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Celebrating our cultural and literary ties, igniting curious minds

Speech by Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development, at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2024 Country Of Focus: Philippines Night, The Plaza, National Library, on Saturday 25 May 2024

  1. MABUHAY. A very good evening to all of you. 
  2. I am very honoured to join you this evening to celebrate the Philippines as AFCC’s Country of Focus for 2024. This year is especially significant as it marks the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and the Philippines
  3. As founding members of ASEAN, our connections run deep – encompassing not only industrial and economic collaborations, but also rich cultural and literary ties. We are gathered here this evening in celebration of that relationship. 
  4. As a multicultural and multiracial country, Singapore prides ourselves on being an open economy and a welcoming society where we seek to collaborate with those beyond our shores for the betterment of our communities. The AFCC is yet another platform where we can forge deeper ties between Singaporean and Filipino book creators. 
  5. The AFCC has created a platform for partnership between Singapore and the Philippines which will flourish well beyond these last few days. Through initiatives such as the AFCC Circle and the Co-Translation Book project, these collaborations work to rally artists around the same goal: ensuring that readers everywhere can share in the richness of the Southeast Asian experience – regardless of race, language, or religion. 
  6. As a young father myself, I am especially heartened by the AFCC’s focus on stories for young adults and children. Anyone – including the youngest amongst us – can benefit from reading a good book. Reading a good book can not only spark curiosity and teach empathy; children’s stories also have the power to transform and impart values. In the context of Southeast Asia, the stories we pass down will help shape the next generation’s understanding of our own identity and of others. That is all so critical.
  7. At this point, I would like to share a snippet of my own life. My schedules can be quite punishing – typically on a weekend on a Saturday like this, I run anything from six to nine events in the whole day. Still, I try, both for weekdays and weekends, to end my day by 9.30pm so that I can zip back home and be in bed with my four-year old son by about 10pm. We will wrestle a bit, and at the same time read a book or two. That to me is how precious reading can be, as our precious bonding time as father and son. This daily ritual of reading to your young one is one of the greatest joys in the world. Even though my four-year old is still a little while away from starting his own reading journey, I eagerly await the day when he can begin to see himself feasting figuratively on the pages of books like the ones shared at this year’s AFCC.
  8. Tonight, as we celebrate AFCC’s Country of Focus, I am honoured to hear that we are joined by a delegation of very talented literary creatives from the Philippines, led by the National Book Development Board. A big warm welcome to our special guests – I hope that your time in Singapore will be as special as it can be.
  9. Last but not least, I offer my congratulations to the Singapore Book Council for successfully organising the 15th edition of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. I am fully confident that the past three days have inspired many meaningful conversations and collaborations for the future. Together, let us work to write new chapters in the Southeast Asian story.
  10. I wish everybody a pleasant and wonderful evening. Thank you.   


Last updated on 28 May 2024