Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Just a few days ago, Chris Chan of Singapore, one of the original AJAFA-21 leaders was calling out to alumni of JICA's program, the Japan-ASEAN Friendship Programme for the 21st Century to prepare for the commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship Program for the 21st Century.

I am reblogging this based from an old post dated August 27, 2013 on JICA FRIENDSHIP PROGRAM SCIENCE STUDENTS 1987: MY EXPERIENCE with the link: JICA Friendship Program.

This is a backgrounder on the series of posts I did on the ASEAN-Japan Frienship Program for the 21st Century . Of course, this is based on my own experience as a Philippine Science Student in 1987 and definitely not an official post of JICA.

This first segment is about the JICA ASEAN-JAPAN FRIENDSHIP PROGRAM for the 21ST CENTURY and on the five-day Pre-Departure Orientation in Manila.
From the JICA Files:youth invitation program 
Youth Invitation Program (Friendship Program for the 21st Century). The "Friendship Program for the 21st Century" was launched by the former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone during his visit to ASEAN countries in 1983 and started in 1984 originally as the ASEAN Youth Invitation Program. 
Under this Program, the youth of developing countries, who will shoulder the task of future nation-building, are invited to Japan approximately for 1 month. It is anticipated that through this Program the youth of these countries and Japan foster friendship and mutual understanding, which is the cornerstone of long-lasting relationship between the countries in the 21st century. 
Because this Program was highly appreciated both in the ASEAN countries and at home, in 1986 Japan extended the Program to Burma, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. In 1986, Japan invited 799 youths from ASEAN countries, including 50 from Brunei, 10 each from Burma, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
note that this picture was taken from my 1987 album, thus, 
the use of the typewriter!

Another JICA File. JICA Philippines
From JFY 2007, JICA has been implementing the "Training Programme for Young Leaders",  a technical cooperation program aimed at promoting human resources development and nation-building in developing countries.
The program was an enhancement of the Youth Invitation Program (formerly the ASEAN-Japan Friendship Programme for the 21st Century), which began in 1984 for six ASEAN countries, and which has since expanded to cover approximately 120 countries. For more than 20 years, the program has served as a significant venue for cultural exchange and for the promotion of friendship and mutual trust between Japan and the ASEAN countries.
JICA is implementing the program with the view of contributing to more sustainable capacity development for young leaders through greater emphasis on specialized technical training in various fields.

The Friendship Program for the 21st Century is still considered as one of the best things that ever happened in my life. 


1) This is the first time I ever traveled abroad! (and should have been one of the topics of my first travel blog)
2) Aside from this, we had a chance to visit Japan for a whole month for free!!! ...and that includes, free airfare and all means of transportation needed, free hotels and all accommodations necessary and of course, free food!
3) The chance to appreciate their culture and technologies as we visited temples, natural and cultural sites as well, as universities, hospitals, factories and places with high technology...
4) Then, they gave us the opportunity to meet Japanese dignitaries, people from the same field, people from other fields and form friendships, which we are now trying to reconnect and strengthen...
5) Friends also formed from the Alumni Associations especially, in the ASEAN...
6) And given $1000.00 (equivalent at that time) to boot!
 After 26 years, this is a sentimental journey and of course, I had to refer to my old albums to help me remember details of a very vivid perfect travel experience! See how yellow my JICA album is now!

I remember from the Little Prince, we should be thankful for keepsakes... they help us remember things we otherwise forget. (do you remember this part, Ray I. ?)
By the way, since we were students, our topics were more on college life, family life, culture and things which were close to our heart, so no pressures in this area.

We just had to be the best delegates to project a positive image of our dear Philippines, and most of all, be ourselves to be able to make the best out of this very precious and rare experience.

I decided to make separate blogs so you wouldn't be overwhelmed by the blog and the pictures.

Let me start with the overview of how we were chosen then the program of activities we had, here in the Philippines and in Japan.

In 1987, the Program was not yet disseminated well throughout the country and so I received an application letter from a cousin studying in Manila who also shared it with my other cousins in Cebu.

I remember, I finally received an interview call scheduled in Cebu Plaza Hotel (now Marco Polo Hotel in Nivel Hills, Lahug). I didn't know what to expect and who to expect but I heard there were only six of us from the Visayas for interview, and I said to myself, "I better be accepted or  I would really be depressed that I didn't pass when there were only six of us!"

I later found out that thousands applied in the Luzon area especially, NCR. I think we were all accepted from the Visayas and two of them, Ronnie Penserga and Raymond Ignacio were also in the Science Students group.

When we were accepted, we got a telegram (do you know what a telegram looks like!) stating our acceptance and things to prepare and of course, also the contact numbers.
no emails in 1987

In a time when travel was elusive, I was very ecstatic... but also apprehensive on what to expect, what to prepare and if this will really turn out fine!

