Diplomacy and Ambassadors: Are They Relevant in a Wide-Wired World?

Manila Bulletin, December 12, 2006 | Go to article overview

Diplomacy and Ambassadors: Are They Relevant in a Wide-Wired World?


Byline: Ambassador JOSEPH D. BERNARDO

(Response of His Excellency Joseph D. Bernardo, Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain and the Principality of Andorra at the conferment of the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, given by the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila last 29 November 2006.)

I WOULD like to thank the Honorable Mayor Lito Atienza of Manila and Dr. Benjamin Tayabas, my fellow Ten Outstanding Student awardee and now University President, for the singular honor of being the recipient of this honorary doctorate degree. I look upon this as a laurel that may just be the culmination of my stint as the Ambassador of the Philippines to the Kingdom of Spain, a position I have held since October of 2001. Serving the country in this capacity has been both a privilege and an honor. It has, needless to say, been a most rewarding experience and continues to be a source of much gratification.

In accepting this doctorate, I dwelled long and hard into just what I was to say as a response. Enumerating the accomplishments of the Embassy in Madrid during the time I have served and continue to serve as Ambassador would be self-serving and indeed very boring. Instead I have decided to throw at you, the academe, (and the student body) of this illustrious educational institution, a question that is meant to provoke the inquisitive and scholarly climate that is the pervading energy of any educational system. I ask you, as I once asked myself, "Are Ambassadors still relevant in this dynamic and ever evolving era of cyber messages - fax machines, instant telephone conversations, e-mails, texts and a diminishing world of jet travel and instant transfers?" It provoked me, it made me search, and it made me very curious. Curious enough to have really gone and asked myself the same questions. Curious enough to have gone into research to find the answers. This is the topic I wish to bring to this forum.

To many of us the words "diplomacy" and "ambassadors" seem to be synonymous and interchangeable. That is, they seemingly mean the same thing. The confusion lies in the fact that if you are diplomatic in your actions, you are considered to be Ambassadorial, and if you are an Ambassador you are considered a Diplomat. Certainly they are interrelated and can easily be misinterpreted or confused with one another.

Diplomacy is the protocol the manner in which nations peacefully and cordially conduct themselves in dealing with each other. …

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