April 17, 2024

The United States of America’s imprint in the history of Baguio City proved lasting with the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines herself gracing the 113th Charter Day anniversary on Sept. 1 as guest of honor and keynote speaker.

U.S. Ambassador, Her Excellency Mary Kay L. Carlson, hailed the city’s officialdom and community for coming up with an annual program marking Baguio’s special day – with cultural heritage and planning forward as its core and without forgetting its long history and ties with the U.S.

“The United States has a long history in Baguio, which is reflected today in many streets, parks, and landmarks that bear American names. But while some of the names may be American, it is clear that this beautiful city is distinctly Filipino. Baguio’s annual historical commemoration has brought us together today and rightly so. We have long shared interesting values and we are connected by ties of family and friendship that go back generations,” Carlson said in her keynote message at the Baguio Convention Center.

This year’s program has the theme, “Getting ready for the future”.

She also talked about the U.S. and Philippines’ shared future and highlighted some of the ways that the U.S. is working with the Philippine government and the people to ensure the deep historical ties, such as the one with Baguio, and expand in the coming years.

“Our partnership is alive and thriving. The U.S. Embassy is working with new institutions in Baguio including the PMA, Baguio City Public Library, the Baguio Museum, and Saint Louis University, home to an American corner where the public is always welcome to read, study, and participate in programs and to learn more about the U.S.,” Carlson said.

She cited the thriving existence of American companies in the city, such as Texas Instruments and MOOG Controls, which have established manufacturing facilities that operate state-of-the art facilities in the city and employ thousands of workers and proves U.S.’s building of positive future in Baguio and in the entire country.

Carlson also lauded the city for its efforts in rising to meet future challenges and in mitigating climate change.

She noted Baguio’s goal of becoming a smart city under Mayor Benjamin Magalong, which she said is a key development market in meeting some of the challenges, and for working on plans to protect the Benguet pine trees and its watersheds and forests.

Carlson said forest and watershed preservation are scientifically proven ways to protect carbon sinks to mitigate climate change.

“And we salute you for seeking these important ways to address this very serious issue,” she said.

Carlson said the U.S. is also working to address climate change as well as it recently signed a new agreement laying the groundwork for one of the first offshore wind power projects in the Philippines.

She said the agreement is just the latest in a long line of U.S.-Philippines clean energy collaborations as it is vital to economic growth, innovation, and in responding to the global climate crisis.

She added since 2010, the USAID has provided significant support to boost national, regional, and local risk reduction and management capacity of more 100 cities and municipalities in the Philippines so that communities have prepared its measures in place to mobilize quickly response to early warning signals.

“We strive to continue strengthening out cooperation to better address current and emerging security threats and cross cutting challenges,” Carlson said.

Carlson was nominated by U.S. Pres. Joe Biden on Feb. 4 as Ambassador Extraordinaire and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of the Philippines and was confirmed by the Senate on May 5. She is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with a rank of minister-counselor. Prior to her assignment in the Philippines, she served as the deputy chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaire of the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina and New Delhi, India and held the position of principal deputy executive secretary for the Secretary of State in Washington, D.C.

She has been Foreign Service officer since 1985, serving as U.S. diplomatic mission in China twice, in Ukraine, in Hong Kong, Kenya, and the Dominican Republic. – Hanna C. Lacsamana