Naga to host ASEAN conference
By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- An impressive line-up of guests and resource speakers will banner the opening of the 3-day 1st International Conference on ASEAN Education and Cultural Exchange slated to be held at the Avenue Plaza Hotel here on March 26-28, this year. Vice President Maria Leonor Gerona-Robredo, Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones, Rep. Gabriel H, Bordado, and Naga City Mayor John G. Bongat will each give their messages on the opening day at 9:00 a.m. at The Tent, Avenue Plaza Hotel, along Magsaysay Avenue here. Among the resource persons are representatives from the education, culture and tourism sector of ASEAN member countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore Supt. William E. Gando of host Naga Division of City Schools will deliver his piece on the Philippines’ K-12 Education Milestones on the second day. The conference is expected to be attended by some 500 delegates representing DepEd national and regional offices, 10 ASEAN delegations, senior high school students, faculty and educators, and other guests. The conference, according to Supt Gando, aims to (1) intensify awareness and understanding of young people on ASEAN Integration, Education, Culture and Heritage, (2) capacitate leadership skills of students and educators within ASEAN through cultural presentations and performances, (3) establish a pool and bonded community of student leaders and educators that continuously perform the duty to excel and to lead, and (4) increase engagement of ASEAN students, educators and other stakeholders within the regional convergence. During the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit held in Kuala Lumpur in November 2015, the heads of state from the 10 member nations signed a declaration establishing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which formally came into being at the end of 2015. Advocates state that this regional grouping will lead to an exponential expansion of the region’s economies. Under AEC, there will be a free flow of goods, services and investment, and freer flow of capital, equitable economic development, and reduced poverty and socioeconomic disparities by year 2020. Aside from the pursuit of an economic community itself, ASEAN has two other paths in its 3-pillar strategy towards regional integration. These are (1) ASEAN political and security community and (2) ASEAN socio-cultural community, the latter is where the pursuit for ASEAN Education and Cultural Exchange, through this Naga conference, falls. Among the highlights of the conference will be the showcasing of the different ASEAN regional cultural practices through dance, songs, chants, and other native performances. Renowned chef and restaurant owner Vincent Chow of Kuala Lumpur will talk on ASEAN food tourism while Narit Kerdvimaluang of Thailand’s Rajamangala University of Technology will deliver a lecture on Trans-ASEAN Education, among other speakers. Bicol DepEd Regional Director Ramon Fiel G, Abcede will deliver his message on the final day, along with the parting messages of Actor Cesar Montano, who is also the COO of the Tourism Promotions Board, and ASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi.