Manila Bulletin Online, November 30, 2005

Angara Calls for Stronger Spanish - Philippines Ties

MADRID, SPAIN - Sen. Edgardo J. Angara yesterday called for the strengthening of relations between the Philippines and Spain by harking back to their "shared past and shared culture" during 350 years of historic relationship.

Addressing the "Spain-Philippines Tribune" in Madrid, Spain, Angara deplored the "decline in Filipino appreciation of our Spanish heritage" since the start of the American occupation in 1898 and the end of the Second World War.

Aside from reviving the rich culture and traditions implanted by Spain in the past, the Philippines could also benefit from economic aid and tourism that a strengthening of relations between the two countries could provide, declared Angara.

He noted that Spain is a major producer of "eolic" or wind energy. The Philippines can benefit from its experience and technology in harnessing wind power as a clean and sustainable source of power.

According to Angara, another relationship from which both the Philippines and Spain could mutually benefit is that of tourism. Spain is a cultural tourism destination, while the Philippines "is a beautiful country with great potentials for eco-tourism."

He added that Spanish tourists may be motivated to visit many cultural monuments of the Spanish period in the Philippines, like Intramuros.

Angara also suggested for the Filipinos to revive their mastery of the Spanish language, the second language of Jose Rizal and his contemporaries. He said that Filipinos could find additional markets abroad for the skills and labor as care providers and other employment in the Spanish-speaking countries if they spoke the language of Cervantes.

Just as 19th century Spain awakened Rizal's generation to the European political ideals, so can Spain today become our link to the vibrant civilization of the new European union,"Angara told the Tribune or forum, organized by Casa Asia.

Thus Angara proposed the preservation or resurrection of Spanish cultural institutions in the Philippines, like Intramuros in Manila and the Instituto Cervantes in Cebu, the first colony of Spain in the Philippines.

Angara recently played host to the Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono and other officials visiting Baler, Aurora.

He was the principal author of the law declaring the 30th day of June of every year as Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.

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