DERIC ATIENZA. Twice the Diplomat.Дэрик Атиенза. Дипломат в квадрате.

Larissa

From the very beginning of the planning of my 30UP trip I wanted to couchsurf. Firstly, because through hosting couchsurfers in Kazakhstan I have met amazing, interesting and kind people. Secondly, it is a fast-track to a local community: usually hosts (like I did) would bring you into a  circle of friends, take you see places, give advice on “do’s” and “don’ts”. And thirdly, obviously, this is about going out of my personal comfort zone – I just never before slept on a  couch in  a stranger’s house.

Deric Atienza
Deric Atienza

Since Seoul was the first stop on my travel list, ‘Thythia’ was my first couch host. Shortly after I posted a hosting request online, he sent me an invitation, along with  8 pages of overly detailed instruction on how to get to his house from the airport by 4 possible ways, rules of the house, expectations from a guest to become a “real” friend and so on. I was trying as  diligently possible to memorize them. After all, according to his profile he has already hosted more than 1,000 people. Whew.

A day before my  arrival he casually mentioned that there are 6 other guests staying at his house. And I should admit I freaked out. For a moment I even considered  going to a hotel instead. So good that I did not.

 Otherwise I wouldn’t have met Roderico Caparas Atienza, or Deric, as he better prefers. He mentions that in the Philippines where he is from, it is almost impolite to call people by their full first names. So Deric it was. Was that a coincidence that my first host was meant to be a  30UP hero, as he happened to change career at the age of 30, from being an international journalist to now a diplomat, with one more “diplomatic” title – a Couchsurfing Ambassador.From the very beginning of the planning of my 30UP trip I wanted to couchsurf. Firstly, because through hosting couchsurfers in Kazakhstan I have met amazing, interesting and kind people. Secondly, it is a fast-track to a local community: usually hosts (like I did) would bring you into a  circle of friends, take you see places, give advice on “do’s” and “don’ts”. And thirdly, obviously, this is about going out of my personal comfort zone – I just never before slept on a  couch in  a stranger’s house.

Deric Atienza
Deric Atienza

Since Seoul was the first stop on my travel list,

DSC00260

Deric says he has always wished making a  contribution to the Filipino society through diplomatic service since being very young. He was vigorously learning French and Japanese. But his parents were against  the idea, as they envisioned their son becoming a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer or at least an accountant. Not even quite. He became a journalist. Deric calls his journalistic career a “detour”. In this almost 7 year detour he had a chance to work for Kyodo News Agency, which was gaining its influence and carving its role in the world of  international media and received important assignments. He has lived in Japan too. He was the first non-American to join the international team of Kyodo NA. By all means, his experience with journalism you may call a successful one.

Yet today, Mr Atienza is a First Secretary and Consul for Culture, Education, Politics and Public Diplomacy at the Embassy of the Republic of Philippines in South Korea, with the track record of serving for long time at different and sometimes difficult international postings like Russia. He topped a test on diplomatic service in 1999.

Since he always knew that one day he would join the diplomatic service.

When you listen to Deric smoothly narrating his life story, you partly attribute the smoothness to his journalistic astuteness, partly to diplomatic skills, but mostly, you wonder if everything was truly easy in his life and career? “You would simply be in a desert if you were not guided by people thanks to whom you were able to fulfil your optimal capability. I was lucky enough to have mentors, people, good bosses, who at different stages of my career reached out, advised me”, – concurs Deric. “On the other hand, not all of the people who’ve helped me were ‘kind’, for example my boss in Manila. The woman was stern and unforgiving. She was always publicly vocal about my mistakes but kept on saying: ‘Deric, your talents are being wasted. Step up!’

 DSC00266

“Another big frustration was when I failed an  exam and did not pass to the Waseda University, one of the top schools for public diplomacy. I was studying for 4 hours a day, and it was not enough. I had to study 8 hours a day. It was a big lesson to me: if you are not getting something what you want, then you just did not put enough efforts to get what you want. Indeed, you are always looking for meaning in the face of  difficulties, which I believe are given to overcome them”.

