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En la madre patria and some observations

Sassy sashes.

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!

In Spain

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.


Che said…
the king of spain had the order of lakandula, rank of supremo. the principe de asturias, the order of lakandula, rank of bayani. the queen, the order of the golden heart, rank of maringal na kuwintas; the infanta whoever, the order of the golden heart, rank of maringal na crus. the president had the grand collar of the order of carlos iii, while atty. arroyo had the banda or grand cross of the order of isabela catolica.

it is an integral part of state visits for heads of state to exchange state decorations. juan carlos had received the orders of sikatuna, the philippine legion of honor, from previous presidents; queen sofia had received the order of gabriela silang, and sikatuna, too; the principe de asturias i believe has also previously received the philippine legion of honor and the order of sikatuna from previous presidents.

quezon's sash was the sash of the grand cross of the order of the republic of spain; his other decorations worn during his inaugural were the french legion of honor, the order of the crown of cambodia. he was subsequently decorated by the governments of italy, belgium, and china when he was president.
blackshama said…
Thanks for the comments, Che. BTW correct me if I am wrong did Quezon's decorations cause some controversy with the then sovereign US government?

Perhaps Manolo Quezon can enlighten us with this.
Che said…
this is manolo, i couldn't post with my other account for some reason.

a french historian told me that the french government, which had made mlq an officer of the french legion of honor, wanted to elevate his rank but the state department objected because it was giving too much honor to the philippines. and it was a cause of concern that mlq was embarking, essentially, on diplomacy with his visits to japan, to italy, and mexico even before the country was independent. he also sent his wife to indonesia where she had a secret meeting with indonesian nationalists (heavily watched during the day, she had to sneak out of her hotel in the dead of night to meet the representatives of the indonesian independence movement).
Iggy said…
Wow, I don't know about bringing Spanish back into schools... that to me already seems like overload for students.

Imagine if they also had to learn Latin in Catholic schools as well. Although, doesn't Poveda already teach Spanish?

And what about Chinese schools? Does that mean they have to learn up to four languages now? Filipino, English, Mandarin and Spanish?

Jarvis said…
in the early 80. in chinese high school we do have spanish. yes we have to learn four languages. it fun because we learn to sing the national anthem in spanish.
Knowledge of other languages can be a big plus, quite apart from that it enables you to learn more about other cultures. At the most, learning Spanish may serve its purpose in a globalized world, one which is, as Thomas Friedman puts it, "flattened/flattening/flat". But then again, is it necessary? I don't think so. Is it beneficial? Perhaps, in some shades.

Even though learning Spanish has some benefits which go along with it, it doesn't make it necessary altogether. One begins to wonder what in the world Gloria Arroyo is thinking.

Besides, the english proficiency level of Filipinos has dwindled among its co-rankers in Asia at the least. In a globalized world, or something to that effect, the english language remains at the core of it all. Learning, and taking a good command of, the english language is not only beneficial. It is, more importantly, necessary, unless of course we want to be an isolated nation like Japan in earlier years.

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