The new U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, MaryKay Carlson, arrived in Manila on Friday, promising to deepen relations what she hashtagged as Washington's #FriendPartnerAlly.
Carlson is the first U.S. ambassador during the term of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who assumed office last June 30. U.S. President Joe Biden sent Second Gentleman Douglas Eimhoff to the inauguration ceremony in Manila.
Marcos Jr. had signaled that he would pursue an "independent" foreign policy wherein the Philippines will be "friends with everyone." His predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, pivoted the country's alliances away from the U.S. and towards China and Russia.
The U.S. is the Philippines' only treaty ally, meaning that in certain cases of attack, Manila can call on Washington for help. America is also the country's largest trading partner.
Who is Ambassador Carlson?
Career diplomat Carlson hails from Little Rock Arkansas, the home state of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, according to her State Department bio.
Prior to Biden's nomination as Ambassador to the Philippines, Carlson served as the Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires in New Delhi, India.
She served twice at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in China. She also served in Ukraine, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Kenya, and the Dominican Republic.
She holds a Mastes in International Relations from Georgetown University and a masters in National Security Studies from the National War College. She is married to retired Foreign Service officer Aubrey Carlson, and they have two daughters.