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Without Spanish, What Is A Filipino?

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España y Filipinas (Juan Luna, 1886)

España y Filipinas (Juan Luna, 1886)

The late President Cory Aquino always reminds me of what she did to the Spanish language (its status as a co-official language was abolished in the 1987 Constitution). But I’ve already forgiven her for that. Anyway, as what I’ve written in my last blog post, I am quite certain that Tita Cory would have regretted what she did if she was only given ample time to research about the gravity of degrading the Spanish language from our patrimony, exactly the way she regretted having supported Mrs. Arroyo and her gang. She’s that humble.

Now, since the topic about the Spanish language has again been raised –especially now that it was recently brought back in selected public schools, thanks to the laudable efforts of Department of Education Secretary Jesli A. Lapus–, let me share to you this brief humorous dialogue which I wrote a few years ago (first published in Skirmisher, with minor editing). This skit is based on Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera’s philosophy on local languages.

Have fun reading it! And I hope that you learn something from it. =)

A PILIPINO is convincing a FILIPINO to become patriotic…

PILIPINO: We must get rid of Spanish words from our native languages!

FILIPINO: And why is that?

PILIPINO: “Why” is a stupid question. Haven’t you learned anything from your history class? It is but a folly to retain Spanish loan words in our languages when it was Spain who destroyed our identity!!!

FILIPINO: Oh. Really.

PILIPINO: Really!!! And not only that! We should not cherish any Spanish legacy at all! Aside from Spanish tyranny, Spanish culture is not Philippine culture!

FILIPINO: Does that mean we have to throw away the culture that Spain bequeathed to us?

PILIPINO: Yes, of course! Don’t you remember what Señor Simoun told Basilio? “If they are unwilling to teach you their language, cultivate your own.” In a larger sense, we should cultivate our own culture.

FILIPINO: Hmmm, you have reason. So, throw everything away?

PILIPINO: EVERYTHING! The language, the culture, the concepts, the religious superstition… EVERYTHING!!! Our national heroes have already set an example by revolting against Spanish tyranny! Leadership by example! We should follow the great Filipinos of yore!

FILIPINO: Oh, OK. I might agree. But first, you have to begin this Castilian purging from our “culture” yourself. Just like what you said, “leadership by example…”

PILIPINO: Exactly. I’d be happy to take the lead. Now, what do you want me to do?

FILIPINO: First of all, take off your sombrero my friend. It’s Spanish.

PILIPINO: (stumped). That would be easy.

FILIPINO: And throw away that corbata, too. Of course you know it’s Spanish.

PILIPINO: (thinking) Well… I think I’d still look fine without a tie.

FILIPINO: And your passionate “nationalism” would look good on you if you take off your chaleco, camisa, vestido, zapatos, cinturón, and pantalón as well.

PILIPINO: Now wait a minute there…!

FILIPINO: No, you wait a minute there!!! You’re PILIPINIZATION is not yet reflecting on you. You’re still wearing a relój.

PILIPINO: Fool! This wrist watch is from the US, not from Spain.

FILIPINO: You’re the one who’s loco. We’re not talking about brand names. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing GUESS? or HILFIGER or whatever stuff which came out from another country that is not Spain. We’re not only talking about Spanish words now but concepts also. Before the arrival here of ROLEX and SWATCH and TIMEX, Filipinos already have watches and grandiose grandfather clocks. Of course you should already know that.

PILIPINO: (hesitant) Oh, all right! (mumbles and grumbles, but throws watch away) There! Gone! Now what’s next my Filipino friend?

FILIPINO: You can always tell the time by just looking at the sun, moon, and the stars, My Pinoy friend! That’s the true PILIPINO way! Cultivate our own!

PILIPINO: (sigh of exhaustion) Cultivate our own…

FILIPINO: Uh, sir. you still have your medias and calzoncillo on…

PILIPINO: (raising his voice) Are you mad?!

FILIPINO: Nope. But I think you are if you’re still donning Spanish concepts. Leadership by example?

PILIPINO: (groans)

FILIPINO: Don’t worry! You can always search our forests –or whatever the neocolonizers might have left of it– for tree barks and any natural material for your clothing. Now that’s true PILIPINO culture. Am I right? Or am I right?


FILIPINO: Good! Leadership by example.

PILIPINO: Leadership by example.

FILIPINO: Cultivate our own?

PILIPINO: Cultivate…

FILIPINO: (inspects PILIPINO) Say, you’ve got false teeth.

PILIPINO: (embarrased) Yeah, so what?

FILIPINO: Throw that postizo away, dude. That’s demeaning to our “true” culture. But let’s save your peluca just for this month’s Halloween party.


FILIPINO: Here, wear these in the meantime so you won’t grow cold (hands over strips of banana leaves for the PILIPINO to wear).

