by Senator Edgardo J. Angara
Published on June 10, 2012, Manila Bulletin
Korea is one of the leading learning centers in Asia, with astoundingly advanced capabilities in education, research, science and technology. I am presently in Korea to visit their science and technology capital Daejon and forge more education and science and technology exchange agreements.
Academic exchange and scholarships are concrete evidence of our friendship with Korea. I recall how the former South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines, later Minister of Knowledge Economy, Choi Joong-Kyung explained why South Korea has extended considerable development support to the country. Our government was one of the first to send an expeditionary force to help repel the communist North aggression in the early 1950’s. A total of 7,420 Filipino officers and men served in South Korea, of which 116 were killed in action, 299 wounded and 57 missing. This, he said, explains why their country is grateful to the Philippines.
More than 400 Filipino students are currently studying in South Korea on scholarship. Most of them are majoring in Science and Technology, Wireless and Information Technology, International Relations, Business Administration, and Policy Development. They are spread spread across the best universities in Korea: the Seoul National University, Korea National University, Catholic University of Korea, EHWA, Kyungpook, Korea Aero Space University, Sogang University, MJU, Trinity Graduate School, HUFS, Myongji, KFRI, ITCC, Sungkyungkwan, Kongku and Dengguk University. Whenever I am in Korea, I make it a priority to meet with these Filipino scholars. I am always heartened to see them competing well with international students in one of the most rigorous academic environments in Asia.
The first order of business of my present visit was to meet with President Kim Hyung-tae of Hannam University and President Yoo Jae-cheon of Sangji University, with whom I separately signed a Memorandum of Understanding for student exchange programs. These two universities have excellent S&T and engineering programs. I hope to link them up with technology-oriented schools, like the Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT), to help develop the critical mass of scientists, engineers and technologists that our country needs for faster R&D-driven growth.
Scholarships such as those generously provided by Korea are providing Filipino students an incomparable opportunity to learn and train in a competitive, sophisticated and technologically superior environment. When these Filipino scholars return home, they are not only empowered with new knowledge, but are fired up to serve and give back to their community.
I have always felt strongly about giving bright and talented young Filipino opportunities to better themselves. I have helped about 5,000 Filipino students finish high school, college and postgraduate studies because I trust in their innate talent and potential.
I also visited the ongoing International Exposition in Yeosu, South Korea. Attended by millions of visitors from more than 100 countries, the Yeosu Expo showcases advancements in ocean-related technologies.
Capping off my four-day visit was a small gathering of Korean investors, a meeting with Mr. Choi and Congresswoman Jasmine Lee, the newly elected first Korean-naturalized Filipina to become a lawmaker. We hope to entice more Korean investors to invest in the Philippines and join the burgeoning local Korean community.
Globalization has indeed shifted the focus from comparative advantage based on land, natural resources, financial capital and labor to competitive advantage based on cutting-edge technologies and innovative products and services. That is why it is imperative to build up our technological capacity in order to innovate and become globally competitive.
Our country’s greatest competitive advantage remains our people, so it behooves us to consistently invest in opportunities that will cultivate their potential.
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