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New Asian Center building inaugurated
Facilities will become a hub for cultural exchange.

Opening doors. Luminaries from the diplomatic community,
the Philippine government and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC)
grace the inauguration (back row, l-r): Toyota Motor Asia Pacific
Senior Vice President Michinobu Sugata, TMC Senior Managing
Director Akira Okabe, Chinese Ambassador H.E. Liu Jinchao,
Japanese Ambassador H.E. Makoto Katsura and Mitsui & Co.
Ltd.-Japan Executive Managing Officer Shigeru Hanagata. At
front row are (from l-r) TMC Vice Chairman Katsuaki Watanabe,
Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila,
Toyota Motor Philippines Chairman George S.K. Ty and UP
President Emerlinda Román.

It was a day of celebrating Asian culture last December 2 with the inauguration of the GT-Toyota Asian Cultural (ACC) Center, a gleaming P100-million complex donated by Toyota Motor Philippines, the single most significant gift to the University in the course of its Centennial year.

The one-hectare complex, soon to become the main venue of the AC’s different activities and collaborations, is composed of two structures, the GT-Toyota Hall of Wisdom and the GT-Toyota Asian Center Auditorium.

The Hall of Wisdom is a two-storey building that boasts of facilities like the Asia Library, Resource Center and the Asia Museum, which has four exhibit halls that house the AC’s vast ethnographic collection. It also has an audio-visual room, a computer room and several seminar rooms to complement the research and library facilities.

The inauguration also marks the launching of the Asia Museum, with opening exhibits on papier-mâché art and textiles with the theme “Ugnayan, The Philippines in Asia and Asia in the Philippines.” On display for the first time in over three decades is the AC’s textile collection featuring rare Maranao and Tausug costumes, along with mini-exhibits on Ifugao ikat and the Japanese kimono.

The GT-Toyota Asian Center Auditorium (ACA), meanwhile, is a 500-seat state-of-the art building equipped with a simultaneous interpretations system for multi-lingual conferencing.

The project started in March 2008 developed by then AC dean Aileen Baviera as part of its Centennial fund-raising activities. They secured the donation through the efforts of its officials as well as UP Centennial Commission chair and Senator Edgardo Angara.

No less than Japanese Ambassador H.E. Makoto Katsura, Chinese Ambassador H.E. Jianchao Liu, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) Vice Chairman Katsuaki Watanabe, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) Chairman George S.K. Ty, UP President Emerlinda Román and Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila and were on hand to mark the inauguration.

Performances from the multi-awarded UP Madrigal Singers and the UP Koto Ensemble lit up the stage at the ACA at the start of the program. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and the main turnover ceremonies soon followed.

Aside from the AAC, the TMP also donated a brand-new commuter van with a three-year maintenance fund.

Watanabe commended the University for its commitment to providing quality education, citing the contributions its alumni have given to the TMC.

“It is noteworthy that we have some team members who graduated from this distinguished university and are now contributing well to Toyota in the fields of engineering, marketing and human resources, among other areas. This is a testament to the superior academic standards that the university is distinctly known for,” he said.

Ty stated the importance of highlighting the study of Asian culture and its changing role on the global stage.  

“The facilities that we have built here shall showcase the rich heritage of Asia and provide perspective on the global role that it plays in the 21st century. As we look forward to further strengthen our partnership with the Philippine Government, we will continue to strive to contribute to the country’s development, to the economy as well as to society,” he said.

Román, for her part, expressed the University’s gratitude to the TMP for the donation of the building and followed Ty’s statement with the revelation of plans to create a new research institute for Asian studies.

“The Hall of Wisdom will also serve as HQ for the research institute for studies on Asia, which […] hopes to focus on new, multidisciplinary research dealing with relevant regional and national issues. The hall of wisdom will help us attain our vision to be a cultural and policy hub of intellectual and cultural exchanges in the Philippines and Asia.”

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was expected to preside over the ceremonies, but could not attend due to unforeseen circumstances.


 Anna Kristine Regidor