The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

11 November 2010

The First ASEAN Children’s Forum

By: Ian Lopez, PWA, ASP Laguna Chapter

ASP-Laguna Chapter Vice President, Cathy Lopez, mentor and Ian Lopez, person with autism, participated in the First ASEAN Children’s Forum (ACF) from October 19 to 23, 2010 in Fontana Leisure Parks in Clark Freeport, Pampanga. The ACF aims to turn the immense vision of its participants to the momentous actions of millions of children through the active and enthusiastic participation of the children and youth of Association of South East Asian Nations.
participants, mentors and facilitators

Day 1 Welcoming Delegates & Showcase of Philippine Culture

On the first day, the start of the journey, many people came from diverse backgrounds from different countries. We all familiarized ourselves with new acquaintances’ names and faces; and were oriented about the activities that will happen in the next four days; all these through the lively young facilitators, headed by Lakan Bunyi.

In the evening was the Philippine Cultural Night, started with the parade of national colors and costumes. Child leader, Jaylord Langbayan gave an inspirational speech to participants and mentors. His speech was followed by welcoming addresses from the Chairperson of Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman.

After the speeches, each participant was asked to make a “signature cheer” for their respective countries. To end the cultural night, a ritual followed, where all delegates (including mentors and facilitators) committed to the success of the ASEAN Children’s Forum.
Ian Lopez with other Philippine delegates

Day 2 Lectures, Workshops & Learning ASEAN

The second day was an important day because the ASEAN Children’s Forum Web and Blog Sites were launched. According to the presentation of Maria Elena S. Carballo, CWC Deputy Executive Director, the sites were created primarily as outlets where children from the 10 South East Asian Nations can basically express themselves and bring up child-related issues to local and national governments and organizations within the region. Later, Clark Apuntar and Josef Baldo, explained to participants on how to use the website and blog.

After the break, Alicia R. Bala, DSWD Undersecretary and ACF Steering Committee Chairperson, explained the importance of child participation in regional and international events; while Mega Irena, from the ASEAN Secretariat, discussed the significance of the ASEAN Children’s Forum within the ASEAN Structure. In between the discussions was a brief dramatization on the history of ASEAN from the youth.

Children participants presented their outputs from Five Simultaneous Workshops. Different aspects on ACF’s “What, Who, What For, and How” were discussed. There was also a workshop regarding the ACF Websites, while adults attended a separate Focal-Point Workshop.

After the whole day’s work, we had an hour of rest and relaxation in our respective villas. We returned to the Fontana Convention Center (FCC) for the “Proud to be ASEAN” Cultural Night, which featured the diverse cultures of the ASEAN Member Countries.

Day 3 Research & Reporting

On the third day, participants were split into groups of local organizations that dealt with various issues/problems in the community. For Poverty and Child Labor - Lingap Pangkabataan, Inc. (BASECO, Port Area, Manila); For Health (HIV-AIDS and Sexual Issues)- Babae Plus (Malate, Manila); For Child Participation - Save the Children (Navotas City); For Environment – Greenpeace (Quezon City); For Children with Disabilities- Elsie Gaches Village (Alabang, Muntinlupa City); and lastly Cyberspace and Internet for Children - ECPAT Philippines (Quezon City).

After the day’s rigorous activity, we returned to eventually the FCC for dinner and Plenary Reporting of Field Visit findings and the output from the Second Workshop. A collective message from the different issues will be reported during the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD) Leaders in November 2010.

Day 4 Rest & Recreation, Plus More Work!

Today was a more relaxed day, compared to the other days. Last night the participants and their mentors collectively decided to contribute to the local economy by shopping in SM City Clark, one of the country’s biggest malls. Other facilitators decided to go swimming at the Fontana Water Park.

After a handful of hours of fun and relaxation, it was back to business at 11:30 for a Press Conference. Local media from Sun.Star Pampanga, ABS-CBN Pampanga, CLTV 36, UNTV Pampanga News Bureau, and the Philippine Information Agency, discussed on accomplishments for the last 3 days.

We validated the Terms of Reference for the ASEAN Children’s Forum- the VOICE of ASEAN CHILDREN; where all children can express opinions and issues affecting them and to create recommendations for various solutions to ASEAN leaders.

Click here to read more of Ian Lopez’s personal reflection on the First ASEAN Children’s Forum.


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