Aquino honors Bambang as a ‘real uncle’
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III conferred the Order of Sikatuna Rank of Raja on visiting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at a state dinner in the latter’s honor in Malacañang Friday night.
Before conferring the award that is accorded to heads of state “who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines,” Mr. Aquino first paid tribute to Yudhoyono for acting as a “real uncle” by sharing his wisdom with other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
“Mr. President, as you may well remember, the last time we saw each other in Myanmar (Burma), I referred to you as our uncle, which in my dialect is ‘bapa’—because you have acted like a real uncle to all of us in sharing with us your wisdom,” he said in his remarks.
“I am told that in Bahasa Indonesia, ‘bapa’ denotes respect in reference to a ‘father’ or an ‘elder.’ Regardless of its definition whether in Kapampangan, my dialect, or Bahasa Indonesia, ‘bapa’ is a word attributed to an elder held in high esteem, which perfectly describes Your Excellency,” he added.
“And it is as such that I pay tribute to you tonight by conferring on you, as a mark of the appreciation and esteem of our republic, our highest order of diplomatic merit, the Order of Sikatuna with the Rank of Raja,” he said.
Yudhoyono said he was humbled by the honor bestowed on him.
“I accept this honor as a symbol of close friendship between our two countries and nations. I also accept this honor on behalf of the people of Indonesia,” he said.
Mr. Aquino said the dinner was a special occasion for both countries to celebrate their “shared history, heritage and aspirations.”
“Ours is a solidarity that dates back to the ancient foundations of our society, as a maritime people bound by trade, by culture, and by converging bloodlines. It is a partnership strengthened by the support we extended to each other as we both sought independence from foreign rule, and a friendship that deepens as we tread the path to greater prosperity for our nations and our region,” he said.
He thanked the Indonesian leader again for his country’s support for the peace process in southern Philippines, and for the humanitarian assistance his country gave to Supertyphoon “Yolanda” survivors. TJ A. Burgonio
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