Spanish to be reintroduced as school subject in the Philippines

The website elcastellano.org/noticia informs that Spanish is to make a return to the Philippines’ school system. It says that the announcement was made by President Gloria Arroyo in a visit to Spain at the beginning of this month.

The news item gives a historical detail of the main aspects related to the Philippine’s connection with Spanish language and culture.

It says that the decision to reintroduce Spanish to the education system of the Philippines will contribute to bring back this country to the historical roots it shares with the rest of Spanish speaking countries of the world, in particular those from Latin America.

Since the time it was discovered and colonized by Spain in 1521, Spanish became for 350 years the official language of this nation. The Philippines was part of the last colonies of Spain which it lost in 1898 in the Spanish-American war. After independence in 1946, Spanish was reinstated in the school curriculum but it was withdrawn from it during the Marcos’ era and has since then lost its place in the educational system of the Philippines.

Despite the fact of being a Spanish possession for such a long time, the Castilian tongue didn’t become the main communication vehicle for the majority of the the Philippinians, who remained using their vernacular languages, which were nonetheless permeated by Spanish especially in the lexical area.

The historical details for the Spanish language not to have taken a firm hold in the Philippines are too complex to be examined in a short post like this.

It’s worthy to note that this news item also mentions that eighty percent of the Philippines’ historical documents are written in Spanish. This is a fact that I didn’t know until now.

Spanish is a language closely connected to the history and culture of the Philippines. The teaching of this language at all levels of the educational system in that country will make a great contribution for its people – among other things – to know, to study and research in their original source more than three and half centuries of its past which is written in Spanish.

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About L. A. Pinel

I'm the founder and Director of Tres Culturas Spanish Language Studio, a specialist Spanish language school in Melbourne, Australia. As a teacher of Spanish I view the study of issues about the nature of the Spanish language in particular and of applied linguistics in general with great passion. I’m also an avid language learner, my other languages are Italian, Portuguese and French; at the moment I'm studying Latin and Mandarin Chinese.

Posted on December 26, 2007, in Culture, Education, Language, Language learning, Spanish, Spanish Language Learning. Bookmark the permalink. 59 Comments.

  1. I am an American of Filipino descent. I have lived in southern California since the age of three and unfortunately have never visited the Philippines.

    To my counterparts on the other side of the Pacific, please embrace your administration’s decision to reinstate the language, albeit as the third official tongue of the land.

    It does not mean that it would subtract what it is to be Filipino, but more likely be to “extend” an already rich cultural island nation.

    It does not seem logical to me to have a “hispanic” type culture and history that connects the archipeligo to Latin America and Spain, but cannot speak the language that defines our last names!

    The opponents of this decision do so on the basis of a historical past of which the islands were at the receiving end of a brutal colonization conquest under the Spanish crown. I myself do not deny this, but that was the way the world operated during that era.

    The Philippines cannot change thier colonial history with Spain and the United States, nor can one choose thier parents, as noble or brutal they may have seem to have been.

    I know we live in a different world today, and globalization seems to be the rhetoric that defines trade, cultural exchange and political diplomacy.

    It would benefit the new generation of Filipino youth to learn Spanish, in addition to their native vernaculars and English. Most Philippine nationals who live outside Manila already are tri-lingual anyways (thier own provincial dialect, Tagalog and English). It would not kill them to pick up a language that would re-open doors to a region (Latin America) that they shares three centuries of a common history.

    The English-Spanish combination here in the states is quite a premium when looking for employment. Take that for what it’s worth!

  2. P.S.

    Those of you who defy learning the Spanish language or denounce its reinstatement based on the Islands’ colonial history under the Spanish crown is justified. Again, there was much atrocities, racism and other negative ramifications that CANNOT be erased.

    However, to use the past to deny a benifit for the future of the country seems illogical.

    Please, look towards the generation of your children, and grandchildren to being able to dialogue their own dialect, English and Spanish. Perfection is not the issue here, embracing a language that represented approximately three and a half centuries of its history and the ability to communicate with an “additional” 400 million people IS.

    Call it “marketability”, call it ” a reminder of the Spanish intrusion”, call it “illogical” or call it “reverting to the past”.

    I look at it as embracing the third component that defines the Filipino mosaic;

    1) Asian by geographics and the roots of our many Filipino vernaculars and physical attributes

    2) the usage of English enables one to communicate with the American, and the English speakers of the world (390 milllion native speakers, and an additional 500 million more second language speakers),

    3) Hispanic, as a “result” of three and half centuries under the Spanish crown which is evident in religion, traditions, customs in addition to the numerous Hispanismos/ borrowed words that have been incorporated into many of the local and national vernaculars.

    Denying any of the three components subracts from the full scope of the Philippine culture. It has developed into a “unique” mosaic that one cannot put into a stereotypical box. I can’t think of any country in Asia that has this strength.

