My 17 of 2017

The year 2017 was for me, a year of moving on. When my dad passed away last December of 2016, I realized that life is indeed very short and fleeting. I felt a kind of pain that I’ve never felt before – one mixed with regrets, what-ifs, and feeling sorry for myself and the family. Coming out of this experience, I realized that I had to do a reassessment of what I really value in life, and focus on that. And with that, my 2017 was full of taking chances, keeping things simple, and making more mindful decisions.

When you have no choice but to suck it up. Bring it on 2017.

A post shared by Jek Bacarisas (@jek.575) on

To be honest, this post is a few days late. But, I wanted to summarize my best 17 memories or moments (both good and bad), as a way of looking back. These are in no particular order in terms of value (e..g, #1 isn’t the best out of the list).

  1. Started adopting a minimalist lifestyle
  2. Passed JLPT N4
  3. Japan Travel – Tokyo in February 2017
  4. Japan Travel – Northern Kyushu & Fukuoka in June 2017
  5. Japan Travel – Osaka/Kyoto in October 2017
  6. Japan Travel – Nagoya in December 2017
  7. Domestic Travel – Boracay in May 2017 (Dang’s wedding)
  8. Domestic Travel – Coron in September 2017 (with Bisdaks)
  9. First falling snow/full blown winter experience
  10. Started investing in stocks and mutual funds
  11. Invested in my first real property (for the future)
  12. Supported my mom’s dream of renovating our home in Dalaguete
  13. Bought a 2nd hand car for Cebu
  14. Watched a Seventeen concert
  15. 10th year milestone in P&G (gave my mom the anniversary watch)
  16. 5 trips to Cebu, with longer durations
    • Dad’s 40th day in January
    • Went home for Mom’s birthday in July
    • Lola Auring passed away in August, and all of my cousins and relatives who I grew up with were there – it felt like a reunion!
    • The fiesta in our province (Lanao, Dalaguete) was a lot of fun!
    • First time to celebrate Undas/Christmas with Dad at the cemetery
  17. Started (and failed at) daily blogging

These are the big moments that stand out. Of course, 2017 would not be complete without the small moments spent with family and friends, eating out, catching up, and even playing Pokemon Go! Looking back, 2017 has really been a great year for me. My intention for posting this is not to show off, but rather, to inspire and motivate myself to do even better in 2018. I will have a separate post for that, but my plan for 2018 is to continue focusing on my family, my future, and not be scared of taking risks. And yes, I will restart the daily blog, too!

It’s three days late but Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all a better 2018! 🙂

Why you should (DEFINITELY) watch Gugmang Giatay!

Last Sunday, I watched the Cebuano/Bisaya musical play Gugmang Giatay as they performed their first stage in Manila. I first saw this play a year ago in Cebu, and I loved it then. After seeing it for the second time, I loved it more.

Here’s why you should catch Gugmang Giatay at the BGC Arts Center this week (Nov. 28-30, 8PM):

  • Because LOVE. Gugma is the Bisaya word for Love. And Giatay, a curse to express an emotion that just cannot be translated right in either English or Tagalog. The play uses Damned Love as a translation, but it’s not half as strong, or as funny. Gugmang giatay, is f*cking love, one that leaves you wondering why you started it in the first place (nganong ni-enter?). True to it’s title, the play is about love, different kinds of love. A love you thought would last forever; a love that could destroy friendship; a love that doesn’t know how to convey itself; a love that’s ready to go against the world; a love that was betrayed; a love that found a fresh start; there’s bound to be a kind of love or a character that anyone in the audience can relate to.
  • Because BISAYA. In my 10 years of living in Manila, this is the first 100% Bisaya musical play staged here. The capital city is home to people from different regions – and it’s just right that there should be venues for these different cultures to present themselves in the capital. We’ve started seeing 100% Bisaya movies in the cinemas in the past few years, and although progress is slow, there is progress! As a Bisaya, I feel obligated to support any Bisaya endeavor on a national scale. Also, nothing really captures and expresses emotions and feelings best like your native tongue.
  • Because BISROCK/VISPOP/Cebuano Music. The play has songs written specially for it (by none other than master Jude Gitamondoc and Rowell Ucat of Medyo Maldito fame), majority of the songs are well known pop/rock songs in Cebu – from classics such as Matud Nila and Usahay, Bisrock such as Palagot sa Contra and Solid ug Lawas, to VisPop banner hits like Hahahasula and Dili Tanan. If you are already a fan of Bisaya music, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t watch the play. If you aren’t a fan, or have no clue how Bisaya songs sound like, then it’s worth giving it a try – you might even get hooked!
  • Because SUBTITLES. Staging a Bisaya play in a Tagalog metropolis is a risk. But it’s not a play exclusively for Bisaya people. We joked about and we’re suprised to find that there are English Subtitles flashed on the screen behind the stage! So yes, you will not be lost in translation!
  • Because BISAYA is still FILIPINO. It’s a call for a more inclusive nation. Gone are the days of Manila being the only “happening” place in the country. Things are brewing in the regions! The other cities and provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao also have a lot of talent just needing a nationwide stage. If anything, this should pave the way for other regional artists to pursue coming to Manila for exposure, without having to compromise their identity. It’s OK to sing songs, stage plays, create movies in their local language! It doesn’t always have to be in Tagalog. It shouldn’t always be in Tagalog!

So there, the play is a gem from my home, Cebu. To be honest, there were a lot of technical issues during the first stage last Sunday, but I’m sure they’ll sort it out when they stage this week. I really, really, ask that you give it a chance, and catch it while it’s here. More than just self enjoyment, it’s really showing support to the artists, the people behind the play to keep creating and continue pushing overall Filipino culture forward!

You can get tickets at Ticketworld. Prices are from P200 to P1000 only! Once you see it, let me know your thoughts by the comments section below!

