CORDILLERAN overseas Filipino workers based in Japan have a group to turn to where they can share their struggles in life being away from home.

This is the Igorot Fellowship in Japan formed by young teacher Raffin Montes Unson, who is residing in Yokosuka, Japan but working in Yokohama City.

Organized in 2015 with just seven original members, the group has grown and has 220 members who are trainees, teachers, domestic helpers, caregivers and US Navy personnel.

“We meet every weekend and from our own group we feel connected back to our roots because we share the same burden, we share the same struggle, and homesickness,” Unson said.

Teacher Raffin is from Palew, Caponga, Tublay, Benguet. He is the eldest of three children of Stewart Unson who is a miner and former factory worker in Japan and Noeme Unson, a storekeeper and also a former factory worker in Japan.

He graduated at the University of the Cordilleras with the course Bachelor of Science in Education major in Social Science in 2012. He also studied at Kings College of the Philippines with the course Bachelor of Arts in Theology.

He also served as a volunteer teacher in a school in Tublay for three years and has been helping the community as a US Peace Corps volunteer.

It was in 2013 when he started teaching in Hayama International School until 2017 then transferred to Okohama Christian School. He also works as a private music teacher.

“I am so thankful and blessed because I was hired as a Social Studies teacher as my profession,” he said.

While in Japan he is also busy promoting the music of his band the Soul Hunters, a local Christian group formed in Acop, Tublay, Benguet and associated with the Sowers of the Living Word Fellowship under Ptr. Tarnate Bantiles.

The group’s music also fosters the Cordilleran culture as they also use the Benguet dialect Ibaloy and Kankaney and likewise the Ilocano language.

He is also a businessman and into the coffee business, producing his own Benguet Arabica medium and dark roast.

Although life in Japan is good, Unson still intends to go back home for good when the time comes.

Life abroad has a lot of challenges but when you are with people and a group that cares and understands you, you will feel that there is also a home away from home.

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