written by Hannah Joy Lico, Participant to Japan

Knowing that I would have 5 months of summer vacation after my return from Japan, I tried to find ways to take advantage of the said amount of time. I searched through Internet and came across to this project being implemented by the government of the Philippines. This project is called “Special Program for Employment of Students” or commonly known as SPES.

The above-mentioned program is DOLE’s (Department of Labor and Employment) youth employment-bridging program which aims to provide temporary employment to poor but deserving students, out-of-school youth and dependents of displaced or would-be displaced workers during summer and/or Christmas vacation or any time of the year (Source: DOLE’s official website).

Among more than 200 applicants from my city, I was one of the chosen 20 students that were hired to work under Chowking (超群). The program started on the 8th of April and ended on the 31st of May 2019. During this time period, I experienced how it feels like to be a service crew and, of course, to earn your own money. For almost two months, I worked for a fast-food restaurant, stood 6-8 hours while serving the customers with a smile, despite being tired of such enormous work.

The funny thing is, I still had the chance to practice some of my kanjis while working because Chowking is a Philippine-based restaurant chain with a concept of Chinese food menu. I was surrounded with basic kanjis, such as 女、男、十七、四十五 and many more.

To say it honestly, Asia KAKEHASHI Project has a significant influence to why I chose to spend my summer working instead of relaxing in the comforts of my home. In Japan, I saw high school students who are already doing part-time jobs and earning their own money to actually support their own needs, without being an additional burden to the family’s budget. It actually inspired me to be independent and try to buy things out of my own pocket.