The people of ASEAN-Japan

Winner of the catchphrase contest for the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation[Marlon Guerrero]




Marlon Guerrero’s work “Golden Friendship, Golden Opportunities” has been selected as the official catchphrase for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation in 2023.We asked him about the meaning of the catchphrase as well as his connection to ASEAN and Japan.

Love for his hometown, entwined in the catchphrase

The catchphrase was chosen from a total of 620 entries from the general public of ASEAN Member States and Japan by the Mission of Japan to ASEAN and Permanent Representatives to ASEAN from the ASEAN Member States in Jakarta.


The contest involved all ASEAN Member States and Japan, so I knew it would be competitive. I really appreciate it and I feel lucky because this contest is recognized by all ASEAN Member States and Japan.

When I got an email from AJC saying my catchphrase had been shortlisted, I took a screenshot of it and showed it to my friend. When I received the email about the final result, I visited all websites and social media accounts related to this contest like MOFA Japan, AJC, ASEAN Secretariat and realized that it is true and shared the post on my personal FB page. Then I received congratulatory messages from my friends, families and colleagues.

The word “Golden” is the key in your catchphrase

The keyword “gold” in my catchphrase was inspired by my province. I am currently working as a science and mathematics teacher in a high school in his hometown, the province of Camarines Norte located in the Bicol Region in Luzon of the Philippines. Camarines Norte has a historic gold town, Paracale. As gold symbolizes 50 years, I thought it matches the contest’s theme.

I love my province! In 2021, I ran for municipal council elections. Unfortunately, I lost but I am happy if I can make my province proud and known from the catchphrase I won in this contest.

Marlon is currently a teacher in a high school in his hometown, in the province of Camarines Norte.

Can you tell us about the meaning of your catchphrase?

The “Golden Friendship” refers to the ASEAN-Japan’s friendship that we have built until today and “Golden Opportunities” represents the new 50 years of friendship and cooperation to come among all nations. Although we will still be on the road for recovery from the pandemic in 2023, the “opportunities” represents ASEAN and Japan looking forward to celebrating another 50 years with the same friendship for peace, harmony and vision as we had until today.

The Philippines and Japan share the culture of showing respect for others

The Philippines is a member of ASEAN

As a citizen of an ASEAN Member State, I learned that the Philippines was one of the founding member countries of ASEAN in the Asian history class in high school. In my college, we would sing ASEAN Anthem every Monday after the Philippines’s national anthem. Also, on ASEAN Day, on August 8th, we would celebrate wearing traditional clothes of ASEAN Member States. I have also participated in an online leadership program for Southeast Asian youth where I heard people of my age from other member countries such as Brunei Darussalam and Cambodia speaking for the first time.

What is the impression you have about Japan?

I have never visited Japan, but it’s been one of my favorite countries. I first learned about Japan in high school in the world history class and now I love Japanese anime. I have a collection of “One Piece” comic books.

I am interested in tourism and culture in Japan, too, like bowing to show respect to others. We have similar culture in the Philippines, which is called “mano” (gesture to show respect to elders and accept blessing from the elder) and the word “po.” Also, I was a tutor for two Japanese children few years ago. I taught them Filipino language and math as they had moved from Japan and had to adjust in the local school in the Philippines. That was the first time I encountered real Japanese people outside anime.

Wishing for stronger ties on the 50th anniversary year

What does “friendship between ASEAN and Japan” mean to you?

I am 24-year-old now, so when I think about the next 50 years in my life, I understand that these 50 years would matter a lot. The 50th anniversary year of ASEAN-Japan is a big achievement and a good opportunity for all ASEAN Member States and Japan to further strengthen its relationship. I hope there will be even stronger ties and visions, and harmonious relationship that will provide better friendship between ASEAN and Japan. I believe that achievements from strong ties and harmonious relationship between ASEAN Member States and Japan rely on its people and cultural values.

Marlon Guerrero

Currently working as a science and mathematics teacher in a high school in his hometown, the province of Camarines Norte located in the Bicol Region in Luzon of the Philippines. He has run for the city council elections and wants to become a politician in the future.

Interview and writing: ASEAN-Japan Centre
Photos: Marlon Guerrero

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