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MANILA - Spain's Queen Sofia arrived in the Philippines Monday for a five-day visit to review development projects funded by the Spanish government.
The queen was greeted at Manila airport by top Philippine dignitaries, before she left for a private gathering at the Spanish ambassador's residence, official said.
The queen's visit to the former Spanish colony is "a reaffirmation of Spain's commitment towards addressing the myriad developments and challenges the Philippines and the rest of the world are facing today," the foreign department said.
This marks the queen's fifth trip to the Philippines since 1995, when she accompanied her husband King Juan Carlos I on an official visit.
The highlight of her trip includes a meeting with President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday and a tour of various schools and hospitals which have received funding from Spain, the presidential palace said.
She was also expected to visit the eastern province of Albay and Zamboanga, a former Spanish port city in the southern Philippines.
Spain ranks as the Philippines' 28th largest trading partner with total bilateral trade amounting to $329.6 million in 2011, according to official statistics.
Spain offered the Philippines development assistance worth 28.9 million euros ($36.58 million) in grants and loans in the same year.
Up to 60,000 Filipinos live and work in Spain, and many back home trace their roots to Spanish immigrants who joined the first colonies in the Philippines.
Spain colonized the Philippines for more than three hundred years from 1521, bringing the Catholic religion across the islands.
It ceded the Philippines to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American war in 1898.
Queen Sofia arrived in Manila onboard an Emirates commercial flight from Dubai. Her entourage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport included Spain's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Jesus Gracia Aldaz, Chief of Secretariat of the Royal Household General Jose Cabrera Garcia, and other high-ranking officials from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The queen was welcomed at the airport by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario; DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman, who will serve as Secretary-in-Attendance to her Majesty the Queen;Ambassador Carlos Salinas, the Philippine Ambassador to Spain; Paranaque City Mayor Florencio Bernabe; MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado and Lt. Gen. Lauro De La Cruz, Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said that the queen's five-day itinerary includes, on Day 1, a private dinner hosted by the Spanish Ambassador at his residence. On Tuesday, July 3, her schedule includes a meeting on the Spanish Cooperation in the Philippines, a visit to Escuela Taller in Intramuros, and then dinner in Malacañang hosted by President Benigno Aquino lll.
Day 3 will see Queen Sofia flying to Legaspi City in Albay to inspect the equipment for the local Emergency Response and Disaster Relief system. She will also unvei the statue of Jose Penaranda, the first governor of Albay, in Penaranda Park in Legaspi City.
On July 4, the Queen will visit Zamboanga City to visit housing projects in Barangay Sinunuc, Upper Calarian, which have been funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
Capping the Queen's visit on July 5 will be a visit to the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. There she will lay a wreath at the statue of Miguel de Benavides and unveil a marker at the UST museum.