Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, on behalf of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Maharlika to outgoing US Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Gloria Steele during a simple ceremony at the Philippine Treasury Building in Manila.
Joining the ceremony was no less than US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg as show of appreciation and support.
The Order of Sikatuna is an order of diplomatic merit conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines. Together with the Philippine Legion of Honor and the Order of Lakandula, the Order of Sikatuna is one of the three senior honors of the Republic. Steele is the first among all USAID mission directors in the Philippines to receive this honor.
“After five fulfilling years as mission director of USAID/Philippines, I am returning to USAID headquarters in Washington, DC optimistic that we have laid a robust foundation on which to build growth that is sustainable, broad-based, and inclusive,” said the director.
She continued, “This has all been made possible through increased partnerships forged with local organizations in the Philippines and the support of the American people. It is the highlight of my stint here that I will always look to with pride and a strong sense of accomplishment.”
Among many contributions, Steele was recognized for her vital role in making the Philippines one of only four countries in the world to participate in the US-Philippines Partnership for Growth.
A White House-initiated “whole of government” partnership, PFG aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high-performing emerging economies.
The Philippine government also acknowledged Steele’s efforts in coordinating the US government’s nearly $143-million assistance for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013.
Steele, who started her stint as the head of USAID/Philippines in 2010, was also recognized for being the highest-ranking USAID official of Filipino descent.