The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Teodoro Locsin, Jr. graced, as guest of honor, the closing ceremony on 27 June 2019 of the Foreign Service Institute’s (FSI) intensive training program for the latest batch of the newly-commissioned Philippine Foreign Service Officers (FSOs).
Twenty-nine (29) new FSOs completed the FSO Cadetship Course (FSOCC) Batch XXVI, which was implemented from 07 January to 27 June 2019.
In his keynote address, Secretary Locsin emphasized the value of honesty in the foreign service. He stressed that being honest is important when dealing with representatives of other nations even if it means saying things they would dislike. As fellow diplomats, they would understand that while diplomats may disagree, honesty is deemed necessary for the nation of which one represents.
Ms. Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat, FSI Officer-in-Charge, in her opening remarks, congratulated the FSO cadets for completing the cadetship course and reminded them to take to heart all the lessons they learned during the six-month intensive training.
She further remarked that as FSOs, each one is expected to have a strong intellectual capacity, the capability to grow and evolve in new situations, and sustain the eagerness to learn. She had also fondly stated that Batch XXVI – Hinabi will have a special place in her heart, being the batch she had been with from the beginning until the end of the Cadetship Course.
Also in attendance were several assistant secretaries, officers-in-charge of DFA offices, and FSI officers.
Mr. Louie Dane C. Merced, topnotcher of the 2017 FSO Examinations, gave the response on behalf of the new FSOs. Special awards were also given to recognize particularly the outstanding performers in the batch. The award for perfect attendance was given to Mr. Rowell G. Casaclang, and the award for near perfect attendance to Mr. Francis Ramon B. Torres.
The Top 3 policy papers were also given recognition, with the first place being shared by two cadets: Mr. Louie Dane C. Merced and Mr. Miko D. Cabatingan; the second place to Ms. Jilliane Joyce R. De Dumo-Cornista, and the third place to Ms. Bien Janine C. Balocating.
A best art project award was also given to the proposal entitled “Lakbike: Sharing Trails and Cultures”. This activity was under the module on Philippine Society and Culture.
FSOCC Batch XXVI – Hinabi is composed of 29 individuals from diverse backgrounds, including lawyers, journalists, educators, government workers, economists, and a registered nurse.
Due to its diverse background, the batch is named “Hinabi,” or the Filipino word for weave or woven material. “Hinabi” boasts of colorful and beautiful designs symbolizing unity and hard work.
Each member of the batch is likened to a thread, each with his or her own color, working together, just as how threads complete an intricate design when woven together, as interpreted by Ms. Paola Belle D. Ebora, a member of FSOCC Batch XXVI – Hinabi.
“Each thread is important in making the weave and without one, the design would be incomplete. Moreover, aside from the beautiful design that catches the eyes of people, the batch would like to show that like a woven material that took a lot of time in crafting, we also put in a lot of time and hard work to become the thread that we are today that would hopefully, contribute to the overall design of the department,” she further explained.
The FSOCC is designed to develop the core competencies of the new officers in all aspects of diplomatic and consular duties and responsibilities through classroom lectures, seminars, web conferences, workshops, simulations, exposure trips, and group outputs.