Wednesday, September 26, 2018
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2 Filipinas get high honors from Queen Elizabeth

Two Filipino staff members of the consular section at the British Embassy in Manila have received honors from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II for their exemplary work in the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

The British Embassy said Vice Consul Victoria Buenaventura and Pro-Consul Joanna Teh were on the list of those to receive Birthday Honors this year from the British monarch as Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

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As the Queen’s representative, British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad presented the medals to Buenaventura and Teh at an investiture ceremony during the recent celebration to mark the Queen’s Birthday held at British School Manila.

Ahmad recounted the work that Buenaventura and Teh did to assist Britons and their families after Yolanda.

“In the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, people of Britain responded generously to come to the aid of victims in the Philippines. For many, there was the added anxiety of not hearing from their own relatives and friends who they believed might have been in the path of the biggest cyclone in history. It was in the midst of this uncertainty and difficulty that our two staff members from the British Embassy went to Leyte and Samar,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad said the two showed “courage, resilience and professionalism” to be able to account for those reported as missing and those who needed help.

“In their daily work, both of them continue to meet the needs of British citizens who live, work or travel to the Philippines,” he said.

The demands, he added, can range from dealing with bereavement to help with lost documents.

“Victoria and Hannah’s work has been recognized by Her Majesty the Queen and it is a source of great pride to us all,” the British envoy said.

Buenaventura said the award came as a surprise.

“I was only doing my job as a consular officer. I knew I did it well, to the best of my ability and mindful of diplomatic excellence, but did not expect this recognition,” she said.

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“The implication of belonging to an ‘elite’ company, as I was told it was, is just beginning to sink in,” she added.

Buenaventura was three times deployed with rapid deployment teams to different cities after Yolanda, working 16 hours a day.

She and Teh endured many challenges, including difficulties in coordination and lack of transportation in the aftermath of the disaster.

Consul Brendan Gill said the award was a deserved recognition for the “tremendous effort Victoria and Hannah made to help our crisis teams search for and help the dozens of British nationals who were affected by Typhoon Yolanda.”

The Order of the British Empire is the “order of chivalry of British democracy” that is used to recognize and reward distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services and work with charitable and welfare organizations of all kinds.

The MBE is the most common of the honors. The others are, in ascending order, the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire), CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire), with the highest honors being KBE (Knight) for men or DBE (Dame) for women.

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TAGS: British Embassy, Consular Service, Diplomacy, honors, Joanna Teh, Queen Elizabeth, Supertyphoon Yolanda, Victoria Buenaventura
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