December 27, 2022
KUBO Jun was one of the first batch of returning Japanese volunteers that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) dispatched to the Philippines after two years of hiatus because of COVID-19 pandemic.
He has been living in Leganes, Iloilo where he was assigned under JICA's Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) Program.
KUBO lived in Iloilo before the pandemic, and had no choice, but to be sent back to Japan in 2020 when international volunteers were recalled due to COVID-19 restrictions. During this time, he was already working with a group of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Iloilo and collaborated with them in marketing their products. The Association of Differently-Abled Persons in Iloilo Multipurpose Cooperative (ADPIMPC) creates woodwork products, but lack the marketing skills needed to scale up.
"It's the Filipino hospitality and friendship that moved me to return to the Philippines when the JOCV Program resumed this year. I couldn't miss to repay their kindness the first time I was here," he said.
By working with ADPIMPC, KUBO held a marketing survey as to where the association can further sell their products. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also offered assistance to expand the designs ADPIMC produces.
Before his assignment ends this year, KUBO connected ADPIMPC with two other organizations that can help market their wood products.
"I learned from this experience that we are not alone in our struggles, and there will always be people ready to help. I also realized there are so many factors for a JOCV project to succeed. Further, I learned that we should respect each other's culture," he added.
KUBO also noticed that there is a need for more support to organizations like ADPIMPC so they can be fully integrated in society and earn sufficient income independently.
"The Filipinos I met treated me like family. Being a volunteer not only enriches the lives of others, but also the life of the volunteer," he shared.
KUBO Jun (standing in center) with members of ADPIMPC in Leganes, Iloilo