About the writer: Ricky Rionda ’83 is a free lance writer based in Washington D.C. He was a corresponding reporter for the Philippine Daily Mirror and has written for Fil-Am publications in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
On a cool Saturday evening in Washington, the ambassador sat at a dinner table in a noisy Persian restaurant in Tysons Corner fidgeting with his camera, a holiday gift from one of his sons. He had taken the bus from New York City to see the cherry blossoms already in full bloom at the tidal basin, perhaps for the last time before he returns home to Manila. He was with his wife, the amiable Mrs. Linda Gaa who I fondly call TL or Tita Linda, and son, Wendell, who now works for the Philippine Consulate in New York. The ambassador was his usual self, quiet and unassuming, sipping hot water which he poured from a teapot as he waited for his order of jujeh, a dish of grilled Cornish chicken served with a heaping of basmati rice, a favorite from his days in the Middle East when he was ambassador to Libya.