Monday, September 8, 2008

SSEAYP: A Voyage of a Lifetime

SSEAYP stands for Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program. This is an annual cultural exchange program sponsored by the Cabinet Office of Japan. Around 300 plus delegates from ASEAN 10 countries and Japan are invited to cruise around Southeast Asian countries and Japan on board the luxury cruise ship MS Nippon Maru for a period of two months.

Its exactly 6 years ago when our group from the Philippines Tambayayong 2002 consisting of 29 people flew to Japan to participate in the said program. We were billeted at Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo where we met the rest of the delegates. It was a life changing experience since we traveled the world meeting new friends and new families from these countries. Its truly a voyage of a lifetime since we were accommodated in a luxury cruise ship together with huge group of friends learning each other’s culture. We call Nippon Maru our second home. We shared so many memorable experiences.

I remember that Prime Minister Fukuda was the one who welcomed us delegates in 2002 during the opening ceremonies in Tokyo who was then the Chief Cabinet Secretary and just last week he resigned from his post as PM. It was disheartening since I admire him as a leader.

Anyway, we celebrated our 5th anniversary in Siem Reap Cambodia during the SSEAYP International General Assembly (SIGA). I met some of my friends from this program during the SIGA in Cebu last May 1-3 in Cebu. Hoping to celebrate our 6th anniversary on board the Nippon Maru when it docks in Manila for SSEAYP program.

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