Ambassador Belen F. Anota joined the other ASEAN Heads of Mission in Canberra, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the ACT Government, AusHeritage Ltd Board members, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the academe and other friends of the ASEAN Missions during the opening ceremony of the cultural exhibition entitled “Southeast Asian Art and Culture: Ideas, Forms and Societies” held on Monday, 04 August 2014 at the Exhibition Room, Level 2, ACT Legislative Assembly Bldg., Canberra. The Exhibit was open for public viewing from 05-08 August 2014.
The opening ceremony started with the singing of both the ASEAN Hymn and the Australian National Anthem by the Choir Group, composed of members from the different ASEAN Missions in Canberra, and ably conducted by Ms. Gemma McKeown, a Filipina resident in Canberra who is presently teaching music to kids and teens. The choir members came in their respective national costumes.
H.E. Mr. Min Thein, Myanmar Ambassador, and current Chair of the ASEAN Committee in Canberra (ACC) officially launched the Exhibit with his welcome remarks focusing on the importance of art and culture in supporting ASEAN unity and community building. He also emphasized the importance of cultural mapping as a valuable tool for documenting and promoting the rich and diverse cultural fabric of Southeast Asia.
Hon. Mary Porter, Deputy Speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly, representimg the Hon. Katy Gallagher MLA, ACT Chief Minister, was the Guest of Honour. Hon. Porter conveyed the Assembly’s pleasure in hosting the exhibition at the ACT Legislative Assembly building.
DFAT Deputy Secretary Gillian Bird, on behalf of DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese, underscored the importance of Australia’s long standing relationship with ASEAN, as Australia became ASEAN’s first dialogue partner in 1974. Ms. Bird reiterated the significant role of ASEAN in the region and the importance of the relationship of ASEAN with Australia. She also announced that Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop will participate in an ASEAN-Australia summit meeting later this year. Ms. Bird said that Australia’s commitment will foster stronger ties at the highest level between Australia and ASEAN.
AusHeritage Board members Professor Ken Taylor, Dr. Charlotte Galloway and Mr. Ian Cook were present during the ceremony. Prof. Taylor conveyed in his speech the meaning of everyday culture and its diversity in Southeast Asia. He also commented briefly on the development of the guidebook A Contemporary guide to cultural mapping – an ASEAN-Australia perspective and its value as a tool for exploring and promoting cultural diversity. Dr. Galloway, on the other hand, provided insights on the preparation for the exhibition and how the event was complemented with the very rich array of artifacts from ASEAN Embassies and High Commissions. Prof. Taylor and Dr. Galloway conducted guided tours to visiting guests on 06-08 August 2014.
The Exhibit was manned by the different ASEAN Missions in Canberra from 05-08 August. Members of the Filipino community organizations in Canberra, joined by the Filipino professors, scholars and students from the Australian National University, visited the exhibit and joined the guided tour by Dr. Galloway. DFAT Management trainees, embassy personnel of other ASEAN Missions, as well as, employees of the ACT Legislative Assembly building also visited the Exhibit.