Our Junior Ambassadors to the 28th Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka, Japan really enjoyed their 2-week experience interacting with people from all over the world. Enter the mind of a JA and relieve your days in Marine Camp as you read Danie’s story.
Barely a month ago, we, the Philippine Delegates went to Japan for 2 weeks of APCC. All of us were excited to be in that moment. We were treated like VIPs in airport. We also were treated like VIPs in the airplane. As soon as we arrived in the Fukuoka Airport, we were greeted with happy cheers, we can see that the APCC volunteers were as happy to see us as we were happy to be there. They took our temperature and even made a welcome banner especially for us. The welcome banner we were told later on were prepared by our host families, each country had one especially made by their Japanese host families.
We boarded a bus to camp after. 45 minutes later, we arrived in Marine camp. The Marine camp is like a big establishment with an east wing (where most of the sleeping rooms were) and west wing (more sleeping quarters), in the middle is the big cafeteria where all delegates and volunteers come together to share meals, a communal bathroom, an open quadrangle and an indoor play area like a gym at the basement. It is surrounded by trees some with ribbons and paths that lead you to the beach – no, we were not allowed to swim. We stayed at room 103 with the Indian girls while the boys stayed in room 113 with the Indian boys. During our free time we were able to go around to give away souvenirs and calling cards. After that we went into our room and met our roommates. In Marine Camp, we did a lot of fun things, we had fun meals – which was a relief because we were forewarned about the curry rice but surprisingly it was good and I liked it. We also attended a festival full of activities and food during the school visit. We had a lot of interaction with other kids and it was so much fun. We also were always singing Drake’s “One Dance” in the halls of the camp. Every Philippine JA sang it, then we went to bed. The pillows were very hard.
We’d wake up early and had our breakfast and sometimes did the running man. Since we had hours of free time we continued giving out souvenirs and got to meet the other delegates from other countries like Australia, Tonga, Vietnam, France, Papua New Guinea (who had a delegate named Florence who watches FOREVERMORE – a Philippine soap opera) and a lot more… We had our communal bath after, in the communal bath you should all take a bath together openly. We were used to this because we did this in summer during our bonding activity in Manila. I liked the communal bath because I get to talk to kids I don’t usually see on the grounds. After every bath time, we had an hour of free time so we had time to meet other kids and play Philippine games likePatintero, we’d also practice our dance. There was no boring time in Marine Camp…it was always fun and we always had things to do, kids to meet and grounds to explore. The place is always so clean too.
The day came when our stay in Marine camp had to end, we didn’t notice how fast time passed. We cried because we thought we will not see the kids we have met in camp. In just a short time, we grew closer with each other and still wanted to get to know more about each other and we thought our fun was cut short but we will be off to another adventure – homestay.
I stayed with the Hirota Family, they were a family of 4: Otousan Minoru (host dad), Okaasan Youko (host mom), Niichan Takuma (big brother), and Hiyori (sister). They were very gracious and always smiling. I was so tired, I slept right away after bathing the first night in their home.
We were always going out during the weekend, riding their right hand drive hi-tech car and we would watch marathons of Harry Potter at home. We also went to a Catholic church with most of the Philippine JAs and chaperone. On performance day, Otousan Minoru, Okaasan Youko, and Niichan Takuma all came with me but Hiyori had a headache, so she was left at home. I found it so sweet and thoughtful of them to all come with me despite Hiyori being sick. I was quite shy because they all did not have to come with me but they insisted to go together. My Japanese family is very hospitable and generous with their time and effort. After the performance, all our host families took us to a buffet restaurant. I thought it was great that our host families really made sure we get to spend time with other Philippine delegates.
The next day, we went for a school visit, we had to walk from Hiyori’s house to her school. It was tiring because I am not used to walking all the way to school. The school prepared for my visit. They gave me gifts and welcomed me cheerfully. We played dodge ball. Hiyori’s classmates liked the Agsam bracelets I brought for each of them. I noticed that Japanese students are so quiet and disciplined unlike in my school where kids are all noisy and walking around especially when teachers are not around. Some may think they are quite a boring bunch but they are just behaved and disciplined, but when you smile at them they would smile back and be very friendly. The only problem is the language barrier but you can see the delight and welcome in their eyes when they see you smiling at them. After school, we had dinner at Joyful and then we went to meet Hiyori’s grandparents. They were very nice but could not speak English except for Hello and Thank You, they were always smiling too. I was happy to meet them. I gave them Agsam bracelets too.
Our host families organized a Sayonara party for all of us. We went to an indoor fun ranch-like place and we played big jenga and had a short program with them, we danced our J-Pop dance for our host families. We also ate together and our host families even prepared prizes and gifts for each of us.
My host family took me shopping and brought me to Miyawaka Festival. There were fireworks and food stalls on the street. It was so much fun! Did I mention that I am always so tired going home that I did not miss my family except maybe for my dog Una on the first night at homestay. Only because my host family kept reminding me about her, they kept asking me about Una, my poodle.
