Hozue Hatae: ‘Japanese-Turned-Ilocana’

Some people live with the saying that “business is business,” whatever the case may be. They say that becoming attached to your subjects tends to cloud your better judgment. Not in Hozue Hatae’s case, which is an exception.

BY ANA KRISTINA BADON
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 15 May 20-26, 2007

Some people live with the saying that “business is business,” whatever the case may be. They say that becoming attached to your subjects tends to cloud your better judgment.

Not in Hozue Hatae’s case, which is an exception.

Ms. Hozue Hatae is a member of a Japanese organization named Friends of the Earth. She was sent to the Philippines in the year 2001 to monitor projects the Japanese are involved in as to its social and environmental impact.

For her first mission, she was assigned to monitor the proceedings of the San Roque Dam project. Basically, she had to be familiar about the project, about the land, the people there and how the whole project is going to affect the area as a whole.

But what makes this Japanese woman special? For one, Hatae has been in and out of the Philippines for almost six years now. During her stay here in the country, most of which was in Pangasinan with the family of Lakay (Elder) Jose Doton, she has learned to speak Ilokano, the local language, very fluently. She is very well integrated into their everyday lives that she has already become part of the Doton family.

“When I came here, I had not known the people affected by the San Roque Dam project,” she said. “Little by little, I had gotten along well with them in terms of their struggle – the people are already my friends…that’s why I do not want to withdraw my commitment especially in the San Roque Dam,” she added.

What really impressed Hatae was how these people keep their spirits up. “I’m really impressed about their struggle and I get inspiration from it in my work and I respect their spirit for this struggle,” she said.

After years of working on this cause, Hatae admitted, she has become emotionally and professionally attached. However, she still strongly insists to be based in the province not for any other reason; but because she has come to understand what the affected people have been complaining about.

Of late, she has become deeply concerned with the issue of extra-judicial killings. Based on data from Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), there have been more than 840 extra-judicial killings since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was catapulted to power in 2001 through a popular uprising.

She hopes that after the case of Lakay Jose, who was killed on May 16 last year, have been investigated, other extra-judicial killings would also be looked into based on their political and social contexts.

Hatae said that if there are people who suffer from development plans funded by the Japanese government, then perhaps it should reconsider whether it must go on channeling official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines.

“I can not speak about the Philippine government because I am Japanese, but the Japanese government should also consider the issue of extra-judicial killings which is being raised by other international non-government organizations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, the biggest international human rights organization based in London,” she said.

Hatae plans to stay in the Philippines – if her organization would allow her – to monitor other projects in Mindanao, Palawan and Bohol, not just because her work is here but because of her commitment to the Filipino people. Northern Dispatch /(Bulatlat.com)

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