THU: 12º/5º FRI: 15º/3º
Ambassador takes in the sights – in parliament and on the hallowed plinth
Bayani S Mercado, the Filipino ambassador to the Nordic countries, visited Copenhagen last week from Thursday until Saturday. The Copenhagen Post caught up with Mercado to discuss his visit and his reflections on his international career.
Mercado, who has served as an ambassador to the region since 2011, has enjoyed an active career in foreign affairs since 1979. He said he knew from a young age that he was suited to a career in diplomacy.
“I decided to become an ambassador because I really loved travelling and meeting people from different cultures as a young man,” Mercado told The Copenhagen Post. “So I decided to take the exams to work for the foreign ministry.”
The ambassador’s career has taken him to various living locations around the world, from New York to Canada to Guam and now Oslo, where he currently resides. Mercado explained that he’s always found it easy to feel at home almost anywhere.
“I try to live like the local people wherever I go, and that helps with adjusting,” he said. “But I’ve found that when you move around so much, you learn to anticipate the frequent change.”
When asked which location he’d enjoyed living in the best, Mercado struggled to choose a favourite.
“I lived in New York for 12 years and always thought that was my favourite place,” he said. “Two of my three children were born there, so it’s always held a certain attachment for me. But now the Nordic countries are really climbing the list. Anywhere I go, though, I seem to enjoy it.”
Mercado suggested that his optimism and love of adventure may just be part of his Filipino upbringing.
“The people of the Philippines are very fun-loving and positive,” he explained. “Everyone is always smiling. It’s part of our culture to be optimistic.”
“It’s a bit different compared to the Nordic countries,” Mercado joked. “At first, people don’t seem that friendly and are a bit more serious, but once you get to know them, they become very good friends. It just takes a bit longer.”
During his time here, Mercado has noticed a few other differences between the Nordic region and his home country. But the most important thing he’s learned, he said, is not to let the weather affect his plans.
“If you want to ride your bike or go running and it’s raining, ride it anyway. Go anyway,” he said.
As this visit – his second trip to Copenhagen – came to an end, Mercado looked forward to returning soon. For him, visiting the attractions like parliament and Christianshavn were the highlights of the visit – and one small statue stood out in particular.
“I’ve wanted to see the Little Mermaid since I was a child and read Hans Christian Andersen,” he explained. “Seeing that on this trip was really a dream come true.”
While there’s no telling what the ambassador will take on next, it’s safe to venture that he’ll be bringing his fun-loving Filipino spirit wherever he goes.