THE ROYAL ORDER OF ISABELLA THE CATHOLIC
In the grand sala of the Syquia Mansion hangs a life-size portrait of Gregorio
Syquia. It is a formal portrait with the barest of background and where the focus
is entirely on Don Gregorio in his formal suit. He stands in contrapposto, where
his body is slightly turned to better show off all the medals he received, the most important being the medallion he received from The Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic on July 11, 1892 that was awarded by King Alfonso XIII. It hangs from the yellow and white ribbon and sits perfectly in the middle of his chest. The thumb of his gloved hand lightly touches the tip of one of its rays.
The medallion of The Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic was awarded to both
Spaniards and foreigners in recognition of their services that benefitted Spain. It was created on March 14, 1815 by King Ferdinand VII in honor of Queen Isabella I with the intent of “remembering the firm allegiance to Spain and the merits of Spanish citizens and foreigners in good standing with the Nation and especially in those exceptional services provided in pursuit of territories in America and overseas.” On July 26, 1847, this award was expanded to include other countries, including the Philippines, other than the Americas.
The King of Spain is always the Grand Master of this order and the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, the Grand Chancellor.
The enameled medallion in the form of two overlapping crosses (75 x 75 cm). Its center is illustrated with two light blue Greek columns that represent the Pillars of Hercules in the Strait of Gibraltar, which then, marked the edge of the known world in antiquity. Wrapping around these columns is a white ribbon with the Latin phrase ‘Plus Ultra’ or ‘Further Beyond’, which is the national motto of Spain. On the right of the columns are two overlapping orbs upon which sits a galleon that could represent Spain’s dominance of the known world made possible by the galleons.
This illustration is encircled by a white enamel ring wrapped in laurel leaves
where the phrase ‘A La Lealtad Acrisola’ or ‘To Proven Loyalty’ is written on top.
Below is written ‘Por Isabel La Catolica’ or ‘For Isabella the Catholic”. Above the enamel ring are the Spanish crown and the monogram of King Ferdinand.
The two crosses form two sets of rays, of four each, alternately arranged. The
first set is made of 14 gold rays each of unequal length while the next four are red enameled triangles with eight peaks topped by gold balls. The medallion comes with a smaller version or neck piece (39 x 56 cms) where the monogram of King Ferdinand is in the center.
The medallion and the neck piece were of such great importance to the Syquia family that Gregorio’s grandchildren enhanced the medallion with diamonds.
Translation of the Certificate:
D. Alfonso XIII
By the Grace of God and the Constitution King of Spain
And in his name and while still a minor
Dña Maria Cristina
Because of how much we hold you dear, and in order to show proof of my
appreciation of Gregorio Romero Sy Quia,
I have been pleased to name you, by my decree on the 27 th of June, of last year, Commander Ordinary of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic.
Therefore, I grant the distinguished honor and use of the insignias that
correspond to you in accordance with the by-laws, confident in the qualities that
distinguish you, that you will strive to contribute to the greater luster of the
Order. And this title, countersigned by the Secretary of the Order and signed by
the Grand Chancellor, will be recorded at the accounting office of the same.
Given in the Palace the 11th of July 1892 the title of Commander Ordinary of the Order of Isabel la Catolica in favor of Don Gregorio Sy Quia.