THE Republic of Poland has no embassy in the Philippines but has three consuls, one for Luzon (Manila), another for Mindanao (Davao) and one for the Visayas, Cebu-based Carmel Ruiz De Luzuriaga Durano.
Durano relates she is from Bacolod but came to Cebu after her marriage in 1992 to Red Durano, currently vice-mayor of Danao City, with whom she has two children, Miguel and Mikee. She has adapted to Cebu and adds with a smile that she is so fluent in Cebuano that she can be fluently angry in the local dialect (though this ever-smiling gentle woman does not seem to ever get angry).
It was in 2009 that she became honorary consul of Poland. It was the Polish general consul in Manila who recommended her for the post, despite the fact that she had never been to Poland before. But yes, she has been there since and she describes it as so much like the Philippines, the population being about 90 percent Catholic, citing St. Pope John Paul II, born Karol Josef Wojtyla, as Polish by birth. She spoke of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa as a prime pilgrim destination in that country.
Basically, her role as honorary consul is to lessen the load of Manila in assisting people in processing their papers for travel to Poland. She remarks that there seems to be a surprising number of Polish gentlemen, mostly professionals, who come over to get married also mostly to professionals like teachers and dentists. She also takes care of Polish citizens who may come across some problems here which, she says, is rare.
Poland’s trade with the Philippines, she adds, is in terms of “vehicles, airships, animal products, mechanical and electrical devices, chemicals and ready-to-eat groceries.” And the Philippines' biggest investment in Poland is “the International Container Terminal Services to the Baltic Container Terminal in Gdynia.” As for culture, Polish films get to be shown here during foreign film festivals.
Recently, Durano was elected chairperson of the consular corps in Cebu which she describes as an organization that fosters camaraderie among its members. They meet regularly and also occasionally raise funds for a charity, like donating wheelchairs to the handicapped.
Aside from being honorary consul of Poland, Durano, a business management graduate of De La Salle University, says that the same year she became a consul, she also started a real estate business with her twin sister, Carmen (who is also married to a Durano, Red’s brother, congressman Ace) and their families. It is called MLD Dream Builders and they have been making pocket subdivisions in the cities of Cebu and Talisay, and bigger subdivisions in Bacolod and Kabankalan.
For one who describes herself as a “plain housewife” before 2009, Carmel Durano is proving herself to be an honorary consul worthy of Poland, which is the sixth largest economy in the European Union, and a savvy businesswoman.