Filipino recipients of the Taiwan Scholarship Program were recently cited by the Representative of Taiwan to the Philippines for their “contribution to enhancing Taiwan- Philippines relations that have never been stronger than they are today.”
During the 2015 Taiwan Alumni Association Gathering, hosted by Taipei Economic and Cultural Office or TECO in the Philippines on June 6, Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin pointed out that “as seeing is believing, [the Filipino scholars’]studies in Taiwan have helped them to discover and witness that, Taiwanese, just like Filipinos, are warm, friendly, honest, hospitable, courteous, innovative, creative, diligent, optimistic, energetic, generous and peace-loving.”
“In fact, we share so many similarities and common values,” he said in his keynote speech that reflected on his mission and elaborated on some prospects of future possible cooperation between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Lin added that he is sure that life experiences the Filipino alumni gained in Taiwan “have enriched them to blend ‘two kinds of perspectives’ and ‘two kinds of mind sets’ into their world views.”
According to him, the Filipino alumni are in key positions of influence to present the beauty of Taiwan and its people to their fellow Filipinos qualified as they are to be called Taiwan’s “goodwill ambassadors.”
Lin spoke of “an urgent need to have a bridge [between Taipei and Manila]upon which we can have more exchanges, more mutual understanding, more educational and cultural exchanges and more investments.”
He noted that the investments will be mutually beneficial if Taiwan and the Philippines form joint ventures to explore opportunities.
Lin pointed to exploring projects aimed at strengthening agricultural cooperation.
Taiwan is renowned for turning small-scale farms into much higher value eco-tourism and leisure farms and has the technique, capital and expertise to upgrade and improve many agricultural products of the Philippines.
Lin said Taiwan may offer expertise in small and medium enterprises or SMEs, as the business structures of Taiwan and the Philippines are quite similar.
He added that “Taiwan’s experience and economic development model can be borrowed by the Philippines and the two sides should work together, complementing each other, and creating more jobs for young Filipinos.”
Lin also noted the importance of tourism as another field of cooperation that “would be conducive to our economic interests and growth.”
For him, the first step is to increase more flights to and from Taiwan and the Philippines.
As TECO “has worked hard to make traveling more convenient for both sides,” he announced that the Philippine government will liberalize visa requirements for Taiwanese visitors by extending the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system.
Thus, Lin said, there will be 142 countries, including the European Union, the United States and Australia, that will ease the visa requirements for the Taiwanese travelers.
In terms of Taiwan’s assistance in digital education, he also pointed out that Taiwan has helped the Philippines set up 17 APEC Digital Opportunity Centers, allowing more than 180,000 Filipinos to receive training.
For economic integration, Lin encouraged more Filipinos to invest in Taiwan, which, he said, is “a stronghold of the world’s high-tech industries and an indispensable link in the global industrial chain.”
He ended his speech by quoting former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos as saying, “Whether you like it or not, it is time for the Philippines and Taiwan to embrace each other.”