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Polyglot diplomat is new deputy Congen

24 April 2017

By Daisy CL Mandap

A diplomat who reportedly speaks eight languages is set to come to Hong Kong to swap places with Deputy Consul General Christian “Kit” de Jesus, who is leaving middle of this month after serving in the territory for three years.

The incoming DCG, Roderico “Deric” C. Atienza, will step down as Consul General in Seoul, South Korea, which is the post that DCG Kit will take up next.

Apart from being a polyglot, the new DCG worked as a professional journalist for seven years before deciding to join the foreign service.

An online article said DCG Deric worked for Kyodo News Agency, and was the first non-American to join the media group’s North America bureau. He has lived in Japan, too.

At his current post, DCG Deric serves concurrently as First Secretary and consul for culture, education, politics and public diplomacy at the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, headed by Ambassador Raul Hernandez.

DCG Deric reportedly topped the foreign service examination in 1999, and has served in other tough posts like Russia.

He is 44 years old, single, and is on record as being as “couchsurfing host,” meaning he has offered space in his house to travelers linked to a hospitality service and social networking site.

Meanwhile, Consul General Bernardita S. Catalla has confirmed that she has been appointed as ambassador to Lebanon, but is not likely to leave anytime soon.

“I won’t be moving to Beirut yet as I still have to present my credentials,” Congen Catalla told The SUN.

She expects to move to her new ambassadorial post no earlier than August this year.

Congen, who has been in Hong Kong for barely three years, will take over from Ambassador Leah M. Basinang-Ruiz.

The outgoing head of post has expressed apprehension about the job that awaits her in Lebanon, where many Filipinos dare move into, despite a long-standing deployment ban by the Philippines.

She said her research showed that about 90% of Filipinos there are illegal workers and earn only a fraction of what a domestic helper in Hong Kong makes, yet they persist in staying on.

But Congen Catalla has not much reason to fear. With her experiences in Hong Kong (and in Indonesia earlier), she is well equipped to face whatever challenges await her in Beirut.

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