Lolo Kiko with Nanay Amba: Pope meets new PH envoy to Vatican
MANILA, Philippines – Fondly called by Filipinos as Lolo Kiko (Grandpa Kiko), Pope Francis welcomed Grace Relucio Princesa, also known by overseas Filipino workers as Nanay Amba (Mother Ambassador), as the Philippines' new ambassador to the Vatican.
Princesa presented her credentials to Francis in a formal ceremony at the Vatican on Saturday, September 1. The presentation of credentials means an ambassador is officially beginning his or her functions in the receiving state, in this case the Vatican.
Princesa was born on January 20, 1956, in Ligao, Albay, and is now the mother of 5 children, Vatican News said.
Princesa, 62, has been a career diplomat for nearly 3 decades. She studied international relations at the University of the Philippines in 1977 and later earned her master's degree in migration studies at Miriam College in 2016, according also to Vatican News.
She was ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2009 to 2015. Before this, she served as consul general in Chicago, Abu Dhabi, and Baghdad, and in various other capacities at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
At the UAE, she is remembered for handling the high-profile case of OFW Sarah Jane Balabagan in the mid-1990s. Balabagan was the teenager sentenced to death in 1995 for stabbing her employer to death, and who returned to the Philippines after her sentence was reduced.
Princesa also helped evacuate around 150 Filipinos from Baghdad in 2003, said Senator Panfilo Lacson when the Commission on Appointments (CA) confirmed her appointment. Her efforts in Baghdad made her "one of the most influential Filipinos in the Gulf."
Princesa, too, is a devout Catholic. She belongs to 3 spiritual communities – Light of Jesus Family, Regina Rosarii Contemplative Association, and Couples for Christ, according to her profile in Kerygma magazine in April.
"Without the Filipino Christians in the US and Europe, more churches will become museums, bars, and restaurants," Princesa told Kergyma. "The world will be darker without the Filipino faith. We are the light across the globe." – Rappler.com