Two of the most accessible people at the US Embassy here in Manila will finish their tour of duty in the Philippines this month.
Matthew Lussenhop, First Secretary and Embassy spokesman, and Stacy MacTaggert, who has been described also as Embassy spokesman in some news reports (Sorry Stacy, you forgot to give me your card so I don’t know your official designation), are going back to Washington for, well, more job.
Mat and Stacy have been very accessible to the media during their short stint in the country. I remembered greeting Matthew a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year even as I have to quiz him late in the night about the whereabouts of the US Marine who was accused of raping a Filipino woman in Subic.
I remembered teasing Mat during a welcome dinner for him three years ago if he was that tough to face the Philippine media. He just smiled and said he's ready to learn.
A friend, who was with me at the dinner, told Mat that every US Embassy information officer will leave the Philippines with an unforgettable experience - like the departure of the US Bases in 1991, the plot to kill the Pope and the US President during the Apec summit in 1997, the kidnapping of American nationals, the war against the Abu Sayyaf, etc.
Mat said he hopes there would be no such incidents during his tour of duty. Unfortunately for him there was the Subic Rape case issue.
It’s a tough job for Mat and Stacy especially when working with critical media practitioners in the country who are not that easy to please and who rejoice in digging every juicy detail especially when a story involves Americans.
Nice job, guys. Thanks for being such good sports! Good luck in your next assignment.