At the airport, as we said our goodbyes I did not know how I felt. Happy that I will finally see my dog, my dad, my mom, my lola, and my friends but also sad because APCC was so much fun. I told Hiyori, not to cry because I didn’t want to cry because I had fun. Our host families were tearful, but I didn’t cry, I was smiling – always. I just kept thinking of Dr. Seuss “don’t cry because it’s over, SMILE because it happened.”
July 25, 2016 First day of school after APCC. My classmates kept asking me about Japan. Everyone was curious, some were quite racists but I never noticed any of their comments while I was in Japan, for me we were all just kids from different countries maybe with different cultures but all still kids having the best time of our lives. Looking forward to becoming a PA, ha!
My fellow delegates and I were looking forward to the trip since we met each other. I expected to have lots of fun exchanging cultures and meeting people from all across the world from all walks of life.
We arrived in the afternoon and were very eager to start the activities. The Philippine delegates were grouped with Chinese ambassadors and the boys’ chaperone was from Tuvalu. During the Marine Camp stay, there were various games and activities encouraging us to have fun while at the same time learn about Japanese culture. We even had a Homestay Guidance session to help us adjust to the Japanese way of life. There were also Japanese kids, aged around 8-10 who stayed in the camp for 1 day. We made friends and played traditional games in the play hall like kendama, menko and hanetsuki.
During the homestay, I experienced the Japanese way of life through my host family. I enjoyed the time I spent with them. We went to my host brother’s school and tried lots of things. One example is shuji which is a type of Japanese calligraphy. The others were familiar to me like soccer and swimming. Aside from school, we had lots of fun going to the zoo, making chopsticks out of bamboo, and other fun things.
I learned through my trip to Japan that you can’t judge anybody, no matter where they come from if you haven’t met that person yet. Meeting other kids from different countries was a real eye-opener for me. It made me realize that you have to apply these lessons you learned as well even when you come back home. This is why respect is so important. This experience can even be applied in the Philippines, for example, in school. Respecting your teachers and other classmates is very important. You should never make judgments before you get to know that person.
Thank you so much for this amazing experience. I won’t forget it.
It all started when my teacher gave me a letter that said that I was going to be interviewed by the grade-level coordinator. I did not know what the APCC was back then, so I started searching about it in Google. I was in shock because, apparently, the Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention or APCC is the biggest children’s meet in in the world and I somewhat had a chance in representing my country. That would be awesome! I got to the last stage of being interviewed where I got so nervous. The results made me cry in joy! This was the start of my journey.
The most significant lesson I’ve learned in my APCC voyage is to never limit yourself and to trust. Having meetings almost every two weeks was exhausting but fun. We practiced for three hours each session where we got to know our fellow delegates. We were strangers at first but we became very close because of the effort that each of us gave and the stories that we told about ourselves. We had a lot of girl-talk and I really got to know the girls like sisters. They were all willing to give their time, effort and friendship, which made it easier for me to open up as well.
The day where we had to ride an airplane going to Japan finally came. After three and a half hours passed, we arrived in Fukuoka. I was so happy! We were greeted by some of the volunteers at the airport and I knew this was going to be the best two weeks of my life. At the marine house, I remember everyone saying, “ I can’t believe I’m here right now” – that’s how I felt too. I love the marine camp. There, I enjoyed meeting new people, especially since they come from all around the globe. I was a little bit shy in the beginning but I got close to the ones from Mongolia, India, Australia, Hawaii and New Zealand. The ones from Oakland became our best friends. We played UNO, BananaGram, Kendama and taught our new friends how to play “patintero”. We got to sign each other’s APCC shirt. We shared a lot of stories about ourselves and learned a lot from one another. My favorite part of marine camp is when all of us went outside and danced until dusk. We did the Macarena train and danced to that famous song a lot. We moved to the Japanese song Koi Suru Fortune Cookie and just had a lot of talking and laughing!
After six fun-filled days at camp, it was time to separate from my newfound friends. I was worried because I got used to talking to my friends everyday and I knew I would not be able to do that anymore. I was nervous but excited at the same time to meet the Umeda family.
My host family immediately made me feel at home. They were very friendly, hospitable and loving. They asked me about the Philippines and they answered my questions about Japan. They took me to many places like the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, their grandparent’s house, Beppa City, the crocodile farm at Oniyama- Jigoku, the National Site of Scenic Beauty at Umi-Jigoku, the Hotel Shira Giku and a water park. The Umedas always made me feel like I was being taken cared of, that, I did not feel as homesick as I thought I would. I will never forget them. My favorite part of the homestay was simply being with my host family the whole time. My “okaasan” or mother let me flip my own gyoza and allowed me to fix the bed with her. “Otousan” or father drove us everywhere and let me play the WII. I played tennis with Tamaki and went to school with her. With Yutaro, I enjoyed Mario Kart while it was fun playing Jenga with Hikari who is five years old. I will never forget them and treasure every single memory I had with them.
