Thursday, January 19, 2006

Candidate Speech for "Inspire the Audience": WILL I BE ABLE TO GO TO ORLANDO, FLORIDA, USA?

"What? It's your first time to attend an international conference and you are
going as far as the United States!", my friend Lim said in his email one month
before my travel to Orlando, Flordia, USA. Actually, this is not just my first
time to attend an international's also my first time to present
a research paper in an international workshop... it's also my first time to ride
an airplane in my whole life! Sounds interesting, right? Well, you might be
wondering why Im travelling as far as the United States?
It was late October in the year 2002 when Sir Denis came back from Bangkok after
the AI3 (ey-triple-ay) Spring Meeting. AI3 is a collaborative project in the
Asia Pacific region which conducts research in satellite networking technology.
Sir Denis then emailed us about the "Call for Workshop Papers" for the 2003
International Symposium on Applications and the Internet Workshop. "This is
now your chance to go Orlando, Florida", he further said in his email. That is,
if I can submit a paper and it is accepted, I will be able to go the United
States specifically in Orlando, Florida. I know it sounds like impossible
dream to be able for a poor researcher like me to be able to go the United
States. I have no money... have not been to any country... have not ride in any
airplane even in a Philippine domestic flight.. and most of all, not have
written many researches execpt the first paper submitted in APAN2002 Shanghai
Conference which was presented by Sir Denis. Since, Im a project contractual
Im not entitled to travel and present the paper.
But this SAINT 2003 Conference is quite different and I really felt I have a big
chance of going to Orlando, Florida especially when they said that AI3 of Japan
will be funding all travel expenses for the authors of accepted paper. This
chance becomes an opportunity for me to be able to see what's in the other
world. I reall feel excited about it! Now, the only problem (big problem) is
what paper Im going to write? With sir Denis' suggested topics, I decided to write
a paper on Network Measurements in the area of network monitoring of the
satellite-based AI3 network. With a Japanese friend's suggestion (Tomomitsu Baba
of AI3 Japan), I did came up with an abstract of the paper entitled "Characteriza-
tion, Analysis and Visualization of Traffic in the Asian Internet Interconnection
Initiatives (AI3) Research Network Test Bed". With barely one month to finish the
paper, I already have a plan on how this paper will be accepted by the Japanese
screening committee as worthy of presentation and publication to the SAINT2003
Workshop proceedings on January 27, 2003 in Orlando, Florida. Personally, I
started to write the paper day by day and night by night while my suppose-to-be
co-authors don't believe on what Im doing or merely not interested. They just
don't realize that I have a secret plan and winning formula for this particular
paper. Anyway, if the paper will be accepted, I will be going to USA! Actually,
the travel is not the only battery that powers me up but also my desire to
perform research and my determination to show them that I can do this thing which
they suppose as impossible especially for a research not so good as them. But,
I just didn't mind them. What I did is that I worked secretly overtime for the
paper gathering some suggestions from Baba-san, Sir Denis, Carla and other
co-authors. I think I started to write the paper by mid-October 2002. The deadline
is October 31. Imagine a rush paper like that! Pressured by the time constraints,
I worked overtime to fill its contents little by little until I was able to finish
a draft of it by Oct 15. Tere and Mam Beth has been so greatful in editing my
grammar and the flow of the paper. Also, carla my co-author suggested some inputs
while other co-authors did not get interested with my paper.
Here comes Oct. 31, my paper is not yet finished. The good news is that the submission
is extended to Nov. 5. I think with carla's help, we were able to fill-in the
technical content and its now ready for submission. After one week, the acceptance
of paper comes in. I was so glad about it. But, the paper did not end here. I still
have to re-edit the paper by passing it to Japanese proof-readers. Then after it
has been proof-read, it will have to be converted to IEEE Latex format. Good thing
Baba-san helped in making the Latex format. so here comes Nov 11 & the paper has
been submitted to the SAINT 2003 Workshop for publication to the proceedings and
for presentation to the workshop by Jan 27.
