Celebrating ASEAN at 50: 10 countries colorfully “drawn” on a plane, and other AirAsia displays of ASEAN love

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Presenting the ASEAN plane during AirAsia’s livery this ASEAN summit week. Event was held at Villamor Air Base

It was a brightly-colored plane, but not because of the air carrier’s logo, but because of Southeast Asian indigenous textiles, and a bold red declaration of “I Love ASEAN.”

This is the new AirAsia plane, shown for the first time in public during this ASEAN Summit week, and in celebration of the 50 years of the founding of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

The culture buff in me was delighted. What a beautiful way to represent each country, portraying its indigenous pride. The plane has ten designs: batiks from Malaysia and Indonesia, particularly cetak for the first and ulos for the latter, poom khao bin from Thailand, trống đồng from Vietnam, kbach pka Chan from Cambodia, Lao phouthai from Laos, chate from Myanmar, jongsarat from Brunei from Brunei, Vanished da Miss Joaquim from Singapore, and of course tapis from the Philippines.

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Indigenous textiles representing each country

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The other indigenous patterns can be seen on the other side of the plane.

As the new plane was presented came the popping of the champagne, a parade of ASEAN countries’ flags, and heart-pounding drum beats and performances.

AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes, champagne ceremony, ASEAN 50 years anniversary, livery, AirAsia plane, I love ASEAN plane

ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Dr. AKP Mochtan and AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes let the champagne pop to celebrate during the ceremony. Photo by Chuckie Dreyfus

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An ASEAN flag parade, a marching band, and acrobatic performances followed. 

Watch some of the performances below:

Tony Fernandes, ASEAN dignitaries, VIPS, pointing to the plane, ASEAN 50 years anniversary, livery, AirAsia plane, I love ASEAN plane

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and other dignitaries like Deputy Secretary-General Dr AKP Mochtan, Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Dato’ Razlan Abdul Rashid, Philippine Congressman Cesar Sarmiento, Philippine Assistant Secretary of Tourism Daniel Mercado, Philippine Assistant Secretary of Trade Abdulgani Macatoman, Indonesian Director of Aviation Security M. Nasir Usman, PAF Commanding General, Lt.Gen. Galileo Kintanar, and AirAsia management like Philippines’ CEO Captain Dexter Comendador. Photo courtesy of AirAsia

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AirAsia flight attendants pointing to the new plane

With the livery, or the presentation of the new plane, also came the announcement of other “AirAsia Loves ASEAN” activities. To give back to the region, AirAsia is planning to do the following:

  1.  AirAsia ASEAN University Partnership,  where AirAsia will let college students in the ASEAN region intern with the airline, with a chance to secure full-time employment upon graduation
  2. ASEAN Journalists Camp, a workshop for journalists that will be hosted by AirAsia, to build a greater understanding of the ASEAN brand, its social, development and integration issues, and even sustainable, community-based tourism.
  3. ASEAN Entrepreneurs Day, where AirAsia will provide a forum for budding entrepreneurs to learn from the best startups in the ASEAN, as well as a platform to develop and market their businesses. This initiative began with Indonesian actor, host and VJ Daniel Mananta’s “Damn! I Love Indonesia” brand. The brand was carried over into “Damn! I Love ASEAN” shirts launched during the livery.
  4. Allstars Exchange Programme, where AirAsia employees will experience working and living in other ASEAN countries

RELATED: AirAsia’s new storyteller: “I want to tell stories from locals’ perspective”

I was particularly inspired by the ASEAN entrepeneurs initiative, as I listened to AirAsia Group CEO’s words on the airline’s humble beginnings: “16 years ago, we had two planes, no money, and 200 staff, and we carried 200,000 passengers. And we were competing against giants like Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, PAL, Garuda. But in 16 years we grew from 2 planes to 230 planes…so I encourage all ASEAN entrepreneurs to dream.”

AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes, speech, opening, ASEAN 50 years anniversary, livery, AirAsia plane, I love ASEAN plane

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes talking about AirAsia’s initiatives for the ASEAN region. Photo by Chuckie Dreyfus

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As part of AirAsia’s initiative for entrepreneurs was the launching of the “Damn! I Love ASEAN” shirts designed by the “Damn! I Love Indonesia” brand.  These shirts are going to be available in  AirAsia flights.

While the founder of the “Damn! I Love Indonesia” clothing brand could not make it to the livery, my friend and I happily met the brand’s director by chance.

With Damn I Love Indonesia director, clothing brand, Southeast Asia, ASEAN 50 years anniversary, livery, AirAsia plane, I love ASEAN plane

With “Damn! I Love Indonesia” Director Martina Halim. Loved her dress! Photo by Jherson Jaya

with fellow bloggers, Southeast Asia, ASEAN 50 years anniversary, livery, AirAsia plane, I love ASEAN plane

With fellow travel bloggers. Photo by Jherson Jaya

It was a fun morning. Below are some more of my photos from the event:

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AirAsia employees, some in Filipiniana attire, together with the ASEAN deputy secretary general (middle), were part of the welcoming party.

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Some of AirAsia’s flight attendants during the event

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More of AirAsia’s employees. I believe these are ground employees during flights.

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 Philippine Assistant Secretary of Tourism Daniel Mercado, speaking on behalf of Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo

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ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Dr. AKP Mochtan was the last to speak before the new ASEAN plane was formally presented.

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The new ASEAN plane from afar

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AirAsia Philippines CEO Captain Dexter Comendador with an  AirAsia model airplane

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