Constance the Falcon – ruler of Siam

Source: NeosKosmos

Of all the obscure and yet impossibly implausible Greeks that have graced the pages of history, perhaps the most alluring is Constance Hierax, or Phaulkon – literally ‘the Falcon’ – who expeditiously ascended through the ranks of King Narai’s court to become the Prime Minister of Siam, the precursor kingdom to modern day Thailand.

Consistently vilified throughout history by scholars and contemporary authors, Phaulkon was given such eccentric characterizations as adventurer, trader, pirate, cavalier, smuggler and a rogue, who set forth to manipulate others solely to parlay political and economic supremacy.

However, it is only upon careful examination and assessment of the primary sources that the real Phaulkon emerges: a self-educated linguist and entrepreneur who became a diplomat when he was abruptly thrust into the political arena.

A pawn of the establishment, he was manipulated by “interlopers” or private traders and an astute king, who was desperately trying to keep his nation’s autonomy by pitting foreign usurpers against one another while enacting measures to ensure the strength and longevity of his country from neighbouring states.

Constance Phaulkon may not have been the first outsider to obtain a position of prominence in Siam in his era, but he was able to achieve a position of prominence that was to be coveted but never duplicated.

At the pinnacle of his power, he was in control of a nation. Power came with a price: loneliness and isolation from those whom he suppressed in the political arena.

The obscure Constantine Hierax was born in Cephalonia in 1647, in a family of impeccable pedigree.

His father was the son of the governor of Cephalonia, and his mother’s forebears governed the island under the Republic of Venice.

Family lineage notwithstanding, in 1660 at age 13, with no formal training, he left home in search of a better life, taking up with an English master where he completed several voyages prior to migrating from the Mediterranean to England.

In England he soon became immersed in the heady politics of Restoration England, studying the English language and enlisting in Prince Rupert’s fleet against the Dutch. Subsequently, he sailed to India under another master who changed his name from Hierax to “Falcon,” the English equivalent.

Feeling a strong attachment to the Far East, upon his return to England he decided to return and make his fortune as a trader.

Consequently, he signed on as an assistant gunner on the Hopewell, bound for Batam in 1669 in order to obtain passage back to The East Indies. Arriving in Batam, he enlisted his services with the British East India Company where he was assigned as a junior clerk.

Here he picked up yet another language, Malay, in addition to Siamese, English, Greek, Latin and Portuguese.

Phaulkon’s first big break came on 29 May 1678 at a birthday party for King Charles II of England. A gunner, while loading a cannon, accidentally set fire to the gunpowder that spread to the well-stocked powder magazine nearby. When everyone fled, he alone entered the magazine, removing the open cask of gunpowder, thereby saving the magazine and the factory.

For his heroism, he was given a reward of one thousand crowns. Having never before set his eyes on such a princely sum, he saw this as an opportunity to make his fortune.

He resigned his post with the East India Company in Batam and invested in a modest vessel and cargo that he intended to sell in Aceh.
It was at this point that his fortunes decidedly changed.

The city of Singora had rebelled against Siamese rule, and Phaulkon decided to make a profit by supplying the rebels in that town with arms and provisions. However, during the voyage a storm broke out and his boat was broken into pieces by the violent sea off the cost of Ligor.

This unfortunate experience was observed by some locals, and the Siamese authorities were quickly notified.

The Governor caught wind of what was going on and interrogated Phaulkon and his crew. Phaulkon, who had by this time mastered the Siamese language, replied to the governor in his mother tongue.

He surprised the governor and was able to talk his way out of receiving any punishment by stating he was working for the East India Company and was bringing supplies to various towns in Siam when the ship was wrecked.

To avoid further suspicion from the Siamese that he was trading outside the Company and carrying contraband goods, Phaulkon offered his services to the Barcalon, or foreign minister, in 1680, to serve as an interpreter between himself and the English.

Acquitting himself in his position admirably, he soon earned the trust of the king. After the death of the king’s chief counsellor, the Iranian Aqa Muhammad, the king foiled an attempt by the Iranians at his court to dethrone him and replace him with his brother.

Fearing the Iranians, the king turned to Phaulkon to fill the void in his administration. However, by degree of momentum, raised him in the space of eight years to the highest credit and authority.

