Remembering Ambassador Doy Lucenario, an honorable diplomat and friendBy Wendell Gaa
The tragic death of Ambassador Domingo “Doy” Lucenario, Philippine Ambassador to Pakistan, is a crushing blow to our nation’s diplomatic corps as well as to his family, friends and colleagues who have had the opportunity to work closely with this kind, diligent and good-natured diplomat.
Like so many people, I was shocked and saddened to hear of his untimely demise at the young age of 54 in a helicopter crash in the northern region of Pakistan. Outside of diplomatic circles, he may have not been that well-known amongst the Filipino-American community here in the New York Tri-State region, but as I personally got to work with him closely when I was serving with the home office of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, I came to know a good-hearted gentleman and a diplomat who had a well-deserved reputation for being hardworking under immense pressure while consistently treating his colleagues and subordinates with respect and a kindly demeanor. I will forever be honored because of my association with him.
A career diplomat and lawyer by profession, Ambassador Lucenario earned his Bachelor of Laws from San Beda College and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in A.B. Political Science from Manuel L. Quezon University and a Master of Laws from the University of Manila. He then joined the Foreign Service and rose through the ranks of the diplomatic corps from the early 1990s onwards.
Throughout the years he had served in various capacities in Philippine embassies/consulates in Australia, Germany and Hong Kong. His first ambassadorial posting was in Nairobi, Kenya, where he served from 2010 to 2013.
It was in Nairobi, Kenya where he served as a warm and gracious host to my parents, Ambassador and Mrs. Willy C. Gaa, who visited him there in March 2013. Now taking an exotic animal safari in the African wilderness had always been a dream travel activity in my parents’ lifetime bucket list, but never in their wildest imaginations would they have conceived embarking on one relatively so soon in their early retirement life, until it just so happened that Ambassador Doy was visiting Manila and over a casual luncheon with my parents, he simply extended an invitation to my parents to visit him in Kenya before his tour of duty would end later that year.
Never to shake off such a rare opportunity, my parents gladly accepted his invitation and made arrangements to visit him in that beautiful East African country.
Joined by their longtime friends Atty. and Mrs. Gari Tiongco and Bobby Mercado, my parents traveled to Nairobi where Ambassador Doy worked fervently to ensure that their excursions through the urban wilderness of the capital city and their safari excursions through the breathtaking savannah wilderness of the Kenyan plains were safe, fun and memorable. My parents and their friends simply could not have asked for a more generous and entertaining host than Ambassador Doy, for it was because of him that his guests were able to experience the natural wonders of giraffes, lions, baboons and gazelles all up close.
I personally had the pleasure to work with Ambassador Lucenario when I was a member of the Gala Dinner committee for the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue (SNAMM) which the Philippines hosted in Manila in 2010. As a senior official in the National Organizing Committee for the SNAMM, Ambassador Lucenario presided over much of our committee’s logistical and creative preparations for the gala dinner which would serve as a highlight during the meetings as it would showcase the rich cultural and religious diversity of the Philippines to the VIPs, ministers and guests. While our committee’s preparations for the event were certainly fraught with challenges, Ambassador Doy with his usual cool and calm manner was always there to help provide us rational insight and advice on how we could all best work together to ultimately ensure the success of the gala dinner.
Amongst his other work in the Foreign Affairs home office, he will always be remembered for his key role in modernizing the Philippine passport by introducing the current electronic feature which is now the predominant format on most passports used by Filipinos worldwide.
Upon his assumption as the Philippine envoy to Pakistan in 2013, Ambassador Doy worked at his utmost to see Philippine-Pakistani relations advance in several areas of cooperation. His tragic death in northern Pakistan was a personal reminder to me of how oftentimes diplomats too in other regions of the world also put themselves at risk for the sake of advancing the national interests of country, much in the same way military personnel also put forth sacrifices at home for their country.
Pakistan may not be an ideal diplomatic posting for many, and for many viewers who are fans of the hit Showtime TV series “Homeland,” the latest season which aired does paint a rather unflattering picture of the political volatility of Pakistan. I won’t judge by saying what is true or not based on what I see on TV alone, but regardless, Ambassador Doy’s record of service proves that he was a man intent on serving the best interests of the Philippines in any part of the globe where he felt his leadership was needed.
For this alone, I will always admire and respect him, God bless you Sir and rest in peace.