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Japanese Businessman builds classrooms to say “Salamat Po”

posted May 30, 2011, 2:12 AM by Michelle Garcia

There are many ways of supporting a worthy cause. Some donate anonymously. Others do it with the requisite publicity. Others give their support through the company as part of their  corporate social responsibility.

But there are some who prefer  to go at it alone through their own foundation. This is the story of Mr. Katsutoshi Shimizu, a Japanese national who wants to give back to the Philippines after years of success of doing business here. He chose education as his advocacy.

Mr. Katsutoshi Shimizu, 72, first visited the Philippines in 1969 and established Shimizu & Co., Ltd. (Japan) three years later. His main line of business is bringing to the Philippines used assorted ships/parts and Japanese technology. “I have visited the Philippines for more than 500 times, therefore I can call the Philippines as my second home country,” quipped Shimizu.

Shimizu first exported used ships to the Philippines in December 1968. By 2010,    he had already brought in 1,000 ships to the country. Shimizu is also credited for having introduced and installed Japanese technology in Baguio City the Environmental Recycling System (ERS) -- an environmental friendly machine converting solid wastes to fertilizer.

Shimizu believes that the best way to  pay back Philippine society is  to adopt three schools in Talisay and Calatagan, Batangas. In a memorandum of agreement signed Thursday, Shimizu has committed to construct 11 classrooms initially and equip them with a computer unit  each, a LCD television, classroom equipment including tables, chairs and chalkboards.

“I believe that education is the only key to a country’s success. So, I started helping NGOs and my staff through scholarships more than 10 years ago.  But I learned that DepEd needs more than 100,000 classrooms and I decided to help by building some and donating them to the Philippine Government.” 

The project beneficiaries are the Venancio Trinidad Memorial Elementary School in Talisay, Batangas, Carreton Elementary School and Carlosa Elementary School in Calatagan. The estimated construction cost of the school buildings is P7.4 million.

Shimizu has committed to construct 3 to 5 school buildings within 2011 and 20 to 30 school buildings in the next 3 years. “I believe building schools is an effective way of fostering friendship since many Filipinos will benefit from this. That way, I help promote closer relationship between our two countries.” Shimizu added. 

He established the RK Shimizu (Nagasaki) Foundation Inc. on March 2011, to achieve these objectives. “The support of my Foundation will continue even after I retire as my son will succeed me in this undertaking,” Shimizu shared.

And while the mention of Nagasaki conjures an image  of atomic bombs being dropped from the sky, this time, Nagasaki comes again to national consciousness as the source of sports equipment, school uniforms, bags and starter school supplies. From the children of Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan to young learners of the Philippine public school system – a  neat lesson in friendship and international  understanding  at such an early age. 

Shimizu has one request, though.  He wants to impart to the school children of his adopted schools some facets of the Japanese culture and arts through special events that may be organized from time to time. Filipinos and Japanese share the same Asian heritage such as deep sense of family, respect for elders and thirst for education.

“I feel this initiative of Mr. Shimizu is a very good model of how our two countries can forge a partnership along our Filipino “bayanihan” spirit – our homegrown version of working together,” said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.

Part of the donation is a Japanese garden which the donor specifically requested to be maintained by the school. “This will open the eyes of our children on other cultures and how its own beauty can, in turn,  enhance ours,” Luistro added.

The donations  of Shimizu is lodged under DepEd’s Adopt-A-School program which invites the private sector to donate to public schools and help raise the standard of education. In turn, donors receive tax incentive as authorized by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. 

For Shimizu, the most beautiful word in their language is “Arigato”. “And I understand in your language it is “Salamat Po” and I believe that by saying these words a respect is being conveyed from each other. So my wish is for both of us to continue saying “Arigato” and “Salamat Po,” he said.