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MANILA-- The Philippines underscores the importance of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) that will take place in Beijing in May, and the conference will foster understanding among Asian countries in charting a shared future, a Philippine official has said.
"The conference will build our relations with different countries," Philippine Communications Secretary Martin Andanar told Xinhua in an interview, adding that China initiated the people-to-people, cultural exchanges for different countries to prosper and to give Asian countries the opportunity to grow together.
Andanar, also chief of the Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office, will attend the conference scheduled on May 15.
The CDAC focuses on the theme of exchanges and mutual learning among Asian civilizations, as well as a community with a shared future for Asia and for humanity.
For Andanar, the major theme of the conference is about respect. "I believe that's the true meaning of this dialogue. It's about respecting each other's civilizations. So, I guess this is a testament to how China respects our different civilizations, our different cultures and traditions."
Andanar said the conference is timely. "As Asians we must seize the opportunity, the moment that we have been waiting for," he said, adding the time is right "for everybody to wear each other's cultures, traditions, peoples because before we can even change the entire civilization, or maybe contribute to the betterment of the human race, we, as Asians, must understand each other."
Exchanges between Asian civilizations date back to ancient times. Andanar said the ancient Silk Road trading routes that bind China to Asia has played a major role in the development of the different civilizations in the world, including the Philippines.
"We all have unique cultures, and we all have unique forms of running our own affairs but what is important to me is that this is the moment of Asia. We must seize the opportunity, the moment for us to shine the world stage, and when we shine in the world stage it is important for us to know each other or to revisit our civilizations, to be familiar with the civilization that has contributed to our growth," he said.
"For us to revisit the Silk Road or the introduction of the Belt and Road Initiatives is a must for us to be familiar with each other. And it is only when we are familiar with each other's civilizations that we can stand as one Asia, and have the same understanding, the commonality of improving the human race," Andanar said.
The warm relations that the Philippines and China are experiencing "have been very progressive and very active for the people and cultural exchanges," Andanar noted.
"We already had that strong bilateral relation, or trading relations, mercantile relations, and for some time when the Philippines was westernized we lost that very important part of our history. But when it's running in our veins and it's in our blood it's easy to genetically go back where we were and reintroduce our two cultures, our two civilizations," he said.
Andanar said the exchanges between Manila and Beijing in recent years have been "unprecedented."
"It has been inspiring for all of us especially that we are dealing with the second biggest economy in the world," Andanar said.
"Beginning the administration of President (Rodrigo) Duterte we have really seen the growth and the reintroduction (of Chinese culture and tradition) to our people," he said. "The cooperation has never been better."
For instance, he said the closer ties paved the way for more media exchanges leading to more first-hand experience about the Chinese culture and vice versa.
"There's so much geopolitics happening and we must set aside geopolitics to really understand China and its role in the Asian region and the world," Andanar added.