Japan Foundation Manila’s Nihongo Fiesta 2024 Caps Off with a Celebration of Language, Culture, and Creativity

The highly-anticipated Nihongo Fiesta 2024 by the Japan Foundation, Manila, which took place last February 24, Saturday, at Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong concluded with a series of events centered on a celebration of language, culture, and creativity.

The Nihongo Fiesta stands as a cherished tradition serving not only as an event but as a celebration that fosters deeper connections between Japan and the Philippines. It provides a fertile ground for the flourishing community of Nihongo speakers and enthusiasts, welcoming individuals from all walks of life, from eager language learners to seasoned professionals, to take part in an immersive arts and cultural experience unlike any other.

One of the highlights of the Nihongo Fiesta 2024 is the 51st Nihongo Speech Contest, wherein nine finalists from all over the Philippines showcased their talents and skills in communicating their thoughts in Japanese.

This year’s Grand Champion is Jacob Fuentebella (Bulacan), a UP Diliman graduate who is currently working as a Korean Account Associate. His speech titled “外国語の勉強を通しての人と人との繋がり(People-to-People Connections Through Foreign Language Studies)” talked about his language learning journey, starting from Korean, and now venturing into Japanese, aiming to inspire others.

The second place award went to Erina Sotoya (Cebu), with her piece called “掛け替えのない人 (Irreplaceable Person),” sharing how her memories with her father shaped her deep appreciation for present connections.

Third place went to Anferee Tizon (Taguig), a 4th year BA Communications student at Adamson University, with his speech titled “全てのコーヒーが苦いわけではありません (Not All Coffee Tastes Bitter),” which reflected his personal journey on friendships and how the lessons he learned shaped his current perspective and attitude towards people, similar to how his taste for coffee has changed.

The Special Jury Award was given to Niño Raphael Mesajon (Davao), a Grade 12 student from Philippine Nikkeijin Kai International School, for his speech “君には何が見えているのか (Truth Beyond First Sight),” which talked about how his perspective changed during a visit to a Lumad community, leading him to question the true meaning of living a good life.

The recipient of the Grand Champion Award will join the Study Tour hosted by the Japan Overseas Enterprises Association, with airfare sponsored by the Japanese Association, Manila, Inc. and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. The contestants were judged according to the following criteria: Content (originality, organization and impact), Delivery (voice and manner) and Language (appropriateness and correctness).

The event also featured the ‘Minna no Nihongo Fiesta,’ a captivating display of photos submitted by educational institutions across the Philippines, giving the audience a unique glimpse into the diverse facets of Japanese cultural appreciation in the Philippines. Meanwhile, attendees were treated to a spirited performance by the UP Philippines-Japan Friendship Club (UP Tomo-Kai), showcasing the rich tapestry of Japanese culture.

Capping off the event was a captivating performance of the Ryukyu Buyo, an Okinawan traditional dance performance that mesmerized and delighted the audience.

For more information about the Nihongo Fiesta 2024 and the Japan Foundation, Manila, visit their website and social media page at www.jfmo.org.ph and www.facebook.com/JFManila.

About The Japan Foundation, Manila:
Established in 1972 with a mission to promote international cultural exchange and mutual understanding, The Japan Foundation became an Independent Administrative Institution in October 2003. The Japan Foundation Manila, founded in 1996, is the 18th overseas office, actively engaged in Arts and Culture, Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange, and Japanese-Language Education Overseas.

For more information, please visit www.jfmo.org and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JFManila and Instagram at www.instagram.com/JFManila.