In her visit, Queen Sofia scores a goal worthy of a World Cup

The visit was a success by all measures, with the Philippines reaffirming its indestructible Spanish heritage


TOASTING Philippines-Spain friendship with President Aquino in Malacañang. PHOTOS BY SHERWIN VARDELEON AND JOHN DANIEL HIRRO

On the heels of Spain winning again the European World Cup, which followed through its 2010 World Cup victory, Queen Sofia may be said to have scored a goal during her visit of the Philippines.

The four-day visit consolidated gains in Spanish-Philippine relations, deepening cultural,  economic and development ties while advancing Madrid’s campaign for the reintroduction of Spanish-language instruction in Philippine basic education.

The Queen pressed for the reintegration of Spanish in the Philippine curriculum during her toast at the state dinner July 3 hosted at Malacañang by President Aquino.

“I wish to emphasize the support we gave to the educational sector and particularly the efforts of the Department of Education for successfully making into reality the reintroduction of Spanish language in the public educational system,” the Queen said.

“Since the time of the galleon of Manila, the Spanish language arrived in the Philippines as a promising tool for work and development for the Filipino people,” the Queen noted.

She said the Spanish language not only highlights the two countries’ rich cultural heritage, but also “opens up opportunities to secure the well-being of future generations of Filipinos in a globalized world.”

Spanish language

The Queen’s statements were pitch-perfect. In a globalized world, global languages are important, such as Spanish, spoken by half a billion people.

Spanish has increasingly become the language of commerce and business in the world. Even the global business outsourcing industry needs Spanish speakers, which may lure Filipinos to reacquire and relearn Spanish and reaffirm their ties with madre España.

(It should be noted that in  the Malolos Constitution, the first republican charter in Asia and Africa, the founders of the Philippine republic made Spanish the national language.)

Sen. Edgardo Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, said reintroducing the Spanish language in schools will not only strengthen bilateral relations with Spain but also help prepare students for a possible career in tourism, business process outsourcing and other related sectors.

WAVING to crowd at the University of Santo Tomas

Angara said Spanish language courses should be integrated in arts, livelihood and sports subjects at the 11th and 12th grades under the K+12 program.

“If you speak Spanish, you can speak to almost one-third of the world,” Angara said.

Angara added that the trend of investment and tourism of Latin America “is toward  Asia.” We ought to catch that wave because now we have a natural destination,” he said.

The Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), or the Spanish Agency for International Development and Cooperation, and the Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish cultural agnecy, have been sponsoring the training of teachers of the Spanish language in public schools, starting with the first batch of 100 teachers who had completed an intensive  training last year.

Spanish development aid

The campaign to have Spanish reintroduced in the Philippines is complemented by Spanish development aid. The Philippines is the second biggest recipient of Spanish aid in the world.

THE QUEEN at the UST Miguel de Benavides Park, with UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy and SocialWelfare Secretary Dinky Soliman

The visit highlighted Spain’s development assistance to her former colony as Queen Sofia  visited various Spanish-funded development projects in Albay in Southeastern Luzon and Zamboanga City in Mindanao.

Zamboanga is the heart of Chavacano, the pidgin language 60 percent of which is Spanish.

Claretian missionary Fr. Angel Calvo, who heads the Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance Inc., said Spain has been helping Zabida for 13 years now and has so far poured  about 5 million euros for its education, livelihood and shelter projects.

Escuela Taller

But side by side with the development accent of her visit, Queen Sofia never failed to make references to the rich Sanish cultural heritage of the Philippines. This was underscored by her visits to the Escuela Taller and the University of Santo Tomas.

Escuela Taller is the vocational workshop school in cultural heritage practices  funded by Aecid and managed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Intramuros Administration. Its campus is in the space where once stood the  Recoleto Church in Intramuros.

Opened in 2009, it has benefited a large number of youngsters from the slums of Baseco and also Intramuros. Certificates in wood carving, masonry, painting, finishing and various other trades are recognized by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, improving the employability of economically disadvantaged youth.

During their training period and practice, the young students apply their  knowledge in  the rehabilitation of prominent buildings and historical sites.

VISITING Escuela Taller in Intramuros

Some of the projects implemented include the restoration of perimeter wall around  Intramuros and the repair of the Malate Church; and the rehabilitation of the old Department of Social Welfare and Development office in Manila and of the Almacen Real in Fort Santiago, among others.


Her visit of the University of Santo Tomas last Friday reaffirmed the Dominican university’s royal lineage: UST was  declared by the Spanish monarchy a royal university in the 18th century.

At the the oldest university in Asia, Queen Sofia visited the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences, the oldest museum in the Philippines; and the historic UST Library and Archives. She also met with the Dominican fathers, some of whom were Spaniards, and the Círculo Hispano-Tomasino.