He was put at the head of the finances of the Kingdom, and also the direction of the King’s household. Almost all public affairs of the most important concern were determined by his advice, and whoever had anything to solicit was required to apply to him.

Although at the zenith of his power in 1685 he was in complete control of the country, he refused to accept official positions, rightly fearing to create more enemies than he already had.

He placed non-entities in government posts and held all the power in his hands. The Abbe De Choisy in his memoirs states; “Mr. Constance, though neither Phra Klang, nor prime minister possessed all their functions…”

In the mid 1680s, King Narai had Phaulkon turn to the French in the hope of using them to counteract the Dutch influence in Siam. Initially the idea had merit, since the Dutch and the French were enemies in Europe.

The credit for opening up the relations between Siam and France did not go to Phaulkon, but to the French Catholic missionaries whose main aim was to propagate Roman Catholicism in Annam, Tonkin, and China. Narai sent two embassies to France with the hopes of securing their “friendship.” The first embassy was shipwrecked, and the second embassy was entrusted with the duty of inviting France to send an embassy to Siam with the idea of concluding a treaty of friendship. Louis XIV sent an embassy to Siam in hopes of converting Narai to Christianity.

While the French embassy itself was written off as a failure, it represented a great success for Phaulkon and Siam. For his master, he had obtained the coveted alliance with France without surrendering anything more than vague offers for the missionaries, which were never published.

Phaulkon’s closeness to the king naturally earned him the envy of some members of the royal court, which would eventually prove to be his undoing. When King Narai became terminally ill, a rumour spread that Phaulkon wanted to use the designated heir, Phra Pui, as a puppet and actually become ruler himself.

As unlikely as this was, it provided an excuse for Pra Phetracha, the foster brother of Narai, aided by the Durch enemies of Phaulkon to stage a coup d’etat, the 1688 Siamese revolution. Without the king’s knowledge, both Phaulkon and his followers, as well as the royal heir, were arrested and executed on June 5, 1688 in Lopburi. When King Narai learned what had happened, he was furious, but was too weak to take any action. Narai died several days later, virtually a prisoner in his own palace. Phetracha then proclaimed himself the new king of Siam and began a xenophobic regime which expelled almost all foreigners from the kingdom.
Despite being a man of outstanding qualities, Phaulkon is considered a failure in conventional historiography. Orientalising historians emphasize his Greek background, possessing “all of their negative behaviour traits and vices,” as one stated, despite having limited contact with Greece after the age of thirteen, save for a few letters from his mother and bottles of Greek wine which he lavishly entertained.
Yet the truth is much different. Phaulkon ably ran the kingdom for his master and was able to deftly skit past the imperialistic ambitions of the European powers. Siam during his time was enlightened, tolerant, pluralistic and independent.

Phaulkon’s legacy can be felt in the careers of the Europeans who also raise to positions of power in Asia.

In Japan, Will Adams, hero of the famous novel Shogun by James Clavell, also received an official title coupled with the corresponding influence, but without ever reaching the height of power as Phaulkon.

The Portuguese adventurer Philip de Brito was the first to trace the route toward absolute power in Burma, who after winning over the king of Arakan, betrayed him.

No-one however, has been as reviled and then forgotten as the Falcon, Constantine Hierax.
*Dean Kalimniou is a Melbourne solicitor and freelance journalist.

Cuts to interpreters for Greek elderly and sick

Source: NeosKosmos

The Baillieu Government has cut back on the number of interpreters available to patients at the Northern Hospital, according to the Victorian opposition.

Jenny Mikakos MP, Labor Member for Northern Metropolitan Region said this act is “simply outrageous” and believes it will force the elderly and sick to “rely on family members to translate for them in sensitive matters such an elderly woman with gynaecological problems having to rely on her son to translate for her.

“Elderly migrants will be the ones most affected by this decision as they rely heavily on interpreters to communicate effectively with their doctors,” she said.

“I am concerned that this may impact on patients’ ability to make informed decisions about their medical care as well as their understanding of their medical condition and treatment.

There is a clear pattern of neglect emerging from this Government for people from disadvantaged backgrounds including migrants and our elderly.”

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Greek Australian candidates in Victoria’s council election

Source: NeosKosmos

63 Greek Australian candidates will be competing for a place in one of the 78 Victorian councils this October.

The list of Greek Australian candidates includes prominent members of the Greek community such as Mike Zafiropoulos, President of Fronditha Care.

