By Ayesha Villalobos


Prior to the First World War, politics was largely a family affair, monarch , identified each other, exchanging personal letters by the heads of their foreign ministers, and danced, flirted, with swimming, playing tennis, and guessed charade.

In the present day, political figures and diplomats have evolved in their dealing with political communities. The “necktie diplomacy” – wide or skinny, plaid or plain, synthetic or silk, the tie is a diplomatic and political staple– and one of the few fashion accessories to have survived nearly 400 years of social change. Neck embellishments have been worn since ancient times to signify title or wealth or even just to absorbed perspirations. But modern, mostly decorative neckwear dates from King Louis XIV of France, who first popularized the tie's predecessor, the cravat, after spotting the bow-tie-like embellishment on 17th century Croatian soldiers. Hence, "fashion follows power and wealth."

And according to Oscar Wilde a poet, playwright of great acclaim, 1854 – 1900. “A well tied tie is the first serious step in life”.

But how did the “necktie diplomacy “started?

It started when a 26 year old Jeffrey Karl Reese Vallance (born 25 January 1955 in Redondo Beach, California) a contemporary artist who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. A hard core humanist had decided one day to compose the following letter:

“Greetings from America, enclosed is a necktie that belongs to me. I am sending you this necktie as a symbol of the cultural ties between nations”.

“Could you please send me one of your personal necktie in exchange of these ties that I sent you .The exchanging of these ties will help to strengthen the link between our cultures”.

With every goodwill.


“Jeffrey Karl Reese Vallance “

Every week he began sending out copies of the letter along with the neckties to presidents, kings and prime ministers around the world. Later on it developed into a project known as the “Cultural Ties, a “mail art” project involving the exchange of neckwear with such international dignitaries as Anwar Sadat, King Hussein of Jordan, Austrian president Rudolf Kirchschläger and dozens of others.

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In diplomatic community with the determination to promote cultural unity and trade relations they use “necktie diplomacy “to express their aspirations. Last month a “Vladivostok Public Affairs Officer discovered a new way to use his diplomatic necktie during his presentation to over 50 English language students entitled “English through Songs” on May 3 at Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU). The necktie at the presentation served as shoulder strap for his guitar and played a crucial role in enhancing the face of public diplomacy.”

An article in Huffington Post revealed Obama Wears Same Tie To Meet Netanyahu And King Abdullah: Coincidence Or Sartorial Diplomacy?

“All eyes were on President Obama today as he met with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, but it took an eagle-eyed tipster on Capitol Hill to point out the real news story: Apparently Obama was wearing the same tie he wore while meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on May 18th.”

Something similar happened at the recently concluded TUSKON World Trade bridge 2012, Over 5,000 business people from 130 countries attended the largest trade summit in 

Istanbul .The Philippine delegation was organized by The Turkish Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines led by their President Mr. Irfan Karabulut, and one of the delegate in person of BCDA CEO-President Arnel Paciano Casanova, a seasoned public official he may exude a boy next door demeanour but he knows the centrepiece of global business attire, that without one, a delegate feels as though he has left home without pants on. He understands that his tie pulls his entire outfit together. In the recent Signing of the Cooperation Agreement between BCDA Group and TUSKON (Confederation of Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists) witnessed by Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister and Economic Minister Zafer Caglayan , the economic minister is seen complimenting him with his Turkish Flag designed necktie to the wonder and delight of the crowd and admiration of media people. On the other hand though, personal time may play a role, but ultimately the public interest always prevails .A personal relationship can move forward aspirations, but the mutual trust plays an important role.

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Furthermore, the most serious part, as relations between Turkey and Philippines are now becoming stronger, what good is done for the country?  It is not a shower of compliments and smiles for wearing a Turkish Flag inspired necktie but a solid economic base relation and that significant changes will happen soon.

An experienced diplomat, Casanova points out that Turkey and the Philippines, have established a very fruitful and friendly relations, with TCCP and TUSKON, the pioneers of very interesting initiatives, and with them was easier, to negotiate on trade issues. In an interview with Todays Zaman,  Mr. Casanova, said that “Turkey could use its experience in building in the Middle East to compete against Chinese and Indonesian firms for a leading position in South East Asia’s construction industry. “Presently, there are three breakout economies defying the global downturn — Indonesia, Turkey and the Philippines. Turkish firms haven’t established the proper contacts in South East Asia yet, and there are a lot of possibilities they’re not taking advantage of,”

Mr. Abdulgani Macatoman, vice president of the Turkish Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines stated that: “Turkey has a place in these markets especially as its traditional trading partner, Europe, slows down.” “The Philippine government is also here looking for a Turkish firm that could help us create 375,000 housing units in Quezon City. They’re going to be affordable housing units and we see a lot of Turkish firms with good experience in this area,”

According to Mr. Karabulut with the advent of the new partnership between BCDA “the basis of relations are mutual economic interests, primarily in the areas of investments in the Philippines such as construction, free zone, and airports. There are 4 million housing projects. The state budget has allocated $ 21 billion for housing sector, which we are searching for investors in Turkey." Personal contacts can and will weaken, but the relationship is always determined by pragmatic interests. Similarly so , to discuss broad range of issues, but none more important than our commitment to seeking out new, creative, enduring ways to really bind the peoples of our two countries together.

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It is not only proper that state officials put on coats and of course even apply necktie diplomacy, but the principle is: to develop strong ties between Turkey and the Philippines, and to talk, about how they can strengthen and deepen those ties. The extraordinary relationship and understanding the two countries is providing , it makes important sense that Philippines and Turkey would be leading the way for more productive and beneficial relationship, along with TCCP  to achieve those enduring ties and demonstrate in a very public, visible way how imperative they are.

According to Mr. Karabulut “The policies we embrace and the investments that we make will shape our shared future, and we are developing strong habits of partnership and cooperation. We need to draw on all sources of our respective national strengths to build this partnership for the future”.

“The chamber points to the importance of economic ties. We see in Turkey and Philippines evident on the recent statistics Expected GDP of Turkey would be 5-6 trillion USD in 2050 ,Philippines records strong economic growth an inspiring success story: a dynamic economy that has lifted millions of people into the middle class; a country that is helping to fuel the global economy; that produces everything from commodities, and of course, technologies, whose goods and services are facing growing demand globally. And I am confident that this relationship will serve to stabilize our economies, but even reach far beyond and will endure and grow from strength to strength. “