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Home 9 Articles 9 Asia Cooperation Dialogue and OLFU collaborate for the ACD Youth Leadership and Cross-Cultural Business Congress 2023
Asia Cooperation Dialogue and OLFU collaborate for the ACD Youth Leadership and Cross-Cultural Business Congress 2023
Asia Cooperation Dialogue and OLFU collaborate for the ACD Youth Leadership and Cross-Cultural Business Congress 2023

By: Chelsea Mayuga

06/09/2023

By: Chelsea Mayuga

06/09/2023

The world is incredibly diverse with a myriad of cultures varying in traditions, languages, religions, social customs, and even in the ways of doing business and advancing education; which is why unifying diversities is always a rewarding and enriching experience that promotes understanding, acceptance, and collaboration.

Pinning the Philippines as the rendezvous location where mixed cultures convened, the Asia Cooperation Dialogue-University Network (ACD-UN), together with Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU), hosted the ACD Youth Leadership Business Congress from May 28 to June 01, 2023. The five-day conference highlighted the theme “Unifying Asian Multi-Cultural Diversity for Sustainable Leadership and Economic Growth”, bridging gaps between its international and local delegates through developmental learning sessions and recreational tourism.

Being an international summit, four foreign delegates flew in from their respective countries to attend this congress. These were, namely; Dr. Jeniza Jamaludin, associate professor at the Asia Metropolitan University (Malaysia); Jazlina Jamaludin, a Malaysian post-graduate student representative who is also Dr. Jamaludin’s sister; Aung Min Tun, student representative (Myanmar), and Pongchai Pongsangiam, student representative (Thailand).

Day 0: The Delegate’s Arrival and Manila Tour

International and local delegates arrived at the Savoy Hotel in Pasay City, Philippines on the 28th of May 2023. The day’s high point was a tour of the Philippines city capital of Manila that included an Intramuros Heritage Tour and the trademarked ride in a “kalesa”— a two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage which was the main means of transportation in the Philippines’ bygone years. The contingent also visited other prominent tourist haunts of the city such as the Fort Santiago, Museo ni Jose Rizal, Plaza Mayor and Environs, Manila Cathedral, Memorare Manila 1945, Plaza San Luis, and Casa Manila. The day ended with a delectable dinner at Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant in Intramuros.

Day 1: The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Hotel H2O Visit, and the ACD Congress Opening Ceremony

Kicking off the first full day of the congress on 29 May 2023 were two simultaneous exposure trips— one was a learning session with tour at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Head Office in the City of Mandaluyong, and the other— an excursion to Hotel H20 in Manila.

At the ADB, their very own Senior Events Management Officer Vivian Pabelico welcomed the ACD-UN delegates, introducing ADB as an organization dedicated in helping foster “a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty in the region.”

The first educational session then unfolded with ADB’s Urban Development Specialist Lara Arjan discussing “Urban Development in Asian Region”. Her talk navigated through the challenges and opportunities that come with developing marginalized cities. Some of the challenges she mentioned included the widening inequality in terms of income, opportunities, and impact; the lack of investments in infrastructure, and the subpar transportation systems. Arjan also shared ADB’s approach to urban development that highlights the “5E Approaches to Livable Cities” which are: economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability and resilience, equity and inclusiveness, enablers, and engagement. Underscoring the significance of creating an environment where small-to-medium enterprises can thrive, Arjan remarked at how beneficial it would be to live in a place where people are empowered to create their own income sources.

A tour of the impressive ADB complex ensued thereafter courtesy of their Senior Workplace Management Officer Erwin Casaclang. Afterward, the famished delegation made their way to a sumptuous lunch at DADS World Buffet at SM Megamall.

On the other hand, another group of ACD delegates, which included OLFU’s students of hospitality management, had an exclusive tour of Hotel H20 in Manila. Here, they were exposed to the hotel’s various types of accommodation— the facilities, layout, amenities, and design.

The afternoon of May 29th formally launched the ACD Youth Leadership and Cross-Cultural Business Congress with all delegates—including online participants— converging at the OLFU RISE Tower in Valenzuela for the opening ceremony of the conference which was front-lined by a festive and rousing Philippine cultural dance performance by OLFU students.

