June 3, 2015 3:30pm
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has honored two Filipino staff members of the consular section at the British Embassy in Manila for their exemplary work in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.
Vice Consul Victoria Buenaventura and Pro-Consul Joanna Teh were among those who will be conferred Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), an honor given to individuals “for a significant achievement or outstanding service to the community” or those who have performed “local ‘hands-on’ service which stands out as an example to other people.”
British Ambassador Asif Ahmad with Victoria Buenaventura.
British Ambassador Asif Ahmad with Joanna Teh.
“Without their vital work, in this most difficult and extreme of environments, we would never have had the same level of success in finding and helping British nationals in the affected area,” said Brendan Gill, HM Consul at the British Embassy Manila.
British Ambassador Asif Ahmad said Buenaventura and Teh’s immediate response and dedication helped account for those reported missing in Yolanda’s aftermath.
Moreover, their “courage and resilience and professionalism” and willingness to fly to Leyte and Samar for work alleviated the “uncertainty and difficulty” faced by Filipinos during that time, Ahmad said.
“In their daily work, both of them continue to meet the needs of British citizens who live, work or travel to the Philippines… Victoria and Hannah’s work has been recognized by Her Majesty the Queen and it is a source of great pride to us all,” Ahmad said.
According to Buenaventura, she and Teh worked 16-hour days when they were deployed three times with Rapid Deployment Teams in calamity-hit areas due to difficulties in coordination and transportation.
While they knew their teams did good work, the commendation came as an unexpected reward.
“The implication of belonging to an ‘elite’ company, as I was told it was, is just beginning to sink in,” Buenaventura said.
“It is indeed a great source of pride which I would like to share with my family, to the consular and crisis team who have worked very hard during Typhoon Haiyan and of course to the Filipino people but all praises and honour only belong to our God,” Teh said.