A warm welcome to HE Gordon Kricke

Apr 01, 2017

We have not featured a sitting ambassador for some time now in this column or even in the TV show. The last time was the very affable Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, HE Amanda Gorely, and that was a few months back. We have had the pleasure of getting to know the other diplomats who are now serving their tour of duty in the Philippines in Business & Leisure, the television show, and I'd like to introduce one of them to our readers in this column.

The Ambassador of Germany to the Philippines, H.E. Gordon Kricke presented his credentials to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte only in early December of 2016. As narrated by Ambassador Kricke, he came from a rural area in North Germany, a small village where he thoroughly "enjoyed the company of farm animals". It is very different from metropolitan Manila, he said, but he spent a happy childhood in this serene, bucolic village.

The ambassador had a strong interest in history and biology in his younger school years, but in college, he opted for a law degree. After graduation, he worked as a junior lawyer in Hamburg before he decided to join the German diplomatic service. He never held any government post before this, never worked in any government agency before he embarked on a diplomatic career. It was in 1994 that he applied into the service, but not before undergoing a very stringent screening and selection process. In 1995, he officially joined the diplomatic service and in that same year, he got posted in several German embassies all over the world.

Ambassador Kricke also worked for the European Union for a total of four years, an experience he found most interesting, he said. He was fielded to Angola and later to Kazakhstan as EU Ambassador. The rest of his stint with the European Union was spent in the German diplomatic service where he made the rounds of the German embassies all over the world either as a top-level diplomat or as the official ambassador of his country.

His postings were in various parts of the globe, the varying cultures and languages dizzying. He first started in Buenos Aires as head of the Press Section, and he remembered travelling throughout Argentina in the company of local journalists. Then he was off to Mozambique where he handled the political and development affairs of the German Embassy. Then it was back to Germany for two years before he was sent to Haiti as Ambassador. He described the Haitian experience as fascinating, and then it was time to go to Khartoum, also as Ambassador.

From there, his Ministry sent him to Mexico, then to Honduras, Nigeria, and Angola as the top German diplomat before he was assigned to the Philippines. Although he officially presented his credentials to Pres. Duterte in December of last year, he was here in the Philippines since September.

This is his first Asian posting-it is an entirely new culture, new language, new experience. Like many other foreigners who have settled in the country, he was overwhelmed by our traffic conditions, though he was never critical of it. He finds Filipinos "open-minded and friendly" and because our people treat him very nicely, he says this "makes the job a lot easier". He is clearly enjoying his stint here, like all other diplomats we have come across.

Germany is now an economic powerhouse in Europe, its economy much stronger than several years back. This year again, he says, Germany is the biggest exporter in the world and is the biggest trade partner of the Philippines in Europe. In fact, 36% of our country's trade with Europe is with Germany. Trade-wise, he finds that there are still much untapped opportunities in the Philippines, and Germany has a bigger presence in other Asian countries than in the Philippines. It was only a few years ago when the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce was established, and Ambassador Kricke says the organization is doing a good job of creating awareness of the untapped opportunities here among German companies.

There are quite a few German BPOs now operating in the Philippines and faring profitably. When the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce organized a program called Mabuhay, the German Embassy fully supported it. There is a division in the German Embassy, the Ambassador said, that promotes Germany as a destination for Philippine overseas workers, especially those working in the health sector. According to the Ambassador, Filipinos in Germany have earned a good reputation in health care as well as hospice care.

In the field of education, Ambassador Kricke mentioned that at present, they have forty one partnerships between Philippine and German universities. There are already quite a few Filipino students in Germany and he is keen on raising awareness among Filipino students of Germany as an ideal destination for education, especially since many institutions here have English programs, unlike in other European countries. There are three hundred Filipino students in Germany's academic exchange service and this program is doing quite well, we heard.

He recognizes that Filipinos are a basketball-loving country, but Germany is strong in football. However, they are open to having more cooperation in sports programs between our countries.

Fortunately for him, his first visit to an out-of-town destination was Palawan, and like many Europeans, he found the experience exhilarating. He loves scuba-diving, and Palawan was ideal for this. He has also gone scuba-diving in Negros and shared his passion and admiration for the country's rich and diverse marine ecosystem. He also shared his extreme dislike for the illegal trade of any sea species, obviously a warrior for the protection of the environment. Our diverse marine ecosystem is definitely a big plus for our tourism efforts in the European Union, he said. There are in fact many institutions in Germany dealing with tourism that can be open to more intensified cooperation with Philippine tourism institutions to enhance our bilateral relations in this area.

To H.E. Ambassador Gordon Kricke, a warm welcome to you and we hope you can discover and enjoy more scuba diving spots in the country.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For comments & inquiries (email) sunshine.television@yahoo.com

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About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)