Latest Stories

On jellybeans and crossing cultures

‘Not only was I able to acquire knowledge about another country, but I also found myself gaining a deeper understanding of my own culture’



Who would have thought that a trip to Japan could teach you so much, not just about its culture, but about strengthening your own, too?

This was my realization after the Kizuna (Bond) Program. It was my first time to immerse myself in another culture, and I can say that I have learned so much in such a short time.

During the 10-day trip, I became familiar with some Nihongo, got used to chopsticks when eating and learned some origami and ikebana.

I heard stories of how they acted collectively, when the great east Japan earthquake struck the country, and I have seen some of their plans and efforts for reconstruction. I have also experienced how similar Japanese and Filipino people are in terms of their being family-oriented.

What’s even more interesting is that not only was I able to acquire knowledge about another country, but I also found myself gaining a deeper understanding of my own culture and learning from my colleagues. For the first batch of student ambassadors, 46  students from different regions of the Philippines were chosen.

In one bag

There were delegates from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. Each came from different schools be it private, government, sectarian or nonsectarian. Exciting, isn’t it? We were like a pack of jellybeans. You get to have a variety of colors and flavors in one bag.

The program was jam-packed with activities, but we were always given some free time to go shopping for pasalubong and bonding with the delegates. I was exposed to a variety of people. Some were quiet, while others were outspoken. Some shared the same faith, while others were just being tolerant with each other.

In fact, it was my first time to really get to know a Muslim. We eventually became friends after the program. Seeing each of us interact was like watching “Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition,” minus the drama.

It was also something new to hear people speaking in their native tongue. I grew up in Quezon City; although my parents are from Isabela, I never became proficient in our dialect. I had colleagues who spoke Bisaya or Ilonggo. And every time they talked inside the bus, we would tease them saying, “Guys, ’di namin maintindihan. Subtitles please,” and every one would just laugh it off. It was difficult to understand what they were talking about, but it never became a hindrance for us to get to know each other.

Regarding an individual’s culture being superior or inferior, this belief does not work well in this social environment. In a setting like this—and probably applicable in our everyday lives, too—we should be relative about things.

We may not realize it, but we are living in an archipelagic country, which offers us a wide range of subcultures. I have learned how important it is to set aside biases and prejudices, in order to understand and perceive other people from their own context. After all, respect and understanding are key in building relationships.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Culture , Japan , Kizuna Project , Lifestyle

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • 4 Etihad passengers not yet located
  • DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May
  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • Summer Mayhem: The ultimate beach experience
  • A haven for steak lovers
  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • DOLE sees more Filipinos hired by South Koreans
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme