40th SSEAYP ships ends tour in Manila
The 40th Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) of the government of Japan made its last stop in the Philippines before returning to its homeland for Christmas.
The MS Nippon Maru docked at Pier 15 in Manila, whose delegates were greeted with a warm welcome by representatives of the city government, complete with a marching band and dance troupe.
The Philippines was the fifth and last port of call on the 51-day journey of the 40th SSEAYP, having started in Japan, followed by Vietnam, Thailand, Lao PDR and Singapore.
At each country, participating youth delegates from Japan and the Asean engaged in official visits at government agencies, and other local cultural facilities. They also took part in on-board activities in between ports of call.
The country program for the Philippines, coordinated through the implementing agency, the National Youth Commission (NYC), comprised of a press conference, welcome ceremonies, homestays and institution visits, open ship day, and farewell ceremonies.
The press conference was held inside the impressive ship, with a panel comprised of NYC’s chairman and chief executive officer Leon Flores 3rd, and Assistant Secretary and commissioner (representing Visayas Erwin) Chua Andaya; the Nippon Maru Ship Administrator of the Cabinet Office of Japan Makoto Ito; National Leader of the Philippine delegation, Hon. Ariel Arceo; youth leader Randy Magdaluyo; and assistant youth leader Jemimah Landicho. The national leaders of the rest of the Asean delegations were also present.
The program, moderated by the NYC, opened with Flores lauding the merits of SSEAYP in its 40th year, while remembering the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda in the Central Philippines. The national leader and youth leaders of the Philippine delegation spoke at length about their accomplishments thus far, having initiated a donation drive for the typhoon victims, and a paper-crane project expressing their solidarity with the survivors.
Meanwhile, the welcoming ceremonies held in honor of the participating youths took place at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). On behalf of Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Dr. Angel Espiritu, director of the Youth Development and Welfare Bureau of the City of Manila, gave the welcome message and presented a key to the city to ship administrator Makoto Ito, symbolizing everlasting friendship between Manila and Japan. The administrator responded with a message of gratitude, accepting the token and relaying his sentiments as the head of the Nippon Maru.
His Excellency Toshinao Urabe, Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines also delivered a speech on globalization and the important role of youth in ushering in progress.
Representing the Honorable Paquito Ochoa Jr., executive secretary to the president of the Philippines, Ronaldo Geron, undersecretary of the Discipline Office of the Office of the President, delivered the keynote address, where he shared his own SSEAYP aspirations as a youth.
To conclude the program, each delegation from the Asean performed a ceremonial exchange of gifts with the NYC.
They were also treated to a routine of Filipino folk dances from the Paranaque National High School Dance Troupe as accompanied by a Rondalla ensemble.
On their second day, the participants visited the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, Ramon Magsaysay High School, the Philippine Information Agency, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Department of Agriculture, as part of their courtesy calls to local government offices. They were also matched with host families for homestays at the GSIS Gym, enjoying Filipino hospitality and local traditions and culture, interacting in more casual and relaxed environments.
They continued their trips to monuments and establishments, visiting Luneta Park, where National Leaders had a wreath-laying activity, facilitated by the city government. Meanwhile, the youth participants stayed overnight with their assigned host families and SSEAYP alumni had a reunion dinner on the Nippon Maru, led by SSEAYP International Philippines (SIP). The SIP celebrated to the tune of “SSEAYP: More Fun @ 40!” as they reminisced their time as former delegates.
On their final day an Open-Ship event was conducted with academic, civic and business organizations invited to climb aboard the Nippon Maru to tour the ship and meet the participating youths before they set sail for Japan once again. Afterwards, they were sent off in a Farewell Ceremony with parting messages from Dr. Espiritum, as well as representatives of the host families and the NYC.
The Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program started in 1974, and has been undertaken by the government of Japan, with the cooperation of 10 Asean Member States, based on their respective commitments to regional fellowship and understanding. SSEAYP not only fosters friendship, but it is a training ground that grooms future leaders in the context of a globalizing world. The 40th SSEAYP also concurs with the 40th year of Japan-Asean Friendship, mirroring the theme “Thoughts Connected, Future Connected.”