Spain clarifies legislation offering citizenship

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 27 2014 07:32 PM | Updated as of Mar 28 2014 09:24 PM

MANILA – Excited about the news circulating on the internet that Spain is extending citizenship to those whose last names appear on a certain list?

Well, you can rejoice only if you're a sure descendant of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492.

"The Spanish government wants to bring them back as reparation for past mistakes that is why we are tracing them to offer them citizenship," explained Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Domecq.

Filipinos, many of whom got excited about the prospect of acquiring Spanish citizenship, quickly caught the spreading news on social media sites.

"Nakaka-excite kasi syempre ang laking opportunity yun," said Kimmi Angela Abella whose surname is included in the list.

The embassy of Spain in Manila has been receiving emails and queries since the news broke out.

Reuters reported last month that the Spanish government approved a law which would allow descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled in 1942 to seek Spanish nationality without giving up their current citizenship.

Majority of the descendants of Sephardic Jews are living in Europe and America and the chances of Filipinos coming from this lineage is slim even though many carry the same last names.

"Ang mga Pilipino noon pare-pareho ang apelido. Nahihirapan silang kumuha ng buwis. Dahil dito, taong 1849 nang ipag-utos ni Gobernador Heneral na si Narciso Claveria ang pagkakaroon ng sistema sa pangalan ng mga Pilipino," explained historian, Dr. Vic Torres of the De la Salle University.

The Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos became the list for which Filipinos select the last names that would represent their families.

"Hindi ibig sabihin nito may kamag-anak ka na agad sa Espanya," Dr. Torres said.

But Spain is not closing its doors on the Philippines. In fact, it is easy for Filipinos to obtain Spanish citizenship compared to other countries.

"Any Filipino who lives in Spain for two years can apply for Spanish citizenship," said Ambassador Domecq, adding that it is part of the privilege extended to Filipinos because of Spain's long history in the Philippines. Report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News