Philippine Journal, November 24, 2005

Spanish Delegation Visits Baler

Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono led a 25-member Spanish delegation that visited Baler last November 23 to visit the old church where 50 Spanish soldiers held fort during the "Siege of Baler" during the Philippine-Spanish War in 1899.

For the Spanish delegation, the visit which was an invitation by Baler natives Sen. Edgardo Angara and Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, was a sentimental one.

"Today, there are no victor or vanquished, only memories of a shared past," said Bono.

On June 2, 1899, 33 Spanish soldiers marched out of the church to surrender to Philippine revolutionists that besieged them for 337 days. The Filipinos who were then fighting for the end of Spanish rule had the superior numbers and their morale was boosted by the defeat of Spain at the hands of the Americans.

The 33 Spanish soldiers' gallant stand and military virtue drew the admiration of many Filipinos, among them Emilio Aguinaldo who declared on June 30, 1899 that the 33 Spanish soldiers will not be imprisoned but honored as friends of the Philippines.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, a native of the town, initiated a law that declared June 30 as Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day in the town of Baler.

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