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Highest-ranking Fil-Am exec Marilou Mabilangan-Haley in Clinton era coming home

/ 02:56 AM October 01, 2011

Marilou Mabilangan Haley, the highest-ranking Filipino-American in the Clinton White House, is coming home.

The urn containing the ashes of Haley, who died of a brain aneurysm in Little Rock, Arkansas, last Sept. 13, will be arriving on Sunday, Oct. 3, to be brought home by her brother and only sibling, Ambassador Felipe Mabilangan Jr.

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It was Haley’s wish to return home to the Philippines to be interred beside her parents, Ambassador Felipe Mabilangan Sr. and Felisa Hugo Mabilangan in Sto. Tomas, Batangas province.

At the memorial service at the Clinton Library Center in Arkansas on Sept. 19, President Bill Clinton, who was attending a conference out of state, sent a videotaped message in which he described Haley as “really a world citizen who never lost contact with her native nation, the Philippines, where she served as an adviser to President Gloria Arroyo.”

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Clinton tribute

“Thousands of people in Arkansas, throughout the United States and the Philippines, benefited from Maria Haley’s lifelong commitment to bring economic opportunities to more people. As we mourn her passing, we also must be very grateful for her life,” Clinton said.

Haley worked for Clinton when he was Arkansas governor. When he became President, she served as deputy director of the Presidential Personnel Office. After Clinton’s term ended, he nominated her to the board of the Export Import Bank of the United States.

More than 500 mourners attended the Sept. 19 memorial which was organized by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe whom Haley served as director of the Arkansas Economic Development Corp. (AEDC).

Born Maria Luisa Mabilangan in the Philippines in 1941, Haley constantly visited her home country as a balikbayan, particularly for the family Christmas celebrations.

As a member of the Clinton White House, she was part of the presidential party when Clinton made an official visit to the Philippines in 1986 to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (Apec) leaders’ summit.

Diplomat’s daughter

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Being a diplomat’s daughter, Haley was educated in India, Pakistan, France and Spain.

In 1971, she moved to Arkansas when she married lawyer John Haley and became a US citizen.

She began her career in America in executive management with Fairfield Communities, but was soon recruited by the then Governor Clinton to head the international and marketing divisions of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (AIDC).

This started her longtime working relationship with the former US president.

She was active in Clinton’s presidential campaign as a senior adviser for Asian American Affairs for Clinton and his running mate Al Gore, and continued to work for him after his election. She left the White House in January 2001.

Work with Kissinger

From 2001 to 2002, she served as adviser to President Arroyo and to the Philippine Ambassador to the United States.

From 2001 to 2007, Haley worked as senior director for Asia with Kissinger McLarty Associates, a partnership headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former White House Chief of Staff and Envoy for the Americas, Thomas F. McLarty.

She returned to work for the AIDC, now the AEDC, after being appointed by Beebe following his election in 2006.

Haley received numerous honors and awards, including the 1997 Ronald H. Brown Export Enhancement Award from the Small Business Exporters Association, the 2000 Stan Suyat Memorial Leadership Award from the Asian American Government Executives Network, the 2000 Philippine Presidential Award given by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, and the 2010 Vision Award given by the Lions World Services for the Blind Foundation.

A memorial service and funeral arrangements will be announced later. Marla Chorengel, contributor

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TAGS: Ambassador Felipe Mabilangan Jr., Arkansas, Batangas, Filipino American in Clinton’s White House, Marilou Mabilangan Haley, Sto. Tomas, US former president Bill Clinton
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