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Eloisa Romero Japan International Cooperation Agency Philippines

Abstract This study looked into the sources of information tapped by Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers to learn about volunteerism and the Philippines. Half of the 64 Japanese volunteers currently assigned in the Philippines participated in the study. Interview with key informants was used to validate the findings. Study results include complementation of mass media and direct information sources on volunteerism, and a note on the Philippines tourism information campaign in Japan.

Keywords Volunteer tourism, marketing, Japanese volunteers, mass media

Abrantes (2007) pointed out the importance of understanding consumer behavior in order to create appropriate strategies that could influence their decisions. In the volunteer sector, we can consider volunteers as the supplier of skills that are needed in development; yet from the point of view of the destination, these suppliers are in essence the consumers that we want to attract and influence. Development is defined as the improvement of the quality of life of the individual (Flor 2006). It is the kind of change that uplifts the socio-economic life of ordinary people, improving their capacity to become better persons and productive citizens (PNVSCA 2011). Volunteers play a part in this development by contributing their time and skills to help improve the lives of people in the communities they serve. The United Nations (UN) cites three elements of volunteerism as: sharing time and skills based on (1) freewill, (2) not primarily for monetary gain, and (3) that the activities should benefit people other than the volunteer. The Philippines is not new to volunteerism. A number of International Volunteer Services Organizations (VSOs) have been sending foreign volunteers to the Philippines for about 50 years now. Japans official development assistance in the Philippines, for instance, started with the first batch Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) arriving in the country in 1966 (JICA 2011). Some of the reasons for choosing the Philippines as their country of assignment include English communication as well as the existence of norms likebayanihan(providing volunteer service in the spirit of camaraderie). Filipinos, too, provide volunteer service in many forms, inside and outside the country. (PNVSCA 2011)

Volunteerism is part of the Philippine development agenda so much so that in 2007, Republic Act 9418 was signed into law, providing a framework for volunteer activities in the country. Volunteerism is also cited in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 as means to achieve the countrys development goals. The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) 2011 Country Report nonetheless cited the linkage between potential volunteers and VSOs as a challenge for the sector, as well as communicating advocacy on volunteerism in the grassroots/local level. This study thus tried to contribute in this aspect by providing an analysis of the information channels that potentially influence the decision of volunteers to do volunteer work in the Philippines. Specifically, this study sought to answer the following questions: 1. How did the Japanese volunteers learn about volunteerism? 2. How did the Japanese volunteers know about the Philippines? 3. Has tourism-related information contributed in the decision to do volunteer work in the Philippines? The questions are directed at Japanese volunteers who are currently working in the Philippines. This was done so given the limited time and resources for the study, which was addressed by the kind and timely cooperation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)s volunteer section.

The objective of this study is two-pronged, so as its significance: 1. Contribution to the Tourism Industry The effectiveness of the Department of Tourisms (DOT) campaigns in Japan is in part evaluated by this study. Whether these respondents came across tourism-related ads in their homeland and whether these ads influenced these volunteers decision to come to the Philippines can be considered as indicators of the effectiveness of DOTs campaign. Moreover, these volunteers will eventually go back home and tell others about their experiences in the Philippines. Hence, volunteer satisfaction creates word of mouth (WOM) promotion, too. 2. Contribution to the Development and Volunteer Sector Knowledge about the sources of information of volunteers will help VSOs to streamline advocacy campaigns and means of targeting potential volunteers, thereby addressing some of the challenges mentioned in the PNVSCA 2011 Country Report.

Conceptual Framework

Figure 1: Conceptual Framework

This study identified sources of information that potentially influenced the decision of volunteers to do volunteer work in the Philippines.

According to PNVSCA, there were 1445 foreign volunteers assigned in the Philippines from 2001 to 2011, dispatched through PNVSCAs partner VSOs: GTZ, JICA, KOICA, AYAD/VIDA Australia, OISCA, US Peace Corps, UN Volunteers and VSO Bahaginan. This translates to about 150-200 registered foreign volunteers working in the country at any given time. Currently, there are 64 Japanese volunteers assigned in the Philippines through the JOCV Program; half of them (32 volunteers) participated in this study. They are between 20-39 years old. This study made use of survey questionnaire as the main instrument in collecting data (please see Attachment-1). The questionnaire was pre-tested in July, and administered through email in the first week of August 2012. To validate the findings of this study, interviews were conducted with key informants from JICA and OISCA, two PNVSCA-recognized volunteer service organizations that send Japanese volunteers to the country. Review of secondary materials and information from other key informants were also employed in the analysis.

When asked about how the respondents heard of volunteerism (multiple responses), the top three choices are: 34% from the internet (such as the official websites of volunteer organizations) 31% from friends 28% from pamphlets/brochures If we group these sources into (a) direct/word of mouth sources and (b) indirect/mass media sources, the data shows that more respondents got information about volunteer work from mass media than from people they know.

Info Source Friends Relatives School Workplace TV Internet Pamphlet Periodicals Subway ads

Frequency 10 4 4 2 8 11 9 2 1

Subtotal 20 direct

31 indirect

Table 1: Sources of Information about Volunteerism However, it is interesting to note that having been allowed to choose multiple responses, more than half of the respondents chose at least one direct information source and paired with one or several indirect information sources. This may mean that while mass media can be a good source of information, word of mouth can be a strong factor in reinforcing decision.

The interview with OISCA supports this outcome. According to Mr.Shigemi Watanabe, Director of OISCA BagoCenter, volunteers in Japan learn about OISCA and its volunteer activities also primarily through the internet, mass media (TV and newspapers), and pamphlets. Additionally, the OISCA Institute in Hamamatsu City, Japan conducts volunteerism seminars for young people, while the OISCA chapter members in Japan help recruit volunteers by encouraging their friends and associates to join civic activities such as tree planting, doing school tie-ups, sponsoring scholars and youth exchange programs, etc. inside and outside Japan. As to information about the Philippines, this study failed to arrive at a significant conclusion for the second question: why did you choose the Philippines as place of assignment. This is because two thirds of the respondents said it was either assigned to them or that there was no other choice. When asked about whether mass media (TV, newspaper, magazines, billboards) in Japan features enough information about the Philippines, the respondents disagreed. They also disagreed that life in the Philippines is the same as they imagined it to be; the questionnaire, however, does not determine whether this is in a positive or negative way. They have mixed responses for internet as a good source of information about the Philippines: a third agree, another third disagree, and the rest is undecided. They have the same response with regards to whether their expectations about doing volunteer work in the Philippines are met and whether mass medias portrayal of the Philippines is realistic or not. Moreover, since there is a scarcity of tourismrelated and general information about the Philippines in Japan, the respondents also cannot decide whether tourism-related information affected their decision to accept the volunteer work assignment in the Philippines. An unexpected written remark from one of the respondents noted that the Philippinesis often associated by Japanese to bananas, being the top exporter of bananas to Japan.This claim is supported by two Japanese interviewees: (1) a participant of a JICA Study Tour, and (2) an executive of the Osaka Youth Hostel Association. The former mentioned of a popular Banana Diet, which prompted her to join the study tour to the Philippines, while the latter shared the story of how he learned about the Philippines because of bananas.

Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, the study found that Japanese volunteers learned about volunteerism primarily through mass media sources such as the internet, TV, and pamphletsthe internet being the top information source. However, word of mouth remains to be a strong factor in reinforcing the decision to convert knowledge to action. Thus, combining mass media and direct information campaigns is advised for volunteer service organizations (VSO). Mass media materials must contain contact details of the VSO to harness initial interest from potential volunteers. Moreover, the findings of this study support Wearings (2001) argument that while mass tourism relies on information dissemination through mass media and other indirect means of communication, volunteer tourism also relies much on information transfer through direct contact. The findings also support the conclusion of another study (Abrantes 2007) which found that institutional brochures and the internet are major sources of information for foreign visitors. However, there is a scarcity of tourism-related and general information about the Philippines in Japan. The Department of Tourism (DOT) engaged Hello Kitty as a special endorser for the Philippines in 2008 (Manila Standard Today); findings of this study, however, show that it may be more effective to commission Bananas in Pyjamas as the Philippines tourism ambassador in Japan because the Japanese associates the Philippines to bananas, the latter being the top exporter of the fruit to Japan. It is thus recommended for DOT to capitalize on banana trade for its future tourism campaigns in Japan.

Abrantes, J.L. (2007). The impact of using non-media information sources on the future use of mass media information sources: The mediating role of expectations fulfilment. Tourism Management, 28, 15411554.[Online]. Available: [15thJuly 2012] Flor, A. &Ongkiko I.V. (2006).Introduction to Development Communication. Quezon City: UPOU. JICA Philippines (2011).[Brochure]JOCV Map. Manila Standard Today (2008).Philippines-tourism taps Hello Kitty to Draw Japanese Tourists. [Online].Available: [10thAugust 2012] PNVSCA (2011).PNVSCA 2011 Country Report.[Online]. Available:[15thJuly 2012] Wearing, S. (2001).Volunteer Tourism: Experiences that make a difference. UK: CABI Publishing.