EFE/EPA- Roland de la Peña
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. Press Release.
Yesterday, June 30th, was the official celebration of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day which was held in Baler (province of Aurora), with the first time participation of the Secretary of the Department of National Defense of the Philippines, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and the Ambassador of Spain to the Philippines, Ambassador Jorge Moragas.  The slogan chosen for this 17th edition is “Lasting Friendship.”
Also present in the event were Senator Juan Edgardo M Angara, Congresswoman Bellaflor J. Angara-Castillo, President of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Dr. Rene Escalante, Director of the above-mentioned Institution, Mr. Ludovico D. Badoy, Executive Secretary of the Office of the President, Mr. Michael P. Ong, Governor of the Province of Aurora, Gov. Gerardo A. Noveras, and the Mayor of Baler, Mr. Nelianto C. Bihasa.
EFE/EPA- Roland de la Peña
As it has become traditional, the event started with a mass at 6:00 in the morning held at San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Church, where the Spanish soldiers, known as “los últimos de Filipinas”, were besieged inside the said church for almost one year in 1898-1899.  Subsequently, Secretary Lorenzana and Ambassador Moragas offered a wreath near the church.
EFE/EPA- Roland de la Peña
Afterwards, the participants transferred to Baler Plaza as part of the second part of the event, where the speeches of various representatives of different institutions were heard.  Ambassador Moragas, during his speech, highlighted the prospects of bilateral relations, that it is a must to secure the existing friendship between both countries: consolidating the growth of Spanish export to the Philippines as well as the Philippine investments in Spain, increase the flow of tourism in both directions and expand the number of students studying Spanish in the archipelago, among others.  Moragas also mentioned that “we have walked together for almost 500 years and the consequences thereof can be felt in almost all aspects in life”.
A delegation composed of 25 persons purposely traveled to Baler from Spain, these are members of the Asociación Nacional Últimos de Filipinas, Héreos de Baler.  Said association also organized a commemorative dinner on July 1 at the Casino Español in Manila where they will serve the same menu that the Spanish soldiers savoured in that same institution when they came back to Manila, right before leaving for Spain.
The Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day has been celebrated since 2003, after the establishment of Republic Act No. 9187 by the House of Representatives of the Philippines.  The chosen date coincides with the publication of a decree signed by the first President of the Republic of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo, in 1899 where he commended the Spanish soldiers besieged inside the church of Baler who were in disbelief that the war was over, giving orders to treat them as friends and to give them the necessary assistance for their return to Spain.  This 2019 is the decree’s 120th anniversary.
The House of Representatives in Spain approved in 2011 an Institutional Declaration giving gratitude to the Philippines for the establishment of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.


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