26 March 2015 - Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel M. Lopez administered the oath-taking and donning of rank of Second Lieutenant Karen Eve E. Mante, the first Filipino female graduate of Japan’s prestigious National Defense Academy in a ceremony held on March 23 at the Embassy grounds.
Second Lieutenant Mante, who will join the Philippine Air Force, was one of the first two foreign female graduates of the Academy. She was given an award as an outstanding cadet as well as a badge for excellence in physical training. The commencement ceremonies of her batch of 492 graduates were held on March 22 at the Japan National Defense Academy (JNDA) Compound in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, graced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other dignitaries including Ambassador Lopez.
A native of Davao, Second Lieutenant Mante spent a year in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) before being sent by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to the JNDA as a full scholar. She spent five years of cadetship training in the JNDA, which since 1953 has produced officers for the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF).
In a speech before Ambassador Lopez and the officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Second Lieutenant Mante said she was initially hesitant to accept the scholarship to Japan because it would involve more years of study. She decided to accept “because opportunity knocks only once,” and after a rewarding five years’ stay, expressed willingness to go through the same experience if asked to do so again.
Among those who witnessed the oath-taking and donning of rank ceremony were Navy Captain Samuel Zamar Felix, Philippine Defense Attaché; Col. Noel Zablan Plaza, Incoming Defense Attaché; Colonel Hideo Takahashi and Colonel Hiroko Konno of the Japan Air Self Defense Force, Air Staff Office; and the seven Filipino cadets currently studying at the JNDA.
Colonel Takahashi was Japan’s Defense Attaché in the Philippines in 2007-2010 and was instrumental in organizing the scholarships for Filipino cadets in Japan while Colonel Konno was the first female graduate of the JNDA. END