Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In Between Nǐ Hǎos and Xièxiès

The Advanced Study Program for International Young Leaders we attended in China last year is one of the best strategies a country could design to promote its nation. The program has provided a venue for the participants – neighbouring ASEAN countries in this case – to fully appreciate and understand the host country’s history, culture, traditions and lifestyle. It’s a given fact that one can not truly fathom the essence, character, spirit and soul of a country by just looking at some photos, browsing a book about it, listening to a few stories or hearing and watching news about it on TV, instead one needs to set his/her foot on that country’s ground, explore and experience for himself/herself the things that a photo, a write-up or a story can not capture.

We never had a bore in our 21 days in China – Nanning, Guilin, and Beijing. The program duration was packed with series of informative, engaging and exciting activities. The lectures on China’s history, culture, traditions and lifestyle did a great deal of leaving us fascinated with how sentimental and cinematic they were and are. And its enchantment has still been visible in every built design, food recipes, festivities and religious activities. Truly, the splendour of ancient China has continued to linger in every corner of this now top economic power.

Speaking of economy, the program has brought us to a series of expositions relating to logistics, trade and investments. China has been in all efforts to improve the logistic system between other ASEAN member countries to bring about more profitable, productive and equally-benefiting business transactions. Furthermore, it came to our realization that China has a way of maximizing its comparative advantage to other economies paving its way to continuous progress. We believe each country has its own strength and it’s just a matter of realizing what it is and channelling it into something that benefits the country and its countrymen. Yes, Philippines and China may be different in most aspects – demography, geography, climate, bureaucratic system and ideologies – but we’re sure each has something to impart and benefit from each other. Afterall, both are in the oriental zone and are close neighbours. In fact, economically, Philippines and China have had a long history of trade and commercial activities which paved the way of Chinese culture influence to the Philippines.

We can’t end sharing about China without going a little further and talk about its land-uses and built-environment aspects. We are impressed with the proper zoning, well-preserved and protected historical sites, beautiful landscapes, and obvious efforts toward green urbanism. The vertically expanded housing facility that can be found almost everywhere is commendable. With the kind of demographic characteristic China has, it is just practical and economical to use such scheme. Moreover, the colorful landscapes and the green environment are jaw-dropping. We wish China will continue this practice and won’t compromise sustainable and responsible development with industrial development.

On top of the awesome scenic views, informative lectures and expositions are the comforting tap on the shoulder, lovely smiles, humble bows and warm hugs from the Chinese teachers, university students, local and community dwellers, members of other country delegation and other professionals and individuals we’ve met and encountered in the duration. It never felt like we were in a foreign land. Instead, we felt the belongingness despite the obvious differences in language, facial features, disposition and lifestyle. On the other hand, of course, in the best way we can and in every opportunity there was, we never stopped trying to show them what Philippine is and who Filipinos are. We strived to radiate from us the essence of being Filipinos and that is being happy-hearted, friendly, respectful, responsible, hard working, driven to excel, compassionate and loving citizens. Looking at this, we know learning has transpired. And it wasn’t limited to “technical” form of knowledge but, most importantly, to camaraderie and friendship. That despite our differences we can actually live harmoniously and help each other better our lives. With this, China experience is something that will always remain in us.

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