Prof. Felipe De Leon Jr (left) and Assistant Secretary Eduardo R. Menez (Right) provided their insights on Cultural Diplomacy and how to utilize and maximize this to best benefit the Filipino people.

In an increasingly interdependent world where mass communication technology ensures that individuals have access to each other more than ever, cultural diplomacy is fast proving itself to be a useful tool for states in expanding their reach and influence to foreign communities through non-violent means. Cultures not only reflect distinctive qualities and identities that set people apart from one another but also universal values and meanings, allowing bridges to be formed.

Foreign Service Institute Director-General Jose Maria A. Cariño opened the Mabini Dialogue titled “A Fourth Pillar in Philippine Diplomacy? Utilizing Cultural Diplomacy as a Key Foreign Policy Tool,” held on 13 December 2022, by emphasizing that “as far as culture is concerned, the Philippines is a giant.” He cited how Philippine talents abroad are highly appreciated by audiences.

Indeed, the Philippines’ rich culture can be greatly utilized by diplomats in achieving the country’s foreign policy goals.

Professor Felipe M. de Leon Jr., Head of National Committee on Music of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and a member of the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GaMaBa) Executive Council discussed why culture is seen as the “genius of the people.” It is this genius that generates society’s creative resource and becomes basis of social and economic development. Knowing one’s culture entails knowing one’s strength and advantages compared with others. He provided a fresh look on Philippine culture by presenting several Philippine subcultures, which can be utilized for the benefit of Filipinos.

Hon. Eduardo R. Menez, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy (OPCD), of the Department of Foreign Affairs, illustrated the longstanding efforts of the DFA in integrating cultural diplomacy in its work, and the different guiding policies and principles that support DFA’s implementation of cultural diplomacy. He also highlighted the DFA’s role of cultural diplomacy in complementing the three pillars of Philippine Foreign policy. Menez concluded by sharing various best practices conducted by the foreign service posts, and the different partners of the DFA in this endeavor.

Assistant Secretary Menez, shares the different activities undertaken by the Foreign Service Posts in promoting Philippine culture abroad.

The open forum that followed the main presentations focused on the advantages and disadvantages of having a Department of Culture, maximizing the Philippines’ soft power, and the role of the Filipino diaspora in cultural diplomacy.

Participants in the Mabini Dialogue came from the DFA home office and foreign service posts, other government offices and the academe. 

The Mabini Dialogue Series is a venue where specialists, experts, and practitioners engage in discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs and other stakeholders on national, regional, and global issues that have political, economic, and sociocultural impacts on the Philippines.