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A Cut Above the Rest

Bing C. Braniginby Bing Branigin

Yes, that’s best described the out-going and beloved DCM and Con. Gen. Ding Nolasco.

Nolasco is leaving Feb 22, after six years of serving. He served three ambassadors, Albert Del Rosario, Willy C. Gaa, and Jose L. Cuisia.

It was Del Rosario who asked him to join his team in Washington, D. C. to head the Consular Section, which was vacated by Jocelyn Batoon Garcia, now Ambassador to Venezuela.

February 2007, Nolasco immediately hunkered down and worked at the Consular Section at the main building.

Nolasco is known among his staff and colleagues at the embassy as very low key. He doesn’t take long lunches, and goes to work early, one of the first to arrive at work.

Nolasco expects his staff to give their 100% when doing their work. With very limited staff, the consular served Filipinos and Filipino Americans in Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, including the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and other islands.

Consular Outreach Programs has been frequent during Nolasco’s term due to the new requirements in applying passport. Applicants have to appear in person to electronically capture personal data of applicants.

There’s also a rise in dual citizenships, mostly those who are retiring in the Philippines, and students opting to study in the Philippines.

The Consular team would travel hours by land in performing outreach projects. For the drive to the Hampton Roads area, they leave 3:00 AM on a Saturday morning so they would be at the area by 8:00 AM.

Only taking a short lunch break, to process documents and consultations until 7:00 PM.

For Florida, which is 17 hours by land, the team spent 3 to 4 days to accommodate the hundreds of applicants for renewal of passports, travel documents, visas, report of marriage, birth, and death, authentication of documents, legal issues, dual citizenship, and voters registrations.

Nolasco understand public service that he requires his staff to do their best either in Washington, D.C., or elsewhere.

They eat lunch together, and each staff takes turn in manning the window so they continue to provide service.

Not to worry, Nolasco also knows how to have fun. He would organize karaoke evenings, birthday celebrations, seasonal events, and many more.

One of the best is the annual Halloween parties, he would asked his staff to be in costumed that day, with the whole office decorated and yes, candies for everyone.

Christmas is another favorite event of the staff, the Consular Section is in Christmas mode immediately after Thanksgiving.

Philippine made parols, outstanding Christmas decorations, adorned the edifies until the New Years.

This is to the delight and appreciation of those visiting the Consular.

Nolasco appreciates the wonderful work of the Filipino American Community. He would give extra service to those who are doing work in the Philippines.

He became very close to several Filipino American organizations such as  the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, The Medical Mission of Mercy, NaFFAA, NAFVE, FAIA, Feed the Hungry, Bicol Association, PNA, Asian Festival, Simbang Gabi, World Bank/IMF/IFC Filipino Group, Filipino Teachers, and the Filipino American media group, just to name a few.

For the past six years, Nolasco understood the dynamic of the Filipino and Filipino American groups. He learned how to deal with each and everyone of them.

Nolasco went out of his way to assist, guide, and provide information to everyone.

I had personally witnessed him give extra assistance to veterans, disable, the elderly, and those who are traveling from distant places.

As everyone knows by now, the Consular Office has moved to the old chancery. Nolasco was instrumental in developing the use of that building.

He assisted in the rehabilitation of the building by coordinating with the construction team, financial, permit and regulatory, design, and many more.

Lito Katigbak, one respected journalist described the new Consular Office as the best investment the Philippine government in the District since 1986.

NaFFAA, was given the authority to rehabilitate the old chancery during the Ramos administration but it fell through after two years.

Some investors from the Philippines and the US also showed interest but failed.

Luckily, the GMA administration, has the political and financial will to re-build.

Hopefully, the new administration will continue to give funding to the phase 2 of the rehabilitation.

At the end, the complete rehabilitation of the chancery will be a benefit to the Philippines.

And hopefully, will be the end of bad press from the nation’s capital.

Another quiet project Nolasco helped accomplished was the historic passage of the Filipino Veterans Benefits Act.

He believed that by organizing all the advocacy group to come together at a summit in Washington D.C., will create a bigger coalition. Over a dozen Filipino and Filipino American organization came together for a weekend, hosted by the embassy. Yes, there was a lot heated discussions on that weekend event. There was one member of an organization who refused to signed the resolution.

 

But with Nolasco’s and another embassy official, advice we have to move on and we did.

That paved the way to the lump sum benefit for out veterans. Sadly, the lone voice who refused to signed the one and petition is now the one claiming credit of the success of the Filipino Veterans Benefits.

Well, that’s another story.

I had watched him go to the parking area to get a disable person put his signature in their document. Held the hand of a 99 year old Filipino American lady in Virginia Beach, so she can put her signature in the right box.

Watched him patiently assist a Filipino World War All veteran finish his application form.

I know he could have asked some of his staff to do those extra things, but he opted to do it himself.

A good example to all public servant.

Nolasco would be one of the few officers from the embassy that would leave his post exactly six years of posting.

Albert del Rosario, then the Philippine envoy to Washington, specifically requested him to come to Washington, D.C.

Nolasco explained that his children were still in school in the Philippines. But del Rosario said, “they can come later”. So he came.

Six years after, del Rosario now the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, wants him back to Manila.

Again, it’s February, and the youngest of the two children is still in school, a senior High School, the DFA Secretary says, “he can stay”.

So Cecille, Ding’s wife, and son Nico, will stay on until the end of U.S. school year, June.

Eldest daughter Jan, 19 years old who finished college two years ago in UVA will go home with Nolasco. Cecille worked at an office in Reston, Virginia. She takes the bus and train to work and home.

Ding and Cecille did not bring a domestic assistant to help them during their posting in the U.S. So, they do everything among themselves.

A true officer and a diplomat, Nolasco never complained when duty calls. He knows and understands his duties to the republic which he loyally serves.

He would be the first DCM and Consul General who never asked for extension to stay on.

Now, I hope, that this will be a very good precedent to all that come and serves in the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

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One Response to A Cut Above the Rest

  1. Hi Bing,

    I completely agree with what you said here about Ding & Cecile Nolasco. They are just so great and in fact have started missing their company. I also miss stepping inside the Embassy office and obviously the Karaoke and delicious original Pilipino Dishes.

    I believe you are exactly right in mentioning the necessity of continuing the repair of the building Consular section is now using as the upper floors have to be rid of all foreign objects and/or bodies which might not be good for the employees and their clients.

    Could we get updates about the Filipino community’s actions on scarborough shoal here in DC?

    Thanks

    Leo