Australian Ambassador: University relations foundation for PH-AUS strategic partnership

| Written by Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc

The participants to the courtesy visit to UP of Australian Ambassador to Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM (front row, fourth from right) and networking of Australia alumni in UP, at the Quezon Hall Lobby steps, UP Diliman, March 15, 2023. Photo by Abraham Arboleda (UP MPRO).


Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM visited the University of the Philippines (UP) on March 15, 2023 to meet with UP System officials and alumni of Australian universities in UP and to express her commitment to further relations between Australia and the Philippines through ties with the University.

Accompanied by Rollie dela Cruz of the Scholarships and Innovation Department of the Embassy, Yu was welcomed by UP President Angelo Jimenez, Vice President for Public Affairs and Australia alumnus Jose Wendell Capili, and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Office of International Linkages Director Imee Su Martinez. Representing UP Diliman was Maria Theresa Payongayong, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Chancellor. Also present was former UP Baguio Chancellor, Raymundo Rovillos.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM speaks before UP officials and Australia alumni in UP in the BOR Room. Photo by Bong Arboleda (UPMPRO).


Exploratory talks were held at the UP Board of Regents Room, Quezon Hall, UP Diliman, together with alumni of Australian universities and scholarships who now serve in UP. Among them were UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita Padilla and UP Los Baños Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension Nathaniel Bantayan.

Alumni present in the meeting included: Edna Co of the National College of Public Administration and Governance; Corazon de Ungria and Elmer Estacio of the Natural Sciences Research Institute; Grace Barretto-Tesoro, Armand Mijares, and Michael Herrera of the School of Archaeology; Ramon Carlo Pio Roda of the Virata School of Business; Olivia Cabrera, Benjamin Vallejo, and Lemnuel Aragones  of the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology; Raymond Marvic Baguilat of the Institute of Human Rights;  Laura David and Rene Abesamis of the Marine Science Institute; Paul Jason Perez of the School of Library and Information Studies; Severino Salmo III of the Institute of Biology; and, Joel Joseph Marciano Jr. and Rowel Atienza of the  Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute.

“I was delighted to hear that beyond the Australian alumni network, that you actually have 26 partnerships with various Australian universities. Let’s see if we can make that grow even more. I would love to see these partnerships not only deepen but also grow in numbers,” Yu said.

She also emphasized that aside from the Australia Awards, many more scholarships from Australian universities and companies could be provided to Filipinos.

“I’m very excited to see how UP is involved in so many areas and how UP is responsible for creating the innovative ideas, the cutting-edge technology, the research and development, that are, frankly, the foundation of any economic growth and prosperity for any country,” Yu said.

She emphasized that university partnerships are essential in the diplomatic relations between Australia and the Philippines, following the 2015 Joint Declaration on the Australia-Philippines Comprehensive Partnership.

“We are about to elevate the comprehensive relationship between our countries,” Yu said. “When we actually have shared goals, aspiration, and vision for us to be much, much more than the sum of two parts, then we call that relationship one of a strategic partnership. That’s definitely where we are already.”

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM and UP President Angelo Jimenez lead spirited discussions with Australia alumni. Photo by Abraham Arboleda (UP MPRO).


During discussions, Chancellor Padilla pointed out a need for scholarship for physicians, who are often in search of fellowships. In response, Dela Cruz invited applications for Australia Awards scholarships in the area of public health. MSI Director David spoke about MSI facilities, including a research vessel and a laboratory in the West Philippine Sea, where Australia can send post-doctoral researchers. Prof. Marciano, seconded to the Philippine Space Agency as its first Director General, reported how the agency was working with Australian counterparts on rules for sustainable use of outer space.

Together with President Jimenez, Yu was given a tour of the Natural Sciences Research Institute by Prof. De Ungria, and of the School of Archaeology by Prof. Mijares.

Central to the strategic partnership plan, which both countries are working on to be signed at the end of the year, are the universities. “In an environment when conflict is affecting our prosperity as well as our peace, I would argue that true friends, true partners are exactly what we need… All parts of our country, particularly universities, who are out there coming up with solutions, finding ways to really stretch the frontier of economies, have to work even more closely together,” Yu pointed out.

“And I see you and your relationships with Australia as the biggest asset that the Philippines and Australia have, that will be the rock-solid foundation of the new strategic partnership that we are about to enter into,” she said.