During the 26th APCC, I was never afraid to share my ideas with everyone. For the Art Workshop, I shared my ideas of putting the New Year and the winter season in our work. I talked about what our group made and why we drew that. I participated as much as I can in the activities such as the sports festival, morning exercises and when the Peace Ambassadors visited us and talked about leadership. I volunteered and shared my thoughts with everyone. I think this is the best way I represented the Filipinos. I feel in my volunteering and sharing, it showed that Filipinos are dynamic, diligent, generous and involved.
The best part of the whole trip was the “ WE ARE THE BRIDGE FESTIVAL”. I was happy to see our new friends and see them perform. We played games and were able to assist the Peace Ambassadors in managing the booth. We ate yummy food – “oishi”! I was sad to leave all my friends and Japanese family behind, but I promised all of them we would see each other again. I was very happy to see my own family when we got home but I couldn’t stop thinking of the majestic memories that I have made. Before boarding the plane going to Manila, all of us in the delegation from the Philippines said, “ we will all see each other one day”.
I believe I can continue propagating the “Omoiyari” spirit by making friends with other people, no matter what their religion, race, gender, age or nationality is. As the slogan of the APCC goes, we are the BRIDGE and we connect dreams around the world. I will continue to be open to everyone, share myself, make connections with others and listen. I will try to join more programs like the APCC that promote respect and understanding and be more active in making the world a better place. .
To the 27th Batch for the APCC, being able to represent the Philippines was a great opportunity for my friends and I. Having to go through all the meetings, practice, Japanese classes and rehearsals was a bit hard for us because we pushed ourselves to perfect our Nihongo and our dance performances. The good thing is that we got to push ourselves across the boundaries and past our limits. As a junior ambassador you should always keep in mind that you where chosen to represent your country and you should promote to others that the Philippines is a beautiful place that Filipinos are respectful, understanding, open and we are never afraid to make friends. Put effort into making friends with the other people from other countries. Don’t just talk among yourselves, talk to everyone from different parts of the world or let them join in your conversations. During the school visit, finish the food that is given to you and bring a paper or eco bag because the Japanese kids give a lot of tokens. With your host family introduce yourself and ask questions about the stuff they like and their hobbies. Never expect them to take you anywhere like the arcade or on a road trip. Don’t worry because the Japanese are all hospitable and kind. Remember you are representing your country and your school and the Bridge Club picked you because they believe that you are going to be a good representative of the Philippines in the largest children’s convention in the world. Remember also to expect the unexpected because there are many surprises in store for you.
Last December 2011, I was given the opportunity to interview Hayley Roberts, a member of Bridge Club Australia, about the comings and goings of their Bridge Club.
Hayley was a part of the 19th APCC last 2007. According to her, the most memorable part of her APCC experience was the first day of Marine Camp, meeting her host family and of course the onsen or public bath. Like most JAs, at first she was very overwhelmed with the idea of being around so many kids of different personalities. It really was a whole new world.
Like most kids that go through the life changing experience that is APCC, she stayed active in her country’s Bridge Club. She describes Australia’s Bridge Club as “being small and not very well-known yet, but has enthusiastic, dedicated, and motivated members. “ Members which with their lovely personalities keep her dedicated to Bridge Club and keep her proud to be a part of something so amazing, with their projects like picnics, Japanese festival-themed afternoons, past JA/PA’s BBQ reunion, tree planting and supporting local people and their community events, such as the Urban Reforestation initiative.
We had a meeting on the night of January 21 (Saturday) at McDo Katipunan. We discussed the following:
> Possible venues: Taguig, Krus na Ligas, North (Ate Lianne), South (Ate Monique)
> Possible activities: feeding, teaching, party (food, games, etc.)
> Possible dates: March 3, Late February to Early March
> Theme: Spongebob.
> Theme: Sherlock Holmes
> Possible Venues: UP Oval, LGV Clubhouse, EK
> Possible Dates: Before May 10.
Last December 2011, the provinces of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro were badly affected by floods that were brought by the typhoon Sendong. Many people lost their homes and family members and so they were in need of any kind of help that people could offer. Bridge Club Philippines organized a simple gathering of donations for the victims of the typhoon and worked with Center of HOPE Worldwide to ship these donations to the provinces. Most of the donations were clothes. Special thanks to all those who shared their blessings.
My Saturdays are spent on math trainings. So when I learned that the BCPH outreach in Payatas was going to be on a Saturday, I thought that the only contributions I could give were to donate, inform my schoolmates about it so they could donate, and gather donations. But a day before the outreach, I chose to miss two Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines (MTAP) sessions (and hoped it won’t lessen my chances of joining national math competitions) so I could attend the outreach instead.
I chose to attend the BCPH outreach because I felt my donations were not enough – used textbooks, storybooks, some clothes and toys. But more importantly, I wanted to personally be there to interact with the Payatas kids (though I was also afraid that I would make mistakes and mess up).