It is easy to remember the bombastic, the loud, the swaggering blowhards who desire their every act of small-minded mediocrity to be acknowledged. And then there are people whose main facet is kindness and stubbornness to do the right thing and to respond to a high sense of duty increasingly rare among those occupying high offices and designations. Helen was the latter. She was not just effective and efficient. She was reliable and solid and unwavering. She was a beautiful human whose silent ways and persistent effort to keep her profile low endeared her to friends and colleagues. Without Helen, and without Joy Goco, the Philippine Presidency of the CVF (Climate Vulnerable Forum) would not have delivered the impact needed to get the Paris Agreement gaveled with the ambition and hope of vulnerable countries intact. Without Helen, it is easy to imagine a situation where the world comes up short because the CVF could not perform the role it played in the endgame of 2015.
Helen embodied qualities largely absent today from leadership marked mostly by bling and shallow bravado—humility, passion, quiet courage, and love for her colleagues. Those of us in New York today are missing hugely the kind of leadership Helen stood for. We raise our glass today in memory of a Filipina blessed with spirituality, loyal friends and family, hoping she will watch over all us constantly during these dangerous times when bold, unwavering action is sorely needed.
Mahal na mahal namin sa ICSC si Helen. Patnubayan sana tayong lahat ng bukod-tanging buhay na iniwan sa atin ni Helen.
— Renato Redentor Constantino for ICSC
Photo: Helen Gaddi (standing, second from left) with other CVF delegates during the adoption of The Manila Communique in November, 2015.