by Megumi Faith P. Mallari and Jerushah Hale B. Cortez
It was the vision of some 2nd-generation ‘Nikkeijin’ (Japanese descendants) that gave birth to Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School. It began its history as a Nihongo or Japanese language school that offered Nihongo for the Japanese descendants and interested Dabawenyos in 1980s. With the assistance of the Davao-born Japanese Datu Bago Tatsuo Uchida (deceased), Mr. Shiromi Furukawa (deceased), Mr. Osamu Toyoguchi (deceased) and Rev. Masataka Ajiro, PNJK was able to acquire a 5,000 sq. meter lot in the Lanang area where the present campus is now situated.
In 1990, Board Member Adelaida Panaguiton convinced the members of the PNJK Board of Directors on the necessity to open a regular school in order to cater to the educational needs of the young people in the community.
This vision was carried out to become a reality in 1992 when the school was established with the name Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai Educational Center under the management of its mother association, the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai Inc.The school started to operate with only 2 classes comprised of a total of 24 pupils. Initially, the school was under the Managing President, Mr. Rodolfo Abe Tutor (deceased); the first School Administrator, Mr. Vicente Mori (deceased); the first School Principal, Mrs. Atenodora Mori (deceased) and the first two teachers, Mrs. Eva Nacario and Mrs. Ruelyn C. Bobiles.
The institution offered Grade 1 in 1993 and further grew to become a complete elementary school in 1996. The school became an independent educational institution under the umbrella of Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai Inc. in 1999. Moreover, it also changed its name to Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai School of Davao and added Nihongo as an elective subject with retired Japanese businessmen and educators as volunteer teachers who aided in strengthening the Japanese Language Curriculum.
In 2001, Mrs. Ines P. Mallari became the School Administrator with Mrs. Aurora B. Jao as the School Principal who was then succeeded by Mr. Wilfredo M. Terante, after her retirement.
The Elementary Department of the school was granted the government recognition by the Department of Education in June 2003. Likewise, the High School Department was also recognized in 2005. In the same year, the Bureau of Immigration granted the school the accreditation and authority to accept foreign students. Because of this positive turn of events, the school’s name was then again changed to become Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School.
Two years later, in 2007, the school was given the DepEd’s accreditation to be one of therecipients of the Educational Service Contracting or ESC, a scheme in which the government subsidizes the tuition fee of deserving students with financial difficulty. On the same year, PNJKIS Calinan Campus Pre-school Department was also opened with 15 enrolled students.
The school was granted the Level 1 PAASCU Accreditation Status to the Basic Education Program on November 2012. PNJKIS evidently did not rest on its laurels and was granted the Level 2 Accreditation Status to the Basic Education Program on November 2016 after the visit of the PAASCU team on September of the same year.
With the aim of the school for continuous development, a brand new building- the Nikkei Building- for the Junior High School was inaugurated last August 8, 2015.
Last January 13, 2017,the Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Madame Akie Abe visited Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School. The School Directress, Mrs. Ines P. Mallari and Chairman of the Board, Judge Antonina B. Escovillaled in welcoming them. The Prime Minister and his wife witnessed the hand mime presentation of the KAPARIZ and observed a Nihongo Class held at the school’s AVR. In the official page of the Prime Minister, he wrote: “The international school was established to educate ethnic Japanese Filipinos. I was moved by the warm welcome from children singing ‘ChiisanaSekai (It’s A Small World)’ in Japanese.” Truly, the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe further solidified the strong relationship between the Philippines and Japan.
At present, the PNJK IS is comprised of 70% pure Filipino students, 25% Japanese and Japanese descendants and 5% students from other nationalities. In addition to the subjects prescribed by the Department of Education, a Nihongo subject is integrated to the curriculum of the institution, staying true to its mission of producing leaders who are proficient not just in Filipino and English, but also Japanese.
At present, the school is being run by the following members of the Board of Trustees: Chairman of the Board, Judge Antonina B. Escovilla; President, Mrs. Ines P. Mallari; Vice President, Mrs. Carmen C. Apigo; Secretary, Mrs. Ruelyn C. Bobiles; Treasurer, Mr. Rodrigo M. Suemitsu; Auditor, Mr. Juseven S. Austero; Board Members, Mrs. Adelaida S. Panaguiton, Mr. Felipe C. Hiquial Jr., Mrs. Jocelyn D. Franco and, Mrs. Ellen L. Ocharon.
It ismanaged by the school directress, Mrs. Ines P. Mallari and supervised by the heads of the different departments: Preschool and Primary, Mrs. Jocelyn D. Franco; Elementary, Mr. Rodrigo B. Velasco Jr.; Junior High School, Mrs. Lucia D. Josol; Senior High School, Dr. Flora Mae C. Yparraguirre; Administration, Mrs. Rowena T. Canlas and;Buildings and Grounds, Mrs. Ruelyn C. Bobiles.
The institution continues to soarhigh manned by its competent administrative staff, versatile personnel, qualified teachers, and efficient staff that rear responsible students and pupils in the community with the support and cooperation of the other stakeholders of the school especially the PTCA and Alumni.
The school also encourages the students to get involved and participate in different clubs and organizations to become well-rounded and enhance their talents and skills. There are 45 active clubs and organizations that aim to develop the students’ independence, initiative, and leadership qualities. The clubs are categorized and distinguished into different categories such as academics, sports, musical, performing arts, and visual arts. Other recognized organizations include the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Girl Scouts of the Philippines, Kabataang Pangarapni Rizal (KAPARIZ), PNJKIS Gazette, Kiseki (Yearbook), Peer Facilitators’ Society, Campus Ministry, Student Supreme Council and SSC Commission on Elections. The school also organizes school activities that provide opportunities for students to increase positive social development and social behavior to be more successful in communication and social relationships. The student activities that are concerned with the improvement and enhancement of their academic experience are intra and interschool seminars, lectures, symposia, exhibits and fair quiz shows. There are also blithesome events in which majority of the students participate such as Family Day, Personnel’s Day and the most highlighted event of the year, the Philippine-Japan Festival. The recognized clubs, organizations, school activities and events develop the students to have higher self-esteem and help them pursue their extra-curricular interests that contribute to their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well being.
The celebration of the25th anniversary of Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School proves the quality education and holistic development it continuously provides to its students. Having produced roughly 1580 total graduates, the school continues to wave its flag to produce competent, disciplined and, globally competitive students who become responsible leaders and assets of the community and encourage them to soar high to reach new heights. The silver anniversary of PNJKIS does not only revel its fruitful history and countless achievements as an academe, but more so, the lives that went in seeking knowledge, and left with their hearts finding home—touched and changed forever.