The acceptance of the paper gave me an assurance that one of its authors must go
the United States to present it. Sir Denis convinced me that I must be the one
to be sent to present it despite of the problem on who will fund my travel. Luckily,
Prof Jun Murai, head of Satellite workshop committee, assured of an AI3 travel
support including VISA application, registration fee, hotel fee and round-rip
airfare except per diem. wow! with this good news, I was powered up somehow to
continue what I have started. What I need to do right now is to arrange & coordinate
with Funya and Husni of AI3 Japan who are the workshop organizers. With at least
one month to process my travel requirements, I planned personally the steps to do.
First thing, I need to apply for a US Visa with passport as pre-requisite and an
invitation letter from US is required. The payment of the registration fee is the
most difficult just as it involves money which must be paid first personally
from a credit card on-line. But I dont ever have a credit card not even a big
savings. The fee is P30,000 or $600. This is one of the most challenging part of
my travel, begging and asking somebody to lend their credit card to me. And Mam
Juvy saved my day! She is an angel to me... Imagine she let me use her credit card
and used up almost half of her Standard Chartered card credit limit. She was so
nice to me, of course, with the help of Sir Denis in convincing and justifying her
what the foolish thing Im doing... Next thing is the Visa!
During this time, I dont even have an idea of what a Visa is? Resourcefulness and
determination is the one that powered me to get on with this thing that I've started.
There are times when Im feeling regretful of being so ambitious even if this thing
seems impossible for me. Applying for a US Visa, as other said, is really difficult.
Actually the US Visa is the one that grants a person like me an opportunity to
enter the US. With a passport secured from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA),
I now proceeded to the US embassy. I was so excited to go to the US embassy hoping
that my Visa will be easily approved. But then I was wrong! The first time I went
there I almost shrunk in shame and tiredness. I did not want to describe anymore
those bad things that happened thinking those are just normal procedures. After
the third time I returned to the embassy, I got my Visa approved. Thanks to Mam
Odette for helping me with the necessary documents like the Travel Authority which
is one of the requirements fpr the US visa. Of course the Visa application is not
as easy as it seems, you have to pay a non-refundable pay of P5400 and reserve
for an interview in a hotline which has a 25 per minute cost. Anyway, this visa will
be re-imbursed by Japan. However this expenses does not diminish my spirit to
continue and keep fighting for my US travel. On January 17, my Visa has been approved
giving me a chance to make my US travel a dream come true. But my sacrifices does
not stop here, I still have to arrange for my airplane tickets, hotel reservation,
and many others which involves a big amount of money which I don't honestly have
even a bit of it. Truly, if you are really destined to something, things will go
smoothly and unexpectedly. My hotel reservation has been arranged by Haruhito in
Japan using his own credit card. My airfare from Narito to Orlando has been arranged
by Sayaka in Thailand. But the Manila to Narita airfare must be reserved by me
which needs at least P30,000. Where will I get this money? Japan has been so
steadfast in providing all their support to me especially husni, haruhito, and
sayaka. Frankly speaking, during this time, I almost gave up and regretful on
what this thing I entered. But with God's blessings coupled with self-determination
and other people's help, I was now able to reserve a ticket with the help of Mam
Lala's P20,000 and mam Odette's P9,000 which Im going to pay when I have received
the money from Japan hopefully before I left for the travel on Jan 25. It seems
I am already all set and one last thing that worries me is the money that I will
be spending for food, personal clothes, etc to adjust with US climate. Up to last
one week before my travel, my mind was really full of worry but my spirit feels so
good especially when I see the many helps that others has given me. Mam Beth was
one of the persons who talks to me and motivates me to pursue this SAINT thingy.
The Visa now has been delivered, hotel has been reserved, presentation has been
prepared, and all people has been showing excitement for me because of what Im
experiencing with my life. Here comes January 24, a day before my departure for
Manila-Narita flight, Narita-Chicago flight and Chicago to Orlando flight. I haven't
rehearsed my presentation coz my teammates are so busy to even comment on my
presentation or even my email regarding it. Anyway, I understand them coz its
ASTI anniversary preparations. If there is someone to feel guilty its me coz
I am supposed to be helping the team for the upcoming PREGINET activities.
Fortunately, with the savings I have from the 2002 thirteenth month pay, I was
able to buy some new wathc, new clothes and shoes etc. Yanyan also let me borrow
his black jacket which asks me for a pasalubong which I really can't buy. Of
course I can't tell him, "Hey Yanyan! I can't buy your pasalubong.", he might not
give his jacket which i think is very important in the place where Im going to.
Its January 24 afternoon when I went home early to prepare my things. Of course
I just couldn't leave ASTI without saying goodbye to those people who really
helped me pursue this once-in-a-lifetime dream. At home, Dondon offered to
rehearse me in my presentation and gave me some good presentation tips and tech-
niques. During this night, I have no more time to sleep coz Im still ironing
my clothes and packing up my things making sure that nothing gets left behind
since I cannot get off the plane in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As of this
moment, my excitement has superseded my worries and fears. All I feel is that
"Im going to cross the Pacific Ocean and the planet for the first time!". Its
really very exciting...
Its already 3:00am on Jan 25 when I have finished packing up my baggages. Mam Lotus
lend her maleta and Rey's jacket. Mam Lotus and Mam Noliet has been so greatful
to me not only because we are boardmates but because we care like brothers and
sisters. Its 4:15am and Im in a taxi going to the international airport. "How am
going aboard the plane?", the question that really bothers me. At the airport's
entrance, I pretended as if Im not an innocent traveler, so I followed other people
falling in line. At NAIA, I fall in line where they inspect my passport and my
baggage. To make sure everything I did is right,I just asked the airport employees
coz I reall don't know the steps. To enter the boarding area of NorthWest Airlines,
I passed first to the Immigration section which requires a payment of P550 for
whatever purpose that maybe. Now, my money has been reduced with even if Im not
yet in the US. Actually, I only have $165 at hand and some P1000 cash. The dollars
I have was exchanged in a money changer near the Farmer's Plaza. With this little
money I have, what Im planning to do is to skip meals during my stay in the hotel,
anyway, I brought some ready-to-eat foods like noodles, biscuit etc. Im now waiting
in the borading area of Northwest Airline's flight NW028 leaving at 7:25am. Now,
every passenger must pass through an inspection area. The funny thing is that they
will check your bag, ask you to remove your shoes, take-off your jacket, remove your
things in your wallet while your body is searched by a metal detector. After this
inspection, Im now ready to board the Northwest Airlines. Wow! This Boeng 747-100
airplane is quite large, with at least 200 passengers, equipped with LCD displays,
with comfortable seats and air-conditioned cabins. I am really ignorant with
riding an airplane, so I just observed things while Im seated second to the last
row near the window in the last cabin. Flight attendants are very very courteous
with English/Japanese instructions demonstrating safety features of the plane. Its
about 5 minutes before the departure time when the plane started to fire its loud
engines and started positioning its wings and body to the take-off runway. The
captain now announces "Flight attendants prepare for take-off!". I was now feeling
so unease and nervous as I pray that this trip and all my trips will be safe and
free from danger. Wow! The airplane now is soaring high above the skies like a
eagle... its truly amazing as I observe the grounds below becoming smaller and smaller,
and the plane goes above, and above, and above the ocean of clouds. As I observe the
sky, I cant help but admire God for its unsurpassed power to create this very big
planet making man appear as a single tiny organism here on earth that nothing can
be boast of before Him. Right above the sky, the clouds forms like an ocean silently
floating in the sky as the airplane traverses its magnificent beauty and mysteriousness.
Enough of the view of the window, here comes the food being served by very corteous
and polite flight attendants. I can no longer what food they served but all I can
say is that i reall feel like dreaming while up in the plane devouring delicious as
you observe the breath takig skies. Approaching the Tokyo-Narita Airport, I can't help
but admire the beautifl landscape of Japan. Its like an Integrated Circuit (IC) with
the little houses and building as the electronic components, roads as the electronic
wirings, and cars as the electrons. Its really wonderful!!! Now the plane is already
30,000 ft above the ground, started to descend in preparation forlanding to the Narita
airport. You can feel the air pressure in your ears as the plane descends to a lower
altitude. Good thing there is a video showing the flight's path information.
Observing the beauty of the plane's wings moving synchronously to prepare for landing,
it really takes my mind out of it. How does a very heavy airplane be able to fly
like a bird in the sky carrying tons of baggages and hundreds of passengers. Its
amazing to see the plane's wings flaps in and out just a real bird's wings guiding the
plane's body and positioning it to the runway. At about a couple of minutes the plane
has touched the beautiful and large runways of the Narita airport. Its very beautiful!
