Veteran diplomat Rueca leads OPA’s protocol webinar

As part of a University that has welcomed multiple Popes, members of royalty, the diplomatic corps, and other high-profile guests to our historic campus throughout the years, the UST Office of Public Affairs (OPA), in coordination with the Office of the Secretary-General, held a webinar on protocol on July 13, 2022, via Zoom.

With the theme “Enhancing the Thomasian Brand of Excellence: A Lecture on Diplomatic Protocol and Social Graces,” the webinar had for its speaker Ambassador Monina Estrella Callangan Rueca, a decorated diplomat with more than 40 years of experience. Participants were composed of administrative and academic officials, particularly those in positions that are often tasked with organizing and attending formal events within campus and externally.

In his welcome remarks, UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Louie R. Coronel, O.P., EHL, the Chief Protocol Officer of the University, stated that with the goal of globalization, “interaction and integration among people, companies, institutions of higher learning, governments of different nations, necessitates the ability of individuals to act with decorum according to standards observed worldwide.”

OPA Director Asst. Prof. Joreen T. Rocamora, Ph.D., in the event overview, shared that, “It is our hope that through this initiative, we can further empower the participants in becoming more refined and confident representatives of their respective units, and of course, our beloved University, especially when meeting with important guests and the diplomatic corps. In this way, we can better advance our internationalization prospects and synergize with institutions even beyond the four walls of our campus, in line with the Father Rector’s seven-point agenda.”

Ambassador Rueca’s previous assignments include posts in Paris, Tokyo, Geneva, Madrid, and Budapest, and eventually she was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Philippines to Hungary, with concurrent jurisdiction over Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro. Prior to retirement from government service in 2012, she served as Assistant Secretary and Chief of Protocol in Manila. Currently, she teaches at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Diplomacy and Governance and has authored the book titled “A Guide to Protocol, Social Graces, and Etiquette.”

With the experience and lessons learned from a life of service, Ambassador Rueca generously shared her expertise on protocol, the science and art of correct diplomatic behavior, through an interactive lecture.

Coming from the Greek protos (first) and kolla (glue), the word protocol implies that the first contact between different parties, if done with grace and decorum, prioritizing courtesy and cooperation, could be the glue to secure and lasting harmonious partnership, emphasized the Ambassador to the 130 participants. Moreover, rather than an extremely rigid set of rules, which is often the common impression of people with regards to protocol, it has evolved to be a set of behaviors that hold consideration for others, common sense, and respect for all involved as primary goals.

After the discussion on rules on precedence, forms of address, seating arrangements, flag positioning, social entertaining, composition of the receiving line, formal invitations, table setting, introductions, handshakes, card exchanges, formal table manners, and a variety of other points that are necessary in hosting and attending formal events, the participants were able to apply what they learned through group activities and a Kahoot post-test.

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