know when I believe my time in this Earth is not enough to  learn everything.

Steve Jobs once said, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” Although, I am no Steve Jobs nor will I reach the pedestal he got for himself, I am proud to say I am still hungry and foolish.


You can read David Robson’s excellent article here: