Predeparture orientations are held annually in April and in October so it takes some effort to make them a little different each time. Fortunately our March 9 orientation succeeded in this regard.
Mr. Toshiyuki Taguchi, special adviser on scholarships and youth programs, focused on why Japanese scholarships continue to be awarded to Filipinos year after year in his opening remarks. He said it was because of the good record and reputation of past Filipino grantees. In saying this he clearly established the need for the departing scholars to be grateful to their sempais, some of whom were present to send them off, and to be conscientious with their studies so as not to tarnish our record and reputation.
Taguchi-san also explained that funding for scholarships come from taxes paid by the Japanese people. This comes out to a cost of a few million pesos per scholar but all that is expected and hoped for is that scholars return to serve their country –“Bumalik kayo.” Two scholars who did return after their studies then shared their experiences and practical advice.
Dr. Jocelyn Celero, an associate professor at the Asian Center at UP Diliman, creatively anchored her talk on Japanese culture on the different seasons. Her talk made the new scholars eager to experience Japan and its culture and the sempais nostalgic about their own experiences. Take the opportunity to explore Japan early in your stay, she advised, when your study requirements are relatively light.
Dr. Ria Mae Borromeo, an associate professor at UP’s Open University who was inducted to our association just last June, followed with a lighthearted but candid relation of why she applied for a scholarship and how she managed during her stay in Japan. She said she applied to escape secretarial duties she had been assigned and ended up studying and associating with male lab nerds, she being the lone female lab nerd. New scholars can’t help but hunt for inexpensive meals and convert prices from yen to peso according to her but they will soon become familiar with and relaxed in their new environment and circumstances.
Both speakers emphasized the value of relating and reaching out to others, whether they be Japanese, Filipino, or of other nationalities. They gave tips on how to enjoy their stay in Japan but also warned the new scholars to take their studies seriously. You will know what we mean soon enough, they said.
Ms. Jenny de Jesus-Okada rounded up the talks with important reminders from JICC. Merienda was served during her talk to give more time for Q & A. The Q & A were very lively with many sempais answering queries.
President Dr. Resty Collado remarked in his closing address that times have really changed. When he was a student in Japan, they communicated with family and friends in the Philippines by telegram. Now it’s through a variety of technological innovations as evidenced by many inquiries about online services.
Join us next time. Who knows how pleasantly different the next predep orientation will be?