Filipino Officers of the British Empire

Honorary Award from Her Majesty the Queen (Part I)

Filipino Officers of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (L-R): Cesar A. Buenaventura, Peter D. Garrucho, Jr., Roberto F. de Ocampo and Jesus P. Tambunting.

Special awards are usually granted to those who have achieved special contribution. These achievements are shown and felt in many ways – acts of charity or philanthropy, exceptional exercise of public service, corporate loyalty and longevity, academic and scholarly excellence, and many more.When I received my own token of appreciation it made me feel special in a way. I also felt a sense of pride to receive a recognition (10 years of service) and share that moment side by side with my three other colleagues. Being part of the pioneering group who remained was indeed an honour.

I can only imagine (with much difficulty I suppose) what I would feel if I receive a recognition from the President of the Philippines. Of course that will not happen since there is not even a remotest possibility. Let me continue the playful imagination. What would you feel if you receive an honorary recognition from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? Difficult to emotionally connect isn’t it?

Allow me now to introduce four Filipino gentlemen who were given such distinct honour by Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom. They are:

  1. Cesar A. Buenaventura, OBE
  2. Peter D. Garrucho, Jr., OBE
  3. Roberto F. de Ocampo, OBE
  4. Jesus P. Tambunting, OBE

The letters OBE that follow their names are honorary title given to them. OBE stands for Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. An OBE is a Queen’s honour granted to civilian individuals for their distinguished and significant contributions to the arts and sciences, to public services, and to welfare and charitable activities. Traditionally, the OBE is awarded twice a year – in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June and in The New Year’s Honours List on January 1.

An OBE awardee receives a medal made of a golden 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.

OBE Medal
Officer of the British Empire Miniature

The Order of the British Empire was instituted in 1917 by George V as a way of celebrating and recognising the achievement performed by non-military citizens. Recipients who are non-UK citizens are given an ‘honorary award.’ The honorary awards for foreign nationals are recommended by the foreign secretary.

The Order of the British Empire has 5 ranks and they are arranged below in ascending order:

  1. Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
  2. Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
  3. Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
  4. Knight/Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE/DBE)
  5. Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE)
The KBE/DBE and GBE ranks entitle the holder to use ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ before their names.
Related Story: Filipino Members of the Order of the British Empire

Profiles & Achievements of the Filipino Officers

Cesar A. Buenaventura, OBE

Mr. Buenaventura was made Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1991. Listed below are just some of his accomplishments taken from a much more exhaustive accounts: iPeople and Pilipinas Shell.

  • Chairman of Buenaventura Echauz and Partners Inc.
  • Chairman of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power System Philippines.
  • Vice Chairman of DMCI Holdings.
  • Director of Concepcion Industrial Corporation, Semirara Mining and Power Corporation, Petroenergy Resources Corporation, and I People Inc.
  • First Filipino CEO and Chairman of the Shell Group of Companies in the Philippines, 1975 – 1990.
  • Director of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.
  • Founding Chairman of the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc.
  • Appointed member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of the Philippines representing the private sector, 1981 – 1987.
  • Founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Makati Business Club.
  • Member of the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines, 1987 – 1994.
  • The Board of Trustees of the Asian Institute of Management, 1994 – 2007.
  • President of Benigno Aquino S. Foundation, 1985 – 2010.

Peter D. Garrucho, Jr., OBE

Mr. Garrucho was made Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. Listed below are just some of his accomplishments taken from a much more exhaustive accounts: Energy Development Corporation and Bloomberg.

  • Director of Energy Development Corporation since November 2007.
  • Managing Director for Energy of FPHC.
  • Vice Chairman and CEO of First Gen Corporation.
  • Vice-Chairman of Franklin Baker Corp.
  • Secretary of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Trade and Industry under President Corazon C. Aquino.
  • Executive Secretary and Presidential Adviser on Energy Affairs under President Fidel V. Ramos.

Roberto F. de Ocampo, OBE

Mr. De Ocampo was made Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2012; former Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Philippines Stephen Lillie presented him with the medal. Listed below are just some of his accomplishments taken from a much more exhaustive accounts: MoneySense and Development Bank of the Philippines.

  • Chairman of the British Alumni Association (BAA) for more than 12 years. Under his administration, the BAA developed the yearly celebration of the Philippine-UK Friendship Week.
  • Finance Secretary under President Fidel V. Ramos.
  • Chairman & CEO of the Development Bank of the Philippines. Under his leadership, the bank was recognised as one of the world’s soundest banks by the International Banker Magazine.
  • First Filipino awardee of the OBE who was a member of the Philippine Cabinet.
  • First and only Filipino to receive the “Global Finance Minister of the Year” award from Euromoney in 1995.
  • Named as “Asian Finance Minister of the Year” by Euromoney in 1996.
  • Named as “Asian Finance Minister of the Year” by Asia Money in 1997.
  • Recipient of the Philippine Legion of Honor (the highest honour conferred on Filipino civilians by the Republic of the Philippines) in 1998.
  • Named “Chevalier in the French Legion of Honour” by the Republic of France in 2001.
  • President of the Asian Institute of Management until May 2006.
  • Member of the AIM Board of Trustees.

Jesus P. Tambunting, OBE

Mr. Tambunting was made Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2017; former Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Philippines Asif Ahmad presented him with the medal. Listed below are just some of his accomplishments taken from a much more exhaustive accounts: The Philippine Star and The Philippine British Business Council (PBBC).

  • Chairman of Capital Shares Investment Corporation.
  • Chairman and founder of Planters Development Bank.
  • Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Fidel V. Ramos, 1993 – 1998.
  • Head of the Philippine Department of Trade’s Small Business Corporation under President Benigno Aquino III.
  • Chairman of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (a regional organisation of 127 development banks and institutions in 44 countries) 2004 – 2008.
  • Recipient of the “Knight Commander with Star” in 2008 from the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
  • Member of the Board of Directors of BPI-Philam Life Assurance Inc. in 2009.
  • The Distinguished Person of the Year 2009 from the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific,
  • Inducted into the World Entrepreneur Academy in Monaco in June 2010.
  • First Ramon V. del Rosario Sr. Award in Nation Building in 2010,
  • Recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
  • Recipient of the “Knight Grand Cross” in 2016 from the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Who will be the fifth Filipino Honorary OBE? How many more will be granted with such honour? And hopefully in the not-so-distant future the first Filipino Honorary Knight will be chosen.

The Royal Family at Work

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