Despite our own woes, Spain won’t abandon you, ex-minister assures PH


Despite being in a recession, Spain will continue to turn a “fraternal eye” on its former colony, the Philippines.

No less than former Spanish Defense Minister Jose Bono made the assurance at a press conference in a Makati City hotel on Monday that was convened by Spanish and Filipino diplomatic and civil society groups to launch the sixth Tribuna España-Filipinas this week.

The Tribuna—established in 2005 by the Barcelona-based Casa Asia and the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the Philippines’ Fundacion Santiago—provides a regular venue for dialogue among business, academic, civil society and government representatives from both countries in order to strengthen bilateral ties.

At the press conference, Bono, a member of the 30-person Spanish delegation this year, said Filipino-Hispano ties would be maintained and strengthened despite Spain’s “struggling to overcome a very serious economic situation.”

“Even when the going gets rough, we turn our eye to the Philippines always in a very fraternal manner,” said Bono in his message in Spanish that was translated by Tribuna spokesperson Chaco Molina.

Molina, in a press statement, said “the Philippines and Spain share a very special and unique relationship, so much so that Spain has pledged to continue providing grants to the country to support health and education programs despite budget cuts brought on by austerity measures in Europe.”

Continued support


“Despite reductions in the budget for development aid, Spain has assured that the Philippines will be the only country in Asia to continue to receive such support in the coming years,” Molina said.

Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Aecid)-Asia Pacific Director Jose Luis Martin Yague said Spanish aid to the Philippines in the last five years totaled about 180 million euros.

“We hope that in the next years, the level of disbursement will be 50 million euros,” he said at the press conference.

A June 2012 publication of the AECID showed that Spain was the top bilateral donor to the United Nations system in the Philippines, with a 22-million euro contribution.

Bono acknowledged, however, that while Spain’s ties to the Philippines may have deep historical roots, it “has not blossomed to the level of benefits that a country of such significance should maintain.”

“Our bilateral contributions have not surpassed the 300-million euro mark. We are aware that geography has a mandate which is as persistent as that of politics. We’re here to defy those challenges of distance,” Bono said.

In an interview after the press conference, Casa Asia Director General Ramon Moreno said the sixth Tribuna España-Filipinas was supposed to be held last year but was postponed due to the economic crisis and lack of delegates.

Long way to go


He also admitted that while culturally the two countries may be very close, from an economic point of view “we have a long way to go.”

He said the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs only started drafting Asia Pacific-oriented programs in 2000.

“We hope this tribunal can help… to present the good economic potential of the Philippines and the opportunity for Spanish companies to come here. In turn, we would like to receive as well investments from the Philippines,” Moreno said.

He was quick to point out, however, that the forum was more a “brainstorming session” than an economic summit.

Bono, for his part, stressed that the two countries’ affinity for each other “is far stronger than economic interest.”

Very selfless interest


“Spain has a very selfless interest in the Philippines,” he said.

Bono described Spain-Philippine relations as being similar to “a tree that has more roots than fruits.”

“Roots in history throughout centuries. Your names, surnames, your very own history is also our history,” he said.

The sixth Tribuna Espana-Filipinas will be held on Jan. 29-30 at the AIM Conference Center in Makati.

The Spanish delegation will include prominent personages such as Bono, Moreno, Deputy House Speaker Dolors Montserrat, Instituto Cervantes Secretary General Rafael Rodriguez-Ponga and other multisectoral leaders from Spain.

The Philippine delegation will include Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, NAPC Secretary Joel Rocamora, Education Secretary Armin Luistro and presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas, among others.

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  • goldilock

    The world must unite with Philippines against China’s invasion into Philippine territories. Tibet fell when no one was paying attention on China’s crawling invasion under Mao.

    Look at these list of places invaded by China.

    1. Philippines 1990
    2. Vietnam 1979.
    3.  India  1962
    4. Tibet  1950
    5. Burma now Myanmar 1765 – 1769
    6. Korea 1627 – 1637
    7. Japan 1274 -1281.

    Philippines needs help around the world especially from democratic countries. It needs weapons capable of sinking invading ships and help Philippines economically as China is waging economic war on Philippines.

    Economic war:
    1. China offering zero interest on loans to countries willing to support them.
    2. Free products from China includes delivery vs Philippine products.
    3. Ships in and out of Philippines boarded and harassed by Chinese military.

  • bugoybanggers

    Spanish THEIVES o CHINESE THIEVES alin ba ang matimbang? Ang Spain ang nagpaARAL kay Rizal para matoto sa KATOTOHANAN tungkol sa CHINA. Si Rizal ay INSTIK.

    • Sharon

      si Rizal ay halo-halo na. mas ang kabuoan ng pagkatao niya ay ang pagiging makabayan ng Pilipinas at hindi ng China. maraming may lahing intsik pero sa puso nila ang pagiging Pinoy. Kaya huwag lahatin ang mga Pinoy na may lahing instik, mas Pinoy na Pinoy ang iba kahit meron nahaluan na ng iba. ni hindi nga nila sinusunod ang mga kulturang intsik ni gumamit ng chopstick hindi alam lol, siguro yung mga na adopt na nating mga pinoy like pag kain ng siopao, siomai, lumpia, at kung ano ano pa na may kinalaman sa kultura natin pero di nangangahulugan eh? instik na rin tayo lol may halo lang hehe… like yung mga pinoy na may lahing espanyol basta ang centro eh? Pinoy tayo.

