PinoyExplorer is now in Spain's Capital---Madrid. We have stayed in a small province of Guadalajara, a 45-minutes travel from the city of Madrid. It feels like you are living in northern part of Bulacan and traveling via the NLEX. While in Madrid, I feel like home. For me, it's like the suburban Ayala in Makati City area but has wider highways, medieval architectural buildings plus the presence the statue of our great hero Dr. José Rizal. Yes, the replica statue of Rizal is standing proud at Santander Park. It is in corner of Calle Santander and Avenida de las Islas Filipinas. The mere sight of Rizal is already a relief for me.
So why is Rizal's statue was here in Spain? You might ever wonder why the Spanish government was convinced enough that Rizal deserve a monument to his honor. It was in 1996 in commemoration of his death centenary when it was erected. The story behind this is really monumental work but i don't think it would fit on this blog, so better have your research :)
Well, If you can still recall in our history class in college, behind his parents knowledge, Rizal secretly traveled to Europe in May 1882. He pursue his studies on medicine at the Universidad Central de Madrid and earned his Licentiate in Medicine. It is in Europe where his nationalistic endeavor leads to the birth of his famous two novels "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo."
If you are a fan of Rizal and want to know more about him, Europe especially Madrid has a very rich information. Some books and documents about him are inside the Universities, Museums and Libraries. Madrid is rich in terms of its cultural and historical heritage. They value every document they have and have preserved it well. Some rare books that was possessed by private individuals was sometimes can be found in Book Fairs and Book Sale. So, if you are scavenging for Philippine related books, you can find it here. And don't you know that a copy of the rare novels of Rizal was also found here?
Anyway, PinoyExplorer's purpose is not for the tour, but because I was involve in an organization that advocates on resurrecting our interest to Philippine history. While in Spain, we have to do some research work and bring it home. I'm am talking about Filipiniana.net, a digital library project that has already taking its shape two years ago. Two years of fruitful projects but still striving for more. We want to gather more materials (documents and books) that are very prominent. If we think it's a vital resources, we uploaded it online and let the whole world know about it. I'm not a historian so to speak, but as I was involved in this prestigious project, I have learned to value our history, our culture and our people. I was able to understand more about our history that is already being neglected by our current generation. Most of our history, according to some historians were written here and that's what we are trying to find out. In our studies, Philippine history was interpreted mostly by the western world and we have never heard the stories behind it. It was only in the present days that Spanish historians are interested to go back century hence and find out what had transpired during that era.
If you can recall, more than 300 years ago, we've been colonized by Spain and its early writings about us were written in Spanish. It is not until today that more young historians were determined for an in depth study of our history and forced themselves to study the Spanish Language. For these reasons, more Spanish documents are meant to be translated into English or in Filipino so it could be understood by Filipino readers. Pity on us, these resources were here in Spain and anyone who would like to have access on it should go here first or if you are a scholar, you will have to wait for a scholarship grant.
Our young historians are looking for resources and sad to say that most important historical facts about our country can't be find in our own country. If we have it, they find it hard to access in our National Library and Archives. Now, that's where the advocacy of Filipiniana.net takes place. All these resources should be put online and let Filipinos access it for free. We are open to all possible resources and we aimed to digitized it for preservation.
So much talk for now... In my next post..I will give you some details and stories on some fruitful research work while we were in Spain.