Make New York safe again–DFA exec on Pinay nurse’s death


THE Philippines’s Consul General in New York has echoed the call for authorities to take “more effective steps” to make the streets of New York safe again for the people following the death of a Filipina nurse there—the latest in a string of assaults against Asians in the city.

“While we know that authorities are doing their best, we hope that they exert more serious efforts and make more resources available to make this happen,” Consul General Elmer Cato said at a memorial mass for Maria Luningning Ambrocio, a much-loved Filipino nurse from New Jersey.

Ambrocio died of severe head injuries after being shoved by a mugger fleeing from the police as she was walking with her friends on Times Square, New York. They had just come from the Consulate General where they attended to some documentation.

Since January, at least nine members of the Filipino Community have been at the receiving end of unprovoked acts of violence that have been reported to or monitored by the Philippine Consulate.

Cato said that most, if not all, 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.

“Three days ago, Luningning was taken away from us in an unfortunate incident that could have probably been avoided had the streets of New York been made safer. 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 lamented.

Cato thanked Father Julian Jagudilla and the Franciscan Community for opening the doors of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and allowing them to pay their final respects “to someone who had been an active member of the Church and the community.”

At the height of the Covid pandemic last year, Cato recalled that Luningning posted a Facebook profile photo wearing scrubs, face mask and face shield with a caption that read: “I cannot stay at home, I am a nurse!”

And, Cato added, “like the thousands of Filipino nurses and other health-care workers across the United States, Luningning was there in the frontlines against Covid-19. A woman of courage and compassion, matapang at mapagmalasakit [brave and self-sacrificing], 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,” Cato said.

At the Bayonne Medical Center, Cato said that Luningning was known as “a caring nurse and a wonderful person” who went out of her way to help others.

“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,” Cato said.

The consul general noted 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.”

Image courtesy of Troi Santos

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