Congratulatory Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
“Australia-educated Filipinos, On Track for ASEAN Integration”
Australia Awards Scholarships – GRANDuation
28 May 2014, Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila, Quezon City
• Mr Rolando Tungpalan, Deputy Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority
• Commissioner Robert Martinez, Civil Service Commission
• Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera, Department of Education
• Undersecretary Austere Panadero, Department of Interior and Local Government
• Governor Rodolfo del Rosario of the Province of Davao del Norte
• Governor Samuel Gumarin of the Province of Guimaras
• Attorney Teresita Manzala, Chair, ASEAN Taskforce on the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework
• Representatives from the Australian institutions
• Ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to be here with you today.
We have over three hundred Filipinos here today who have completed Masters and Doctoral degrees from our world class institutions in Australia. May I request you please to stand up and be recognised.
Thank you. This celebration is all about you, our Australian-educated Filipino recipients of Australia Awards Scholarships.
Congratulations to you all. You have done both our countries - Australia and the Philippines - yourselves and your families proud. You are no doubt some of the movers and shakers of social change of this generation.
Since I took on the role of Australian Ambassador to the Philippines in 2012, I have heard nothing but good news about you:
• most of you have received awards for academic excellence in your respective universities;
• your re-entry action plans or REAPs are making significant contributions to Philippine development in the areas of education, disaster risk reduction and management, peace and security, governance, and human resource and organisational development among others;
• you excel and contribute to your organisations and communities. Many of you have also assisted in the aftermath of the earthquake in Bohol, and Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte last year.
“Making a difference” is the central theme of the Australia Awards Scholarships, and I believe you have made it even more meaningful by putting a heart into the program.
Allow me to recognise your efforts and commitment in front of your loved ones, your mentors, and your leaders in government: you have not only obtained your degrees, you are contributing to Philippine development.
I am also pleased to see our Filipino awardees who have participated in the first collaboration between an Australian university and a Philippine university in the areas of research and faculty development: the partnership between the University of Newcastle and the University of Mindanao has been instrumental in jointly delivering a Masters in Educational Studies for 12 students with research outputs presented in a colloquium in March 2014. The Australian government is keen to see more of these partnerships between local and Australian universities.
Australia-educated Filipinos and the ASEAN Integration
A year from now, in 2015, we will witness a landmark event with the regional integration of the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.
The ASEAN priorities articulated in the Economic Community Blueprint (or the ASEAN Economic Community 2015) aspire towards a single market for ASEAN in which there is a “free flow” of five core elements: goods, services, investment, capital, and skilled labour.
The Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) also prioritises “equitable economic development” with the objective of closing the development gap between the most developed ASEAN 6 (Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand) and the Mekong “CLMV” countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam).
As some of you may be aware, one of the areas of cooperation identified in the ASEAN economic community is capacity building and human resource development. This GRANDuation ceremony is a great opportunity for Australian-educated Filipinos to network, exchange insights and expertise.
As 2015 comes near, it is crucial for the ASEAN countries to have the right skills and competencies to support the integration and economic development objectives. Later you will hear more about ASEAN 2015 from our esteemed speaker. Needless to say, a highly skilled and competent workforce is crucial in realising the goal of ASEAN connectivity.
You are equipped to help your country meet the ASEAN integration challenge. Your future contributions will be more crucial than ever.
I am confident that Filipinos with Australian university degrees are ready for this integration. We take pride that Australia Awards Scholars from the Philippines have returned and are putting their education to good use through the REAPS. These REAPs demonstrate how Australia Awards Scholarships are being used as a development tool.
Your journey does not end with your postgraduate degrees from Australian universities or upon completion of REAPS. You carry Australia Awards with you for the rest of your life. You are ambassadors of meaningful change and world-class education. There are no books to close, nor chapters to finish.
Going forward, I hope that you will remember the passion in your hearts when you first started your Australia Awards journey. Keep in mind that you are building a future not just for yourself, but also for the Philippines and the next generations to come.
Do not hesitate to use the Philippine Australian Alumni Association or PA3i, or your university alumni associations as one of your development and knowledge platforms.
Thank you and good luck to all of you as you continue to make our two countries proud.
Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.