Roster of Featured Alumni

October 17, 2020

NCF and PIJLC have already taught Nihongo to thousands. Many of them continue to benefit from their Japanese language proficiency which they first learned at these two institutions. Not just a few have pursued studies and careers influenced in great part by their study of Nihongo at NCF or PIJLC. A section of this website is therefore dedicated to our alumni which is envisioned to provide a forum for NCF-PILC to reconnect with their former students.

Preliminarily, the website will feature alumni who have contributed testimonies of their Nihongo journey. Excerpts of some testimonials are embedded in the website pages but the full writeups will be catalogued in this section. The first 15 featured alumni are:

Monica Castillo
Visual Artist Graduate of Tokyo University of the Arts MFA
Education and Research Assistant of Tokyo University of the Arts

My time studying at the Nihongo Center Foundation was vital in achieving my goal of living in Japan. It was here that I was finally able to seriously study Nihongo. There were other language schools that I had tried, but none were as good. NCF is a place not only to study the Japanese language but also a place to appreciate the Japanese culture. They also provide information on scholarship and job opportunities related to Japan. Through the kindness and help of the sensei and staff at NCF, I was able to successfully apply for the MEXT scholarship. I will always be grateful for that.


Stephen S. Dy
Head of Software and Former Technical Advisor for Japan Country Manager,

宜しくお願いします。 Pen PIJLC paved a solid growth path for my future. The institution not only taught me the Japanese language and culture, but my senseis and founders (daisempais) instilled discipline and unleashed my inner strengths to pass JLPT Level 2 (later on Level 1), place 3rd at Nihongo Speech Contest, and gain scholarship and pursue advanced studies in engineering in Japan. After graduating at Tokyo Metropolitan University, I was interviewed and offered jobs at local Japanese companies. Today, in conducting business and building E-commerce innovations in Japan and around the world, I continue to leverage the Japanese language skills and cultural competence the way PIJLC have educated me.


Yula Beatriz T. Ferma
Nanzan University, Policy Studies Student

I have been fascinated by anything related to Japan since I was a child. Thanks to Nihongo Center Foundation, I was able to not only learn about the Japanese language but also about the culture of Japan. I have been a student of NCF since my grade school days, so the teachers and staff members have all become like family to me. Even until now that I am in my second undergraduate studies, they are still looking after me by helping me achieve one of my dreams in life through one of their scholarship offers – to study at a university in Japan.


Francesca Galve
Chief Accountant, Manila Polo Club, Inc.

Within one year since I started Basic Japanese 1 at NCF, I was able to meet new friends, experience Japanese culture at the annual Open House, and participate in a Japanese speech contest. Because of these experiences, what was initially a hobby soon became a life-changing passion. For that, I am forever grateful to the teachers at NCF who cultivated that passion, as they guided me through the completion of the basic and intermediate courses and helped me prepare for and pass three levels of the JLPT. To this day, Nihongo Center continues to be my source of inspiration and motivation in my studies. I hope that aspiring Japanese language learners who will also be joining NCF get to experience the same fulfilling journey that I have had.


Bernadette Jen Hieida
Assistant Professorial Lecturer, International Studies Department DLSU-Manila
President, Association of Filipino Nihongo Teachers
Lecturer, Japan Foundation Manila High School Program

I started learning nihongo in 2000 simply because I married a Japanese and had to deal with the school requirements of my son. I never thought of this as a career. But my teachers in NCF inspired me to be one because of their holistic approach. They just don’t teach but they also personally attend to your needs by motivating you to get better and generously share how to deal with different situations using the language. My teachers from Basic, Intermediate 1-4, even the Teacher Training Course have that passion to make the nihongo learning journey of each student meaningful and productive.


Nina Mangubat
An employee at Zoff

Since I was a kid, I loved Anime, J-pop and J-Dramas, which increased my fondness for Japan. In 2013, I was taking up Japanese Studies at DLSU-Manila and will be graduating the following year, when I felt that my Japanese skill was not enough. I enrolled at NCF, which I heard would help me hone my Japanese skills. While studying there, I came across a notice regarding an opening for a full scholarship at Nanzan University. I applied and got accepted. After graduating from college in February 2014, I flew to Japan the following month. 6 years later, I have graduated from Nanzan University and now working in a Japanese retailer company located in Tokyo. Looking back, it was all because of NCF, they did not only help me with my language skills but also helped paved the way to my dream. I will always be thankful to NCF and its staff.


Hero Mangubat
3rd year Policy Studies Student in Nanzan University

Seeing Japan in pictures and videos has made me always want to go to the country. Their rich culture and history have always piqued my interest. Hearing their language, which was pleasing to my ears, has made me want to understand the meaning behind the words and not only rely on subtitles. These dreams were fulfilled by the NCF. They have granted me a scholarship to Nanzan University and have also helped me to prepare for living in Japan by teaching me Japanese in the most effective way. I am in my 3rd year now in the said university, and have yet to master the language, however, I am learning not only the words now, but also their correct contexts and usage. I have gone so far from wanting to only understand the media without subtitles, to learning about Philosophy, and other subjects in Japanese. I think, any of these would not have been possible if I had not gone to the NCF. I will forever be grateful.


