Think Philippines: Your Gateway to ASEAN

2017 augurs well for PH in ASEAN

southeast asia map

Investing in the ASEAN Economic Community, a vast market of some 700 million people?

Of course, this is not an ordinary challenge . The ASEAN region composed of 10 diverse countries – namely the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand – with distinct economies, political systems, and cultures.

However, we in PRworks contend. Consider entering ASEAN through the Philippines.


One, President Rodrigo Duterte is the 2017 chairman of ASEAN. Of course, the chairmanship is an excellent opportunity for pushing Philippine interests.

Under the Duterte presidency, the Philippines is now pursuing an independent foreign policy direction. After assuming the presidency, Duterte visited countries which are mostly in Asia as he strengthened ties with China, Japan and Russia.

During the launch of the 2017 ASEAN Summit in Davao City this January 2017, President Duterte urged ASEAN member countries to protect regional interests.

“We will place our peoples at the core work for regional peace and stability, pursue maritime security and cooperation, advance inclusive, innovation-led growth. strengthen ASEAN resiliency and promote ASEAN as a model of regionalism,” he said.
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Two, ASEAN is seen by FocusEconomics to grow by 4.7 percent with the Philippines identified as one bright spot with 6.4 percent growth this 2017. FocusEconomics is a leading provider of economic analysis and forecasts for 127 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, as well as price forecasts for 33 key commodities.

According to FocusEconomics, external developments and global politics will nevertheless influence the ASEAN economy. For example, Brexit will also affect ASEAN because Singapore is particularly exposed. We also have to contend with a more protectionist U.S. under President Donald Trump. For example, Trump has decided to pull out from the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

For many Filipinos, however, President Duterte’s independent foreign policy should insulate the Philippines from the impact of US protectionism.

Duterte with other ASEAN leadersPeople and Culture

Three, Western investors will find the Philippines as the most Westernized among the 10 member-countries of ASEAN having been under Spanish and American rule for nearly four centuries.

Thus, aside from preference for international brands, products, and even food, foreign tourists and business travellers find Filipinos to be generally good English speakers. They are that good, the country had become a destination for BPOs.

According to Cebu City Hall consultant Joel Mari Yu in a meeting with a Silicon Valley investor and representatives of the local startup community, the BPO industry in Cebu in central Philippines employs 174,000 people with an average salary of P28,000 a month or roughly P4.9 billion a month. Together with operating costs and other expenses in running the BPOs, Yu estimates P7 billion fresh money from abroad entering Cebu a month.

But despite the Western influence, the Philippines is a melting pot, because of its location, of various Asians through the centuries. Chinese influence in local business community, for instance, is quite apparent. One would be surprised at their business ties with relatives in China. Then, there is the bustling Indian community along with highly visible communities of Caucasian expats along with the Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

Business and leisure

The countries in South East Asia exude a unique mix of booming economies, Oriental culture and leisurely beaches. But the Philippines, a country of over 7,000 islands, pushes the mix of business with leisure more. The tourism slogan “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” are not mere words.

One great occasion to check this out “fun in the Philippines” would the Fiesta Señor and Sinulog festival in the central Philippine city of Cebu every January.  In January 2015, this is what members of Global Voices did. They held the international group’s 10th year anniversary the week after the Sinulog festival.

A growing community of young non-Filipino entrepreneurs have come to love working in a place with a pulsating nightlife that is just a few minutes drive to the beach.  In fact, hundreds find time to gather in the annual Geeks on a Beach (GOAB) to learn, connect and do business with each other, and of course enjoy the beach.

And check out these two #GOAB videos:


Rethinking for ASEAN

Kotler, in his preface to the book ‘Think ASEAN’ that was copyrighted in 2007 yet, advocated the “rethinking of marketing toward ASEAN Community 2015.”

“Regionalization is happening in Southeast Asia! The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is no longer just an association of neighboring countries. It is becoming one integrated market that possesses great potential. The market us bit mature so there is room for aggressive growth. Companies are eyeing this market and have started to go regional,” Kotler said.

There are several things going for the Philippines. The country is a historical and cultural mix of East and West that makes it a natural entry point into a vast market next only to China and India. Tourism is growing fast because “it’s more fun in the Philippines.” Our OFW heroes continue to pour in dollars into the economy. The domestic market has demonstrated strength. And the BPO/ICT industry delivered.

Moreover, the startup world — the world of fast growing Internet businesses — is looking at the enormous potentials of Philippines. As Bowei Gai of World Startup Report in 2013 said: “The Philippines is the Peru of Southeast Asia, but three times bigger with its 100M population plus everyone speaks perfect English. Keep an eye out for it.”

Accessing the Philippines thru Public Relations

Public Relations or PR, if done right by the right PR partner, is one effective method for accessing the mainstream and digital media, markets, government.

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