P.S. If you are Bisaya, you have no excuse to not see this play! And if I personally know you, I will be disappointed if you’ll miss out!

UDD – Sigurado

I love this latest release from UDD! The sound is modern city pop, which conjures images of Japan, specifically Tokyo into mind. True enough, the music video was shot in Tokyo! The video stars Mizuki Shida, who came to fame from the reality show Terrace House Boys and Girls in the City (watch this on Netflix if you haven’t yet).

Similar to UDD’s other song, Luna, I am eagerly waiting for a Japanese version of this song, because Japanese lyrics would sound so perfect with city pop instrumentals. “Zettai”, the Japanese word at the start, and the word Mizuki says at the end, is a translation of the title Sigurado – and could be taken as a hint of an upcoming Japanese version!

Get UDD – Sigurado on Apple Music.



After years of putting it off, I finally took the JLPT N4 exam last July. The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is made up of 5 exams, from N5 (super basic) going up to N1 (fluent).  This test certifies your level of fluency in Japanese which you can use for various purposes such as applying for work, studies, or just self-assessment. I have already completed the first exam in 2009. Back then, there were only 4 levels, and Level 4 was the equivalent of the current N5 exam. I have also applied for the N4 around 3 times prior this, but I never really took it seriously and ended up not studying and skipping the exams on the test date.

This year, I’ve realized that I have wasted so many years not progressing in Japanese.  So, I decided to take the N4 exam, whether I was confident or not. I had 4-5 months to prepare, but as usual, I was procrastinating for the most part. Still, I studied more this time around versus previous attempts.

Forced myself to study by going to coffee shops – expensive coffee equals determination to study

I blocked 8PM of every night for studying, although it wasn’t consistent

Japanese Karaoke helps you practice Reading (both kana and kanji).

I ditched Romaji and used Japanese writing for my exercises and notes.

Practice with mock exams on the final days before the test date

The actual exam was a bit more difficult than the mock exams I’ve taken. So, I wasn’t really feeling confident with the results. There were so many words that I did not encounter in my studies that I ended up making educated guesses for around half of the questions. I realized I was still not prepared enough for the exam and just hoped that I’d get a passing grade.

They’ve released the results today, and my efforts paid off!

I (barely) passed!

I’m really glad I passed N4 because I’m now more motivated than ever to continue studying for N3. I won’t be able to take the N3 exam this December because of schedule conflicts, but that buys me more time to prepare for July next year. I hope I get a better grade (at least 75%), but more important than the grade is the actual improvement of my Japanese. Slow progress is better than no progress and my goal is to reach N2 by next year!

For those of you who are interested in learning Japanese, or are taking the JLPT, I will share some Japanese lessons, resources, or studying tips in future posts.  You will find them under 日本語 in the menu above!


It’s only recently that I’ve discovered the minimalist lifestyle. I’m still far from calling myself a minimalist, but I’m slowly trying to get there. You may ask, why this lifestyle? I have one answer – I want to focus on the important things in life. The ones that make me feel like life is good.  These past few years, I have gone through depression. I go through my day without any motivation, no specific goals, and I’ve just lost track of what I really want in life.  I thought I was keeping myself busy, but I was just keeping myself distracted.  My salary went into buying things I didn’t end up using as much. I was going with the flow – and I was not being deliberate with my decisions.

Minimalism is not just about the material things. To me, it’s almost spiritual even. It’s about getting rid of the things that don’t add value to your life. Mute out the distractions. Be deliberate – asking yourself the question “do I need this in my life, will it bring value to my life?” before making any decisions. And this can mean different things to different people.

Getting rid of clutter


Still too much things!

I’ve started by getting rid of the clutter in my house. There are things I feel attached to, but I’m not really using them (DSLR, PS Vita, Japanese CD Collection). I am working up the courage to let go of those. I have cut my wardrobe into half by donating all the clothes that don’t fit me anymore. My books have all been shipped to my hometown. They’re going to a small library my mother wants to put up in the province. Desks and shelves invite more clutter so I’ve gotten rid of some of those.  And I’m not yet done – I will continue to go through all of the things in the house and assess the value they bring into my life.



Downgraded my postpaid plan!

I’ve also started cutting down my fixed expenses. I went from an unlimited broadband plan that costs 4,000 PHP each month, to one that’s less than half of that. I’ve also downgraded my mobile phone postpaid plan with unlimited internet, to an 8GB a month plan. Just from these two, I’ve saved myself around 3,000 pesos a month. I have other subscriptions I’m considering for downgrade or cancellation (I don’t watch Crunchyroll and Netflix enough), but I haven’t decided yet.



Eliminating and downgrading don’t just save me money, it’s progress towards living life more. With limited wardrobe, I don’t have to waste too much time thinking about what to wear. I come home to a clean and more relaxing home – and that helps keep the stress outside the door.  With my limited data plans, it forces me to not be too dependent on the Internet. Now, I have to turn my mobile data off by default, so that I don’t exceed my plan – and that prevents me from checking social media every single minute. That saves me time to do other things, or focus on the people I’m actually with!

Missing Japan! Photo by Hannah Regencia

The net outcome of all of these efforts is an upgrade in life value. And that’s really what I’m looking for at this point in my life. I don’t feel the need or the want to live life based on other people’s perception of success, or value. Success is no longer about owning a nice car, or a big house, or designer clothes and accessories.  Success to me looks more like being able to spend meaningful time with family and friends, being able to travel to Japan (and other countries/places) as much as I want, and doing things that contribute to the betterment of the world. I’m also still working towards that, but that makes me want to work even harder because these are the things I want in my life. I only realized all of these when I started getting rid of distractions.


If you are interested in the minimalist lifestyle, you can check out these resources as a start and make your way from there: