PGMA hails Fray Urdaneta monument now rising in Urdaneta City

URDANETA CITY, Dec. 26 (PNA) — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo today inspected the Urdaneta City Park and monument rising in front of the new Urdaneta City hall which she personally hailed as a great work of art and a masterpiece in the making.

Accompanied by First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo, the President dropped by Urdaneta City on her way to her mother’s hometown of Binalonan where she personally witnessed the palay procurement activity of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Barangay Pinagnarvacanan.

The monument of Fray Urdaneta, standing on top of a 15th century Spanish ship, is a joint project of the National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCAA) with Vilma Labrador as chairman, and Cecille Guidote-Alvarez as executive director; the city of Urdaneta and Ordizia City in Spain’s Basque country.

Mrs. Alvarez said each of the four murals attached to the ship on where the statue of Fray Urdaneta is standing depict the life of the Spanish Augustinian friar in different settings.

Fray Urdaneta, a navigator during the voyage of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi to the Philippines and from whom this city derived its name, was born in Ordizia City in 1508 where he is being revered as a hero.

President Arroyo said the monument of Fray Urdaneta is being put up as a commemorative activity to his 500 birth anniversary. Relative to this, the President issued Proclamation No. 1423 declaring 2008 as Year of Urdaneta.

The proclamation also sought the formation of a 15-man committee to further deepen research work and studies regarding the Spanish friar.

Ordizia is a sister city of Urdaneta following the signing of a sisterhood agreement between Urdaneta City Mayor Amadeo Perez Jr. and Mayor Jose Miguel SantaMaria of Ordizia in Spain in December last year.

The signing of the sisterhood agreement between the two mayors took place while President Arroyo was making a state visit in Spain last year.

The President, said the monument was put up through the collaborative work of four of the country’s best national artists who were commissioned by NCCA to do the masterpiece.

These include Professor Napoleon Abueva, Abdulmari Asia Imao, Ildefonso P. Santos and Dr. Alejandro Roces.

In addition, world-renowned artist Ben Cabrera also contributed a mural to the collective art design.

President Arroyo said the monument of Fray Urdaneta is yet to be completed sometime in March next year at which time she will return to inaugurate the project along with Ordizia City Mayor Santa Maria and Perez.

The President said the monument of Fray Urdaneta is a testament to the role of the Philippines in the navigational history of the world.

It was Fray Urdaneta who established the first navigational route between the Philippines and Mexico across the Pacific Ocean.

This route is now popularly called “Fray Urdaneta Route” or “torn vieje” (return route).

The President congratulated the people of Urdaneta for establishing such a monument in their beloved city which is being dubbed as the first of its kind in the world, not only for history’s sake but for the future of their city.

For the monument of Fr. Urdaneta, the city government of Urdaneta contributed P3 million, the NCAA, P4 million; and the rest of the funding came from the Urdaneta Foundation in the Philippines composed of Spanish businessmen doing business in the country. (PNA)