Queen Sofia gets rousing welcome PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 06 July 2012 14:03

Zamboangueños yesterday welcomed Queen Sofia of Spain to the City of Zamboanga with a rare display of high pomp boosting historical and cultural ties between Zamboanga and Spain that dates back over 300 centuries ago.

Crowds of well wishers composed of school children and young students lined the streets and waved flaglets as the Queen passed aboard a car on her way to the venues where the activities were scheduled. Different drum and lyre corps also played various tunes as the Queen’s convoy ran through the thoroughfares.

The Queen promptly arrived at the Edwin Andrews Air Base at 9:15 yesterday morning aboard a Philippine carrier from Villamor Air Base and was met by Mayor Celso Lobregat, Deputy Speaker and District I Representative Beng Climaco and District 2 Representative Erbie Fabian. Military honors were accorded to Queen Sofia and Western Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes headed the ceremony.

Mayor Lobregat who hosted a lunch in honor of Queen Sofia at the National Museum at the historical Fort Pilar was overwhelmed with the visit, saying it is another milestone in the city’s history.

“It is a great honor for Zamboanga City to be visited by the Queen of Spain,” the mayor said stressing that it is also a rare opportunity for the city government under his leadership to host such a visit of a member of the Royal Family from Spain.

The Queen’s entourage included Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq, Jesus Manuel Gracia Aldaz- Secretary of State for International Cooperation and other officials from the Spanish Embassy and Malacañang and National Museum Director Jeremy Barnes. 

Queen Sofia visited numerous projects implemented by the Spanish government at the Kalinaw and Katilingban Housing Sites in Sinunuc where she was met with waving Spanish-Filipino flaglets from students of Sinunuc Elementary and National High Schools. The Queen also visited Claret High School in San Jose which is a recipient of various projects that include schools buildings and scholarship programs and later visited the Zamboanga City Medical Center which is a recipient of a Spanish loan in 2000 for the upgrading and modernization of equipment and hospital facilities.

Lunch was tendered by the City Government and hosted by Mayor Lobregat and was held at the National Museum of the historical Fort Pilar. Upon arrival, the queen visited the Fort Pilar where she offered flowers to the Shrine. She later unveiled the marker commemorating her visit to Zamboanga City and the National Museum and later toured the museum’s facilities with National Museum Director Barnes as leading the tour.

Lunch followed and the queen was impressed by the rendition of the Zamboanga Hermosa Chorale which sang Zamboanga Hermosa, Princesita Zamboangueña, Chabacano and No Te Vayas de Zamboanga. Several gifts and souvenirs were presented by Mayor Lobregat to the Queen which included a Chabacano dictionary, a Chabacano handbook El Primer Alfabeto Chabacano and other tokens.

Before leaving the museum, the Queen was amazed when taking a photo with the Zamboanga Hermosa Chorale, Mayor Lobregat joined the chorale in singing the song “No Te Vayas a Zamboanga” which means “Don’t you go far from Zamboanga”.

The last site to be visited was the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School, a recipient of a speech laboratory from the Spanish government, where the Queen was greeted by throng of flaglet waving and screaming students. She was given a demonstration by students of the laboratory class and afterwards the Queen toured the school grounds to the delight of thousands of flag waving and screaming students who were ecstatic, to which the Queen turned emotional.

Despite the scorching sun, the Queen was all smiles as she interacted with the community in Sinunuc and mingling with students from schools she visited and those who lined the streets. During trips to various sites, the queen broke protocols and asked the car to be stopped, for her to wave or mingle with the cheering crowd.

Queen Sofia returned to Manila before 5pm with warm and happy memories. — Sheila Covarrubias