    Think outside the paradigm and more importantly think of the “new” generation of Filipino youth who will HAVE to live and compete in a “globalized” community that will differ greatly from the present. It will be to THEIR advantage “naturally” knowing fluently TWO of the U.N.’s six major official languages.

    The Philippines may never be an economic “giant”, no doubt, what’s to say that it can’t develop into a “cultural” giant? With the implementation of Spanish perhaps the archipeligo can become a “liason” between Asia, North America AND Latin America. Who knows what merits that position may bring.

    That is all !

  3. P.S.S.

    Many nations were “colonized” once, the Philippines were colonized TWICE. There is much shame and animosity with these facts. No one could change that and for the most part the Philippines did not “choose” thier historical experiences.

    My exhortation is to take the remnants of both legacies and use it for future advancement of the Philippines as a “whole”.

    I am not “anti-Tagalog”, “anti-English” or “anti-sensitive to the Spanish regime”. To say it frankly I’m “PRO-FILIPINO”. It is the beauty of one sovereign state that has many unique complexities. This in my opinion, my “primos”, is a Filipino. Our identity is found in THREE components not ONE.

    To understand this could very well be the thread that connects all Filipinos alike. To some, it may seem like a deterent, but in a shrinking and globalized world community, is it?

  4. P.S.S.S.

    FYI, I am an American of Filipino decsent, fluent in Ilocano (not understanding Tagalog) and to my knowledge do not claim to have any Spanish blood.

    I have lived in California all my life, and have experienced the connection and similarities Filipino Americans have with English-speaking Hispanic-Americans in addition to the explosion of the usage of Spanish thus understanding its importance.

  5. P.S.S.S.S.

    I was born in Northern California, thus cementing a proposed contradiction.

  6. THAT REALLY IS ALL!

  7. “…eighty percent of the Philippines’ historical documents are written in Spanish.”

    i think this needs to be qualified. what period is being referred to? if it’s between 1521 and 1898, i think 80% is low. if it’s from 1898 onward, it’s too high. also, what qualifies as “historical documents”? official ones only or do the diaries, personal papers, etc., of everyone living during the period count as such?

  8. I’m afraid I can’t give you the exact period that the 80 % refers to or to tell you about the nature of the historical documents. You’d need to read the original news item at elcastellano.org/noticia, or enquire directly from them.

  9. Mr. Luis,

    As of today, what is the progress report of the Spanish language’s reinstatement to the Philippines’ educational system?

    As you might know, I am a Filipino-American and huge proponent of the idea, given the fact that I don’t understand the Spanish language myself and can only understand Ilocano, not Filipino/Tagalog which is the national language of the Islands.

  10. Hola,

    I haven’t found or read anything else in the Spanish speaking media about this subject. If I get to know more, I’ll add the information here or as a new post.

    Kind regards,

    Luis

  11. Hi im a Latino who is married to a filipina and I have always talked to her as to why Philippines is one of the only nations that doesn’t embrace its history completely. I understand some of its history is tainted with blood but even the British treated Americans bad and killed many Americans but yet we didn’t change our language because of it. I hope for our two cultures to become interdependent once more it will only bring more jobs for many Filipinos.

  12. I think many Filipinos feel that Spanish would return to the Philippines as a “medium” of instruction in schools replacing English and Filipino.

    I don’t think that is GMA’s proclamation. It is to introduce a Spanish language course, at each level, studying 350 years of history, writing, reading and conversation, that is separate from all the other courses, beginning at the elementary level.

    She is trying to redirect the Spanish language from its present “optional and foreign language status” to one worth studying an important part of the Filipino-mosaic and strengthening it from its “foreign status to a “cultural language” status.

    To officialize it, may be the only way of illuminating the importance of the Spanish language from its tragic decline to an “optional” status at the university level of curricula.

  13. Kristina De Guzman

    I don’t think learning Spanish should only be mandatory in colleges and universities, it should start from primary/elementary school. There have been studies that show that children pick up languages far better than adults.

    I’m not opposed to making Spanish a third official language but I don’t think it’s going to work right now. The Spanish language is pretty much on the verge of extinction. How many government officials actually speak it? Unless, they revamp the government and get people who speak all three languages (Tagalog, English, and Spanish)…how can you claim Spanish as an official language when those who are most likely going to be exchanging information with other countries can’t speak the language?

    In any case, I think it would be extremely beneficial for Filipinos to learn Spanish. So much focus has been placed on English but Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. People might also be amazed to find out how many similarities there are between Spanish and Tagalog. I think language is important in understanding one’s culture and right now, it seems like Filipinos don’t really understand their identity and their history. For instance, so many historical texts are in Spanish but few can read them in the original state. Sure, you can translate it but with translation, there’s always distortion of meaning and written from the perspective of the language its being translated to…languages don’t always translate word for word.

