ASEAN delegates explore Iloilo City

ILOILO CITY-- Rain showers did not deter delegates attending top-level ASEAN meetings here from joining a City Tour to explore Iloilo City's beauty and learn more about its rich culture and various products.

The tour, which began at 9 a.m., was led by ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) chair, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, along with tourist guides and members of the National Organizing Committee (NOC).

Riding two buses, the delegates first visited the Iloilo City Hall before proceeding to the Molo Mansion, formerly known as the Yusay-Consing Mansion.

The Molo Mansion is a historic house in Molo, Iloilo that was turned into a heritage museum. Facing the town plaza and St. Anne Parish Church, the mansion was chosen as a tour stop to introduce the ASEAN delegates to delicacies and handicrafts made by Ilonggos.

The international guests then visited the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center's Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC/AQD).

SEAFDEC is a regional treaty organization established in 1967 to promote fisheries development in the region. It conducts research on fisheries problems, generates appropriate fisheries technologies, and trains researchers, technicians, fishers, aquafarmers and managers. It also disseminates information on fisheries science and technologies and recommends policies pertaining to the fishery sector.

During the visit to SEAFDEC, Taguiwalo acquainted the delegates with products derived from aquaculture.

They also visited the integrated hatchery where the delegates saw for themselves some 35-year-old milkfish that are still productive, and rescued sea turtles that were victims of animal cruelty, one of which was blind while another was missing a leg. Taguiwalo took the opportunity to promote the preservation of marine organisms among ASEAN member states.

The tour was part of the March 6-9 ASEAN ASCC meetings held at the Iloilo Convention Center.

Iloilo has been playing host to the 17th ASCC Council Meeting and the 22nd Senior Officials Committee for the ASCC (SOCA) Meeting, led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as chair of the ASCC pillar, one of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community.

Taguiwalo, who was joined by ASEAN Secretary General Lee Luong Minh, chaired the 17th ASCC Council Meeting, while DSWD Undersecretary Florita Villar chaired the 22nd SOCA Meeting with ASEAN Deputy Secretary General for ASCC, Mr. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee.

The ASCC aims to contribute to realizing an ASEAN Community that is people-oriented and socially responsible, in the hope of achieving enduring solidarity and unity among the peoples and member states of the ASEAN.

According to the DSWD, to intensify efforts towards a people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN, the Philippines intends to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers, as well as the vulnerable sectors -- women, children, persons with disabilities, older persons, internally displaced persons, indigenous peoples, among others.

The ASEAN, which groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, was established to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.

The Philippines is hosting the chairmanship of the ASEAN for the third time. The country also hosted the summit in 2007 and 1987.

The theme for this year is "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World", wherein the ASEAN is being highlighted as a model of regionalism and global players, with the interest of its peoples at its core.

Source: Philippines News Agency