Students of a Japanese college in a southern Philippines city are propagating Japan’s culture and language among locals via a commercial FM radio station.

The show, “MKD Nihongo Radio,” has been broadcast since 2010 by students of Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku (Mindanao International College) in Davao City, using airtime bought from 105.1 Easy Rock Davao, a radio station owned by Manila Broadcasting Co.

It features talk shows, educational segments and dramas broadcast in Japanese, Tagalog and English — all with Japan-related content — as well as popular Japanese music.

“I believe we have been effective in attaining our objective of propagating Japanese culture. Before, we were only airing for 30 minutes every night,” station manager Ivy Duenas said. “But our listeners felt it was very short, so we extended it to 45 minutes. And now we are on air for one hour.”

The only Japanese radio show in the Philippines is run by members of a Japanese broadcasting club at the college, which was established in 2002 by the Japan Philippines Volunteer Association.

The program is the brainchild of Ichido Miyake, a teacher at the college who wanted to maximize the equipment and facilities of its E-Learning Studio, donated by the Japanese government in 2009.

Miyake said the show was initially intended to increase the Japanese-speaking population in Davao City to encourage enrollment at the college. The city is home to thousands of Japanese and Japanese-Filipino nationals, after immigrants from Japan started settling there in the early 20th century.

But as the years passed, he realized it serves many purposes.

“We are giving a different kind of education to local people. And we also introduce our college to the public, letting them know there’s a Japanese school in Davao that offers scholarships to those deserving, especially those with financial problems,” Miyake said.

The mixed-format program airs from 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday on 105.1 MHz, covering several provinces in southeastern Mindanao, the nation’s second-largest island.

Duenas said the show is pretaped by club members at the E-Learning Studio under the guidance of Japanese teachers at the college. The broadcasts include “Nihongo Class On-Air,” a 15-minute Japanese language tutorial; “Nihongo Radio Clinic,” a 15-minute discussion on love-, family-, school-related and other daily life issues; “Nihongo Quiz,” a three-minute trivia show about Japanese and Philippine culture, tradition and lifestyle; and “Drama,” a 15-minute fictional show in Japanese and Tagalog.

They also feature 10-minute storytelling of Philippine and Japanese folk tales in both Japanese and Tagalog, a three-minute minidrama depicting Japanese and Filipino lifestyles, and a J-pop music program. Occasionally, Filipino songs translated into Japanese — and vice versa — are also played.

“For Philippine nationals who have studied Japanese language or learned it in Japan and those interested in Japanese culture, either traditional or contemporary, this is a good chance to listen to Japanese dialogues on local radio and catch information,” said Kazuhiko Anzai, the Japanese consul in Davao City.

Duenas said the club’s members, who number about 20, come up with the ideas, prepare the scripts and execute everything, which is excellent training for them, especially in harnessing their Japanese language skills — a requirement at the college.

“I like it that we’re paired with our Japanese teachers. It helps me improve my Japanese. And I would really like to improve my speaking abilities,” said Paul Nino Dotollo, a third-year education major who plays roles in the show’s “Rasen Kaidan” (“Ghost Stories”) segment.

Another contributor, Theresa Mae Tocmo, attributes her enhanced communication skills to her experience at “MKD Nihongo Radio,” admitting she was “not fond of talking in front of many people before.”

“I do script writing and disc jockeying for our various formats of the show. So it’s good for me,” said the international studies major, who hopes to one day “go to Japan and experience living there.”

Rico Dayoc, Jr., station manager of 105.1 Easy Rock Davao, commended “MKD Nihongo Radio” for securing an audience and sowing interest in Japanese culture among its listeners.

“They’re doing well. With the niche or target listeners they have, which are students, they have a very effective format. It’s very informative and entertaining,” Dayoc said.

Duenas said most of the program’s listeners are teenagers, many of whom are “anime” lovers and thus keen to learn Japanese. She said the show’s evening time slot, the only one available, is “advantageous to us because if we air in the morning, then our target listeners are in school.”

Its operators refer to the show’s Facebook account to gauge its reception by the public, which currently has more than 3,000 “friends,” though it has yet to breach 500 “likes.”

Miyake said “MKD Nihongo Radio” is trying to improve quality and innovate new formats to keep its audience’s attention, and to continue educating the public about Japan and its relations with the Philippines.

But as much as they hope to extend the show or replicate it in other parts of the country, the high production cost is preventing them from doing so — unless more financial support becomes available.

In the meantime, Miyake, Duenas and their club members relish whatever positive impact their program has on listeners, especially the promotion of better understanding between Filipinos — at least those in Davao City — and Japanese.

“Through our radio program, we are developing Filipinos who are friendly with Japan and its people, and that is important to us. If we have young people who are friendly to Japanese people, then a few decades from now that should mean much better, friendlier relations,” Miyake said.

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