OF SPANISH TIES
Hilario Ziálcita y Legarda
What binds us to Mother Spain
who, in truth, loves us, her sons?
What strange force attracts us
To her people with bonds of brotherhood?
What treasures do we have of her culture,
her Christian tradition, her fervent faith,
her romantic language, its cadence,
Castilian elegance bequeathed to me?
When you circled the globe, the first
in your daring voyage of exploration,
you encountered the Philippines
Thus meriting the world’s admiration…
She, the heiress of your charms,
Thanks you with all her heart.
Manila, June 1999
As a young man, Hilario Ziálcita y Legarda (b. 1913) wrote poems in Spanish and had them published in the Spanish language newspapers of the 1930s. Although he wanted to pursue a career in poetry, he took up medical studies instead. He finished high school and pre-med at the Ateneo de Manila and his formal medical studies at the University of Santo Tomás. After the liberation of the Philippines he pursued higher studies in radiology at Michigan University, at Ann Arbor, USA.
He was in charge of radiology at the U.S. Army 49th General Hospital at Fort McKinley in (sic) 1949-50 and in the U.S. Veterans Administration Office in Manila until 1959. He was the Chief Radiologist at the Chinese General Hospital. With Dr. Paterno Chikiamco, he organized the Philippine Radiology Society and was president at one time. He returned to America in 1986 and worked for the U.S. Army and Air Force until his last assignment at Fort McPherson, Atlanta, Georgia, when he retired in 1993.
Despite his busy career, he had taken time to pursue graduate studies in Spanish at San Juan de Letrán College and in English Literature at the Ateneo de Manila before going abroad. After retiring from the practice of medicine, he went back to his old love — writing poems in Spanish.
From his bilingual book, The Manila Galleon and Other Poems, published by Caridad Z. Sevilla and printed by Eres Printing Corporation, 2004)