There was an international week at the University of the Philippines on February 4-8. The last day of this international week, on the 8th of February, one of the biggest main event called “Japanese Night” has happened. It was annually event presented by Japanese exchange students to get people here to know our culture. It was happening 6:30-9:00pm, and it started with Japanese traditional dance “So-ran bushi” expressing the move of Japanese ancient fisher men. Audiences were smiling at stage with Japanese students’ powerful and wonderful performances from the beginning to the end.
There are approximately fifty Japanese students who are enrolled in UP right now (2013.2). And Japanese Night had presented by forty students of them. Most of them are exchange students sent by each university in several areas of Japan, and their age would be about 20-23. They started planning this annual event in July but actually they took their action from last December because of some conflicts between them. However for the holding this event, they kept working so hard so that some of them could not sleep for last 2 days, according to one of my informant. Because most of them are going back to Japan within 1-2 months after completing their study, this event would be their biggest accomplishment for them.
A concept was “wa” meaning friend-ship, Japanese, harmony, unity.
At 7:00 pm on that day, and it was already almost full with many people sitting at the ground and looking forward to their stage at open space inside the UP. The atmosphere was great enough to give us romantic and exciting mood. There were not bright lights but festival lanterns with orange light at the random trees. Comfortable wind was blowing made us relaxing. The guests were almost 500 people came from various nationalities. I saw one Millium student wearing Yukata which is Japanese traditional cloths for summer. And there were Japanese business men working in Manila, Japanese volunteer staffs working at NGO, some other school’s students, and of course, Filipino people who has interested in Japan.
Program has started with “So-ran bushi”, and costume play, shadow play, dance performances, Origami lecture were followed, and also Japanese rice ball (Onigiri) and Japanese tea were served to all audiences. Emcee were also entertainer wearing Yukata and Doraemon(Japanese animation character) costume. The one of their program, a Costume play created the greatest sensation from the audience. It was a “Gay contest” in general that 5 Japanese guys wore each girl’s costumes, did making ups and behaved as if girls. All their costumes were cute and sexy enough. One guy was wearing Bikini with big T-shirt with blond wig, another one was wearing Yukata and his face was completely white like a Sadako(one of a ghost in Japanese horror movie), others were disguising “Hello Kitty” and else. They introduced their selves in their highest voices and showing dance off. Audiences screamed away with their sexy dances with Japanese famous pop songs. Craps were getting louder gradually and all people were laughing with their show full with entertaining.
While, there were very little number of gay people in Japan. We cannot see gay people usually since they just gather in particular area. My key informant told me that UP Japanese students decided to show cosplay performance to Filipino people on the stage because once they were also amazed with those gay culture here in the Philippines. Do you think we can say this is fusion stage of Japanese and Filipino?
After their performance was well done, “Onigiri(rice ball) break” was provided. People made a long line to get Onigiri and Japanese tea for free. 500 of Onigiri were served to people. And I also helped them to make that triangle shape of rice. That was my participation for their event. They started to prepare Onigiri at 2pm and kept making them until 5pm with 6 of Japanese people. Rice was hot and it was kind of tiring, but they just kept talking about their biggest concern how many people would come to their event. The all cost was paid by money that they got by some Japanese sponsors. That was also hard to make a contact to them, according to my informant.
At the ending, all of Japanese staffs showed up at the stage and danced together with
Japanese pop long seller song. And their all performance were done with saying “Maraming maraming salamt po.”
From this observation, I could confirm that many Filipino people have interest in Japanese people, culture or Japan itself. They gave us warm welcome and enjoyed to know Japanese culture. Great thing is some other foreign people also know well about Japanese Animations, sings, and movies. We would be proud of being Japanese. UP Japanese students accomplished their event successfully.
1, What insights were gained from participation compared to just observing?
I could feel relief when I saw all program has done after I participated them to make it success. And I was able to know how much it was hard that foreigners make a one big event for the local people to enjoy. We cannot make it boring, and it should be fun because this perhaps will be the first impression for the people those who never got friend from that country.
2,What did having a key informant add to your understanding?
Informants told me the history of this event and the drama behind the event that some other Japanese exchange students did not join because of the conflicts that they made during the process. Key informant gave us exact number of people and details for my understanding. Having an informant will provide us the exact number of any statistic and it can make our assuming correct from just observation.
3,What was learned from participant observation at this event that a questionnaire or interview about it might miss?
Participation observation gave us much more insights from what we saw, heard and felt. And I think it is more reader friendly that provides that more information from people’s insights. It would be more emotional report than others.
4, For what purposes might a questionnaire or interview be better than participant observation? Questionnaire and interview would be better when this participation is hard, perhaps it is dangerous. Also when we just need to get an evidence to help our opinion or idea, we can guide informants to answer as what we want by giving biased questionnaire and interview. However we cannot do that at participation observation.