DUBAI – Philippine Consul General Frank Cimafranca looks fully polished in his suit inside his big but busy consular office in Dubai.
He has traveled around the world representing the country in various diplomatic and global meetings and functions, hobnobbing with some of the most powerful world leaders, as well as rich and famous celebrities whom we could only dream of meeting in person.
But unknown to many, Cimafranca is a poor “true probinsyano” who, through sheer determination, hard work and patience, climbed up the country’s politically challenged diplomatic world.
He grew up in the province, along with his 10 other siblings, whose main orientation was about improving the lot of disenfranchised rural folks back in the day.
“I came from a big family of 11 siblings consisting of 7 boys and 4 girls,” he said.
His father was a labor leader and an opposition member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa until his death in 1984.
Cimafranca finds inspiration in his father’s advocacy for workers, carrying on the task in his capacity as a diplomat.
After finishing his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Cimafranca immediately got hired at DFA as a clerk/researcher.
“I am a true probinsiyano (from the province). I grew up and finished my education, from grade school to college, in my home province of Bohol. I joined the Department of Foreign Affairs right after graduating from college in 1981 and since then, I have not known of any other career except the foreign service,” the diplomat told The Filipino Times.
While working at DFA, Cimafranca pursued law studies at UP where he managed to become a university scholar and dean’s list student, obtaining very high grades in civil and political/constitutional law subjects and perfect grades in commercial law.
In 1989, Cimafranca finished law and passed the bar a year later. He successfully passed as well the Foreign Service Officers’ Exam in 1991.
“I am one of a few career diplomats who rose from the ranks, starting as a clerk/researcher, when I first joined the service in 1981. Since then, I have been involved in both policy and administrative work having been assigned in various policy offices of the Department, such as the Office of Economic Affairs, Office of American Affairs, and the Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs as Director of Northeast Asian Division,” said Cimafranca.
“I also served as Director, then Executive Director of the Department’s Office of Legal Affairs and the Office of Financial Management,” he added.
As a career diplomat, Cimafranca had been posted in Sydney, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He also served as the Minister and Consul-General of the Philippine embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands prior to his assignment to Dubai, UAE.
With an estimated over 750,000 documented overseas Filipinos in the UAE, with the bulk based in Dubai, Cimafranca’s office is constantly challenged.
“I normally start work just before 8 in the morning with a quick look at the day’s newspaper and browsing my emails for about 30 minutes to an hour. Then I attend to all the paperwork and documents brought to me during the day; receive visitors or callers as they come, with or without appointments; and attend official functions or events organized by the host government or by the private sector in Dubai,” he tells TFT about his typical day in the office.
“There are less than 20,000 Filipinos living or working in The Netherlands; in comparison, at least 400,000 Filipinos are in Dubai and the other northern Emirates. The sheer size of the Filipino community in Dubai keeps me busy even during weekends and holidays,” he added.
The diplomat said God and his advocacy, along with his wife and daughter, to help others, became his main motivation to accomplish things.
“In all my endeavors, my sole motivation is to serve – “pro Deo et Patria” – for God and Country,” Cimafranca said. – Rappler.com
This story was republished with permission from The Filipino Times of the United Arab Emirates.
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