  14. Edwin Cervantes

    My family and I migrated in the states (California) almost 16 years ago and at the young age was never exposed fully to the culture or the core value of my own heritage. In the Philippines we’re taught the basic history and revolution of colonial Spain as well as our American culture. We embrace all of these without knowing and second guessing out selves that we are the product of diverse cultures molded to what is now the modern Filipinos.

    It was only when I was living in the states that I truly understand that I am not just Filipino but also a child of colonial past. I carry the ultimate Spanish surname and can be quite mistake as Latin than that of Filipino. I have always thought that the Philippine government should pave the way to its past and pay homage to what is now the foundation of our culture. We speak embrace the American culture so much why not revisit our heritage as Spaniards. Filipinos will always be distinguish no matter where they are. It will truly help everyone and will benefit our international ties with Latin Americans and will only bring us forward and be respect in the Asia Pacific region. We are the the bridge of Asia to the west, why not make us the bridge to the Americas. It brings joy to say the least that I am Asian with Spanish descent that other races are curious to know, while I am proud to let them know the history and culture I am disappointed that there are still Filipinos opposed to the later issue. Bringing Spanish language into curriculum is certainly a benefit to the rest of the Filipinos who are living in the Philippines. This will only widen out communication skills while mastering the culture of others. Filipinos need not to be afraid of the changes, we’re already enjoying the syndication of Latin novelas on television why not expand our horizon and develop the understanding of it all. Tagalog will always be there and this is the language that will always be Filipino.

  15. The “saint” americans sure brainwashed filipinos into believing Spaniards were mean.

    Regards from a “mean” Spaniard

  16. Hola Kristina,
    The government of Trinidad and Tobago have already realized this trend of the importance of Spanish. They have legalized Spanish as official and have required the teaching of Spanish beginning in the 6th grade and have a goal that within 5 years time 30% of Government officials will be “conversant” if not fluent in Spanish. I guess that means Spanish language courses for these officials. The same can be done in the Philippines.

    To the Ilocano speaking Filipino American, interesting since many Filipinos think that Tagalog was imposed on them; 77% of Filipinos do not have Tagalog as their native tongue and my visaya lola would rather converse in English to a non-cebuano rather than Tagalog. Interestingly in Angola, where there is a myriad of tribes and languages and so they had to pick a neutral language to not impose the culture of one over the other. They chose “Portuguese” the language of their colonial masters and the culture/language that unites all their tribes and peoples. All provinces have their regional language but in the national assembly the language is Portuguese. Portuguese is the official rather than the national language.

    In Macau, China, more people will be speakign Portuguese than during the Portuguese era because Beijing is keen on promoting Portuguese in Macau: making it the language in Macau law school as well having 3 Portuguese language channels in addition to their native Chinese. They are doing this because they want Macau to be China’s gateway to the Latino world and the Portuguese speaking countries in the world; already have signed economic agreements with Argentina, Brazil etc and many Angolans, Brazilians, East Timorese are now studying law in Macau.

    The Filipino is very brainwashed and provincial. We do not know how to think global and look at the big picture. Hopefully, it will change, if not sayang talaga as we could be gateway for the latino world in its interests in Asia

  17. What’s the current state of this proposal? Hmmm?

  18. Hola Lon,

    I haven’t read or heard anything else on this issue. However there seems to be quite a lot of interest from the public on this important subject, judging by the number of responses to this post.

    I don’t have a complete knowledge of the history of the Philippines, however I agree with Pepe (see above) that Spanish can be used as a lingua franca in that country. English and French are used in that role in several parts of the world. The particular African models listed by him seem to be suitable for a country with diverse native language groups such as the Philippines.

    I’ll be adding anything new about this issue as soon as get to know it.

  19. I think there’s a slight chance of possibility that Spanish will be reinstated as an official language in the Philippines. As of now, only a number of Filipinos speak it and during the colonial period, most of Mindanao and the mountainous areas of Luzon wasn’t penetrated by Spanish influence. A more possible situation that would happen is it being a required subject or offered as an elective in high school and universities. Although I think it’s doubtful, I actually support the reinstatement of Spanish as one of our official languages because it will help us understand our culture and history better. Filipinos, unaware of their Spanish heritage, are more Hispanic than they think. There are a lot of words from the Philippine languages that are borrowed from Spanish (time and money are usually spoken in Spanish). Filipinos hold fiestas, eat caldereta, and take siestas as well. They go to La Union for swimming, take a walk at the Plaza Salcedo, Plus, I think Filipinos will find it easy to pickup the language because of common words and considerably, the interest in learning it (Spanish telenovelas, Filipinos intending to work at Spanish-speaking countries). I hope they push through with this. =)

  20. I am a pure blooded Filipino and I was born in the contemporary era where Spanish is no longer included in the educational system. As a Filipino, I also agree that Spanish will be reintroduced in the educational system here in the Philipinnes. It’s not to reminisce their 300 years of colonization but to open doors for future opportunities.

