Urdaneta, Spain’s Ordizia forge sisterhood pact

URDANETA CITY-Bound by history, Ordizia City in the autonomous Basque country in Spain, and Urdaneta City are now sister cities.

Urdaneta Mayor Amadeo Perez Jr. crossed continents to sign the sisterhood pact with Ordizia City Mayor Jose Miguel Sta. Maria in Ordizia on December 5, coinciding with the 500th birthday of Fr. Andres Urdaneta after whom this city was named.

Basque is a vast country in Northern Spain where the big industries that run the wheels of the economy in the whole of Spain are located.

Perez had received a letter from Sta. Maria conveying the intent of Ordizia city council to establish sisterhood relationship with Urdaneta City, the only place in the world named after their revered hero.

To prove his sincerity, Sta. Maria personally came to Urdaneta on November 15 this year to extend to Mayor Perez the invitation to go to Ordizia to sign the historic sisterhood pact.

The signing took place at the Orizia city hall, witnessed by members of that city’s council and other officials.

Perez said the people of Ordizia consider Fr. Urdaneta as their hero.

Fr. Urdaneta was a scholar, navigator, explorer and a man of God. He was remembered as having traced the route of Ferdinand Magellan 20 years after the latter reached the Philippines on March 16, 1521.

He was in the company of Adelantado Jose Miguel Lopez de Legaspi who first landed in Samar and established their main headquarters in Manila before colonizing the whole Philippines in the name of King Philip II.

In connection with the 500th birth anniversary, the Fr. Urdaneta 5th Centennial Commission surfed the internet to look for any place in the world that may, in one way or another, have a link with the Spanish friar.

The commission said Urdaneta City is the only place in the world named after Fr. Urdaneta who, according to history books, was ordained priest at a rather late age of 46.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo witnessed the signing of the sisterhood pact when she was in Ordizia on December 5 as official guest of that city and the Spanish government.

Perez said he came home on December 7 filled with optimism and with a promise by the Ordizia City council to sponsor 150,000 Euros (approximately P9.3 million) worth of college scholarship for poor but deserving students of Urdaneta, spread over four years. –LM

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