Friday, April 17, 2015

Dinner with Yuka Ibuki

On Friday night we had the honor of eating dinner with Ibuki Yukako, or Yuka as she likes to be called.  Yuka was scheduled to be with us on the Leyte extension.  She had missed her flight from Tokyo, which was actually fortunate.  You see, Philippine Airlines rescheduled our flight to Tacloban, moving departure one hour earlier, so if Yuka had made her Tokyo flight she would almost certainly have missed the connection.  Due to Tacloban Airport's continued runway maintenance problems following Typhoon Yolanda, big jets are -  once again - not allowed to land there, so - once again - all flights are fully booked and the airlines would not have been able to find a seat for her on a later flight.  So it all worked out for the best, even though we were all looking forward to having her join us for the time in Leyte.

On Thursday afternoon we returned from Tacloban to Manila, arriving at Terminal 3.  We then had to drive to Terminal 1 to drop off Kent, before driving to Terminal 2 to pick up Yuka, who had scheduled business in Manila following the tour.  The flight from Tacloban to Manila took 90 minutes, and so did the ride just from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1!  Traffic was absolutely nuts, i.e. standard evening traffic around the airport.

We have known Yuka since 2006 when we three came here together with a fairly large Valor Tours group for the Hellships Memorial dedication at Subic Bay.  After Yuka completed university she taught English at the high school level until she and her husband Juuji had their first child, and then again for 20 more years after raising their children.  During the child-rearing years she informally taught English to her own and the neighborhood children when they were playing at their home.  In 1980 she went to London to study and that is when she became aware of some of the atrocities committed by the Japanese in WWII.  Since then she has been working tirelessly to educate the Japanese regarding their not-so-proud past.  We greatly appreciate her efforts alongside organizations including Bridge for Peace and US-Japan Dialogue on POWs.

Yuka actually has fond memories of the final years of WWII.  She was a young child, age 6 at the time of the surrender.  Her mother, younger brother, and she were evacuated from Tokyo into the countryside where she enjoyed a peaceful time, although food was scarce and she recalls the mothers exchanging foods with one another so all could have what little variety was available.  They lived in an orange grove.  They ate oranges but were also able to trade them for potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice and fish, "boring but we had enough."  She says that the nutritional value of what they ate was good enough that she has experienced better health than many other Japanese who were children at that time.  She also remembers that very soon after the war they were sometimes able to obtain canned goods and other shelf-stable foods provided by the occupying American forces.

So, let's get back to our dinner on Friday night.  Yuka invited us to join her and a young Filipina who had met her when she spent two years in Japan as a post-graduate scholarship student.  Donna recommended Zucchero, a restaurant on Manila Bay.  As it turned out, we not only enjoyed a fine meal but a most colorful sunset.
 Yuka, Marcia, and Donna

Sun about to set across Manila Bay, with yachts in the foreground

Just after sunset, and just before the post-sunset color show

A rufous night-heron perched nearby as we were awaiting delivery of our meals.  This is typically a very shy bird, and those on Corregidor follow that behavior, but we saw about a dozen of them flying around the yachts and the restaurants despite the many people in the area.

The sunset glow illuminating Yuka's face

Manila skyline along Roxas (formerly Dewey) Boulevard

More color

Marcia, Donna, and Yuka at our outdoor table

The color, still gorgeous but beginning to fade

Manila skyline after dark
The Manila Hotel across the bay,  A tripod would have been helpful here, as it's impossible to steadily handhold a camera, in the dark, and especially on telephoto.

On Sunday afternoon we are going with our friend Sunshine Lichauco de Leon to visit her amazing grandmother, Jesse Lichauco.  We were last at Jessie's home six years ago when she was only 97!

Steve and Marcia on the Rock

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