almendrala ambassador

College of International Relations; Home of Excellence

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Manila, Philippines -- So, you want to enter the premier school of foreign service in the country housing 9 retired Ambassadors of the Republic of the Philippines that had diplomatic missions and posts across the globe? A faculty from top universities and a student body that competes and excels, both in the national and international arena? Up to date we had 6 Foreign Service Officer Exam (FSOE) passers in the past 6 years with less than 1% passing rate, making it the most difficult governmental exam in the Philippines. It's difficult, yet it's definitely possible.

This is the College of International Relations of the Lyceum of the Philippines University (Manila Campus)
The breeding ground for future Filipino diplomats.

“First, if they want to change the world they have to change themselves. 
Discipline; Honesty. Doing the right thing even when nobody is looking" 
- Ambassador Alfredo Almendrala

MEET MY MENTORS (The Ambassadors)

AMBASSADOR ALFREDO ALMENDRALA (Dean, College of International Relations)

Ambassador Alfredo Almendrala, former Philippine Ambassador to Myanmar and Consul General in San Francisco, has been a true definition of "rising through the stars." 

After his illustrious stint as the College Chairperson for Politics, Government and Diplomacy, he became Dean of the College last January 2017. "He's a man of many endeavors." In addition to his appointment as Special Lecturer. Amb. Fred Almendrala was also a laborer in public work projects, an enlisted man and later an officer in the Philippine Air Force, a Foreign Service Staff Officer (FSSO), before passing the Foreign Service Officer Examination (FSOE). He rose through the ranks from FSO IV to Chief of Mission, serving as Ambassador to Myanmar during the chaotic 1988 uprising when Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to parliament but not allowed to assume office.

He left the Philippine Air Force with the rank of captain when he passed the Foreign Service Officers Exam (FSO) and, thereafter, rose from the rank of Third Secretary and Vice Consul to become Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Burma. In between, he served as Consul and Consul General in New Orleans, London, Ireland, and San Francisco. He also served as assistant secretary for administration and also for consular services in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Almendrala was our esteemed professor in International LawProtocol & Etiquette as well as in Public Speaking I. We were trained through roman literature, debated within the classroom halls and constructed multiple ADRs for many transnational issues especially the West Philippine Sea. Amb. Almendrala gave us numerous 'experience points' regarding his duty as Chief of Mission in many international negotiations. I felt lucky having these information at my plate considering you can't readily find these information elsewhere.

Ambassador Almendrala with Ambassador Berenguel at the Diplomatic Dinner © CIR SC

"For young diplomats, try to get as many assignments as you can—the harder, the better. It will build your character.” (Source: INQUIRER, AS Philippines)

Amb. appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan © Philippine Daily Inquirer Mar 2001

As the former Dean of the college, Ambassador Arcilla instituted changes in the CIR (College of International Relations) curriculum to ensure its responsiveness to the changing needs of its constituents and especially designed to prepare its students for the Foreign Service Officer examination given annually by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The following subjects were introduced: Philippine Political, Economic and Socio-Cultural Conditions, Cross Cultural Communications, Multilateral Diplomacy, and Field Research in Diplomacy. New emphasis was given to the study of International Relations, World History and Civilization, and International Organizations, the core subjects of the FSO examination. 

Ambassador Arcilla was also the country's Permanent Representative to the Vienna-based United Nations Office, UN Industrial Development Organization, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, of which he was also a member of its Board of Governors and the Bangkok-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. 

60th anniversary of Philippine-Japan Diplomatic Relations, 10th Annual Diplomatic Dinner, College of International Relations © CIR SG

He started his vibrant career in 1971 as a member of the Philippine delegation to various international conferences, including the annual sessions of the UN General Assembly. He moved on to become the Department of Foreign Affairs' Assistant Secretary for Press and Public Affairs, and later, Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs, and much later, Assistant Secretary for UN and International Organizations.

His international affiliations include membership in the Board of Trustees of the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok.

