Posted tagged ‘foreign policy’

ASEAN ADOPTS RP’S NAUTICAL HIGHWAY

June 11, 2011

A nautical highway was designed and implemented with appreciable results in the Philippines. Today, the different islands are more interconnected. This article on ASEAN’s adoption of the PH project is hereby republished.

ASEAN ADOPTS RP’S NAUTICAL HIGHWAY

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day to you all! Magandang araw sa inyong lahat!

Let me return to the ASEAN, after delivering my kudos to Latin Americans and Brazilians over the presidential victory of the socialist Madam Rousseff there. How I wish that the ASEANians can emulate the audacious social policies of Brazil under the stewardship of the outgoing leader Lula and incoming Rousseff.

For the good news, the information has already been disseminated that the entire ASEAN is adopting the ‘nautical highway’ program of the Philippines. Accordingly, the planning stage for a regional nautical highway is now under way, with the program most likely implemented way before the 2015 economic integration here.

A brilliant idea, the nautical highway concept was actually hatched by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the previous president of the Philippines. A technocrat-politician, Arroyo surely found a remedy to the sluggish and inefficient transit of people and cargo across the seas in the archipelago.

To recall, Arroyo was an economist and academic before she joined government. As president of the country, she achieved the feat of solving the fiscal problems and doubling national income within a 9-year span. The Philippines finally graduated to middle-income country status during Macapagal’s incumbency.

Infrastructures also expanded by many folds during Arroyo’s incumbency. Roads, wharves, airports, levees, dams, and diverse public works benefited immensely from the boom years of her aegis. Within the context of the transport infrastructure programs did Arroyo conceptualize the RORO (roll on-roll off) nautical highway.

Executed with very high success levels, the nautical highway proceeded to deliver the expected result of accelerating the transit of people and goods across the seas. The RORO also brought down the cost of ship transportation, hence engendering a more mobile poor folks who could nil afford long distance travels.

As already elucidated in a previous article, it would be excellent if the nautical highway would be interlinked with a forthcoming regional railway. More excellent if the nautical highway, roads, railways, and airports would be interlinked in such an exquisite design of transport hubs.

ASEAN-wide planning takes a longer time than national planning, as there would be a preference for consultative process in the planning exercise. Let’s just hope that the planning phase won’t take longer than 1 & ½ years at the most, with the final output passing through a last grassroots or community hearing for discussions and feedbacks.

That means that as early as 2012, the regional RORO will be implemented. Infrastructure, technology, and logistical support will need to be installed and/or allotted by the 1st quarter of 2012 to ensure fast implementation of the program.

With the program implemented, hopefully the poor folks in the coastal areas won’t have to travel to islands of other countries by risky motored banca or canoes. The RORO ships would bring down risks, travel costs, and make travels very comfortable for poor folks and monied middle class alike.

This analyst highly appreciates the latest ASEAN collaborative efforts for building a regional nautical highway. May the planning, implementation, and monitoring/evaluation of the future program come forth with stunning success.

[Philippines, 16 November 2010]
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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!
Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:
COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com
BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

Poetry & Art Blogs:
ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

Mixed Blends Blogs:
@MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com
@FRIENDSTER: http://erleargonza.blog.friendster.com
@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

Website:
PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA: http://erleargonza.com

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ASEAN LAND BRIDGES & RAILWAY SYSTEM

June 10, 2011

Interconnecting ASEAN member countries via landbridge cum railway project has become an urgent need. It is viable. This article is hereby republished to stress that point.

ASEAN LAND BRIDGES & RAILWAY SYSTEM

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Magandang umaga sa lahat! Good morning to everyone!

This analyst will continue on the ASEAN theme and will focus on road networks & railways for this piece. The region is now preparing the foundations for its conversion into an economic union by 2015, so it would be a productive engagement for citizens of the region to put forward their ideas about how to let the region grow and prosper, such as the idea about land bridges articulated here.

Each member country of ASEAN is now developing infrastructures at different paces, thus rendering each country with gaps in terms of road networks and railways. Such I gap, I believe, can be narrowed if the entire region will conceptualize, design, and begin laying down today the foundations of a region-wide road network.

