Studying abroad as an exchange student at iCLA was a very enriching experience as it involved teachers & fellow students who encourage collaborative, participative learning that leads toward a well-rounded student life. The camaraderie among new friends, the novelty of independence (living away from home), the challenge of learning a new language (Japanese), the immersion with the Japanese culture and the interaction with students from other cultures, are among the many highlights of my student life in Japan.
iCLA provides an enabling environment for the teachers, students, and guest artists to collaborate through state of the art classrooms, equipment and facilities (i.e. lights are motion activated, air conditioning/heating system is centralized, rest rooms are always clean - provided with toiletries & a warm seat during winter). The glass architecture is a stand out among other buildings in Yamanashi Gakuin Unviersity as it represents openness. The beauty of the interior is seen from the outside – classrooms, faculty rooms, offices, dining area, work shop areas, library, and student lounge.
“Unleash your potential”. This is the first thing you will see upon entering the lobby of the glass building of iCLA. These words beckon, as they are written in huge letters, seemingly breathing through the wall. Every day I saw this and it reminded me that I am in iCLA because I have something that I can share to the world. Whether it be my art as a voice major or the entire Filipino culture, sharing either or both proved to be challenging and at the same time fulfilling.
The students of iCLA is an interesting bunch of international students from different parts of the world such as Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hongkong, the Philippines, India, Africa, Netherlands, UK, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Scotland, and USA. Each student had a different language and cultural background, but all managed to co-exist in spite of differences. Every day, we would dine together in the cafeteria, and spend endless nights in the student/study lounge preparing for our group work, reports or simply having a chat or playing board games and spending time together. On weekends, we would have field trips and tours around the area exploring Japanese culture. We went to temples, museums, restaurants, music festivals, concerts, or simply did sight-seeing on the road. For some trips we went as a class, but most of the time we went as friends.
Cultural exchange was an unforgettable and probably one of my favorite moments that I will forever treasure in my Japan travels. On December 16, 2017, I had the opportunity to sing Kundimans to the Japanese and international guests at the Mino Association for Global Awareness (MAFGA) in Mino-shi, Osaka. It was “Philippine Night” in MAFGA, a celebration featuring Filipino food, games, a little history and music. Sharing the Philippine culture to an international audience was a delightful experience.
The words on the wall worked like magic, propelling and inspiring us to achieve a major goal. At the end of the semester, we had the “Winter Gala”, the culminating concert of all the music workshop classes of iCLA. It was one of the highlights of an iCLA student life. We premiered our own compositions, we got to collaborate with each other - musicians and student composers alike, and listened to various kinds of music. After the concert, I just realized, every student shone like a star on the stage. Every performance was done with artistry and passion, as a product of hard work and a semester’s worth of learning process. Each student has indeed unleashed a potential in himself.
Now, coming home to the Philippines and resuming my last semester in UP, it is time to unleash full potential. I think “unleash your potential” is a prerequisite to “serve the people”, the slogan of UP. In simpler terms, give what I have. I cannot give what I do not have. Living up to these two challenges is not an easy task, but as an Iskolar ng Bayan, it is my responsibility to give back to the community that molded me into who I am today. It takes a lot of courage, perseverance, hope and faith to fulfill this, but I have to be determined to do this.
One very contagious practice that the Japanese people do is cleaning after themselves. In restaurants and cafes, there are usually no waiters around to clean tables, customers put away their trash and wipe their own tables after dining. And the trash bins are clean! This is probably one of the most interesting thing about Japan. People are very particular in keeping their space clean.
Since its organization in 1973, the NAMCYA Competitions has become an authority in discovering and developing excellent Filipino musicians and artists all over the country. It is then with pride to impart that since then, students from the UP College of Music have frequently topped its various categories.
Dr. David Urrows, a music historian based in Hong Kong, visited the College of Music on May 19, 2017 to assist U.P. music scholars, Asst. Prof. Arwin Q. Tan and Instructor Mahler Villanueva, in determining the authenticity of primary music sources.