MANILA – Is US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. in love with a dusky, voluptuous Filipina with a tattoo?
This is the question that the media are talking about these days. Thomas and Mithi Aquino, human resource training officer of a British American Cruise Line who hails from Pampanga, have been seen together often, including at the recent jazz festival in Manila.
During the Fourth of July embassy reception at the US embassy, Thomas acknowledged Aquino publicly for the first time by saying that they both would be leaving soon.
Thomas Jr. had tweeted a photo of himself with Mithi Aquino and Frankie Reed, US envoy to Fiji and other Pacific countries, during last November’s consular ball in Manila, an early public indication that he and Mithi were an item.
At the Fourth of July US Embassy reception last week, Thomas publicly declared that Mithi will be accompanying him back to the US this year when he winds up his time in Manila.
Since early last year, columnists have been writing about the envoy making sweet music together with Mithi whom he met on a cruise.
They tried to be discreet about their relationship, with Thomas keeping their photograph in his private enclave away from the eyes of visitors.
In the past few months, they have been seen more often, leading some columnists to speculate that the relationship was getting serious.
Still, the couple kept mum. During receptions which offer buffet services, Aquino would get his plate and serve him with affection.
During their travels, Aquino would maintain propriety by paying for her fare and accommodations. When her two children would join the trip with Thomas, they would seem like one happy family.
Thomas said that after his term ends in Manila, he will be going to Arizona to take up a teaching fellowship.
The media said that from the way Aquino has been looking after him, it seems that she is ready to start a new life.
Thomas has served as Washington’s envoy to the Philippines since 2010. In November 2009, he was nominated by US President Barack Obama to replace Kristie Kenney as ambassador to the Philippines.
Born on June 3, 1956 in New York City, Thomas earned his bachelor’s degree at the Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He pursued further studies at Columbia University and holds an honorary doctorate of philosophy from Loyola University of Maryland.
Thomas, who grew up in Queens, was married to jazz singer Ericka Ovette. They have one daughter, Casey Merie. (Marge C. Enriquez, Inquirer Research)