Archive for July 7th, 2012

Queen Sofia wants Spanish back in Phl public schools

Visiting Queen Sofia of Spain expressed her government’s desire to “reintroduce and reintegrate” the Spanish language in the Philippine educational curriculum.

“I wish to emphasize the support we gave to the educational sector and particularly the efforts of the Department of Education for successfully making into reality the reintroduction of Spanish language in the public educational system,” the queen said during the toast at the state banquet President Aquino hosted in her honor at Malacañang Tuesday evening.

“Since the time of the galleon of Manila, the Spanish language arrived in the Philippines as a promising tool for work and development for the Filipino people,” the queen said.

She said the Spanish language not only highlights the two countries’ rich cultural heritage, but also “opens up opportunities to secure the well-being of future generations of Filipinos in a globalized world.”

Jesus Gracia, Spain’s secretary of state for international development, told The STAR during the queen’s visit to Legazpi City yesterday that they want more Filipinos to speak Spanish to understand the roots of their culture better.

“We are happy to see the Philippines progressing as we reminisce 350 years of our common history and we are proud of our common friendship,” Gracia said.

But presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Spanish language cannot be taught in all public schools due to lack of teachers.

“It is taught in selected public high schools. We have limitations right now. We don’t have adequate teachers. At the moment we cannot make the teaching of Spanish mandatory,” Lacierda said.

He said only 64 of the 7,000 secondary schools nationwide are offering Spanish as an elective for third and fourth year students.

“This is in close coordination with the Instituto Cervantes,” he said.

“It’s part of our cultural heritage. It’s nice to learn a foreign language. It’s always an advantage to learn a foreign language. But the problem is the mechanics and also the practicality of having sufficient teachers,” he added.

More employment opportunities

Senate committee on education, arts and culture chairman Sen. Edgardo Angara said reintroducing the Spanish language in schools will not only strengthen bilateral relations with Spain but also help prepare students for a possible career in tourism, business process outsourcing and other related sectors.

Angara said Spanish language courses should be integrated in arts, livelihood and sports subjects at the 11th and 12th grades under the K+12 program.

“If you speak Spanish, you can speak to almost one-third of the world. If you speak Mandarin, English and Spanish, you talk practically to the entire world. That’s how valuable language is in these modern times,” Angara said.

“The trend of investment and tourism of Latin America is towards Asia. We ought to catch that wave because now we have a natural destination,” he added.

Angara noted that the Spanish government, through the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) or the Spanish Agency for International Development and Cooperation and the Instituto Cervantes, has been sponsoring the training of teachers of the Spanish language in public schools, starting with the first batch of 100 teachers who have completed an intensive summer training last year.

P-Noy hails Phl-Spain ties

Aquino cited the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Spain, saying both countries “stand shoulder-to-shoulder in pursuing the ultimate goals of both our nations – of fulfilling the vast potential of our peoples.”

“And we are working together – whether in trade, sports, defense, or in tourism – in all the vital spheres of human endeavor,” Aquino said.

He said bilateral trade with Spain has been steadily increasing, with 2011 trade figures pegged at $329.6 million.

He said Spain is also a partner in improving the lives of Filipinos through their official development assistance and humanitarian programs.

The President said the visit of Queen Sofia was “a new history being made” that highlighted “a partnership between two nations with shared democratic ideals; of friendship based not on nostalgia, but a principled commitment to the positive strength that can be derived from divergent histories… a shared, and affectionate, cultural affinity.”

P12.4-M grant

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) recently received P12.4 million in grants from the Spanish government for the implementation of the agency’s community development projects in far-flung areas in the country.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said AECID has extended a new grant to the DSWD for the implementation of the project, “Poder y Prosperidad de la Comunidad 7,” particularly in the Caraga region.

Soliman said the AECID grant will be used for the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur and Tubajon towns in the provinces of Dinagat Islands and Surigao del Sur.

The Caraga region has 148,516 4Ps beneficiaries.

The AECID has implemented projects ranging from local governance to disaster prevention, rural development, environment, education, health and social services in the country.

Queen visits Bicol

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and officials of the provincial government welcomed Queen Sophia and her delegation, including Spanish Ambassador Pedro Domecq and Vice Minister of International Cooperation and Latin America Gracia at the Legazpi City airport at around 8:40 a.m. yesterday.

After a short program at the airport, the queen motored to Albay Peñaranda Park, where she and Salceda unveiled the life-size statue of the first Spanish governor of Albay from 1834 to 1843, Jose Ma. Peñaranda.

The queen then visited the Camalig North Central School and evacuation center.

She also inspected the newly installed facilities, including dialysis and x-ray machines, at the Josefina Belmonte Duran Memorial District Hospital in Ligao City.

She also attended a briefing on the P110-million Legazpi landfill project funded by AECID at the Climate Change Academy at the Bicol University. Gonzalo Serrano, AECID program officer in the Philippines, said Spain had released a total of P1.6 billion, or P400 million a year since 2008, to Albay.

The AECID-funded constructions in Albay include the P110-million sanitary landfill in Legazpi City, four evacuation buildings convertible into classrooms in Camalig North Central School in Camalig town, Travesia Central School in Guinobatan town, Ligao West Central Elementary School in Ligao City, and an evacuation center in Daraga town. Salceda said AECID was also among the top donors after super typhoon “Reming” devastated Albay in 2006, as well in efforts to make the province a model in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Tight security for Zamboanga visit

In Zamboanga City, police and the military have secured all the places that Queen Sofia will visit today.

Brig. Gen. Eugene Clemen, deputy chief for West Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said they have not monitored any threat or plot to disrupt the visit of the queen.

“We have implemented tight security for the visit of the Queen of Spain in all her engagement points,” said Lt. Col. Randolf Cabangbang, spokesman for Westmincom.

Cabangbang said intelligence units have also been monitoring the movement of threat groups operating in southern Philippines.

Queen Sofia is expected to check the housing project for urban poor funded by AECID and managed by Manos Unidas, a Spanish non-government organization, and Zabida, a local NGO.

She will also unveil the commemorative marker at the Fort Pilar Museum.