The Philippines and ASEAN

20 10 2009

ASEAN or Association of Southeast Asian Nations is an organization formed by Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines in 1967 in order to boost the region’s economic growth and social progress. Among ASEAN countries, the Philippines is one of the most unique nations because it is the only nation that blends in most of the American culture. Other countries in South East Asia usually inherit their cultures from the other Asian countries, such as Singapore’s dominant culture is Chinese, so the Philippines is the country that spreads out the American culture to other countries in South East Asia. Moreover, while other countries suffered the economic crisis in 1997, the Philippines was not affected much because it went through a financial and economic system transformation before the crisis happened.

However, even though the economic crisis did not affect the economic system of the Philippines, but it did slow down the economic growth, so the government of the Philippines invited foreign investors to invest in the Philippines without having to pay tax. Even though the government allows a lot of foreign investors (especially the ones from ASEAN), the investment was limited by many laws and policies. The most important policy that the Filipino government deployed at the time was the “Filipino First Policy,” because the government was afraid that foreign investors would possess too much of the Filipino economic share. The government at the time felt that native Filipinos can also do business as good as foreigners, and it does not want the foreign power to drain resources out of the islands.

The Philippines and ASEAN countries have had a very good relationship that can be traced back before the formation of ASEAN, for instance, 2009 is the year of 60 years of Thai-Filipino formal relationship. The Philippines also contributes a lot in the ASEAN, such as in 12th ASEAN Formal Summit at Cebu, the Philippines’ government wants the ASEAN to take the issue of human rights more seriously. ASEAN Song of Unity (or the ASEAN Hymn) was also composed by a Filipino named Ryan Cayabyab. Moreover, there are several places in the Philippines that are considered the ASEAN Heritage Site, such as Iglit-Baco National Park, and Tubbataha Reef Marine Park.

Thus, even though the Philippines, from the view point of other countries, is the country that helps spreading the European and American cultures, the Filipinos have a very unique cultural identity because it ‘s both Asian and Spanish. ASEAN is all about uniting many countries that have a very different cultural and economic background, so I think that the contribution of every countries in ASEAN will benefit everybody as a whole. Lastly, we have to make our ASEAN to be as great as the European Union!! (even though their cultural/economical difference is very small)

– Paween Itthipalkul

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