Nandeyanen No. 5

March 2002 Edition


"Nandeyanen" is the monthly newsletter published by our Mindoro Office.
"Nandeyanen" means "Why is it?" in Japanese Kansai dielect. It represents the sentiment of our young Japanese volunteers when they encounter cultural differences.


(Click BALL)
No. 5
GO!Are Filipinos the Happiest People?!(Hiro Kawashima)
GO!Challenge of Children in Pakpak
GO!Dreaming to Become a "Mechanic"(Reah Barraca)
GO!Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!(Jossie)
GO!One Lesson From Satsu(Satsuki Kunikane)
GO!Seeking the Better Performance
GO!Bulletin Board
GO!From the editor (Shinya Shigaki)

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Are Filipinos the Happiest People?! TOP

Hiro Kawashima

There's no question about the good hospitality of the Filipinos. If you happen to encounter somebody's birthday or sort in the street, you can expect to be invited and join it even if you're totally alien there. Rural people may offer you the accommodation if you can't find any hotel in the small town. People are always ready to sing and dance to entertain the visitors. Filipinos are, yes, proved to be the happiest people in the world.

I rediscovered this when I visited India last December. Barren rocky land in the subcontinent was worthy of note but the most surprised was less small children and women seen in the streets. Under the strict caste system, women are still not expected to show themselves in the pubic or workplace. This will stand a sharp contrast to the public places in the Philippines. Mischievous kids are everywhere and not far away are always their happy mothers. Admittedly the women here are substantial workforce and their temporary migration will save hundreds of thousand of families from the poverty. They must be even called hero or "bayani". Originally, "bayani" means "a man who is always amongst the people or a man who shares the most" and this is the best of the Filipino values. In the airport, especially during the Christmas season, you can find hundreds of women from abroad welcomed by their family. Carried by their family are no longer "bahay kubo" or thatched house but surprisingly numerous gifts. This must be called "bayanihan" in the modern times.

Back to India again, I was amazed at their talent for the calculation. We, the attendants of the seminar or conference were quite many but the food prepared were always just enough for all. How they know our appetite! True, India is proud of their most population of mathematician in the world but this may hint the shortage of the food. India is long suffering from the possibility of the famine and starvation. In fact, the rural villagers we visited during our study tour claimed that they hardly could afford three meals a day and most of them were so skinny. They must envy abundant of good meals prepared in the celebration of "the would-be poor" in the Philippines. Measured by food, not by the GDP, I suppose this Christian nation may rank one of the richest in the world.

So what's the problem here? Who the hell said that this nation is suffering the poverty? With more than enough food and many "bayani", this country is supposed to be one of the happiest countries. If not, what's the matter? And it is not actually. This nation is tremendously polarized between "haves" and "not-haves". Unluckily, the beautiful value of sharing seems spur this social injustice. Waiting for the "bayani" or the most sharing person will often make the poor impotent and easily cheated by the rich. It may nurture the dependency among the people. Worse, the advent of the "bayani" among the richest is the least likely.


Challenge of Children in Pakpak
~A step toward the "education for all"~

"I study hard because I don't like to be made fool by Tagalog people." (Bunio Calmpit, 11 year- old boy)

He is one of more than 20 pupils at the association-run-informal school in sitio Pakpak. He is learning mathematics, Filipino (national language) and values education since last year. It is the big challenge for him to study how to read and write. So is for their parents who are illiterate. This 11-year-old boy and his classmates may change the village some day.

Pakpak is a small village of Alangan group, a sub-tribe of the Mangyan people. It is located at the upstream of the river Amnay, who draws the boundary line of the two municipalities: Sta. Cruz and Sablayan. There's no real road but the wild water to get there. You have to walk along and across the river about an hour from the national road. The river is too deep to across in the rainy season and the wind is too strong to walk in the dry season. The raging stream might drown you if it rains hard. The life there seems too hard to live but there is an enthusiasm in the school.

Our association opened the literacy program there in 2000, aiming the "education for all".

Here in Mindoro, there are still many children who don't go to school. Many can't afford it financially and others have no schools in their places.

And few teachers like to be assigned in the mountains. In fact, the schools in the places where majority of the Mangyan people are living are not functioning. Pakpak is lucky, really.

"They are good pupils." Hermie Panagsagan said. "They love studying and have made a rapid progress for reading. Mathematics is, too, their favorite. Teaching here is really fun for me. I feel at home here with them." Hermie would be a teacher of all the Mangyan children in the mountains. And she is our first assigned teacher in Pakpak.

Hermie was once our scholar. After finishing her studies at college in Batangas City, she joined us as a teacher.

"I hope they learn to speak more fluent Filipino language. Speak good Filipino is essential for the better life." Hermie said. "People in Pakpak have their own dialect (Alangan dialect) and the children have few chances to learn the Filipino. It often causes the painful misunderstanding. To discipline them is very important, too. Children here are not accustomed to taking bath. Cleaning their body and the surroundings, washing their hands before meals are all necessary for their good health. And to learn the values like being punctual and what's right and wrong is vital for their spiritual growth."

"Ma'am Hermie is happy if I study well but she is angry with me if I lie." (Bryan Manango, 12 year-old boy)

All the pupils are very fun of playing basketball and often spent whole day for it before but now they know their schedule. Study is always the first priority.

"I love Filipino and mathematics and am dreaming to go to school in town." (Joseph Salbador, 10 year-old boy)

Their parents have never had chance to go to school. They even didn't have slightest idea what was the school at all. But now they are learning from their children how important is the education for their life. They hope their children can live a better life through the education.

