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09:23 PM May 19th, 2017

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By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo, May 19th, 2017 09:23 PM

RUFFOLO

Tokyo – Back in high school, kids called me a “walking encyclopedia”.

I carried the moniker around campus both as a curse and as a badge of honor.

“Walking encyclopedia” came with the word “nerd,” a term which dear Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as an “unstylish, unattractive or a socially inept person” and “one slavishly devoted to intellectual and academic pursuit.”

There are mean kids in high school; that I can say is a constant in an educational system where tuition, book and miscellaneous fees have the propensity to change – increase! – every year.

In my time in high school, between 1999 and 2003, it was uncool to be a called a nerd.

Who wants to be unattractive and unstylish, right?

I became a nerd anyway and carried the title up to this day. But I decided to strip “unstylish, unattractive and socially inept” from the definition (sorry not sorry, Merriam-Webster!) and flaunt the word like it is the coolest title in the entire Milky Way galaxy.

Opportunities like representing the Philippines in an international program is one of the times that I am proud to flaunt my “nerdness.”

Seated at the second row of the Koto Ward Culture Center gave me all the nerd feels and I loved it!

Being in Japan to represent the Philippines as part of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) gave me the opportunity to be here and listen to the lecture of Dr. Hideo Kimura on Japan’s economy.

JENESYS is sponsored by the Japan government through the Japan International Cooperation Center and in partnership with the Philippines’ National Youth Commission.

I have been to many economic forums and briefings and you bet the lectures have the tendency to be boring, but Dr. Kimura is an exception.

He talked about Japanese culture, food, sports, karaoke and tea before diving to the subject on Japan’s economy.

In 2015, the population is at 127 million. In 2044, the population is expected to be at 100 million or a decrease of 27 million people. Dr. Kimura said this is largely because of Japan’s aging population. One-fourth of the population is 65 years or older. About 65,692 individuals are over 100 years old.

I asked what are the plans of the government to cushion the impacts of an aging population and the good professor said the direction has been to open the country to Filipino and Indonesian nurses.

There was no time to interact with the professor as our delegation – composed of young professionals from the Philippines and Brunei – had to rush to Haneda Airport for our 2:25 p.m. flight to Nagasaki.

I would have wanted to tell the professor that in Cebu, Duros Land Properties Inc. recently launched the five-billion-peso real estate development, The Woodlands in Barangay Yati, Liloan, Cebu. One of the five condominium towers is called One Tectona Tower is sold to their Japanese partner Kazunari Nakamura of NFKG Consultancy.

A Cebu Daily News report quoted Nakamura saying: “By 2025, it is expected that there are more than 30 million Japanese citizens who will be retiring or facing their senior years. Cebu offers the best place for the retirees with the year-round warm weather, friendly local community and local cuisine.”

We, the Ruffolo family, live five minutes away from the Woodlands. It’s safe to say that in a few year’s time, we will be graced by the presence of Japan nationals in our village. How this will affect the lives of the local people is a discussion on its own.

I heard it’s going to open more job opportunities for the locals. It might be high time to learn Japanese and for them to learn Visayan.

If there’s anything that this trip has made me realize is the fact that everything comes full circle in due time.

I mean go figure, I’m here in Japan learning about their culture and economy. Back home, there’s a development near the house which caters to the Japanese.

I will be in Nagasaki until tomorrow (Sunday) and I’m most interested to visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb museum.

There is so much room for learning and adventure. My gratitude and love to Jeff for staying home for two weeks to look after the three mutants while this Nanay spreads her wings.

I’m a blessed woman.

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