Yuma and Satoka

Translated by Fr. Bede Cleary

As Philip Bonifacio celebrated his first ordination anniversary in Japan, two Japanese, who had come all the way fir the ordination, recall their impression of the Philippines and Filipinos. We hope the memory will not make Philip homesick!

Yuma’s Story 
(3rd year elementary school)

After a three-and –a –half hour flight from Kansai International Airport, we finally arrived in Manila. The moment we arrived the warm humid air came surging towards us. (We had left Japan in the midst of winter.) Because the Christmas rush was at its peak, it took a long time for our luggage to come out. Next, we went to the Exchange Bank. I changed a thousand-yen note into pesos. The lady laughed, as if to say, “A Child indeed! With only one thousand – yen.” We boarded the cars which met our group. On the way into Malate, we pulled into a gasoline stand. The engine stalled, and the car refused to go. I was wondering how will the driver fix it, when he came out of the shop with a hammer and hit the engine with it a couple of times. Then everyone pushed, and off went and soon reached our pension. I thought the Filipinos were very clever.

Legs Like Water

On the morning of Fr, Philip’s ordination, I went to the church dressed in my hakuma. I was in the front pew, and when I looked back I saw the huge number of people. My legs became like water when I thought: how am I going to stand up in front and make my request to the Bishops that Philip ordained? Little by little my turn drew near, the first person spoke, and second person spoke, and it was now my turn, I went to the lectern, placed my paper on the stand, but couldn’t get my mouth up to the microphone. A mass-server pulled the microphone down, and I said to my words to the Bishop. The Filipinos are very good singers. I was surrounded by all these singing voices. I was overjoyed when Philip became a priest.

Dancing in Celebration

That evening at Fr. Philip’s house, there was a celebration party. As everyone begun to dance, Satoko and I got in and dance, Satoko and I got in and danced as well. When I saw even our gentle guide, seminarian Norman, doing shakes (shaking his bottom) and dancing I was amazed.

Hungry Children

There were many enjoyable times during or time in the Philippines. But there were many ramshackle houses beside the sea, and everywhere we went there were many children asking for money. Seeing these things. I didn’t know what to do. But I like Philippines very much.

Satoko’s Story
(3rd year high school)

When I went to the Philippines for Fr. Philip’s ordination, it was also my first time to leave Japan and see another country. The ordination was a wonderful experience. Philip became a priest, surrounded and blessed by all those wonderful people. And then he blessed us. Compared with when he was a seminarian in Japan, he now had become a very dignified person. Nevertheless, I was happy to see he was still the same easy going, calm person as ever.

I have Changed

We were looked after and our road was smoothed all the way by some many wonderful people: Fr. Philip’s parents, brothers and sisters, relative and friends, and the seminarians. Also Fr. Larry Pangan’s sister and friends helped us in many ways, and all this was not just outward hospitality, but a welcome that truly warmed and relaxed our hearts. Because of the time I spent with all these fine people, I feel that I myself have changed and became a little more docile and gentle. Because of their lovely disposition, many had the capacity to warm our hearts. They too have their worried and problems, no doubt but they go on with life, forward looking and honest.

Street Children

I have many other thoughts and feelings about my visit, I am thinking of the slum areas and those whom people call “street children”. I have seen much things on television programs, but they had never come home to me. Although I have left, I should do something about them, I was mainly satisfied with own life, in a word, just thinking of myself.

Cannot Forget the Faces

I say slums in the Philippines I saw a golf course and high buildings next door to slums. Also I could not forger the faces of those children who followed our car or pulled at ourselves, following all the time crying out, “Money, money,” with their hands outstretch. Although it is necessary for the livelihood, no one should be the cause of the look on the faces of these children. Even if nothing can be done about them here and now, it must be done; it must be change.

Dazzling by Material Things

After I returned to Japan, I felt that there is no true happiness in present Japan. Materiality and from the security angle. Maybe it rated high in the world. But there are many people here who are dazzled by material things, who are prisoners of outward show, who have lost sense of what is important in life. There is no real happiness in Japan. We Japanese have to admit this and try to change, starting with ourselves (maybe I am talking too big). I have been immersed in that Japan, but now I have changed. If I hadn’t had the opportunity of that visit in the Philippines, my life would be the same as ever. Because of my trip, I have begun to think about my life, about Japan, about other countries, and about the future. Although I’m lacking in faith and in strength, I hope to go on living my life, acquiring worthwhile knowledge as the opportunity presents itself, so that I may help in some way in building a peaceful world for all of us who share the same humanity.

I Will Come Back

Maybe my thoughts are naïve, but I thank the Filipino people who triggered these thoughts in me. And I thank God who gave me the gift of meeting them. It is good that I went to the Philippines. I learned a lot for my life from now on. I have many memories. I hope to visit Philippines again. I don’t know what the future holds, but anyhow I try to live uprightly, realizing what I have learned from the visit. I pray God’s blessing on all Filipinos.