Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has awarded Roland Quitevis, a Filipino driver, with the British Empire Medal for his 33 years of service at the UK Embassy in Manila.
“I am delighted to announce that Her Majesty, The Queen Elizabeth II has honored Mr. Roland Quitevis with the British Empire Medal for his services to UK-Philippine Relations,” British Ambassador Daniel Pruce said in a statement dated July 23.
“This is a thoroughly well-deserved recognition of Roland’s long service at the Embassy, mostly spent as the Ambassador’s driver,” he added.
The Filipino national is the sixth of eight children in his family and was born in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur. At the age of 22, he moved to Manila.
“My first job was actually in the British Embassy, where I started off as a messenger. After I was regularized, I obtained the necessary skills and was promoted to become the official driver of the Ambassador,” Quitevis shared.
He has been the official driver to eight of Queen Elizabeth’s Ambassadors to the Philippines in his 33 years of service in the Embassy.
Sharing his experience via the official platform of the British Embassy on social media, Quitevis said every moment with the Ambassadors whom he worked with “has been unforgettable” as they have treated him “like family and always with utmost respect”.
“I remember being so grateful for the opportunity, which is why I have always loved every single day of it – come monsoon rains, heavy Manila traffic and day-to-day encounters with British Embassy staff in action,” he said.
Throughout the length of his service, Quitevis shared that multiple opportunities opened up and helped him expand and develop more skills in the field of his work, which includes two comprehensive driving courses in the United Kingdom in 1999 and in 2013.
“On both occasions, I was able to attend specialized 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 conditions,” he said.
Apart from safety considerations, Quitevis said he learned how to maintain an alert yet relaxed and calm disposition, which reflects in the overall environment in the vehicle he drives.
Throughout his service, Quitevis said he was also able to drive for some members of the Royal family, such as when Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Princess Anne and Prince Charles visited the Philippines.
“It has been such a memorable experience for me to meet each one in person. In fact, during the most recent visit of Princess Anne to the country, she commented that I was very young when she first came to Manila and visited the indigenous community in Clark in the aftermath of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption,” he said.
“I felt so grateful when I was awarded the Service Recognition Award for excellent service rendered by Ambassador Stephen Lillie. But the defining moment that I will always treasure was when Ambassador Daniel Pruce presented me the opportunity of receiving the Honorary British Empire Medal (BEM),” he said
“Truly this is one for the books, and I will always be thankful to all Her Majesty’s Ambassadors that helped me reach this point in my career,” he said. (PNA)