By Donald Bertulfo and Bernice Halili
Internationalization has become a buzz-word in contemporary economic thought as countries start forming blocs in pursuit of a superordinate goal or interest. With this in mind, the Philippines is continuously trying to discover the opportunities and hazards of entering the “global game.” In line with offering depth and insight on the concept of globalization in Southeast Asia, the Ateneo Economics Association launched KamalAEAn 2014: The APEC and its Relevance to the Philippines, in order to orient economics and non-economics majors alike on the issues pertaining to the Philippines’ membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The forum was held at the 5th Floor of the Rizal Library on September 26, 2014.
Hundreds of Ateneo students attended the first installment of KamalAEAn for the school year, fulfilling one of the main objectives of the event, the propagation of socio-economic consciousness in the Ateneo community. Because it is the Philippines’ turn to host the APEC Summit in 2015, it was only fitting to that the forum guest speakers were experts in international relations, namely, Laura del Rosario, Head of the APEC National Secretariat and DFA Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, and Antonio Basilio, CEO of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan and the Executive Director of the APEC Business Advisory Council International Secretariat. Del Rosario gave an introduction on APEC and presented possible themes for APEC 2015 as suggested by the Philippines. Meanwhile, Basilio talked about the effects of the Philippines’ membership in APEC on the private sector.
Over the course of KamalAEAn, the various speakers introduced the core values or “pillars” of APEC and their relevance to the Philippine economy. As a forum whose “primary goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region,” APEC focuses on aspects such as trade liberalization and business facilitation for the betterment of its member economies. On this note, APEC was characterized by the speakers as being an “enabler” with regard to opening up greater opportunities for its members. It was also added that unlike the European Union, which requires binding treaties, APEC focuses on cooperative efforts towards growth for its member countries.
As part of the Analysis and Discourse Cluster of organizations, AEA is committed to generating and encouraging economic discourse, and this event was able to orient the Ateneo community about the functions of APEC as a forum and its fundamentals as an organization, while giving the attendees an opportunity for critical thinking.
For students like Economics junior Aldrin Cruz, the KamalAEAn talk also proved to be relevant and applicable to what he learned in his macroeconomic class. He said that there was a “very neoclassical idea” that could be found in the core principles and focus of APEC as a forum. This comes in the form of intervention, where binding policies are being replaced by improvements in technology. In this regard, efficiency is seen as a main engine for growth. He further adds, “the Philippine government should focus on [technology] in order to keep up with the programs of APEC.”
His and other similar opinions show that the talk did more than just inform their audience of existing APEC functions and trends; rather, much like the goals of KamalAEAn, it inspired creative thought and solutions for the APEC of the future as well.