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Japan honors first female Laurel

Louise Lizan

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Even as Japan and the Philippines continue to have closer relations, another milestone was celebrated at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence last 16 August with the conferment of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays on Ms. Maria Elena Laurel-Loinaz.

She served as the president of the Philippines-Japan Ladies Association for 13 years, and under her stewardship, undertook various educational and socio-cultural programs that solidified the exchanges between the Japanese and Filipinos

“This award is more than a tremendous honor for me and my family. In many ways. It is the continuation of a rich legacy,” she said.

She is the fifth person from the Laurel clan to receive such an award.

First to be bestowed the honor was her late grandfather, former president Jose P. Laurel; her father, Jose S. Laurel III; uncle, former Speaker Jose V. Laurel Jr.; and brother, Francis C. Laurel. She is, however, the first Filipina honored in the new Japanese era.

“All of them have cultivated a legacy of service to further strengthen the ties between the Philippines and Japan, and it is this rich legacy that I have tried to live up to in my work in various Japan-Philippines relations,” she added.

Like her father, Jose S. Laurel III, Laurel-Loinaz has worked with the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation and all its affiliate organizations including the Philippines-Japan Society, the Philippines-Japan Economic Cooperation Committee, the Philippine Institute of Japanese Language and Culture, the Nihongo Center Foundation and the Philippine Federation of Japan Alumni.

Ambassador Koji Haneda hands the plaque to Laurel-Loinaz during the Japan Imperial Decoration awarding ceremony.

Among others, she served as the president of the Philippines-Japan Ladies Association for 13 years and under her stewardship, undertook various educational and socio-cultural programs that solidified the exchanges between the Japanese and Filipinos.

The conferment, which was announced last 21 May by the government of Japan, was for her contribution to and efforts in promoting mutual understanding between the two nations.

“I am deeply grateful to my father for instilling in me the values of promoting close Philippines-Japan relations in deepening mutual respect and understanding. These are the values that I carry with me throughout my life,” she said.

Laurel-Loinaz  was a witness to how his father fulfilled his duties as the ambassador and further strengthened the ties between Japan and the Philippines. Laurel-Loinaz also shared her graduation invitation from the Tokyo University of Sacred Heart  where she graduated 50 years ago.

“I have always known that no matter what, Japan will always be a part of me,” she shared.

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