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NATIONAL HISTORICAL Commission chair and Inquirer columnist Ambeth R. Ocampo was conferred the Order of Lakandula, Rank of Bayani (Grand Cross) in Malacañang last June 23.

The Order of Lakandula is awarded for political and civic merit in memory of Lakandula?s dedication to leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage and resolve in the service of the people. It is one of the highest honors given by the Philippine government.

While his research and popularization of Philippine history are well-known, it came as a surprise to many when the citation referred to Ocampo?s dedicated service in various government institutions.

Laughter broke out when it was mentioned he served as chair of the NHI (2002 till present), and concurrently as chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (2005-2006), without compensation.

As then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hung the royal-blue sash and imposed the breast star of the Order of Lakandula, she remarked: ?This is your compensation.?

Previously honored with decorations from the Kingdom of Spain (2007) and the Republic of France (2008), Ocampo said: ?I share these honors with the NHCP and NCCA staff who, collectively, deserve it more than I do.?

He added: ?While the Order of Lakandula is of higher rank than the controversial and much-coveted Order of National Artist, it unfortunately does not come with a monthly pension and a state funeral.?