Dr. Caroline Marian S. Enriquez, OLFU President, expressed her gratitude for the congress delegates and speakers when she said, “I am sure that together by interacting with each other we will learn all the different nuances across the different participants that we have, and learn from each other.”

Giving an overview of the summit and the ACD-University Network (ACD-UN) Program was Dr. Ignacio C. Cordova Jr., Overall Congress Chairman and the Dean of OLFU’s College of Hospitality and Institutional Management and College of Business and Accountancy. Also the Philippine Representative to the ACD-UN, Dr. Cordova shared ACD’s history and its quest to “constitute the missing link in Asia by incorporating every Asian country and building an Asian community.”

More, Dr. Cordova averred, “It (the congress) is actually a powerful platform to foster cross-cultural and business leadership development that will lead to sustainable economic growth and global impact.”

The Keynote from the ACD-UN President

Sending his foundational ideas through video, the President of ACD-UN and concurrent President of Siam University (Thailand), Dr. Pornchai Mongkhonvanit, elaborated on “Unifying ASIAN Multi-Cultural Diversities for Sustainable Leadership and Economic Growth”. He introduced ACD’s pillars, namely: 1) food, water, energy, and security; 2) connectivity; 3) science, technology and innovation; 4) education and human resource development, and 5) culture and tourism. Explaining how these factors must all interrelate for inclusive and sustainable development, Dr. Pornchai also presented the benefits of attaining sustainable leadership and economic growth as well as its principles. He also delved into the potentials of being able to foster a diverse population, exclaiming, “We try our best to bring people equality. To promote inclusivity, and to uphold the idea of equity and respect [for] different ideas.”

CHED’s Take

Going forth, the congress proceeded to a crucial and pertinent subject: the mobility of international students in Asia, with specific focus on the Philippine context. To shed light on this matter, distinguished representatives from the country’s Commission on Higher Education (CHED) generously shared their expertise and insights in the forms of Dr. Jo Mark Libre, CHED Commissioner and Liza Libertine Magana, OIC Chief Education Program Specialist and representative of CHED Regional Officer, Dr. Julieta Paras.

Dr. Libre focused on the current state of international students in the country, as well as data regarding Filipino students studying abroad. According to 2021 CHED reports, approximately 67,000 international students enrolled in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the Philippines representing a significant increase compared to the 12,174 international students recorded by the Bureau of Immigration in 2011. The reports from the Bureau of Immigration indicate that the majority of international students come from the Republic of Korea, followed by China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the United States of America.

On the other hand, as of July 2022, it is estimated that around 22,000 Filipino students are studying abroad revealing exponential growth compared to the recorded number of 2,665 students 14 years ago as reported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Dr. Libre also mentioned that the top countries where Filipino students choose to study are the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Germany, and Malaysia.

Highlighting the factors that attract international students to study in the country, Dr. Libre emphasized the warmth and hospitality of the Filipino people as a strong “influencers”. He also underscored that CHED creates policies that encourage and promote international student exchange activities and initiatives which appeal positively to international students. Additionally, Dr. Libre shared that foreign students provide numerous economic contributions, including support for businesses, employment opportunities, and the injection of vitality into communities.

Dr. Libre concluded his message by urging close collaboration between educational institutions, private organizations, and communities to ensure that language assistance, cultural integration programs, and financial aid opportunities are readily available, allowing every student to thrive and contribute to their fullest capacity.

CHED’s Liza Libertine L. Magana took the stage next and presented data (drawn from the ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) on the number of and geographic locations of incoming international- and outgoing local-students. Based on the said study, the following observations can be derived: 1) The level of inbound international mobility within the ASEAN higher education system is relatively low; 2) The overall increase in inbound students is approximately 10%— lower than the 40% increase in outbound students; 3) ASEAN countries primarily function as exporters of international students rather than importers, and 4) While low outbound mobility poses a challenge for policy-maker engagement, low levels of inbound mobility present an issue for engagement with HEIs.

Magana then presented the Philippine situation and its efforts to make it more enticing for international students to study in the Philippines. She also described the impact, benefits, challenges, as well as solutions of international student mobility in the ASEAN.

