Mark Raygan Estrada Garcia
Before studying in Hong Kong, my thoughts of the city and China as a whole had always been no different from the iconic Great Wall – mysterious, impenetrable, complicated, and self-assured. Not that these have changed for the worse; but days from when I first attended my classes in the MPPG Programme, I realized that the people in Hong Kong and the rest of the Greater China Region hold not much difference from how we Filipinos are proud of our country and risk a collective reputation for what is good for our people. In the same way that I confidently paint a colorful picture of the Philippines against a backdrop made grey by an outsider’s appreciation of my country, my counterparts in my MPPG classes from Hong Kong and the Mainland brew with passion for conditions that work for them. The MPPG Programme has allowed me to contextualize nuances which, without my training in MPPG, would have suspended me in utopia. Yet, as it has facilitated my better understanding of interlocking issues related to public and social policies in Asia, the MPPG Programme has not turned me numb. Instead, it has challenged me to be more critical and to pursue curiosity with conviction, in the same way as it has affirmed the need to be inclusive and open-minded. It helped that my professors are among the most engaging, accomplished and approachable that I have had. Without any tarnish on the sense of pride I have for being a Filipino, the Programme has assisted me in trekking that Great Wall and pushing me on to conquer more.