The grand project can be dubbed as ‘land bridges program’ for the goal it can aspire to attain: that of linking all of the member countries into interfacing and interloping highways. There will be defining expressways in each of the countries that will then be integrated, expanded, and closed gap where certain spaces lack them, thus creating a seamless expressway serving as ‘land bridges’ across the entire region.

Running parallel or inter-linked with the road network would be a gargantuan railway system—of maglev technology—that will be part of the land bridging efforts. Transport hubs can be constructed in certain areas where the road facilities and railway can interface. Each member country can choose to link up its railways (running on electricity and diesel) with the regional maglev to comprise a yet another complex network with awesome potency for stimulating growth.

Such a grand project, which when interlinked further with the Mekong integrated project, will serve as multiplier effect in stimulating growth and development for all of the member countries without exception. The flow of peoples, goods and services, and investments across borders will thus increase by many folds, propelling further the generation of wealth for the union.

With the ASEAN central bank and ASEAN development bank running by 2015 and onwards, it becomes facile to fund the gargantuan land bridges project. The implementers will include private construction & development companies in the region as well as banks that can fund the project’s phases from the side of the private builder-constructors.

The project will enhance the synergy of trucking, train, and shipping down the ground and waters. Such effectively done, there will then be a reduction of moving people and goods by airplanes that can then have greater space for mobility.

The land bridges project can spur more ambitious civil engineering, so that civil works can move on to build tunnels beyond 2 kilometers below the ground. The same engineering efforts can then build tunnels across islands and help to ease out the burdens on ships as the link between island components of the road network.

The same project can also facilitate the inter-connection of the ASEAN to a new ‘silk route’ now rising across the Asian continent. The entry points will be India and China, which the union can cooperate with in building linking infrastructures. With such a possibility turned into reality, one can travel by road and trains from Luzon in the Philippines onwards to the Europe, permitting enjoyment of wonderful landscapes across many lands.

Movements of peoples, goods and services to and from the giant neighbors will also move up by many folds with the land bridge project linked up with the ‘silk route’. Ships and planes can be unburdened a bit by such a twist of development, and can then accommodate more goods & services for other continents and regions.

Regional institutions can be erected to design, manage, and regulate the conduct of construction as well as future traffic along the expressways and the railways flows. There should be transparency and efficiency in the bidding of contracts, so that early enough the governance components of the future political union can already be erected.

It is very likely that the project will be highly welcomed by the peoples of the region. The business sector, notably the constructors & developers, could hardly wait to dip their hands into it as soon as the call for participation by the ASEAN will be in place. It will surely leapfrog the region’s catching up with the developed world and with China, rendering it a potential global economic power in the foreseeable future.

[Philippines, 11 November 2010]
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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!
Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:
COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com
BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

Poetry & Art Blogs:
ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

Mixed Blends Blogs:
@MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com
@FRIENDSTER: http://erleargonza.blog.friendster.com
@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

Website:
PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA: http://erleargonza.com

ASEAN AEROSPACE PROGRAM

June 8, 2011

Republished article, to exacerbate S&T and industry cooperation among members of ASEAN, to be able to build a regional space program.

ASEAN AEROSPACE PROGRAM

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang araw! Good day, most especially to fellow Southeast Asians!

For this piece I’m going to focus on the theme of an ASEAN-wide rocket industry-based aerospace program. ASEAN is about to integrate economically by 2015, so may the member states put in the list of agenda for action the launching of a regional aerospace program.

As the region’s member countries grow at immense rates, the middle class of the region will likewise grow that will serve as its sustaining consumption base. A large middle class will mean a higher demand for telecommunications infrastructures that will, in the main, depend on satellite and related facilities.

So, instead of each member country trying to outdo each other by launching their respective rocket industry-based aerospace programs, the countries better sit down together within the aegis of an ASEAN economic union, concur a binding agreement regarding the launching of an ASEAN aerospace program, and fund the entire program internally from ASEAN resources.