Fountain of Youth Entrepreneurship

With sustainable leadership as a focal point of the summit, it was time for another international speaker in the person of Prof. Dato’ Dr. Ansary Ahmed— a governing board member of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, the president of Asia eUniversity (Malaysia), and a member of the ACD-UN. She expounded on “Asian Leadership in Business and Economic Growth”, enumerating characteristics necessary for a successful Asian business such as curiosity and innovation, adaptability, agility, the ability to build a well-rounded team, “comfort” in failure, persistence, and mentorship.

Prof. Ahmed also gave examples of business ideas that are suitable for young entrepreneurs like social media management, e-commerce, personalized products, event planning, and online education. Key barriers faced by young entrepreneurs, he said, are lack of awareness of their potentials, insufficient education and training, lack of experience, few and limited financial resources and business networks, market barriers, and biases in financial markets that do not support youth-owned businesses. Lastly, he points out that, with the right skills, knowledge and support, young people can start and grow successful businesses in a variety of industries.

Dynamics of Asian Leaders

Imparting his thoughts on “Key Insights on Asian Leadership”, OLFU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Heracleo Lagrada, began by distinguishing “leadership” from “management”. The former he says is about having a vision of the future and the ability to energize others to pursue it, while the latter is about efficiently achieving results that lead to financial profits or surplus.

Stressing that leadership can vary in culture, family, and political connections, Dr. Lagrada walked through its various styles (adding that America would have even more variations than Asia) as cited by Professor Mills: 1) Directive- directions are given by executives and the leader is very much in charge—a style common in Asia; 2) Participative- involves teamwork with others—a style common in Europe; 3) Empowering- stresses delegation of responsibility to subordinates; 4) Charismatic- a leader followed by people because of who they are and not because of good management or even business success, and 5) Celebrity- superstar.

The key qualities that people look for in a successful leader, Dr. Lagrada enumerated, are passion, conviction, adaptability, emotional toughness, humility, integrity, decisiveness, emotional resonance, and self-knowledge. He then concludes by sharing insights on emerging trends in Asian leadership. Some takeaways include: 1) Asian businesses are seeking access to world capital markets; 2) Asian business leaders are beginning to adopt western-styles of leadership—a less autocratic and more participative and empowered style of leadership; 3) Adaptability is a leadership style; 4) There is a strong influence of culture in leadership styles, and 5) The recognition of the transformative power of collaboration.

APAC: A Merry Mix

Two more esteemed international lecturers who similarly have a soft spot for the Philippines were featured, this time to tackle “Multi-Cultural Diversity in Asia and Pacific Region”.

Flying in from Down Under was Ingrid Ursua, CEO of Australia’s eVERSITY Online Campus and MAJESTiiC Global, who spoke about Australia’s position in international student mobility with the current revenue of Australian international education amounting to $25.5 Billion—making it the continent’s 3rd largest export. She also revealed that online education in Australia has been generating a revenue of about $3.5 Billion. With the total number of international students climbing up to 567,947, Ursua states that 45.8% of this figure are higher education students.

Ursua then proceeded to discuss multiculturalism as she underscored the strong partnership of OLFU and eVERSITY which dates back to 2018, accentuating that opportunities to export education and embed these into the ASEAN landscape is an area of growth that can be targeted specifically with the right partnership. Further, she outlined that international education can be locally embedded to enhance curriculum to global standards.

“Part of our vision is when nobody gets left behind, everybody moves forward. And that’s a very important thing, that when we embrace diversity we must carry everyone with us. Leave no one behind,” Ursua stated.

The rich tapestry, Ursua declared, of the Asia Pacific Region from its culture, religions, traditions, to socioeconomic diversity can lead towards reshaping Asia into a community that can interact with the rest of the world more equally and positively.

In her closing, Ursua mentioned a collection of programs that promote multicultural diversity and inclusivity, specifically those that advocate borderless education and inclusive communities.

