The highest distinction awarded by the French Government was recently given to Jewelmer Group Chairman Manuel Cojuangco in a ceremony officiated by the French Ambassador Thierry Mathou at the Grand Sunset Pavilion.
"We have decided to give you this award because in all your endeavours you have this objective to give back to your community, to your nation, to your country," said Ambassador Mathou to Cojuangco during the awarding ceremony. The Legion of Honour is awarded to individuals who have served France or the ideals it upholds. Moreover, a minimum of 25 years of professional activity with 'eminent merits' is required to be considered to become a chevalier or knight. "Take for example Jewelmer, this exceptional adventure... It's a successful business where you are the leader of the gold pearl not only in the Philippines but in the world... and you have transformed this activity to give something back to the community. For you, CSR is not an acrony," the ambassador continued.
There have been 18 other Filipinos in history who have been inducted into the order. Cojuangco is the 19th and it is credited to his co-founding of Jewelmer, which gave efforts in preserving the environment and supporting local and indigenous people's communities. Throughout the years, Cojuangco worked with French scientists for coconut hybridization program in Palawan and continuously supported the cultural activities both in France and in the Philippines.
The ambassador also talked about Cojuangco's partnership with French perliculturist and fellow chevalier recipient Jacques Branellec. "I am very proud to give you this distinction because it is the symbolism of the friendship between France and the Philippines," Ambassador Mathou said.
During his speech, Cojuangco thanked his Jewelmer family, his church group, his siblings, and ultimately his parents, “whose personal journey, upon reflection, carried the potential of whatever good my siblings and I were meant to pursue. And tonight is especially significant because their relationship started not in the Philippines, but in Paris where they accidentally but fortuitously met.”
He ends his speech by saying, “For this small work of ours to go along the lines of the French initiative to preserve the environment is no insignificant coincidence for us,” said Cojuangco.