Dennis Sun 2024


March-April 2024

Last December, I had the pleasure of returning to my beloved home province of Pampanga, Philippines, for a truly memorable experience. The occasion? The prestigious awarding ceremony for the Most Outstanding Kapampangans for 2023 of a deserving Kapampangan friend in Japan.

As I stood among esteemed individuals and community leaders, I felt a profound sense of pride and gratitude for being part of such a remarkable event. To be recognized alongside fellow Kapampangans who have made significant contributions to our province was truly humbling as I was also given the award more than 10 years ago for mass media.

However, the festivities didn't end there. Alongside my fellow MOKA awardee for business enterpreneurship, Isabelita Manalastas-Watanabe, I had the privilege of sharing our journeys and experiences in Japan through lectures held at two universities and a museum. It was an opportunity to reflect on our time in Japan, the challenges we faced, and the lessons we learned along the way.

From navigating cultural differences to overcoming language barriers, our journeys in Japan were filled with twists and turns, but they ultimately led us to moments of growth and self-discovery. Through our lectures, we aimed to inspire others to pursue their dreams fearlessly and embrace the opportunities that come their way.

But perhaps the most heartwarming aspect of our visit was the opportunity to give back to our home province of Pampanga that had nurtured us. As we shared our stories and insights with students and members of the public, we hoped to impart valuable lessons and ignite a sense of curiosity and ambition in the next generation of Kapampangans. 

In the end, my time in Pampanga was not just about receiving recognition or sharing my experiences—it was about coming full circle and giving back to the place that shaped me into the person I am today. It was a reminder of the importance of community, connection, and the power of paying it forward. And as I left Pampanga, I carried with me a renewed sense of purpose and gratitude for the opportunities that lie ahead in my life in Japan.

Two months later, I found myself back in the Philippines, and again in Pampanga, returning to my roots in the vibrant city of Angeles. However, this trip held a significance beyond mere homecoming—it was a momentous occasion that intertwined personal milestones with family celebrations.

The purpose of my visit was twofold: to host my very first solo art exhibition in the Philippines and to partake in a triple birthday celebration for my beloved mother and two older sisters. February marked the month of their birthdays, and as my mother reached the remarkable age of 88, it was a moment to cherish and celebrate together.


Having showcased my artwork in numerous exhibitions across Japan and other countries over the years, this exhibition held a special significance for me. It wasn't just about showcasing my art; it was about returning to my roots and sharing my passion with the community that had supported me from the very beginning.

The art exhibition was a testament to years of passion, dedication, and creativity. As guests wandered through the gallery, they were greeted by a tapestry of colors and emotions—each piece a reflection of my experiences, inspirations, and dreams. It was a surreal moment to see my artwork adorning the walls of the gallery at Museo Ning Angeles, surrounded by the faces of friends, family, and fellow art enthusiasts. But more than just a personal milestone, the exhibition was an opportunity to connect with my fellow Kapampangans and share my creativity and perspective with them. Through my art, I hoped to spark conversations, evoke emotions, and inspire others to pursue their own artistic passions. 

But amidst the excitement of the exhibition, the true highlight of the trip was the opportunity to celebrate three remarkable women who had shaped my life in countless ways. My mother, with her boundless love and unwavering support, had been my guiding light through every triumph and challenge. And my sisters, with their laughter, wisdom, and companionship, had been my pillars of strength and inspiration.

And as I bid farewell to Angeles City once again, I carried with me not only memories of a successful exhibition and a joyous celebration but also a renewed sense of connection to my roots and a deep appreciation for the love and support of my family. In the end, it was a trip filled with love, laughter, and the timeless beauty of family bonds—a journey that I will always hold close to my heart.

Thanks to Isabelita Manalastas-Watanabe for pushing me to do an art exhibition in Angeles City! Salamat a dacal king Kuliat Foundation ampo king Museo Ning Angeles for letting me to do my exhibition even on a very short notice. To my family and friends who helped me make this show a success, thanks a million!


January-February 2024

I seldom go back home to the Philippines. I actually prefer to travel to different countries and experience different cultures. Immersion in other places and learning about the distinctive traditions and customs of other nations are two of my favorite things about traveling. From tasting exotic cuisines to witnessing breathtaking landscapes, every new destination offers a fresh perspective and a chance for personal growth. While I appreciate my Filipino roots, I find that venturing beyond my comfort zone allows me to broaden my horizons and create lasting memories.

Nevertheless, I returned to the Philippines, to my hometown of Angeles City, last December 2023. It was a bittersweet homecoming, stepping off the plane to familiar faces and strange new sights but also the lingering uncertainty of what is coming for me.

During my visit, I was reminded of the vibrant and bustling atmosphere that I grew up in. The familiar sights and sounds of the city brought back a sense of nostalgia and a feeling of belonging. Exploring the streets of Angeles City once again, I realized that there are still hidden gems and untold stories waiting to be discovered in my own backyard. Despite my love for traveling, coming back to my hometown reaffirmed the importance of embracing and appreciating my own culture while still seeking new adventures elsewhere.

I unexpectedly returned home to attend the 2023 MOKA (Most Outstanding Kapampangan Award) recipients' celebration. For business entrepreneurship, Ms. Isabelita Manalastas-Watanabe was the person I personally nominated. She was deserving of praise for her outstanding accomplishments and services to the field of business and entrepreneurship. My very dear friend Philip Torres, who has received an award for culture, is another honoree. Both their dedication to showcasing Kapampangan culture through various forms, such as in business and fashion, is truly commendable. I was also a MOKA awardee for mass media in 2013, and as I sat among the audience, witnessing the pride and joy on the faces of these remarkable individuals, I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of gratitude for the rich heritage that our province of Pampanga has given us. It was a reminder that no matter where we go, our roots will always be a part of who we are and that embracing our own culture is just as important as exploring new horizons.

With the assistance of several friends (salamat much to all!), Ms. Watanabe and I were able to donate our time to give lectures to friends and colleagues at the Museo Ning Angeles as well as to students of two universities in Pampanga—City College Angeles City and City College San Fernando—fulfilling my desire to spend constructive time in the Philippines. During these lectures, we shared our experiences in Japan. It was heartwarming to see the genuine interest and engagement of the attendees, further reinforcing our belief in the power of education and cross-cultural exchange. In addition, we were able to develop deep relationships and fully immerse ourselves in the local way of life.

Going back home, I felt like a child once again being in our old house—the house where I grew up. The familiar sights, smells, and sounds brought back a flood of memories, and I couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia. As I walked through the rooms, I could almost hear the echoes of laughter and feel the warmth of family gatherings. It was a reminder of how far I had come since leaving home to pursue my dreams. The experience in the Philippines had not only allowed me to connect with my family but also reconnect with myself and appreciate the roots that shaped me.

Going back home is also about reflecting on the experiences and memories made abroad. As I boarded the plane, I couldn't help but feel a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to connect with others through education and cultural exchange. The lectures in the Philippines not only allowed us to share our knowledge but also opened our minds to different perspectives and ways of life. It was a humbling experience to see how education can bridge gaps and bring people together, regardless of geographical boundaries. As I settled back into my routine at home in Tokyo, I carried with me the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people, especially by my fellow kabalen, forever grateful for the connections created, and the lessons learned.