29 August 2009

Pinay Wins ASEAN Writing Tilt

Mary Anne Therese Manuson
"Consumers in the ASEAN countries have never had it so good," wrote Ms. Mary Anne Therese Manuson of the Philippines, narrating one of the benefits of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). People in the region "have been able to choose from an ever-growing variety of goods and services made in the region, while paying less for better quality," she continued.

Mary is the overall winner of the ASEAN Essay Writing Competition on "Opportunities through Integration", which was jointly organised by the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN-European Union (EU) Programme for Regional Integration Support (APRIS) to raise awareness of the benefits of economic integration.

"With lowered or no barriers, the movement of people, ideas and money has been gaining momentum," she said, and "as ASEAN countries get closer to becoming an economic community, life for the man-on-the-street will be infinitely sweeter," she added. The AEC is envisaged to be established by 2015.

A 26-year old Research Associate from the Philippines, Mary won herself a return air-ticket to Jakarta and the opportunity to meet Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN. The meeting took place at the ASEAN Secretariat today, where she received a cash prize from Dr Surin.

She was joined by two runner-ups from Indonesia – Mr Yoeman Anton, a 21-year old undergraduate – and Ms Shellen Halim, a 20-year old undergraduate – who also received cash prizes from Dr Surin.

During the meeting, the winners had a chance to share with Dr Surin their aspirations and ask him questions about economic integration in ASEAN.

As the overall winner, Mary also had the chance to work with a professional journalist on reviewing and editing the winning articles during her stay in Jakarta.

The winner and two runner-ups were selected by a judging panel comprising of staff from the ASEAN Secretariat and APRIS.

The winning article can be viewed here.