July 9, 2011

PHILIPPINES: 60 Filipino caregivers finish Japanese course

MANILA, Philippines / The Japan Times / Kyodo / July 9, 2011

Sixty Filipino caregivers on Friday completed a pretraining course in Japanese ahead of their departure for Japan later this month under the Japan-Philippines economic partnership agreement.

Masamichi Furuya of the Japan Foundation, who supervised the three-month-long period of training, said three other candidates backed out earlier for various reasons — one because of fears about the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture, and the other two due to health problems.

"They have basic knowledge now of the Japanese language," Furuya said of the 11 men and 49 women candidate caregivers who will be the third group of Philippine health workers to be sent here since the EPA took effect in December 2008.

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The group will have another six months of language and culture training following their arrival in Japan on July 18.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe urged them to "continue the good effort that you have started here."

"By learning a language, you not only acquire a tool of communication. You learn about the culture and behavior of the people. Language is key to your success," Urabe said in a speech during the group's closing ceremony Friday morning.

"You have the expertise, but without the Japanese language, it is like having a wrapped present and not offering it," he said.

Ellen Mellomida, 21, from the city of Davao on southern Mindanao Island, said she decided to proceed with the program despite attempts by her family to discourage her because she believes this is her calling.

"This is the chance that I have been waiting for where I could apply what I have studied in college. So I consulted my friends and they told me that this could really be my calling because this came at a time when Japan needs help," Mellomida said.

Once she completes training in Japan, Mellomida will be assigned to a facility in the city of Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture.

She is the only trainee to be dispatched to the part of the country that continues to be affected by radiation leaking from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

"At first, it was my family who was more afraid for me, but many convinced me that I will not go there directly anyway. So, by the time that I get there, everything will be OK already," she said, adding, "I'm sure they will not totally abandon me there."

Filipino caregivers have to work in facilities in Japan for three years before they can take the licensing exam.

Seventy Filipino nurses who completed the same pretraining course flew to Japan on May 29 to begin the learning the Japanese and culture.

(C) The Japan Times
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