Manila: A Filipino man who served for 33 years as driver to various ambassadors of the United Kingdom was recognised for his service and given a medal by Queen Elizabeth II.
Roland Quitevis was given one of the highest distinctions accorded by the British Empire to Foreign Nationals for his role in improving ties between the Philippines and United Kingdom, the British Embassy said.
“I am delighted to announce that Her Majesty, the Queen Elizabeth II, has honoured Mr Roland Quitevis with the British Empire Medal [BEM] for his services to UK-Philippine Relations,” Ambassador Daniel Pruce said in a statement.
Quitevis, 55, started working at the British Embassy since he was 22 years old.
“I have had the privilege to be the official driver to eight of Her Majesty’s Ambassadors to the Philippines … My first job was actually in the British Embassy, where I started off as a messenger. After I was regularised, I obtained the necessary skills and was promoted to become the official driver of the Ambassador,” Quitevis said.
Working as a chauffeur to British diplomats also helped Quitevis improve his skills. He attended two comprehensive driving courses in the UK in 1999 and 2013.
“On both occasions, I was able to attend specialised training and boot camps where I was taught how to act in situations that demand urgent response, such as precautionary checks that need to be done to make sure that the car is safe to use and keeping the ambassador away from harm in critical condition,” he said.
“I have also learned, both in my training and through years of experience, how to maintain an alert yet relaxed and calm disposition, which reflects in the overall environment in the vehicle for the ambassador or any VIP visitor as they carry out their diplomatic activities,” he said.
He said that he had driven for members of the Royal family on their visits to the Philippines.
“These include three visits by Prince Andrew, Duke of York, two visits by Princess Anne and a visit by Prince Charles. It has been such a memorable experience to me to meet each one in person. I have also been so honoured to be able to drive for some members of the Royal family,” he said.
Earlier this year, Joy Ongcachuy, a nurse, was among the 42 individuals honoured with the Officer of the British Empire (OBE) recognition in Britain’s New Year Honours List.
Ongcachuy was recognised for her work treating victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack in June 2017.