MANILA, Philippines – As President Benigno Aquino III begins his trip across four countries in Europe starting with Spain, here is a summary of the current bilateral relations between Philippines and Spain.
The Philippines was a colony of Spain for 333 years from 1521 to 1898. Formal diplomatic relations were established in September 1947.
As of 2013, trade exchanges between Philippine and Spain reached $590 million, according to the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) website.
Spain has also donated around 28 million Euros in humanitarian aid for those affected by natural disasters since 2007.
In October 2012, Philippines and Spain signed the following five agreements that aim to boost bilateral relations of both countries in the fields of sports, culture, and education.
- Agreement of Collaboration on the Mutual Recognition of Higher Education Studies and Academic Programs between the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) of the Philippines and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain;
- Memorandum of Understanding for the Improvement and Promotion of Spanish Language and Culture Teaching between the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, the Cervantes Institute, and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development;
- Sports Cooperation Programme between the Philippine Sports Commission and the High Council for Sport of Spain;
- Agreement of Collaboration between the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of the Kingdom of Spain, the Cervantes Institute, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development; and
- Agreement of Collaboration between the Philippine Normal University (PNU) and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain, the Cervantes Institute, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development for the development of the promotion, teaching and learning of the Spanish language in the Philippines
In a visit to the Philippines by Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo in March 2014, another five bilateral agreements were signed or stamped:
- A cooperation agreement on combating transnational crime;
- The report of the sixth meeting of the Joint Committee Commission for Technical Cooperation, with the Country Partnership Framework with the Philippines 2014-2017;
- A memorandum of understanding with the Philippine Statistical Authority on verification of documents for use in consular proceedings;
- The Cooperation Plan of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport with Ateneo de Manila University for increasing the number of Hispanic studies students by offering additional conversation programmes;
- Another equivalent agreement with the University of the Philippines.
There are more than 33,000 Filipinos in Spain, majority of them, about 21,000, are permanent residents, according to the December 2012 figures of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
There are also around 9,000 temporary-status Filipinos and almost 3,000 irregulars.
From January to June of 2014, there were 8,655 tourist arrivals from Spain, according to figures from the Department of Tourism.