If you are to risk everything in one shot, will you risk it all? ASEAN integration provides a spark for a pristine revolution in the global arena, with the full realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as its end-all and be-all. The AEC is targeted at transforming the ASEAN region into a single market and production base, a highly competitive region, a region of equitable economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy. As the saying goes, “if you cannot conquer the enemy, make him your ally.” If ASEAN becomes one, it would be seventh-largest in the world--$2.4 trillion combined GDP in 2013. And with over 600 million people, ASEAN’s potential market is larger than the European Union or North America. As Filipinos, what’s in it for us?
The Philippines, alone, may not be ready yet to vie for the global market. Our progress is marginal and we are far too small and too spineless to be pitted against other nations. We do not own the artillery to make an attack on the global stage. However, with the AEC, challenges in the global market can be eased with resilient disposition and rigid solutions, because we are not alone. For many years, the Filipino community has been shaken by global competition. It’s as if big fishes are coming into our small pond. But kudos to AEC, the dam has been broken. There’s plenty of water to dive in. The Integration is expected to boost investments, job creation, and incomes in the region. Yet, others are still shaken. Why? Because we’re finally out of the frying pan, but we head straight into the fire. The realization of AEC means propagated struggle. AEC is not just relief, it also has setbacks. Opening the borders means closing the doors. Indeed, a lot of doors will be closed for the Filipinos if they cannot address to the demands of the larger union. Filipinos should steel themselves for an intense competition with their ASEAN counterparts. We might ask ourselves; is this really needed? We face a...
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