MYLENE Garcia-Albano made history after she was appointed by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. as the first Filipina to be appointed as ambassador-designate to Japan.

As ambassador-designate, she is tasked to reaffirm the Philippines’ bilateral relations with Japan and safeguard the condition of 300,000 Filipino workers and migrants in the Asian country.

"I actually signified my interest to serve," she said. Admittedly, she did not expect that Marcos would entrust her with the position.

While Marcos had not specified any marching order directed to her, as an appointed official, she would heed to the President's pronouncement under his administration.

She admitted that it's a huge task in hand as she would be going around Japan and checking on the conditions of the Filipinos there.

"I will be seeing how they are doing, and their working conditions are, it's something I would really like to do. Gusto ko rin mag-touchbase and let them know that we are here for them," the ambassadors.

"An Ambassador can be of service to our kababayans by ensuring that their consular needs are provided and that they are assisted in a timely and professional manner if they have problems that the Embassy can help them with," she added.

Raised in Davao City, Garcia-Albano, a lawyer by profession, started her career as a public servant when she entered politics.

She was a three-time Second District Representative from 2010 to 2019. During her stint in the Lower House, she served as Assistant Majority Leader from 2010 to 2013. In 2013 to 2016, she was the Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chairperson, while she was Deputy Speaker in her last term.

Public service runs in the family. Her father, Manuel Garcia, was previously an assemblyman of the Interim Batasang Pambansa, while her brother, Vincent is currently City Second District Representative.

But before entering politics, she had served the government.

Garcia-Albano worked in the executive branch as Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs in 2003 and 2004 and Assistant Secretary for Local Government Affairs (2000-2001) at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Prior to this, she was Executive Director of the Department's Land Administrative and Management Project between 1999 and 2004.

The ambassador is a holder of a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the George Washington University, Washington D.C. in the U.S. in 1982, and an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from Marymount College, Palos Verdes in California (1980).

She received her Juris Doctor Degree from Ateneo de Manila University and ranked third in the 1990 bar examinations.

As a law practitioner, she started her legal career as an Associate in the Ponce Enrile Cayetano Reyes and Manalastas Law Offices from 1990 to 1991, followed by the Villareal Law Offices up until 1994. In 1996, she joined the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Renato Cayetano.

On Monday, December 5, she will be leaving for Tokyo, where she will be starting a new chapter of her life. She will also be roaming around the embassy’s office in Osaka and Nagoya.

"For the term of the President, I will be staying in Japan," Garcia-Albano said.

The ambassador's role, according to her, is to represent the country, mainly on diplomatic relations, and to work for the advancement of national interest in the receiving state.

Aside from that, it is her job to promote the Philippines to the Japanese community.

"OFW naman natin are our ambassadors kasi gusto niya to promote more trade and investment dito sa country, and particularly the tourism," she said.

Garcia-Albano believes in the potential of tourism as a driving force of the economy. Prior to her appointment, she is one of the Board of Directors of the Davao City International Airport Authority, where she is responsible for the continuous improvements of the busiest airport on the island of Mindanao, which serves up to four million passengers annually.

Among the things she will be lobbying for, under her term, is to have a Visa-free entry to Japan for Filipinos, and the materialization of an international direct flight from Davao to Japan.

"It is something that we can look into. I'm not sure how much work has been done about that... but certainly it's something we can work on," Garcia-Albano said.

For the next six years, she hopes that under her leadership, the friendship between the Philippines and Japan would continue to prosper.

More than that, she hopes to be a go-to person to her kababayans in times of need.

"Who is willing to go out and meet them and help them? I'm hoping that I would have more time to meet them, go around the country, especially in places where there are a lot of Filipinos so that we can see really first hand where they are and how they are doing, how their working conditions are, and let them know how they can get in touch with us,” Garcia-Albano said. RGL