The cooperation agreement between the UP Center for International Studies (UPCIS) and Yokohama’s Ferris University is a model for future schemes with other foreign educational institutions.
Prof. Imee Su Martinez, PhD, director of UP Diliman’s Office for International Linkages-Diliman (UPOILD), led UPOILD staff members Aura Carbonilla, International Programs Officer for Student Mobility, and Noelle Rivera, International Programs Officer for Administrative and Legal Matters, in making the observation during a courtesy call-cum-meeting with her counterparts from Ferris University.
Martinez met with Prof. Chiho Ogaya of the Department of Communication Studies, Miho Sasaki, Manager of International Office, and Moe Arai, Chief of International Office, to discuss ways to further strengthen cooperation between the two universities.
Among other things, the meeting discussed the possibility of UP identifying select courses offered in English and a beginner Filipino language course that Japanese students can take in Diliman.
They also explored the need to insert a clause for automatic renewal in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the two universities. The MOA, signed in 2017, is up for renewal in 2021.
The MOA, which provides for students of both universities to visit or study for a year in the partner institution, has allowed select students from the UPCIS-offered GS 197 Special Topics class on Japanese Traditional Performance Practice and members of two Japanese traditional performance groups based at the UPCIS, the UPCIS Noh Ensemble and the UPCIS Bunraku Ensemble, to come to Ferris University every November. Ferris University students come to UP Diliman in February.
Grants from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) and UP’s Mobility for Vigor and Excellence (MOVE-UP) provide UP students with the financial subsidy for their visits to Ferris University.
During those visits, the two groups of students tour each other around their campuses, host meals for their visiting counterparts, and discuss contemporary problems confronting their countries and deliberate on possible solutions.
An important highlight of the UP students’ visit to Ferris University is a performance of an excerpt from a Noh play and a Bunraku dance performance before their counterparts, many of whom have yet to watch these two Japanese theater traditions.
In previous visits, Ferris University students expressed admiration for their UP counterparts’ desire to learn about Japanese theater traditions.
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.
UP students receive Noh and Bunraku training from Japanese masters and culture-bearers, respectively, and from a group of Filipino teachers personally taught by these Japanese. During their visits to Japan, students devote part of their time in training sessions with the masters – those in Noh train in Tokyo, while those in Bunraku train on the island of Naoshima.
Ogaya and Umali initiated the idea of short-stay visits in 2009 when Ogaya was still teaching at the Yokohama National University (YNU). They continued the project in Ferris University when Ogaya transferred there. UPCIS has maintained its short-stay visit agreement with YNU.
This academic year, both universities are hosting their first exchange student from the partner institution. Jesse Leigh Morales (BA Comparative Literature) is set to leave in end-August for a year’s study at Ferris University. Koto Ransho (BA Global and Intercultural Studies) is currently enrolled in UPD as an exchange student.
Accompanying the visitors from Ferris University during their meeting with Martinez were Assistant Professor Sarah Raymundo, UPCIS Director, Amparo Adelina C. Umali III, UPCIS coordinator for East and Southeast Asia Studies, and the two exchange students.
Prior to the meeting with Martinez, the Ferris University guests, accompanied by UPCIS Director Prof. Raymundo, made a courtesy call on UPD Chancellor Michael Tan.
Earlier, Raymundo, Umali, and faculty affiliate Prof. Wystan de la Peña led representatives from different batches of UP students who participated in the short-visit program in hosting the three visiting Japanese in a Filipino lunch.