His experience in the academe includes his current stint at Lyceum as Special Lecturer on International Relations, Foreign Policy and other subjects required in the university's Foreign Service curriculum, including his handling the course on Diplomatic and Consular Practices at the Ateneo de Manila University in 2003.In spite of his very hectic academic schedule, Ambassador A continues to write a column, Cross Hairs, in Biznews Asia. (Source: Manila Bulletin 2006)


His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa received today Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain Corazon Yap-Bahjin © Bahrain News Agency

"Forget that you're a woman; because dignity and humanity has no gender. Women do not need any special treatment, because we can do it just like everyone else can"

Having the First Filipina Muslim Ambassador in the Philippines as your professor in Diplomatic Communications and Cross-cultural communications is like having gold in the ship, only to find out that you're in the rough seas. She's as tough as it gets and there's never a day I fail not to listen to her. From the way she radicalizes your mind to be the "Filipino who loves his country" to her simple stories and experiences throughout the world in every discussion, Ambassador Bahjin is one professor you'll definitely love!

Ambassador Corazon Yap-Bahjin made Philippine Foreign Service history when she became the first Filipina Muslim to pass the career Foreign Service Officers’ examination, and then head a diplomatic mission, when she became the Philippine Ambassador to Bahrain in 2009 – the fourth female to have done so in the kingdom.

She joined the Foreign Service in 1979.  Rising from the ranks, she started as Acting Director of the Cultural Division of the Office of Islamic Affairs (now the Office on Muslim Affairs). Her first overseas posting was for a Vice Consul’s position in Jeddah in 1986.  Thereafter, she was posted as Second Secretary and Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Amman in 1990 where she assisted in the repatriation of Filipinos from Kuwait during the first Gulf War.  Her next posting took her to Cairo as Second Secretary and Consul at the Philippine Embassy.  She then moved to the same position in Bangkok in 1992 and was promoted to First Secretary in charge of Political Division and Consul and Deputy Representative, ESCAP for the Philippine Embassy there.  Her last post before heading the Philippine diplomatic mission in Bahrain was in Xiamen, China as Consul General from 1995-2005.

Asked about her formula for success, the Ambassador credits it all to hard work, her commitment to her profession and her constant pursuit to improve upon herself and the work she did.  She explains, 

“I was never competitive.  I only competed with myself.”  She furthers, “At the end of the day, if you want to set your target on 80 percent, or 100 percent or even 120 percent, it is all up to you.” (Source: Ilustrado Life Photo: Bahrain News Agency)


12th Annual Diplomatic Dinner © CIR SG

As our esteemed professor in Diplomatic and Consular Practices and Trends, Ambassador Oblena released the "inner diplomat" in all of us. He authored most our materials such as the Handbook on Protocol, Social Graces and Etiquette and other exclusive materials from the Foreign Service Institute which is a great advantage for us CIR students.

In 1996, Amb. Fortunato D. Oblena was assigned to Lebanon as first resident Ambassador. He served in Lebanon until 2003. Ambassador Fortunato D. Oblena was appointed to as the country's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the UAE (1 August 1989 to 30 July 1994) (Source: DFA Beirut)


Touted as one of the "Iron Lady" in the college, I was fortunate to have Ambassador Pineda as one of my professors in International Organizations II and International Trade.

Ms. Emelinda Lee-Pineda is a career diplomat. The Philippine Embassy in China proposed an official application to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC for setting up Consulate General of the Republic of the Philippines in Xiamen in November, 1994. She was the former Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen, China (21 February 2006 to 27 July 2008). Before being posted in China, she was the Philippine Consul General in Chicago, United States (August 1997 - August 2003) (Source: Philstar)

She is definitely one of the most difficult professors I've encountered! It can seem impossible to please her in class but she will always be fair to those who deserves it. Later on, I've realized, she's one of the warmest mentors I had in college. 


