On January 31, 2024, a celebratory dinner was held in honor of the 30th anniversary of A Child’s Trust is Ours to Nurture (ACTION), Incorporated. This momentous event, hosted by His Excellency Ambassador KOSHIKAWA Kazuhiko and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), brought together prominent figures from both the Philippines and Japan, including presidents, chief executives, and representatives of leading businesses. His Excellency Ambassador Peter Kell of New Zealand and Director Venus Rebuldela of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) of Region 3 also graced the event.
The evening served as a dual celebration and tribute. Not only did it commemorate ACTION’s three decades of impactful work, but it also highlighted the crucial role of Japanese NGOs in shaping international cooperation. In his opening remarks, Ambassador KOSHIKAWA recalled a time when Japanese international cooperation was considered “faceless,” emphasizing that the longstanding grassroots efforts of non-profit organizations like ACTION have been pivotal in transforming this perception. He expressed optimism for such initiatives’ continued growth and development, underscoring their importance in promoting international cooperation.
Mr. SAKAMOTO Takema, Chief Representative of JICA Philippines, echoed this sentiment in his toast. He commended ACTION’s achievements, particularly the “Training on Houseparenting” and the “Life Skills Intervention Toolkit for Children at Risk and Children in Conflict with the Law,” which has gained recognition from both the DSWD and the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC). He lauded ACTION’s unique position as the only Japanese-founded non-government organization member of the JJWC, emphasizing its essential role in building sustainable child welfare systems in the Philippines. Additionally, Mr. Sakamoto expressed JICA’s commitment to strengthening collaboration with Japanese companies and organizations to support similar non-government organization initiatives, envisioning the event as a catalyst for future partnerships.
Mr. YOKOTA Hajime, or “Kuya Hajime” as children and ACTION’s staff and supporters fondly call him (“Kuya” is the Filipino word for older brother), shared moving narratives about how he founded the organization and his motivations to keep finding ways to help the Filipino people, especially the children. He emphasized that he wanted to give back to the people because they accepted him and took care of him when he first arrived in the country. The Presidents of Glico and Nihon Denkei also shared insights on the societal contributions made possible by their collaborations with ACTION. Mr. YOKOTA took the opportunity to present his proposed project for road safety education in the Philippines, underscoring its significance.
The evening concluded with heartfelt remarks from Ms. Lani Bayron-Llanes, the Executive Director of ACTION. She expressed profound gratitude for Mr. YOKOTA’s dedication and sacrifices for the Filipino people and acknowledged the unwavering support of the Japanese community in improving the lives of Filipino children and youth. She emphasized the critical role of the Philippine-Japan friendship in these efforts and how this collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship has fostered strong bonds between the two nations, ultimately benefiting countless children.
The 30th-anniversary celebration of ACTION was more than a tribute to its remarkable years of work; it was a testament to the enduring bonds of collaboration and friendship between the Philippines and Japan. As these bonds strengthen, the impact of this collaboration will continue to benefit future generations. ACTION’s mission to raise the quality of life of Filipino children thrives because of the support and collaboration of various individuals and organizations.
If you or your organization want to collaborate, partner, or support ACTION’s ongoing work, please visit www.action.org.ph.