In 2009, I was honoured to be the Chair of the Academic Session on Education during the 1st Asian Conference on Education which was held at the famous Ramada Hotel, in downtown Osaka. It was breezy October and I loved it there. I loved the weather, the people and few Japanese friends I came to take in as my brothers. My trip to Osaka, Japan is one that sends me the strong affiliation to being an Asian and a growing Filipino scholar, both in education and in Foreign Service and foreign policy.
While I was there, I knew Tatei, an Engineering student from Kyoto. He and his friend picked me up at my hotel, Hotel Tai-Yo and we went off sightseeing, a day before my conference starts. I respected both of them so much because while they were university students, they took time out to accompany me around famous sites in Osaka and they taught me how to eat my first Japanese food, walk down the alleyways, took the trains and subways, went to museums and the first stop of the day, the Osaka Castle.
While on the conference, I met this lovely kimono girl whom I admired so much for her friendship and generosity. She is, like Tatei, a university student studying in Osaka. She went to Ramada Hotel because it is the wedding of her friend. She wore her intricately designed kimono and her smiles have captured most of the delegates of the conference including me. I said, my trip to Japan is complete now because I met a girl who wore a Kimono.
While in Osaka, I made friendships with two Swiss backpackers Cornel and Diego and we spent a day touring Osaka. Our friendship lasts even until today. One thing they are fond about is that they are carefree and loves disco parties, of which I too, also enjoy. We went to to Himeji Castle, considered to be the winter castle of Japanese Imperial family. It is the only castle in Japan that is not destroyed by both natural calamity and war. It’s a perfect show of grace and beauty, architecture and engineering. I saw Himeji Castle while in the Philippines through the TV program paid for by JICA and is played in government TV NBN. It was a sight to behold.
My Japan experience is one that I will forever keep in my heart. It is one of those few foreign trips that I made as a scholar and researcher which enhances my global perspective. Now that my Japan is in devastation after an 8.9 earthquake and a tsunami, I feel them and their pains. I am with them and will do everything I can to be able to inspire them and help them.
Japan is the wonderful country I had been and will always be in my heart.