After the plane has stopped, the passengers started to get off. I was fascinated with
Narita's clean, large and sophisticated airport facilities. I think this is the cleanest
and secured airport I've seen. With its very large area, it takes about ten minutes
before i reached my next airplane going to Chicago. As I waited at the United Airlines
boarding area for flight UA884, Im also watching the Japanese TV program in a large
TV screen. I don't understand Japanese but I also laugh with what they are doing.
Now its boarding time for UA884 flight to Chicago, 10 hour non-stop flight. At the
boarding gate, you will also undergo same strict inspection as in the NAIA airport.
As you enter the cabin of the plane, you will feel the very cold aircon as if it were
the cold wind in the US giving you a sample of what the US weather is. The plane is
larger than the Northwest Airlines. It was a Boeng 777 which can seat at least 500
passengers. Each row has 9 seats with at least rows per cabin for each of the 5 cabins.
It was a very high-tech airplane where in each seat in the economy class has a video
terminal with selectable radio and movie channels. After take off, It was really
amazing to observe the as the land and the seas becomes smaller and smaller making
look like just a painting into your imagination. Of course the food served is really
great and the best I have ever tasted... beverages, juices, asian cuisines, cookies,
fruits, salads, teas, chocolates, noodles, pastas, beefs, etc etc. I think If Im
going to travel everyday, I will gain a body mass especially as you seat silently in
your way crossing the Pacific ocean. Its a night time flight so what you can only see
is darkness and a flashing light in the plane's wing. Kinda bored of darkness, I
just sit back and relaxed throughout the flight. The next morning it will now be
Chicago Airport. With at least 7 hours or so, I will now be breating an American air,
see handsome and beautiful americans and experence what its like to be standing in
an American soil. Well, Im right! Approaching the Chicago Airport, the view from
above shows the prosperity of the United States of America... beautiful landscapes,
long and wide highways, snowing and freezing lakes, and very cool environment.
As the plane starts to descend for landing in the Chicago O'hare Airport, the ground
grows larger and larger like a painting of the reality. The Boeing has now landed,
and the Americans are now very visible busy working in th airport. Imagine seeing
a cute and white American in their work uniforms carries your baggage from the plane.
Its really unbelievable! These kind of people which I describe as the most superior
human race, which I only see in movies, which I really admire for their boldness
and united spirits, is now a real thing in my eyes.As I entered the large Chicago
O'Hare International Airport, I get on a shuttle train and find my next flight to
my final destination -- Orlando, Florida. Now Im waiting at the boarding area of the
United Airlines flight to Orlando when a certain Chinese man appeared as if I knew
whim. Im thinking to greet him coz I thought he is Lim Seow San of Singapore who is
also a participant in the SAINT Conference. Lim is someone Im expecting to meet coz
we have been emailing each other before the travel. He invited me to go to Disney
Land thru email. He even bought a ticket for me. That's why Im kinda close to him
even if I havent met him. I did not talk to him until we are already boarded the
plane going to Orlando airport. I was so happy that I will have a friend in this
strange land of America. Mr Lim Seow San is an experienced researcher in Temasek
Polytechnic in Singapore. At the Orlando airport, we waited together for our baggages
in the Baggage claim area where we had the chance of talking to each other. I think
he is a very kind person and not like what I really think of Singaporeans. While
waiting for the taxi going to Worldgate Renaissance Hotel in Kissimme, he told me
he can pay the taxi by himself because he is sure he can re-imburse it. I was so
happy and feeling proud to offer my $5 to him. I was really ashamed when I found
out that the taxi fare from Orlando airport to Kissimme is not $3.25 but $50.
Oh my God, if Mr. Lim is not there, I will be spending that large amount of money.
