Madrid Embassy commemorates PHL-Spain relations’ anniversary

Ambassador Lhuillier and the donated bronze statue of Jose Rizal

THE Philippine Embassy in Madrid and its partners kicked off events that marked the 75th year of the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Spain.

Said embassy coordinated with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) in holding a forum on October 27 at the latter’s Faculty of Geography and History.

Vice Rector Damaso López García welcomed the Philippine delegation to the university. Former NHCP chair and professor Dr. Lamberto Ocampo, National Museum’s Board of Trustees chair Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas, NHCP Commissioner Lino Dizon, UCM Dean of the Faculty of Geography and History Dr. Miguel Luque Talavan, Dr. María Dolores Elizalde Pérez-Grueso of Spain’s research arm Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), and Dr. Rafael Rodríguez-Ponga Salamanca of Universitat Abat Oliba CEU expounded on the shared history of the Philippines and Spain, then provided insights into deepening and improving the quality of relationship between the two countries.

The forum—part of the activities under the Extraordinary Chair of Philippine Studies or Cátedra Extraordinaria de Filipinas—allowed attendees to share their thoughts on reinforcing the engagement with the Spanish people, including educating the audience on the history and continuing relationship of the Philippines and Spain.

Members of CSIC and UCM’s faculty, as well as graduate and postgraduate students completing their thesis in the Philippines, attended the event.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on September 27, 1947. The “Treaty of Friendship” between the Republic of the Philippines and the government of Spain was also signed on that day.

Further, the embassy also inaugurated on October 27 “Victoria y Humanidad”—an exhibit that featured sketches of Filipino illustrator Roderick Macutay who reimagined the initial interactions of Filipino natives with Portuguese explorer Fernão de Magalhães (Ferdinand Magellan) and the first Spanish explorers who arrived in the Philippines in 1521.

The exhibit was part of the myriad of activities that the NHCP and the National Museum had with the Spanish Embassy to commemorate the quincentennial of the first circumnavigation of the world. Filipino and Spanish books on the subject were displayed alongside the exhibit.

Ambassador to Spain Philippe J. Lhuillier thanked UCM for providing a space that provided a glimpse of places in the Philippines, which are now part of world history, as well as established the first links that connected Spain to the Philippines, and Europe to Asia.

He added that “the Philippines remains committed to Spain as the gateway to Southeast Asia, thus our desire to nurture connections through official means, but also through cultural and people-to-people exchanges.”

The exhibit was at the Faculty of Geography and History, and remained until the first week of November 2022. It was displayed thereafter at the Philippine Embassy as part of the activities commemorating the anniversary. Prior to the exhibit’s arrival in Madrid, the illustrations were on display at the National Museum.

The following day Ambassador Lhuillier donated a full-size bronze statue of Philippine hero Jose Rizal to the UCM at a ceremonial turnover on October 28.

The event was part of the Philippine Embassy and university´s agreement under the “Cátedra.” Dr. Lamberto Ocampo gave a brief lecture on Rizal during the latter’s studies in Madrid as a way to “humanize” the hero, and make people aware that he was an ordinary person who had his share of struggles as a Filipino living abroad, yet also answered the call to be of service to his country.

Lhuillier remarked that 125 years after his death, Rizal continues to inspire Filipinos and connect the Philippines with Spain. He added that the event honored the hero’s legacy, then thanked UCM for its role in nurturing him as a student, as well as Spain which provided him the environment to become the hero of the Philippines.

The “Cátedra,” which was initially proposed by Senator Loren Legarda and subsequently funded by the Philippine Congress, is envisioned to provide Spanish students in the undergraduate and graduate levels with a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the country through conferences on various fields of Philippine studies, as well as seminars, exhibits and other activities.

Image credits: Madrid PE


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