With an ASEAN central bank in place by 2015, it wouldn’t be so difficult to generate funds internally for all sorts of grand projects from infrastructures to aerospace. An ASEAN development bank would then be securitized by the central bank and allocate funds for the aerospace program.

Malaysia today is in the stage of research & development for a rocket industry and has begun training & development for its technical experts. It may be prudent for the ASEAN to assign to Malaysia a lead role in orchestrating the ASEAN aerospace, with the quid pro quo of compensating Malaysia for lending its expertise and certain aspects of the backward linkages for the future industry.

The aerospace program would largely be used to launch satellites and only secondarily for space research & development. The space R & D can come later, maybe at a time when the ASEAN will be prepared for political unification in the long run.

With a satellite industry in place, the ASEAN can then compete with other market stakeholders (countries & regions with satellite industry) to supply and launch the satellites of other developing countries. Project costs can be cut down at the satellite production phase, thus bringing down prices of ready-to-launch satellites and ensuring patronage by many developing countries.

All of the essential components—at the backward linkages—of satellite production are now present as running industries in the region. From metallurgy to computer software & hardware, name it and the region has it. Hence the viability of satellite industry is very high enough.

It is in the domain of rockets that the ASEAN would need to co-partner with other countries at the production phase. It can be an option for ASEAN to co-partner with Russia that can supply the rockets that will launch ASEAN’s satellites. China and India are other options also for supplying the rockets.

However, in the long run the economic union should work out to establish a strong rocket industry for itself. The rocket industry can spin off into a more comprehensive program later, one that can be extended to launching R & D in other planets and their respective moons, space tourism, and sending missions beyond the solar system.

Rocket technology can also be modified so as to integrate it into the mining industry, so that in the long term ASEAN can mine for metals in other celestial bodies. Environmental standards are getting to be stricter by the year, standards that can constrain the extraction of rare & precious metals regionally, so the alternative in such a context would be to mine for the metals in other celestial bodies.

The aerospace program is one developmental area that will prove the potency of a regional approach to launching it contrasted to country-initiated approach. Given the gargantuan level of funding that a rocket industry cum satellite industry will entail, funding that a member country will be hard put to supply, then regionalize the program altogether to circumvent country constraints.

[Philippines, 07 November 2010]
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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!
Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:
COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com
BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

Poetry & Art Blogs:
ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

Mixed Blends Blogs:
@MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com
@FRIENDSTER: http://erleargonza.blog.friendster.com
@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

Website:
PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA: http://erleargonza.com

ASEAN TRADE LIBERALIZATION, PREPS FOR 2015 UNION

June 5, 2011

Republished article, to drumbeat the need for more intratrade within the region. This is instrumental in creating the economic union by 2015.

ASEAN TRADE LIBERALIZATION, PREPS FOR 2015 UNION

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Will the ASEAN ever achieve economic integration that its member states have long dreamed of? Being an advocate of ASEAN unification, let me once more share thoughts about my humble region.

Binding rules of tariff reforms are now in the offing for implementation this year across the region, a proof that the unification efforts are going on despite internal barriers. The original ASEAN 5 –Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand—are the most prepared for execution of the rules, while Brunei can test-case them as it has the resources to cushion off negative repercussions if ever.

Agreed, the continental countries that are catching up in their development—Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos—need some breather space of five (5) more years to be considered as executors of the same rules. They can catch up, rest assured, so collective trust should permit their self-confidence to propel themselves to high growth.

Economic integration can induce enormous growth and fast-track development in the region altogether. Pushing through with the integration would yield a result that no more member country would be poor by as early as 2020. In other worlds, every country would move on to middle income country status, fast-tracked in its growth momentum by the economic union.

Integration would go beyond tariff reforms, for a reminder. An economic union would need central institutions to note: (a) central bank, (b) regional currency, and (c) related regulatory institutions. Governance institutions, such as a regional parliament and executive council, can undergo deeper study and preparatory formation right after 2015 (political union will take a longer time to traverse).

