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 will be hosting the public lecture, “The Samurai of the Philippines: Exploring the Genealogy of a Popular Trope” on 28 Februray 2024, 2:00 PM (GMT+8), at the Seminar Room, GT-Toyota Asian Cultural Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman. The event is free and open to the public. Online registration is required.


It is well known that Luzon was a popular destination for Japanese sojourners between the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. When Spanish troops destroyed a settlement on the northern tip of Cagayan in 1581, they perceived the belligerent inhabitants of “Puerto de Japón” as a risk to their sovereignty. Other settlements, such as Dilao outside Intramuros in Manila were more permanent and became known as nihonmachi (Japanese towns). Several thousand immigrants from Japan engaged with both the indigenous society and the colonial government as mercenaries, merchants, and exiled Japanese Christians. While historical sources show that cohabitation and collaboration with the Japanese were not without friction, scholarship has often looked at the Japanese in the Philippines through the lens of exceptionalism. This later aspect gained even further momentum in the twentieth century when various stakeholders used the memory of early modern Japanese residents for their political agendas. In my presentation, I will explore the trope of the Japanese samurai in Southeast Asia and ask how historical actors and historiography influenced public and cultural diplomacy between Japan and the Philippines in recent decades.


Birgit Tremml-Werner is an Adjunct Professor of the Asian Center, Univesity of the Philippines Diliman and a senior lecturer at Stockholm University in Sweden. She has a Mag. phil. and Dr. phil. degrees in History (with a minor in Japanese Studies) from the University of Vienna. She is the author of Spain, China, and Japan in Manila, 1571-1644: Local Comparisons, Global Connections (2015). See full profile.

For inquiries, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 891-8500 loc. 3586.
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.