Mercedes Joie Gabarda Aquino

Position: Caregiver
Employer:  Mr. Yoshio Sugiyama, Social Welfare Juridical Seihoukai
1-2 Shinnatsunashi Komineen, Shirakawa Citu, Fukushima, Japan

A manifest compassion that borders on a reflexive display of positive human character is more than just heroism. It is an expression of an innate value that compels a person to even downplay significant personal risks to ensure the safety and survival of other fellow human beings.

Such is the character displayed by four Filipino caregivers, Ms. Gemma Juanay, Ms. Juliet Tobay, Ms. Sandra Otacan and Ms. Mercedes Joie Aquino Leano who, despite imminent danger and risk of nuclear radiation in Japan, chose to remain in their jobs and continued to provide care and companionship to their Japanese elderly patients.

Such character is, of course, not uncommon among Filipinos who set their sail to foreign shores to quench their thirst for adventure and economic opportunities. But seldom do such qualities manifest themselves, unless unforeseen events and circumstances present the challenge. Our four Filipino caregivers from Fukushima, Japan, having been confronted with such events and circumstances, manifested the true Filipino character and heroism.

The four Filipina caregivers were invited to a Thanksgiving Dinner for the International community hosted by the Foreign Minister in Japan. The dinner which was widely covered by the media was graced by the Japanese Prime Minister.

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