As to a regional currency, do note that Asian countries have already agreed on a resolution to create an Asian Monetary Fund and an Asian currency. The former speaker of the Philippines’ House of Representatives, Speaker De Venecia, was a prime mover in getting the Asian states to agree on the matter. With him out of power now in the legislature, some other key personalities in Asia should take on the cudgels for implementing the resolutions.

There are surely kinks to be resolved in matters pertaining to economic sector priorities. ASEAN countries tend to compete with one another in certain manufactures and services, so the resolutions could yield an elimination of competition and/or concurring cooperation among the competitors concerned.

ASEAN integration is coming at a time of an evolving paradigm of mixed land use. This paradigm, on a macro-level, could justify well the existence of all key manufacturing and services in a member country, thus undercutting complaints about competition across borders.

Population-wise, the ASEAN will be 700 million head-strong before 2015, which renders the region as a gigantic one. Imagine if just half of the population will be middle income in status, the class that can sustain consumer spending across time. That would be a 350-million head count serving as the economic powerhouse at the household level!

In terms of aggregated Gross National Product or GNP, the figure is nearing $3 Trillions for the region. The prospect of the ASEAN overtaking Japan is no longer remote, a possibility that can happen before 2020. Such a possibility, however, can best happen should economic integration take place as scheduled, an eventuality that will render more focused managing of economic policies and governance reforms that will fast-track growth & development.

Meantime, we can only wish for now that the trade reforms will push through, thus resulting to a semi-integrated economy. The semi-integration will produce pronto a context of ‘import-substitution’ on a regional scale, which I think is a long-overdue goal in the region.

From hereon, ASEAN has only over four (4) years to resolve the last kinks, study the integration directions inclusive of institutional designs. It will be 2011 in just two months’ time, with we hope will be another auspicious year for the humble region and its noblesse diplomats, experts, and leaders.

[Philippines, 03 November 2010]
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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!
Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:
COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com
BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

Poetry & Art Blogs:
ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

Mixed Blends Blogs:
@MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com
@FRIENDSTER: http://erleargonza.blog.friendster.com
@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

Website:
PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA: http://erleargonza.com

ONE ASEAN: GET READY!

June 3, 2011

This article is republished to stress the contention for a stronger region of Southeast Asians.

ONE ASEAN: GET READY!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good evening! Magandang gabi!

The dark clouds of the electoral contests are now getting clearer in the Philippines. With our polls settled and our elected leaders about to begin their mandates, I’d now depart from election-related advocacies and move back to the international-global arenas.

I have written quite enormously about international political economy and subsidiary themes for over two (2) decades. Even my blogging has been consumed with peregrinations on the international arena. So let me go back to this arena, even as I now clarify that I am a strong advocate of One ASEAN.

As I’ve elucidated in my past writings (see 2007-08 articles), I perceive the ASEAN as the larger polity to which my own country will return in the future.

The Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the whole of island Southeast particularly, were largely creations of Western powers. They used to be part of the Majapahit Empire, the world’s wealthiest region before Western colonization fragmented it.

Being a strong believer in ASEAN unity, I am willing to shed off my hard-line Filipino nationalism and don the cloak of pan-ASEAN patriotism. Majapahit was the original nation to me and to those who resonate with the same worldview, and eager am I to see my country return to the Empire.

The Empire no longer bears that name today. Rather, it goes by the name of ASEAN, short for Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But it bears the same geo-political and geo-economic contours of the Empire before it fragmented.

A benevolent Empire it was, as it used the fiat of trade cooperation to get membership into the polity. That is, to be able to become a part of the Empire, concur trade with its nexus and prinzeps. This was a much different track from the typical military occupation used by other regional and world powers to expand their territorial confines.

If we reflect back on what our state players are doing here today, where they’re concurring agreements and treaties using the most civil means conceivable to get to a higher level of unity, the same means actually revives the consensus methods used by our peoples in antiquity. Today, no matter how diverse our political, economic, and cultural systems are, we are talking to each other here, which is reflective of a ‘dialogues of civilizations’ approach.

