Thursday, May 1, 2014


It is May 2014 and in the later part of this month in New York, I am going to meet some old friends from 27 years ago, our fellow delegates from JICA's program, the ASEAN-Japan Friendship Programme for the 21st Century! 
By the way, 2014 is the Commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship Program for the 21st Century.

I am reblogging this based from old posts dated August 27, 2013 on JICA FRIENDSHIP PROGRAM SCIENCE STUDENTS 1987: MY EXPERIENCE with the link: JICA Friendship Program and another post Remembering JICA Friendship Program last December 10, 2013.

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 27 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. 
my JICA album
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... really was so natural and light. But, we got to realize, how different our lives and our cultures were!  

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...just the PTT Telegram! 
If you haven't seen a telegram, you must be young!

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.
How OC (obsessive-compulsive) I was...
 to have typed all our Program Schedules!
during the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar !

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 :

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. 

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

(Emir Espano of the Teachers Group comes from Ateneo De Zamboanga)
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 in Narita!!!
This experience was 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!

After twenty-seven years, I will soon meet my old friends and fellow JICA delegates in New York. Many of them are now doctors practicing in the US! 

I am really so excited to meet them again! We will not be able to gather the whole group in this unofficial mini-reunion, but catching up with almost three decades of stories will indeed be a handful! I am really so excited to meet them again!


  1. So nice to read the stories above for I was also one of the very lucky ones who were chosen to participate in the JICA Phil-Japan Friendship programme. I was part of the ASEAN Teachers Component Group of Batch 1991 where we were five very fortunate teachers chosen: two from PLM, one from UE, another one from PUP and me, from Adamson University. Heartwarming thoughts, nostalgic feelings, missing Wakayama, Kyoto, Tokyo, etc. Wish it was 1991 all over again!

    1. It is nice to meet you even if it is through this blog! ASEAN Group is a very special group! The chance I had to meet tha ASEAN counterparts was through the PAJAFA and AJAFA and those were very wonderful times, too!

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