Filipino historians, along with arts and culture professionals, discussed the need to revisit details and connections in history to further deepen relations in countries.
The symposium, which was held in Ateneo de Manila University Ricardo Leong Hall and was organized by the Japan Foundation Manila, brought together Fukuoka Prize recipients in the Philippines to lecture on the relations between the two countries going way back to prehispanic times as trade partners.
According to Fukuoka Prize 2016 awardee Ambeth Ocampo, a historian, trade has allowed Philippine and Japan interaction before and during Spanish colonization, explaining how roson (luzon) jars found in Japanese culture for tea rituals is actually from the Philippines and was sold at very cheap prices.
“History has a lot of stories which we have to uncover, and history is really about finding connections,” Ocampo said.
Ocampo also noted famous Philippine personalities in the past, such as painter Juan Luna and La Solidaridad founder Mariano Ponce having gone to Japan and having interactions with the other Asian people and the surrounding.
“Luna, the great painter, had visited Japan. The National Museum had about 200 small works of Luna and I saw there were Japanese scenes around 1899. We see these paintings with cherry-blossom trees,” he said. “We have also found in Yokohama archives material on [first Chinese President] Sun Yat-sen with his Japanese friends and one of them is not Japanese. That man was Mariano Ponce.”
Fukuoka Prize is an award established in 1990 given to honor outstanding work of individuals, groups and organizations to preserve and promote the unique and diverse cultures of Asia.
Chief for International Affairs Department in Fukuoka City Misa Kayano said the award is means to recognize people in the arts and sciences and to promote cultural relations between countries.
Kayano also commended Ocampo’s distinct skill as a historian being able to find connections and give refreshing trivias to audiences and readers.
“Through the lecture of Mr. Ocampo, they were able to better understand relationship between Japan and Philippine relation. Of course, there are books about it but hearing it from a renowned person like Mr. Ocampo makes it easier for them to understand. He is a good research person who includes details which otherwise we wouldn’t have known,” she said.
Kayano also said Fukuoka City has always been a base for cultural exchange and trade in history because of its strategic location in the southern island of Kyushu facing Taiwan, China and Korea.
“We wanted to highlight that aspect of Fukuoka and to be part of furthering cultural exchange with other countries. The Fukuoka Prize is a way of contributing toward cultural exchange,” Kayano said.
Other Fukuoka Prize recipients are National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin, acclaimed film director Marilou Diaz-Abaya, film maker Kidlat Tahimik and historian Reynaldo Ileto.
Image credits: Danielle Gabriel