Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf: Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes
Philippine Consulate General – Dubai & Norther Emirates
It isn’t easy being the Philippine Consul-General – and it sure is doubly more difficult when you are assigned to one of the busiest, most demanding OFW epicenters in the world.
Filipinos in the UAE number at close to 1 million, and an estimated 450,000 of them are concentrated in Dubai and the Northern Emirates; the area of responsibility of Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes. Of the gravitas of his responsibility, he says, “Dubai’s reputation as a challenging post among us in the Philippine foreign service has been reinforced by several of my colleagues who have been fortunate to have Dubai as a posting. The large community and the volume of work does make others wince and look the other way when it comes to the prospect of being assigned here. Add to that the comparatively bigger personnel complement we have here. Personnel Management becomes a daily learning exercise.”
Administrative duties aside, the Consul General also considers community building as part of his priorities, seeing the need to reinforce the government’s involvement with OFWs in the region. “I would like to be engaged with community affairs and be a part of the Filipinos’ lives in the UAE,” he says. “I also believe that when Filipinos feel good about themselves, when they become more confident of who they are, and what they are able to contribute to the global community, we gain the respect of the international community and other peoples and we are able to instill a deeper sense of pride among ourselves.”
Filipinos are sometimes notorious for being clannish and working in silos, moved by the tendency of “kanya-kanya”or “tayo-tayo lang.” Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes emphasizes on the need to bring the many OFW community groups in the UAE together under the banner of advancing national interest. He says, “Many Filipinos tend to perceive their interests as only within the confines of their most immediate concentric circle beyond their sphere of influence – their family, their immediate neighborhood, their small community, and at most their region. We’ve been told by many political analysts and many sociologists that perhaps what is still to be nurtured is our capability of thinking as a country, as a united people, defined by over 100 languages and dialects. That we will think of Philippine interests in terms of a nation should be forthcoming and something I eagerly look forward to.”