The launch of the Australian National University (ANU) Philippines Institute on 16 November 2023 marked a momentous occasion that holds significant importance for both the ANU community and the broader discourse on Philippine studies.
The Institute is led by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP) academics, Associate Professor Dr. Bjorn Dresser as the Director and Dr. Maria Tanyag as the Deputy Director.
CAP Dean, Professor Helen Sullivan, officially welcomed everyone to the launch.
Her Excellency Ma. Hellen Barber De La Vega, the Philippines Ambassador to Australia and Michelle Chan, the Deputy Secretary of the South and Southeast Asia Group, DFAT, delivered opening remarks. The keynote speaker was the retired Hon Justice Antonio T Carpio.
In his opening speech, Bjorn Dresser, Director of ANU Philippines Institute, said the premier goal is to establish the ANU Philippines Institute as a leading global centre for research, policy discussion and greater level of education with a specific emphasis on the economy, politics and society of the Philippines.
This involves two steps:
- To monitor and analyse political and economic developments in the Philippines and share insights with both the Australian and Philippine governments, businesses and the broader community; and
- As an academic institution, to foster a culture of rigorous research centred on the Philippines’ governance landscape and development, revitalising Philippine studies in Australia and beyond.
The institute is partnering with different stakeholders and institutions, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), with whom the Institute has identified several key areas of mutual interest, such as:
- Strategic studies and foreign policy
- Economic recovery
- Gender, women’s empowerment and peace
- Other threats to stability, such as climate change, food insecurity, and the energy crisis
Mr Dressel also mentioned that the Institute aims to be an accelerator for Filipino talent, not just those in the performing arts but the incredible researchers, scientists and artists.
At the heart of this remarkable event was the distinguished presence of Justice Antonio Carpio, a legal luminary from the Philippines, who addressed an attentive audience with a lecture on the intricate dynamics of maritime law.
One of the highlights of Justice Carpio’s lecture was his insightful analysis of the South China Sea dispute, drawing on his extensive expertise in international law. His articulate presentation not only shed light on the legal dimensions of the issue but also underscored the broader geopolitical ramifications, emphasizing the significance of a rules-based international order.
The event marked a significant step in fostering dialogue, understanding, and collaboration between Australia and the Philippines.
The event concluded with a heartwarming poetry and song presentation from ANU honorary academic Dr Merlinda Bobis titled ‘Philippines and Australia: From Companion and Comrade to Co-spirit and Kin’.