In the later batches, the Program became more organized and interviews were done at the Regional Development Council levels, which gave better chances for delegates from the far-flung places in the Philippines.

Then, I was set to go to Manila for the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar with this schedule given.
during the PDOS !

This gave us the chance to meet 25 other delegates also for the Philippine Science Students 1987 group and at the same time, the First Batch for the Year 1987, the General Students group and the Teachers group.

We had our conversational Japanese lessons, lessons on Japanese culture and protocols, lessons on the Philippines and some RP-Japan issues as well as our practices for the presentations we had to perform.
with General Students and Teachers group
Field Trip to Precision Electronics, Taytay, Rizal
Practicing the Tinikling, of course!

The Science Students 1987 batch prepared the following preparations:

1) the Tinikling, for a traditional Filipino dance
From Wikipedia: The tinikling is the National Dance of the Philippines, according to the Philippine government. The tinikling is a pre-spanish dance from the Philippines that involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance. The name is a reference to birds locally known as tikling, which can be any of a number of rail species; the term tinikling literally means "tikling-like."
2) the modern dance, "Break Out" by the Swing Out Sister... so 80s! Here's the link: "Break Out"
3) Handog Ng Pilipino Sa Mundo The most commonly chosen song by the Philippine delegates during the 80s. Usually after singing this song, we get teary-eyed from the song itself and usually we also sing it during farewell parties... 
From Wikipedia: "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo" (lit. "The Offer of the Filipinos to the World") is a 1986 song recorded in Filipino by a supergroup composed of 15 Filipino artists. The song became the anthem of the bloodless People Power Revolution. The lyrics of the song are embedded on a wall of Our Lady of EDSA Shrine, the center of the revolution. Songwriter Jim Paredes wrote the song in three minutes, with no revisions, using the success of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution as his inspiration. After finishing the composition, he sent it to WEA Records, who at that time is compiling an album of patriotic songs. The song eventually became its carrier single. 
Here is the You Tube link: Handog ng Pilipino Sa Mundo 
Handog Ng Pilipino Sa Mundo by Apo Hiking Society
'Di na 'ko papayag mawala ka muli. 'Di na 'ko papayag na muli mabawi Ating kalayaan kay tagal natin mithi.    'Di na papayagang mabawi muli.   Magkakapit-bisig libo-libong tao.    Kay sarap palang maging Pilipino.    Sama-sama iisa ang adhikain.    Kelan man 'di na paalipin.   
Ref: Handog ng Pilipino sa mundo,
Mapayapang paraang pagbabago. Katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan Ay kayang makamit na walang dahas. Basta't magkaisa tayong lahat.  
Masdan ang nagaganap sa aming bayan.  Nagkasama ng mahirap at mayaman.  Kapit-bisig madre, pari, at sundalo.   Naging Langit itong bahagi ng mundo.   Huwag muling payagang umiral ang dilim. Tinig ng bawat tao'y bigyan ng pansin. Magkakapatid lahat sa Panginoon. Ito'y lagi nating tatandaan.  (repeat refrain two times)   
Coda: Mapayapang paraang pagbabago. 
Katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan.   Ay kayang makamit na walang dahas.   Basta't magkaisa tayong lahat!
4) Isang Mundo, Isang Awit by Leah Navarro, who won the Grand Prize of the annual Metro Manila Popular Music Festival in the late 70s.  This is the other song we prepared which is about love.  
Here is the You Tube link: Isang Mundo, Isang Awit
Here are the lyrics: Isang Mundo, Isang Awit by Leah Navarro Isang_Mundo_Isang_Awit
Ngayon mundo'y gulung-gulo  At lahat tayo'y litung-lito 
Pag-ibig sa kapwa tao  Sa daigdig dapat ituro 
Kung bawa't puso ay marunong magmahal 
Kapayapaa't kasiyahan tiyak na makakamtan
Lahat tayo'y pantay-pantay 
Sa biyaya ng Maykapal 
Lahat sana'y akbay-akbay 
Handang tumulong kanino man 
Kung bawat tao ay marunong magmahal 
Ano mang kulay o salita 
Tiyak na makiki-isa 
Je t'aime, te amo, I love you 
Watashi wa anata o aistomasu
Ich liebe dich, Iniibig kita 
Gua ay di
Paano man sabihin  Ang mundo'y turuan natin 
Tanging lunas ang pag-ibig
Isang mundo, isang awit 
Isang sigaw, Pag-ibig. 
Note: the You Tube videos are not of our group. We didn't have the luxury of videos then, but I am sharing the links for reference on the dances and music, we chose then.
These are some of our pictures during the farewell dinner...
"Break out!" by the Swing Out Sister with the You Tube link: "Break Out"
We were given our schedules for our General Orientation in Japan as well as the schedule for the rest of the trip. 
Note: I had to type the schedules (using typewriter) since computers were a luxury then!
Off we go to Japan...
Together with the rest of the First Batch for 1987 -
Science and General Students and Teachers groups
as we arrive in Narita Airport, Japan, Victor-san said, "Wow, Japan has centralized airconditioning for the whole country!"...referring to the wonderful spring weather!!!
Here we are!!!
This experience is indeed a turning point in our life...our first exposure to the real world... shaping us to who we are now ... giving us new insights on friendship, culture and life through a once-in-a-lifetime kind of Exchange Program!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I would like to share images of the Sta. Maria Elementary School Evacuation Center.

