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Why not 'Mabuhay' instead of 'Kanpai'?

Last Wednesday President Duterte held the first vin d'honneur of his administration, greeting members of the diplomatic corps in a traditional New Year reception at Malacanang. Unlike in other capitals of the world, the diplomatic corps in Manila is headed by the Papal Nuncio, who happens to be Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, representing the Vatican. When I was posted in Indonesia, the dean of the diplomatic corps was the Syrian ambassador; he was the most senior among the resident envoys in terms of arrival in the country.

While the President's prepared speech hit all the high notes on goodwill and friendship, it was the absence of an individual that grabbed much attention. Vice President Leni Robredo was 'disinvited' to the reception, with the Palace spokesperson citing presidential prerogative to explain it. Columnist Manolo Quezon noted that 'civility between the two highest officials of the land has been the casualty.' Even among foes, civility should always be observed.

What struck me most was how the President ended his speech. Instead of 'Mabuhay!' he used 'Kanpai,' the Japanese word for 'Cheers!' It literally means 'Bottoms up!'

'Mabuhay' is such a beautiful and meaningful greeting. The word is actually a Filipino verb in the form of a command-'Live!' Whoever says it, wishes you the great gift of a long and full life. It is both a blessing and a lusty cheer. It is such a meaningful word that lends itself to a wide number of uses on different occasions; welcome, congratulations, thanks, God speed, hello, good luck, and many other expressions of good will. All these are part of life, but it is the gift of life that makes

them possible.

Many of our people use the word 'Cheers' for greetings and after-dinner toasts. It is an old practice inherited from our colonizers and western friends. Today, whenever I raise my glass in a toast, I say, 'Mabuhay.' I hope you consider doing the same. It signifies love of country.

The month of January 2017 marks the 38th death anniversary of my father, Modesto Farolan. Although he retired as a diplomat in the foreign service, he was first and foremost a newspaperman, having reached the pinnacle of his profession as publisher and editor in chief of the Philippines Herald, once one of the leading English dailies of the country, established by former senator Vicente Madrigal.

The recent visit of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Philippines led me to revisit some of my father's notes on Japan as compiled in a booklet 'Japan At A Glance,' which was written in 1934 after a visit to 'The Land of the Risen Sun.'

Most of us know Japan as the 'Land of the Rising Sun.' Many history books also use the same title for the country. In the case of Modesto Farolan, his first thought after the visit as expressed in the book, was that Japan was no longer the 'Rising Sun'; it was a sun that had 'risen' with 'its rays

beating down upon every bit of space on the face of the globe. Its symbol may now well be the 'Risen Sun' instead of the 'Rising Sun.'

That was his view in 1934. He wrote, 'Little did I realize, as the rest of the world certainly does not realize at this time, how Japan-its people as one perfect machine, every part doing its assigned duty-has actually engaged the whole world in a tremendous fight, not in arms but in trade and in every other peaceful human enterprise. . . .'

Some of his impressions of Japan.

Foundation of nation's greatness-A keen sense of honor, self-sacrifice and self-discipline, and practical patriotism-these are the foundation stones of Japan's greatness today. And the same personal qualities are needed by the people of any land aspiring for a place in the sun. We need them. They will help to make us strong and great if we acquire them and add them to our own native virtues. Without them our future is dark.

Home free from foreign influences-To one who would seek to understand modern Japan as it is today, the signs of advancing progress and adoption of the trappings of a mechanical civilization would easily create confusion. There seems to be no question that there is today a silent struggle between the ancient and the modern, between the native and the foreign, between tradition and the increasing demand for new things. The ability of the Japanese so far to maintain their own culture in the face of advancing modernity reveals the native strength and characteristic individuality of the race, whose unassailed bulwark is the Japanese home.

Simplicity evident everywhere-On public buildings and the furniture used, the Japanese government is very modest and sparing in its expenditures. The Foreign Office, which is the place by which Japan might easily be judged by foreign

diplomats, is very unassuming in both structure and appearance. No national government edifice in Japan is as imposing as our Legislative Building or our Post Office. Japan can well afford such costly things, but it does not seem desirous of indulging in the luxury.

The Japanese soldier today requires less for his support and upkeep than even our Constabulary soldier. In lieu of fine uniforms, soldier and sailor have demonstrated a morale and spirit that are the admiration of the entire world.

Spirit of service-One thing that characterizes public services in Japan is the true spirit of service. There is little or nothing of the indifference or arrogance with which even the most humble person is attended to. The spirit of helpfulness is there whether in a government office or in a restaurant or a store. One can always rest assured of courteous and

thorough attention.

Is it any wonder that today Japan, after being devastated by two nuclear strikes and carpet bombings that laid waste the entire country, has risen from defeat and the ashes of war to become one of the greatest nations on earth? This can only be attributed to the foundation stones of the country cited earlier: keen sense of honor, self-sacrifice, discipline, and patriotism.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jan 16, 2017
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