On October 12, 1492, the Genovese navigator Christopher Columbus, acting on behalf of the Spanish Crown, made landfall on an island he later christened Hispaniola.
This year’s commemoration took place within the opulent confines of the Conrad Centennial Singapore’s grand ballroom on Thursday night, a week after the Spanish national day.
The event was graced by a considerable number of attendees, including members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Singapore, local business and cultural figures, and a significant representation from the 2,300-strong Spanish community residing and working in the nation.
The evening featured a sumptuous display of Spanish dishes, treating the distinguished crowd to the richness of Spanish cuisine and wines. Among the culinary highlights were the traditional tomato-based cold soup, known as gazpacho, and, of course, the iconic paella.
Food, long considered a cultural bridge, continues to captivate the hearts and palates of Singaporeans, firmly establishing itself as one of their preferred international cuisines.
Her Excellency Mercedes Alonso
Her Excellency Mercedes Alonso, the ambassador of Spain to Singapore, led the momentous occasion.
Alonso extended warm wishes from her country to the government and people of Singapore, underscoring the strengthening of bilateral relations over fifty-five years. She shed light on the historical significance of the celebration date, noting that it marks the beginning of a profound cultural relationship between Spain and the New World nations.
Alonso interpreted this as a positive exemplar of globalization and integration, emphasizing Spain’s current role as chair of the European Union.
Strengthening of ties
In recent months, high-ranking officials from both countries have engaged in a series of visits, and Singapore has witnessed an increase in Spanish investment and tourism. The thriving relationship has seen the presence of 400 Spanish companies, spanning various sectors, including food and innovation.
Furthermore, cultural exchanges, such as exhibitions and the art of flamenco dance, have played pivotal roles in fostering this connection.
Spanish, being one of the world’s most widely spoken languages, has garnered significant interest among Singaporean authorities, leading to a surge in language courses.
Guest of honour
The guest of honour representing the Singaporean government was Senior Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng. In response to Alonso’s address, Baey acknowledged the shared principles of multilateralism and respect for the rule of law that bind both countries.
Encouraging trade figures underscored the promising economic ties between Singapore and Spain, with Singapore serving as a gateway to Asia for the latter.
The commitment to cultural exchange was evident, and this rapport extended even to the realm of sports, exemplified by the presence of La Liga’s offices in Singapore. La Liga has contributed to the collaboration process through the training of local players and soccer teams.
To cap off the evening, Baey shared the delightful news of Singapore Airlines resuming flights to Barcelona, a development set to facilitate increased interactions between the citizens of both nations.