Official: US to continue to engage with the world
(The Freeman) - February 12, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - A high-ranking Filipino-American official of the US Department of State has assured that the United States will continue to engage with the world, amid concerns over the new policies of President Donald Trump.

“Whatever the issues the President may bring, there will continue to be that level of engagement between America and the world,” Richard Buangan, managing director for international media at the US Department of State, told The FREEMAN in an exclusive interview live on Facebook.

This, as President Trump signed an executive order last January banning citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – to enter the United States for 90 days, causing confusion and despair at ports and airports. The order is now pending before the American Supreme Court.

As managing director for international media based in Washington D.C., Buangan works with foreign media to let people from nations across the globe have a better understanding of American life.

Having worked for three administrations since 1999, Buangan said it’s inspiring, as a Filipino-American, to know that the US government puts a premium on diversity in its workforce, especially at the US Department of State.

“Our hiring practices are very diverse. We seek to hire people from all 50 states, from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and we can’t represent America unless we have a workforce that is representative of America,” he pointed out.

Buangan said while he considers himself 100 percent American, he is proud of his Filipino ancestry.

Buangan was born to Filipino parents and was raised in San Diego, California. He has worked in several posts overseas as a diplomat for the US government, and was most recently chief of the public diplomacy section at the US  Consulate General in Jerusalem, overseeing press outreach, and education and cultural exchange programs in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.

He often comes to the Philippines to visit his relatives in Luzon but this year marks the first time he visited Cebu and the Visayas.

“I’m happy to be here, and I want to try your lechon soon,” Buangan said in jest. Raffy T. Cabristante (FREEMAN)

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