Throngs of students and teachers waited at the Benavides Park in front of the UST Main Building to catch a glimpse of the Queen.

The park is named after the third archbishop of Manila, the Dominican Miguel de Benavides, who founded UST in 1611. (Benavides was a native of Palencia, Spain, where a monument now stands in his memory.)

Her Majesty was greeted by UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, Vice Rector Richard Ang and Secretary General Winston Cabading.

A wreath-laying ceremony took place afterwards before the statue of Miguel de Benavides.

A red carpet was rolled in the grand staircase in the Main Building that houses the Museum of Arts and Sciences, where a marker was unveiled to commemorate the Queen’s first visit of the campus.


Queen Sofia also toured the Heritage Section of the UST Library (now named Miguel de Benavides Library). She was guided by the UST prefect of libraries, Fr. Angel Aparicio, a Spanish Dominican who trained at the Ecole Biblique et Archeologique in Jerusalem.

She also toured the newly renovated UST Archives, where the scholastic grades of José Rizal and the founders of the Philippine nation,  all of them UST alumni, are kept. .

Regalado Trota-José, UST archivist and historian and a commissioner of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, said Queen Sofia was delighted upon seeing the university’s wide library collection, which included Nicolaus Copernicaus’ “De Revolutionibus Orbium Celstiom” (On the Evolution of the Celestial Spheres), and incunabulae, or books printed before 1500.

“We were only able to present six books that serve as gems of the archives section,” said José. “She (Queen Sofia) was very much interested with what she saw, especially our baybayin book, which is somehow similar to the Indian Sanskrit.”

José said the UST Archives holds the biggest number of documents written in baybayin, the ancient Philippine syllabary, some of them written during the Spanish era.

He explained that the fact that documents were written in baybayin well into the Spanish period—plus the fact that the Spanish Catholic missionaries learned the local languages and wrote vocabularios (dictionaries)—should show that Spain preserved the Philippines’ pre-Hispanic culture.

QUEEN Sofia, with her delegation led by Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq, is welcomed to University of Santo Tomas by Rector Magnificus Fr. Herminio Dagohoy,OP.

José said that UST also showed the Queen historic documents such as the Foundation Act of 1611 and the royal order in 1624 of King Philip IV authorizing UST to grant degrees in theology, philosophy and the arts.

The Queen was also shown the royal order in 1785 of King Charles III, granting UST the title “Royal.”

Father Cabading said the Queen’s visit was testament to the historical and cultural ties between Spain and UST.

“[The purpose of the visit is] to renew ties with the University, understanding that the University has been part of the patronage of the Spanish crown,” the Dominican priest said.

The visit was Queen Sofia’s fifth to the Philippines. Her first visit was in 1962 when she and   King Juan Carlos I were on a honeymoon.

She returned to Manila in 1995 and was a guest of the Philippine centennial celebration in February 1998. She also visited the Philippines in 2000 and 2003.

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  • sov

     Nos gustaría dar las gracias a Su Majestad por su visita. Le deseamos un viaje seguro y recuerde visitar otra vez! Para aquellos que creen, sigan así! Dios nos bendiga a todos!

  • Will Gozum David

     We could have been a Spanish speaking country if not for the Americans.

  • CmdrAdobo

    learning opportunity is always good. i would be happy to learn spanish.

  • kulittwit

    Despite her own economic woes, Spain still gives grants and aids to the Philippines.


  • Jun Go

    majestic representation in a very humble manner.

    viva espana y mabuhay ang pilipinas.

    truly the philippines can very well host royalty in its own way.

  • Ed Angeles

    No offense meant to the Spanish queen Sofia but has Spain ever apologized to the oppression it caused the Philippines? How many Filipinos were executed by Spain? Spain sapped the blood out of the Philippines and left in uneducated, called its people – indio! The list would go on and on!

    Was the Philippines ever compensated for all of these oppression? We still have to call Spain, our mother?

    • andresa igbac

       did you ever read up on her activities here? ang daming development projects ng spain now sa pinas. di pa ba sapat na compensation yon? katulad din ng japan na umapi rin sa atin noon, marami rin silang development projects ngayon sa pinas. although yong comfort women di pa yata sila masyadong nabigyan ng attention pero in terms of development projects, at least yong mga bansang sumakop sa atin noon, galante sila now.

      • Ed Angeles

        I think you failed to miss my point. No point in arguing with cherry pickers!

      • andresa igbac

         yup no point in arguing with you.

