1. Please outline your work responsibilities before enrolling on your studies in Japan.
Before commencing my graduate studies in Japan, I was part of the National Planning and Policy Staff of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the Philippines. My main responsibilities at NEDA were the following: (1) re-specification and diagnostics of macroeconomic forecasting models; (2) review and preparation of periodic reports and briefing on the status of the economy and the implementation of economic policies, plans, and programs, with special focus on the monetary and external sectors of the economy; and (3) inflation forecasting and policy simulations including sensitivity analysis using various price variables (e.g., oil prices, exchange rates, wages, toll fees and transport rates)
2. What led you to study in Japan, and what motivated you to apply for the JISPA?
I applied only to JISPA in 2012 and with no back-up plan. Primarily because I had already experienced plenty of pleasant encounters with the IMF and its people in the past, in particular, during the IMF Article IV consultations in the Philippines, and also during my participation at some of IMF’s regional capacity building programs in Singapore. The most memorable, however, was when we sought assistance from the IMF when my office was pursuing to develop a Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model for the Philippines – we received a lot of support from different IMF economists back then, not only in terms of model building but also with precious words of encouragement.
Another main reason is that, it has been my dream to study at a top-notch and globally renowned university like the University of Tokyo.
3. What are you studying? (What have you been studying?)
Our program at the University Tokyo (UTokyo) is Economics-centered—a subject that JISPA scholars should be well acquainted with given our role as economic policy makers in our home countries. At the UTokyo, I was able to take Case Study courses that focus on specific topics in Economics that I was interested in, particularly Financial Crisis; and Financial Development and Inequality.
Nonetheless, what probably sets the UTokyo experience apart is that we are able to explore ideas and thoughts outside the field of Economics, i.e. Politics and Law. I also felt lucky to have taken courses that tackled topics outside of the Social Science realm, for example, Sustainable Development on the engineering perspective, Robotics, Neuroscience and Neurosurgery, to name a few. We even have had the opportunity to operate some of the equipments at the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Medicine.
The most rewarding experience, however, in my stay at the UTokyo was being given the opportunity to travel to France and the United Kingdom to attend seminars and meetings with academics and practitioners of Health Economics. With that I have gained so much understanding on the current issues concerning Global Health and International Health Policy.
4. Please tell us of one experience in Japan that made you feel happy, sad, surprised, or moved.
Pointing to one experience is a bit difficult for me, because living in Tokyo is a constant encounter with wonderful things—you can always find something unique and beautiful in this mega-city on a daily basis and it remains true even after almost two years of residing here.
Nonetheless, what makes living in Japan very pleasant in my opinion is the kindness and politeness of the Japanese people. I remember how one lady stopped in her tracks, got out other car and walked with us for few meters to show us a restaurant we couldn’t find. I was also able to retrieve my cellphone and wallet, when I dropped them at two separate instances, few days after.
Above all this, living in Japan, specifically in Tokyo has served as a constant reminder of the aspiration that one day my country will also attain a similar level of development.
5. Please describe your experience and/or impression of the JISPA (such as the Orientation Program, seminars, and meetings with IMF/OAP economists).
What I appreciate the most about JISPA is that it provides a venue for us scholars to gain knowledge outside the borders of our respective Universities. The various seminars lead by esteemed IMF Economists have provided us with valuable knowledge and have made us more aware of the global issues that are deemed important by the IMF— economic issues that also have implications on the situation of our own countries.
Nevertheless, the JISPA Orientation Program must be the most unforgettable part of being a JISPA scholar. Together with my scholar friends, we always find ourselves reminiscing our first months in Niigata prefecture where we initially forged the bonds of friendships— a connection that will surely transcend time and distance.
6. How would you like to utilize the knowledge and skills obtained through your studies under the JISPA in your future work?
Before I came to Tokyo, I felt that analyzing economic policies was a quite daunting task. A huge deal of experience and knowledge is necessary before one can truly provide any solid policy advice. The pressure to do well is often magnified with the reality that the things you do are for your country.
With the training I got from the UTokyo, I felt that I could now face various policy problems and puzzles with more confidence. Being cognizant of how the recent economic developments on the international stage tends to be muddled by uncertainty and how these developments can quickly resonate to the domestic economy, I take the knowledge I have acquired under the JISPA program to be more effective in dealing with tasks that lie ahead of me. The skills I have learned and the new perspectives I have obtained have fuelled my confidence so that I can be a better public servant by the time I return to the Philippines.
7. What is your future career vision and dream?
I have always envisioned myself working for the cause of development even before finishing my undergraduate degree. Hence, the career path I took has always revolved around issues of economic development (may it be on the micro and macro aspect of it). With this, I hope to remain on that line of profession. Nonetheless, I believe that in order to be better, I need to take up further studies and hope to continue working-hard to obtain a doctoral degree in Economics. If successful, I would like to use the Economic discipline, particularly by providing contributions in tackling the prevailing issues of development.
8. What is your favorite proverb or motto?
Since a young age, I have always lived by the saying, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Recently, I found out this has a Japanese version,which says, "七転び八起き"— "Fall seven times, stand up eight."
9. Do you have any message to Japan?
As a scholar who has the privilege to be educated in Japan’s top university, I carry in me the responsibility of upholding the value of excellence wherever I may go. I will always keep in mind the lessons that I have learned here; will always be grateful to Japan for cradling our inquisitive minds and passionate hearts; and will always cherish the wonderful memories that I have gained in Japan.
10. Please provide us with any comments that you wish to convey.
To the people of JISPA, I would like to convey my sincerest gratitude for all the support and for the time you have willingly shared with us from the day that we submitted our JISPA application forms to the day that we return to our homelands—we owe so much to you.
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