  21. I am a filipino with a spanish descent and grew here in the philippines. Regarding with this issue I agree with this proposal because for me it would be embracing our whole culture as filipinos. I think we would never be known today as filipinos if the spaniards hadn’t invaded us. hey, just look in the bright side what advantages can it do to us. Let just move on from the past and think for the future.

  22. @micko:

    I totally agree. Some people have an obsession with past atrocities, that it prevents them from seeing ‘clearly’ of the future. Let’s face it, the Spanish language is part of the Filipino identity…Like it or not…

  23. i come from a family of mixed blood. my maternal side comprise of middle eastern, spanish and japanese ancestry while on my paternal side, spanish and austronesian ancestry.spanish has been a part of our family’s medium of communication but now it has gone.i really wanted to bring back that heritage sine it is not just a part of our history. it is the spring board of our identity.remember that there is no such thing as pure filipino race. the philippines is the only country in asia which do not have its own racial identity. sorry but it is true.look at the east asians. they can be recognized with their physical features and their language.so as with the sout asians. but what about us? we cant even recognize ourselves.may let this be a way for us to bring back the old times.spanish is closer to our hearts and let us join together and explore our beginnings.

  24. The reinstatement of Spanish as the third official language of the Philippines has it’s pros and cons. I believe that most of the Filipinos’ fluency in the English language is gradually deteriorating. It seems like English programs in schools, especially in public schools, is mediocre. If English is not being taught well enough in schools – evident by the mass’ inability to use and speak the language, what more with Spanish – a completely foreign language?

    The reinstatement of Spanish as one of the official languages of the Philippines will give Filipinos more edge in the international scene.

    I agree with Daniel and his wife’s observation – it seems that Philippines is one of the few nations that do not embrace its history well. I have met a lot of Filipinos born and raised here in the United States who are more passionate about the history of the country that I do.

    Spanish – if officially declared as the third official language, along with English and Filipino should be taught in the same intensity as the Sciences.

  25. I’ve travelled to a lot of places around the world. In Asia, I was always identified as Japanese. In other parts of the world, almost always people think that I’m Mexican.

    Surely, the Filipino is of mixed ancestry. Embracing one’s heritage is the way forward. And Spanish is definitely a big part of that heritage.

    I like the Philippines to make its identity internationally as the cultural link of Asia to the US and Latin America.

  26. Excellente. Why not? Bring back the Spanish language to the islands. Spanish will be my 4th or 5th language then. It’s part of our culture and heritage even our greatest national hero spoke Spanish back in the old days why not now? True, the abusive Iberians of the ruling class were rough to the Indios but we already surpassed that. Spain introduced us Christ’s saving grace, a religion that taught us intimacy with our Creator and love for humanity, education & a culture that is unique even among the Hispanic world. It’s time to relive the roots that has been forgotten for almost 111 years. History resonates and tells us that we are more Hispanic than Asian. It’s an advantage for the Filipino people. Re-adapting the language would mean being singled out as the only Spanish speaking nation in Asia! This is not about having trails of Spanish blood in our veins but this about us being a Filipino. ¡¡¡Viva La Republica Filipina Viva!!!

  27. Learning the 2nd widely used language of the world is something that we should look appreciate, this is not new to us Filipino’s because even up until now we still have Spanish names, foods and even some words.

    I want to set this example, I have an uncle from my native place in Cagayan de Oro-he is a Filipino but he only know how to speak SPANISH, he doesn’t have an idea on how to speak well in Tagalog and English (lets face it, theres a lot in Mindanao people who speak Spanish fluently). Let us be proud that most call centers (big companies in the US) give better jobs to Filipinos. It only means that we are beyond edge globally in terms of languages, imagine there are hundreds of local Spanish Agent working in the Philippines already.

  28. I applied in this BIG AIRLINE COMPANY IN THE PHILIPPINES and one of their requirements is you should know how to speak SPANISH FLUENTLY. Honestly, I got that job not because of my education or from what School I graduated, but because I speak Spanish. As what in World Market Stocks 2007 (Davos, Switzerland) says…If you want to become a businessman learn how to speak Spanish.

    Today, we are living in a most competitive kind of life. It is not just merely of your education (School) or your job experience but how capable you are to think globally. Filipino’s are most diverse nationals in the world, and a lot of us wanted to work in a most distinguish company or wanted to travel to Europe and work there, imagine yourself if you could speak Spanish? (as more than half of the worlds population speak Spanish). Lets just take advantage of this better opportunities this would be very helpful for us.

