Manila Bulletin Online, June 30, 2005

RP-Spanish Friendship Day Observed Today

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced yesterday the simultaneous celebration of the 3rd Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day in Iloilo City and Baler, Aurora, today, June 30, marking the cultural and historical ties of friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and its former colonizer, Spain.

President Arroyo is scheduled to lead the celebration in Iloilo City, while the Embassy of Spain announced that Spanish Secretary General of Foreign Policy, Rafael Dezcallar, and the Director-General Jose Eugenio Salarich for Asia and the Pacific of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will officially represent Spain in the event. The Iloilo celebration is a joint undertaking of the Embassy of Spain, led by Ambassador Ignacio Sagaz, and the province of Iloilo.

Today, commemorative rites will be held in Baler, Aurora, led by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Jaime J. Yambao, representing Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, chairman of the inter- agency committee for the celebration of the event.

Javier Gonzalez San Juan, counselor and deputy chief of mission of the Spanish Embassy, will lead the Spanish delegation at the Baler rites.

This year's celebrations started yesterday with conference-workshops in Cavite at the De La Salle University in Dasmariñas, Cavite and in Baler, organized by the History Department of the University of the Philippines.

The Baler celebrations include the unveiling and blessing of the historical marker "Dikaloyungan," presented to the provincial government of Aurora through the initiative of Executive Director of the National Historical Institute and Inter-Agency Committee Vice-Chairman Ludovico Badoy.

In Madrid, Spain, the Philippine Embassy leads a similar celebration, including the inauguration of the exhibit "Los Rostros del Mito" with performances by the Madrid- based Alay Filipino Dance Troupe, Rondalla Filipina and Tahanan Grand Choir; barrio fiestas in the cities of Madrid and Barcelona; and the holding of the "Actos de los Caidos" honoring the heroes of Baler, an event organized by the Spanish Ministry of Defense in coordination with the Philippine Embassy.

Republic Act 9187, declaring June 30 as Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, was authored by Sen. Edgardo J. Angara and enacted into law in February, 2003. The law seeks to celebrate annually the cultural and historical ties of friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Spain.

The event honors the day in 1898 when the Philippines, through a decree by then President Emilio Aguinaldo, extended the hand of friendship to besieged Spanish soldiers in the church of Baler for their loyalty and gallantry, instead of being treated as prisoners of war. The Spanish soldiers were granted safe conduct passage to Spain, an act of benevolence showing the character of the Filipino leader and patriot.

The highlight of the Baler celebration will be the unveiling of the historical marker at Dikaloyungan where Katipuneros in Baler prepared for the war against Spain, tore their cedulas (residence certificates during the Spanish times), and set up their headquarters in 1897. That act climaxed in what is now known as the "Siege of Baler."

The "Dikaloyungan" marker states the significance of the event and bears the names of the Katipuneros who led the fight against Spain.

Angara, Assistant Secretary Efren Yambao, National Historical Institute Director Ludivico Badoy, and Jaime Gonzales, deputy chief of mission of the Spanish Embassy in Manila, will lead the prominent personalities in the unveiling ceremony. Aurora Gov. Bella Angara Castillo and lone District Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara will also attend the rites.

At the Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT), noted historians yesterday held discussions on the aspects and dimensions of Philippine-Spanish relationship about friendship, amity, and cooperation, all in the spirit of the Friendship Day celebration.

The theme was "Amistad Duradera: Mga Larangan ng Pagtatagpo..." The participants were Dr. Ferdinand Llanes, Dr. Luisa Camagay, Dr. Evelyn Miranda, Dr. Jaime Veneracion and Milagros Guerrero, all noted writers-historians.

A six-member football delegation is now in Baler in time for the celebration and also to start clinics to improve the football skills of the young in Aurora.

The six football coaches and officials are all prominent in Spanish football circles and come from the region of Andalucia, where many of the Spanish soldiers who fought for Spain came from.

The members of the Spanish football delegation who will remain in Baler for a while are Aurora Cosana Prieto, Francisco Lopez Servio, Cipriano Romeo Cerezo, Jose Ignacio Biden, Miguel Espino Martin, and Exequiel Sabarillo.

A video presentation on the "Siege of Baler" and its significance will also be part of the celebration.

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