Naive, idealistic, believing in rewards based on merits – with these words Deric is self-portrayed, and you get the sense of a him being a big romantic person deep inside. He fluently speaks 8 languages and is planning to pick up couple more. With the passion of hosting people Deric admits that his colleagues do not understand or approve of such activity, but he also believes that paying forward, taking care of strangers, is the way to a better understanding between people, hence contribution to diplomatic efforts.

 Deric is now 44, with solid another 20 years ahead in diplomatic service,  and the only ‘regret’ he says he has is not having a family yet.

It was almost 2 am in the morning when we finished our conversation, with him being up late and early all those days I was at his house, constantly being in touch with his guests, kindly asking how everyone was doing. His back was hurting from the bad fall while snowboarding that day, yet he still managed to sit and talk with me.

I was leaving his house after a short 3-day stay with the feeling of leaving a home just for another trip, with the poignant delight, admitting to myself that I couldn’t wish my first couchsurfing experience to be ever better.

DSC00272 ‘Thythia’ was my first couch host. Shortly after I posted a hosting request online, he sent me an invitation, along with  8 pages of overly detailed instruction on how to get to his house from the airport by 4 possible ways, rules of the house, expectations from a guest to become a “real” friend and so on. I was trying as  diligently possible to memorize them. After all, according to his profile he has already hosted more than 1,000 people. Whew.

A day before my  arrival he casually mentioned that there are 6 other guests staying at his house. And I should admit I freaked out. For a moment I even considered  going to a hotel instead. So good that I did not.

 Otherwise I wouldn’t have met Roderico Caparas Atienza, or Deric, as he better prefers. He mentions that in the Philippines where he is from, it is almost impolite to call people by their full first names. So Deric it was. Was that a coincidence that my first host was meant to be a  30UP hero, as he happened to change career at the age of 30, from being an international journalist to now a diplomat, with one more “diplomatic” title – a Couchsurfing Ambassador.

DSC00260

Deric says he has always wished making a  contribution to the Filipino society through diplomatic service since being very young. He was vigorously learning French and Japanese. But his parents were against  the idea, as they envisioned their son becoming a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer or at least an accountant. Not even quite. He became a journalist. Deric calls his journalistic career a “detour”. In this almost 7 year detour he had a chance to work for Kyodo News Agency, which was gaining its influence and carving its role in the world of  international media and received important assignments. He has lived in Japan too. He was the first non-American to join the international team of Kyodo NA. By all means, his experience with journalism you may call a successful one.

Yet today, Mr Atienza is a First Secretary and Consul for Culture, Education, Politics and Public Diplomacy at the Embassy of the Republic of Philippines in South Korea, with the track record of serving for long time at different and sometimes difficult international postings like Russia. He topped a test on diplomatic service in 1999.

Since he always knew that one day he would join the diplomatic service.

When you listen to Deric smoothly narrating his life story, you partly attribute the smoothness to his journalistic astuteness, partly to diplomatic skills, but mostly, you wonder if everything was truly easy in his life and career? “You would simply be in a desert if you were not guided by people thanks to whom you were able to fulfil your optimal capability. I was lucky enough to have mentors, people, good bosses, who at different stages of my career reached out, advised me”, – concurs Deric. “On the other hand, not all of the people who’ve helped me were ‘kind’, for example my boss in Manila. The woman was stern and unforgiving. She was always publicly vocal about my mistakes but kept on saying: ‘Deric, your talents are being wasted. Step up!’

 DSC00266

“Another big frustration was when I failed an  exam and did not pass to the Waseda University, one of the top schools for public diplomacy. I was studying for 4 hours a day, and it was not enough. I had to study 8 hours a day. It was a big lesson to me: if you are not getting something what you want, then you just did not put enough efforts to get what you want. Indeed, you are always looking for meaning in the face of  difficulties, which I believe are given to overcome them”.

  • Саша

    А как, как он стал дипломатом? И что, так все легко и произошло?

    • Larissa Pak

      Да, по его рассказу получается,что легко: лучше всех сдал экзамен на дип.службу…

    • Martha

      Is learning 8 languages easy? He might make it seem easy, but it’s plenty of dedication and hard work.