Filipina historian Dr. Ros Costelo received the “sobresaliente cum laude”, the highest academic honor given by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, one of Spain’s most prestigious academic institutions, from which the likes of Philippine national heroes Jose Rizal and Antonio Luna graduated.
According to the Embassy of the Philippines in Madrid, she defended her doctoral thesis entitled “Public Works and the Spanish Colonial Agenda of Sanitation, Order, and Social Control in the Late 18th to 19th Century Manila” last Jan. 28.
Through Costelo’s original research, she had generated original maps of 19th century Manila based on her analysis of archival documents. She also illustrated in her research how Spain’s colonial physical infrastructure served to create or reinforce social stratification in Manila.
Costelo wrote how Spanish colonial policies affected—whether positively or negatively—life in Manila via construction of public works like water systems, public streets, lighting, slaughterhouses, public markets and cemeteries.
Costelo is the sixth of eight siblings from Tunga, Leyte. She earned Bachelor’s degree in History and became a lecturer at the history department of the University of the Philippines.
She eventually began studying for a Master’s degree in Universidad Complutense de Madrid while learning Spanish.
While thesis writing, she contracted Covid19, but this only bolstered her resolve: “Laban lang! History has taught us with many narratives of people’s responses to the challenges of the time.”
“This achievement would not have been possible if not for the support and prayers of many people and institutions,” she added. “I am beyond grateful.”
Ambassador Philippe Lhuillier said: “Dr. Costelo is not only smart, motivated and hardworking, but she has a good heart and is always there to help towards advancing Philippine-Spain relations. I am certain she will continue to make the country proud.”
Photo: Good News Pilipinas