Taking over the APAC track was Nigeria’s Dr. Francis Kayode Ashipaoloye who jokingly referred to himself as “chocolate guapo” (handsome chocolate man). As the Chief of the Center for International Relations and Dean of the Graduate School at Lyceum of the Philippines-Laguna Campus, Dr. Ashipaoloye spoke about global initiatives that have contributed to the rapid growth of international businesses. Key factors among these initiatives, he said, include the increasing adoption and expansion of technology, as well as the liberalization of cross-border trade and resource movements. Then, he unraveled the concept of globalization, highlighting its positive effects and negative impact on economic growth. According to Dr. Ashipaoloye, some of the positive aspects of globalization include technological innovation, foreign direct investments, and economies of scale. However, he also acknowledged the negatives such as inequitable distribution, threats to sovereignty, and interdependence.

Defining “leadership”, Dr. Ashipaoloye stated it involves leading by example, fostering economic growth through inclusiveness, accepting people from different nations, embracing diversity, resisting ethnocentrism, remaining resilient in the face of uncertainty, and sustaining a lasting legacy.

Further, Dr. Ashipaoloye asserted that being a good leader entails cultivating a mindset of “global citizenship.” This term encompasses the social, political, environmental, and economic actions of individuals and communities with a global perspective on a worldwide scale.

Women as Emerging Global Leaders

Capping off the day’s panel of distinguished speakers was Dr. Jeniza Jamaludin, associate professor at Malaysia’s Asia Metropolitan University. Dr. Jamaludin imparted insights on “Women Leadership in Multi-Cultural Diversity”, starting with the statement that “leadership is not gender-specific” and “can be either men or women”.

Elaborating, she discussed key focal aspects of women leadership such as the fact that today there is a small yet growing fraction of CEOs who are women in the largest corporations; how women have been leading some of the largest corporations in a variety of industries; how women have been making history by occupying spaces formerly held only by men, and the reality that most women CEOs are in the top ranks in both Forbes and Fortune Magazine’s list of Most Powerful Women.

Dr. Jamaludin also covered modern-day women leadership trends. She cited that women are gradually making their leadership presence felt in entrepreneurship, administration, education, engineering, health, politics and more— at regional, national, and global levels. Women, she added, are now resolved in breaking through the traditional glass ceiling that had barred them from rising up to leadership positions even when they had possessed the requisite skills and talent to occupy them. Probing further on the modern age, she also described “The Women’s Era” in the Digital Age characterizing global female leaders as confident, innovative, digitally-oriented, data-based, and customer-centric.

The importance of women leadership, Dr. Jamaludin continued, adverts to essential qualities required to lead such as women’s ability to create a perspective that leads to collaboration within the organization, and the innate feminine quality of being able to connect, empathize, and communicate. Lastly, Dr. Jamaludin identified three characteristic features of women leaders: they utilize the transformational leadership style; they are task-focused, and they prefer to work in a collegial atmosphere.

Wrapping up Day 01

After a series of enlightening knowledge-sharing sessions, an open forum was conducted featuring the foreign guest speakers who were personally present at the venue. During this engaging discussion, thought-provoking dialogues were exchanged with each speaker leaving a lasting impression on the attendees with their impactful parting remarks:

Ms. Ursua emphasized there is still a considerable distance to cover and numerous challenges to overcome while on the journey towards attaining multi-cultural diversity.

Dr. Ashipaoloye urged that it is time for everybody to embrace a transformative and open mindset and recognize that human beings hold the power within themselves to drive change.

Dr. Jamaludin expressed that next to (and not behind) a successful man stands a woman, equal in importance and deserving of recognition.

These memorable statements left a profound effect on the audience, inspiring them to reflect on the day’s exchanges and to take action in their respective fields.

To wrap up the first day of the congress, all participants and guest speakers gathered at the San Lorenzo Hall for a scrumptious dinner infused with authentic Filipino flavors and cultural elements.

Day 2: Clark City Tour, Cultural Gastronomy, and Glamour Soiree

The second day of the summit, 30 May 2023, played out in various locations in Pampanga, one of the many renowned tourist destinations in the Philippines.

The Lark in Clark

Billeted at the Quest Hotel in Clark, Pampanga, the day started with an appetizing breakfast after which a tour around the massive Metro Clark territory ensued.

