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L – R: ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Dean, Veronica Taylor; Her Excellency Ambassador to the Philippines, Minda Calaguian-Cruz; First Assistant Secretary of the South East Asian Martime Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Allaster Cox; Philippine Update 2016 Convenor and Former ANUFA President, Teresa Jopson

Earlier this month, the ANU Filipino Association (ANUFA) propped a conference which gathered together scholars on the country with a “particularly prominent” current profile in the Asia-Pacific.

The Philippine Update Conference, with its theme ‘Sustaining the Momentum for Change Beyond 2016’, ran from 2-3 September. It brought together a network of international experts to discuss the issues which have placed the Philippines in the global spotlight: among others, its rapid economic growth, the controversial war on drugs waged by current President Rodrigo Duterte, and the protracted peace process in the country’s restive South.

“We meet at a time when the international profile of the Philippines is particularly prominent. This year we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of Australia-Philippines diplomatic relations, as well as the 70th birthday of the Australian National University,” said Veronica L. Taylor, Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the ANU.

“The conference provides a deeper collaborative and nurturing environment for scholarly discourse that expands the education and research agenda of both countries”, said Teresa Jopson, a conference convenor representing ANUFA.

“Through the Philippine Update, we are able to showcase the critical and strategic understanding and engagement of Filipino scholars here at the ANU, especially on the emerging issues of the Philippines with respect to the greater Asia-Pacific region and vice-versa”, Jopson said.

“To contribute to the world-class research at the ANU, we continue to dissect the impact of regional and global integration through a strong base of mutual knowledge between the Philippines and Australia”, she added.

ANUFA members actively participated in the planning of the conference, and took on volunteer roles throughout the two-day conference.

“After a long process of planning, we are glad that the conference has come into full fruition”, said Roxanne Busadre, who serves as the current ANUFA president. “ANUFA will continue to ensure our support in future instalments of the conference.”

The opening ceremony of the conference also saw the announcement of the Philippine Project, a joint collaborative venture supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the ANU to promote scholarship cooperation between the Philippines and Australia, particularly in development economics and policy.

The said partnership would benefit both countries in the long run, according to Jopson. “The project will serve to stimulate discussion to build stronger research and policy dialogue between our countries, especially as the Philippines become a key player in the Asia-Pacific region.”