....whoooaaaaah hoh hoh hoh hohhhhhhhhhhhhh! whoooaaaaah hoh hoh hoh hohhhhhhhhhhhhh!
I left Manila soon after the ASEAN Summit there had ended...and I arrived in Sydney just before the first ever Special Australia-ASEAN Summit is scheduled to start. 'Twas all good, with fun flashbacks and new experiences aplenty. We've come a long way from where we began lang ang peg.
Some highlights and sidelights of the Summit preps and proper:
Meetings and briefings galore! A great opportunity to meet our ASEAN colleagues and Aussie counterparts. And shout out to the members of the Australia organizing committee who went to Manila to observe and learn from our own summit hosting, and then shouted us out during the Sydney preparatory meetings.
I don't know if this was their own plan or if they patterned it after other summits, but man the organizing committee seemed to leave it late. I took the above pictures of the Conference Center walk-through just two days before the event was set to start. (but they must have hit a NOS button or something because everything was fine by the opening)
Country Rooms! Big roomy ones! Home to those who aren't part of the "Principal + X number" scenarios (like me)
Has there been any Fast and Furious installment set in Australia yet? They look ready.
We affectionately nicknamed one of our Aussie Liaison Officers "Harry Potter" (because he wore glasses and had hair which kinda made him look like Harry Potter) and another "Tom Clancy" (because his real name was, in fact, Tom Clancy). Ironically, it was Tom Clancy who was all bubbly and smiley and Harry Potter who was always serious and mission-focused.
Some nice local touches were the extensive coverage by Sydney media of the summit and the welcome messages all around the airport for incoming delegations
i'm not sure if the furry greeters were part of anyone's official program though
Programs begin! First up: a business council reception. Were there big trade and investment deals signed? Of course. Were lots of senior officials and C-level executives in attendance? Absolutely. Were selfies taken? So many selfies were taken.
Signing ceremonies! Aside from the significance of the occasions, I like plenary meetings like these because they usually are the only "Principal + X number" scenarios I get to be included in.
Shuttle vans! Usually the best (and only) way delegates left out of their respective country convoys can get to the convention center. Fascinating to observe how officials from different countries diplomatically determine who gets "shotgun" and/or the remaining charger slot.
Fil-com Town Hall Meeting! Success rested on teamwork, preparation, and everyone doing their jobs. Mine included being a stand-in during photo-op blocking...
...as well as keeping the waiting audience engaged -- through DOT videos, fil-com performances, and regular announcements where the bathrooms were and when food will be served.
But I really did serve as emcee for the event. There were some early verbal stumbles on my part, but I managed to work through them. Once the ambassador let me talk in my native aussie-british-tandang sora twang, I was good to go.
Pare, pulis ako. The Fil-com meeting was dutifully treated as a high-security event, with extensive preparation and coordination done by our defense personnel, volunteers, and even federal police. All the work paid off with a successful, productive and orderly meeting and nary an incident....well, unless you count a story that two certain people were supposedly prevented by the feds from gate-crashing the event not because the two wanted to cause any real trouble but because they wanted to dress up, get up onstage, and perform.
pictured: witness' description. warrants further research
After completion of the main events, there is a frenzy of movement and activity, with countless number of people to be transported, reports to be drafted, and schedules to be coordinated. In the fog of war, a team member unfortunately mis-sends a message on the group's viber.
the response was as swift and decisive as you'd expect
Once everything has been resolved and the delegation's safely on their way home, the Consulate team re-groups at the hotel secretariat and I take charge of the congratulatory selfie that would memorialize our skill, effort and accomplishment.
literally seconds later, the Ambassador walks in and shows us how its done
Til we ASEAN again.