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Coming home after a month in Japan, one immediately recognizes that one is back to a home so strikingly different.

Mactan Cebu International Airport is now being widened, in terms of space, facilities, and operations. Narita International Airport in Japan, however, is huge, several times bigger than our own. With more than hundreds of flights per day, millions of travelers going in and out, Narita International Airport is a global airport.

Even while one is inside the plane for arrival, the Japanese remarkable "system" is clearly evident: trained staff and personnel guiding the pilot to taxi to the plane's assigned arrival spot, assigned personnel to greet passengers upon disembarking, assigned guide to lead passengers to particular lines for immigration, this guide reminding and checking if passengers have their assigned documents for immigration. All these simple steps and personnel ensure prompt and clear service and procedures for arriving passengers. There are helpful personnel again at the baggage claim area, plenty of working baggage carts allowing passengers to proceed comfortably and quickly to the Customs' area, and then out into the arrival area.

An information booth is available with bilingual personnel who provide clear guidance to guests, for example, about transport schedules, location, procedures. There are designated areas for taxis, for buses, for personal or company pick-ups. There are several floors for parking. Inside this global airport, there are restaurants, stores, functioning toilets, polite staff eager to serve and assist. There are visible multilingual signs for directions.

This sensitivity, the mindfulness, and service-orientedness of the Japanese can be observed beyond the airport, throughout the whole country. The wealth, prosperity, and high level of development of Japan owe much to the spirit and discipline of the Japanese.

While one marvels at the amazing technology and system of Japan, one also wonders about the deafening silence or conspicuous absence of Japanese people and human voices in the streets, along the roads, from the airport to one's destination.

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People's voices and presence greet one upon arriving in the Philippines. There are so many at the airport, one can hardly distinguish the airport personnel and staff from the arriving passengers. Especially at the arrival or departure areas, again, hundreds of faces greet one. Loud voices of transport dealers, welcoming family members and more intrude into one's ears.

From the airport to one's destination, one cannot help but notice that there are people, people, people everywhere, anywhere in this country. People and voices greet one all over this country. Add in stray dogs, cats and in the rural areas, hens and roosters and more!

There are peddlers in the sidewalks and the roads, including children and beggars among them. So much honking out in the streets, jeepneys, tricycles, habal-habal, cars, pedestrians competing in crowded roads!

Easily, one readily learns that Filipinos and Japanese have their own "system," their own sense of order, their own world. The Japanese have their very comfortable, orderly, systematic, highly technological society. The Filipinos still have to go a long way to get to where the Japanese are in terms of material comfort and technological order. The Filipinos, however, still have themselves, they have people around them, interacting with them throughout the day. They have their own disorderly, unsystematic, challenged material world, yes. The Filipinos, however, have their wealth: their families, their friends, their fellow Filipinos with them throughout each day.

The best of both worlds would be ideal, of course. Oh, if only we can have our people beyond poverty, proud in their achievements for themselves and for a more developed nation. Then we can share more with our family, with our people. Still, right now, we are rich just as the Japanese are rich. We are all rich in our own way, in our own world.

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