Last Sunday afternoon we got an unexpected text message from former lady assistant city prosecutor and later a trial court judge Antonina Escovilla. She is now retired from government service but has remained active in serving the people of Davao City in another capacity. She is now president of the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai, Inc. which runs a school in Lanang with a campus in Calinan. The same group headed by the retired judge also operates a museum housing historical mementos of the Japanese community in Davao from the period 1903 to 1945, the Philippine-Japan Historical Museum inside the PNJK Calinan school compound.
Retired Judge Escovilla whom we used to cover when we were an active local media reporter several years back, informed us that the museum that was closed middle of last year to undergo major renovation is set to be re-opened on Thursday, January 23 at 10 in the morning. She invited us to attend the re-opening and ribbon cutting ceremony.
We assume that her having extended us the invitation was her way of appreciating our little help in promoting the museum and the Calinan PNJK school through several write-ups we made in the past. We thank her from the bottom of our heart.
According to the PNJK president the renovation of the museum building was made possible with a P4-million financial assistance from the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines. The organization’s counterpart which took care of the interior design of the museum and its other display facilities also cost about P5 million including labor.
In earlier conversation with PNJK Calinan campus principal Carmen Apigo, she told us that the financial assistance to realize the major renovation project got the go-signal from the Japanese embassy after representatives of that office made several visits to the museum and reviewed the plan of the building vis-à-vis its projected cost.
With the project completed and the museum pieces back to its appropriate display racks and cabinets, the PNJK board finally set January 23 for its re-opening date.
In her text message to us Judge Escovilla said the PNJK is expecting His Excellency Japanese ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda to grace the occasion. She added that she has also invited Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to witness the event in a way of welcoming the visiting Japanese diplomat.
The PNJK president, however, said that the possibility of Japanese ambassador Haneda not being able to come is not remote because the embassy is likely to do relief effort for the victims of the Mt. Taal eruption.
She also said in her text message that Mayor Sara was still to confirm her attendance. Nevertheless, Davaoenos who have links with Japanese nationals like descendants of those who worked in abaca plantations before the war, and those with business dealings with Japanese corporations are likely to be among the first to visit the renovated museum on the very day of the re-opening.
For the efforts of the PNJK to have the museum worth every Filipino (Davaoeno) – Japanese relations history lover’s destination, we can only appreciate with sincerity the PNJK executives led by a lady no less.
Congratulations Judge Nina Ecovilla. We also felicitate Ma’am Carmen Apigo. We take our hats off the two of you and the rest of the PNJK board.
And we congratulate as well the leadership of the City of Davao for its quick decision to help materially and perhaps financially the local governments of the different municipalities and cities of Batangas that are badly affected by the disastrous eruption of Taal volcano.
From what we have read in the local media and in the social media platforms as well, the City of Davao has already dispatched several trucks fully loaded with relief goods bound for that God-forsaken province.
It cannot be denied that Davao City has been able to hold its luck even during the series of strong earthquakes that hit its neighboring provinces and cities late last year.
And we see the city’s generosity towards the people of Batangas as its way of thanking the Almighty for, so far, saving Davao from any major calamity.