  • Myra Cambodia

     “Roots in history throughout centuries. Your names, surnames, your very own history is also our history,” he said.” touching indeed! made me smile!

  • Jose Miguel Garcia

    He who has less has given more than others who gave out of surplus or as a public relations to sugar coat their looting of our resources.  Gracias Señor Bono.  We filipinos do recognize your efforts.

    Today, the spaniards do not anymore control our nation.  In fact considering the economic difficulties around the world this decade, Spain has still managed to provide assistance to poor schools in Zamboanga, water facilities in depressed areas in depressed communities in Luzon and Mindanao, and be the unpublicized biggest donor in all of Europe of development and emergency aid to the Philippines. 

    From anecdotes of many filipinos, the spaniards have indeed been treating us not only as equals and with dignity, but like they are a long estranged mother trying to make up for lost time.

    Between 1500 and 1700s, there was a developmental intercourse of events involving the natives or so called indios of the islands somewhere in the southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific, and the iberians under the government of Spain.  Such events were: the acceptance as well as rejection of the Spanish King as the new king of the different tribes in these islands; the learning of the iberians of the different languages of the islands; the learning of the non-spaniards of the islands of the Spanish language; the development of the spanish political, defense, economic, cultural, and educational system in these islands; intermarriages of the natives of these islands and the iberians; implantation of catholicism; violent reactions of the natives against atrocities by the friars and the government officials; liberalization of Spanish government officials towards the ruled in these islands; and many other interactions.  Such events resulted to the conception of Filipinas around the 1700s to the 1800s.  In 1898, when we came out of the womb of Madre España, we were born as a new entity, an independent and already a sovereign nation- Filipinas.

    • Jose Miguel Garcia

      Coleman in “The Friars in the Philippines”, and NationMasters 2012 in “GDP per capita in 1900 by country. Definition, graph, and map” reported that during our birth as a nation in 1898:

      We were among the most educated in all of Asia.  Our economy and standard of living were ahead of most of our Asian neighbors and even many European countries at that time.  In 1900, the estimated GDP per capita for the Philippines was $1033.oo.  We were the second richest nation in Asia, just a little behind Japan, having $1135.oo. We were far ahead of China, having $652.oo or India having $625.oo.

      Corpus in his “Roots of the Filipino Nation” and Vivencio Jose in his “Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna”, reported how our nationalism and unity at their peak in the 1900s was unprecedented and has never anymore been surpassed.

      • Jose Miguel Garcia

        This developmental intercourse of events produced great filipinos like: Andres Bonifacio, the Father of Philippine Independence, whose mother was a mestiza española, and; Maj Torres Bugallon, a mestizo español, one of the many valiant filipino military officers who helped Gen Antonio Luna lead our defense forces in defending our nation against the U.S. invaders of the 1900s who today continue to control and tamper with the Determinant of National Actions of our nation.

        Above all, we will not forget that stage of our developmental intercourse of events involving the indios of these islands and the iberians in the name of Spain in the valiant defense of these islands against a foreign invader in the late 1500s- Limahong, the precursor of the present chinese invaders also catching up with the U.S. in controlling and tampering with the Determinant of National Actions of our nation.

        Viva España y Filipinas!

  • imjinah

    Taking the role of a ‘parent’, I don’t think Spain has moral obligation to the Philippines. We’re not its little poster boy to help or is there any reason for Filipinos to beg for their aid. We have our own determination as a state now which they once tried to deprive us of. However, taking the role of human rights violator, Spain indeed has some reparations to give despite its last colonial hold was a century ago.

    • Pepe Alas

      Human rights violator?! What human rights did Spain violate? My golly. Classroom/textbook history at its worst.

      • imjinah

        Then what is your alternative? I don’t need your indirect insult. If you have your side to prove, enlighten me with what you have to offer.

      • Pepe Alas

        “Then to where should we indict colonial exploitation, Mexico AKA New Spain?”
        The English connotation of the term “colonization”, the one which was fed to you by your US-centric classrooms, is the only one you know. For your intelligence enhancement, colonization is different in the Spanish context.

        “Sounds like a Spanish apologist.”
        Sounds like. But not exactly.

        “Your site is also reeking of that passe fantasy while everyone moved on.”
        Fantasy? LOL! Everybody moved on? Then why the heck did you comment about Spain’s alleged “human rights violations”? ROFLMAO!!!

        “What was fed to you to become that delusional, anyway? LOL”
        You do not know how to argue. Pity you.

      • imjinah

        That previous comment was gravely ill-constructed. I wasn’t here for unpleasant discussion and I don’t think you would really listen if I explain how that poorly-thought reply came to be since the reputation of this account is already tainted in your view. Sorry for that, though

        Anyway, I hope you could let that pass for once. I just need your own point of view and knowledge of the Spanish period. Healthy discourse is what’s best if we would like our views sent across.

      • imjinah

        Hope you could still entertain my inquiry. This is purely absent of trolling of any sort.

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