Click on link for fullscreen pics:
Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
French Amb Gilles Garachon said, “The Legion of Honor is the oldest French Medal, is in fact a knighthood. It means the best of the best friends of France. The creator of this medal is the French Emperor Napoleon in 1802. That is the oldest one and the highest-ranking Medal of Honor. We are very, very proud and happy to give this to Briccio (Santos).”
The speech was delivered in a ceremony where Amb Garachon conferred the Legion d’honneur (Legion of Honor) to Film Development Council Chairman Briccio Santos. It was held last October 24, 2013 at the French Residence in Makati. Garachon will also confer the Order of Arts & Letters Rank of Chevalier for filmmaker Brillante Mendoza. He is the only Filipino to win Best Director at Cannes for KINATAY (2009). His latest film SAPI starring Dennis Trillo, Meryl Soriano and Baron Geisler will be shown in theaters on November 6, 2013.
Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chairman Briccio Santos is credited for the creation of the National Film Archive and the establishment of Cinematheques across the country. Cinematheques are multi purpose cinemas where internationally acclaimed Pinoy indie films can be screened. They also conduct filmmaking seminars by successful directors, writers and industry professionals in cities like Baguio, Iloilo, Davao and Marawi.
Briccio Santos responded, “Mr. Ambassador thank you for this honor. You have my deepest assurance that I will do my very best to be worthy of the distinction that your country through you have bestowed on me tonight. We will continue to embrace the corridors of culture to enrich this lasting relationship between our two countries.”
Filipinos who have previously been given the Legion of Honor include President Corazon Aquino, General Carlos P. Romulo, Teodoro Benigno, Jose De Venecia, Max Soliven and Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola III.
Last year’s recipient of the Legion of Honor in the Philippines is Jewelmer Managing Director Jacques Branellec. He has established the Save Palawan Seas Foundation, which aims to protect the marine life, environment and the communities in Palawan. Whenever he goes out of the country he promotes not just the products of Jewelmer but the Philippines as a whole in terms of tourism and investments.
FILM CULTURAL EXCHANGE PROGRAM
In 2010, FDCP Chairman Santos established the Film Cultural Exchange Program, which assists countries in exhibiting their films in venues such as the Shang Cineplex of Shangri La Plaza Mall. Foreign films in festivals such as Cine Europa, Eiga Sai, Silent Film Festival, Spring Film Festival, Asian film fest, Taiwan film fest retain the censorship ratings from their native countries. All aforementioned fests can be seen in Shang Plaza. As part of the FCEP they no longer have to go through the MTRCB screening process.
Recent programs have grown beyond the FCEP. Santos explains, “We have the genre film festival in September 2014. We’ll have 400 cinemas for the festival. We’re hoping it will be 2 weeks this time. For the Genre film festival we are now choosing among the hundreds of scripts that was submitted to us. With that we will be choosing about 12.”
Santos also had a recent trip to Spain expanding the cultural and film relations with Madre España. These meetings may help deepen our country’s ties with the Latin speaking countries. The Philippines is in the unique position of being the only Asian country that has a strong Latin influence. Santos sees this as a possibility for us to be a hub or gateway for Latin American countries to Asia and vice versa.
According to him even Chabacano is a modern day link to our Latin roots. As evidence of the growing ties countries like Brazil and Argentina will also be invited for the IFX or International Film Expo next year.
Santos explained his optimism, “The Philippines will become the hub, the gateway to all these countries because of our history, strategic location and our proficiency in English. Same thing with France we are close to them in a lot of ways because they are very active in Southeast Asia. What we need to do is open up to make our country prominent center. Remember when you’re going to other countries if you want to have an expo or anything like that, you will have to pay thousands of dollars for your per diem. Here for a thousand dollars kasama na hotel mo, and then everybody speaks English.”
Santos also sees a time when the Philippines can be a coordinating film hub for ASEAN, “It will be regional, not bilateral, but multilateral. It will be a win-win for all. We don’t have to compete with each other; we reinforce each other. Film is different these days you have to take it to the next level. There are new platforms. We’re also working to have a national studio here. Its all accelerating you will see these things come to fruition next year.”
Santos is very proud of the FDCP as a whole. He also mentioned their accounting office has been recognized as one of the year’s Most Outstanding Accounting Offices in the National Government Sector for the second year in a row by the Association of Government Accountants of the Philippines (AGAP).
This marks the second time that the FDCP’s accounting office has been chosen by the Commission on Audit (COA) due to the office’s quality, timeliness, and accuracy in completing financial reports.