French President Francois Hollande has conferred the prestigious Legion d’Honneur (French Legion of Honor) on Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairman Briccio Santos last Friday, October 25, for “his efforts in developing and promoting the Philippine cultural identity through cinema, particularly in the preservation of Philippine film heritage through the creation of the National Film Archives of the Philippines, which is an advocacy greatly supported by France, known to be the birthplace of cinema.”
Santos becomes the sixth Filipino to be conferred this award which is regarded as one of the highest distinctions conferred on individuals by France. The FDCP chairman joins the ranks of Filipino luminaries such as former President Corazon Aquino, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Carlos P. Romulo, journalists Teodoro Benigno and Max Soliven and former House Speaker Jose de Venecia.
The conferment on Santos was held at the official residence of French Ambassador to Manila Gilles Garachon in Forbes Park.
French Embassy audiovisual attaché Martin Macalintal said that France is strongly recommending the works and achievements of Santos in “revitalizing” the local cinema and “striving to cooperate with his counterparts in the Southeast Asian region to advance film development.” In effect, Santos initiated programs that highlight the pre-eminence of the Philippines as having the oldest film culture in Asia.
Macalintal further explained that among the most significant achievements of Santos included the setting up and institutionalization of the National Film Archives of the Philippines, which is the repository of the country’s achievements in the cinematic arts and motion picture industry, and the establishment of regional and provincial “cinematheque”, a key component of the Sineng Pambansa which brings Filipino films to Filipinos.
After receiving the award, Santos spoke first in French to express his gratitude to the government of France for the honor it bestowed on him. He stressed that the relationship between France and the Philippines dates back from the time when Magellan arrived here with 15 French nationals who might have settled here since they were no longer part of the group that returned to Europe.
Santos also mentioned the historical fact that France embraced and welcomed Jose Rizal who took refuge in Paris along with the brothers Antonio and Juan Luna and other Filipino patriots.
The first consul of the French Republic, Napoleon Bonaparte, established the French Legion d’Honneur as an order of chivalry. The French president is the Grand Master of the Order and appoints all other members of the order. Its five classes include Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commanduer (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross).
Highly esteemed world personalities a who had already been conferred the award include Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, British film actor Richard Attenborough, and Spanish painter Salvador Dali.
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