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Amb. Delia Domingo Albert named to Order of Rising Sun

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda (left) and his wife Ihoko flank Ambassador Delia Domingo-Albert at the conferment ceremony at the ambassador’s residence last Sept. 25. Photo courtesy Japan Information and Culture Center

By Patricia A. O. Bunye

Yet another distinction was bestowed upon Diwata’s Chairman, career diplomat and our country’s first woman Foreign Affairs Secretary, Ambassador Delia Domingo Albert, when the Government of Japan conferred on her The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, in recognition of her contribution to strengthening the economic relations between Japan and the Philippines. It is one of the highest honors conferred by the Japanese Government, following only those given to heads of state and royalty.

The actual conferment took place in Tokyo on 23 May 2013, with Ambassador Albert (or “DDA” as she also known) receiving the award from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, followed by an audience with his Majesty Emperor Naruhito. On 25 September 2019, the Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines, Koji Haneda, hosted a celebration of the conferment at his residence which was attended by DDA’s many friends and admirers, including this writer.

In her own remarks at the conferment celebration, DDA recounted her “Japan Story”, which began at the University of the Philippines where a Japan specialist professor inspired her to learn more about that country.

Later, still as a student, she had the opportunity to participate in an international students seminar at Tsuda College in Tokyo, followed by a workcamp in Awajishima, where she and other students built a road to link a small fishing village to other places in the island. This experience became the subject of a speech in a competition that she won, leading to tv appearances and magazine covers that allowed her to promote the Philippines in Japan.

Even before becoming a diplomat, she was already an ambassador for the Philippines.

How she entered the world of diplomacy, she says, was a case of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people and certainly with the right credentials.” Upon returning to the Philippines from Japan, she was invited to introduce then Secretary of Foreign Affairs Narciso Ramos (the father of President Fidel V. Ramos) at the annual "Soiree Diplomatique" of the University of the Philippines Foreign Service Corps. Because Secretary Ramos’ CV was too short, DDA introduced him in 3 languages: English, French and Japanese, prompting the Secretary to hire her on the spot as his Social and Appointments Secretary because, as he said, she could say "no" in different languages and qualify as his "cordon sanitaire".

In my years of working closely with DDA on Diwata and mining industry matters, it is her ability to seize the opportunity to make the most of the “right place, right time, right people” to advance the advocacies that are closest to her heart that has struck me. Because she is single-minded about her objectives and what she would like to achieve for the country, for the mining industry and for women, every encounter is an opportunity to bring people and resources together towards the attainment of the larger goals. Truly, working with her is a master class in diligence, doing your homework, consistency in messaging and so much more.

Not only is she passionate about serving the country, her energy for it is inexhaustible. Upon her retirement from the government, she could have opted for a leisurely life, but she continues to be in perpetual motion: speaking, writing, organizing people, creating jobs and businesses, and most of all inspiring others by her example.

Diwata, which she founded seven years ago to be, among others, a platform for discussion of the many issues on the mining industry, is just one of the many organizations that look to her for guidance and mentorship. What all these organizations and its members agree on is that we all can’t say no to DDA who never runs out of ideas and constantly challenges us to do better and do more.


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