Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it.
Now I understand 
why the old poets of China went so far
and high 
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.
"The Old Poets of China" by Mary Oliver

The UP Asian Center hosted the public lecture, “The Samurai of the Philippines: Exploring the Genealogy of a Popular Trope” last 28 February 2024, 2:00 PM (GMT+8), at the Seminar Room, GT-Toyota Asian Cultural Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman. 
The public lecture featured Prof. Birgit Tremml-Werner, an Adjunct Professor of the Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman, and a senior lecturer at Stockholm University in Sweden. Combining the diplomatic and socio-cultural history of pre-1900 East and Southeast Asia, Prof. Tremml-Werner used the Japanese samurai trope in presenting a nuanced perspective on how historical actors and historiography molded Japan’s historical relations with the Philippines and the Southeast. 
The policy of seclusion of the Tokugawa government created gaps in the Japanese imperial historical records. To mitigate this challenge, Prof. Tremml-Werner used Murakami Naojirō’s (1896-1966) archives and foreign materials. Records showed that foreign trade, Catholic Franciscan missionaries, and Spanish colonialism were the cornerstones of Philippines-Japan relations in the mid-15th century. 
Tremml-Werner took note of two Japanese samurais; Takayama Ukon (1552-1615) a Daimyo (feudal lordknown as the protector of Christianity in Japan and Japanese Christian communities in the Philippines (Dilao and San Miguel Manila), and Yamada Nagamasa (1590-1630) a naval merchant who governed the Japanese Christian communities of Ayutthaya, Siam (modern-day Thailand). Both figures were vital to the development of direct diplomatic relations between Japan and Southeast Asia during the early Edo period.
The succeeding Meiji era (1868-1912) further developed Japan-Philippine relations through the southern expansion fever (nanshin retsu). This prompted an increase in Japanese knowledge production that linked the Philippines to Taiwan, with Taiwan becoming the center of Japan’s expansion of its sphere of influence in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Prof. Tremml-Werner used the term “empirical imperialism,” defined as the propaganda of nanshin-ron or nihonjiron which emphasized Japan’s cultural superiority and ascendancy to lead Southeast Asia.
To preserve Philippines-Japan relations, the establishment of “friendship” associations increased during the 18th and 19th century, all-through the Philippine revolution against Spain. The effects of these associations on Philippine-Japan socio-cultural relations showed in the following decades. During the Metro Manila beautification campaign in the 1970s, the statue of Takayama was constructed at the Plaza Dilao, in Paco, Manila. In 2017, Pope Francis beatified Blessed Justo Ukon Takayama, a move which the Catholic Bishop of the Philippines (CBCP) strongly supported.
The audience was composed of students, scholars, students, administrators, and enthusiasts who actively participated in the open forum. The discussion revolved around increasing the unbiased perspective of the presentation mainly through; the inclusion of the World War 2 period, using women’s paradigm to counterbalance the exclusively masculine narrative, and the alternative use of the Philippines’s Boxer Codex in validating the historical records.
The event was moderated by Prof. Ariel Lopez (UP Asian Center) and UP Asian Center Dean Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr. delivering the welcome remarks.



     For inquiries, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    The Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The UP Asian Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. It also offers a Ph.D. program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. For an overview of these graduate programs, click here. As an area studies institution, the Asian Center also publishes Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia, the latest issue of which can be downloaded at the journal's website. For other news and upcoming events at the Asian Center, click here.