The Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day celebrates the strong links between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain. It is celebrated every June 30, remembering the day when General Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the First Philippine Republic, issued an order requiring that the last Spanish soldiers who had garrisoned for almost a year inside Baler’s church be treated not as enemies, but as friends, and that they receive the necessary permission for their return to Spain.
Senator Edgardo J. Angara, the main promoter of the Friendship Day, described this occasion as “a glorious day for both countries because the siege of Baler brought heroes and victory for both parties." Today, it is the symbol of the great friendship between both countries.
The Philippine - Spanish Friendship Day was established by Republic Act No. 9187 of July 22, 2002, as a means to strengthen the relationship between two nations that share history, values and traditions.
Republic Act No. 9187 states: June 30 is a day when President Emilio Aguinaldo commended the besieged Spanish soldiers in the Church of Baler for their loyalty and gallantry. To mark this momentous occasion, there is a need to declare said day a national holiday to remember the act of benevolence which has paved the way in bridging better relations between Philippines and Spain.
The Thirtieth of June of each year is hereby declared as Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day to commemorate the cultural and historical ties, friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Spain. It is hereby declared as a national special working holiday and a special non-working holiday in Aurora Province.
Relations between Spain and the Philippines had been steadily improving since 1998. On June 30, 2003, the first celebration of Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day took place in the Philippine town of Baler, province of Aurora, with Senator Edgardo Angara as host. Guests for this first event were, among others, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the head of Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, Mr. Rodríguez Ponga, special representative for this occasion.
Since 2003, this celebration has acquired more and more relevance and has kept growing in terms of the amount of activities and projects, which have been organised in different locations:
YEAR / PLACE OF CELEBRATION:
2003 - Baler, Malolos
2004 - Malolos
2005 - Iloilo
2006 - Zamboanga
2007 - Baler
2008 - Baler
2009 - Baler
The Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day is strongly linked to the town of Baler, where, in 1898, a group of Spanish soldiers garrisoned inside the town’s church, defended their flag, without knowing that Spain had already lost its principal colony in Asia.
Heroism and stubbornness let the 33 soldiers, commanded by Captain Enrique de las Morenas and Lieutenant Saturnino Martín Cerezo, not only to survive, but to earn the respect of the Philippine Republican Army, whose safe return to Spain was ordered by General Aguinaldo. After this heroic act, this group of soldiers came to be known as “Los últimos de Filipinas” (“the last ones of the Philippines”).
Related: Baler recuerda a los 'últimos de Filipinas' en Día Amistad Hispano-filipina; Republic Act No. 9187 (The Declaration Of Philippine - Spanish Friendship Day)