SOME 100 students and young leaders from several colleges and universities across the country attended the first-ever “Asean Youth Dialogues” that tackled the positive impact of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) integration on Filipino youth.
Organized by five Filipino youth alumni of the United States Department of State’s exchange programs and members of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, the AseanYouth Dialogues is a series of conferences aimed at engaging young leaders and students in discussions to help them better understand the implications of Asean’s upcoming integration by 2015.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg told the participants that as young leaders, they must address the challenges of the 21st Century.
“The challenges of today by-and-large do not recognize borders. Responding requires joint effort. Thus, the concept of a peaceful, secure, and prosperous Asean community is a vision that resonates for the United States,” he said.
“The U.S. supports Asean’s economic integration goals and we aim to create dynamic, open economies with the establishment of an integrated Asean Economic Community by the end of 2015. A peaceful, secure, and prosperous Southeast Asia is good for the world, but it’s even more important for Asean’s citizens and governments,” he added.
The forum was held with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Manila in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs- Foreign Service Institute, Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Ayala Foundation Inc.
Keynote speakers included Department of Foreign Affairs- Office of Asean Affairs Executive Director Teresita Daza and The Manila Times College president Dr. Isagani Cruz.
The sessions focused on the three pillars of the integration: political security, economic, and socio-cultural.
The other speakers included Bantay.ph co-founder Happy Feraren, Agricool founder Cherie Atilano, and Anthropologist Clarissa Mijares of Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Project lead John Patrick Allanegui hopes that this initiative can encourage other collaborative efforts among youth to discuss Asean’s integration and other youth issues.
“The Asean Youth Dialogues seeks to provide the younger generation, particularly student leaders, with a better grasp of the impact of the integration to education and on other issues affecting the youth,” Allanegui said.
This year, four more AseanYouth Dialogues will be held: one at Ateneo de Davao University in Davao, one at St. Louis University in Baguio, and at two universities in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.