PILIPINO: Are you doing this to mortify me?

FILIPINO: How ’bout saying “thank you for giving me something to wear” instead?

PILIPINO: (grumpy) Thank You!!!

FILIPINO: You’re very much welcome. Now where were we? Oh, yes, and don’t use all utensils that the Spaniards brought here.


FILIPINO: OK. Let me make it clearer. “Throw everything away?” That’s perhaps the most patriotic idea I’ve ever heard in my life. Friend, dispose of your cubiertos, aparador, cama, silla, balde, pozo, lápiz, papel, plato, cepillo, florera, la mesa, ventilador, todo todo TODO! And do I even have to mention the food?

PILIPINO: Friend, I think you should…

FILIPINO: Go on? By all means. Don’t even think of continuing your educación. Those libros at school will poison your mind. Stop going to church, too. Remember how María Clara was screwed! And your ancestral home, man, your bahay na bató is getting to be an eyesore. Better demolish it.

PILIPINO: (panting) That house is my family’s house! It is the history and the soul of my family and ancestors!!!

FILIPINO: Which is, unforunately, español. Enough talk. I’m your convert, dude. You woke me up from the “bitter” truth. You make me proud! And without anything to wear now except for those leaves, sonuvagun, you look very fine! Very respectable! Very great when you’re naked, y’know. Very PILIPINO.

PILIPINO: Oh please stop…

FILIPINO: Indeed, without Spanish, our “true” identity will emerge. Thank you, friend, for this “awakening.”

20 responses »

  1. I beg to disagree with this article.

    Philippines could have been closer to the various peoples in Indonesia and Malaysia if it were not for the Spanish colonization.

    We’re better off with Spanish, Malay and English as official languages rather than Tagalog and English only.

    Let Ilokano, Tagalog and Cebuano in the Philippines take the role of Acehnese, Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese in Indonesia.

    Let me point out the errors in this entry:

    A Filipino won’t be nothing without Spanish influence.

    A Filipino tends to belong to an ethnic group, therefore, I can’t buy that banana leaf thing.

    The bahay na bato is not completely Spanish.

    Also, removal of false teeth is impractical, though making fiber from our indigenous plants would really be good.

    Removal of manufacturing techniques and throwing away hygienic concepts is impractical, but what you’re showing is over the board. You have corrupted the meaning of “cultivate our own.”


    • Exactly, I agree with Albert, making our own is not throwing away everything, especially the tie thing, I mean, look at a culture that is far from spanish, the Japanese! Their emperor is wearing a tie! So does that mean he’s inducing spanish culture? LOL This article is completely false and is only a stupid movement of destroying our culture further. Indeed, we could of had a better culture if it had not been for the stupid spaniards.

      And what Tita Cory did was justice to our national heroes, just keeping spanish in our language is demeaning to what they did for us. And im sorry, but him taking off all his clothes off is impratical… Everyone wears the same kind of clothing nowadays… This article is written poorly…

      Viva la islas filipinas? NO! Mabuhay ang pilipinas… 😉


  2. ako may hindi sang ayon sa ilang punto. oo ngat may mga bagay na na hindi na natin maalis dahil naging parte na ng mga buhay natin: salita, kultura, pananaw, paniniwala, tradisyon na (pilit) na pinayakap din saten ng mga kastila para maging gaya natin sila: edukado, may pinag-aralan, ngunit gayunpaman masyado yatang minamaliit ang PILIPINO sa akdang ito. ang pinakaimportanteng tanong ko ay: SINO NGA BA SI FILIPINO? base sa pagkakaintindi ko ay mas nakasentro si FILIPINO sa manila o sabihin natin sa mga lalawigan na bantog sa Pilipinas. ang akin lang naman ay pilipino ang mga taong nakatira sa bundok ng pilipinas at sa mga baybaying dagat din nito: sa makatwid, mga lugar na hindi naapakan ng mga kastila at nakakalungkot isipin na tila ba nawala sila sa larawang ng pagiging pilipino. sila na may sariling kultura, tradisyon, paniniwala, salita at lahat ng iba pang isinalamin ni FILIPINO kay PILIPINO. para bang tinapakan at inalipusta ni FILIPINO ang kung ano na meron pa dati at patuloy na binubuhay pa rin ngayon ng mga katutubo. ibig ba nitong sabihin na nakakatawa at mas mababa ang pagsuot ng bahag, putong, at kung ano ano pa na meron na tayo dati? isa lamang po itong obserbasyon, marami pa kung susuriing mabuti.

    may mga dapat tayong ipagpasalamat sa mga kastila ngunit sa kanilang ginawa nung nakaraan ay hindi sapat tayoy makalimot.


