The 15th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day Conference was held on October 5 and 6, 2017 at the UP NISMED Auditorium in Diliman, Quezon City, with the theme, “Legacy and Diplomacy: Celebrating Historical and Modern Ties between the Philippines and Spain”.
The conference, which is the academic component of the annual Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day celebrations, is co-organized by the Spanish Embassy, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the UP Diliman Department of History.
The theme arose from this year being the 70th anniversary of modern Philippine-Spanish diplomatic relations. Research on the Boxer Codex, one of the earliest texts and illustrations on 16th century Philippines, was also featured as this year is also the 70th year it has been made public.
Sessions that featured 30 paper presentations began with the keynote address of Carlos Salinas, former ambassador of the Philippines to Spain. He enumerated key diplomatic engagements between the countries, such as visits of their heads of state. During the open forum, Salinas emphasized the central role of learning the language to deepen and expand Philippine-Hispanic relations.
Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Luis Antonio Calvo Castaño said the Philippines was ahead of its time in diplomacy, given that Apolinario Mabini served as the country’s first foreign minister and Felipe Agoncillo, the first diplomat. He thanked UP for representing civil society in support of diplomacy.
National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chair Rene Escalante considered old Catholic churches as the most visible legacy of Spain’s great influence on the country’s religion and culture. He reported on his agency supervising the reconstruction of Spanish-era churches destroyed by the 2013 Bohol earthquake.
UP Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa welcomed the organizers, resource persons, and participants of the conference to the University. Formerly assigned to the emergency department of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), he cited the Spanish grants to modernize the department and establish the PGH Sentro Oftalmologico Jose Rizal as important legacies of Philippine-Spanish friendship.
The conference sessions were divided by topic: archaeology and museology; transportation and mobility; science and the environment; contemporary literature and colonial texts; international relations; migration and demography; language and education; and, propaganda and propagandists.
The presenters consisted of faculty members and researchers of the UP System, Universidad de Olavide, the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Misamis University, University of Asia and the Pacific, University of Santo Tomas, Philippine State College of Aeronautics, San Beda College, Oblates of St. Joseph Major Seminary, and St. Francis de Sales Theological Seminary. (Jo. Lontoc, UP MPRO)