Two students from Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) were named winners of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) first nationwide video blog contest for students and young professionals in the country.

Both twenty-year-olds Shannefamel Almazan and Prince Loyd Besorio weaved a story on their experience from the 2017 Marawi conflict.

They also shared how the Japanese government’s support in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Lanao del Sur’s capital as well as its surrounding areas brought hope to people who were residents of the war-torn area.

The three-minute video titled “The answer to my senbazuru”, the Japanese belief of granting someone’s wish, talked about the effect of the armed conflict and their wish for peace and solidarity in Marawi.

“The projects of JICA made me realize that people you don’t even know are willing to help. As a Filipino, the rehabilitation help from other countries is a call for us to unite and strengthen the spirit of Bayanihan (collective help) and our role as peacemakers in our country,” Almazan said in the video.

In a statement on Thursday, JICA Philippines Chief Representative Wada Yoshio said the video blog contest was “an opportunity to listen to the voices of young people on international cooperation and for nations to collaborate together in solving common problems”.

The Japanese agency is currently supporting a road network development project in conflict-affected Areas in Mindanao that includes the construction and rehabilitation of the Marawi City Ring Road, among others, in support of the region’s economic development and peacebuilding.

Marawi City was once a thriving trading hub until the armed conflict razed the city in 2017.

Almazan and Besorio, who bested other entries that raised issues on transport infrastructure, disaster management, agriculture, and peace and development, earned a trip to Japan this year where they will have the chance to visit the JICA headquarters in Tokyo.

They will also experience Japan’s culture and tour several important sites in the country including the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

The contest is supported by All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. (ANA), Business Mirror, BusinessWorld SparkUp, Japan Foundation, and Japan National Tourism Organization.

“All the entries from young Filipino video bloggers were very inspiring and offered a fresh perspective on the bilateral relations between our countries. JICA looks forward to giving young people more platforms to share their ideas and experiences,” Wada added.

Aside from the video blog contest, JICA has been supporting human resource development in the Philippines training young Filipino professionals from government and promoting people-to-people exchange with the dispatch of young Japanese professionals to support Philippine development.

The winning entry can be viewed at

The videos submitted for the competition will be uploaded on the JICA Philippines website by next week. (Christine Cudis, PNA)