by Atty. Jalilo Dela Torre
The diplomatic community, and Filipino communities in Hong Kong, Kenya, Australia and Pakistan are mourning the loss of Ambassador Doming Lucenario, Jr., Doy to his friends. Amba Doy is best remembered for steering the e-Passport project through successful completion, and if we are now enjoying the freedom and convenience an electronic passport offers, we have him to thank. He holds the distinction of being the only recipient of the following Presidential awards: the Gawad Mabini with the rank of Grand Officer and the Order of Lakandula with the rank of Grand Officer both awarded in 2008 and the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Datu in 2009.
Amba Doy was one of 6 fatalities in a helicopter crash in Naltar Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan on an inspection tour. The others were the Norwegian ambassador, the wives of the Indonesian and Malaysian ambassadors and the helicopter’s two pilots. The Taliban has claimed responsibility, but this is still being investigated by the Pakistani authorities. Amba Doy was 54 and is survived by wife, Nida, and three children.
Before I said goodbye to Hong Kong in 2000, I met Consul Domingo “Doy” Lucenario, Jr., who was assuming his new post at the C o n s u l a t e - G e n e r a l . He impressed me as a soft-spoken, affable, amiable, decent, simply but well-dressed diplomat, who argued and persuaded others not by the directness of approach, or novelty of style, but by the sheer force of logic.
When he counselled, you felt like you were talking to a big brother. Without my asking for it, he had a few words of advice for me and what at that time was turning to be a new episode in my life. I liked him instantly. Over the years, as I moved from one overseas assignment to another, and he went up the DFA ladder eventually to become Ambassador, we’d chat with each other and send birthday greetings to each other on Facebook, or I’d send him somebody who needed help at the DFA.
He never refused help to anybody who needed it, whether it was some high-ranking official, or a businessman harassed by an expired passport, or an ordinary OFW who didn’t have the foresight to have her passport renewed on time, because I think for him, anybody who walked into his office needing help was as good and as valuable as anybody else.
Sixteen years later, I’ve returned from Australia after a 3-year stint, and as I was monitoring the internet for news, the shocking breaking story of a helicopter full of diplomats crashing somewhere in Pakistan, shook my mid-afternoon doldrums. His name was mentioned and that of a European diplomat as two of the fatalities. I thought, what an utter waste, what a tragedy.
Filipino netizens who knew him swiftly reacted with disbelief and grief. What was going on in this world, when even diplomats who worked only for peace and development were no longer safe? As I collected my own thoughts and emotions, I remember the words of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter by Leah, in the movie “The Red Tent”: “To mourn is to be respectful. To remember is holy.” I remember Amba Doy, as he was fondly called by friends, as a true friend, a compassionate human being, courageous diplomat and an inimitable public servant.
It will be a long time before somebody like him comes along.