MANILA (Xinhua) —The Spanish Navy frigate Mendez Nunez (F-104) docked in Manila for a port call on Thursday, the first Spanish warship to visit the Philippines since 1898, the Philippine Navy has said.
The Philippine Navy said the Spanish Navy ship Mendez Nunez’s visit is the first visit by a Spanish Navy ship in 121 years to the Philippines since the infamous “Battle of Manila Bay” in 1898.
The “Battle of Manila Bay” broke out in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, which ended Spain’s colonial rule over the Philippines for almost 400 years.
The Alvaro de Bazan-class guided-missile frigate ESPS Mendez Nunez (F-104) has been tracing the Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation of the world 500 years ago as part of its current deployment, said Commander Antonio Gonzalez del Tanago de la Lastra, the ship’s commanding officer.
“We are conducting an 8-month deployment. Manila is one of the many important port visits, but it’s not the only one. This unique deployment is based on the commemoration of the first trip around the world. That’s my main mission,” he told reporters.
Acting public affairs officer of the Philippine Navy Lieutenant Commander Maria Cristina Roxas described the visit as “unprecedented”.
“It marks the first time that a Spanish Navy ship has once again traversed the waters off Cavite (province) and Manila after the post-independence period,” she said in a statement.
Roxas added the goodwill visit will also involve confidence-building joint activities between the Philippine and Spanish sailors, such as a shipboard tour, reciprocal receptions, and friendly games.
The commanding officer of the Spanish vessel and his crew are scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad while in Manila.
F-104 is an Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate, manned by Gonzalez and more than 200 sailors.
On Saturday, the Philippine Navy said the ship will sail to Baler Bay in Aurora province for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of the globe of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Juan Sebastian Elcano completed the expedition after Magellan’s death.
The ship will visit Baler Bay to honor the Spanish and Filipino soldiers who died in the Battle of Baler. The Siege of Baler marked the last stand of Spanish forces in the Philippines.