Filipino Members of the British Empire

Honorary Award from Her Majesty the Queen (Part II)

Filipino Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (L-R): Doreen Jaen-Mooney, Victoria Buenaventura, and Joanna Teh

Since we already featured an article about the Filipino OBEs, we also want to recognise the three Filipino women who were awarded with the honour of becoming Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

According to Awards Intelligence, the world’s leading business awards and personal honours experts group:

“An MBE is an award given by the Queen to an individual for outstanding service to the community or local ‘hands on’ service. The definition of MBE is Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.”

The Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services, and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds.

Let us now introduce to you the three Filipino women who were given such distinct honour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. They are:

  1. Victoria Buenaventura, MBE
  2. Joanna Teh, MBE
  3. (The late) Doreen Jaen-Mooney, MBE

An MBE awardee receives a medal made of a silver cross with images of George V and Mary of Teck encircled by the expression “For God and the Empire.” Also presented with the award is a certificate and plaque signed by the Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

MBE Medal
Member of the British Empire Miniature

Stories of the Filipino Members

VICTORIA BUENAVENTURA, MBE & JOANNA TEH, MBE

Ms. Buenaventura and Ms. Teh were made Honorary Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2015 at the Birthday Honours List of Her Majesty the Queen. The investiture ceremony was held at The British School Manila in Taguig; the former Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Philippines Asif Ahmad presented them with the medals.

Ms. Buenaventura and Ms. Teh work as Vice Consul and Pro-Consul respectively at the Consular Section of the British Embassy Manila. The honour given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was for their exemplary work on Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda).

Former Ambassador Ahmad recounted the work they accomplished to assist British nationals and their families in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan:

“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.

“Their own courage and resilience and professionalism meant that we were able to account for all those who were 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. The demands can range from dealing with bereavement to help with lost documents. Victoria and Hannah’s work has been recognised by Her Majesty the Queen and it is a source of great pride to us all.”

Ms. Buenaventura, who was deployed three times with Rapid Deployment Teams to various cities devastated by Haiyan and who worked 16 hours a day during this gruelling period commented:

“For me 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. The implication of belonging to an “elite” company, as I was told it was, is just beginning to sink in.”

Ms. Teh expressed her full appreciation when she received the recognition:

“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. To Him be the glory!”

Both Filipinos endured the challenges of getting to places and the difficulties in communication during this time of great calamity.

Mr. Brendan Gill, HM Consul at FCO (Foreign Commonwealth Office) at the British Embassy Manila also remarked:

“This award is a deserved recognition of 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. 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. It is a great tribute both personally for Victoria and Hannah and also to the calibre of our local staff. I am very proud of them.”

DOREEN JAEN-MOONEY, MBE

Ms. Doreen Jaen-Mooney was made Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2015. The Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Paul Sabapathy, presented Doreen with her MBE at Sutton Coldfield’s Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham as she was too ill to go to the Buckingham Palace for her investiture ceremony. She was the first Filipino to receive an MBE from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Despite her condition Doreen considered herself “one of the luckiest people in the world” when she was awarded with the honour. The 47-year old mother-of-three was nicknamed “Mother Teresa of Kingstanding” for her contribution to community work at New Heights charity in Kingstanding, Birmingham. The Filipino-born Doreen who was married to Duncan said:

“I came to England in 2002 not knowing what life would give me here. I have the feeling I made one of the best decisions of my life to come to the UK to be with you all. I’m one of the luckiest people in the world today. I have cancer and the end is near, but it’s just an ending isn’t it? I’m very proud I grew up with love and I’m very proud to say that, after 47 years in this world, I have been given the opportunity to show love.”

According to the community website:

As community development worker, she spearheaded a fundraising campaign to provide a state-of-the-art community centre and a social enterprise cafe. Doreen also orchestrated a massive appeal in response to Typhoon Haiyan in her native country in November 2013. She worked day and night to help, while undergoing chemotherapy at the same time.

In his tribute article for Doreen, Fr. Michael White of St John’s, Tamworth said:

Doreen left the Philippines arriving in Kingstanding, Birmingham in 2002 in an attempt to make a new life for herself and her two young daughters. She did not imagine that 11 years later she would meet the Prime Minister in Downing Street, the following year accept the Queens Award for community work and then be honoured with an MBE.

Ms. Doreen Jaen-Mooney, MBE passed away on Sunday 22 February 2015.

Watch Doreen receives her MBE Medal
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