Philippine Mission was opened in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in which he became the fourth Consul General in Jeddah. Mr. Kadatuan Usop, Deputy Chief of the Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to Sri Lanka. As a Career Minister II, he was the Executive Director of the Foreign Service Institute.

Ambassador Usop became my professor in International Law and Leadership and Management in International Relations. He introduced theoretical frameworks in management and made extensive lectures on the backbone of International Law. (Source: Foreign Service Institute)


Amb. Estrella Berenguel became the Ambassador of the Philippines to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. She was Deputy Chief of Mission to the Court of St. James when she received her appointment from the Commission of Appointments (CA) on June 1, 2005 as the Philippine Ambassador to Vietnam.

Ambassador Berenguel was also assigned in the following countries as Chief of Mission in the Republic of Poland, Republic of Hungary and in the Republic of Slovakia.

Her other Diplomatic and Consular ranks: Chief of Mission and Minister-Counselor of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Northern Ireland, Consul-General of Hong Kong and Macau, Consul of the Republic of Canada and the Consul of Guam, United States of America. (Source: Wiki)


Ambassador Villa teaches Comparative Government and Politics in our class. He was Philippine Ambassador to the People's Republic of China and concurrently to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Mongolia.  He had earlier served as his country's ambassador to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.  While in Bangkok, he was the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).  He had diplomatic stints in the Republic of Korea as First SecretaryLos Angeles as Consul-General and as Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

Mr. Villa has a degree in Foreign Service from the University of the Philippines, took up post-graduate studies at the Ateneo University in Manila, and also has a Diploma in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has lectured at the National Defence College of the Philippines and the Foreign Service Institute of the Philippines where he is also a Consultant.  

He is now teaching at the Lyceum of the Philippines University together with his fellow colleagues at the College of International Relations.  Following his retirement from the diplomatic service, he is now a Consultant at the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation of the Philippines (RPDEV) and engaged in private venture. (Source: Boao Forum For Asia) (Photo from: SEAMEO)


From left to right: Ambassador Berenguel, Ambassador Arcilla, Ambassador Villacorte, Ambassador Villa and Mr. Glenn Sartillo, Chairman (C) CIR SC

The late Ambassador Villacorte was our professor in International Relations: Problems and Issues. Ambassador Aladin G. Villacorte presented his Letters of Credence to H.R. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran at ceremonies held at the Presidential Palace in Tehran on September 10, 2007, becoming the Ambassador of the Philippines to Iran.

He served as Philippine Ambassador to South Africa  from 23 July 1999 to 05 September 2003. He presented his credentials to President Thabo M. Mbeki on 10 September 1999. Ambassador Villacorte presented his Letters of Credence as non-resident Ambassador to Mauritius (formerly under the Embassy's jurisdiction), Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Angola and Namibia. It was during his term that the Chancery moved to its present location at No. 54 Nicolson St., Muckleneuk, Pretoria on 01 September 2000. (Source: DiplomacyKorea)

From left to right. Mr. Glenn Sartillo, Amb. Fortunato Oblena, Amb. Alfredo Almendrala, Amb. Libran Cabactulan, Dr. Victor Endriga © CIR SG
In addition to long-time professors Ambassador Dolores Sale and General Cesar Fortuno, new professors were added to the faculty: Ambassador Apolinario Lozada, Jr., Ambassador Phoebe Gomez; Ambassador Nestor Padalhin; Atty. Ruby Sakkam, a summa cum laude graduate of St. Scholastica College; and Mr. Gil Santos, veteran journalist and former bureau chief of Associated Press. The foreign language teachers are also all extremely qualified. (Source: History of CIR)



He is the Chairman of the Department of International Trade and Foreign Languages at the College of International Relations. He obtained both his AB Political Science (cum laude) and Master in Public Administration degrees from the University of the Philippines. Should you not know him, you're not an IR student of LPU. Touted as the most difficult professor of CIR, reading hundreds of pages of development models/theories and spending a month for a chapter in Samuelson and Nordhaus should be normal.

