Before arriving in the Philippines, United States Ambassador MaryKay Carlson knew she had to seek the advice of former envoys to the country to prepare for the job of steering ties with Washington’s oldest ally in Asia.
After all, not only had Carlson’s post been left unfilled for two years, she was also inheriting the role at a pivotal point.
Former president Rodrigo Duterte – under whose term relations between the two allies fell to its lowest point – had just left office. Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. – whose family shared a rocky past with the US – just assumed the presidency.
So she sought out “just about every single living ambassador who had served in the Philippines,” seeking tips and guidance on how to best ready herself for the job.
“They all told me, ‘Get a song.’ Filipinos love karaoke, so they told me I’d need a go-to song!” Carlson said, prompting laughter in the room.
Carlson shared the anecdote during a roundtable and tour of her residences with reporters on Monday, October 17.
Each ambassador, Carlson said, also shared fond memories of their time in the country and praised Filipinos as some of the warmest people they’ve met.
Since arriving in the Philippines in July, Carlson hit the ground running, presenting her credentials to Marcos less than 24 hours after she landed in the country.
Carlson also facilitated a slew of high-level visits to the country by US officials, including State Secretary Antony Blinken, as well as several senior officials from the defense establishment.
The slew of visits, she added, “is something that I’ve just never seen before in my 37 years in the Foreign Service as a diplomat.”
With her packed schedule, though, Carlson said she had yet to pick a song. But as the holiday season nears, Filipinos may soon hear her belt a tune. – Rappler.com