Japan Memory 2

by rolandotolentino

The world is yours!

The world is getting smaller. In the heart of Japan, students are learning Philippine studies in new and exciting ways. In fact, I am guessing that innovations are being made, inflecting a Japanese way to the understanding Philippine studies.

What is this Philippine studies that has become a cornerstone of Osaka University of Foreign Studies? Why study far-flung areas, using methods adapted to the conditions that make distinct the Philippine experience?

Philippine studies is unique, exemplary of global and local tensions, national and transnational disjunctures, and colonial and postcolonial conditions. Necessarily, Japan is involved in the shaping of the Philippine experience.

In the 17th century, the Philippines provided a refuge to Japanese Catholic exiles escaping persecution for their religious beliefs. Then near the turn of the twentieth century, Japanese workers migrated in Davao and Benguet, establishing the network of infrastructures still visible to this day. But Japan’s spearheading of World War II in Asia foregrounded the economic domination of national economies today. With some 100,000 Filipino nationals working in Japan and 5,000 annual marriages of Filipinas with Japanese men, the lives of these two nations continue to evolve.

Yet for the most part, the Philippines remains invisible to most Japanese. As students of Philippine studies, it is your task to generate visibility, interest and criticality of your program area to the Japanese public.

You will not only be studying language, dances, festivals, history and culture. You will study the politics of culture of two nations. Such culture is not only celebrated in terms of integration but also in terms of difference, especially calling into fore areas of pain and suffering, struggle and survival. Why Filipinos and Filipinas are in Japan, why Japan is in the Philippines, Southeast Asia and the world?

You will need not only to open your eyes but also your minds. There is a call by young people that “the world is yours.” Moreso true for Japanese students studying various languages and cultures not your own. It is rightful for you to claim your share of the world. But it is righteous for you to understand what you claim as yours.

Cheers and welcome to Gaidai.