The Philippine Embassy, in collaboration with Casa Asia, organized a symposium by Dr. Aitor Anduaga, the first in the series of talks entitled Encuentro V Centenario: Conversaciones Culturales sobre los 500 Años de Relaciones Entre Filipinas y España (Quincentennial Encounters: Cultural Conversations on the 500 year old relationship between the Philippines and Spain), which was held on 27 February 2020, 7 pm, at the Casa Asia Centro Madrid, Palacio de Cañete, Calle Mayor 69, Madrid.
During the opening, Ambassador Philippe Lhuillier stated, “At the Embassy we always wish to point out that our relations are more than Magellan and Lapu-Lapu, more than Baler, more than 1898, more than Jose Rizal even. Five hundred years—half a millennium—is an amazingly long time. We may never know the totality of our joint experience, but we can choose to underscore parts of it that remain relevant and should be learned by current and future generations.”
Dr. Anduaga, a physicist, historian, and former Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, Smithsonian Institute, Max Planck Institute, and Ateneo de Manila University, among others, researched heavily on the history of scientific investigation in the Philippines.
His presentation highlighted notable scientific achievements such as the establishment of the first meteorological center – the Manila Observatory, the publication of the botanical catalog Flora de Filipinas by Father Manuel Blanco, the construction of San Juan de Dios Hospital in the 16th century, a short biography of Padre Faura, etc., the contribution of religious orders to scientific development and research on natural phenomena, and many more. Around sixty participants of combined Filipino and Spanish nationals attended the conference.
Ambassador Carmen Diéz, Director of Casa Asia Madrid, announced that the event marks the launch of the quincentennnial commemoration talks and invited the audience to attend the next round of conferences by two Spanish authors—Dr. Beatriz Alvarez and Dr. Rocio Ortuño—who have written extensively on Philippine literature in Spanish, in conjunction with the celebration of International Women’s day. Other academics who will present in the series include former NHCP Chairman Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, Dr. Stephanie Coo, and Professor Daisy Lopez.
The Encuentro V Centenario will highlight little known aspects of the historical and cultural relations between the Philippines and Spain and will be held every month until June this year, focusing on topics as diverse as science, fashion, language, and literature. Casa Asia is a Spanish institution under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dedicated to promoting exchanges and dialogue among Spain and Asian countries.