SOLIVEN GETS ORDER OF LAKANDULA / MAX'S REMAINS ARRIVE HOME
MANILA, NOVEMBER 28, 2006 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo will confer the Order of Lakandula on the late STAR publisher and board chairman Max Soliven for his significant contribution to the journalism profession and to the restoration of democracy in the country.
Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye made the announcement after Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor earlier said Mrs. Arroyo would give a presidential citation to the man whom she described as an "icon of freedom."
"The President informed me through text message that she will bestow upon Mr. Soliven the Order of Lakandula (posthumous with the rank of Grand Officer or Marangal Na Pinuno," Bunye said.
Solivenís family earlier accepted the Palace offer to have him buried with honors at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio. Bunye explained that the Order of Lakandula with the rank of Grand Officer is among the highest awards given by the President to a civilian. The award, he said, is bestowed for "lifelong dedication to civic welfare of society."
The posthumous award will be presented to Solivenís family once his remains arrive in Manila from Tokyo this afternoon, he said.
Immediately upon learning of Solivenís untimely death last Friday, the President issued a statement describing Soliven as "an icon of freedom" who had fought with the "forces of enlightenment in the struggle against despotism and wrong." Bunye, a former journalist, said earlier said that "the legacy of Max Soliven will always evoke respect and pride among all practitioners of tough and responsible journalism." He said Soliven "inspired many, not just with his words but with his vigilance to fight for the truth."
The first degree in the Order of Lakandula is the Grand Collar or Supremo, given to former heads of state or governments. The second degree is the Grand Cross or Bayani, which is given to crown princes and the like. And the third degree is Grand Officer, which is given to individuals who have demonstrated a life-long dedication to society.
Defensor said "Soliven has been fighting for the rights of the downtrodden and for the restoration of democracy and he was even imprisoned for his beliefs (during the martial law years)." He added that The STAR publisher was among those who fought the Marcos dictatorship and continued to watch for any signs of erosion of the countryís democracy through his incisive and hard-hitting columns. He said Solivenís decades of service to the Filipino people even as a private citizen deserve recognition from the government.
Solivenís cremated remains will arrive at around 1:25 p.m. from Tokyo.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has accorded his widow, Philippine Ambassador to the UNESCO Preciosa Soliven, a pass and accommodation at the VIP Lounge the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Ambassador Soliven will arrive via Philippines Airlines flight PR 431. Alfonso Cusi, MIAA general manager, has expressed his condolences to the Soliven family and The STAR for the demise of the late journalist.
Senate President Manuel Villar took some time off the Senateís busy schedule yesterday to pay tribute to Soliven. Shortly after the start of the Senate session, Villar delivered a free speech where he described the late STAR publisher as "a guiding light in Philippine journalism."
"Max to his many friends, readers and admirers is too much of a presence simply to walk away. He was so full of life, humor and knowledge that not having him around anymore is unthinkable," Villar said. According to Villar, no other Filipino journalist of our generation had wielded as much influence in molding public opinion as Soliven did. "He wrote with authority, with candor and conviction. And he wrote from the heart," he said. Villar made the speech as the Senate moved to pass the resolutions separately filed by Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., chairman of the committee on public information and mass media, and Pia Cayetano, whose father was a friend of Soliven. Villar also filed a resolution expressing the Senateís sympathies over Solivenís death.
For his part, former senator Francisco "Kit" Tatad said that Filipinos he met in New York and Washington DC in the last two days were uniformly stunned and genuinely grieved to hear of Solivenís passing.
"Max was an inimitable presence in Philippine journalism, a political force all his own. One of the last breed of working journalists of the old school, he had no difficulty adapting to the new school and becoming the envy of the younger members of the profession," he said in a statement sent to The STAR.
In Davao, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the people mourn the death of Soliven, whom they consider an adopted son. "We will never forget the wonderful words he has said and written about Davao," he said.
In his last visit to Davao City in November 2004, an orchid was named after him, which was later brought to grow up at the Malagos Garden Resort here. Duterte disclosed that Soliven was the only one the city government has declared as an adopted son.
"We cited him for helping promote Davao City as a tourist destination and investment haven in the south," Davao City Councilor Diosdado Mahipus said.
