Press Release
June 14, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara will witness the bicentennial commemoration of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 next year in Cadiz, following in the footsteps of three Filipinos who took part in drafting Spain's first constitution.

The invitation to the historic event was extended to Angara by Mayor Teofilo Martinez and the city council of Cadiz, where he attended the inauguration and oath taking of the mayor and the whole city council.

Ambassador Carlos C. Salinas and Honorary Consul from Seville Jose Ignacio Bidon - who is also an adopted son of Baler, Aurora - joined Angara in Cadiz.

Angara will be with foreign heads of state and officials of former Spanish colonies who are expected to take part in the 200th anniversary celebration on March 19 next year.

"This is an incomparable privilege," said Angara, "attesting to the centuries-old ties between Spain and the Philippines that have evolved from colonial animosity to a profound bilateral friendship."

Spain was in the grip of the Peninsular War against the French Empire headed by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 1800's. Local and provincial juntas were trying to consolidate power in Spanish territories still free from French control. The central governing assembly, or the Junta central, was eventually established in Cadiz in the southwestern coast of Spain, which is also one of the Iberian Peninsula's oldest cities.

The junta created a Cortes in which all Spanish colonies were also represented. Don Ventura de los Reyes was selected as the Philippine representative following an election of Manila officials. He was wealthy merchant from Vigan and a member of the Royal Corps of Artillery of Manila who once took part in the Ilocos revolt of 1762 led by Diego Silang.

Then 70-year-old de los Reyes was assisted by two deputies - Pedro Perez de Tagle and Dr. Jose Manuel Couto - but it was he alone who signed the Constitution of 1812 as the Filipino delegate.

Spain's 1812 Constitution established the principles of national sovereignty, constitutional monarchy, free enterprise, land reform and civil liberties such as universal male suffrage and freedom of the press.

"The 1812 Constitution embodied the liberal ideals that were spreading across Europe after the French Revolution. It primarily upheld equality before the law, which in due course gave the impetus for the intellectual leaders of the Philippines, and Spanish colonies in the Americas, to agitate for independence," Angara explained.

"This is a momentous event in the history of Spain and her former colonies as it is from the same well that our collective thoughts and notions of liberty, social justice and civil rights sprung," he added.

Angara, the first Southeast Asian recipient of Spain's foreign policy prize Premio Casa Asia, was in Spain to lead the Philippine embassy's historic June celebrations: the Independence Day, the opening of the first Sentro Rizal and the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day.

Sentro Rizal is the country's premier cultural institution abroad which was created under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 authored by Angara and Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara.

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