From October 18 to 20, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson visited the provinces of Eastern Samar and Leyte to commemorate the shared sacrifices of the United States and the Philippines in World War II and to reinforce the United States’ commitment to the alliance.
In Eastern Samar, Ambassador Carlson visited the Balangiga Bells at the San Lorenzo de Martir Parish Church and met with Balangiga Mayor Dana Flynch de Lira. She is the first ambassador to visit the bells following their return to Balangiga in 2018, which reflects the strong bond and mutual respect between the United States and the Philippines.
In Palo, Leyte, Ambassador Carlson joined Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Leyte provincial government officials, and dignitaries at the 78th anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landing of Allied forces during World War II.
“General MacArthur’s words on his return resonate to this day. He said, ‘We have come dedicated and committed…’ These words continue to embody the strong ties between our two nations as dedicated friends, partners, and allies who are committed to securing a free, open, prosperous, and secure world for our peoples,” said Ambassador Carlson.
Ambassador Carlson also participated in a Congressional Gold Medal awarding ceremony honoring 31 Filipino veterans of World War II.
While in Leyte, the Ambassador visited local officials and community members of Barangay 62-A, where the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) worked with Plan International following the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda on a Community Build Back Better (C3B) project that rebuilt homes and improved water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. She also met with Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla and Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez.
Ambassador Carlson capped her trip by participating in Ormoc’s 75th Diamond Charter Day celebrations. The festivities were attended by President Marcos, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr., Public Works Secretary Manuel Bonoan, Tourism Secretary Maria Esperanza Christina Garcia-Frasco, Leyte Fourth District Representative Richard Gomez, and Ormoc Mayor Lucy Torres-Gomez.
Ambassador Carlson expressed her thanks to Samareños and Leyteños for the warmth and hospitality they’ve shown her at each of her stops.
“As President Biden noted in his meeting with President Marcos in New York last month, our bilateral relationship is critically important. It is a relationship as friends, partners, and allies that has deep roots and enduring value,” she said. “We at the U.S. Embassy look forward to working with you all as we continue to deepen and expand our longstanding relationship.”
Photo credit: U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson leads the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to one of 31 Filipino World War II veterans who received the honor on October 19 in Palo, Leyte.