THE PHILIPPINES-JAPAN SOCIETY, INC.
by unanimous resolution of its Board of Directors
hereby confers upon
The Honorable BENJAMIN F. SANVICTORES
MEDAL OF MERIT
for outstanding achievement in the promotion of
Every man encounters a turning point in his life that determines the course of his future. In the case of Benjamin F. Sanvictores, it happened 46 years ago when he sailed to Japan for the first time as one of the Special Overseas Scholars from the South, and thus became a part of the “Nampo Tokubetsu Ryugakusei.”
Chosen from various segments of Philippine society — children of ranking Filipino government officials and your Philippine Army officers with high academic and service records — the ‘Nantoku’ then represented the cream of the Filipino youth. Indeed, many of them have come in later years to distinguish themselves in their respective fields of endeavor.
Benjamin F. Sanvictores was truly the ‘Benjamin’ of the ‘Nantoku’ from the Philippines. Barely fifteen, he was the youngest in the group. Going to Japan in July of 1943, at the height of the Pacific War among the first batch of ‘Nantoku Ryugakusei’ from Manila, was to him an adventure he could not allow to pass. Ben had displayed a heart for adventure early in his life when, as a young lad of five, he wandered for an entire day into the unexplored wilderness of Mount Kitanlad in Bukidnon, Mindanao, to spy with a native friend a tribal ritual and gather rootcrops and vegetables he determined to bring home for his mother.
Upon his arrival in Japan, young Ben enrolled at the International Students Institute (Kokusai Gakuyu Kai) in Tokyo where he quickly learned to speak, read and write Nihongo. In 1944, he was accepted into the prestigious Azabu Middle School (Azabu Chugakko), also in Tokyo, where he graduated in 1945. Thereafter, he was admitted to the Gifu Agriculture and Forestry College, where he remained until the end of the war.
Repatriated to Manila on November 5, 1945, together with the other ‘ryugakuseis’, he rejoined his family whom he found immersed, along with other Filipinos, in the tedious task of rehabilitation.
Fortunately for the Sanvictores clan, Don Jose G. Sanvictores was a man of moral strength and wisdom, from whom his entire family drew their determination to overcome. He imparted to his children the values of family unity, sincerity, honesty, frugality, integrity and, above all, love of God and country — traits that continue to hold the Sanvictores family together; qualities for which the Sanvictores brood has come to be known. Despite his sufferings during the war, especially during his incarceration by the Americans for having been a member of the Cabinet of President Jose P. Laurel, the Senior Sanvictores never wavered but forged steadily forward, thus becoming a shining tribute to the millions of Filipinos who faced the same wartime sufferings.
Ben eventually enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas where he graduated in 1950 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology. It was here that he met Josefina (Nennette) Bustos, his classmate who is now his loving wife, devoted partner and constant inspiration. Nennette is indeed God’s special gift to Ben.
After graduation, Ben was tapped by his father (by then ‘retired’ at 63) to help in the establishment of several family run business enterprises that are now engaged in such diverse field as: logging and wood processing, industrial tree farming, agricultural machinery marketing, cast iron products manufacturing, agribusiness, footwear export manufacturing and real estate. Along with his other brothers and sisters who, one after another, got together to help Don Jose set up the Sanvictores group of companies, Ben served in various key executive capacities at, among others: Aras-Asan Timber Co., Inc.; SEA Commercial Co., Inc.; SEACOM Industrial Corporation, International Agroforestry Development Corporation and RIKIO Southeast Asia, Inc.
Always ready to share his experience and learning with his fellowmen, he had acted as Consultant to the several United Nations agencies, including the Center on Transnational Corporations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) / United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Asia Pacific Forest Industries Group.
In the field of Philippines-Japan relations, his contributions have been equally outstanding. When President Jose P. Laurel decided to organize the Philippines-Japan Society in 1959 to assist in the restoration of normal relations between the two countries, Ben (only 32 years old that time) was selected to become the Society’s Deputy Secretary-General.
When Ambassador Jose S. Laurel III returned to the Philippines in 1971 to continue the work his father had started, Ben Sanvictores was among the first to come forward to unselfishly offer his invaluable assistance in the establishment of the various Philippines-Japan organizations that now play vital roles in the promotion of closer Philippines-Japan relations. Thus , we have the Philippines-Japan Society, of which he was Vice President and Director; the Philippine National Committee for Economic Cooperation with Japan, of which he was the Treasurer and Director; the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation, of which he was the Vice Chairman and Executive Trustee; and the Philippine Federation of Japan Alumni, of which he was a Director. In May 1986, he retired from private business after 36 years to heed the call to public service with his appointment as Deputy Chief of Mission of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, where he continues to this day to actively work for closer, more harmonious and truly meaningful ties between the Philippines and Japan.
His dedicated efforts toward the attainment of the paramount goals of these organizations were recognized by the Japanese Government which conferred upon him the Third Class Order of the Sacred Treasure on November 3, 1985. As an outstanding Japan alumni, he has been honored with the Merit Award by the Philippine Federation of Japan Alumni on August 30, 1986. And, only recently, he was conferred the Knight Grand Officer of Rizal by the Order of the Knights of Rizal in recognition of his invaluable contributions in perpetuating the memory of our national here, particularly in Japan.
As a fitting tribute to his exemplary, dedicated and unstinted efforts in enhancing closer Philippines-Japan cooperation and understanding, the Philippines-Japan Society hereby confers upon the Honorable Benjamin F. Sanvictores this Medal of Merit, the highest award within the gift of the Society. Coincidentally, Mr. Benjamin Sanvictores has the unique distinction of being the first scion of a former awardee and the first among the “Nantoku Ryugakusei” to be so acknowledged and recognized, an honor truly deserved.
DONE in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, this 28th day of February Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Nine in the year of our Lord and on the seventeenth year of the Philippines-Japan Society.
VICTOR A. LIM
BENJAMIN C. LAUREL