The Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) through the Language Development Resource Center (LDRC) in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports under its Hispanex program held the first Hispanic Festival on February 29 to March 1, 2016 to celebrate the Hispanicity of Zamboanga City. The university is the first among the recipient tertiary institutions to initiate the festival and the only university outside Manila to be given the opportunity to be part of the Hispanex program.
WMSU president, Dr. Milabel Enriquez-Ho considers the University’s partnership with Spain as a privilege and congratulated the honorable guest speaker, the Education Adviser of the Spanish Embassy to the Philippines Seῆor Fernado Zapico Teijeiro for initiating Filipino-Spanish cooperation undertakings. Along this line, the University looks forward to faculty and student exchange programs in prestigious universities in Spain.
LDRC Director Prof. Julie Uy-Cabato emphasized that we are not celebrating the City’s Hispanicity because we are Spanish wannabes; we are celebrating the fusion and the syncretisation of our native culture with Spain.
In response, Seῆor Fernado Zapico Teijeiro said that among the four universities in the Philippines which obtained Hispanex grant in 2015, WMSU is the first university outside Manila to have implemented a Spanish festival in celebration of the Spanish influence in the country. The concept of Hispanicity, according to Tejeiro, is not only related to Spanish rule in the Philippines, but also about Hispanicity in Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Guinea, and some equatorial countries. He reiterated that even in world literature, some of the best Spanish works are written by Filipinos like Dr. Jose P. Rizal. “His works are some of the finest examples written in Spanish and that is part of Hispanicity. Thus everything that is present in the archives, in literature and in the history of the Philippines is Filipino Culture.” He remarked on the extraordinary importance of maintaining Chabacano as the main language of Zamboanga since this is the only creole Spanish-based language in the world. It is a unique cultural treasure that should be of interest to other Filipino and Spanish scholars.
According to Seῆor Teijeiro, the Philippines and Spain should collaborate on what is common between them to create more opportunities in language, heritage, architecture, music and many other fields of discipline.” He also mentioned that the Embassy of Spain is receptive to have Zamboanga to be its priority partner city and WMSU as their priority partner university in Spanish mobility projects in the country. In enhancing the Spanish language and culture studies at WMSU, the Spanish Ministry of Education will consider the University for exchange and internship programs, such as the Language assistance that would allow young graduates to spend up to three years in the Spanish school system.
The first day of the festival showcased three competitions among student participants in the morning: A Que (famoso Español) celebridad te pareces (which famous Spanish celebrity do you look like?), Influencias Hispanas en las Cocinas Filipinas (Hispanic influences on Philippine cuisine) and the Diseños Hispanos en Camisetas (Hispanic inspired art on t-shirt). Top three winners were given cash prizes. The first placers in all the three contest categories were awarded P3,000.00, second placers received P2,000.00 each and the third placers were given P1000.00 each.
Interesting lectures that highlight Spanish influence in Zamboanga City were presented by renowned personalities in the afternoon: “La Fortaleza y La Transicion del Ciudad de Zamboanga” by Miss Icelle Gloria D. Borja, “La Virgen del Pilar y La Fortaleza” by Professor Claro R. Potenciano Jr, “Architectura Espaῆola en Zamboanga” by Architect Domingo A. Abarro, “La Tradiciones Espaῆolas en Zamboanga: Santos y Rituales” by Dr. Genaro Yap Aizon and “Feriados Religioso y Festividades” by Professor Ryan D. Biong. It was an afternoon ripe with historical information and insights for the College of Liberal Arts, AB History and Mass Communication faculty and students.
The affair also showcased award-winning Spanish films in the second day where students engaged in a lively discussion of the significance of the films as they relate to the local setting. In the afternoon, a cultural presentation of songs and dances dubbed as Cena y Festival de Bailes y Canciones was held in the University Social Hall. (Ella Dee P. Cruz-PAO,WMSU)