From state-to-state and civil society-to-civil society talks, let us move on to direct people-to-people talks in the region. People-to-people interactions precede people-to-people cooperations. I strongly contend that people-to-people cooperation should eventually be the base for state-to-state and civil society-to-civil society cooperation and no less.

State-to-state talks are quite slow in results, even if market players joined state actors to buttress the former stakeholders’ positions. In some areas of talks, such as those involving territories, snags are observed.

People-to-people interactions and cooperation will do much to accelerate state-to-state talks that get snagged for one reason or another. The same cooperation can also accelerate the building of a pan-ASEAN identity which should precede any writing of a general treaty that will unify the region at least economically.

People-to-people interactions have already been taking place in the region for almost 2000 years in fact. Western colonization may have diminished the scales of interactions for a long while, but that era of imperialism is much behind us now.

As states, market players, and civil society players are preparing for larger talks ahead, let us noble peoples of the region go ahead and expand the levels of talks to build greater mutual confidence, appreciation of each other’s cultures, and trust. Along the way, we have fellow Asians and global citizens who will support our efforts as true friends.

In any way we can, let us get to know each other better. Let’s set aside utilitarian gains (e.g. get to know Asean pals who can become network marketing partners) and interact based on a true call of our hearts, of our souls.

That way, we contribute to building our preparedness for the grand future coming. We just can’t be caught flat-footed, not knowing what’s going on in our larger backyard because we allowed state players to monopolize the talks.

Fellow ASEANians, let’s get ready!

[Philippines, 11 May 2010]

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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!
Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:
COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com
BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

Poetry & Art Blogs:
ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

Mixed Blends Blogs:
@MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com
@FRIENDSTER: http://erleargonza.blog.friendster.com
@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

Website:
PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA: http://erleargonza.com

WAR RUMBLINGS IN KOREA ARE A DUD!

July 13, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

As we get filled electrified with the euphoria of the world soccer games, the Koreans’ dread over a possible war among brothers has been on the uptrend. Let’s just hope that the world cup season has relaxed the rather tense nerves of the Koreans and Japanese as well who rabidly dread Bombs from North Korea.

In case that one isn’t familiar with the realpolitik of the intra-Korean conflict (between Northern and Southern sibling Koreans), the situation has been markedly tense owing to the hawkish attitude of the leaders up North. The hardliners (extremists) have been on the initiative there, owing to the hardline attitude of America towards them during the Bush years.

Getting back the Northern hardliners to relax their warmongering is now a ‘too-late-the-hero’ situation. Not even if America’s leadership had swung from hardliner to moderate after the demise of the Republicans and the neo-conservatives with Obama’s installation to power.

On the other hand, to contend that the North’s hardliners would choose to declare war for mere irrational justification hardly merits our attention. The actuations of the North, no matter if they appear as warmongering (such as the sinking of a South Korean battle ship), is largely intended to gain points in the bargaining tables.

The hardliners wish to gain mileage, and that mileage doesn’t necessarily mean invasion mileage measured in terms of square miles of Japan and South Korea that they can occupy. That’s utter non-sense.

The mileages expected are: (a) media/information points, for being continuously projected in international news; (b) millions of dollars of cash, paid by wealthy neighbors & America for keeping the military machine well oiled and for buying some foods & medicines for poor folks; and, (c) testing the international waters for some possible relaxation of bellicose attitudes by other states (via the UN).

It’s like a North bulldog barked so loud and threatened to bite, with some of its saliva reaching the South and the seas. But the dog won’t bite, rest assured.

The agenda of Korean unification is still the most palatable option for both Koreas, and I’m sure the North’s leaders are ever watchful of cracks in the iron parchment that can yield them greater leverages in the unification efforts. They have the Bomb with them, while the South has the Bread.

Both parties have the leveraging incentives to bargain on a quid pro quo basis, just to stress the point matter-of-factly. It is the external powers that are bent on muddling the political waters and searching for ways for the conflict to escalate, so that the Anglo-European financiers can again gain colossal trillions worth of looted monies in the derivatives and portfolio markets on account of the unstable conditions in the Koreas.

