President Arroyo conferred the Order of Sikatuna, the national order of diplomatic merit, on outgoing United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney on Thursday.
During her farewell call at Malacañang, Kenney, who is set to fly back to Washington after her three year-stint in the Philippines, received the award for her contributions in strengthening the ties between the Philippines and the United States.
“It has been a huge honor for me to be here in the Philippines. I love every minute of it. I will carry Filipinos in my heart wherever I go,” she said in an interview.
She said the “warmth, kindness and compassion of Filipinos” made her years-long stay in the Philippines memorable.
Kenney also lamented the death of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde who passed away on Tuesday due to cardiac arrest.
“He’s a loss. It’s hard to believe that he will not be here in the corner,” she said.
Kenney also thanked some 2,000 embassy staff, both Filipinos and Americans for helping her out “to make the lives of our citizens better.”
“They are the ones who do all the great work,” she said.
Kenney bade goodbye to the Philippines last November 20 after United States President Barack Obama named veteran diplomat Harry K. Thomas Jr., as Washington’s new envoy in the country.
President Obama appointed Thomas as the new ambassador to the Philippines. Thomas is a career diplomat who most recently served as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources.