"..a bardy view!"

Here, Now – A Queen of England and a Philippines President!

I'm not going to talk about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee – the internet is awash with chat about it all, and I have nothing to add…yet!

My attention has been drawn to some other news: on the evening when there was a brilliant Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace, President Aquino of the Philippines was due in London to begin a three day official visit and promote his country's tourist slogan "It's more fun in the Philippines".

He's arriving with an 89 strong delegation that includes his Foreign Affairs Secretary, his Trade and Industry Secretary, his Finance Secretary, Energy Secretary, Transportation Secretary, Defence Secretary, Tourism Secretary, and his Presidential Communications Secretary. Presumably there'll be some ministers left at home to run his country. Included in all that are CEO's and business leaders of some of the Philippines' biggest corporations.

Whilst he's here at the invitation of the British Government (that's diplomatic speak for "don't ask as a refusal often offends") the Queen is offering him lunch at Lancaster House on Wednesday June 6th, but she won't be in attendance as her calendar is rather full.

Still the lunch will be presided over by Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Jeremy Browne and the Lord Mayor of London the Right Honourable Alderman David Wooton (not to be confused with the Mayor of London Boris Johnson).

Afterwards he'll be met at Buckingham Palace by the Duke of York, Prince Andrew (the Queen's second son) as her representative. Earlier that morning he will have a meeting with PM David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague at 10 Downing Street, and among the issues on the agenda will be the Philippines' territorial dispute with China (a hot topic, but more relevant to the US, where he will be going afterwards. Still – a friend in the right quarters and all that!).

The spin on all this is that Britain and the Philippines established formal diplomatic relations on July 4th 1946, and that Britain is the Philippines’ biggest European tourism market, as well as one of their top trading partners. Both Cameron and Aquino were elected at around the same time in May 2010, which the Philippines Ambassador to the UK is keen to link to, and the British Government has described the Philippines as an "emerging power in East Asia".

Let's put aside the official protocol-Whitehall-mandarin-gobbledegook speak!

For only the second time in 1000 years of British history, there is a monarch on the throne for 60 years.

Here, now. Her nation is celebrating far and wide with street parties, concerts and a river pageant of 1000 boats and ships not seen on the Thames for 350 years.

Here, now, the Union Jacks fly from every city, town and village, where 80% of the population believe in a constitutional monarch and are waving those flags and expressing their patriotism.

Here, now, the British people, together with many around the world are unified in joy and appreciation of 60 years of unbroken monarchy, a symbol of stability in an unstable world.

Here, now, those people are throwing off their inhibitions, meeting their neighbours, re-connecting with their community, embracing their history and showing their children what it means to be British.

Here, now, pride has been restored, the people are unified, and they stand up and are proud.

Here, now, the world views with envy at that continuity – a Queen, dedicated to her people, non-political, not elected, not a president, not a dictator, but just someone who ascended to the throne and continues to serve until death. A monarch whose soldiers swear allegiance – not to her government – but to her crown. This is what the Diamond Jubilee is all about.

Here, now, a President of the Philippines arrives in the midst of these events, and his message is "It's more fun in the Philippines".

This is either the greatest faux pas of a ridiculous and naive administration, or a brilliant propaganda coup. I wish I could say the latter, but the last time Aquino was in the US, when the multinationals like Coca Cola and Pepsi were knocking on his hotel door seeking contracts to develop mass produced coconut water, his ignorance excelled, and he remarked "who would have thought there was so much money in buko [young coconut]".

A president who is ignorant of his nation's principle agriculture can easily be led, for he demonstrates a distinct lack of knowledge, and on the world stage he will be regarded as a lightweight.

The photo opportunity during his visit to London at this time will be immense in propaganda terms. But who will be watching? Who will be listening? Only his own people, many of whom will be wondering why he took an entourage of ministers for what looks like a jolly, when they should be at home, working on the problems at home. Indeed, many of his people are so preoccupied with finding a dollar to survive, they are not likely to find the time to watch the news or read a newspaper.

Of course diplomatic and trade missions overseas are an essential part of governance, to secure bi-lateral relations and jobs. This is  Aquino's mission but also to gain support against the Chinese bully who threatens his Scarborough Shoal, and in so doing he encourages the Americans to return to his country with military might to defend it. Indeed, are not the US shifting their strategic operations to the Pacific regions right now? They need propoganda, and Aquino is a perfect mouthpiece to espouse it.

He heads a nation of 90 million people, a county rich in resources, with an industrious workforce which is the largest English speaking country in the region, but a people who can only find a future through exodus, yet he struts with insignificance on the world stage, lacking gravitas, and surrounded by opportunists who regard him as a puppet or tool to feather their own nests.

So we welcome President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines to our shores, and we hope he has a very happy and productive visit. But few will notice he arrived, and even fewer will notice he left, because the truth is all eyes are elsewhere.

Let's hope, for his country's sake, he gets his message through. 

Historical note to Benigno Aquino: In 1762, Royal Navy ships sailed up the Pasig River and conquered Fort Santiago in Intramuros. They threw out Spain from the Philippines, and the Union Jack flew over Manila for more than a year before George III returned the islands to Spain in exchange for Florida and other dominions mainly in the Americas as a result of the 1763 Treaty of Paris. It was a significant event and determined the fate of the Philippines for the next 140 years.

Travel broadens the mind – but only if there's a mind to begin with.

June 4, 2012 - Posted by | Coconut Trees, Conservation, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, History, London, Politics, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom, USA | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Great ending there Scratch and I sincerely hope he has one?


    Comment by Spook Moor | June 5, 2012 | Reply

  2. She’s not the first monarch to mark 6oth year on the Throne in the last 1,000 years. Her grandmother, Queen Victoria, reigned for more than six decades.


    Comment by J | July 1, 2012 | Reply

  3. Thanks for visiting J. You are right that she is the second monarch to rule for 60 years. You’ve got a great blog by the way!


    Comment by Bar De Ness | July 6, 2012 | Reply

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