9 May 2013
As many participants were to arrive in Barcelona days before the consultation proper, and since the consultation itself would only start from five o’clock in the afternoon of May 9, participants requested to have a trip to Montjuïc.
So Montjuïc it was.
The meeting place for everyone was at Plaça Reial or Royal Palace, where the Philippine consulate was. Around nine o’clock in the morning, participants started to arrive. Many familiar (and unfamiliar), friendly and happy faces were greeting each other in Ilocano – the common lingua franca of the Igorots – in a seemingly high-pitched welcoming tone, exchanging kisses and hugs, shaking hands and gently patting the children’s heads. For an onlooker, it was a picture of a grand clan reunion.
The group’s main destination was the Montjuïc castle which was a thirty-minute bus ride including a quick stop to have a look at the Barcelona Olympic Stadium. Reaching the foot of the Montjuïc hill, the participants had to go down and walk up to the castle. The place seemed majestic and grand especially the view that it offered, i.e., the old part of the city of Barcelona and its port. With a little imagination and a piece of history, the castle was transformed into its original function – a cruel place where many people were imprisoned, tortured and killed. One of those imprisoned here – and the group’s main purpose of visit – was the Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal. His prison chamber or sala was number 17. It was closed to tourists, yet when the group asked the guard if they could see his prison chamber mentioning he was a Filipino hero, the guard cordially allowed them in. Inside, it was an empty room aside from an art exhibition and a framed poster of information about Dr. Rizal and his imprisonment.
Around noon, the bus was on the road again. Earlier on, in the bus, Mr. Gil Catimo, BIBAK-Barcelona’s president, announced two things. Firstly, the bus would take the touristic route so the group could see even from the bus’s window the other historical and cultural landmarks of Barcelona such as the Royal Family’s house, Arena de Barcelona and F.C. Barcelona Stadium. Secondly, the final place to visit was the Sagrada Familia.
It took an hour before the group had reached the Sagrada Familia. The church had a lot of visitors, an obvious indication that it was very popular. Adding to its popularity was its original architect, Antoni Gaudi, who was commissioned to continue the construction of this church in 1883, after a year when its foundation was laid. When Gaudi died in 1926, different architects took over his work. Until now, the church is being constructed and it will take many more years before it is totally completed.
After some more minutes of taking pictures, admiring the church, and of attempts to enter it, the group went to the agreed meeting place where the bus fetched and dropped the group off near Centro Aragones, ICBE’s home for the coming three days.