A gift of trees – INQ7.net is my column for today.
I’m leaving on a jet plane.
…Except I do know when I’ll be back again. However, for the next 10 days or so, irregular updates to this blog.
Courtesy of the Philippine Ambassador to Washington, D.C., I’ll be attending a formal ceremony in the Philippine Embassy during which the four Frieder brothers will be recognized by being posthumously conferred the Order of Lakandula. Also to be decorated will be the head of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, Racelle Weiman, and Frank Ephraim, whose book brought the story of the Philippines giving refuge to the Jews to the attention of the world. This will be on May 18, in which Sec. Romulo will be representing the President of the Philippines. While In Washington, I’ll also be doing some preliminary research on a biography of Raul S. Manglapus which the Konrad Adenauer Foundation has commissioned me to write.
Official schematic of the Order of Lakandula’s insignia, courtesy of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The original design was by Eric Agoncillo Ambata.
I have a special affection for the Order of Lakandula, because it was my responsibility, while working for the President, to not only draft and shepherd through the approval process, the Honors Code of the Philippines, but to draft the criteria for the Order of Lakandula, established by that Order, and even attend to the design and manufacture of the Order of Lakandula. The aesthetic considerations I bore in mind involved the need to come up with an authentically Filipino design, and one, in particular, suitable for Muslims, as the Order might be conferred on people involved in conflict resolution: all too often, national orders follow the model of Christian Orders, with their elaborate crosses, for example. The design of the Order of Lakandula includes the Philippine sun (modified, of course), the Alibata script (which spells out “Lakandula”) and designs that hark back to prehispanic gold jewelery. Originally, a design from the Manunggul jar was included, but the National Historical Institute pointed out some cultures might take offense at funeral adornments being included in the insignia. The color of the Order is royal blue.
What is the Order of Lakandula? It is one of the highest forms of recognition the Republic can bestow on a foreigner. The Quezon Service Cross (see Quezon Service Cross – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), the highest civilian recognition of the Philippines, can only be conferred on Filipinos. The next highest state orders, however, may be conferred on Filipinos or Foreigners. Of these highest orders, there are three (listed by the date they were established): The Philippine Legion of Honor (for military and defense merit, and also the highest civilian recognition given by the President without requiring the concurrence of Congress; details at Philippine Legion of Honor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), the Order of Sikatuna (for diplomatic merit, see Order of Sikatuna – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), and the Order of Lakandula. (The list of Philippine Orders and Decorations is at Philippine orders and decorations – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
Executive Order 236, the Honors Code of the Philippines, provided for the Order of Lakandula and the criteria for its conferment:
Sec. 5, II of the E.O. says,
Order of Lakandula
The Order of Lakandula is an Order of political and civic merit awarded in memory of LakandulaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dedication to the responsibilities of leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage and resolve in the service of oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s people.
The Order of Lakandula is conferred upon a Filipino or foreign citizen:
a. who has demonstrated by his life and deeds a dedication to the welfare of society;
b. whose life is worthy of emulation by the Filipino people;
c. for deeds worthy of particular recognition, including suffering materially for the preservation and defense of the democratic way of life and of the territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines, for devoting his life to the peaceful resolution of conflict, or for demonstrating an outstanding dedication to the fostering of mutual understanding, cultural exchange, justice and dignified relations among individuals; or
d. for acts that have been traditionally recognized by the institution of presidential awards, including meritorious political and civic service.
The Order of Lakandula shall be composed of the following ranks:
Grand Collar (Supremo) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Conferred upon an individual who has suffered materially for the preservation and defense of the democratic way of life or of the territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines; or upon a former or incumbent head of State and/or of government
Grand Cross (Bayani) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Conferred upon an individual who has devoted his life to the peaceful resolution of conflict; upon an individual whose life is worthy of emulation by the Filipino people; or upon a Crown Prince, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House, Chief Justice or the equivalent, foreign minister or other official of cabinet rank, Ambassador, Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary, or other person of a rank similar or equivalent to the foregoing
Grand Officer (Maringal na Pinuno) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Conferred upon an individual who has demonstrated a life-long dedication to the political and civic welfare of society; or upon a Charge dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢affaires, e.p., Minister, Minister Counselor, Consul General heading a consular post, Executive Director, or other person of a rank similar or equivalent to the foregoing
Commander (Komandante) – Conferred upon an individual who has demonstrated exceptional deeds of dedication to the political and civic welfare of society as a whole; or upon a Charge dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢affaires a.i., Counselor, First Secretary, Consul General in the consular section of an Embassy, Consular officer with a personal rank higher than Second Secretary, Director, or other person of a rank similar or equivalent to the foregoing
Officer (Pinuno) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Conferred upon an individual who has demonstrated commendable deeds of dedication to the political and civic welfare of society as a whole; or upon a Second Secretary, Consul, Assistant Director, or other person of a rank similar or equivalent to the foregoing
Member (Kagawad) – Conferred upon an individual who has demonstrated meritorious deeds of dedication to the political and civic welfare of society as a whole; or upon a Third Secretary, Vice Consul, AttachÃƒÂ©, Principal Assistant, or other person of a rank similar or equivalent to the foregoing.
What is all this business about orders, and ranks? Even members of our diplomatic service are confused. The best way to understand a national Order is to think of it as a confraternity of merit; basically, an Order is a group composed of individuals recognized as meritorious by the government; the group has different ranks, based on actual achievement or their standing in government and the bureaucracy. Think of the way the Knights of Rizal or the Knights of Columbus, for example, are organized. The President, who has the authority and privilege, by law, to determine who gets to be a member of what, then appoints someone to be a member of an order, and confers the insignia of that order (the medal, usually), together with a diploma or certificate. In the case of National Artists, Scientists, or Social Scientists and Manlilikha ng Bayan, their achievement is recognized by the President by way of a proclamation to the nation; the artist or scientist thus recognized then becomes a member of the order concerned.