    Let us SUPPORT THE RE-INSTATE OF SPANISH LANGUAGE IN THE PHILIPPINES.

  29. Hey, this is great news and a logical start to revitalize the country’s Hispanic history and heritage with Spain and Latin America, which has been largely ignored and discredited.

  30. P.S.

    @Al: Your experience is very common these days. The United States -whether the people like it or not – has many job opportunities that require English-Spanish bilingual speakers. In addition, from my understanding, Brazil (the only Portuguese speaking nation in the Latin American region) is experiencing a similar situation. I just hope the Philippines and the Filipino people start understanding the importance of the Spanish language, and to separate the language from its negative “colonial” stigma to unlimited doors of opportunity.

  31. Hola!

    Estoy Filipino Americano, tomé clases de español en secundaria y aprendió español con bastante facilidad. Ni siquiera sabía que existían palabras en español en tagalo, cuando yo era un niño.

    Hindi ko talagang alam na ang tagalog pala ay mayrong salitang kastila. Nalaman ko lang, yun nag aral ako ng Spanish class sa America.

  32. This is great news for the new generation. I don’t think Spanish should “replace” Filipino or English, but it maybe a good idea to officialize it once again as the third official language. Despite the travesties of colonization, it still is an intregal part of Filipino history.

  33. Tornatras de pueblo Mariquina

    I strongly disagree with this because I search the internet 4 more info of the spanish king and it said that the king requested that be an official language and be taught to all Filipinos and saw in the internet that Madame president is gonna reintroduce Spanish so unnoticed, She doesn’t have the right to introduce it without the consultance from a legal adviser and the law of the Philippines clearly states that a cultural decision must pass through the people and by the people the bill can be denied or approved.

  34. Tornatras de pueblo Mariquina

    In the info about the Filipino language, I saw that 40% of the Filipino language is borrowed Spanish words so isn’t that enough cuz i’m a Filipino and don’t like to suffer the saying of us Filipinos, “The one who rejects his/her own language is more raw than fish.”, this saying was stated by Dr.Jose Rizal, our national hero.

  35. Tornatras de pueblo Mariquina

    We have our own identity their is a Pure, Mixed, Tornatras Filipino and the ones who wants to be a Filipino and our culture one of the most diverse in the world can Madame President respect that we don’t want to learn Spanish and if she makes the bill legal what’s next she’s gonna put Japanese cuz we were colonized by them so we gonna learn Japanese also this is so wrong we are loosing our identity bcuz were showing a colonial identity an identity that is Spanish and American ones why can she know that many Filipinos aren’t fluent with their own language but we are fluent with colonial language and Philippines is a teeneger now and she can decide of she wants not the brain but her heart.

    • amigo… Spanish is not a colonial language in Filipinas.. it´s a national language, it´s the language that created Filipinas. There were hundreds of languages and fighting tribes in the archipelago when the Spaniards arrived,, so which one is the purest ? amigo, Spanish and Spain is what made sense of it all and created Filipinas.

  36. 1. I am currently taking up a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in the University of the Philippines. I was born and raised in the Philippines.

    2. In the primary level of education, the state of literacy is currently WAY BELOW AVERAGE (from figures released by the Department of Education; and incidentally, you just need to go to any local primary school and observe a class for half an hour to agree) for the average Filipino child because of several factors which include an over-loaded curriculum and a dismal competency rating for majority of teachers. This with just two offerings of language mastery: Tagalog and English.

    3. This state of illiteracy is carried over to the secondary level because there exists a social phenomenon wherein “concerned” parents in a local community have exerted enough of a political influence that it is an unspoken practice among primary school principals to maintain an almost 100% passing rate in the local primary school level; effectively making the primary school little more than a daycare center that turns over responsibility to the secondary school system once the child is of age.

    4. Introducing a THIRD language mastery requirement is likely to exacerbate the decline of literacy; in as much as it contributes to the factor of an over-loaded curriculum.

    5. There is nothing BASICALLY problematic with introducing Spanish as a required third language of mastery in primary and secondary schools; well, other than possible problems with implementation of a change as drastic as this will create and the GREAT PROBLEM OF FUNDING in terms of teacher training and production of textbooks, as well as other learning programs; of which FUNDING any Philippine legislator will tell you, we don’t currently have.

    6. There is a need to address the overwhelming and more debilitating issue of increasing FUNCTIONAL LITERACY RATES with TWO language masteries before introducing a THIRD.

    7. As to the issue of whether or not the general population will accept the cultural or historical significance of this proposal, I doubt if most people will see this anything more than a trivial point. Most will see it as nothing more than learning a new language, which is basically what it really is. To read more into the matter is overreaction. But the overwhelming fact of the matter is people will still oppose it because majority of decisions concerning national agenda still leans toward a essentialist meter; and introducing a third language mastery requirement is simply not one of things the Filipino child needs to be burdened with at the current state of affairs. We are a third world nation, striving to keep afloat, never forget this essential piece of information because Filipino decision makers certainly won’t.

