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Cultural Diplomacy: a Filipino Perspective Essay

I. WHAT IS CULTURAL DIPLOMACY?

Considered as a relatively new term in international relations and among governments, a commonly cited definition of cultural diplomacy is that of Milton Cummings, an American Political Scientist which defines Cultural Diplomacy as “the exchange of ideas, information, values, systems, traditions, beliefs, and other aspects of culture, with the intention of fostering mutual understanding” between or among nations (Kang, 2013) or simply put, it pertains to a cultural form of international communication between and/or among nations (Kieldanowicz). It was only during the past decade when governments started to and have increasingly paid attention to the practice of Cultural Diplomacy and have acknowledged the growing importance of cultural dimensions in analyzing the ever-increasing complexity of foreign affairs (Kang, 2013).

Art and culture are two important aspects of cultural diplomacy, as these are the forefront of many countries’ promotional efforts. The showcasing of a country’s cultural heritage, as made possible by cultural diplomacy, provides a country with the opportunity of showing who they are and create a positive image which will help them achieve their political aims (Kieldanowicz).

This belief was echoed by Philippine DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario was quoted saying “DFA recognizes the impact of culture in modern diplomacy and sees it as an effective tool in protecting our national interest, in advancing our advocacies and in achieving the development agenda of the country in the international arena. Cultural diplomacy is described as “…a course of actions, which are based on and utilize the exchange of ideas, values, traditions and other aspects of culture or identity, whether to strengthen relationships, enhance socio-cultural cooperation or promote national interests; Cultural diplomacy can be practiced by either the public sector, private sector or civil society.” From this definition, we can gather that cultural diplomacy is similar to an agreement between two countries for the purpose of strengthening their relations through their cultures.

II. PHILIPPINE ISSUES IN LINE WITH CULTURAL DIPLOMACY

The first issue which the group considers significant in line with the establishment of cultural diplomacy is the young population’s patronization of Korean, Japanese and American pop culture. As previously mentioned, art and culture makes up our identity as Filipinos, however with the continuous and increasing “Japanesation, Koreanisation and Americanization” of our young generation, the young population is slowly losing its Filipino identity this then becomes a hindrance to the promotion of local Philippine culture, so the question is how could the Philippine local culture be promoted abroad if locally, there is difficulty in promoting, much less preserving it.

III. PROJECTION OF ISSUES ON FOREIGN POLICY

The ‘Japanesation’, ‘Koreanisation’ and ‘Westernization’ of the Filipino pop culture must be addressed by the Philippine government. We believe however, that action must first be taken in the local or domestic level and extend it later on to the international level by virtue of foreign policy. In line with this issue the government may sponsor students to study sociology with focus on Philippine culture, or establish art competitions such as song-writing and painting contests and the like. This will later on be reflected in the foreign policy by the establishment of government sponsorship of foreign students studying of Philippine culture and society.

As we know, globalization is defined as “worldwide integration and development” and it has helped in improving the economy of different countries. Nowadays, there is a need for all the countries need to improve their exports to be able to make it in the international market. But despite that, globalization has also caused problems such as in cultural diplomacy, an example of this is the Business Process Outsourcing Industry. Even though the pay is nice in such an industry, there is an issue concerning cultural clashes. Since most of the BPOs came from the western side of the earth and then merely outsourced, there is a clash of what are the ways of living in one certain country and the ways of doing things when brought to the receiving country. There would be a lot of issues that would need to be addressed which causes in problems in cultural diplomacy.

Let’s use the call center business as an example. Let’s us say that there is a new call center has been outsourced here in the Philippines. In the country where the call center originated they do no not celebrate Christmas or Lent but here in the Philippines we do celebrate these events. This is where the clash begins, because these are two different countries with two different cultures, it would be hard to make or form a cultural diplomacy. There is a need to have talks to address such issues and so that both parties can agree on decide on something to agree on to form a partnership through cultural diplomacy.


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