First stop was the “Museong Kapampangan” also known as the Clark Museum. Self-claimed to be “a window to the continuing history of Clark Freeport Zone and its surrounding areas, generally called Metro Clark”, the museum briefly tells a story of a larger world from which Clark sprung from and of today’s Clark— a new world of social and economic advances, hence, foretelling an even higher trajectory of progress in the future. Divided into four sections, the cultural center features: Gallery 1 that narrates that Clark is nestled between two volcanoes and is home to the indigenous Aetas; Gallery 2 that looks into the region’s past, showcasing Clark’s vibrant culture and thriving communities before the advent of the American bases; Gallery 3 that speaks of the installation of the American military base and the transitional phases that the Filipino nation had gone through in regaining jurisdiction over the base lands, and Gallery 4 that showcases how the Filipino people overcame the travails brought about by the base withdrawal, as well as the natural disasters of volcanic eruptions and floods that had all but devastated Clark.

The tour moved ahead to the Clark Safari and Adventure Park for photo opportunities with the animal-themed vehicles, murals, and statues. And while en route to the next leg of the Pampanga tour, delegates made a stop at the Rustica Restaurant for lunch.

OLFU’s Kapampangan Campus beckons with Warmth and Savory Surprises

Cultural gastronomy was the central theme in store for the “rolling convention” whose next destination was OLFU’s Pampanga Campus in the City of San Fernando. Gastronomy is “the art of selecting, preparing, serving, and enjoying fine food,” said Dean Muriel Caballero as she and the campus’ merrymakers joyfully welcomed the ACD-UN delegation and pulled out all the stops, serving the exotic delicacies of Pampanga. 

Conveying her support, Dean Cabellero expressed the beauty of HEIs and the ACD working hand-in-hand towards inclusiveness, while Dr. Cordova exclaimed that the visit to OLFU Pampanga added a “flavorful” experience for the delegates.

The Night is Young for Mighty Asians

Glitz and glamour were the motifs for socialization night at the Heroes Hall in the City of San Fernando. Dressed in resplendent gowns and suits, the ACD-UN Congress delegates lived it up ala “Crazy Rich Asians” as they milled around making social connections, learning to network, and brushing up on their interpersonal skills.

Day 3: Country Presentation and the Last Learning Session in Baguio City

Venturing further up north on 30 May 2023 (third day of the congress), participants headed to Baguio—popularly known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines—for a persuasive Country Presentation and the final learning session of the summit. Conducted at the Plaza Lodge, the delegates wore cultural garb that represented a medley of Asian countries. Foreign delegates also donned their respective countries’ national attire.

To kick-start the program, Dr. Jamaludin aired a compelling video presentation on Asia Metropolitan University (AMU). She expressed AMU’s keen interest in conducting student exchange programs with OLFU and expressed enthusiasm for OLFU students to study at AMU. Building on her remarks, Dr. Cordova then announced that the upcoming International Research Conference (IResCon) would undoubtedly feature AMU.

An interactive learning session came up next, dividing the contingent into four breakout teams, with a Sustainable Development Goal or SDG assigned to each one. The subgroups were tasked to present case studies establishing the value the SDG plays and the strategies to achieve the SDG.

Ending the program on a light note were multi-cultural dance performances by the delegates, and the awarding of certificates of appreciation to all the participants as well as the organizing committee members. A high point was when Dr. Cordova delivered exciting news that Dr. Jamaludin has been officially appointed as an international lecturer at OLFU effective from 2023 to 2026. She will be imparting her expertise in International Management

Days 4 and 5: Baguio City Tour and Making the Way Home

With uncooperative and inclement weather on 31 May 2023 (4th day of congress), the Baguio tour was swiftly and effectively readjusted to a thoroughly appetizing lunch at the Ion Hotel, a brief run at Burnham Park and a satisfying stop at the Baguio Public Market where delegates immersed themselves in heaps of local goodies and delicacies to shop from, thus, bringing the ACD Youth Leadership and Cross-Cultural Business Congress 2023 to a resonant close.

———–

This summit was made possible through the collective efforts of ACD and OLFU’s College of Hospitality and Institutional Management and College of Business and Accountancy led by the Congress Chairman and Secretariat Chair, Dr. Rommel Joseph Lazatin.