To fully appreciate a language, you need to understand the culture of the country where it is spoken. Such was the case for the Spanish Language Course for Filipino Diplomats and Public Servants.

A total of 23 students from Class A1 and six (6) students from Class A2 successfully graduated from their respective courses on 13 December 2019 at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In the course, the participants not only studied grammar and improved their vocabulary in the Spanish language, but also learned about Colombia’s culture, ranging from its history, arts, literature, dance, and music.

The course was sponsored by the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) in Medellín, Colombia, in partnership with the Colombian Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 2019, the Spanish program was offered for the first time by the UPB Language Center to over 20 countries, including the Philippines. The course ran from 30 September to 13 December 2019 at the Foreign Service Institute.

It was open to DFA and its partner agencies, whose employees may be posted to a Spanish speaking country, assume work responsibilities for which knowledge of Spanish is needed or is an advantage, and/or have an interest to learn or relearn the language.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat, Officer-in-Charge (Director-General) of FSI, thanked the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana for offering the course to the Philippines.

She also thanked the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Colombia in the Philippines, Mr. David Eduardo Montoya Quirama, for overseeing the implementation of the course, and Mr. Nelfer Velilla González, the course instructor sent by the UPB, who developed the students’ knowledge and appreciation of the Spanish language and Colombian culture.

OIC Balatbat likewise thanked and congratulated the graduates for their participation and dedication in finishing the course. She reminded them that learning is a continuous process and encouraged the graduates to continue learning the Spanish language.

Officer-in-Charge Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat delivers her opening remarks, thanks the Colombian government,and congratulates the graduates during the closing ceremony.

Mr. Montoya also expressed his gratitude to FSI, DFA, and everyone involved in the implementation of the course. He especially thanked the students for their interest in learning the Spanish language and emphasized how their acquired knowledge from the course will help them in their profession.

Mr. Velilla, likewise, emphasized the importance of continuing their study of the Spanish language.

Mr. Nelfer Velilla González (left) and Mr. David Eduardo Montoya Quirama (right) during the closing ceremony of the Spanish Course for Filipino Diplomats and Public Servants.

The awarding of Certificates of Completion followed, with excitement and pride among the students.

These certificates were issued by Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, one of the institutes accredited by Instituto Cervantes.

This Spanish language program is part of the Institute’s efforts to revitalize its training program through partnerships with foreign embassies based in Manila and other organizations whose activities and areas of expertise can potentially enrich and complement FSI’s existing training activities.

The graduates from Class A1 with Mr. Montoya and Mr. Velilla.
The graduates from Class A2 with Mr. Montoya and Mr. Velilla.

As it was not just any ordinary ceremony, the graduates had presentations, making use of their learning on the Colombian culture and Spanish language.

The graduates from Class A1 presented different cities and top attractions in Colombia and discussed their most significant characteristics, while Class A2 recited a poem and sung a song of Andrés Cepeda, a notable Colombian artist.

Ms. Andrea B. Leycano from Class A2 singing “Tengo ganas” by Andrés Cepeda.

The presentations were both intellectual and entertaining with Mr. Montoya and Mr. Velilla joining the celebration by showing their skills in dancing and singing. The ceremony ended with a well-delivered speech by Mr. Juan E. Dayang, Jr. of Class A2.

Overall, it was an incredible evening filled with inspiring remarks and superb talents.

Mr. Montoya and Mr. Velilla doing the salsa dance with Class A1 graduates.