I remember right after the height of the Zamboanga Crisis last September 2013 came the flooding in Zamboanga City, and this evacuation center had its own share of prolonged suffering with the flooded grounds in spite of the arranged shelter boxes throughout the grounds.
Can you imagine how wet they were?
This was taken already more than two weeks after the flood!

This end of October 2013, we visited the Sta. Maria School evacuation center (ably manned by the DSWD, ZCSWD and some of the faculty) where Ciudad Medical Zamboanga together with Bounty Fresh (Chooks to Go c/o Ron Natividad) shared food packs for the evacuees. This was still in line with the Tenth Anniversary Celebration of Ciudad Medical Zamboanga.

Here is the Evacuation Center:

As viewed from the covered court!
And some close-up shots:

Shelter Boxes from Rotary International

taken from the covered court

Here are some of the people we met, although, we weren't able to stay to long to really socialize with them!
And here is Ma'am Juvy, CMZ HR Manager joining the kids play, while CMZ AO Ma'am Ruby looks on (probably, also wanting to join them!)!

I still think the Sta. Maria Evacuation Center is relatively arranged and organized as an evacuation center! 

We do hope, though, that they may soon be resettled in a better place!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013


Ciudad Medical Zamboanga had a whole day affair at the Tetuan Central School for a composite program involving a Medical Mission including Breast Wellness - Psychosocial activities (for all ages graced by Jolibee) - Food and Relief Operations last October 2013 as part of the Tenth Year Anniversary of CMZ !

We made friends with amiable little girls called Charlotte and company.  I was asking how they lived there and they willingly invited us to check out their living conditions as they stayed in several classrooms of this elementary school.

So here is a glimpse of their life in an evacuation center. Most of the evacuees here are from Sta. Barbara, Lustre, Sta. Catalina and Mariki!


There are still signs of the several days with heavy rain. 

They also have stores around the place...

Here is Room 2 and Room 37 (I hope I remember the rooms right!). Charlotte shared that there are about 5 families living in each room.
The kids have already gotten used to their life in the center and have found ways to entertain themselves such as by games and dancing. But, they also shared that they were afraid of the MNLF and the exchange of fire during the Stand-off. They also sometimes fear the sound of the hovering helicopters! 

It was unfortunate, though, that the kids were afraid of having their heads chopped off because someone shared to the kids, a cellphone video of children who were beheaded. It seems the kids thought that this video is current, but, it this may have been an older video probably from another country because we did not hear this kind of atrocity during this Zamboanga City Siege 2013.

I would like to request the adults: Please do not frighten the kids in that way. Some kids verbally expressed that he couldn't sleep at night after watching the video.

Then, I was teasing Charlotte that she could be a beauty queen when she grows up. However, she said she'd prefer to be a soldier!!! 

As we moved around the evacuation center, here are more scenes...

And this family lost their houses during the fire in the conflict area.

This is the portable comfort room for urinating only. They had other toilets nearer their rooms. 

Some can still relax in this times.

The situation in this evacuation center is still fine considering that the evacuees respect the places they are living in now.  They clean the place and the classrooms still look clean and arranged.  And, the families have learned how to live with each other. 

The kids' smiles are so sincere and it was so interesting that they could cling to me and yet, I still felt comfortable. (And, the JSOTF-P have also mentioned that the kids were also so friendly with some of their members) Two of the kids smiled and said, "Can you take us home?"

One of the things the kids were really asking if there are toys to be given away...fortunately, we also distributed toys and clothes aside from relief goods! I realized even in dismal events, the children still needed things which could give them joy.
This was a very enlightening day for us. The kids can easily adapt against all odds. There are some who are still afraid, thus, the importance of Stress Debriefing should be emphasized.

It seems after the series of grave natural calamities such as the Earthquake in Cebu and Bohol and now, Super Typhoon Yolanda, we in Zamboanga City are now feeling blessed. We did undergo a very dragging and dangerous incident, but, it seems what happened in Zamboanga in three weeks happened to Yolanda's victims in just a few hours and sparing  no one.

We are now in the Rebuilding Phase, although, this isn't that easy either. Some of the evacuees may have gone home by now. We do hope that they too could rebuild their own lives and rise above this adversity!