President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his keynote speech at the Launch of the
Philippines’ Chairmanship of the ASEAN.
(Photo by Philippine Information Agency/Rudolph Ian Alama)

The regional association of ten nations in Southeast Asia will benefit you more than you think.

The word “bayanihan,” signifies a lot of things for the Filipino. It means helping one another, carrying each other’s burden, putting in more effort than extended, going the extra mile, and seeing the collective success of each other fulfilled. 

Teamwork. Unity. Cooperation. Agreement. Shared success.

It’s what “bayanihan” is all about and more than ever, it’s a concept that’s invoked by the President himself, especially this year 2017 as we lead the charge in heralding the precepts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This year, on ASEAN’s 50th founding anniversary, the Philippines is hosting her neighbor countries to further cooperation, strengthen ties, and truly make the ASEAN more people-centered and people-oriented.

"I say to you today in full humility:  the Philippines—as ASEAN Chair—will remain steadfast in upholding the ideals and values we hold dear and in working for the realization of our shared aspirations," President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Sunday at the Grand Launch of the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN.  President Duterte called on all Filipinos “to take an active and constructive part during the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN.”

Knowing more about the ASEAN, finding ways to get involved could prove wise counsel, because this regional bloc matters to you more than you think.

As the nations of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam converge in the Philippine shores in the coming year—everyone ought to remember that it’s their future that’s at stake. 

The success of the ASEAN is the success of the Philippines, and thereby, the Filipino. 

Here are a few reasons why this regional alliance of countries matters to you.

If youre a Filipino citizen, you are an ASEAN citizen

No matter where you live in the Philippines, what your background is, or what your stand is in key issues affecting the country, you are a part of ASEAN by virtue of being a Filipino citizen. As this regional bloc of 10 nations continues to integrate, what happens in other nations affects you.

Peace is a good example to talk about in relation to being a member of the ASEAN. A key reason why Filipinos have not experienced wars or threats of wars for decades is because of the peaceful and harmonious relationship with its neighbors. It’s a benefit derived from the partnership with the nine other countries in the region. 

A rules-based community, where each nation respects the norms within their region is what has allowed ASEAN countries to be at peace with one another. This also paved way for economic growth and development, and a culture of peace amongst member states.

A successful ASEAN opens up opportunities for Filipino workers, consumers, and businessmen

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has promoted globalization on a regional level, removing trade hurdles and barriers so that products and services can be exchanged easier.

This means that if you’re a businessperson selling goods, you have the 630 million strong consumer market throughout the region as potential buyers. It’s an instant six times jump in the possibility of who could buy from you—what used to be a market of 100 million potential buyers (Philippine population) is suddenly more than half a billion!

Not only that, the Filipino consumer is also poised to benefit from this economic set-up as competition would cause businesses to step up in terms of product quality, delivery, and customer service. Prices would shift to benefit you—giving you the most value for peso as choices widen for goods and services.

For the Filipino worker, it’s much easier to work around the nine other member nations that compose the association. Should you decide to move to another ASEAN country, AEC provides that you get the same salary level for your profession at par with the market rate of that country.

OFWs and marginalized Filipinos gain a larger audience where their voices can be heard

You may not be one of them but you sure have seen one of our countrymen who have disability, are impoverished, or know someone who is a migrant worker— an Overseas Filipino Worker. You may also have experienced a typhoon at a point in your life (or know someone who had) especially for a country like ours that experiences at least 10-12 of this a year!

As governments within the ASEAN continue to work together, the goal is to not only make an economically stronger and more peaceful region, but a safer one for all of its citizens.

The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community aims to build a common identity among members of the regional bloc, while ensuring that ASEAN citizens who are marginalized are given the care that they need. This is why agreements that aim to protect human rights, curtail child trafficking, strengthen humanitarian response, nurture biodiversity, and preserve the environment have been signed by the ASEAN Member States.

The overall goal is to ensure that no city, town, or citizen should be left behind or feel unsafe in the region.

In the ASEAN, the underprivileged are heard, the environment is protected, and the rights of the individual upheld.

As this regional alliance celebrates the past, it also looks forward to the future. The Philippines, as one of its founding Members has a huge role to play in seeing a more integrated, more unified, and more prosperous ASEAN. 

Follow the Philippine Information Agencys coverage of the ASEAN on Facebook and Twitter. To know more about the ASEAN and the PhilippinesChairmanship of the 30th and 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings visit ASEAN2017.PH.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Postmaster General Joel Otarra unveils the Philippines’ ASEAN Chairmanship
Commemorative Postage Stamp. SMX, Davao City. 
(Photo by Philippine Information Agency/Rudolph Ian Alama)

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay delivers his welcome remarks at the Grand Launch of the
Philippines’ Chairmanship of the ASEAN 2017 themed Partnering for Change, Engaging the World. SMX, Davao City.
(Photo by Philippine Information Agency/Rudolph Ian Alama)

Jonathan Badon renders the Philippines’ ASEAN Chairmanship Theme Song. SMX, Davao City.  
(Photo by Philippine Information Agency/Rudolph Ian Alama)