Filipina historian receives highest academic honors in Madrid

Published February 23, 2021, 10:50 AM

by Jaleen Ramos

A Filipino historian received the highest academic honors from Spain’s Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Dr. Ros Costelo (4th from right) at the conclusion of her thesis defense, with members of her doctoral thesis panel, Philippine Embassy officials, and members of the Filipino community in Spain. (Photo from the Philippine Embassy in Madrid/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, the Philippine Embassy in Madrid said Dr. Ros Costelo was given the mark of sobresaliente cum laude, the highest possible mark given by the Spanish educational system, after she defended her doctoral thesis last January 28.

The title of the thesis is “Public Works and the Spanish Colonial Agenda of Sanitation, Order, and Social Control in the Late 18th to 19th Century Manila.”

Costelo said she contracted COVID-19 during the final stretch of her thesis writing but this did not stop her from finishing it.

Her work detailed how Spanish colonial policies helped or hindered the lives of Manileños through the creation of public works such as water systems, public streets and lighting, slaughterhouses, public markets, and cemeteries.

It was also praised by the panel for its originality and importance to the study of colonial life in the waning days of the Spanish occupation in the Philippines.

Her panel was composed of Spanish, French, and Filipino historians.

“Laban lang (Just fight)! History has taught us with many narratives of people’s responses to the challenges of the time,” said Costelo. “In the end, this achievement would not have been possible if not for the support and prayers of many people and institutions.”

“I am beyond grateful. I just hope that my work can contribute to the fuller understanding of our nation’s story,” she added.

Costelo hails from Tunga, Leyte. She earned her bachelor’s degree in History and worked as a lecturer at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

She then went to Spain to pursue further studies at Universidad Complutense de Madrid.