XU Hosts 15th PH-Spanish Friendship Day National Conference

Sep 8, 2017



For just the second time, Northern Mindanao again hosted an event marking the annual Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.


The 15th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day National Conference was hosted by Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Department of History/International Studies/Political Science and National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) in partnership with the Ateneo Historical Society, Ateneo Diplomatic Corps, Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts, COAS-ASEA Region, Commission on Higher Education –X, Office of International Cooperation and Networking, and the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission.


The theme for the day-long event was “Legacy and Diplomacy, Celebrating Historical and Modern Ties between the Philippines and Spain.”


XU Pres Roberto Yap SJ gives his opening remarks

XU Pres Roberto Yap SJ gives his opening remarks

In his opening remarks, Fr. Roberto Yap, S.J,, XU president, cited Fr. Horacio dela Costa’s 1975 essay In a 1975 essay, “The Filipino: Identikit,” describing how the Philippines is (still) in the process of becoming a nation. “We must steel ourselves against the shock of finding ourselves in our part of the world a nation of Malay stock, socially structured on a basically Indonesian pattern, obviously the recipient of a large infusion of Chinese blood and attitudes, yet with a cultural heritage in part Spanish, in part Anglo-Saxon; for this nation will be ourselves.”


 “The concept of hybridity has continued to trouble Filipinos, who labor under the false impression that it simply implies the blend of two different species, resulting in a “mongrel” culture,” Fr. Yap noted. “A mongrel, mixed-breed dog or mutt is a dog that does not belong to one recognized breed and is not the result of intentional breeding.  In reference to persons, mongrel denotes offensively a person of mixed descent.”


However, he further explained how hybridity can result in a new species that is both stronger and more adapted to a different environment and result in a people more resilient and more diverse.


De la Costa, the first Filipino who became Provincial Superior of the Jesuits and a well known historian, wrote, “On the part of the national community, an effective willingness not only to accept but to welcome pluralism … we should make it perfectly clear to ourselves that our indigenous culture has been modified by techniques, attitudes, and insights derived from cultures other than our own … and that this contribution is truly an enrichment, not a negation or distortion, of our national values.  Diversity is indeed the essence of our culture.”


“Our friendship with Spain has certainly enriched us as Filipinos,” Fr. Yap said.  “De la Costa significantly observes that: “(i)t was through the mediation of Spain that the ideas of human equality, civic freedom and the rule of law, ideas Hellenic and Christian in origin, became an integral part of Philippine culture.”


He further acknowledged our Christian faith as one of the gifts that have blossomed in this friendship between the Philippines and Spain is our Christian Faith.


In a famous essay that the young De la Costa composed in 1943 during the Japanese occupation entitled “Jewels of the Pauper,” he wrote, “But poor as we are, we yet have something. This pauper among the nations of the earth hides two jewels in her rags. We are a people when we pray. This is our other treasure: our Faith.  It gives, somehow, to our little uneventful days a kind of splendor: as though they had been touched by a King.”


The conference was conducted under an Agreement on Academic Collaboration between NHCP and XU-ADC in line with the celebration of the 15th Philippine-Spain Friendship Day and the 70th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Philippines and Spain.


The NHCP is the national government agency mandated to promote Philippine history through its museums, research and publication, and preserve the nation’s historical heritage through conservation and the marking of historic sites and structures.


The conference was highlighted by the presentation of the following papers in relation to the theme:


Reconfiguration of Historical Perspectives on Pre-Hispanic, Hispanic and Post-Hispanic Social Spaces in the Philippines (Luzile Mae B. Satur, Southeast Asian Studies, University of Passau, Germany);


Presenters Lizele Mae Satur, Maria Janua Cunanan and Lee Ahthony Neri listen attentively to a question from the floor.

Presenters Lizele Mae Satur, Maria Janua Cunanan and Lee Ahthony Neri listen attentively to a question from the floor.

The Alubijid Spanish Kiln: The Archeology, Colonial History, and its Cultural Significance (Leee Anthony M. Neri, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Archeological Studies Program, UP-Diliman);


Mindanao Muslim History: Documentary Sources of the Spanish Colonial Intervention into Mindanao and Sulu (Maria Janua Cunanan (Political Science and History Dept. Faculty, Ateneo de Davao University;


Encuesta Basica de la Motivacion en el Aprendizaje de Ele (Español Lengua Extranjera): A Case Study in Foreign Language Learning, Xavier University, AY 2015-2016 (Catalina H. Gaite, Communications Office Director, History Dept. Faculty, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan)


Catalina H. Gaite fields a question from the floor as Andres Narros Lluch listens in during the open forum.

Catalina H. Gaite fields a question from the floor as Andres Narros Lluch listens in during the open forum.

The Komedya of International Development (Andres Narros Lluch, Ph.D., President & Co-Founder, KILAHA Foundation, Mambajao, Camiguin).


A total of 230 students, faculty and institution representatives from the following schools attended the day-long conference: Central Mindanao University-Valencia, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), MSU-Naawan, MSU-Marawi, Capitol University, Cagayan de Oro College, Cagayan de Oro National High School, Iligan City National High School and the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP).


An SRO crowd for the conference

An SRO crowd for the conference

Philippine–Spanish Friendship Day (Día de la Amistad entre España y Filipinas or Día de la Amistad Hispano-Filipina) celebrates the strong links between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain every June 30.


It was established by Republic Act No. 9187 on 22 July 2002, in commemoration of the day when General Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the First Philippine Republic, issued a decree requiring the last Spanish soldiers who had been besieged for almost a year inside Baler’s (Aurora) church be treated not as enemies and prisoners of war, but as friends. It also ordered that they receive the necessary permission for their return to Spain.

These diplomatic ties established in 1947 mirrored our countries’ mutual commitment to pursue beneficial initiatives as it recognized our unique connections in history. It is also a fortunate circumstance that 70 years ago, one of the earliest texts and illustrations on the Philippines in the 16th century came into the possession of Professor Charles R. Boxer, which now bears the name Boxer Codex.


“The manuscript describes the customs of the Filipinos in Luzon and the Visayas, but it is best known for the illustrations that are the earliest representations of the Tagalogs, Visayans, Cagayanons and Negritos,” said Kristian Ian Sulmayor, XU History Dept. Head. “The content of the Boxer Codex presents us with the initial contact between two worlds, signaling the beginning of the history of our relations.”

Since 2006, Philippine–Spanish Friendship Day has been simultaneously celebrated and organized in various locations in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Palencia and Almonte in Huelva). In Madrid, several institutions such as the Philippine Embassy and the Asociación Cultural Galeón de Manila celebrate this Friendship Day since 2009. It has also been hosted by several cities and provinces around the country like Malolos, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Bohol, Iligan, Manila, Vigan and most frequently by Baler, Aurora.


“Healthy friendships will always involve quarrels and misunderstandings, good times and bad, ups and downs, but friendships endure because of the gifts, comfort, support, shared with each other,” Fr. Yap said. “In this conference may we celebrate Philippine – Spanish friendship, a friendship that has stood the test of time.”




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