Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ditas Angeles Baker


May-June 2014

Reflecting on the sudden demise of my dear brother, Rex (Angeles), I couldn’t help recalling my days in Japan with him.

Rex and I went to Japan in 1986 to study the Japanese Language. In 1987, I was recommended by the Philippine Embassy's Cultural Attaché to be the English teacher to the Former Labor Minister Toshio Yamaguchi. The teaching time was minimal due to Sensei's busy schedule, that the lessons were done during car rides from the house to the office, amidst engagements, or trips to golf courses. I was then, asked to teach English to the Nakasone Faction secretaries. In between teaching, I took care of all English correspondences the Yamaguchi Office had to deal with (Yamaguchi, being the Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives at that time). I also took care of all things concerning embassies, and attended diplomatic receptions on the Sensei's behalf almost everyday. I accompanied Yamaguchi Sensei to the Philippines a couple of times to meet with President Aquino, and I had to attend Japan-Philippine Friendship Conference visits. I was also asked to welcome the Filipino counterparts to Tokyo, arranging the visit of 600 of our constituents to Malacañang Palace, and inviting, for three consecutive years, students from St Scholastica's College, Manila (12-15 at a time) to live and go to schools in our constituency (Saitama). Among the eight or so gaijin secretaries in the Diet (4 Americans, 2 French, 1 Canadian, 1 German, 1 Australian, and 1 Swiss), I was the only Asian for the longest time (years later, there came 1 Indian, and 1 Chinese). Yamaguchi Sensei wanted to be different, so he got a Filipino Administrative Aide. Most of the secretaries served for a year, while I served for seven years. On the Yamaguchi home front, I dealt with the children's schools composed of students who all graduated from US schools. In a gist, the peak of my career success while living in Japan then was working at the Japanese Parliament.  

On the other hand, Rex, at that time, upon Yamaguchi's recommendation, was hired by the company that owned the Four Seasons Hotels. During that time, he interviewed and hired Filipinos to work for their company, and he dealt with our payments when my office used their helicopters or planes.   

I can never forget those days, and I am grateful that Rex and I had this rare experience, thanks to my sister Boots Angeles who was General Manager of the Tokyo Jewish Community Center when I was living in Japan. 

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