    • david..
      i like your comments/responses. they are very detailed and sincere.
      i finished BSED-English. i taught for only 2 years in public. i am currently working here in the middle east.

      i agree in your 2nd comment based on my teaching experience way back. our literacy is declining due to some pertinent reasons including the incapability of the teachers and the economic situation of the students. your 3rd comment is true because i have experienced in in secondary during my practice. but the 4th comment is debatable..”hijo, there so many factors that affect the learning process. it is not the introduction of the new language in the curriculum that will exacerbate or will help to the decline of literacy. you will know it and will discover more if you are already in the field of teaching. you will appreciate this beautiful language later on..the government should inject the panacea for the different cancers in our society w/c affect our educational system..”

      study harder..hope you will not change your course..
      be an ardent teacher in the future..

  37. Dante Straulino

    Be practical about it! Spanish has been gaining ground GLOBALLY by leaps and bounds. Here are the facts:

    1. Spanish is spoken by 15% of US citizens and GROWING.
    2. Brazil, with close to 200 000 000 inhabitants, introduced Spanish into their educational system a couple of years back. In no time Brazilians will be fluent in the language, as Portuguese and Spanish are almost identical. Thus the world’s Spanish population will go from 500 000 000 to 700 000 000 by 2050.
    3. Trinidad and Tobago saw clearly the trend and created a Secretariat for the Implementation of Spanish. By 2020 Spanish will be official, alongside English.
    4. Filipinos can learn the language faster than English. All filipino dialects possess a dosage of Spanish borrowings; making Spanish the natural interconeccting language, not English. Believe it or not 2% of filipinos use Spanish at home natively. English is not a mother tongue in the Philippines, Spanish is and has been for four hundred centuries.

  38. Tristan Portocarrero

    Whether we like it or not, our culture, as well as that of Guam and the Northern Marianas, is and has been Hispanic ever since the Spaniards conquered our archipelagoes. Our names and surnames are in Spanish as well. Our religion and cuisine are a legacy of the Spaniards. Our thinking process is like that of Latin Americans.

    We were a colony of Spain. What the Americans did was what later was known as neocolonialism. They took control of our land by force. They purposefully made the Maine blow up while anchored at Havana as they desperately needed to imitate the European countries and their colonial system.

    Tagalog and Spanish, not English, were the first official languages of our country. Filipinas es hispana 100%.4 000 000 de filipinos hablan español como lengua materna. Ningún filipino habla inglés como lengua materna sino como lengua extranjera. In order for us to understand our history we need Spanish. Our first constitution and national anthem were written in Spanish. José Rizal and the Ilustrados used Spanish. There are millions of documents and books on the Philippines written in Spanish.

    We have been immersed in the Spanish language since 1521, English made an appearance 360 years later! Let’s be realistic, for heaven’s sake! All of our teachers speak English as a foreign language not as a native one. Therefore, we use English as a foreign language. However, we can find filipinos who speak Spanish natively. Last but not least, our dialects contain thousands of Spanish borrowings or Hispanismos.

    Spanish must be, by its own right, an official language of the Philippines!

  39. Comparing Spanish and America as parents to Philippines is such a disgusting comparison! How dare this person compare the ones who did genocide to the Filipinos as their parents!

    Better yet, develop Philippine indigenous culture. Take away sombrero and use salakot. Get from indigenous Philippine ethnic groups and make clothes based on their style to remove traces of Spanish and American colonization!

    Spanish must never be a primary language. Malay should be the primary language instead of Tagalog so that these Tagalogs and Cebuanos will not have linguistic issues anymore. English will also be a co-official.

  40. Three Languages Ok

    Officializing Spanish as a language in the Philippines does NOT mean it will replace Filipino or English. It just means, the Chavacano speakers can replace its second/third language to Spanish instead of English. Emphasize Spanish in Zamboanga, Cebu and Cavite because it’s a natural fit there and NOT the entire country. Like or not, “part” of filipino heritage is it’s hispanic element.

    It also means there could be a small but formidable percentage of Filipinos who would be able to read, write and converse in Spanish (the 2nd most spoken native language spanning 23 countries) to open historical doors to its counterparts across the Pacific (Latin America), as well as READ the tens of thousands historical documents, about the Philippines, that are just collecting dust in the archives of Mexico City and Madrid. Meanwhile, the Philippines can use English to communicate with its Asian neighbors being it is now the lingua-franca amongst Asian nations. While Filipino/Tagalog can continue to develop as the nations “National” language.

