Humans have always been more successful in everything when they work with one another. Two heads are better than one, they say. And being a member of group whose common heritage is undeniable makes much sense to band together and work toward growth and happiness.
ASEAN means that exact same thing for Filipinos like me. It brings a sense of community where people can work together despite challenges such as language, religion, and family upbringing. As long as the community enriches itself through the passion and love for one another of its members, there is a continuing need to stay within the embrace of the community.
Filipino hospitality is known around the world, and it’s with this open arms that the Philippines accepts ASEAN as a family. Filipinos have the natural knack to flash a friendly smile to everyone, and this makes community members at ease with us. This makes working together smooth and efficient. Not only the work gets done, but also people working do it with love, passion, and with a laugh every now and then.
On a personal note, being part of ASEAN means having an identity in the global stage, especially now that the world is getting smaller and relationships know no distance. Meeting people from all walks of life and from every corner of the world is now not a far-fetched thing to think of but instead a reality that happens to most of us. Having this ASEAN identity means recognition in that when they hear you from this side of the world, they will think about friendliness, smiling faces, walks in white sand beaches, and the best mangoes and pineapples they’ve tasted in their lives.
I like the idea that when people talk to me, they think I represent my country and of course the ASEAN region. I like that they would remember their Filipino friends back in their home and how well she cooks that chicken in soy sauce stew. And then we will talk about the variety of soups they tried when they went backpacking in Southeast Asia and the tropical fruits they had tasted for the first time. I like it that upon hearing ASEAN, people will think of hard work and creativity, and trust and confidence.
ASEAN means building bridges of friendship in this part of the world despite the vast seas and towering mountains that separate our lands and the thousands of language that people speak. It is with these bridges that understanding will grow into a common vision that ASEAN is a region where every person from these ten nations—and everyone else who choose to visit it—feel safe, secure, and happy.
By Emerson Kim LINESES, ASEAN Correspondent from Philippines