by Ian S. Embradura
MSU-IIT could be the gateway for the world to understand Mindanao.
Visiting professor Dr. Toshiko Tsujimoto expressed great optimism for the Institute before leaving Iligan.
Dr. Tsujimoto, or Toshiko-san (Ms. Toshiko) as she prefers to be called, came to IIT for a lecture series on qualitative research to undergrad and graduate students of some of the colleges, as organized by the School of Graduate Studies.
Prior to the week-long lecture series, she was invited as plenary speaker at the Ika-9 na Pambansang Kumperensiya sa Filipino (9th National Conference on Filipino). Her lecture at the conference dealt with her experience of learning the Filipino language within and outside the Philippines.
During the course of her visit, Toshiko-san was introduced to the Institute’s extension programs: the Badjau community and the Bayug Island restoration.
She found this to be an impressive endeavor of the Institute, to do action researches that address issues and solving problems in the community. This sense of contribution to society in the academe, according to her, is interesting because she finds how different the missions are of Kyoto University and MSU-IIT.
When asked about IIT’s presence in the ASEAN radar, Toshiko-san believes in the great potential of the Institute for exchange programs and academic integration especially with the cultural diversity in Mindanao.
Her expectation and objective as a visiting professor was simple: to give what could be helpful to the Institute especially in terms of research and, at the same time, to learn something she could bring back to Japan, “to bring IIT in the awareness in the world especially in Kyoto University.”
She also adds that her visit to IIT, which is also her first visit to Mindanao, opened her eyes to the everyday life of the people in the island. She saw how people live harmoniously in a culturally diverse society which, she said, Manila clearly lacks and misrepresents.
According to Toshiko-san, while multiculturalism in U.S., Europe, or Australia have been well studied, “the definition of multiculturalism [in Mindanao] will be very different from that of European countries.” She believes this is diversity in Mindanao could be worth looking into especially by her fellow and student “Filipinologists” in Japan.
Toshiko-san looks forward to bringing her students in Mindanao to immerse them with a more diverse reality in the Philippines.
Dr. Toshiko Tsujimoto is a Senior Researcher at Kyoto University Asian Studies Unit. She finished her Doctor of Literature (Sociology) at SungKongHoe University in South Korea. Dr. Tsujimoto was also a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of South Korea in University of Toronto.