Cheers to 124 years of the DFA!

The Department of Foreign Affairs recently commemorated its 124th founding anniversary, and there’s much to celebrate. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed Ambassador Enrique Manalo – a career official in the department – as Secretary of Foreign Affairs (SFA) a week after the celebrations. Quite often, the cabinet post is given to political appointees with the exception of a few career SFAs through the years like Domingo Siazon Jr. and Delia Albert. But before we move forward, let’s take a look back at the recent event at the DFA.

Inside the Bulwagang Apolinario Mabini, aptly named after the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Teodoro Locsin Jr., who held the position since 2018 bid the department farewell. According to Locsin, he would feel a great weight lift from his shoulders as he lets go of the job as the country’s top diplomat.

“When I said yes to the president to being his secretary of foreign affairs, I did not know that a virus would largely define my tenure along with a new cold war starting in our neck of the woods,” he lamented. It’s a turbulent time for everyone, especially with the pandemic hampering operations both locally and abroad.

SWAN SONG Locsin bids the DFA goodbye (Photo from DFA)

Being the top diplomat wasn’t an enviable job during this time. Repatriating stranded tourists, bringing stranded Filipinos back home, and so much more. Locsin shared what the department was able to achieve despite the hurdles during his swan song.

He also touched on the 2016 arbitral award, which recognized our country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea. “In upholding the rule of law and not of might as the way forward, we’ve held on to UNCLOS and the 2016 arbitral award. They are the twin anchors of the Philippine position on the West Philippine and South China Seas,” he said. “Without the rule of law, none can thrive nor long survive the resulting anarchy.”

When I said yes to the president to being his secretary of foreign affairs, I did not know that a virus would largely define my tenure along with a new cold war starting in our neck of the woods. —Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Locsin’s speech was followed by awardees in the department, recognized for their efforts and commitment to serving the Filipino people both here and abroad. Foreign diplomats including French Ambassador Michéle Boccoz, Turkish Ambassador Artemiz Sümer, US Embassy chargé d’affaires Heather Variava, and several other diplomats were present at the event. The Philippine Madrigal Singers also performed a couple of songs for the occasion.

GOLDEN VOICES SFA Teodoro Locsin Jr. greeting members of the Philippine Madrigal Singers during the DFA's 124th Founding Anniversary (Photo from DFA)

The DFA was one of the first government departments created after independence. Then-president Emilio Aguinaldo realized the need for international recognition for the new republic and he appointed Apolinario Mabini, the sublime paralytic, to establish relations with other countries.

His work is continued by modern-day Filipino diplomats to this day. Yes, they don’t just issue passports over there and they can’t help with a visa application going to a different country. They will, however, continue to further the interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people abroad through diplomacy, a field that is not always well-understood, but the proper conduct of which is nevertheless essential to our country’s continued progress and stability.

Philippine foreign policy is guided by three fundamental pillars—Preservation and enhancement of national security, promotion and attainment of economic security, and protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas.

FRANCE FASHIONED. A smokier version of the Old Fashioned, served with a chocolate 'cigar' is a crowd favorite at The Writers Bar.

Curator’s hour with Hennessy at the Writer’s Bar

I’ve long loved Raffles’ Writers Bar. I recall warm summer days spent enjoying afternoon tea with fascinators and hats on display during the hotel’s early days. Presently, it’s become so much more than the hotel’s designated afternoon tea spot due to the launch of “The Curator’s Hour.”

Every evening, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Writers Bar offers a series of bespoke cocktails and specially crafted evening entrées to help end your day or prep you up for dinner. I highly recommend it for apéro—meeting at the bar for a round of drinks and canapés before heading up to Mistral for dinner.

At the launch, a unique menu of gentlemen’s canapés, crafted specifically for The Curator’s Hour was introduced by the hotel’s Chef Béla Rieck. Six cocktails, created with drinks from Moët Hennessy, were also showcased.

GENERATIONS. Francisco “Paco” Magsaysay (Middle) and his son Jaime (Left) talking to Raffles' Director of Sales and Marketing Eugene Tamesis about the success of ice cream brand Carmen's Best (Photo from Raffles)

“France Fashioned,” a smokier take on the classic Old Fashioned cocktail, was quite the hit. Served with cinnamon and a chocolate “cigar,” this cocktail is on the stronger side while maintaining a smoothness in its texture. The “Tea Berry Hennessy” is a sweet and refreshing cocktail, perfect for someone who wants a little bit of a buzz without having to sacrifice the refreshing taste one gets from a fruity cocktail.

The canapés served were the perfect pairing—Smoked chicken rillettes, homemade pastrami confit, beetroot cured salmon tartare, crumbled geta with saffron aioli, and peanut tossed vegetables in rice paper. The last two are vegetarian but one could hardly tell. Each bite offers a mouthful of flavors that go really well with the drinks.

The launch of “The Curator’s Hour” also had a fireside chat entitled “Generations of Success.” It featured a lively discussion with Paco Magsaysay, chief executive officer of artisanal ice cream brand Carmen’s Best, and his son Jaime. They shared experiences on building a successful brand and how their family helps keep it going.

Magsaysay brought with him the story of transforming troubles with selling milk and excess cream from the family farm into one of the most recognized and beloved ice cream brands in the country. It was a fitting story that makes them the perfect pair for a casual dialogue on achievement and legacies, set against the iconic paintings by Filipino artists and the design of The Writers Bar.