Schedule of Masses
A Mass will be celebrated by Fr. Louie David, S. J. at 3 p.m. today at the St. Ignatius Cathedral of the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo where Solivenís remains will lie in state. There will be another Mass at 8 p.m., which will be celebrated by Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J., president of the Ateneo de Manila University. Members of the Soliven family will give a eulogy on the first night of the wake. A Mass will be held everyday at 8 p.m. until his burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday morning. Fr. Junji Zarate, S.D.B., and Fr. Jerry Orbos, S.V.D. will celebrate the Masses scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Solivenís friends from the press will give eulogies on Wednesday evening while The STAR family will pay him tribute on Thursday.
On the day of interment, Fr. James Reuter, S.J., and Fr. Louie David, S. J., will be the celebrants. Lea Salonga, a famous alumna of the OB Montessori Center, will sing at the service. The Philippine Madrigal Singers, the UP Singing Ambassadors, singer and violinist Jay Cayuca, violinists Gil Lopez Kabayao and Lawrence and LA Arquierro, the Choir Company of Magallanes Parish, and another choir to be provided by the Cultural Center of the Philippines will perform during the vigils.
In lieu of flowers, donations to The STARís Operation Damayan will be accepted at the wake or at The STAR office in Port Area. ó With Rainier Allan Ronda, Christina Mendez, Edith Regalado
Solivenís remains arrive in Manila By Rainier Allan Ronda The Philippine Star 11/29/2006
An overcast sky hung over Metro Manila when Ambassador Preciosa Soliven, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) secretary-general in the Philippines, arrived with the remains of her husband, STAR publisher and chairman Max V. Soliven, on board a Philippine Airlines flight from Narita, Japan yesterday afternoon.
At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2ís presidential lounge, friends gathered to welcome Mrs. Soliven and the remains of her late husband, who has been hailed as an icon in Philippine journalism.
Among those at the terminal were Japanese Ambassador Ryuichiro Yamazaki and his wife, Sen. Alfredo Lim, STAR managing editor Antonio Katigbak, STAR columnist Babe Romualdez, Ambassador Benjamin Defensor, Instituto Cervantes director Jose Rodriguez, businessman Arthur Lopez and Col. Tony Dino.
Manila International Airport Authority general manager Alfonso Cusi and other top MIAA officials, such as retired brigadier general Angel Atutubo, were also on hand.
When Philippine Airlines flight PR-431 landed at the NAIA at around 1:28 p.m., police and military officers gave Preciosa arrival honors when she walked down from the aircraft to the arrival area, holding a box containing a white porcelain urn with her husbandís ashes. She was welcomed by her daughter, STAR columnist Sara Soliven de Guzman.
The box containing the late STAR publisherís remains was given its own seat, ensuring that Soliven traveled in the style and comfort to which he was accustomed when he was alive.
Preciosa walked straight to a Mercedes-Benz limousine that was parked just outside the presidential lounge exit.
The Soliven family had accepted President Arroyoís offer to have their patriarch buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"Max was born a soldier. He has often defended the military because he believes in the sacrifice that they are doing for the country. There are those who have lost their lives in fighting for the country. So I believe this is a fitting tribute to him," Preciosa said, adding that her husband has a deep passion for the military ó one-third of the books he collected are about military strategy and war and its history.
Armed Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Jose Angel Honrado said the military honors Soliven, who, at 14 years old, became a guerrilla during the Japanese occupation and saw action in an operation in Floridablanca, Pampanga.
"He is also an icon of Philippine journalism and he deserves the honor that we are according him right now," Honrado told The STAR.
Solivenís neighbors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani will be former Vice President Salvador Laurel, former Commission on Elections chairwoman Haydee Yorac, and former Armed Forces of the Philippine chief of staff and transportation secretary Arturo Enrile.
Yamazaki said he would always remember Soliven as a friend who tirelessly exchanged views with him.
"I feel deep sorrow. He is a very dear friend. He is a very good journalist. I am very much impressed with the way he wrote about Japan despite the fact that he has not gone there for the last five years. The last time that I talked to him was before he boarded the plane from Manila on the way to Tokyo," he said.
Lim said he did not only lose a friend but also a brother, adding that he and Soliven had been friends since the 1980s.
"He is a great loss not only to the country but for the people. He has always stood for righteousness. He loves his country very much and will fight for what is right. Even if you are his friend, he will not hesitate to correct you if what you did was wrong," Lim said.
