Legarda Conveys Filipino Pride and Culture ‘Every Step of the Way’ at Reception for Queen of Spain

During the cocktail reception in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sofia´s third visit to the Philippines since 2000, Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, said that pride in the rich Filipino culture and unique heritage was conveyed every step of the way, from the menu to her Majesty´s guided tour of the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Textile Galleries.

As the event’s host and patron of the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino, Legarda gave a personal tour of the textile galleries to Queen Sofia where she elaborated on the different traditional textiles, locally-grown materials, textile production techniques, and various influences on the Filipino textile industry.

For a peek into Philippine indigenous culture, a special feature for the Queen’s tour included an actual demonstration of how traditional textiles are woven using a backstrap loom by male and female Ifugao weavers and a performance of the Hudhud for Harvest chant.

The Hudhud chants, which symbolize special episodes in the life of the Ifugaos such as times of harvest and weeding rice, during funeral wakes, and when they perform bone-washing rituals, was declared by UNESCO as one of the 19 Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

As they went around the exhibition, Legarda shared with the Queen stories behind some of the notable items in the galleries—the banton burial cloth, the oldest textile found in the Philippines; items from the National Museum’s textile collection, such as the Abel Iloko from Vigan, Tinguian blanket from Abra, Gaddang garments from Ifugao, textiles from Polomok, South Cotabato and Maranao garments from Southern Mindanao; weaving looms, some of which loaned by the Senator; and photos of indigenous people wearing their traditional garments that decorate the walls of the museum.

“The fusion of Spanish and Filipino culture is evident in many pieces in the textile galleries. My grandmother’s ensemble for instance,” Legarda said, referring to a black Filipiniana, “was made with abaca through the process called pinukpok or pounded, which softens fibers with a mortar and pestle to produce a silk-like finish. The design is obviously influenced by Spain, but the material is indigenous.”

Another piece that showed “fusion” with the Spanish culture was a baro’t saya and panuelo made from sinamay cloth.

The textile galleries are housed in two halls of the National Museum, one of which, the Queen Sofia Hall, was named after the Queen in honor of her visit in 2003.

Meanwhile, exhibited in the Fabella Hall, where the reception was held, were botanical plates illustrated by Juan de Cuellar, the Spanish botanist and naturalist in charge of the Philippine Botanical Commission from 1786 until 1801.

“The botanical plates were donated to the Filipino people by His Majesty the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos I, in 1996. The exclusive exhibition of the plates for this occasion is a fitting tribute to Her Majesty and the endurance of Filipino-Spanish friendship,” Legarda explained.

“The relationship between Spain and the Philippines is a friendship borne of hundreds of years of shared history, and the expanding scope of Filipino-Spanish relations is very much evident, that is why we are happy that the Senate has recently concurred in the ratification of the Convention on Social Security between the Philippines and Spain. This treaty will ensure that Filipinos in Spain are secured upon retirement,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and sponsor of the said Convention.

The Senator stressed that she wanted to give due importance to the relationship of the two nations and this was considered in every detail and in all aspects of the reception for the Queen.

“We wanted to make sure that even the cocktail menu showcased the unique relationship between Spain and the Philippines. Likewise, we wanted the venue itself to be reminiscent of the beauty of the Philippine rainforests,” she said.

The cuisine at the reception was a fusion of the finest Filipino ingredients with a distinctly Spanish preparation style, served amidst delicate displays of phalaenopsis orchids, white roses, and sampaguita flowers mounted on driftwood.

“The menu drew on the trademark produce of the country’s top destinations – from Philippine lobsters, prawns, and crab claws reminiscent of the seas of Zamboanga, to the pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and mangoes of our thriving fruit baskets,” Legarda explained.

Local delicacies were also in the limelight, as guests sampled pastillas, baby frozen brazo, and halo-halo. The ubiquitous Filipino dessert was made with classic ingredients like pinipig, dayap rind, and leche flan.

“We wanted to welcome Her Majesty with pride and our trademark hospitality. Queen Sofia and the Spanish Government have been our staunch allies in various cultural, social, and humanitarian projects. This reception is only one way of extending our gratitude to them and underscoring the friendship cherished by our two countries,” Legarda stressed.

Queen Sofia, a dedicated patroness of the arts, is set to return to Spain tomorrow.