BUSINESSMAN and former Philippine envoy to Washington, Albert del Rosario, literally hit the ground running after taking his oath as acting Foreign Affairs secretary, succeeding Alberto G. Romulo.

Within hours after being sworn in by President Benigno Aquino, he packed his bags and flew to Tunisia to direct the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) fleeing from neighboring war-torn Libya.

Then last week he was off to Bahrain and sought the help of Bahrain’s prime minister to protect Filipino workers as political protests mounted against the monarchy.

Hundreds of OFWs are caught in the grip of violent upheaval in Yemen, Syria, Morocco and in Saudi Arabia, where about 2 million OFWs are deployed.

As if his African and Middle East crisis sorties are not enough, he had to contend with displaced OFWs in Japan after a cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11.

Talk of a full plate for a brand-new foreign secretary who, at 71, can still lock step with younger diplomats who join him in his whirlwind trips abroad.

For his age, he is in top shape.

In his youth and well into manhood he he took up karate and is a certified first degree blackbelter.

(A word to DFA rabblerousers: Try not to escalate an argument with him into a “close combat.”)

Although he walks with a limp, as a result of a knee operation at a New York hospital some years ago, he could hold up very well in a trying situation.

During President Aquino’s official visit to Singapore early this month, a lift leading to the office of the Singaporean prime minister broke down, and the President decided not to wait for it to be fixed.

He decided to climb 20 flights of stairs, with members of his delegation right behind him, some of them panting.

Guess who made the climb without breaking into a sweat?

Secretary del Rosario.

He is not without detractors.

For one thing, he is disparaged as an “American Boy,” with the implication that he would be a U.S. puppet.

The label is true to the extent that as a boy, his parents sent him to the U.S. to study along with his brothers and sisters.

He finished his elementary education in New York City and received a bachelor of science degree in economics from New York University.

With a few exceptions, he visited practically every state in the United States when he served as Philippine ambassador to Washington, getting to know the pulse of his constituents, their needs, how they can help in promoting closer ties between the two countries.

The most-travelled ambassador is likely to be footloose again in his new role because, as foreign secretary, the world is now his oyster, and this world is in a flux.

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