    It’s worth a try!

    • This is a good try, but what if the historical documents are unreliable? All foreign cultures put in biases. Well you have a point but Spanish as a primary language? No way!

      • Three Languages Ok

        Good poit Outsider…but how will one ever know if those documents are biased or not if one doesn’t know the Spanish language…At least now, one can analyze those documents and determine if they are beneficial or not. Back then, the natives were at the mercy of the conquistadors…they can’t do it now.

        Besides, you yourself don’t have to learn the language. Like I said, those in Zamboanga, Cavite and parts of Cebu, where “Chavacano” is already spoken would benefit “them” and in turn all of the Philippines. French is an official language in Canada, but only less than 20% speak it as a first language. It’s all global political and economic potential not colonial bias or unbiased residue from an era long gone.

  41. hola, here in the philippines they are placing spanish poems (with tagalog translation) inside train coaches, taxis and almost all public vehicles. it seems that they injecting the language slowly into people. i think there would be no problem if they put the language back. whenever i read those poems i felt ive been warped to the past, cant help but smile. its up to our politicians if they will grant this. btw, it seems no one opposes the reinstitution of the spanish language here.

  42. Andres Beneficial

    Those who believe that the Spanish Language is on the verge of extinction may need to re-evaluate the theory.

    There are 600,000 – 2,500,000 Chavacano/Spanish Creole 1st, 2nd and 3rd speakers. 5000-10,000 spanish loan words incorporated in the major languages of Tagalog, Cebuano and Ilocano.

    Bottom line, the African-american/black inhabitants in the Unites States expresses thier dark history in English so that ALL Americans can understand the atrocities of slavery. What good would it if they were to express it in the African languages? Likewise, do not relearn and re-officialize the Spanish language thinking that the Philippines will return to it’s colonial status NO! Relearn it to express the atrocities of colonization IN THE SPANISH LANGUAGE! Globally, it can only open a 3rd major region (Asia, N.America and Latin America) for trade and an economic stiumulus the country badly needs. In addition, ALL of the thousands of literature and historical documents, collecting dust in Madrid and Mexico City, can be READ and UNDERSTOOD by native Filipinos, of today, thus coming to thier conclusion whether or not, each individual historical writing is beneficial or not. How will one ever know?

  43. Andres Beneficial

    P.S. The base for part of the Philippines to learn to read, write and speak the Spanish Language -natively- is already there…Use that base to benifit all the Philippines as a WHOLE!

    Thank you! Excellent artical by the way!

  44. Outsider you sound dumb!! I am from Buayan and in a Spanish language academy school and everyone here is learning it that it seems easy to understand Spanish so I think it sounds good to have a third official language!

  45. According to a commenter in Facebook:

    <>

    @Manny Guevara:

    What’s easy to understand in Spanish? To learn the language properly, you need to know numerous conjugations of the verb. Also, preposition usages can be a bit tricky.
    Despite the loanwords of Spanish to many Philippine languages, it is not enough to facilitate mutual intelligibility, unless you talk about Chavacano.
    If it’s easy, then the Spanish teacher studied your area. Had they came in unprepared, they will waste their time and the Spanish language will be more of a lost cause in that area.

  46. Mising comment

    >>@ Tomacruz and Alas:

    I guess it depends on your definition of an invasion. If by invasion you mean an overtake of one government by another, then it also counts that the Spanish were invaders. You underestimate the fact that Sultanates and the such were also forms of governments. To put it simply: the Philippines was nonexistent, and the Philippine Archipelago was probably nothing more but a collection of tribes and states. This may be. But each state had a form of government. The Spanish arriving and imposing rule on these governments therefore qualifies as an invasion, not of the whole Philippines mind you but of the states that composed the archipelago. That is to say, Spain united the states into a single system: their system. And, eventually the dialects fell inferior to a single medium: Spanish.

    Of course our Spanish traditions are part of our identity — in fact, we already speak some Spanish words in our dialect! But to answer the premise: “Should we love the Spanish language” so as to make it a medium? Not quite. Perhaps we should respect it. But practicing it, especially when 40% of the youth still can’t read or write — what is more learn Spanish — is a fantasy of inconceivable proportion. The necessity of re-propagating the extinct Spanish language in our culture is a prey of metaphysics; it’s impossible! Maybe we should know, at the least, that we once spoke Spanish, but to bring it back from its grave… I think the majority will gag at the notion.

    And finally your greatest error:

    The Spanish made the Filipino people. Should we relegate ourselves to the Spanish tongue therefore? Of course we don’t! I believe your argument is stuck in the past. Cultures change. And much as we want to frown on it, there is really nothing we can do. Moreover, the fact that we don’t speak our predecessors’ language does not make us any less nationalistic. We forget old languages/dialects (or whatever) and learn new ones constantly, just as quickly as the Egyptians seized making pyramids and dug dungeons instead. I am not saying we should forget our inheritance, only that our past is what it is: it is a bygone, we remember and treasure that it is a bygone, but unless national fervor is right, it is a forever a bygone.

