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Comment | Becoming a Dabawenyo

I am Ichido Miyake, 43. I was born in Tokyo but I was raised in Hiroshima.

I first came to Davao in October 2001, looking for an opportunity to work abroad. Back in Japan, I was a band member and I dabbled as a sales agent before with different companies right after graduating from the University. After three years, my band decided to go separate ways and that time, I found myself with no more motivation to work in Japan. I felt sad, not depressed, because I saw that the society is closed.

Lifetime employment is popular in Japan. If you’re not recruited as a freshman, it would be hard to get a promotion. I didn’t want to work for a normal company and so I planned on going to the United States, Canada, or Australia. Incidentally, my sister happened to be a volunteer staff in Samal Orphanage. I told her that I wanted to go to an English-speaking country. She told me that the Philippines is also English-speaking.

And so the story of my affair with Davao City began. I came to the Philippines without plans except one, to study English and the local language. Two, to earn a scuba diving license, and three, to earn Filipino friends. And so I stayed as a tourist for six months.

I was led to become a volunteer for Japanese Language assistance and helped Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai High School (PNJK)and Elementary. I also became a Japanese Language teacher and was hired as a part-time teacher in Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku (MKD). These marked the beginning of my career in Nihongo Language. Later, I became the Japanology Center head in 2008. I served office for three years.

By that time, we had earned breakthroughs by consistently bagging speech contests for five years. However, there was a concern on job placements for graduates. There were few opportunities for Japanese Language speakers – and this is a gauge if the education was successful.

It happened that a Japanese Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company in Manila was looking for bi-lingual customer service staff for a Japanese English translation. At the same time, one of the idol groups expanded with a multilingual SNS. And the Japanese company needed to source out English translations from Nihongo. This became helping job opportunities for the students and the alumni of MKD. The company required 10-20 translators. This was difficult because most of the good speakers were already hired.

In 2011, I partnered with Hasegawa Daisuke and we put up a company employing mainly fresh graduates from MKD and part-timers. That project lasted for three years. Since then our company is being hired for translations and content by other BPOs.

Recently, I am very happy to announce that we are embarking on manga (Japanese comics) translations. In 2015, I founded Creative Connections and Commons, Inc.(CCCI), an IT company focusing on Software Development and Digital Marketing. And in 2018, we established Pistachia Mindanao Coffee Export, a coffee and cacao company.

Over the years, perhaps, the most valuable achievement for me is the transfer of authorization of staff. We expanded in Armenia, catering to other European languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic. This is spearheaded by a former employee named Catherine Bantiles who became the CCC President in Armenia. There, this Filipina leads European staff. It’s usually the other way around: Filipinos are being hired by Europeans, this one is a different story. My employees before used to call me “Sensei,” because they’re my former students. It’s heartening to see them grow and become representatives. This also allows me to expand to another field.

In 2018, I became the Japanese Chamber of Commerce President. Our main goal is always to invite Japanese investors and companies and to promote Davao City as an investment destination. We hold seminars in Japan and forge relationships with other Chambers of Commerce. In Japan, we forged a sisterhood with Hitachinaka Chamber of Commerce, a group with 4,000 members.

That basically gives a picture to my journey and stay here in Davao City. I came here with no plans but life unfolded as I stayed. It is my sincerest hope that this monthly column will open a deeper communication line with the Dabawenyos. After all, I have become a Dabawenyo. (Ichido Miyake)


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