Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror December 12, 2007 edition, p. A10.
King Juan Carlos I toasted Gloria Arroyo for being “at the forefront of liberties and the defense of human rights with the abolition of the death penalty…” The Universidad Alcala de Henares awarded her a “medallion de oro.”
I expected human rights groups to roast the Spanish king. Instead they excused him with a torpeza best exemplified by a line from an editorial by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Unfortunately, the king was misinformed.”
How sweetly idiotic, racist even. Would they have assumed as much if the human rights award came from an African despot?
Why they believe the Spanish king is different, why they assumed he would not have given Mrs. Arroyo an award had he been aware of the real human rights situation in the Philippines, is beyond me.
Does he not owe his crown to Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who goose-stepped with Hitler and Mussolini?
Didn’t the conquista and three hundred years of oppression tell anyone anything about who was giving a human rights award to whom?
Spain did not give Arroyo a gold medal for human rights because it was ignorant. It gave it in exchange for a promise to bring Spanish back as a school subject, a quid pro quo which, if you think about it, is not all that bad for us.
At the very least, a new generation of graduates will have the opportunity to earn more money working here at home… in Spanish language call centers.
At best, Filipino students will be able to read the Noli and Fili in the original and they will learn how silly it is to expect a reigning hereditary monarch to know human rights when he sees it.
There are, however, some drawbacks to making Spanish universally available to Filipinos:
First, it will anger our little brown Americans who, if they had their way, would change our country’s name to McKinleypines or Deweypines;
Second, maids will find out what the señora and her amigas are gossiping about;
Third, a loquacious senator renowned for her Midwestern American Ilongglish and the Palace in-house counsel whose Ilongglish is pure but just as painful to the ear, might impose their Spalonggo on us. Dios nos ayuda when that happens.
It’s too bad not many of us saw the best thing to come out of that junket to Spain, the portrait of Mrs. Arroyo’s lap dummy, Toting Bunye, dressed to the nines, in white tie and tails, complete with sash and medal of “La Gran Cruz De La Orden Isabella La Catolica.”
Queen Isabella was a devout Catholic who believed in religious freedom… for Catholics. But, in fairness to her, she did give her subjects a choice.
Jews and Muslims were given the freedom to choose between conversion, death, or expulsion from Spain. Catholics were allowed to become as Catholic as they pleased, unmolested by heretics. Thanks to the Inquisition.
Upon her death, Isabella’s titles passed on to her daughter Juana, also known as Juana La Loca. She was the grandmother of Felipe II, the Spanish king after whom the Spanish explorer, Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, named the Philippines.
The Grand Order of Isabel or “La Real y Americana Orden De Isabel La Catolica” was founded by Ferdinand VII in 1815 as “a reward for loyalty either in the kingdom or in the American colonies of Spain.” (Wikipedia)
It was, as they say in Spain, “[M] ovido por el aprecio que sentía el monarca por los valientes que defendían sus derechos frente a los insurrectos en América, y con el deseo de recompensar la acrisolada lealtad, el zelo y patriotismo, desprendimiento, valor y otras virtudes, que tanto los individuos de la milicia como los de todas las clases y gerarquías del Estado han mostrado y mostraren en adelante, en favor de la defensa y conservación de aquellos remotos países,” (Extracted from LAS REALES ÓRDENES Y CONDECORACIONES CIVILES DEL REINO DE ESPAÑA)
The order’s raison changed when Spain lost “aquellos remotos paises.”
These days an Isabella knighthood is conferred in recognition of “meritorious contributions by designated laureates in promoting an understanding and appreciation of all facets of Hispanicity in the world.” (Wikipedia)
So one easy but meritorious way to earn a knighthood is to promote Hispanicity by playing a part in the tribal cavalcade of a visiting indigena married to a mestizo descended from a Spanish saint from Avila.
Spain could have avoided controversy if it had created an order especially for Mrs. Arroyo and her entourage.
“La Real y Filipina Orden De Juana La Loca” would have been apt for the power-mad indigena and the tag-along senator who, had she been born into Spanish royalty centuries earlier, would have bonded very well with Juana La Loca.