Oct 272014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4803 2006-11-22 09:40 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila

DE RUEHML #4803/01 3260940
O 220940Z NOV 06



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 0183414

¶1. SUMMARY: In a four-day period, Embassy Manila sponsored a
classical piano concert at the Ambassador’s residence and a series
of three jazz concerts featuring Filipino and American artists.
Each of the events targeted a different audience, ranging from top
embassy contacts to the general public. The concerts demonstrated
the power of cultural diplomacy to deliver a positive message about
the openness and vitality of America to a wide variety of people.
Embassy Manila created these particular events from scratch, but we
look forward to the Department’s cultural offerings in the coming
fiscal year. END SUMMARY.

¶2. In the four-day period, November 16-19, 2006, Embassy Manila
carried out an intensive program of cultural diplomacy, sponsoring a
classical piano concert at the Ambassador’s residence and a series
of three jazz concerts at various venues in Manila. All four events
celebrated “Philippine-American Friendship Year,” a year-long
package of activities that Embassy Manila is carrying out in
cooperation with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, the
National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the National
Historical Commission. Philippine-American Friendship Year began on
July 4, 2006, which marked the 60th anniversary of
Philippine-American Friendship Day, and will continue until July 4,

¶3. The first of the four events was a classical piano recital
hosted by Ambassador Kenney at her residence on November 16. The
evening featured two outstanding musicians, both of whom were
targets of opportunity, in town for an international piano festival:
Gila Goldstein, an American citizen who grew up in Israel, and Yuan
Sheng, who was born in China and is now a permanent resident of the
U.S. This line-up, combined with both artists’ stories about their
individual paths to artistic success and their strong attachment to
the U.S., conveyed an eloquent message about the diverse, dynamic,
and welcoming nature of U.S. society.

¶4. The audience at the intimate event consisted of 50
carefully-selected contacts of various Mission sections and
agencies, with an emphasis on individuals who were younger and/or
had not already been to the Residence on multiple occasions. In
conversations with the guests during the buffet dinner that followed
the concert, it was clear that they regarded the evening as a
memorable occasion. Several of the guests emphasized how much they
appreciated being at an Embassy-hosted event that (as they perceived
it) had no overt connection to a U.S. policy goal. Significantly,
the relaxed atmosphere created by the “softness” of the event
resulted in conversations between guests and Embassy officers that
in many cases were remarkably candid and substantive, at or even
beyond the level of what we achieve at harder-edged events focused
on specific policy goals.

¶5. The following evening, November 17, the first of three
Embassy-sponsored Philippine-American Jazz Festival concerts took
place in a 450-seat auditorium in Makati, Manila’s version of Lower
Manhattan. The audience for the invitation-only event combined
senior Embassy contacts with members of the Jazz Society of the
Philippines, our partner organization for the festival. The result
was a packed house with a pre-concert reception that brought
together jazz aficionados from a wide variety of fields including
government, business, military, NGOs, academics, and culture, along
with members of the Jazz Society.

¶6. As they worked the crowd, Embassy officers had a chance to
interact with former President Fidel Ramos (whose wife, an
accomplished jazz pianist, was one of the performers), a young
up-and-coming Muslim woman who already holds an important position
in the Department of Education, a documentary filmmaker who is the
Philippines’ leading expert on jazz, an under secretary from the
Department of National Defense, the “Tony Bennett of the
Philippines,” the president of the American Studies Association, a
well-known jazz guitarist who is also an executive with the
country’s leading land development company, the Department of
Education’s under secretary for Muslim Affairs, a shipping magnate,
a university president, a supreme court justice, and a graduate
student in jeans and sandals who kept saying, “Wow, I didn’t know
America did stuff like this!” – that brief list gives some sense of
the richly eclectic nature of the crowd, many of whom would be
reluctant to attend our more policy-oriented events. The guests
clearly had a great time at the concert, and – although it would
take exit polling to establish this as a fact – there was every
indication that they left the hall with a more positive, upbeat view
of America.

¶7. The other two Philippine-American Jazz Festival concerts, on
November 18 and 19, were both open to the public. The November 18
concert, which took place in an outdoor performance space at a large
upscale shopping mall, drew an affluent, appreciative audience of
around 1,000. The November 19 concert, in a plaza along Manila’s
main bay-front boulevard, pulled a primarily working class crowd of
several hundred enthusiastic music lovers. Journalists were present
at each of three jazz festival concerts, interviewing musicians and

Embassy officers involved in the project.

¶8. Together, these four events demonstrated the power of cultural
diplomacy to deliver a positive message about the openness and
vitality of America to a wide variety of people, many of whom cannot
be reached with more policy-oriented programs. Embassy Manila
created each of the four events from scratch: the U.S.-based artists
who performed at the piano recital were targets of opportunity who
happened to be visiting Manila, and the three-part
Philippine-American Jazz Festival was funded with a PAS grant and
featured – as a vivid embodiment of Philippine-American friendship –
a combination of Filipino musicians and locally-based American
artists (including an American Fulbright Senior Scholar who is both
a musicologist and a jazz musician). This do-it-yourself approach
worked well, but is obviously quite labor intensive. Having
reminded ourselves once again how effective cultural programs are in
advancing our agenda, we look forward with renewed interest to the
Department’s cultural offerings in the coming fiscal year.




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