And it seems the Japanese are the ones most vulnerable to the machinations of the Western financier oligarchs. If a North Korea-Japan war will shape up so suddenly, I will not find the event as surprising at all. Such a scenario is what the financier oligarchs wish and no less, blame the Japanese for choosing to be blind to such dirty machinations.

So, fellows on Earth, let’s keep our calm and trust the rational minds in the Koreas to solve their problems through their own efforts. Let’s trust the Koreans they can be civil towards each other till their own unification will materialize.

[Philippines, 05 July 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

ONE ASEAN: GET READY!

May 20, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good evening! Magandang gabi!

The dark clouds of the electoral contests are now getting clearer in the Philippines. With our polls settled and our elected leaders about to begin their mandates, I’d now depart from election-related advocacies and move back to the international-global arenas.

I have written quite enormously about international political economy and subsidiary themes for over two (2) decades. Even my blogging has been consumed with peregrinations on the international arena. So let me go back to this arena, even as I now clarify that I am a strong advocate of One ASEAN.

As I’ve elucidated in my past writings (see 2007-08 articles), I perceive the ASEAN as the larger polity to which my own country will return in the future.

The Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the whole of island Southeast particularly, were largely creations of Western powers. They used to be part of the Majapahit Empire, the world’s wealthiest region before Western colonization fragmented it.

Being a strong believer in ASEAN unity, I am willing to shed off my hard-line Filipino nationalism and don the cloak of pan-ASEAN patriotism. Majapahit was the original nation to me and to those who resonate with the same worldview, and eager am I to see my country return to the Empire.

The Empire no longer bears that name today. Rather, it goes by the name of ASEAN, short for Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But it bears the same geo-political and geo-economic contours of the Empire before it fragmented.

A benevolent Empire it was, as it used the fiat of trade cooperation to get membership into the polity. That is, to be able to become a part of the Empire, concur trade with its nexus and prinzeps. This was a much different track from the typical military occupation used by other regional and world powers to expand their territorial confines.

If we reflect back on what our state players are doing here today, where they’re concurring agreements and treaties using the most civil means conceivable to get to a higher level of unity, the same means actually revives the consensus methods used by our peoples in antiquity. Today, no matter how diverse our political, economic, and cultural systems are, we are talking to each other here, which is reflective of a ‘dialogues of civilizations’ approach.

From state-to-state and civil society-to-civil society talks, let us move on to direct people-to-people talks in the region. People-to-people interactions precede people-to-people cooperations. I strongly contend that people-to-people cooperation should eventually be the base for state-to-state and civil society-to-civil society cooperation and no less.

State-to-state talks are quite slow in results, even if market players joined state actors to buttress the former stakeholders’ positions. In some areas of talks, such as those involving territories, snags are observed.

People-to-people interactions and cooperation will do much to accelerate state-to-state talks that get snagged for one reason or another. The same cooperation can also accelerate the building of a pan-ASEAN identity which should precede any writing of a general treaty that will unify the region at least economically.

People-to-people interactions have already been taking place in the region for almost 2000 years in fact. Western colonization may have diminished the scales of interactions for a long while, but that era of imperialism is much behind us now.

As states, market players, and civil society players are preparing for larger talks ahead, let us noble peoples of the region go ahead and expand the levels of talks to build greater mutual confidence, appreciation of each other’s cultures, and trust. Along the way, we have fellow Asians and global citizens who will support our efforts as true friends.

In any way we can, let us get to know each other better. Let’s set aside utilitarian gains (e.g. get to know Asean pals who can become network marketing partners) and interact based on a true call of our hearts, of our souls.

That way, we contribute to building our preparedness for the grand future coming. We just can’t be caught flat-footed, not knowing what’s going on in our larger backyard because we allowed state players to monopolize the talks.

Fellow ASEANians, let’s get ready!

[Writ – Philippines, 11 May 2012. E. Argonza is adept at international political economy. He was a graduate student of former ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Wilfrido Villacorta, PhD. He has published various articles on the subject, as well as a book on global trade regime.]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]