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Monday, April 22, 2024

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Diplomatic League in Phl strengthens youth empowerment, ignites passion of aspiring diplomats

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By Marinel Peroy

In the movie Heneral Antonio Luna, there are so many things we can learn from not only how the young, idealistic, and great military tactician depicted the challenges we continue to face as Filipinos more than one hundred years ago such as being fragmented and no unity, traitors and always have the “silo mentality”. Many attribute this to the geographical characteristics of our country.

While there may be some truth about what was depicted in the movie, I would rather personally transcend what my eyes saw and dwell on the very purpose of why the writer, producer and directors came up with such an evocative movie. Of course, the movie was not created to put down the Filipino people, but rather to challenge the very spirit of Dr. Jose Rizal’s belief which is, “The Youth is the Hope of our Motherland” (Ang kabataan ay ang pag-asa ng bayan.)

What resonated with me was the opening scene wherein General Luna was talking to Joven Hernandez a fictional journalist interviewing Luna. In the history book, there was no Joven and you will never find any Joven. The writer smartly integrated Joven into the movie (Joven means “young” in Spanish) to challenge our Filipino youth to learn from history. As the great Philosopher George Santayana said, “Anyone who has learned from the past is doomed to commit the same mistake.”

Rizal’s immortalized line speaks volumes and remains relevant even now after more than a century ago. This short yet striking powerful statement encapsulates how young minds of my generation have the potential to significantly contribute to the progress and development of a nation, like our own beloved motherland, the Philippines. 

Not only did our National Hero believe in this which probably prompted him to express in one of his pronouncements but also the current patriotic leaders of the country, more so, a Filipino career diplomat whom I had the honor and privilege to meet and be mentored under his tutelage.

For young aspiring diplomats, we look up to him with awe and inspiration, and his name is Usec. Jesus (Gary) S. Domingo from the Civilian Security & Consular Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), former Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand.

Former Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand. and now Undersecretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs Civilian Security & Consular Affairs Jesus (Gary) S. Domingo

Usec. Domingo believes that young individuals are not only the hope of our nation; but also the catalyst of change, and the penetration of continued progress of future generations. 

Speaking to THEPHILBIZNEWS, Domingo shared the pivotal role of the youth of today in the present and future of our country. He described the Filipino youth as “idealistic, optimistic, and dynamic”, and explained that even diplomats themselves have experienced this stage in their lives — being part of the youth. 

This is why, it is important to interact, connect, and collaborate with them, as they serve as a bridge not only between generations but also with cultures and traditions across the world. With this, the Diplomatic League, under Usec. Gary’s spearheading gathered university students and young professionals with an event focusing on the tapestry of youth diplomacy. 

Youth as the catalyst of change 


Held at the Foreign Service Institute Conference Hall, the Diplomatic League Global Summit 2023 put a spotlight on the theme of Promoting Youth Diplomacy with DFA OUCSA. This event was successfully organized by the Diplomatic League, a youth, volunteer, and young professional engagement platform of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), showcasing the work of DFA’s Civilian Security, Consular Services, and Overseas Voting, as well as how to join the Volunteer Ambassador (VAMBA) and Externship Program. 

From understanding the Consular Functions to navigating Careers in the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Diplomatic League Global Summit serves as a springboard for youth empowerment, propelling aspirations to new heights and fostering positive change. Some valuable tips, insights, and pieces of advice for the Foreign Service Officer Exam (FSOE) were also shared with those who are considering becoming diplomats and envoys someday.

On-site and virtual Zoom meeting participants had also the opportunity to listen to other keynote speakers from the DFA who shared their experiences and stories which include: Robert Quintin – Director of Overseas Voting Secretariat; Arman Talbo, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs; Erika Henri Laudencia and Christina Gracia Rola-McKernan, Special Assistants to the Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Affairs; and Ashyanna Alexine Bangcola, Principal Assistant at the DFA Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office.

As of April 2023, the Foreign Service Officer Exam (FSOE) has a passing rate of 17.80 percent, which is touted as one of the most difficult exams in the country.

Meanwhile, Atty. Alexine Bangcola, a 2023 FSO exam passer shared her experience with the attendees. She noted that it takes courage to pursue this chosen career by saying, “When it comes to variety of topics, don’t let that fear stop you. Stay curious always about everything and anything. I think that attitude will help you prepare for the Foreign Service Exam.”

Atty. Bangcola also shared that despite sometimes forgetting the humdrum of life, the youth can always do something, especially when they know what they are passionate about or fighting for something they love (which will be reflected in their chosen careers). She underscored that little things build up big things.

“Little things also eventually work to change systems – and that’s where the youth plays an important role. Because in a way, you are not yet entrenched in those systematic abuses and those systems of oppression. In other words, you can still change things from the outside, or through your way of thinking, as long as you work on your tasks [and] as long as you call out injustice when you see it…. The things that you are fighting for, the advocacies, the causes, please don’t forget about them – the youth is active,” added Bangcola. 

After the whole day session, participants were undeniably inspired by the speakers of how heartwarming and fulfilling they feel to serve as foreign service officers in the country. May these members of the youth, who strive to be part of this career path “do it with honor and excellence” in the service of and for others. 

An alumna’s contemplative insights 

As a VAMBA ‘22 alumna from the first batch, I can certainly share how being part of the externship program was one of my life’s highlights. Usec. Domingo was then the Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand and we were only having our catch-up sessions via Zoom meetings. Despite the limitations due to COVID-19 lockdowns, I am grateful for being able to connect and share insights with co-VAMBAs, thus highlighting the resilience, adaptability, and flexibility of each individual in the face of adversity. 


As a Consular and Diplomatic Affairs (CDA) Benildean alumna, I am also inspired by how (ID 112) Bangcola is now ‘doing ordinary things extraordinarily well’ as a lawyer and a foreign service officer. She is truly inspiring and exudes genuine humility.  

With Ashyanna Alexine Bangcola (left), Foreign Service Officer, Class IV / Consular and Diplomatic Affairs alumna at DLS-CSB, and me at the DFA Office in Pasay City

I mean, who would have thought that I would be experiencing such as full circle moment of — seeing again the colorful national flags of various countries and hallways as well as stepping my feet back on the floors of the DFA?   

Further, I believe that I epitomize in my little way the ‘ways of the sun’ framework, which has been shared by AmbaGary with my co-VAMBAs — doing a) what I want, b) am good at, c) potentially earning a living, and d) what the world needs. This mindset has been with me, and wherever I go, I opt to impart such values to maintain my grit to be in service of and for the Filipinos and our motherland. Indeed, as VAMBA, one must continue to be the embodiment of protecting, empowering, and serving Filipinos at home and around the world. 

What’s next with Diplomatic League?

Here’s a sneak peek of the Diplomatic League’s 2024 activities:

  • Collaborations focusing on ICT / digital diplomacy 
  • Volunteer Ambassador (#VAMBA) and Externship program
  • Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and Youth Leadership trainings
  • MUN Simulation of UN Security Council
  • Europhil Song Festival – inspired by the Eurovision Song Contest

Visit the Diplomatic League’s official Facebook page for more information here.

To those who are aspirants in the field of diplomacy, always keep in mind that this journey will require you to be — “Jack of All Trades, Master of Some.” As such, the mastery of creating your own success sets you apart, from your passion to your so-called vocation, making you not just a (future) envoy who serves others but a true maestro of limitless possibilities. 

“Chase excellence, success will follow.” — Rajkumar Hirani

#DLGS2023
#DFAOUCSA
#VAMBA 

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