MANILA, Philippines—US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. continues to spread the good word about his host country.
In his remarks during the closing program of the just-concluded Second Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora on Wednesday, Thomas said there were many reasons why it was “more fun in the Philippines.”
“I learn something new every day,” he said. Expatriates like him “just don’t know what to expect” during their stay here, the US envoy told an audience that included Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Imelda Nicolas, the chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, which organized the summit.
“I bet the secretaries did not know that many Filipinos play (American) football every day. And that is one reason why it’s more fun in the Philippines,” said Thomas.
The envoy recalled the recent visit of a “balikbayan that you may not have heard of.”
Eugene Amano has been playing since 2004 as both offensive and defensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans in the US National Football League.
“Born in Manila, he’s 100 percent Filipino,” Thomas said of Amano.
The 31-year-old Amano, who shuttles between Nashville, Tennessee, and San Diego, California, where his family lives, “came home with his parents and he promised that he’s gonna come home every year to help energize football in the Philippines because there is a football league here,” he said.
Thomas extolled the Philippines’ economic resurgence, the energized relations between Manila and Washington, the improved governance and rule of law in the country, as well as President Aquino’s anticorruption campaign.
“These efforts and others, such as what the Global Pinoys for Good Governance and so many others of you are doing bring about the best in our relationship and the best in the Philippine diaspora,” he said.
“I did not come here to tell you what to do. I did not come here to hector. You all know what to do to help the Philippines and the US. We’re very proud of your contributions to both our countries,” he told the summit participants.
Last year, the US market constituted 15.3 percent of the total 4.27 million inbound tourist traffic, bringing 652,626 visitors to the Philippines. The figure was up by 4.5 percent from 624,527 US tourists in 2011.
The Department of Tourism has expressed confidence that more US tourists would visit the country this year.
Early in his tour of duty, Thomas drew flak after he said that 40 percent of foreign male tourists come to the Philippines for commercial
sex. He apologized for making the statement.