Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr. was decorated last night, the President conferring on him the Order of Sikatuna, rank of Datu (Grand Cross). A photo, here:
The President confers the Order of Sikatuna, rank of Datu or Grand Cross, on Ricciardone in the Music Room of the Palace. Photo from the Manila Bulletin website.
The insignia of the Order of Sikatuna presented to Amb. Ricciardone is manufactured by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and is of exquisite design and workmanship. After Edsa, the manufacture and quality of Philippine medals went so far down hill, that they started being painted with automotive paints. One of my main efforts while in government was to restore the quality of their manufacture, by taking the manufacturing away from private contractors, and placing it in the hands of the Bangko Sentral, which, like Central Banks around the world, should have the responsibility. In fact, from the time it was set up in the 1970s, the Bangko Sentral Mint had provisions for medal manufacturing, but at the time, the manufacturer of Philippine medals was a close chum of President Marcos, so despite training technicians for it, the contracts were kept in the hands of Marcos’s pal, who was, to be fair, an outstandingly gifted artist. However, after that artist died, his heirs did not keep up the quality. The Order of Sikatuna was established by President Elpidio Quirino and is our nation’s order of diplomatic merit, conferred on diplomats and other people who contribute to friendly relations with the Philippines.
Ricciardonereportedly goes off to Cairo, which, presumably, is a promotion. So, as usual, speculation has moved on to the question of who, exactly, will be the next Governor-General, as I like to refer to the U.S. Ambassador.
Will the next GG aka Ambassador be someone of prestige, or some State Department career nobody? The stature (or lack of it) of the American envoy will signal the standing of the government in the eyes of the Great White Father in Washington, D.C. Ricciardone, while no great world-historical figure, was an Islamist expert, which was a clear sign that the priorities of the USA were geared toward Mindanao.
The Philippines remains in the doghouse as far as the Americans are concerned, and their degree of support, or lack of it, will either embolden oppositionists and rebels, or not. Washington did try to do Manila some favors, such as helping cut off funding to the CPP-NPA-NDF, apply pressure on Muslim separatists, and try to beef up the armed forces. The government’s premature pull out from Iraq, however, mightily displeased Dubya and his staffers took the cue and have put the squeeze on appropriations for the Philippines working their way through the US budget. It’s been all stick, and very little carrot. As a parting shot, Ricciardone did make a pronunciation in defense of the existing government and against coups; but really, the lay of the land will only be disclosed if -and when- the new US Ambassador is named.
In DREADNOUGHT : : dreadnoone : : dreadnothing : : conservative : : gay : : catholic : :, there’s a lengthy, and provocative, commentary on gay marriage, which has recently been approved by the Spanish government:
Here we see that gay marriage is not at all about freedom or even real equality, rather it is about whitewashing our difference. It is not about gay people it is about heterosexual apathy at best and patronising/proscriptive conformism at worst.
Interesting, overlooked bit of news, which I only found out about in an e-group mail today: Jose Mari Chan wins court cases on 2 hits – INQ7.net. Congratulations!