May 18, 2024
ESTEEMED BAGUIO DAY GUEST — United States Ambassador, H.E. MaryKay Carlson, graced the 114th Charter Day celebration of Baguio at the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center on Sept. 1 with Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Rep. Mark Go and their spouses and other city officials extending warm reception to the guest of honor and speaker. — Ofelia Empian

United States of America Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson has renewed the U.S.’ commitment to be partners with the city government of Baguio in realizing its visions for a resilient future.

Carlson, who served as the guest of honor and speaker for the 114th Charter Day of Baguio celebration on Sept. 1 at the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center, was impressed by the commitment of this city to diversity, inclusion, and accessibility which she said is important to the development of a community.

She thanked Mayor Benjamin Magalong for his leadership, as well as the organizers for selecting the theme “Reflections of the Past, Visions for a Resilient Future” for the occasion.

“Baguio is rich in history and some of which is directly connected to the U.S. You can see it in the names of many heritage sites like Camp John Hay or Burnham Park. But while this historic connection is important, Baguio is also primarily, formatively a distinctly Filipino city with a rich indigenous culture, with leaders who have a vision for the future. The U.S. is proud to partner with you in realizing your vision for the city,” said Carlson, who also graced the city’s 113th founding anniversary only a month into her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines last year.

She said the U.S. and Baguio’s partnership comes in the form of educational linkages, like the University of the Cordilleras and University of Cincinnati jointly developing programs on cybersecurity, and a new initiative to open an affiliate American space at the Philippine Military Academy to provide cadets with access to the latest in US scholarly resources.

She also cited numerous cutting-edge American companies that also see Baguio as a place to invest for the future, such as one of Texas Instruments’ largest semi-conductor facilities which employs thousands of Filipinos in the city and which has just announced that it will soon significantly expand its operations in the city and in the Philippines.

Carlson noted Baguio is also home to American companies in the growing business process management sector such as Sitel, Convergys, Synergy.

“These companies are just part of the flourishing U.S.-Philippines economic partnership, which is central to a more prosperous future for both of our countries,” she said.

She added it is impossible to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines without reflecting daily on the profound historical connection between the two countries and its peoples.

“But there is also an incredible dynamism and energy in our relationship which push us all, Filipinos and Americans and especially our young people, to build a brighter future together.

I cannot wait to see what the next 114 years will bring for the city of Baguio, for the Philippines, and for U.S.-Philippines relationship,” Carlson said.

Carlson also said Baguio reminds her of her hometown in Little Rock, Arkansas which has “lofty hills of stately pines”.

“So, when I come here, I don’t see lofty hills, I see majestic mountains of stately pines, but that connection really reminds me of home,” Carlson said.

She added that Baguio is also the only place where she had the privilege to travel to more than once outside of Manila.

Since arriving in the country July last year, Carlson has visited Batangas, Bataan, Boracay, Bulacan, Cavite, Cebu, Ilocos, Olongapo, Palawan, Pampanga, Zamboanga, Davao, Leyte, and Samar.

In the latter, she was able to see the historic Balangiga bells in their rightful place at the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir in Eastern Samar. 

The U.S. Ambassador was assisted by city officials led by Magalong, Rep. Mark Go, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan and members of the council during the celebration that also recognized the first batch of former city mayors for their service and in the awarding of this year’s Outstanding Citizens of Baguio.

The ambassador lauded the talents and skills of the celebration’s performers namely the University of Baguio Voice and Orchestra and the UB Performing Arts Group, which she said, proved the city worthy of being part of the Unesco Creative Cities.

On Aug. 31, Carlson also hosted the 274th anniversary of the U.S. Independence Day celebration at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence at Camp John Hay.

The U.S. Independence Day celebration in Baguio came day after the U.S. and the Philippines marked the 72nd anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the two countries. On Aug. 30, 1951 the two countries signed the MDT which serves as the foundation of its ironclad commitment to its alliance and partnership with the Philippines.

The U.S.-Philippines alliance is one of the most enduring arrangements in the Indo-Pacific reason why the U.S. Embassy Manila has claimed on Aug. 30 that security forces of the two countries continue to strengthen their capabilities and work together to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

With the U.S. ambassador during the Independence Day celebration is her husband, former Foreign Service officer Aubrey Carlson and other embassy officials.

The occasion was graced by ranking leaders from the government and private sectors, including those from the police and military service. – Hanna C. Lacsamana, Ofelia C. Empian with reports from Harley F. Palangchao