“I’m just doing my job,” said awardee Onari
Benedicto Onari, vice president and founder of Cebu Nikkei Jin Kai will be awarded with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, the Japanese government said last April 29
“This is in recognition of Mr. Onari’s contributions in enhancing the social matters of Japanese- Filipino nationals in the Philippines and promoting mutual understanding as well,” the Embassy of Japan said in a statement.
The Cebu Nikkei Jin Kai helps war-displaced Japanese descendants to be recognized by the Japanese Government and uplifts standards of living of fellow Nikkei Jin, the Embassy said.
Onari headed the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai Rengokai (Philippine Filipino-Japanese Descendants Federation), which is composed of all Nikkei Jin Kai all over the Philippines from 1993 to 2000.
When asked how does he felt about the award, Onari said: “That is a blessing. That is an opportunity for me. I’m very happy. That is not just a simple award. But for me, I’m just doing my job.”.
Onari, 81, was born in Binuangan Misamis Oriental. His Japanese father migrated to the Philippines on 1927. His father was born in Toyohama-cho, Hiroshima Prefecture .
Onari has four children and lives in Cebu . Onari founded the Cebu Nikkei Jin Kai with Nora Beltran in 1991.
The Cebu Nikkei Jin Kai organization also helps Filipinose.
“We have helped a lot of Filipino people, mostly those who are sick”, he said.
One of the people who received his help was Mr. Hamada, a Japanese national who married a Filipina but unfortunately his business went bankrupt.
According to Onari, Mr. Hamada was sick and he was supposed to be deported. He also needed to pay a 150,000 peso fine for illegally overstaying in the Philippines but Onari talked to the immigration officer.
“We helped him. We gave him support for food and medicine. He was supposed to be deported. He will be jailed but he doesn’t have money. That is why I talked to the immigration officer. The officer respected me and thankfully he was allowed to stay for 2 more months and afterwards he went back to Japan ” Onari said.
Onari said the organization is facing hardship now because their sponsor is gone.
“Office maintenance is expensive. It costs 10 thousand pesos a month (for) electricity and water bills because we don’t have a sponsor right now. It’s just us” he added. Alanna Ambi/DMS