    Anyway, I do stand corrected on some points and accept the rather “raw” chastening. But for the most part I think we should just focus on the applicability of this idea, and ultimately, the “now”.<<

  47. Who are not qualified to apply for naturalization of the Revised Naturalization Law?

    Under Section of 4 of the Revised Naturalization Law, the following persons cannot qualify for Philippine citizenship:

    Persons who during the period of their stay in the Philippines, have not mingled socially with the Filipinos, or who have not evinced a sincere desire to learn and embrace the customs, traditions, and ideals of the Filipinos.

    Hopefully, the Spanish-speakers must be able to do so. They must be able to mingle socially with the Filipinos, and most of them will speak to a foreigner in English. If the Spanish-speaker is monolingual, they will have a considerably harder time mingling with them. A few of them find our customs, traditions and ideals weird. Luckily, we don’t have the anti-Spaniard festival.

    With the combined anti-Spanish propaganda, native hostility towards Spain prior to the American occupation, the bombing of Intramuros and the Nationalistic movement after the war, Spaniards and Spanish mestizos have little room to assert Spanish loyalty unless they become cast out of the mainstream native Austronesian society. Their language has started waning.

    By virtue of distance and economics, Latin America is as distant or even more distant than the USA. Our nearest neighbors use English in trade, therefore, it is practical to keep English.

  48. I am learning Spanish and it is just a desire of mine. I think there is nothing wrong with it if ever it will be reinstated as a national language (We are part of the Latin Union anyway). But I honestly think it is a beautiful language that is very easy to learn (It is often remarked as the easiest language to learn), It is even much easier to learn than Tagalog (If ever you haven’t encountered Tagalog yet). Plus, for me it is fun. (Rolling your “R”s is a bit amusing).

    What’s with the fuss about this? Others have their blood boiling saying that it would be a slash in the pride of us Filipinos as they considered it as a “colonial language”. Saying that Spain invaded us and raped our people blah blah and the other “inequalities” of the past that they say in an annoying litany. All I could think about is- It’s a shame that they understand things a bit wrong.

    The Spaniards were the most lenient of all former imperialists. (As I have just learned and observed from reading various articles and books). The Brits, Portuguese and others are more brutal in any way. One example of this is the social divisions/ Caste system are more pronounced in British and Portuguese colonies than in the Spanish colonies (especially Phils). Intermarriage is a punishable crime in case of the Brits and Portuguese while the Spaniards even encourage it. All of these “closeness” like a family is often credited to us being Christians as one religion makes us closer together. One British observer in the past (1800s) even said that “Only in the Philippines I could see a Native, a Spaniard and a Chinese all in one table chatting with each other”. His surprise at this scene is just making it evident that such case doesn’t exist in the British Malaya, Hong Kong, India or other part of the former British Empire.

    It is annoying if after this, someone will say I have colonial mentality. What the hell? Why would they say such a thing. I regarded all races and languages as equals and if I have only the capacity to learn each one of them I will do so. I never regarded the Spanish as higher than Filipinos nor Filipinos higher than the Spanish. The Anti-Spanish sentiment is a useless piece of feeling. Pride will make us all racist in any way. Anyway, why do they stereotype Spanish people as the cliche white-snobby-rich-upnose people? The Spanish aren’t even that white- They are of the Mediterranean race. (Having a nice bit of tan and dark-haired, Oh sunny Spain.)

  49. how I wish to go back in schooling again… during my time, we don’t have spanish subject already. I only hear the language sometimes in my grandparents, during gathering and that was about 20years ago… and almost all of them past away already. by the way I’m Cris my father is 1/4 spanish his a mistiso pilipino and he do look like spanish also… I’m here right now in Japan and there’s a lot of brazellano here… and to say frankly we Pinoys had a lot of the same words with them, and I meet a friend which is spanish and every time I speak to my filipino friend with davaowenio visayan language that I can say about 25-30percet spanish also, according to my spanish friend. cause he always laugh at us. it’s because 50percent, he said, he understand us sometimes… and I can say also its a great advantage for the young once, actually sometimes I ask my father to teach me, and men it’s late for me already…. Hope filipino people will open up their mind on this, not just its for the future. and about the slavery that not true, the catholic church is against on it. damm actually I’m not a catholic… the one who slaved us is the DATUs. not the spaniards.. that’s the main reason why there is a lot of catholic than Islam, because they give a little freedom for the Christian converts.. and about work, they payed the workers. though its to small amount but still they payed them… HOPE you open up your mind and accept the language again pinoys….

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