We will miss you, Philippine Ambassador Willy Gaa (1946-2015)

Photo taken at the Filipina Women’s Network’s Filipina Leadership Summit in 2007 at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. (L to R) Trustee for Berryessa Union School District Thelma Boac, ABS-CBN News Senior VP Ging Reyes, Laura Izon Powell Esq., Ambassador Gaa, Filipina Women’s Network CEO Marily Mondejar, Dr. Bambi Lorica, Polly Cortez, Colonel Shirley Raguindin

Photo taken at the Filipina Women’s Network’s Filipina Leadership Summit in 2007 at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. (L to R) Trustee for Berryessa Union School District Thelma Boac, ABS-CBN News Senior VP Ging Reyes, Laura Izon Powell Esq., Ambassador Gaa, Filipina Women’s Network CEO Marily Mondejar, Dr. Bambi Lorica, Polly Cortez, Colonel Shirley Raguindin

It is with deepest sadness that we announce the passing of Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Willy Gaa. He died peacefully after a battle with cancer with his loving wife, Mrs. Erlinda Gaa, at his side.

Gloria T. Caoile, FWN Advisory Board Member, recalls, "Ambassador Gaa brought to Washington, D.C. his consummate diplomacy - getting to know our communities, listening to our issues and working with our concerns! He opened his home to the community where conversations continued in a very comfortable setting. He will always be remembered as one of us!!!

Marily Mondejar, Founder and CEO of the FWN, recollects an important chapter in FWN's history, "Ambassador Gaa's steadfast support of Filipina American women energized our community. He was on-the-ground with us to help launch the Filipina Women's Network's "100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the United States" Awards in 2007 at the 5th Filipina Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. Mrs. Erlinda Gaa welcomed the delegates at the Ambassador's residence and graciously prepared a "home-cooked supper" which warmly kicked off the three-day long summit. Ambassador Gaa hosted the closing summit session at the Philippine Embassy with a spirited send-off to 'change the world.' His legacy will always be part of the story of Filipina women and of the Filipina Women's Network."

Dr. Bambi Lorica, FWN Board Member, shares, “A dear friend, Ambassador Gaa rose thru the ranks of the Department of Foreign Affairs to become one of the top ambassadors of the Philippines. I will always remember his generous support of the activities of the Filipina Women's Network and his tireless efforts to promote the Philippines.  I valued his love, support and sage advise and will miss him dearly. My condolences go out to his family.”

Victor Lorica, MD, FASN, former chair of the Philippine American Foundation for Charities (PAFC), reflects, “I remember Ambassador Gaa fondly for his wit, kindness, humility, professionalism and our shared passion for golf. He was truly the 'people’s ambassador' and will be sorely missed by the community he served so well.”

Ambassador Gaa's legacy will live on through the impact of his 36 years of service to both the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora community. He began his foreign assignment in the Philippine Consulate, San Francisco as Vice Consul then Consul General in New York from 1997-1999 before becoming Manila's envoy to Australia from 2003-2004, China from 2004-2006, and the U.S. in 2006-2009.