  • AFPako

    Diyos ko po, with all the pain and suffering and humiliation these Kastilas brought to our shores we are still entertaining an old granny a product of their dirty past. Pls dont give her the attention and royal reception. Sayang ang pera ng katawhan ng Pinas. SObrang colonized mentality parin ang Pinas. Walang bayag mag sabi, we dont want to see your shzt here again.

    • topolcats

      Your right indeed Spanish Royalty is an abomination!
      She is not loved in Spain and her husband the king of Spain is hated.

      The King of Spain was a mentor to animal welfare groups and was caught in Africa killing Elephants! 
      Such as hypocrite,as he was telling all of Spain to tighten up its economic belt, all the while spending $10,000 EU killing  per elephant.

      There Children are no better! 
      A carton came out on the front page of major Spanish papers when the Kings Daughter in law become pregnant.
      The Spanish headlines were :In reference to the husband the Prince of Spain. 
      “I have been useless all my life & have never worked but at least I have achieved something!”.
      You might now understand what the Spanish think of the Royalty in Spain?

      But she is here to sell Boats to the Philippines, Spain produces a kind of good small gunboat which I am sure is the real reason she is here.

      • AFPako

        Ang Espana ay bansanag marino. Magaling sila dyan.  Itong pag social social ng queen nila ay revulting sa mga kababayan. She is a symbol of the dirty past, dapat hindi binigyan ng importansya sya. Mukhang masyadong malimutin tayo sa history mga dumi nilang ginagawa dito. Oh well we are a colonized mentality no matter what, walang identity tayo . Lahat serbisyo para sa mga langyaw . No national pride.

  • tomas

    it is not that filipinos forget the past, they don’t know the past. as the harsh comments against queen sofia and spain show, filipinos are largely ignorant of their history.
    the spaniards abolished slavery–the philippines was part of a slave-trading regime obtaining in the region before the coming of the spaniards. even during the spanish era, muslim pirates would raid christian settlements and kidnap filipinos and sell them as slaves. that’s the reason why the colonial baroque churches were massive and had tall belfries–the belfres acted as lookouts and sentinels to warn the populations against muslim raiders and the churches were capacious in order to accommodate evacuees.
    the first referendum prior to the modern democratic era happened in the philippines–at the turn of the 17th century. the plebiscite determined whether filipinos accepted spanish rule. it was carried out based on the demands of the dominicans who opposed colonization and argued with king philip that colonization was only possible if the natives would accept it. the dominicans were really pressing for the teachings of bartolome de las casas and francisco vittorio, the father of international law and human rights.
     filipinos should not simplify spanish colonization which lasted 300 years. in any case, the philippines became a nation because of spain. her name alone came from the great spanish king. most important, spain brought christianity to the philippines, christianity which the postmodern philosopher julia kristeva calls as the founder of humanism. spain might have fumbled toward the last 50 years of its rule in the philippines, but by and large, its colonization made the philippines a nation.
    for example, if spain had not put on the map bajo de masinloc, could the philippines lay claim to it against the chinese? the territory that filipinos call theirs today was fashioned after the islands colonized and developed by spain!
    for an accurate, objective and fair assessment of spanish rule, filipinos should read not the pro-american, ultra-nationalist history of, say, teodoro agoncillo, but the cultural,historical and social criticism of nick joaquin, the national artist for literature.

  • tra6Gpeche

    We have the mañaña habit. Many Filipino words are in Spanish. We love to show off by speaking English just like Doña Victorina who loved to speak in broken Spanish in Dr Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere (as a matter of fact, in the Philippines, celebrities and elite Filipino families talk to their very young children in English (trying bitterly to avoid Filipino accent) and not in any of the Philippine languages.). Many Filipinos, men or women, have Spanish complexion. Most of our surname are in Spanish, even our first names are mostly Spanish not like Dagohoy, Sulayman, Lapu-Lapu, Humabon, Lakandula, Mayumi, Makisig etcetera. Datu Humabon of Cebu was baptized by somebody from Spain long time ago. Most Filipinos are even more catholic than the Spaniards and our saints are mostly European with silky and white skin. As we can see, we have many things in common with Spaniards who owned us for over 300 years. We can probably forgive Spain for whatever ills our country has right now but we will never be able to forget them. We just have to move on and make good use of our 300 years of relationship with the Spanish folks. Learning again to speak Spanish will be beneficial to our children in the future. Let us all be positive about this! Long live Queen Sofia and the Filipinos!

  • petgal

    Pet G. Gal
    Taking  up from  Will Gozum´s comment, I would like to add that the Philippines could have been not only “a Spanish speaking  country,” but also a province of Spain had it not been for some  errors in judgement, committed by both countries, which could have been prevented. The USA delivered  the last, heaviest, debatable,  blow.

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