Press Release
July 1, 2010


On 8th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day

Baler, Aurora - On the celebration of the 8th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, Senator Edgardo J. Angara cited energy, tourism, heritage conservation, education and language teaching as the "most relevant, doable and practical" areas of cooperation between the Philippines and its former colonizer Spain.

Hon. Enrique Mugica, Defensor del Pueblo (Ombudsman) of Spain graced the occasion, along with Jose Eugenio Salarich, Director General for Foreign Policy for Asia and the Pacific, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Hon. Luis Arias Romero, Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines; Hon. Pedro Rolan, Defense Attache of the Spanish Embassy; Hon. Jose Antonio Mira, Counselor of the Spanish Embassy; and Mr. Jose Pepe Rodriguez, Director of Instituto Cervantes.

"Philippine-Spanish relations gaining momentum, we can better appreciate how Spain can help us develop. For instance, Spain is a major producer of "eolic" or wind energy. The Philippines, meanwhile, has a huge demand for energy, and an even bigger potential for renewable energy. However, there is so much that needs to be done to harness these renewable energy resources. There is a lot we can learn from Spain's experience in developing clean and sustainable sources of energy," he said.

Angara is the author of the law setting June 30 of every year as Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day. His hometown Baler has been the host since the first celebration in 2003, which has now extended to various towns in the Philippines like Iloilo, Bulacan, Cavite, and in Spain in Madrid, Barcelona, Palencia, Almonte in Huelva, Sevilla and even Guadalajara.

In the area of tourism, Angara said the Philippines can learn from Spain, one of the world's greatest tourist destinations-not only in terms of promoting potential tourist attractions - but also in terms of hotel construction, modernizing facilities, training manpower, networking with tourism organizations and building a strategic tourism plan.

In the area of cultural tourism, Spain can aid the Philippines in heritage conservation. In particular, the two countries can cooperation in preserving cultural monuments of the Spanish period like Intramuros and Corregidor.

"Moreover, the Philippines also has many irreplaceable Spanish colonial documents that Spanish scholars visit to do research on. These documents are poorly stored in the national archives, and in danger of perishing. We need the Spanish expertise in archival preservation and digitization," said Angara.

Finally, Angara proposed more academic exchanges and scholarships between the Philippines and Spain, especially for Spanish language training.

"Carrying on with the study of the Spanish language will strengthen the historical and cultural bonds that unite our two countries. In a more practical sense, it will also provide more opportunities for work and social interaction," he said.

At present, Spanish is the second most-studied language in the world, next to English. As a language for international communication, Spanish occupies a decisive place and opens doors for future professionals.

"Eight years later, we have developed deeper and stronger ties with our former colonizer, which we now interact with as a co-equal, independent state. We have achieved huge strides in the area of legislation, culture, education, language, and sports," said Angara.

Among these is the inclusion of Spanish language teaching in the country's secondary education. Further, a landmark cooperation agreement has been signed by the Philippine Senate and Spanish Senate. Under it, parliamentary encounters shall be organized to discuss topics of mutual interest.

Spain has also extended 1245000 euros (US$1538803.81) financed by the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional (AECI) for an anti-poverty program, and football clinics in the provinces.

Moreover, the forum Tribuna España Filipinas now gathers Filipino and Spanish leaders every year to discuss investment, tourism, trade, culture, and education, among others.

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