DJ Gennie Kim invited me to their Digital Skynet office last Wednesday. She was going to interview the Philippine Ambassador, Raul Hernandez, for a special holiday broadcast. She whispered she is used to seeing the Ambassador at the various events they attend but she still feels nervous whenever she has to interview him.
Ambassador of the Year
Ambassador Hernandez was recently awarded the “Ambassador of the Year” Award by the Asia Society Korea Center.
Asia Society Korea conferred on Thursday, 9 December 2016 its 2016 Ambassador of the Year Award to Philippine Ambassador to Korea Raul S. Hernandez for his active involvement and support of the Society’s objectives and contributions to Philippine-Korea relations and to the diplomatic community in Korea.
As stated above, Ambassador Hernandez has been successfully fulfilling his duties as a diplomat by improving relations between the Philippines and South Korea and other nations as well. As a Filipino (and a South Korean citizen), we see him in a different light.
Before Amb. Hernandez took over his post, the Filipino community in South Korea was served by Amb. Luis Cruz. He was well-loved and appreciated for the changes he implemented at the Philippine Embassy. He supported the community by prompting them to organize and facilitate events to enhance community relationship. People called him “Tatay” or father as he was seen that way by the community. I remember attending an event before the end of Amb. Cruz’s term. He talked a bit about the incoming Amb. Hernandez ~ that they are alike in some ways. And he was right.
When I was in the Philippines, I’ve always thought that public servants were unreachable with an attitude of arrogant superiority. How ironic isn’t it? That speaks about my experience with them back home. The two ambassadors (Cruz and Hernandez) do not fit in my stereotype of a public servant. I would say that the Filipino community in Korea is just lucky to have them as representatives of our home country.
One with the Filipino Community
I used to think that diplomats spend their time eating hors d’ouevres at black-tie parties in swanky hotels, but in early January Amb. Hernandez went out to hike with us at Bugaksan. Then we proceeded to Hyehwa where the Sunday Filipino market is held and ate Filipino dishes in a plastic tray with plastic spoon and fork. Right there, I saw how humble and people-oriented he is. Last fall, he also joined FILIPOS, FEWA and the Zumba Group to a field trip at Naejangsan. He took the bus like everyone else and drank makgeolli with them.
Aside from joining the ordinary Filipino folks in Korea at their events, he makes sure that they are treated well at the Philippine Embassy. I remember a post on Facebook ranting about an unpleasant service that person received (or perceived) at the Philippine Embassy. When it was mentioned to the Ambassador, he immediately acted on it.
Amb. Hernandez is a true diplomat and a public servant. He treats everyone fairly and kindly. He would be attending a ball with other diplomats and VIPs at an elegant hotel one afternoon and later proceed to a bar at Itaewon to celebrate with the Filipino community at their Christmas party. He doesn’t distinguish between his personal and professional time as the former is spent as well with the people he serves.
Amb. Hernandez has been meeting the high expectations left by Amb. Cruz. If and when he leaves the Filipino community in South Korea, his successor will have bigger shoes to fill.
Congratulations and thank you, Mr. Ambassador!
Amb. Hernandez is DJ Gennie’s guest on her radio broadcast on December 23rd at 9am, 3pm, 9pm and 3am. To listen, just download the app “Multicultural Broadcasting” from Google Play. Or visit the website Woongjin Foundation and click “On Air”.