January 06, 2015 – Before the 2nd semester officially opened, three (3) resident members of the Society of Exchange Students – University of the Philippines (SExS – UP) attended a first of its kind symposium hosted by the Association of Filipino Students in Japan (AFSJ) and Pinoy Iskolars sa Korea, Inc. (PIKO) in partnership with First Pacific Leadership Academy (FPLA) dubbed as “Experiences and Researches from Japan and Korea: Filipino International Researchers, Students, Trainees Symposium (FIRSTS)” in FPLA Rizal Hall, Antipolo City.
The program began at around 10:00 am with welcome remarks from Mr. Ace Victor Aceron, FPLA Head for Education. He highlighted the power of education and hoped that “Rizalian” spirit will be ignited among the participants to become the heroes that we need today. It was followed by an opening remark from AFSJ Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ms. Cherry Mae Mateo. She shared an anecdote about Japan’s bullet train and compared it to our very own transit to convey a very important message – “to see things differently”. To complete the opening ceremonies, Mr. Ronel Laranjo, PIKO President gave a very historical message highlighting how the “Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Iskolar sa ibang Bansa (ANIB),” a great alliance of international scholars was formed. He formally launched the newest alliance called ANIB, composed of AFSJ and PIKO members that aims to give back to the country through developing a research-based culture and network among the youth. He further stressed the role of Illustrados, an international students’ movement back then has played in order to achieve freedom of our nation. In the end, he posed a challenge to the participants especially those who are interested in studying abroad to use the education and experiences that they will gain overseas to contribute to the further development of our country.
The event was divided into two parts, the morning session was dedicated to the experiences of Filipino students abroad while the afternoon session was used to showcase the researches of Filipino students abroad.
Experiences of Filipino Students Abroad
The session started with the discussion of the career benefits one can get from studying abroad. One of the speakers was Ms. Karen Kay Mejos from PIKO who finished her MS degree in Nutritional Science and Food Management in Ewha Women’s University in Korea and now works in United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations. She presented few reasons why study abroad and even shared tips to survive studying overseas. The next pair of speakers talked about differences in research, culture, educational system, perspective, values, etc. Mr. Ronald Muana (AFSJ) who studied in the University of Tokyo noticed that the Japanese were very organized and traditional while Filipinos have shallow happiness and more open to gender equality. On the other hand, Mr. Ador Torneo (PIKO) who obtained his PhD from Konkuk University revealed the South Korea is indeed more than Hallyu. Capping off the morning session was the exchange student’s perspective delivered by Mr. Rajiv Eldon Abdullah (AFSJ) and Mr. Kevin Florentin (PIKO). Mr. Abdullah summarized his experiences into three ideas: self-discovery, improvement and the sense of being limitless. While Mr. Florentin was fortunate enough to find a support group and a girlfriend in South Korea. The last speaker was Mr. Wilfredo Dumale, Jr. (AFSJ), a graduate of the University of Tokyo and now a professor in Nueva Vizcaya University, who shared valuable tips on how an international scholar can give to the country.
Researches of Filipino Students Abroad
In the afternoon, parallel sessions were held for researches in social sciences and engineering and technology. A total of eighteen theses/research studies and nine posters presentations were presented.
The event ended with a synthesis coming from Drs. Mylene Cayetano and Custer Deocaris and closing remarks from PIKO President Mr. Ronel Laranjo. It was followed by a networking party.
After FIRSTS, I learned the importance of studying abroad and the endless possibilities it can give. I got valuable tips and advices, too in order to survive overseas, like one has to study the culture and language of another country and learn to respect others. Being open and receptive will also help you to integrate culturally. And the most important lesson I learned is to practice excellence and perform well during the duration of the scholarship and leave a good impression.
– Tommy Timog