Alumni of Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan who participated in the Sophia-at-Xavier program have raised close to ¥2 million for Typhoon Sendong survivors.
Fr Roberto Yap SJ, Xavier University (XU) president, received the equivalent amount of P909,774. He said that 50% of the gift will go to the Infrastructure Fund of Xavier Ecoville, the resettlement project of XU with the local government of Cagayan de Oro, while the other 50% will go to the grant-in-aid for XU students affected by Typhoon Sendong. The grant will be called the “Sophia-at-Xavier Financial Aid Fund.”
Sophia-at-Xavier was a cultural exchange program started by Fr Francis Mathy SJ, professor emeritus at Sophia University, and Fr Rafael Borromeo of XU, following a very pleasant trip of some XU students to Japan.
Every other year from 1974 to 2000, Fr Mathy took a group of Japanese students to Cagayan de Oro where they stayed with local host families to experience Filipino culture and learn English at XU. A total of 285 students participated in the program.
“Many of those who participated in Fr Mathy's program had wonderful and precious experiences that can never be bought by cash, learned something important about their life during their stay in CDO, and have been thankful for the love and friendship shown to them,” related Mariko Tadokoro, who was part of the first and second batches of students to participate in the program.
Only last year, Japan experienced a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emeergency that affected some of the alumni of Sophia-at-Xavier. Yet, this did not deter the group from still reaching out to their brothers and sisters in Cagayan de Oro.
“Hearing the news about the overwhelming disasters in CDO by typhoon Sendong, the alumni who have been to CDO with Fr Mathy felt they should do something for the people of CDO,” shared Tadokoro.
Together, they raised ¥1,777,000. Tadokoro said that they are still trying to get in touch with the addresses of other Sophia-at-Xavier alumni to ask for their help.
Then and Now: The first batch of Sophia-at-Xavier participants on their way to Del Monte, circa 1974. Below: The alumni with Fr Francis Mathy SJ who is now 87 years old. (photos courtesy of Mariko Tadokoro)