Our Glorious Queen and her consort are on a visit to the mother country. In the cover of today's Philippine Daily Inquirer print edition we see Mrs President Arroyo, her husband, the King and Queen of Spain, and the Spanish crown prince and his wife. The royals wear their sashes of office and medal (these represents Orders of the State). The prince is supposed to be grandmaster of a knightly order successor to the Knights Templars but I don't know if the sash he wears is from that order.
Mrs Arroyo and the First Gentleman wore yellow sashes and a corresponding medal. Is this a Philippine State Order or one awarded by the Spanish King?
President Quezon wore a Presidential sash of office to his inauguration in 1935. President Laurel wore a sash representing a Japanese Imperial Order when his official protrait was made.
While to this day the Presidents of Latin American countries are presented with a sash during their inauguration, this has gone out of fashion in the Philippines. When Presidents stopped wearing morning dress to their inauguration, the sash went out too. But Latin American presidents no longer wear morning dress but business suits or blazers but still they were the sash.
In fact if there is a golpe de estado, the plotters take the sash and run! (the nearest analog to this in our kind of politics is in Senate "coups" when the "plotters" try to grab the mace!)
But sashes still reign supreme in Philippine fashion. We can see this in beauty pageants and at the University of the Philippines commencement ceremonies!
The nice thing about when our presidents visit Spain we don't get much anti colonial angst dished out by the blurbs. Compare this when a president visits Washington DC! I think it is now considered "ingrata" to be anti-Spain now that the King has made a state visit to Manila for our centennial and laid a wreath to Jose Rizal.
Mrs Arroyo will be visiting my homeland Pais Vasco (the Basque Country). BTW my family's origin is really from Vizcaya in the Basque country. I learned about his when my uncle went to Spain and did some research and a fellow PhD student who was from Vizcaya told me about it. My ancestors were according to my amigo, knights (I hope not the Don Quijote type!) and mariners. Family lore says that my ancestors got to Filipinas in one of the expeditions and by the Manila galleons. We are quite sure some decided to head to the Ilocos. My dad was born in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
Family lore also tells me that some of the knights were Templars. Now I don't know how this relates to our long history of being masons.
La Lengua Castellana
Mrs Arroyo promised to promote the Spanish language in the Philippines and this is a welcome development. As I always said in the past we Filipinos tend to have short historical memories and tend to lose continuity by dumping traditions. An example is the provision in our constitution making the promotion of Spanish voluntary. This was a shortsighted provision. Now a lot of students and recent graduates say they would have wanted to learn the language now that it opens career possibilities for them.
Also learning Spanish would have connected all of us with our past. In Panama when one of our famous politicians was railroading the construction of a cement plant near a coral reef, we had to convince the Latin Americans to sign our international petition and statement opposing the move. We had to convince them in Spanish. They said our Spanish was full of bravado. They all signed. The cement plant plan was shelved.
In a globalized society knowledge of other languages is a plus. But I don't think making Spanish required in colleges and schools would be a plus. This would defeat the whole idea. Mrs Arroyo proposes to make the language once more official and possibly a required subject in schools. What we don't want to see are unimaginative Spanish language professors. Although I had memorable and extremely good professors, I also had the really bad ones. Nonetheless I developed affection for the language. I can read Recto's speeches and a lot of Rizal's novels and I wouldn't be out of place in Costa Rica.
But some legal scholars say that if Mrs Arroyo makes the language official once more, she would need a constitutional amendment.