Dr. Josefa M. Saniel is the "grand dame of Japanology in the Philippines. Her contributions to Asian studies come in the form of a corpus of written works that mainly interrogate Philippines-Japan relations. She was born on 23 March 1925 in Manila. She finished her Bachelor of Science in Education (Magna cum laude) at the University of the Philippines in 1949. She earned her Master of Arts degree in History at the University of Chicago in 1953. She received the title of Doctor of Philosophy in Far Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan in 1962. On 29 May 1986, she was awarded the “Third Class Order of the Precious Crown by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Governments. She became professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines in 1993.
Apart from her scholarly to the university and the academe in general, Saniel is known to be instrumental in bringing into reality the construction of the Asian Center Building (later renamed the Romulo Hall) and in successfully re-establishing the Asian Center as a college unit of the University of the Philippines upon the abolition of the PCAS. Some of Saniel’s best known publications are: Japan and the Philippines, 1868-1898 (1963), Okuma Shigenobu and the Philippine 1898 Problem (1965), and Japan and the Philippines: From Traditional to Modern Societies (1976). Saniel’s revisiting of the Philippine revolution stance critiqued the US imperial foray in the country..."
Professor Saniel is a former dean of the Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman. Other Professor Emeritus of the college was Dr. Felipe Jocano, who passed away in October 2013. The preceding write-up is quoted directly from "Pioneers and Legends: The Rise and Transformation of Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines Asian Center," a paper presented by Professor MCM Santamaria of the UP Asian Center during the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Asian Center on 25 November 2015.