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Message of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda during the Launch of Cátedra Extraordinaria De Filipinas at the Universidad de Complutense de Madrid 13 December 2019

December 13, 2019

Our culture is our soul and while many do not realize it, we need to release our cultural energy, which serves as our motivation to work and engage in meaningful and profound social interaction.

Art, history, social sciences are forms that encompass cultural diplomacy, which I deem as the Philippines’ fourth pillar of foreign policy, a  key to opening up the country to political and economic initiatives with other nations. 

In consonance with this belief, I was firm in my conviction to support programs that would cultivate the Filipino soul. As a legislator and when I was the Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, I supported our country’s return in 2015 to the Venice Biennale, the oldest and most prestigious global platform for contemporary art after a 51-year hiatus. Since then, we have sustained our presence in the Biennale. We also created the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino, Baybayinand Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) galleries at the National Museum, while supporting the expansion and improvement of the museum and its regional branches. 

I am pleased to note that Madrid became one of host cities of Hibla the Travelling Exhibition.  Hibla, an initiative of mine which started as a textile gallery in two small rooms at the National Museum, has now evolved into a travelling exhibition, not only in the Philippines but also abroad.

The Philippines is also consistently represented in the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s most important marketplace for digital and print content.  We are now vying to become the book fair’s Guest of Honor in 2024. 

These are just some of our initiatives that promote the richness of our country’s culture and history. 

Today, we are gathered to witness the signing of an academic agreement, between the Philippines and Spain, noting the longstanding relationship between the two countries that is reflected in the similarities in our languages, culture and traditions.

I am pleased to share with you that this is not the first academic agreement signed to promote Philippine Studies. The inaugural program was launched in 2017, in the United Kingdom, at the School of Oriental and African Studies. This year, we have likewise launched the program in two universities in Germany:  in Humboldt and in Ruhr.  Now, we have one in Madrid. 

Each of these programs is customized to serve as a tool to further enhance the diplomatic ties we have with the countries where these academic institutions are located.

Through this academic cooperation with the Universidad de Complutense, we hope to enrich that cultural, historical, sociological and political discourse between our two nations. May we be able to seize this grand opportunity and embark on this journey to immerse in the active exchange of cultural and historical energy, and emerge empowered and inspired.

Congratulations to everyone who has made this milestone possible!