Early this year, FSI Director-General José Maria A. Cariño gave instructions to organize a course targeting DFA employees to encourage them to take the Foreign Service Officer Exam and pursue a career with higher responsibilities in the foreign service. The “Introduction to Contemporary Global Issues and Philippine Interests,” conducted from 31 January to 03 February 2023, was attended by thirty-six participants (36) from the DFA Home Office, FSI, Consular Office, and from Philippine Embassies in Japan, the Republic of South Korea, Bangladesh, China, and Malaysia.  

The Course created a platform where the participants could learn from officers assigned in various geographic and administrative offices of the DFA as they discuss the most pressing issues of today and the Philippine stance.

DFA speakers delved on global issues such as climate change, political instability/Ukraine – Russia war, food security, West PH Sea/South China Sea updates, ASEAN concerns, and WTO issues among others. Some tools for analyzing these international events were also introduced, as well as sensitizing the participants in answering the question: “What’s in it for the Philippines?”  in ensuing discussions. The speakers encouraged staff employees to stay abreast of global issues by developing reading as a habit and to be cautious of unreliable sources of information which is rampant in social media.

Participants shared from their perspectives, the more important and pressing global issues of today; Former ASEAN Permanent Representative and current Assistant Secretary Noel Servigon challenged them to think of alternative scenarios that may occur from these issues.

Director-General (DG) Cariño graced the last day of the Course with a session in a hybrid modality called “The Diplomat’s Hour,” wherein he shared his experiences as a diplomat, the hard decisions he has made to ensure that Filipinos will be served and their best interests are upheld. He also emphasized the value of Cultural Diplomacy for a country like the Philippines. As an author and artist, DG Cariño shared that among the projects he implemented, he takes pride in the FSI Cultural Heritage Series: a series of world-class publications he has worked on with the Foreign Service Institute researchers, personnel, and featured artists, and outstanding writers. Among the recently released books that DG Cariño promoted is “The Ultimate Filipino Adobo: Stories through the Ages.” He candidly asked the participants which adobo is the best; after some time, he quipped: “It’s the adobo that your mother cooks for you.” He also mentioned his excitement for the upcoming release of the book entitled “San Sebastian Basilica: Ironclad Faith” which features the technical details of the basilica, put together by FSI and renowned artists and historians.

In a hybrid learning session, FSI Director-General Cariño shared, in “The Diplomat’s Hour,” his definition of success: it is when we help the least among us, when we serve the Filipino people wherever they may be and advance our country through whatever means.
FSI Director-General Cariño emphasized the need to take charge in one’s personal and professional growth, including the need to develop one’s competencies, especially language skills. The participants took time to visit the newly-minted FSI Language Learning Laboratory located at the 5th Floor of the DFA Building, South Wing Annex.