PGMA launches program to promote dialogues on peace, development in ASEAN, November 14, 2007

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo launched today the "Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace," a program designed to facilitate dialogues and communications on peace and development among the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

During the launching of the program in Malacanang this morning, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ayala Corporation and Philippine chairman of Bridges, presented to the President a copy of the Bridges Program from November up to April 2008.

On the other hand, Uwe Morawetz, founding chairman of the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation (IPF), presented a golden Thai art piece to the Chief Executive as a token of the program's appreciation for her initiative in hosting the launch of the Bridges Program in the country.

Nobel economic laureate, Professor Robert Alexander Mundell of Columbia University, witnessed the launching ceremony of the Bridges Program at Malacanang's Rizal Hall. Prof. Mundell was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics for his theory on "optimum currency areas."

The inaugural lecture by Prof. Mundell on "fitting globalization into the national development strategy," followed the launching of "Bridges" and luncheon hosted by the President.

In his lecture, Prof. Mundell shared his views on the world economy, globalization, information technology, the advent of the Euro, and the rise of China, among others.

The program is the first of its kind in ASEAN. The Philippines was chosen as the venue for the 2007 and 2008 lecture series, before the program moves in late 2008 to Malaysia, where it will remain until 2009.

The Bridges Program was conducted in Thailand from November 2003 up to April 2005.

The Philippines-Thai Bridges series "The Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence," was initiated and promoted by the United Nations.

The Bridges Program seeks to facilitate and strengthen dialogue and communication between societies in Southeast Asia with their multiple cultures and faiths as well as with peoples in other parts of the world to promote understanding and trust.

The objective of the dialogues is to build bridges of communication and understanding among local universities and other institutions in Southeast Asia, as well as establish long-term relationships through Nobel Laureates which may result in common research programs and other forms of collaboration.

By enhancing science, technology and education as the basis for peace and development, the Bridges events may lead to better cooperation for the advancement of peace, freedom and security in the region with the active involvement of the young generation.

Beginning today (Nov. 14) up to April 2008, the series of lectures and dialogues will be conducted in different colleges and universities in the country.

Among the speakers were Professors Mundell, 2004 Nobel Laureate for Physics David Jonathan Gross of the University of California, 2004 Nobel Laureate for Economics Finn Erling Kydland of the University of California and Tepper School of Business of the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, 1975 Nobel Laureate for Medicine David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology, 2004 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry Aaron J. Ciechanover of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, 1996 Nobel Laureate for Peace Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta and patron of the IPF, and investment banker James D. Wolfensohn, chairman of the Wolfensohn & Company, LLC.