“…because of this
I have valued
more my role as
a youth, a youth
who serves the
people and works
for social change,
liberation and justice”

Hiroshima Peace park
On this photo (L-R):
Murell Kumano, Emu (JFY Foundation Japan),
Miyukie Atsuchi, Mikas Matsuzawa,
Christine Azuma

It was the 26th of March and the sun was not yet out. It was a day different from any other, I was expecting the sun to greet us a safe journey as we board the plane. However, even though it was past daybreak the clouds got in the way and hid the rays I long for. I along with four other young Japanese-Filipinos fastened our seat belts. I knew that it would be the beginning of a new journey for us.

We boarded the plane, Miyukie Atsuchi, Takeyoshi Tomita, Cristine Azuma, Murell Kumano and me, along with our chaperones Miss Gamay Solis from Assumption Missionaries Association (AMA) and Andrea Anolin of Batis Center for Women, each one with their own expectations.

Batis Center for Women is the partner of the Japanese-Filipino Youth (JFY) Committee in Kasai Church which raised the funds for our 11-day study tour. The idea of the trip materialized when the JFYs in Japan noticed how they were able to experience the Filipino culture when there are JFYs who grew in the Philippines who have no chance to see with their eyes their fathers’ culture. With the help of a charity concert by Jose Mari Chan and his family along with the Philippine Embassy in Japan the trip was finally made possible.

After five hours on the plane, we already reached Narita airport, there the sun welcomed us at last, and I knew then that this shall be a meaningful trip. We stayed eleven days in Japan and had a really strict itinerary. It was fun that we were able to have a taste of the Japanese culture and lifestyle both in the fast-paced city life and the sanctity of its traditional life. But the real experience is with the integration in the JFY family or the home stay. There we saw how the JFYs and their family live and how they go on everyday. Everyone was just so kind to us. Even though we felt foreign in the land of our fathers they made us feel just right at home.

However, what struck me most on this trip is Hiroshima. It was a lesson indeed, a lesson that tells us to learn from the past however, people seem to forget that lesson. I saw at the Hiroshima Peace Museum how savage war could be and how it is used by the powerful few to serve their own interest, even if it costs the lives of many innocent men, women and children.

Remnants of a wrecked building

due to Hiroshima bombing

This made me appreciate more the value of life and the reason why I should live it to the fullest. I knew my role as a Filipino-Japanese youth and how I should give importance to the freedom that our ancestors worked hard for. I know that I should work also to keep this freedom not only for the current generation but for the future generations as well.

I realized the relevance of the final lines we said in the play we presented. Indeed, we are the young Japanese-Filipinos, we are unique individuals, raised in a family filled with love and care and we want to be great examples of a strong and determined generation.

The fast-paced Japanese lifestyle taught me to see things in both of its sides. I was harassed, rushed, awed, humbled, silenced and strengthened by this trip. I learned a lot from this study tour and now I value more the importance of self-assessment and self-reflection. And because of this I have valued more my role as a youth, a youth who serves the people and works for social change, liberation and justice. It is one thing when we learn from our experience but it is a greater thing to take action and use this learning for the better.

Crane origami made by a girl who got sick and
died due to the radiation of the atomic bomb.

As one famous Filipino said, the youth are the hope of the nation. We shall continue to be so by collectively working to serve the people and learning from the lessons of the past.