Mr Lim is so articulate in English while he and the taxi driver talks about anything
where I couldn't insert my conversation. But he is not a boastful person. He is
a truly professional Singaporean. At the World gate Renaissance Hotel, we check-in
together but in different rooms. But, my check-in procedure is quite delayed cos
I have no credit card. Good thing Haruhito Watanabe had already advise the hotel
staff that my hotel will be shouldered by Haruhito. Mr Lim is in Room 447 while Im
in Room 546. My room was too big with two large beds, a large bathroom with shower
and bath tub, two table with lamps, two phones, a coffee maker, an iron with stand,
alarm radio and of course a large colred TV. The temperature outside is as cold
as 12 degrees celcius. At this time, I was able to sleep but awaken at 11pm -- my
regular bath time in the Philippines before I sleep. Wow! I feel so special as I
enjoy this large room as if Im a rich person. Mr Lim called that his friend has
arrived using the voice mail feature of the hotel's phone. I think Lim's friend who
also a Singaporean is taking a Master's degree in University of Florida while
Lim has finished his Master's in Australia. Good thing they are not boastful.
The next morning which Sunday, one day before the SAINT workshop, Lim, his friend,
and Ms Yoo of Thailan and me were about to experience an adventure in the
Disney Land's Epcot center.I think Lim and Yoo knew each other already and I think
they have met Sir Denis also.
At the Epcot's entrance, you can see the very beautiful view of the large golf-ball
like building. Mr Lim's ticket from Singapore is already expired so we decided to
buy our own tickets worth $50 -- a one-day ticket to all Epcot's thrill and adventures.
With this ticket, I only have $100 left in my pocket. But this doesn't stop me from
enjoying this Disney adventure. I decided to take some pictures but when they take
out their expensive and high-tech cameras, I feel I don't want to use my camera
any more. I really feel so small and poor during that time considering we are all
Asians. Amidst this inferiority, I feel "Who cares!", anyway, they already know
that Philippines (Filipinos) are really poor people. By the way the Epcot center
is a very very large park in Disney Land. Epcot is a showcase of human's existence,
a collection of Scince and Technology at work, a glimpse of the past and the future,
and the a never to miss adventures waiting to be experinced in just one day! One day
is not enough to see all the parks has to offer... a separate diary deserves to be
written about Epcot. After our Epcot adventure, we went home already without buying
any souvenir item coz its very expensive. We decide to go to McDonalds near the hotel
inorder to eat our dinner before sleeping at the hotel. And you know what? You
cannot eat all one serving of fries and the large drink is like a 2 large drinks
combined compared to McDonalds serving in here in the Philippines. Truly, Americans
have large food servings that's why they grow tall and big. However, one McDonalds
order would cost you at leat $6 or almost P300 -- equal to seven times eating to
McDonalds in the Philippines. After me and Lim have finished eating, we decided to
go to the souvenir shop or factory outlet near the hotel in order to buy some
pasalubong. I still have $90 and I only have one more day of stay. Im confident to
buy this money coz Im not spending anymore and hoping the items there is cheap.
Having bought all the pasalubong, I have no more money left except the american
coins. The problem now is I have no more money for taxi from hotel to airport on
Tuesday going home. I started to worry but I just prayed that Lim will pay the
taxi again. I'd better stop worrying about it coz I still have to prepare my
presentation tomorrow.
January 25, my third day in Orlando, is the SAINT 2003 workshop. I was qite late
as I entered the SAWGRASS conference room seeing the Japanese seriously listens
to the second presentation as they seat in front of their sleak and high-tech
laptops, I am ashamed to take out my laptop, but who cares, I have nothing to do
with it. Based on schedule, I will be presenting at the afternoon. Instead of
taking my lunch (which I couldn't reall take coz I have not a single dollar left),
I decided to return to my room and return at 1:00pm. I was quite nervous at the
start of the presentation but I managed to deliver my research properly and
effectively. Although, there are some questions especialy from Prof Jun Murai, AIT
computer science head, and other people but I still was able to do it. Im proud
that I was able to answer their questions and I reall deserve an applause from them.
By the way, as I write this diary, Im already at the plane going to Narita from
Chicago. And Mr Lim did saved my day again. I never asked that he again pay the
taxi but he did. He is so courteous and professional-- a person that makes one
of Singapore's intelligent beings. Hope we still meet again so that I can repay
everything... and also i wish i can repay all the people who have made my travel
God knows... SAINT 2004 in Tokyo is just near!

Your friend,
At the middle of the pacific...
Aboard Flight UA883 (chicago-Narita)...
11500 miles from the US...
6 hours from Japan...
11 hours from Philippines...
What a wonderful life!
Thank you very much!!!
Travel funded by AI3 of Japan.

Taken from this


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