ucanews.com correspondent, Tokyo
Updated: September 28, 2011 01:15 PM GMT
President Benigno Aquino paid a visit on Monday to about 160 Filipina residents of tsunami hit areas to bolster their spirits in the wake of the unprecedented disasters that hit the region earlier this year. The meeting, on the second day of the president’s four-day trip to Japan, took place at a kindergarten in Tohoku, about 340km northeast of Tokyo in Miyagi Prefecture’s Ishinomaki Church. Many Filipinas have moved to the rural area to settle down after marrying local Japanese men. Their problems, six months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, are still daunting, and Aquino made it a point to offer them his encouragement in person. Aquino was welcomed by Ishinomaki Church pastor Takashi Aizu and Sendai diocese chancellor Father Shiro Komatsu, who represented the bishop who could not be present. The young children and the Filipinas showed their enthusiasm by waving Japanese and Philippine flags. During the visit the president heard several accounts of the women’s experiences during and after the fateful events. He offered his sympathies and said that one of the lessons learned in Japan is that after a great tragedy, one can rise again by relying on the help of others. One woman from Kesennuma City in Miyagi, and who has been living in temporary housing since the earthquake, was overjoyed: “I got to shake the president’s hand!” She also said the opportunity to meet so many other people from the Philippines was a source of great solace. Aquino also visited Ishinomaki City Hall where he pledged a US$1 million donation to the city. Later, he was shown a nearby junior high school that was used as an evacuation shelter.