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The conferment

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Fil C. Sionil

Fil C. Sionil

Wednesday was eventful. Three significant activities were happening, if not simultaneously, one after the other: The much talked about closing of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), the concert of world-acclaimed U2, and the conferment by the Japanese government of the Order of the Rising Sun on former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando “Say” M. Tetangco Jr.

While all roads led to the new Clark City Athletic stadium in Capas, Tarlac, for the closing rites of the 30th SEA Games, where the country leads supreme in medal tally and to the Philippine Arena in Bulacan to listen to Bono belting out “With or without you,” one of the U2’s signature songs, mine led to North Forbes to witnessGov. Say’s conferment.

Because of the SEA Games closing and Bono schedules, authorities as early as Monday had forewarned of the possible horrendous traffic. The situation was compounded by frenzied buying in malls as the holiday season heats up.
The conferment call time was 6:30 p.m. Knowing the Japanese adherence to protocol and promptness, I left for Cambridge St. at quarter to 5 pm. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to wiggle out of the Makati central business district.
The experience of other invitees varied. Bankers Wick Veloso, Eric Cruz, Bobbit Panlilio, Nestor Tan, the Ty brothers Alfred and Arthur made it on time. While market movers Tessie Sy-Coson and Vivian Yuchengco, former house Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Sen. Franklin Drilon, and BSP Deputy Gov. Chuchi Fonacier were just fashionably late.

Monetary Board members Peter Favila, Jun de Zuniga, Tony Abacan, Philip Medalla, and Assistant Gov. Edna Villa; and Chairman Basilio C. Yap and Vice-Chair Emil Yap III – had to endure two to three hours travel time. For some it was even worse. Marianne Go did not make it at all.

Wednesday night was a reunion of sorts for the invitees witnessing Gov. Say’s acceptance. He’s the second Filipino to receive the recognition. Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Delia Albert was conferred last May in acknowledgment of her contribution in the strengthening of the bilateral ties of the two countries.

The Order of the Rising Sun was established by Emperor Meiji. It is awarded by the Japanese Emperor to persons, both foreign and Nihonjin, in recognition of their meritorious service. It is the highest award after the Order of the Chrysanthemum which is reserved for Heads of state and royalty and the Order of the Paulownia Flowers mostly given to politicians. It’s similar to the Nobel Prize wherein the nomination process is kept secret since the would-be recipient goes through the “eye of a needle,” so to speak.

For Gov. Say, it was in recognition of his contribution to strengthening the relations between Japan and the Philippine financial sector. Specifically, he was cited for taking the lead in drafting the amendments to allow more foreign banks to operate in our country. It paved the way for 12 new foreign banks to set up operations here, that included largest Japanese lenders MUFG, Sumitomo Mitsui. In the words of Ambassador Koji Haneda: Japanese banks are “more than ready to finance” the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration.

Like the Filipino athletes who made us proud in the SEA Games with all the golds, silvers and bronzes, Gov. Say too is a gold and silver medalist in the banking and financial industry. He has etched his mark in the 12 years he shepherd the BSP which, according to Ambassador Haneda, “transcends all borders.”

Congratulations to Gov. Say and to the wind beneath his wings, wife Ms. Elma; children Atty. Patrick and wife Mikko, Dr. Eula and Mia; and granddaughter Sara.

Talkback to me at sionil731@gmail.com

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