DCG Tess Dizon-de Vega bids community ‘till we meet again’

'Self-effacing, simple' public servant.

‘Self-effacing, simple’ public servant.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Deputy Consul General Tess Dizon de Vega’s hashtag says as much: #pinoygoodbyeslastalifetime.

It seems DCG Tess has been saying goodbye for a thousandth time. One ‘despedida’ party after another since word got around she was ending her New York assignment to become chief of staff of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in Manila.

Too soon, many have expressed their dismay. She’s only been around two years when most diplomats usually stay in their posts at least three. Five to six when their request for an extension is granted. But a public servant serves at the behest of the government. When the position of chief coordinator was offered, DCG Tess readily accepted.

“I promise I won’t cry,” she said at yet another send-off party, this one hosted by the Filipino American Legal, Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF) on July 10. Being Ilocano, she jested, she hired professional criers. She was being flippant, avoiding the mawkishness of farewells.

Guests made a beeline to have their photos taken with the departing DCG, some giving her mementoes and cards. Her husband, Eddie de Vega of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, was always nearby, unobtrusive and casting that proud glance as his wife was being whisked away from one photo op to another.

Young singer Kirby Asunto dedicated two songs to DCG Tess while she was seated in front of the stage. “Ay hindi talaga siya umiiyak,” a bemused Kirby remarked following her rousing rendition of the “Bayan Ko” patriotic anthem. The two giggled and hugged.

When her time came, DCG Tess addressed her well-wishers, reminding them to make a habit of reaching out to fellow Filipinos. Make it “second nature,” she said, to always ask a Filipino how he/she is doing, how one can be of help, “May problema ho ba?”

She was making a statement about the community’s need for greater cohesiveness in a way that did not sound like she was evangelizing about unity and or, perhaps, the perceived lack of it within the community. She’s an effective messager, and has impressed many for speaking with no need to look at written notes.

In closing, DCG Tess delivered her favorite quote from national hero Jose Rizal: “It is a useless life that is not consecrated to a great ideal. It is like a stone wasted on the field without becoming a part of any edifice.”

“I can listen to her all day and all night,” said lawyer Robert Rivas, one of the founders of FALDEF.

Lawyer Merit Salud, who delivered his emotional opening remarks – “from the heart,” he told me — was in admiration of DCG Tess’s self-effacing quality and simplicity. She has a smile that says “everything is all right.”

He said, “We shall honor a person who walked with us, danced with us and led us to many things in the two years she has been with us,” he said. “We won’t forget her.”

Indeed, DCG Tess has big shoes to fill, to borrow that antiquated phrase. It would take one conscientious, intelligent, down-to-earth, no-favoritism fair and gracious diplomat to be able to stand in her place.

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  1. Gilda Karn wrote:

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  2. Nieva wrote:

    Hello. fantastic job. This is a excellent story. Thanks!

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