Stonnington City Council, Whittlesea City Council, and Moreland City Council Mulgrave City Council – which includes the Oakleigh ward; Manningham City Council and Darebin City Council have the largest representation of Greek Australian candidates.

This year’s local council election has seen over 2004 candidates compete for the 631 councillor positions following the closure of nominations this week.

The Greek Australian candidates include:

Mr Ron Janas; Mrs Gina Papadopoulos; Ms Alissa Fotiades; Ms Kaela Katherine Pandelides; Mr Peter Kostos; Mr Phillip Mallis; Mr Alexander Teligioridis; Ms Bianca Stavropoulos; Louis Kiriakidis; Leon Zembekis; Mrs Maria Topalidis; Mr Steven Tsitas; Mr Peter Drakopoulos; Mr Rodney Andonopoulos; Mr Angelo Kakouros; Mrs Leanne Raditsas; Mr Jim Marinis; Mrs Helen Patsikatheodorou; Mr James Didolis; Mr Kon Mosidis; Mr Tass Koutsikos; Mr Steve Staikos; Mr Jim Grivokostopoulos; Mr Mike Zafiropoulos; Mr George Neofytou; Mr John Mitakakis; Mrs Kylie Georgiou; Mrs Androulla Touvanna; Mr Con Parthimos; Mr Eric Koutroubas; Mrs Stella Koutsikos; Mrs Vicki Sifredi; Mr Alexander Tamvakis; Mr Paul Klisaris; Mr Bill Pontikis; Mr Stephen Dimopoulos; Mr Argyri Stavridis; Mr Theo Zographos; Mrs Lucy Athanadopoulos; Ms Mary Spiropoulos; Mrs Miriam Gillis; Mr Ange Kenos; Mrs Stella Kariofyllidis; Mr Steve Liberogiannis; Mrs Bess Kyriakidis; Mr Lambros Tapinos; Mr Jim Doukas; Ms Meni Christofakis; Mr Jimi Athanasopoulos; Tas Athanasopoulos; Mr Evri Katsavos; Mr George Neophytou; Ivy Fatouros; Miss Jami Klisaris; Tini Athanasopoulos Peter Patisteas; Mr Steve Stefanopoulos; Ms Tina Sofos; Mr John Koutras; Mr John Nicholas Katis; Mr Peter Sycopoulis; Ms Mary Lalios; Mrs Sofia Kotanidis; Ms Kris Pavlidis; Mr Nikos Psaltopoulos; and Mr Phillip Vlahogiannis.

1,325-Pound Fritos Chili Pie Sets Record

Source: ABCNews

Fritos celebrated its 80th birthday yesterday in a big way. The popular corn chip company broke the record for the biggest Fritos Chili Pie weighing in at 1,325 pounds. The pie contained 635 bags (10.5 ounces) of Fritos, 660 cans (15 ounces) of Hormel Chili and 580 bags (8 ounces) of shredded cheddar cheese. Created at the Texas State Fair, the pie fed about 5,000 people.

Elmer Doolin invented Fritos in 1932 in his mother’s kitchen. His mother, Daisy Dean Doolin, is credited for creating the chili pie recipe when she was looking for a way to use up the broken pieces of Fritos.

Craving some chili pie?

Try this original recipe from Fritos:
Prep Time: 5 minutes Serves: 4
Ingredients
1 large bag of Fritos Corn Chips
1 15 oz. can of chili with beef (with or without beans)
1 8 oz. bag of shredded cheese
Optional: chopped onion, tomatoes, lettuce, jalapenos and/or sour cream
Instructions In an oven-safe serving dish, pour in Fritos Corn Chips and spread evenly. Heat chili and pour evenly over corn chips. Add additional ingredients like onion, tomato, lettuce, and jalapeno as desired. Sprinkle cheese all over and pop into the oven at 350 degrees till the cheese is a little melted. Serve immediately with a spoon.

Other variations: There are many variations of the Fritos Chili Pie. For instance, the Walking Taco uses the same ingredients as the Fritos Chili Pie. However, as a fun and easy snack (usually served at fairs or sports events), the ingredients are mixed together in the bag of Fritos Corn Chips instead of a dish. Don’t forget the spoon!

