WMSU President Dr. Grace J. Rebollos and Instituto Cervantes de Manila Executive Director Jose “Pepe” Rodriguez exchange signed MOA documents as Hon. Mayor Celso L. Lobregat of Zamboanga City and Hon. Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar of Zamboanga’s District I (extreme left and extreme right, respectively) look on with joy.
Dr. Grace J. Rebollos, president of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), expressed great pride, honor and high hopes as she and Instituto Cervantes (IC) de Manila Executive Director Jose “Pepe” Rodrigue signed a Memorandum of Agreement on April 22 at the City Hall.
The MOA will cataput WMSU to the forefront of the development and promotion of joint studies, research, educational training programs, and other projects on areas of mutual interest to the concerned parties.
All these efforts are intended to enhance understanding and appreciation of Spanish and Hispanic culture, and to strengthen the role of Zamboanga City as the forefront of RP-Spanish relations.
The MOA signing was officially witnessed by City Mayor Celso Lobregat who host played host to the event, and Congresswoman Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar of District I, Zamboanga City.
Dr. Milabel E. Ho, WMSU Executive Vice President Project Coordinator, and Mr. Armando Arquiza, University Secretary assisted the signatories.
Others present were Dr. Nora Ponce, president, Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College; Dr. Milavel Nazario, officer-in-charge of the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology; some city councilors and other officials and staff of the city hall; members of the WMSU Board of Regents; business leaders; and members of the Zamboanga City Culture and Arts Council.
The partnership was an offshoot of the Sisterhood Agreement between Zaragoza, Spain and Zamboanga City that was initiated by Congresswoman Salazar sometime in 2008.
In choosing WMSU to be IC’s collaborator, Climaco said that she has great confidence in WMSU’s capacity to advance the goals of this cooperative effort and to be repository of cultural and intellectual knowledge.
Rodriguez looks forward, among others, to having WMSU as Associate Center of IC that will teach Spanish using new techniques in language pedagogy and eventually assist in certifying Spanish language proficiency similar to America’s TOFFEL.
He also affirmed that Spanish is the mother language of 400 million people and is the second language for international communication, hinting how learning the language can help one to become globally competitive.
Rebollos, on the other hand, committed WMSU’s century-old legacy of academic excellence and service towards the attainment of the goals of the agreement, even as she continues to usher the university into the forefront of cultural awareness, appreciation and preservation, particularly through an interactive museum that seeks to showcase what is true, good and beautiful of the Zamboangue?o culture.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lobregat commended the agreement saying that it could not have come at a better time, now that the city is accelerating efforts to realize its vision of making Zamboanga a unique premier city of Southeast Asia, endowed with rich history, culture and natural resources that are globally competitive.
Zamboanga City is renowned as Asia’s Latin City, a title that is borne out of the fact that Zamboanga is the only city in the entire country and entire Southeast Asia where majority of the population understands and speaks Chabacano, a Spanish derivative language, on an everyday basis, he stressed. (Ms. Evelyn Luce?o and Mr. Vic Larato, Public Affairs Office, WMSU)