Full military honors
Solivenís remains arrived at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo at 2:10 p.m. and given full military honors.
Soldiers carried the urn containing his ashes and placed it in front of the altar at the St. Ignatius Chapel. Fr. Louie Soliven-David, Solivenís nephew, officiated the Holy Mass that was attended by Solivenís family, friends, and colleagues as well as military officials and diplomats.
After the Mass, his remains were brought to the St. Ignatius Chapel mortuary, where a typewriter, pipes, pens, the Philippine flag and a copy of The STAR were placed beside his urn.
Preciosa told The STAR that her husbandís cremated remains had been placed in a porcelain urn, which was enclosed in a sandalwood box and wrapped in a furoshiki, a Japanese silk handkerchief.
According to her, this is a Japanese custom that signifies and respects the dignity of the person who died.
Preciosa said she and her daughter Sara, as well as some Philippine embassy officials, had a chance to view her husbandís body before it was placed in an incinerator at the Kirigaya Crematory in Shinagawa-Ku, Tokyo.
Once the cremation process was completed, embassy officials used a pair of chopsticks to place the large bones inside the urn, while the rest of the ashes were poured into it. Preciosa described it as a very solemn ritual.
She said it was her husbandís decision to be cremated because he told her that when he dies, he does not want people to look at his body in that state.
Preciosa said while they feel great loss at her husbandís death, they also feel relief since he has suffered so much.
"His body has been battered. It was just good that he is able to recover. It was sad, but I think it is Godís way. We hoped he could have stayed a little bit longer but it came so sudden," she said.
Members of the former Baguio-Benguet Council Boy Scouts of the Philippines are mourning the loss of a friend in Soliven, who was an active member of the BSP national board until his death.
Soliven had visited the defunct Baguio-Benguet council, now the Baguio City council, to inspire local scouters in the mission of training young scouts in character-building and citizenship training through out-of-door activities such as camping, said his long-time friend and fellow newspaperman Nars Padilla, 75.
Padilla, who was a scout executive during the councilís formative years from 1958 to 1965, remembers Soliven as a paragon of courage, honesty and impeccable integrity.
"He was looked upon as a model scouter from the North, BSP Region 1 in particular," he said. BSP Region 1 was originally composed of 17 local Boy Scout city and provincial councils from Tarlac to Batanes.
Soliven hailed from Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur. His father, Benito, was a veteran soldier and also served as a congressman.
Padilla and another of Solivenís Baguio contemporaries, 78-year-old Gerry Evangelista Sr., fondly called him "Boss Max" and consider him as one of "a rare breed of Filipino journalist who served Philippine and international journalism in various capacities as a correspondent, reporter, bureau head, and columnist."
Evangelista is the publisher-editor of the fortnightly Northern Profile in Baguio City.
Padilla and Evangelista compared Soliven to a pliant Philippine bamboo "who, through the years, has matured tall but never refused to lean back to his roots (as an Ilocano leader)."
Solivenís contemporaries cherish his last visit to Baguio City in March 2005, when he was conferred full military honors by the corps of cadets at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) ó the only civilian given such a distinction.
After his hour-long extemporaneous speech before the officers and men of the PMA, he took the time to walk along Session Road with Padilla and Evangelista and reminisce about their grand old days as journalists.
Meanwhile, Speaker Jose de Venecia described Soliven as "the quintessential Filipino journalist ó an opinion maker without equal who presented his incisive analysis with a high-polished prose that never failed to delight his readers."
De Venecia, who said Soliven was his journalism professor, said Solivenís column in The STAR was in itself an institution and the man himself as "the most influential journalist of his generation."
"With his passing, an era comes to pass. He was the journalist as an intellectual, the writer as a historian, the political observer as a participant in the social and political forces that he helped to unleash. He was jailed by the martial law regime, but he remained unflappable and stood with the forces of freedom in the darkest hours of democracy," he said in a statement.
De Venecia also described Soliven as "a character of enormous charm, an irrepressible teller of tales and anecdotes" and thanked him for his friendship.
"Even if he did not always see things my way ó and was a critic of the Charter reform movement to the end ó I enjoyed reading him and his inimitable prose.
"Max, you will be missed. You deserve an eternal place in the hearts of Filipinos who love good writing and who hold freedom dear and eternal," he said. ó With James Mananghaya and Artemio Dumlao
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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