Envoys' gazette, invitation yield significant facts
SUNDRY STROKES () - June 23, 2010 - 12:00am

El Galeon de Acapulco News, kindly sent me by HE Mexican Ambassador Tomas Javier Calvillo Unna, carries this interesting item:

The historical ties between Mexico and the Philippines gave Manuel L. Quezon, the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth, the yearning to visit Mexico before any other Latin American nation. He was in Mexico from April 8 to 13, 1937, after visiting Washington, D.C. Quezon was accompanied by his wife Aurora, his two daughters Maria Aurora and Zenaida, and son Manuel.

President Quezon was overwhelmed by the reception given him by the Mexicans; his intention was to travel to Mexico only as a tourist and not as head of state. To his surprise, he found the Mexican people waiting for him with a military detachment ready to received him with honors as President of the Philippines; he commented: “Why did the Mexicans cheer me wherever I went? I looked out of the presidential car and they all shouted “Viva Quezon!”

He was received by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Gen. Eduardo Hay, Mr. Cosme Hinojosa, Chief of the General Department, and Brig. Gen. Manuel Avila Camacho (who later became President of Mexico). The Quezons were accommodated at the Palace of Chapultepec. In Xochimilco, at a banquet in Quezon’s honor, he said he felt as though he were in his own country; the songs were familiar because he had heard them in his own homeland; he also found the indigenous Mexicans resembling the indigenous in the Philippines.

One of the main goals of his visit was to know more about agrarian reforms that were being implemented in Mexico. On the last day of his stay, he met President Lazaro Cardenas in Taxco, and in a strong and friendly embrace, he bid farewell.

President Quezon stated: “As in the past the galleons from Acapulco crossed the Pacific exchanging merchandise. I hope that today, by boat or other means, there will be an exchange of ideas between the peoples of Mexico and the Philippines that will maintain both countries in constant contact with each other. I trust that one day the President of Mexico will visit the Philippines. We will show the person representing you the admiration and warm affection we feel for Mexico.”

El Galeon also contains an interview of Philippine National Historical Institute chair Ambeth R. Ocampo, which interview reveals that Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, the hero of Tirad Pass, was quite a ladies’ man. On his person, after his death, were found numerous love letters and perfumed handkerchiefs from different women.

An invitation from HE Belgian Ambassador Christian Meerschman to a performance of the Mini Choir at San Sebastian Church to celebrate the opening of the Belgian EU Presidency, carries with it the following description of the historic San Sebastian Basilica:

San Sebastian is the only all-metal church in the country, and one of a few in the world. It was designed to withstand common building threats like earthquakes and termites which toppled the three previous masonry churches built on the same spot. Completed in 1891, the basilica is a collaboration among Filipino, Spanish French, Belgian, German, English and Chinese tradesmen.

The church is made of over 1,500 tons of metal parts that were forged in Belgian foundries, shipped to Manila and assembled locally. A multi-awarded German studio executed the painted glass windows, and renowned Filipino artists finished the interiors. Here, the trompe l’oeil is the last known work of celebrated Filipino artist Lorenzo Rocha, who painted the interiors with students Isabelo Tampinco and Felix Martinez to make its metal panels look like stone.

In recent years, historians have suspected a link to the famed Gustave Eiffel, although most primary documents cite its Spanish designer Genaro Palacios.

San Sebastian basilica is one of the few remaining unaltered sacred spaces in the Philippines. Its custodians, the Agustinian Recollects, have retained much of its original integrity, a characteristic many Philippine historic churches have lost to renovations. The basilica’s lifespan is now threatened by corrosion. It has damaged the trompe l’oeil, left holes in steel panels and caused over 36 kilos of steel to fall. Most importantly, the deterioration may be weakening the structural steel components which are housed inside the cavity walls and sheathing. If the latter is true, then how many more years of continued deterioration can this building withstand?

San Sebastian is a national historical landmark; it is listed in the 2010 Watch List by the World Monuments Fund, and is the shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with