Advancing Philippine Arts and Culture at Post through FSI’s Cultural Officers’ Course

Fifteen (15) personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) completed the Cultural Officers’ Course conducted by the Carlos P. Romulo School of Diplomacy of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) from 09 to 18 September 2019.

Pursuant to Section 13 of Republic Act 7157, or the “Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991,” all foreign service personnel are mandated to promote Philippine arts, culture, and products as the country’s representatives at Posts.

The Course was designed to enable the participants, who will serve as Cultural Officers, to gain knowledge and insights, which will guide them in representing and projecting Philippine culture and values at Posts.

The Course included six (6) modules that focused on the role of cultural diplomacy in supporting and complementing Philippine Foreign Policy. It also discussed the legal bases of R.A. 7157 and other related laws, the functions and responsibilities of the cultural officer, the various Philippine settings, Philippine arts and culture, and various Philippine products.

Cultural Diplomacy in the Philippine Foreign Policy

Ms. Jesusa Susana V. Paez, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, defines cultural diplomacy.

Ms. Jesusa Susana V. Paez, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, discusses the important points to consider in organizing events at Post.

Ms. Jesusa Susana V. Paez, DFA Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, discussed how cultural diplomacy supports and complements the three pillars of Philippine Foreign Policy and explained how foreign service personnel can promote Philippine arts and culture abroad through cultural events and proper management of the Post’s social media account.

Ms. Alya Monina B. Rodriguez of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts shares some photos of the ASEAN film festival.

Ms. Alya Monina B. Rodriguez of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) identified cultural institutions and organizations that help advance cultural diplomacy.

As part of its Culture and Diplomacy Program, the NCCA assists cultural activities at Posts and supports cultural agreements, executive programs, and instruments of international cultural cooperation.

The Philippine Setting, Arts, Culture, and Products

Resource persons from other government agencies and the academe also tackled topics on various Philippine settings, such as the geographic features of different Philippine regions, ethno-linguistic groups and the interrelation between a language and the cultural behavior of those who speak it, the personal and social aspects of Filipino identity, and the customs and traditions present in the country.

Dr. Nestor Castro of the Department of Anthropology of the University of the Philippines Diliman gives a lecture on Philippine ethno-linguistic groups.

Dr. Leilani L. Gonzalo of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman discussed how Filipino folk dance “had its roots in the rituals and mores of the different cultural communities,” and conducted a practical demonstration through a series of folk dance workshops.

Ms. Teresa A. Montes of UP Diliman emphasized how Filipino music “provides a mirror to the cultural framework of the nation and its various styles are greatly influenced by the prevailing pluralist culture in the country.” She also presented Filipino music by showcasing Philippine indigenous instruments like the gangsa (flat gongs), tongatong (bamboo stomping tube), bungkaka (bamboo buzzer), kulintang (set of eight gongs laid in a row), and dabakan (skin drum).

The participants with Dr. Leilani L. Gonzalo (sixth from left).
The participants play the kulintang.

A panel of three (3) Filipino game inventors presented their tabletop games and explained how these serve as gateways to appreciate Filipino culture.

“Tadhana” by Nathan Briones is a Philippine mythology-based role-playing tabletop game that features creatures from local myths and folklore.

“Hugot” by Thomas Regala is a unique card game that aims to draw emotions out from players by turning common Tagalog words into punchlines.

“Challenge 21” by Leonardo Mejia Yu is an award-winning multi-player board game which intends to enhance mental skills through formation of nature-inspired shapes and patterns with mathematical logic.

Filipino food, garments and textiles, and furniture were also highlighted as Philippine art forms through lectures by Ms. Barbara Gordon delos Reyes of Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant, Ms. Rosette Carrillo of the Confederation of Garment Exporters of the Philippines, Inc., and Mr. Salvio L. Valenzuela, Jr. of the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines, Inc.

The Cultural Officers’ Course culminated in group presentations of the cultural event plan proposals of the participants.