‘Angel sent by God:’ Filipino community members honor nurse who died after New York assault
MANILA, Philippines — Over 100 members of the Filipino community paid their respects to a Filipina nurse who passed away after an assault in New York City.
In his remarks during the Mass for 58-year-old Maria Luningning Ambrocio on Tuesday (Manila time), Philippine Consul General Elmer Cato remembered the Filipina nurse and shared some anecdotes from her colleagues.
“At the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, Luningning posted a Facebook profile photo of her in scrubs, face mask, and face shield with a caption that read: ‘I cannot stay at home, I am a nurse!’ And like the thousands of Filipino nurses and other healthcare workers across the United States, Luningning was there in the frontline against COVID-19,” Cato said.
On behalf of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, I would like to thank all of you for joining us here this…
“A woman of courage and compassion…she did her part in saving lives the way she had been doing in the 25 years she took care of cancer patients in New Jersey,” he added.
Ambrocio worked at the Bayonne Medical Center and was known “as a caring nurse and a wonderful person who went out of her way to help others,” according to Cato.
“She is remembered by colleagues on how she mentored the younger nurses among them with one even describing her as an ‘angel sent by God to guard and be with her during her long and difficult journey to a foreign land,’ and ‘who gave her the hope and courage to live and survive the harsh conditions of the concrete jungle of New York City’,” he said.
“There are many more testimonials and anecdotes that would reveal just how much Luningning was loved and admired and how much she brightened people’s lives, ultimately, measuring up to her name – Luningning, which means sparkle or brilliance in Filipino,” he added.
Cato recalled that Ambrocio passed away following an “unfortunate incident,” which he said could have been prevented if the streets of New York had been “made safer.”
Ambrocio succumbed to severe head injuries after being knocked down in New York City by a fleeing homeless theft suspect believed to be mentally disturbed.
“She was taken away from us at a time when violence against members of the Filipino Community and the larger Asian and Pacific Islander Community—whether induced by pandemic-exacerbated xenophobia or by mental illness—remain on the rise,” Cato said.
Acts of violence vs Filipinos
Citing incidents reported to and monitored by the Philippine Consulate in New York, Cato noted that at least nine members of the Filipino community had fallen victim to unprovoked acts of violence since January this year.
“Most, if not all, of those who were behind these acts of violence, are mentally ill and homeless individuals and, according to reports, there are more than 12,000 of them in the streets of New York City,” the envoy said.
“This afternoon, as we mourn the passing of Maria Luningning Ambrocio, I reiterate our call for authorities to take more effective steps to make the streets of New York safe again for all of us,” he added.
While he acknowledged the efforts of local authorities, Cato expressed hopes that they “exert more serious efforts and make more resources available” to address the matter.
“The Filipino Community stands in solidarity with many others who have been calling on the city to give more focus on improving mental health care as well as in strengthening ‘Kendra’s Law’ so that dangerous people could be taken off the streets,” he said.
“By doing this, we are hoping that we would not have any more Maria Luningning Ambrocios to mourn and bury,” Cato added.
According to the New York State Office of Mental Health’s website, Kendra’s Law is state legislation which “provides for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT).”
“AOT is for certain people with mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and present circumstances, are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision,” it added.
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