Thomas glad to be accepted by Mithi’s tatay, nanay
Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Moved by “personal and professional relationships,” US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. said that his three-year stay in the Philippines was made more memorable and blessed when he was accepted by the family of his Filipina girlfriend.

“I am very blessed to be accepted by the entire Aquino family. Nanay (mother) and Tatay (father) are very nice to me. My heart is always there for her. I don’t want to answer tsismis (gossips). I don’t want to talk about her life, but I would say that I am blessed to be with her. I am blessed to know her and I am blessed to be accepted by all the members of the Aquino family and by all the Filipinos,” said Thomas, referring to relatives of his girlfriend Mithi Aquino.

“Having stayed in the country for three years made me realize that the Philippines and the Filipino people are great,” Thomas said in an interview last Tuesday night at Intercontinental Hotel in Makati where he and Vice President Jejomar Binay attended a testimonial dinner to celebrate Philippine-American friendship day.

Thomas, who was divorced from his wife while posted in Manila, met Mithi, a human resources specialist, on board a cruise ship.

At the time, Mithi was giving a training course for the cruise ship’s staff and crew.

Thomas had just gotten his divorce when he met Mithi who grew up in Mindanao but graduated from the Manila Central University in Caloocan City.

She is reportedly accompanying Thomas when he leaves for the US after his tour of duty in the Philippines.

Thomas said he would be spending a year as diplomat-in-residence at the Arizona State University.

He said serving as US ambassador to the Philippines where he had to work with journalists, foreign dignitaries, the Philippine diplomatic corps and Binay has been a great honor.

Thomas said he learned the meaning of Tagalog words such as balimbing, sipsip and the WBC or “would be crony.”

In terms of food, Thomas said he now enjoyed eating sinigang, crispy pata, lapu-lapu and balut.

“But I really enjoyed it here. You have a wonderful country. I am moved by personal and professional relationships. We in the embassy enjoyed the Filipino people. This will stay forever,” he said.

He also acknowledged the special role played by journalists in enhancing the bilateral relationship of the Philippines and the US.

He said Filipino journalists elevated the country’s unique friendship with the US.

“I wish to extend my appreciation to the men and women of the Philippine media, for your professionalism, for your perseverance and for showing that you are not susceptible to the lure of sensationalism and flash your headlines over. In pursuit of truth sometimes you are put in danger,” Thomas said.

“You journalists are the guardian of free speech, speakers of truth, harnessing democracy and proponents of transparency. I am glad that I’ve been able to live and work with you. I thank you for your courage,” he said.

Binay saluted Thomas for the excellent service that he showed during his three years in the country.

He said that since the end of World War II, the bonds between the US and the Philippines have grown deeper and more diversely rooted.

He said America remains one of the country’s top trading and investing partners.

“But our common road has moved beyond commerce and now spans new arenas, both global and regional – the anti-drug and anti-terror initiatives, the campaign against human trafficking, and an upgraded military and defense relationship. The Philippines and the United States are allies and we will continue to work with each other in all issues,” Binay said.

Binay took the opportunity to honor Thomas during the celebration of Philippine-American friendship day, describing him as the one who brought the Philippines and America even closer.

“Ambassador Thomas arrived in our country a little over three years ago as winds of change were sweeping both our countries. America was celebrating the historic election of President Barack Obama, the first black American President. The Philippines was on the verge of electing a new president, the son of a martyred leader and a beloved former president, after nearly a decade of a politically bankrupt leadership,” Binay said.

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