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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Japanese Chef volunteer bridges cultures with Filipinos through cuisine and handicraft

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MIYAGAWA Yoshimi, a Japanese chef deployed under the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) Program of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has successfully wrapped-up her two-year assignment in the Philippines, supporting skills training of students and teachers for job opportunities and fostering closer ties between two nations through teaching culinary and handicraft.

She was one of the first batch of JICA volunteers to return to the Philippines after the COVID-19 pandemic.

During her first year at the Rizal Experimental Station and Pilot School for Cottage Industries (RESPSCI) in Pasig City, Metro Manila, MIYAGAWA introduced authentic Japanese culinary techniques and hygiene practices among teachers and senior high school students (SHS) at RESPSCI. In her second year, she also taught junior high school students and teachers handicraft such as origami, the Japanese art of paper-folding, embroidery, fashion accessory making, and crochet. 

By working together with teachers from RESPCI, MIYAGAWA and her local counterparts were able to integrate Japanese and Filipino culture in culinary and handicraft education to promote professional growth and broader perspective among RESPSCI teachers while enhancing students’ creativity and encouraging them to pursue careers in related fields.

RESPSCI and JICA, through MIYAGAWA’s volunteer work, also published “Japoy” (Japanese Pinoy), a fusion recipe book to serve as reference for SHS cookery students and promote cultural appreciation among Filipinos. The recipe book is also designed for use of other schools that offer technical-vocational-livelihood track to inspire future culinary professionals and will also be a valuable resource once approved by the Department of Education-Schools Division of Pasig City.

“MIYAGAWA’s strong volunteer spirit and RESPSCI’s dedication truly exhibited Bayanihan and has proven to us that through mutual trust and respect, we can achieve things together,” said JICA Chief Representative SAKAMOTO Takema.  “I am optimistic that the ‘Japoy’ recipe book, as her legacy, will also continue to foster mutual understanding and cultural exchange,” he added.

MIYAGAWA was named as one of the Outstanding Volunteers during the 2023 International Volunteer Day by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) for her dedication to promoting cultural exchange and unwavering passion for sharing her culinary and handicraft expertise with Filipinos.

“My two-year stay in the Philippines has been an irreplaceable and enriching experience for me. The people I’ve worked with and the places I have visited made me truly understand and appreciate the Philippines. I hope that the students will evolve into skilled chefs with global culinary perspective and that the activities I have done together with my local counterparts will be sustained by RESPSCI and benefit more teachers and students in the future,” shared MIYAGAWA. 

The JOCV Program is one of JICA’s core initiatives, as part of its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines, wherein Japanese volunteers share their knowledge and experiences and jointly work with counterparts to contribute to advancing the development of various sectors in the country, foster closer relations between two nations, and share with Japanese society the lessons learned from the volunteer experience.  Since 1966, JICA has dispatched about 1,700 JOCVs in the Philippines.

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