|Aurea and Alfonso Taguiang share the same honor with those British entertainment luminaries such Sean Connery and Diana Rigg, that is to be addressed Sir and Lady.|
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Filipina served at Queen Elizabeth’s 80th birthday lunch
June 22, 2006 Updated 08:06pm (Mla time)
GUESS who was at the 80th birthday lunch of Queen Elizabeth II last week?
Apart from royalty and other dignitaries, a Filipina met with the British monarch for the second time. She is Lady Aurea Taguiang.
The native of Malasiqui, Pangasinan, Taguiang is the lead waitress at Mansion House, official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London. She served the Queen once before, when the British visited Mansion House in 1999, according to information from the British embassy in Manila.
Last May, when Lord Mayor David Brewer visited the country, he told reporters that Taguiang would again have the honor to serve the Queen during her birthday lunch on June 15.
Taguiang and her husband Alfonso earned the titles Sir and Lady in 1998. They were granted the honor of becoming Freemen of the City of London by act of the Lord Mayor and the Court of Common Council in one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today; the first one is believed to have been presented in 1237.
According to the British embassy, the medieval term "freeman" means someone who was not the property of a feudal lord, but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. Town dwellers protected by the charter of their town or city were often free. The titles came 12 years after Taguiang earned a post in the prestigious Mansion House in 1986; there, she has become a favorite of Lord Mayors.
As lead waitress at Mansion House, she has served Lord Mayors of London and their guests for 20 years, during which she has waited upon international leaders such as Nelson Mandela, King Hussein of Jordan, and our very own President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She has also served notable Britons Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.
According to an article from the British embassy, last week's event stands out as extraordinary for the Filipina. "It is my greatest honor to serve the Queen. It had been my dream as a child," she said, recalling singing rhymes about the Queen as a young girl.
Taguiang is a senior member of the Mansion House wait staff. "The key to my success is my loyalty and my dedication to the job," she says of her 20 years on the job.
Like many Filipinos, Taguiang and her husband went abroad to look for greener pastures. In 1975, they moved to England and entered the catering industry in the hope of providing better education for their six children.
According to information provided by the embassy, the couple made the difficult decision to temporarily leave their children in the Philippines, including the youngest, who was only 11 months old at the time. When they gained solid financial footing, the Taguiangs eventually brought their four youngest children to England; the two oldest are pursuing careers in the Philippines and Canada.
Though her job involves long hours and difficult labor, Taguiang says she thoroughly enjoys her work. "After working for some time, it becomes a pleasure; it becomes a passion to serve," she says.
Taguiang considers herself a loyal subject of the Queen, but she has never forgotten her native land. In her spare time, Taguiang organizes tours for Filipinos visiting England. Her husband Alfonso is a lifetime member of the Order of the Knights of Dr. Jose Rizal.
In this capacity, Sir and Lady Taguiang continue to honor the Philippines with their charitable work.