Bacolod Celebrates Centuries-old Friendship with Japan

Bacolod City Councilor Wilson Gamboa, Jr. on Monday placed a spotlight on the centuries-old historical accounts of Japanese settlement in the Philippines recorded as early as the 12th century and on the highest regard of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal to Japanese value system during his 1888 visit to Japan.

PHIL-JAP. Bacolod Councilor Jun Gamboa, author of the Bacolod Japan Friendship Day Ordinance, joins the Sept. 11 Philippine Japanese Cultural Presentation of the Bacolod City Tourism Week at the Bacolod Government Center. In photo are City Administrator Atty. John Orola, Councilors Em Ang, Bartolome Orola, City Tourism Officer Butch Gerasmo, and guests Mr. Shigemi Watanabe (OISCA), Momo Yumoto, Osamo Aisaka, Yoshiaki Kato, Teruko Tajima, and Katsuhiro Yamaguchi.*(CMO-Tech Photo)

Gamboa, the principal author of the “Bacolod-Japan Friendship Day Ordinance”, keynoted the Sept. 11 Bacolod-Japan Friendship Day Cultural Presentation which was a gathering of the Japanese community in the city.

The event was part of the program of the 2017 City Tourism Week which symbolically reminisced the “Obon Matsuri” or the Japanese Lantern Festival, one of Japan’s most important religious celebrations, enshrined in Gamboa’s “Bacolod-Japan Friendship Day Ordinance” originally celebrated according to the Japanese lunar calendar between mid-July and mid-August.

Gamboa recalled in his speech that the centuries-old stories of Japanese settlement in the Philippines are now embodied in the beautiful love stories of Filipinos married to Japanese like Mr. and Mrs. Shigeme Watanabe and Mr. Shinichi and Naomi Tsujino and those Filipinos working in Japan which inspired him to craft said Bacolod-Japanese Friendship Ordinance.

He said,t, “As early as the 12th Century, Japanese merchants were already trading with Filipinos mainly potteries and gold and later towards the 1500s, tea leaf jars called “Ruzon Tsubo” (Luzon Jars) were highly admired by the Japanese royalties therefore commanded such high prices.”

Gamboa stressed, “Let us not forget. There was a Japanese samurai, who lived during the Sengoku period, in the 1500s, who was converted to the Roman Catholicism and was exiled to Manila. There he lived a life of holiness until his death. He has a monument in Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila.”

“In terms of value-based cultural education, let me read in part one of Rizal’s letters to his family written in 1888 when he visited Japan. In highest regard for Japanese values, he wrote, ‘There are very few thieves among the Japanese; it is said that the houses are permanently unlocked, the walls are made of paper, and in the hotels one can, in tranquility, leave his money on the table. The Japanese are very jolly; no fights are seen on the streets and they are very courteous. Their houses are clean. Beggars are very rarely seen. They are very industrious. What a difference between them and the religious and superstitious Chinese! If I could stay here a couple of years, I would study all these and I could do it with more facility than a European because I look like a Japanese.”

Gamboa likewise stressed, “Therefore the values of cleanliness/sanitation and orderliness, courtesy, hard work, industriousness, honor and respect, which are practiced daily by the Japanese must be adapted by the Filipinos.

He said, “As I see now, under the present administration, this relationship unforgotten by our history, continue to blossom as the Sakura (Cherry Blossom) every spring in Japan.”(PR)