The online news portal of TV5
LEGAZPI CITY – From rain-soaked Manila, Spanish Queen Sofia flew to Albay Wednesday on the third day of her visit to the Philippines, touring several climate-related projects funded by Spanish aid, including Asia’s first Climate Change Academy.
The Spanish monarch arrived at Legazpi City Airport at 8:30 a.m. on a PAL chartered plane, and was greeted by Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda and Legazpi City Mayor Carmen Geraldine B. Rosal and other government officials.
The province of Albay was chosen as part of the state visit of the 72 year-old queen because of its projects in disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and its significant achievements in attaining the Millennium Development Goals.
Spain’s focus on the climate-related projects coincided remarkably with the timing of the queen’s visit---July being typhoon season and Bicol being in the typhoon belt. On her first full day in Metro Manila on Tuesday, she braved constant rains to visit various social-development projects.
Albay province is also a recipient of several ODA-funded projects from the Spanish government through the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID).
From the Legazpi airport on Wednesday morning, the queen proceeded to Penaranda Park where she inaugurated and unveiled the statue of José Maria de Penaranda, the last Spanish Governor to serve the province of Albay in 1834-1840. She then proceeded to the town of Camalig, Albay, about 15 kilometers from Legazpi City where she visited the Camalig Evacuation Center.
The province’s gratitude was shown in a serenade by schoolchildren, prompting the queen to applaud enthusiastically.
Then she and her group visited the City of Ligao amid a slight downpour, where she inaugurated the Albay Dialysis Center at Josefina Belmonte Duran Memorial Hospital. She also met several school children at the evacuation center which is being used as a school building, also constructed through Spanish aid.
Albay officials, meanwhile, also thanked the Queen for Spain’s donation of water-purifying machines that have allowed underserved areas access to clean water supply. Just recently, Albay lent these machines to neighboring province Catanduanes, which was hit by a cholera outbreak.
Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Domecq said that the Queen’s visit will strengthen the partnership of both countries in terms of development projects. “We have become over the last five years, the largest European donor in the Philippines, and now the queen has already seen what our country has done so far,” the ambassador said.
Governor Salceda overwhelmed
Meanwhile, Governor Salceda is overwhelmed by the state visit of Queen Sofia to the province. “We are indeed blessed, and the queen’s visit in our province will always be remembered,“ Salceda said.
The last leg of the queen’s itinerary was a visit at the Climate Change Academy at Bicol University, Legazpi City. She unveiled a marker at the academy and had a meeting with representatives coming from UNDP, WFP, UNICEF, and UNFPA. The Spanish government pledged P958 million to support the Academy, the very first kind in the Asian region.
According to Salceda, Spain has poured no less than half a billion pesos into Albay province since 2006-2007.
The queen flew back to Manila by 3 p.m. for an overnight stay, after which she will fly to Zamboanga City for another tour.