Acceptance Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Conferment of Legion of Honor Award from the French Government
18 February 2016 | Residence of the French Ambassador to the PHL
Your Excellency, Thierry Mathou,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am deeply grateful to be conferred the Legion of Honor award by the French government.
C’est avec grand honneur que j’accepte ce prix. (It is with great honor that I accept this award.)
This award is a profound recognition that kinship and cooperation have no bounds. We are all soldiers of the bigger cause called humanity.
The distinguished history of the award, and its long list of illustrious awardees leave me grateful and humbled; but more importantly, tremendously inspired to live up to the noble principles this award represents.
When I was first informed of this award, I found myself reflecting on my personal affinity with France. This brought me to recall an incident when I was in Grade 5 in Assumption. My first TV appearance happened before a French TV crew who had asked me to recite stanzas from a Philippine Legend called, “Si Malakas at si Maganda” or the Philippine version of the tale of Adam and Eve. As fate would have it, I eventually assumed a career in media and broadcasting prior to landing a political calling as a legislator.
As Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee in the 15th Congress, I shepherded the treaty concurrence process, resulting in the adoption of 16 treaties under my watch. Among these was the Protocol Amending the Agreement between the Philippines and France for the Avoidance of Double Taxation.
There have also been many opportunities for cooperation in the field of cultural and heritage preservation; but nothing can be more pronounced than our joint initiative on climate action.
Last year, our bilateral relationship reached a new dimension with the adoption of the Call to Action, signed by President Francois Hollande and President Benigno Aquino III, urging the world to respond to climate change. This galvanized our relationship as climate allies and it had been a privilege to help craft that agreement.
It had also been a pleasure working closely with President Hollande’s Special Envoy for the Protection of the Planet, Nicolas Hulot.
Our brave, collective pursuit underscores the fact that countries and people, for as long as they have a common purpose, will find no obstacle big enough to stop them from marching on. With climate resilience as the main agenda, our two countries formed a special alliance, in which we shared a common vision– to bestow upon our progeny a great future, that can only be made possible with the preservation of this one planet we all live in.
I personally commit, in my capacity as the recently appointed United Nations’ Global Champion for Resilience, as a lawmaker, an environmentalist and most especially as a mother, to support France as it takes the lead in ensuring that countries deliver what they promised at the Paris Climate Change Conference last December. The fight is not finished. It has just begun.
Finally, I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with the French Embassy through its immediate past Ambassador Gilles Garachon. I am confident that Ambassador Thierry Mathou will be a perfect collaborator as well. With this, I welcome you to Manila and I wish to extend to you the assurances of my continued support and cooperation to our countries’ shared cause.
My journey as a “legionnaire” has begun. I recognize that as in any award, there are responsibilities. I intend to fulfill these by serving as a vanguard of our countries’ great alliance.
Your Excellency, thank you once again for this esteemed recognition.