In Memoriam – Beatriz Castillo-Laurel (Dec 26, 1918 – Aug 20, 2014)

Just 10 days after her son Benjie passed away, Mrs. Beatriz “Betty” Castillo-Laurel peacefully went home to join her late husband Amb. Jose S. Laurel III.  She  was 95 years old.

MRS. BETTY LAUREL PHOTOMrs. Laurel was a founding incorporator and President of the Philippines-Japan Ladies Association (PJLA) from its establishment in 1975 until 1989.   She is the mother of Gov. Jose C. Laurel V, Chairman of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation, Inc., (PJFF), Francis C. Laurel, President of the Philippines-Japan Society, the late Benjie Laurel, President of PHILFEJA, and Ma. Elena (Marilen) Laurel-Loinaz, Administrator of both the PJFF and PJS.  Mrs. Loinaz is also the President of the Philippines-Japan Ladies Association.  Mrs. Laurel is survived by her other children Tony Laurel, Mercedes (Ditas) Laurel-Marquez,Christine Laurel-Stortz and Eduardo Laurel.

Mrs. Betty Laurel was a young mother of two (Tony and Joey) when she joined the Laurel family to exile in Nara, Japan as the Pacific War was coming to a close.  She endured the separation from her husband Jose III who was incarcerated with his father, President Jose P. Laurel, Speaker Benigno S. Aquino, Sr., Amb. Jose Vargas and others in Sugamo and Kamioka prisons in Japan.

When her husband was released from incarceration by virtue of a Presidential Pardon, she focused on raising their children.  She joined her husband to Tokyo when he was designated Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Philippines to Japan in 1966.  She was always beside her husband in all his official duties.

Thus, when the Philippines-Japan Society was founded by Amb. Laurel in 1971, it was but natural that Mdme. Betty would lead the establishment of the Philippines-Japan Ladies Association in 1975.  Under her leadership, the PJLA organized and sponsored various ladies’ activities – such as tours, culinary demonstrations, Japanese culture sessions, chorale.  Being musically-inclined, Mrs. Laurel was a lead soprano of the Philippines-Japan Ladies Chorale.

Mrs. Laurel was a constant, faithful and loving helpmate to her husband, devoted mother to her eight children, doting grandmother to her many grandchildren, a true friend to both Filipinos and Japanese.

In Memoriam – Benjie Laurel (Aug 10, 2014)

Benjie Laurel

The Philippine Federation of Japan Alumni (PHILFEJA) announced the passing of its beloved President, Benjamin “Benjie” C. Laurel on August 10, 2014 after a lingering illness.  

Mr. Laurel was PHILFEJA President for two terms (1996 to 1999; 2013-2016), representing SAPILNIP. His incumbency coincided with the Philippines’ hosting of the 21st ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni (ASCOJA) Conference to be held in 2015.  By virtue thereof, Mr. Laurel took over the Chairmanship of ASCOJA from Vietnam which hosted the 20th ASCOJA Conference in Hanoi. In 2012, Mr. Laurel was also elected Chairman of the Asia Japan Alumni (ASJA) International for a two year term ending March 2014.  He was unable to preside over the 28th ASJA Board Meeting held in Tokyo on March 2014.  He then dispatched Mr. Philip Sanvictores to preside over both the ASJA Board Meeting and the ASCOJA Board of Governors Meeting on his behalf.

As a young man in 1974, Mr. Laurel joined Atty. Leocadio de Asis and Mr. Benjo Osias as emissaries of Amb. Jose S. Laurel III and PHILFEJA to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore with a mission to encourage counterpart Japan alumni associations to organize the ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni (ASCOJA) which was eventually established in 1975. Since then, Mr. Laurel had attended all ASCOJA Council meetings and Conferences that have been held in the various capitals of ASEAN member countries.  ASCOJA eventually expanded its membership to 10 countries, including Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.

Benjie was 61.

PJLA Chorale (Aug 1, 2014)

The Philippine Japan Ladies Association (PJLA) Chorale captured in action

36th Philippines-Japan Friendship Dinner Awards Night (Aug 1, 2014)

Atty. Lilia de Lima, Director-General of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) was recently awarded the Philippines-Japan Society Medal of Merit.  She is the 37th person (the 19th Filipino) to receive this prestigious award.

DG De Lima is a multi-awarded public servant, whose presidential appointment by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995 has been extended by all succeeding three administrations, including the incumbent President Benigno S. Aquino III. The sterling performance of the PEZA is the obvious reason for this unprecedented trust and confidence bestowed on her by four Chief Executives over the last 19 years

DG de Lima earned her Associate in Arts from the Centro Escolar University and her Bachelor of Laws from the Manuel L. Quezon University.  She was conferred a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa by the same university (MLQU) and is a Fellow of the Academy of American and International Law of the Southwestern Legal Foundation in Dallas, Texas.

She began her career in public service as an elected delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, representing the 2nd District of Camarines Sur.  From 1981 to 1987, she was Director of the Bureau of Domestic Trade, then concurrently serving as Executive Director of the Price Stabilization Council, Department of Trade & Industry.  From 1989 to 1994, she served as the Chief Operating Officer of the World Trade Center Manila, whereupon she was designated Commissioner of the National Amnesty Commission in 1994.  In 1995, she was appointed Director-General of PEZA, a position she continues to hold with distinction to date.

PEZA is the Philippines’ most successful vehicle for attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) and since 1995, about a third of all locators in its ecozones have been Japanese corporations.  Today, the 804 Japanese enterprises that are PEZA-registered account for about 25% of over 3,000 companies located in PEZA ecozones.

PEZA enterprises have poured in almost P2 Trillion in FDIs since 1995 generating over one million direct jobs in 300 ecozones while creating another 2 million indirect employment opportunities in allied and supporting industries nationwide.  In 2013 alone, PEZA firms exported US$43 Billion which is projected to increase 10% annually.

PEZA is noted and highly regarded for its culture of Absolute Honesty and One-Stop Non-Stop efficiency; No Corruption, No Red-Tape, Only Red Carpet Treatment for its investors. PEZA has been cited by the World Bank as one of the best practices in ecozones management worldwide.  It is also known for catalyzing and building up a breed of exceptionally hardworking, world-class Filipino workers and professionals, as well as for creating a macro-environment that promotes and ensures peaceful, harmonious and proactive labor-management relations.

For her leading role in bringing hundreds of Japanese investors to the Philippines, the Government of Japan conferred on DG de Lima in 2006 “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star”, the highest award given to a non-head of state by His Majesty, the Emperor.