As I said in my post in Ilustrado, My professors ingrained to me the real situation of my country. I was overly-confident when I saw the syllabus of our Philippines Socio-cultural Conditions involving topics like family, religion, gender and all the basic stuff. But lo and behold, it's my lowest grade to date. This, however, is the first time I felt "okay" to have low grades because I was learning so much. We didn't talk about families like papa, mama and baby, we've talked about how we became one of the most intact families in the world. 

"Learning your roots is crucial"

The deeper explanation on having an extended family under one roof (from grandmas to aunties); Why our own Filipino families became the "shining savior and armor" instead of our own government especially during the Spanish Conquest; The influence of major religions in state development and policy-making; Religion as a geopolitical and neocolonial instrument.

We then dissected the history of tagalog or filipino -- and its never-ending debates on what our national language should be called. Bogus treaties from the modern world imperialists -- all these without losing the Philippine aspect.

Mr. Sartillo can be tough by giving hundreds of readings everyday and let you suffer in his "bar-like" recitation and exams but it's because he has a caring heart and all he wants is to restructure your study patterns and habits, exceed your limits (even though you thought that you couldn't do it anymore) and develop a holistic attitude that can accomplish all things through Christ.


Mr. Varona obtained his MBA in Sales and Marketing at the University of British Columbia in Canada. A Cum Laude at the Ateneo De manila University (BA Economics). As a part of the CIR Trinity, Mr. Varona is also one of the most difficult exam writers. He taught in our International Political Economy class and had an exam from cover to cover plus the book "Why Nations Fail" of Acemoglu (546 pages). It is definitely one of the most daunting experiences of my college life. It took me 3 tubs of coffee to read all 1000+ pages in a single night.

You cannot miss his class especially if it's your time to report. I remember my colleague Jasmin who was a candidate at the university elections, rushed from the stage at the Miting D'Avance to his class because she has to report otherwise she'll get a 50. No excuses (except if it's a life or death situation).

While I was flying to South Korea, I mentioned that I was doing his midterm essays on the plane because you do not dare miss the name-fitting "deadlines". But with all that, he's definitely one of the most charming and good-looking professors in CIR. Go ahead and try asking any student in the hallway. I warned you.


Mr. Gil Santos is a veteran journalist of the Associated Press and TIME Magazine. According to Ella, he worked at the Associated Press at the age of 18. While working for an international press, he learned the value of deadline due to the difference of the time zones where the stories are needed.

It has been said that he was done proof-reading the news paper while it was going out of the printer/press.

Among the topics Mr. Gil covered, the most challenging was the drug trafficking in Golden Triangle as he narrated “I was told by the Thai Police not to write about this because I am exposing the illegal trafficking in Thailand and I could be killed by drug lords. What I just did was I got protection from military in Golden Triangle, left and wrote it in Hong Kong. And so I was not threatened”.

Mr. Gil became editor-in chief of the magazine Vox Populi, a news magazine and became publisher of the Bangkok Times. (Source: theworldaccordingtoellah)

Mr. Santos is my professor in Perspectives on Civilization III and Philippine Political and Economic Conditions. As an expert in the field of journalism, he can read your essay in seconds, grade it and provide you lines of instruction.

They're my professors. I'm not yet done introducing all of them. But I doubt that you're not yet convinced that you'll get the best education here in LPU-CIR when it comes to Philippine Foreign Service Education. We'll see you soon, future diplomat!

"They led me to places; where will your professors take you?"

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  1. Very well written and soooo informative. Mamshie, this is the bible!

  2. This is golden, Adam! I'm a bit disappointed at the absence of Fortuno and Miñoza, though. Here's hoping for a sequel!

    1. Hi Ate Danielle Hill! Hope you would bear with me until I complete all info of our professors. Cheers!

  3. I enjoyed reading your entry! Deja vu! of sleepless nights over a cup of coffee under the Trinity professors!



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