The University of the Philippines Diliman, through the UP Center for International Studies (UPCIS), marked this February ten years of a student-and-faculty short-visit program with Japanese universities by welcoming some 13 students and faculty from Ferris University and Yokohama National University (YNU), both located in the port city of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, and the Wayo Women’s University, located southeast of Tokyo.
Two groups of students in UPCIS — the Asian Emporium (Southeast Asia 30) and the Japanese Culture and Society 1 (Japanese Studies 101) classes — welcomed the Japanese visitors on February 26, 2019 in a combined class session during which students from both countries made oral presentations on a contemporary issue of global importance.
The visiting students were: Rika Yamamoto, Momoka Yamamoto and Hina Okubo (Ferris University); Miho Marutake, Ayumi Oguro, Zhong Liuyin, Liu Xiangfu, Cao Songwan, Pierre Kilele, Mika Kimura, Ayaka Iwasaki and Kiyoka Ebina (YNU); and Yukino Osada (Wayo Women’s University).
Three of the students were Chinese and one was Congolese.
Accompanying them were Profs. Chiho Ogaya and Masako Suginohara of Ferris University; Profs. Hiromi Kabashima and Takaaki Kobayashi of YNU, and Prof. Yuji Kanamaru of Wayo Women’s University.
The Japanese students talked about environmental awareness issues and student life in Japan, while their Filipino hosts discussed life as a UP student and Solid Waste Management practices in the Philippines. They later conducted small focus group discussions on specific topics earlier prepared in consultation with the two professors-in-charge and initiators of the short-visit program, Profs. Amparo Adelina Umali, III of UPCIS and Ogaya.
In November 19-29, 2018, five students from the Global Studies 197 (GS 197) Special Topics Course on Japanese Traditional Performance Practice (JTPP), a class offered at the UPCIS, visited Yokohama and Tokyo to participate in the 3rd Ferris University Short Stay Visit/Exchange Program.
The students were: Timothy Earl Castillon (BS Public Administration), Nikki Rae Rallos (BS Food Technology), Leo Niel Jasper Sese (BA European Languages), Crizel Ruth Ghelmae Ricaro, (BS Food Technology), and Alanis Zeta (B Fine Arts).
Accompanying them were UPCIS staff Maria Fe Lafuente and UPCIS lecturer and Noh Theater Ensemble founding member Danielle Naomi Uy.
Uy, an MS Human Movement Science student and currently a PE teacher in the university, studied Noh intensively for three months and performed at the Nagoya Noh Theatre for her recital as a recipient of the East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) Programme: Invitation Programme for Creators (2007/2008) through the Government of Japan and the Japan Foundation.
She also received a one-year grant from the student exchange program (2008/2009) of the UP System, which allowed her to study Nihongo and Japanese culture at Kyushu University while pursuing Noh training with Noh Grand Master Shigeji Omura.
The visiting students from UPCIS were recipients of the Japan’s Ministry of Education Culture and Science’s Japan Student Services (JASSO) Short Stay Scholarship for International Students, which allows student-participants to join discussions, attend lectures by professors, and visit remarkable Japanese sites. Ogaya and Umali served as faculty advisers of the program.
Umali is a Japanese literature and traditional theater performance scholar who obtained her PhD from Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. She is also the UPCIS Coordinator for East and Southeast Asian Studies and the founder and artistic director of two UP-based Japanese theater performance groups, the UPCIS Noh Ensemble and the UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble.
Noh is an ancient elite theater tradition in Japan that developed in the 14th century and Bunraku is the traditional puppet theater that began in the 17th century.
Ogaya is a Ferris University-based sociologist who does research work on Japanese-Filipino families and Filipino OFWs in Japan. She was a faculty of the YNU when she and Umali started the short-visit program in 2009.
The two started the program in 2009, during the terms of Prof. Cynthia Neri Zayas as UPCIS officer-in-charge, Dr. Sergio Cao as UP Diliman Chancellor under whose office the UPCIS is attached, and now professor emerita Emerlinda Roman as UP President. Two years later, UPCIS students received funding from JASSO to travel to Japan and visit YNU.
In AY 2018-2019, the UPCIS welcomed Haruna Sorita and Chihiro Kawasaki, the first exchange students from YNU to study in UP Diliman.
The short-visit program has been implemented with assistance from JASSO and, occasionally, of the UP Mobility for Vigor and Excellence (MOVE-UP) Short Stay Scholarship for International Students.
The funding has enabled members of the UPCIS Noh Ensemble and the UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble — mostly students from the UPCIS-offered Japanese Traditional Performance Practice class — to come to Japan every November and have hands-on training sessions with grand masters of Noh in Tokyo and women Bunraku culture bearers in Naoshima.
The program also allowed discussions in classroom settings with students from YNU and Ferris University on different relevant contemporary issues and showcase their Noh and Bunraku skills to their Japanese counterparts.
The training sessions were instrumental in preparing UPCIS Noh Ensemble and the UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble to stage in 2016 the Shinsaku Noh Play (new Noh play) “Cedula sa BGC” directed by Umali.
Japanese Noh Grandmasters who trained ensemble members were Naohiko Umewaka (shite), Jiro Fujita and Youji Isso (fue), Shunichiro Hisada (kotsuzumi) and Shigeji Omura (otsuzumi).
The short-stay program has had different offshoots through the years. Two students have been invited to train in Noh for a longer period in Japan.
Margie Tamayao, a BS Statistics major, the second student to receive Noh training for a longer period, returned in 2018 from a one-year UP student exchange program which allowed her to study Noh, Nihongo, and even take Statistics classes at Tsuda University.
Prof. Wystan de la Peña, a UPCIS faculty affiliate and former chair of the Department of European Languages at the College of Arts and Letters, was invited to deliver a lecture in 2017 before faculty and students of YNU and Ferris University on Filipino ilustrados who had come to Yokohama.
Prof. Hiroshi Onishi, a historian based at Ferris University, came to Manila in 2018 together with Prof. Ryoju Sakurai of Reitaku University for a research tour.
UPCIS faculty accompanied them in their visits to the UP Main Library, the Ateneo de Manila University’s Rizal Library, the Philippine National Library, and the Filipinas Heritage Library of Ayala Museum and other historical sites and institutions such as the Subic Naval Base and Clark Air Base, Libingan ng mga Bayani and the Manila American Cemetery.
Onishi, a Yokohama historian, researches about the 19th century revolutionary general Artemio Ricarte (1866-1945), who exiled himself to Japan after refusing to swear allegiance to the American colonial government.
The academic collaboration resulting from the short-visit program also produced the first joint UP-Ferris University panel presented at the 4th Philippine Studies Conference in Japan, held in Hiroshima in November 2018.
In the conference, Umali, Onishi, and de la Peña presented papers about Ricarte and Mariano Ponce (1863-1918), two Filipino historical figures who lived for a time in Yokohama.
A bilingual edition (Filipino-Japanese) of the letters of Ponce to Japanese officials while he was stationed in Yokohama as Emilio Aguinaldo’s diplomatic representative in 1898-1899 has been proposed to be the next collaborative project between the two universities.