Maria Isabella Palaganas
Hoshinoya Tokyo、Service Team staff

Furthering my Nihongo studies was the initial reason to my entering into NCF. But they gave me more options to expand my horizons and achieve dreams I only did dare to dream. Through one of their scholarships, I was able to come to Japan, study under the Policy Studies department of Nanzan University and grab onto opportunities which allowed me to grow as a person. I met people from various background, joined as a volunteer for events, helped out some of my peers and kouhais, and finished my studies. It was true these experiences which made me choose the career path I have taken right now. Thanks to NCF, I gained a foundation for my growth, go through one of the best and fulfilling experiences I have ever undertaken, and choose a path I am currently in right now.


Jay Pena
Product Development Manager Rakuten, Inc.

「努力を続けるものだが報われる」という言葉です。23 years ago, Ogata Sensei shared with me this popular Japanese saying which became a part of my life. After graduating at PIJLC, I wanted to continue my studies at a Japanese University and I know this could only be achieved through continuous hard work and perseverance. Past forward to 2008, I moved to Japan as a Software engineer where my Japanese language skills led me to work with great companies such as Fujitsu, Google, Amazon, and now with Rakuten. And finally last year, I got my master’s degree at a Japanese University and fulfilled my lifelong dream. One thing is certain, I could not have achieved all of these if not for PIJLC. The school not only taught me the Japanese language but it has opened a world of endless opportunities. I met a lot of great people with whom I shared the same dreams and aspirations. I’ll be forever grateful that I was selected to represent the first batch of graduates of PIJLC.


Rommel G. Roque – PIJLC, 1st Batch
Country Manager, ManpowerGroup Philippines
President, Prime Manpower Resources Development Inc.”

“I knew early on that attending PIJLC would put me in a position to achieve my personal growth goals but little did I know then of the bountiful blessings that would come along with it — I was part of PIJLC’s First Batch so indeed it was a journey of discovery into a new frontier. Very gratefully many years later, I count myself tremendously fortunate as my dearest and closest friends to this day are all from PIJLC including its staff, faculty and stakeholders. I always tell people who ask me that the slingshot trajectory of my career can be clearly traced from that very first class with Prof. Ogawa. Through the discipline I learned from their full-time Japanese Language and Culture program, I realized my dream of attaining a master’s degree in Japan and developed a plentiful number of personal and professional relationships along the way. Their lessons, mentoring and wisdom have certainly enriched my life and I will forever be grateful for the trust and guidance they have extended to me. PIJLC….it is the gift that keeps on giving.


Janella Silvestre
株式会社ロックブリッジホルディングス Rockbridge Holdings Co., Ltd.
国際人材コーディネーター主任 Chief Coordinator of International Human Resources

What was once an interest in foreign languages, has now turned into a career in Japan. The foundation of my Japanese language education started here. Thanks to their intensive, well thought out and organized curriculum that not only helps you get over the basics in a span of 3-5 months but as you progress onto the higher levels, the technicalities and nuances of the language are meticulously explained by the superb NCF teachers, each armed with their own technique and approach as to how the learner can fully comprehend plus get over the difficulties in learning a foreign language that uses its own set of characters. Each character, each grammatical pattern, each word (whether it is a formal one or a colloquial one that has been heard or picked up by watching anime or even Japanese friends), along with bits of information about Japanese culture, helps to clarify why it is what it is, why language is never stagnant and why it is constantly changing throughout the years. Although moving and settling in Japan was definitely not a walk in the park, the teachings that NCF has instilled in me helped me overcome many struggles as a foreigner living in this country. Simple everyday situations such as buying at a store or ordering at restaurant and their staff speaking to me in keigo (polite form); had I not studied basic keigo back at NCF, I would’ve just stared at the staff politely with a puzzled look on my face. But I was able to comprehend it perfectly, and only in the first few months of moving here. That is the advantage of having a good amount proficiency and a solid foundation of the language.


Patrize Lei Sullivan
NANZAN University, Policy Studies Student

I entered Nihongo Center Foundation thinking that I would just be learning Nihongo to satisfy my love in learning the Japanese language. Attending classes made me realize that I’m more than just learning the language because I am also learning the culture and society. NCF provides its students with a conducive learning environment equipped with efficient learning materials that make learning Japanese even more exciting and fun. Teachers and staffs are also very welcoming and accommodating. Studying at NCF expanded my career opportunities by offering me a university scholarship at Nanzan University in Japan and will be my home in the next few years.


TALEON, Enrico Fernando C.
Grade 12 Senior High School Student, BJ2

Ever since I was little, I’ve been enthralled by the beauty of Japan and its culture. As language is known the be the soul of a culture, it wasn’t long till I yearned to learn Nihongo and experience Japan on a whole new level. After some thought, I realized the sheer amount of opportunities that would open up to me if I learned Nihongo. Education, Work, Friendships, and probably even more that I can’t think off the top of my head! This was just a mere dream though, since back then, I didn’t have a way to actually learn Nihongo and enculturate myself. But when I learned about NCF/PIJLC, my dream became something more of a possible future! Ever since enrolling at NCF and actually learning Nihongo from experienced teachers, so many things have changed in my life! A whole new educational path had opened up to me. I’ve made new friends; some who natively speak the language and some like me, who are learning as well and through our conversations in Nihongo, I realized that there could be big things in store. Though I’ve just started, and I’ve got a long way to go before I am anywhere close to fluent, I am excited to see how far I’ll go with NCF.