In such a silent, small and difficult place, something good is dawning. Still a bit staggered, they're learning something very important. A secret of the happiness is not laid in the dependency but the very struggle to acquire the new knowledge.


Dreaming to Become a "Mechanic" TOP

Alvin Miranda

Here in San Jose, I'm experiencing many new things. Most of them make me excited and happy. Especially friends are always source of my happiness. I have a best friend, who, too, lives in our boarding house. I trust on him very much because, if I have a trouble, he will share it with me and ready to help me. And he teaches me a lot about how to manage the life here. It is a great help for me since I'm not used to the life in such a big town. Well, sometimes, I miss my family, Calamintao and Sta. Cruz where I was born and grown up.

I major in diesel mechanic at Abeleda Technical School. I believe this course is best fit to me because I'm very fun of tinkering around these stuffs like engines and any machines. To become a skillful mechanic is one of my goals.

One-year course though it is, this course is not easy for me. To tell the truth, I'm having very hard time to catch up the classes since all the required subjects are very professional. For example, a subject, "Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)" is one of the most difficult. This subject is essential to learn the structure of the engines. And the instructor is very strict and demanding. But this is rather challenge for me and encourages me to study more.

Yes, I'm dreaming to become a good mechanic! And establish my life through exercising my skills and knowledge I gain here. After the graduation I'm planning to join the association, which gave me the education and freed me from the ignorance and like to devote myself to construct the better Mangyan society.

Last, I'd like to acknowledge all the supports given by the association and a great inspiration by Kuya Ding and all my friends.


Thanks! Thanks! Thanks! TOP

More and more people in Japan sympathize with our difficulties and send us the heartful packages with a full of useful goods. It meets the daily needs for our children and we sell the remainder to the town's people here with very reasonable price. Sales, too, will help our ever-short finance.

These senders are not only our friends or individual persons. More and more business companies and the schools join this humanitarian activity. In both elementary and junior high school in Japan, the integrated social study or a sort is now required and the students are studying values through volunteer activities. Many of the packages are results of their hard work.

Shown as below are the names of the schools.

Since 2001~
Date Name
Apr24/2001 2-1Mibu-choritsu Minami Inukai Junior High School
Sep 6/2001 Saint.Cecilia Women High School
Jan22/2002 2-2 Ube-shiritsu Kuroishi Junior High School
Feb22/2002 Omaki Junior High School

Since last January, we received a plenty of calendars and diaries as well. People enjoyed a lot to see such beautiful pictures in them.

Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!


One Lesson From Satsu TOP

Good meal prevents you from diseases and keeps your healthy life. Food can be the medicine. In this season, we can find various kinds of vegetables in the market. Vegetables are rich with vitamins and minerals. For examples, the squash has the miraculous medical power:
       Squash ('kalabasa' in Tagalog)

Reduce risk of cancers, especially lung cancer
Best harvest season in Philippines:
around a year except rainy season
Effective part:
Fruit (the deeper colored is better) and seeds
Necessary amount:
More, better (take everyday; 1 sandok)

Attention: Squash, sweet potato and carrot are known as the best 3 vegetables (they are rich beta-carotene) to reduce risk of the lung cancer

Advice: Make it habit to eat more orange-colored vegetables if you smoke, once smoked, or even have smokers around.

(Reference: THE FOOD PHARMACY "Dramatic New Evidence That Food Is Your Best Medicine" by Jean Carper)


Seeking the Better Performance TOP

Last year, our association joined the JANARD, a newly established conference of Japanese NGOs, aiming the networking both at home and abroad and the better performance for the rural development.

Last December, JANARD had a study tour in India for 2 weeks and our director, Hiro Kawashima, joined it. Tour participants had a seminar on PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) and attended a conference about the sustainable rural development.

Back in Tokyo, in January, our chairperson, Akiko Ikeda, and I attended its 5th workshop. Most impressed is a comment given by one of the visitors: " Best we can do is begin something new. Take a chance if you believe it to be good. "I believe such continuous "try and error" spirit will spur the development.


Bulletin Board TOP

-We did-
Participated in the study tour in India (Nov 30-Dec13, 2001) (Hiro)
* Transplantation was done at our paddy field (Jan 30). Look at its beautiful lines! (Sustainable farming seekers)

-We do-
Start the program of exchanging the hand-written newspapers between our scholars and pupils in an elementary school in Tokushima, Japan. (Scholars & Satsu)
* Open the seminar on the health care in Calamintao and Pakpak soon. (Satsu & Hiro)


From the editor TOP

In the opening essay, Hiro Kawashima, a director of our association said, "This nation is tremendously polarized between "haves" and "not-haves". I imagine that this gap may generate the jealousy and even the evil among the depressed people. And it may be called "mental starvation".

What is the best medicine to stop this starvation? It's not the food. I believe it's the education.

In the 19th century, there once lived a doctor in Japan, whose name was Koan Ogata. He had his own private clinic and school. During the time, Japan was a strict caste society but he accepted whoever liked to study as his disciples. His school was open to even the lowest caste or "not-haves". At his school, he always encouraged his disciples to sacrifice their life to building up the better society. This school heralded the new age, really. Thanks to his teaching, many of his disciples founded the modern Japan. Koan himself never wanted any fame or money. He sought the well-being of the people through the education. (Shinya)



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