More than 300 Filipino nurse and care worker candidates finished on Tuesday a preparatory language program sponsored by the Japanese and Philippine governments.
A total of 310 students -- 41 nursing and 269 care worker candidates -- made it through the annual six-month course held in the Philippine capital.
The program, which falls under the auspices of the 2006 Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, is carried out in cooperation with several Philippine government institutions, including the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Department of Labor and Employment.
Director Hiroaki Uesugi of the Japan Foundation Manila, the government institution which promotes Japanese culture, said the candidates will fly to Japan mid-June for more intensive training.
"After that, they will be dispatched to hospitals and care-giving facilities," Uesugi told Kyodo News on the sidelines of the program's closing ceremony.
Those who finish the language program are eligible to take exams to get licensed in Japan as nurses and care givers. That will also afford them the opportunity to practice their profession in the country permanently.
"The lessons on the Japanese language were really intensive," 27-year old Rose Mary De Guzman, who aspires to be a nursing professional, told Kyodo News.
"We went to class 7 hours a day with 15-minute break intervals. We had to memorize a lot of words," she added.
Jeremy Cruz, 29, who is aiming for a permanent care-giving career in Japan, said the country is a good choice because it matches his cultural tastes and preferences.
"I have been there in 2010, and I admire the whole of the Japanese culture," he said, adding having relatives living in the country also factored into his decision.
Demand for professionals in Japan's hospitality industry is high, with an estimated 60,000 professionals needed in the next five years, according to estimates by the Philippine government.
Paolo Santino Guevara, the institute director of the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, said Filipinos have a natural edge when it comes to landing these kind of jobs in other countries.
"We are naturally hospitable. We are warm and caring people," Guevara told Kyodo News in an interview last month, adding Filipinos also have a solid work ethic compared to others.
He also said working in Japan is a prime choice for Filipino professionals because of the relatively high salaries, as well as the culture of inclusion that characterizes the East Asian country.