Before globalization, there was the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, where products from the Philippines were shipped to the West and vice-versa.
Rustan’s month-long Corazon de España Spanish Festival is the modern version of this trade. At the launch, porcelain statues from Lladro, lace veils, fans from Abanicos Giner & Carbonell, fragrances and toiletries from Hierbas de Ibiza, jamon jabugo and accessories from Perlas Majorica were displayed.
An exhibit of traditional artisan crafts by Escuella Taller Intramuros, a workshop that provides skills to the unemployed, was a reminder of Spain’s aid campaign to alleviate poverty.
“It has always been a tradition for Rustan’s to hold international festivals to celebrate goodwill and partnerships that provide an authentic experience for our valued customers,” said Rustan’s president Zenaida Tantoco.
Turning to Spanish ambassador Jorge Domecq, she said, “Su Excelencia, muchisimas gracias por levantar el ánimo cada vez que nos encuentro a desafíos. Your Excellency, thank you very much for always lifting our spirits whenever we encountered difficulties in the preparation for this Festival.”
Ambassador Domecq complimented Tantoco’s Spanish and mentioned that her Spanish was still in good shape, years after her studies in Madrid.
Likewise, he was impressed with the range of major Spanish brands offered by Rustan’s and Stores Specialists, Inc.
“This is important because our financial situation is not doing well, but we are slowly recovering,” he said.
The envoy lauded the country’s economic growth and hopes to see an improved balance of trade between Spain and the Philippines. With the recession in Europe, Spanish companies are looking to Asia, particularly the Philippines, for business opportunities.
He also commended Sen. Edgardo Angara for strengthening the ties between two countries. Angara was the main proponent of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, which is held every June 30. He also batted for the reintroduction of the Spanish language in the school curriculum.
In his keynote speech, Angara said the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day marked the occasion when President Emilio Aguinaldo praised the Spaniards and Filipinos for being peaceful heroes in the Siege of Baler in Aurora. After the Spanish-American War, 33 Spanish soldiers stayed inside a church for one year to defend their flag, unmindful that Spain had already lost the Philippines as its colony after the Treaty of Paris.
Nonetheless, Aguinaldo ordered their safe return to Spain. Before their departure, the soldiers were feted at Casino Español.
“This day commemorates the good qualities of both parties—the valor of the Spaniards and the generosity of the Filipinos,” said Angara.
He underscored that the Philippines is the first colony to publicly acknowledge its friendship with Spain through this special day. Angara added that every year, he would travel to Spain to visit the hometowns of the 33 Spanish soldiers. He has so far visited 17.
Angara recently inaugurated the Centro Rizal, a Filipino cultural center in Madrid. The aim is to enable the younger Filipinos who live in Spain to learn more about their heritage.
The event capped off with Baile Español and flamenco numbers and Spanish hors d’ ourves by chef Ed Quimson.