MANILA, Philippines - Breaking tradition, the 24th APEC summit "class picture" had everyone in somber dark suits instead of colorful national folk garb of the host country. (In Beijing everyone was in silk mandarin collars, in Mexico in colorful ponchos, in Subic in barong , etc).
It's not true that Russian protocol turned down the suggested silk Cossack shirts and chose instead a white judo judogi with black belt for everyone... but only the host President Vladimir Putin and Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda agreed to wear it.
EAT MY HAT DEP'T. This space was wrong again in predicting "four eyes" meeting between P-Noy and China's Hu Jin Tao. I wonder what message Hu was saying To Whom in the meeting not happening...
In any case, Malacañang can crow about President Benigno Aquino III's side meetings with: Chile (confirming technical assistance to improve mining laws and optimize operations); Singapore (investments); Malaysia (support on GRP-MILF talks); and a chance to talk to Taiwan Special Envoy without upsetting Beijing.
The Philippine business delegation may have better news which they are not sharing with competition.
Hillary Clinton represented US President Barack Obama who is at election hustings.
China got brownie points for declaring support for freedom of navigation. (But does that support imply assertion of ownership of land and atolls of surrounding waters (e.g., South of China Sea)?
But former Undersecretary Lauro Baja Jr. recalls that as early as 2002, China had agreed in her dialogue with ASEAN to Point 7: the Declaration of Conduct on the freedom of navigation.
When the Philippines hosted the 4th APEC Summit in 1996, then President Fidel V. Ramos showed the Club (and President Bill Clinton) that there was life in Subic after the Americans left and that we had turned words into high-tech ploughshares. (High return on shares, specifically).
When we host the 26th APEC summit in 2015, P-Noy would still be President and, surely, we will have better things to say, a newer, better tagline than "It's More Fun in the Philippines."
What might be our sound byte? By definition, the Philippines as an archipelago would focus on ocean governance (international navigation and the crossroads of maritime traffic) and the protection of the ocean and marine environment.
The DFA marine and ocean affairs office tried without success in the past to list large swath of our archipelago as marine protected area. But the International Maritime Organization (IMO) didn't support this initiative, seeing no precedent of a country declaring marine protected area.
Although after US President George W. Bush declared northwest Hawaii as marine protected area (about the same size as the Philippines), it was approved, and two years later it was listed a Particularly Protected Sensitive Area (PPSA). It is now the Papahãnaumokuãkea Marine National Monument.
(In realpolitik, It's not who you are but what you are when you say it that gets acceptance.)
Recently, Cook Island Prime Minister Henry Puna declared at the Pacific Forum an area nearly twice the size of France as marine park. The 1.065-million square kilometer reserve is the largest area in history by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management.
The Philippines plays a pivotal role in the Coral Triangle and the Mindoro Straits is identified as the center of marine biodiversity. Our agenda for APEC 2015 is cut out for us: ocean governance and protection of the Pacific Ocean and marine environment. To borrow from an ad for a Girard-Perregaux timepiece: We don't own the ocean...we only take care of it for the next generation.
REEL LIFE. Cinema enfant terrible Brillante Mendoza 's entry "Thy Womb" (Filipino title: "Sinapupunan") won for the film director the Revista de Cinematografo award (film critic's choice ("best film in terms of portraying aesthetic and human values"). Nora Aunor won the Bisato d'Oro (independent film critics) best actress award for her portrayal of a Bajao midwife coping with her own infertility. FEEDBACK: firstname.lastname@example.org