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2012 ARIA Fine Arts Award winners full list

Kathy McCabe National Music Editor
News Limited Network

Emma Hack and Wally de Backer (Gotye) putting the final touches on artwork.
2012 ARIA FINE ARTS AWARD NOMINEES – WINNERS ARE IN BOLD

Best Classical Album
Jose Carbo with Slava & Leonard Grigoryan – My Latin Heart (ABC Classics)
Orchestra of the Antipodes – Bach: Brandenburg Concertos (ABC Classics)
Sally Whitwell – The Good, The Bad and The Awkward (ABC Classics)
Sydney Symphony, Vladimir Ashkenazy – Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius (Decca/ABC Classics)
William Barton – Kalkadungu (ABC Classics)

Best Jazz Album
Barney McAll – Graft (Jazzhead/MGM Distributon)
Grace Knight – Keep Cool Fool (ABC Music)
James Morrison – Snappy Too (Morrison Records)
McGann – Wending (Rufus/Universal Music)

Sarah McKenzie – Close Your Eyes (ABC Music)
Steven Rossitto – Night & Day (ABC Music)

Best Original Soundtrack/Cast/Show Album
Jane Rutter – An Australian In Paris (ABC Classics)
Jon English & The Original Cast of The Rock Show – The Rock Show (Ambition / EMI)
Rockwiz – Rockwiz Christmas Album (Liberation Music)
triple j – Straight To You: triple j’s Tribute To Nick Cave (ABC Music)
Various Artists – The Sapphires – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Music)

Best World Music Album
Dead Can Dance – Anastasis (Liberation Music)
Joseph Tawadros – Concerts of the Greater Sea (ABC Classics)
Nicky Bomba’s Bustamento – Intrepid Adventures To The Lost Riddim Island (Vitamin Records / Transmitter Records)
Sarah Calderwood – As Night Falls (ABC Music)
Warren H Williams & The Warumungu Songmen – Winanjjara: The Song Peoples Sessions (ABC Music)

2012 ARIA ARTISAN AWARD NOMINEES – WINNERS ARE IN BOLD

Best Cover Art
Christopher Doyle – The Jezabels ‘Prisoner’ (The Jezabels / MGM)
Debaser – 360, Falling & Flying (Soulmate / EMI)
Frank De Backer (Artwork & Handwriting) & Wally De Backer– Making Mirrors (Samples ‘n’ Seconds Records / Eleven: A Music Company / Universal Music Australia)
Rennie Ellis – Oh Mercy, Deep Heat (EMI)

Engineer of the Year
Francois Tetaz for Gotye – Making Mirrors (Samples ‘n’ Seconds Records / Eleven: A Music Company / Universal Music Australia)
Lachlan Mitchell – The Jezabels ‘Prisoner’ (The Jezabels / MGM)
Matt Fell – Tim Freedman, Australian Idel (Sony Music)
Scott Horscroft & Phillip Threlfall – 360, Falling & Flying (Soulmate / EMI)
Wayne Connolly – Josh Pyke, Only Sparrows (Ivy League Records)

Producer of the Year
Chong Lim – Sarah McKenzie Close Your Eyes (ABC Music)
Lachlan Mitchell –The Jezabels ‘Prisoner’ (The Jezabels/MGM)
Lanie Lane – Lanie Lane To The Horses (Ivy League Records)
Styalz Fuego – 360, Falling & Flying (Soulmate / EMI)
Virginia Read – Sally Whitwell, The Good The Bad and The Awkward (ABC Classics)

By Kylie Keogh The success of a 10-year murder investigation depicted in Underbelly Badness hinged on an unlikely partnership.
Alba and husband fly coach

Cover Media JESSICA Alba and her husband Cash Warren roughed it in coach while their kids lapped up the luxury in first class.
Rapper 360 dominees

Kathy McCabe National Music Editor HIP pop phenomenon 360 has taken the poll position in the 2012 ARIA Awards as his Falling and Flying record dominated the charts.

Guinness World Confirms Kappa Alpha Psi centennial cake sets new record

Source: ProgressiveGreek

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Famed Brooklyn baker Raven “Cake Man” Dennis is going down in history as the creator the world’s largest sculptured cake.

Guinness World Records officials confirmed last week that the gigantic edible creation unveiled in Indianapolis at the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity’s centennial national convention was worthy of the title.