2008 is the ASEAN Year, two (out of three) major events occured many of us were not aware. The taking into effect of the ASEAN Charter and our first ASEAN Anthem (not that there will be a second or a third).
ASEAN Charter in full effectThe first was the full ratification of the 1st ASEAN Charter which took effect on December 14, 2008, a month after Thailand submitted the last Instrument of Ratification.
With the Asean Charter now in effect it solidifies the need to go back to the grassroots, the very reason why it exists - We, the Peoples of Asean. For years, ASEAN has become just another news-item many people simply ignore. One reason, lack of information as well as the fact that it has become so far away - an elite, top-minds group.
But could they do it? I think this is where the grassroots comes in, we have ideas how to bring ASEAN to our level which the elite and top-minds can not even fathom. If you read a lot of books, from fiction to philosophy, there is always this concept wherein someone who's way up there, so intelligent, fails to understand or think of the simplest things. In my Point-of-View, this is exactly what is happening.
For example, August 8 is ASEAN Day, and the ASEAN Charter simply stated that we must observe it. No member country has yet declared it as an official Holiday, which is very important in my opinion. Simply observing it is not enough, we need to make the people aware that there is something special every 8th of August.
What's declaring it an Official Holiday got to do with ASEAN awareness? People will ask what is the new Holiday about - ASEAN Day. They may just go to the malls or sleep, but at the bottom of it the people were made aware of "ASEAN" (and "ASEAN Day"). We are all busy people. Most of us only take notice of something "new", something that we haven't heard before, and if our daily routine was disturbed - like a Holiday. And being busy people that we are, we remember by heart the Holidays and we expect these holidays every year.
Eventually, we can use this awareness and expectation to launch more projects or events to further the goals of ASEAN, especially the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Pillar. People will talk about it, ask things about it, and will get involved or express their opinions about it - especially today via Blogging and Micro-blogging.
These simple things can make a huge difference and impact to bringing ASEAN back to its grassroots. I've said this one year ago, December of 2007 to make August 8 an Official Non-Working Holiday and I am going to repeat this over and over until all 10 member Nations do so. And I am not alone, many ASEAN Citizens as well.
(More about this on my summary of the ASEAN Awareness Survey.)
We also have an identity crisis here, what is (being) an ASEAN Identity? We, the Peoples of ASEAN, must get involved, and with the ASEAN Charter now in force, we can finally help shape the region and establish the true ASEAN Spirit.
The ASEAN AnthemThe second was the announcement and first singing of the new ASEAN Anthem entitled "The ASEAN Way" (very fitting for our diverse region). For the first time in our region's history, we now have an Anthem to sing to help us identify ourselves as "ASEAN Citizens", and show the world that we are one despite our diverse culture and differences.
If you were not aware of how the ASEAN Anthem was chosen, there was a regional competition where the chosen entry will win U$20,000 and will become the official Anthem. Do not worry, the dissemination wasn't that effective for some countries.
For example, ASEAN-Philippines disseminated the information to various schools of music and Philippine composers. They also coordinated with the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). A job well done. However, it is sad that somewhere along the effort and the enthusiasm ended.
I don't remember seeing news about it or reading it from major newspapers (I could have missed it, but how many times was it reported). The PIA could also have sent the information to all the Philippine companies, that is one major way of getting the information out.
I think it is time that we have a serious "ASEAN Information Campaign". True, there are budget concerns, the other agencies were busy and have other more important issues to address. Then why not send the information to Bloggers and Micro-Bloggers? Why not tap the local online gaming companies? I highly doubt no one will talk about a U$20,000 award for creating ASEAN's first-ever Anthem!!
The information was passed on which is great, a job well done. However, there are other channels that could have been used and exploited. ASEAN is better marketed (if that's the right word to use) to the youths, the new generation. Where are most of them? Playing online games. How about the new social media? Then we have the Bloggers and Micro-Bloggers which disseminated faster than any traditional media the De la Paz vs Pangandaman brawl.
I am not sure how it is in other ASEAN countries, but if our respective ASEAN offices will say that they did everything they can and still the information wasn't disseminated enough, then we really have a very serious problem here - no one simply care about ASEAN anymore.
The ASEAN WayIs the Official ASEAN Anthem. Composed by Thai musicians Kittikhun Sodprasert and Sampaw Triudom, the winner out of 99 entries from all the 10 member Nations.
The lyrics (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore):
Raise our flag high, sky high
Embrace the pride in our heart
ASEAN we are bonded as one
Look-in out-ward to the world.
For peace, our goal from the very start
And prosperity to last.
We dare to dream we care to share.
Together for ASEAN
we dare to dream
we care to share for it's the way of ASEAN.
Download MP3 (1.1mb)
Download Score (77kb)
The Philippine Entry: ASEAN Reigns!
Happy New Year to all and 2009 will be the ASEAN People's Year!!
Related news/links not included above:
Thailand joined in a ceremony to welcome the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter
New ASEAN Anthem Sung