Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
The Department of Foreign Affairs is quite adept at farewells.
It handles farewell receptions for foreign diplomats being re-assigned to other shores. DFA personnel are assigned overseas in any of our 81 embassies and consulates every three years. Unlike other government agencies, where even a trip ticket to a destination outside Metro Manila could be a chore, the DFA is used to the comings and goings of life, with their home office as a transit point to destinations that serve as milestones to one's diplomatic career.
But no one among the DFA staff expected to say farewell, this soon and under such tragic circumstances, to a gentle soul known as Alice Ramos, Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs. This writer knew about her background as a diplomat from the days when my late father, Senator Blas F. Ople then chairman of the Commission on Appointments' committee on foreign relations, had the privilege of acting on the nominations of our most accomplished diplomats. It was a pleasure and privilege for me to have worked with her directly during my father's tenure as Foreign Secretary.
When I heard about the gruesome news, I immediately sent a text message to DFA spokesman Bert Asuque as well as Ambassador Jose Abeto Zaide, who heads the DFA's Protocol Office, requesting them to release information about the late ambassador's accomplishments as a Filipino diplomat. I thought this important because without such an official reference, the media would append the Flor Contemplacion tragedy to Alice's name giving her hard-earned and illustrious career a one-dimensional facade.
Yet right from the beginning of her career as a junior diplomat, Alice Ramos was certainly far from being one-dimensional. She was a quiet, diligent achiever who topped the Foreign Service Examinations of 1973. Her father was a senior diplomat Aurelio Ramos. Ambassador Ramos held a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. She was fluent in Spanish, French, and Italian.
Alice Ramos served as the Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand from 1996 to 2002. Prior to that posting, she was the Philippine Ambassador to Singapore from 1993 to 1995, and the Ambassador to Romania from 1990 to 1993, where she was concurrently accredited on a non-resident basis to the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova.
I joined the DFA family in a moving necrological service for the slain ambassador the day before Alice was buried. Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sonia Brady, one of Alice's dearest friends, recalled that she and the late ambassador had a special fondness for China which was their very first posting. "We were among the first batch of officers to go to China when diplomatic relations opened in 1975. We were also second generation friends - our fathers were close friends and colleagues in the early days of the DFA."
In her heartfelt eulogy, Undersecretary Brady described her friendship with Alice: "I was there for Alice when her father died when we were in China and during the dark days of Contemplacion when she had to go into hiding because her life was threatened. …