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Willy Gaa, veteran diplomat; 69

/ 05:35 AM December 10, 2015

VETERAN diplomat Willy C. Gaa, who served as Philippine ambassador to the United States from 2006 to 2010, died last Wednesday after a prolonged bout with lung cancer. He was 69.

Gaa’s diplomatic career began with his appointment as a Foreign Service Officer in 1974 after passing the FSO examination.

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Gaa served as ambassador to China from 2003 to 2006, followed by a posting to Los Angeles as consul general. He was initially assigned to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., as charge d’affaires on July 25, 2006, before becoming ambassador.

In his last year in Washington D.C., Gaa played a major role in the convincing the US Millennium Challenge Corp. to give the Philippines a $434-million development grant. He also arranged a one-on-one meeting in New York between Presidents Aquino and Barack Obama and facilitated the transfer of the consular section from the embassy to a bigger office in the old chancery to better serve the

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Gaa obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the Manuel L. Quezon University in 1966. He finished law at   the University of the Philippines obtained a master of laws, specializing in international legal studies, from the New York University in 1985.

Gaa passed the government career service exam in 1968, the bar examination in 1970 and the State Bar of California in 1990. He worked as a tax and compliance attorney at Petrophil Corp. and as a trial attorney at the Office of the Solicitor General before joining the foreign service.

For his long and dedicated service to government and country, Gaa was presented with the Gawad Sentenaryo (Centennial Award) in 1999 by the National Centennial Commission and the Distinguished Service Award in 2000 by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He is also the recipient of the Upsilon Sigma Phi’s UNO Award for outstanding achievements in his chosen career.

Gaa is survived by his wife, Erlinda Concepcion, and two sons, Wendell and Warren.

The wake starts at 2 p.m. today at the Funeraria Paz, Manila Memorial Park, Sucat, Parañaque. Interment will be on Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. after a memorial service.

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TAGS: Foreign Service Officer, Obituary, Philippine Ambassador, Willy C. Gaa
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