  3. Frankly, I find this observation quite shallow. Obviously what some Filipinos today want is to have “the Filipino identity” stand out more than its influences. Yes, we could have Chinese influences as well as Spanish influences, but your example has nothing to do with language – the tone of your article and the message it ultimately portrays is that Filipinos can’t have an identity without Spanish influences.

    Quote: “Friend, dispose of your cubiertos, aparador, cama, silla, balde, pozo, lápiz, papel, plato, cepillo, florera, la mesa, ventilador, todo todo TODO!”

    Why should he? I thought we’re talking about language here? If you were serious about this example, I can easily tell you Spaniards did not invent socks nor did they invent false teeth, so what’s your point? I believe Filipinos are still “intact” culturally despite wearing false teeth and socks.

    I don’t know if you have a huge flaw in relaying your original idea or you carelessly wrote that (bad) example on purpose. You’re throwing up all over the place from language to culture to concepts. Dude, get a grip.

    If you want to talk about culture let’s do it: without the Spaniards we wouldn’t have modern-day DAMASOS meddling with the affairs of the country and its people..Let’s even talk about friar lands… Gee…what oh what will we do without the Spaniards (or Spanish culture, or Spanish anything).

    And oh, are you going to ask me to ‘dispose’ of ‘Damaso’ now? Now if only I could get in one of their huge houses (thanks to Sunday ‘donations’), carry a Damaso in a sack and throw it in a river. I’d be more than happy to.


  4. you know what i got its point from its question… now everybody listen!!! all does this author want to say is that the Philippines will not be in existence if the spaniards did not colonized our country, each islands might have been having their own goverment and not united as one and we must be thankful that spain did colonized us! and that i hope opened your eyes that without spain! their is no “us’ and FILIPINO or Pilipino!


  5. and remember that everyhing happens for a purpose!


  6. sultan cudarat

    Ang Filipino (o Pilipino man) ay hindi maituturing na Filipino kung wala ang kamalayang tayo ay nabuo dahil sa impluwensyang malay, chino, hindu, arabo, japon, americano at higit sa lahat espanol. Ito any dahilan kung bakit tayo ay naiiba sa lahat ng lahi sa bahaging ito ng mundo at kung bakit tayo ay FILIPINO.
    Hindi natin dapat ikahiya o ikatakot ito bagkus dapat yakapin natin ang lahat ng impluwensiyang ito at linangin ang mga mabubuting bagay na dala ng mga lahing naging bahagi ng ating kamalayan.
    Malaki ang naging bahagi ng kulturang latino sa ating sariling pagkatao bilang Filipino. Kaya tayo ay bukod-tangi sa lahat ng mga bansa sa timog-silangang asya. Ang ating kagalingan sa maraming larangan tulad ng ipinamalas ng ating bayaning si Gat Jose Rizal ay patunay na ang lahing Filipino ay world-class, magaling at may ipagmalaki.
    Pag-aralan natin ang ating sariling kasaysayan lalung-lalo na ang mga sinulat ni Rizal sa orihinal na wika – espanol.
    Sa ganitong paraan lamang natin madidiskubre ang ating mga sarili. Mag-aral tayo ng ingles, pero mag-aral din tayo ng espanol, filipino, japon at iba pang wika – hindi ito kahinaan kundi isang kakayahang dapat nating pagyabungin – tulad ni Jose Rizal – na higit-kumulang 20 wika ang alam.


    • Sang-ayon acó dian, chong. 🙂

      Caso lang, ¿anó ba yang “Gat.” na yan na palagui na lang na iquinacabít sa pañgalan ni Rizal? Dapat yan ay tiguilan na dahil ni minsan ay hindí guinamit ni Rizal ang títulong yan sa pañgalan niyá.

      Salamat sa pagvisita sa FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, pare.


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  8. Brandon Baroman

    Masterfully written. I am a believer now. I used to hate our Spanish past. But this article made me stop and think. I will now research more about our past with open mindedness. Thank you, Mr. Alas! More power!


    • Brandon Baroman

      You are a coward and you are weak. You have no intelligence and you are a fraud . Why even allow comments if you are so feeble minded that you have to fraudulently remove peoples posts and completely fabricate new ones of the ones you dont like?


      • You still don’t get it, do you? I sent a message to your email address ( a few days ago regarding your gutter-language commentaries. You must not have visited your Gmail inbox for a long time, so I suggest that you go check it out in order for you to understand. I also sent a follow-up message a few minutes ago. Or better yet, click here and read CAREFULLY, especially the last sentence.

        This time, I will allow your latest punk language to stay. And I won’t edit it. Tutál casiraán mo namán yan, eh. But that will be the last from you or from anyone else like you.

        Again, for the nth time, it is 100% OK for me to be criticized. But if you will criticize me, do it in a professional manner. What the human race needs is an intelligent exchange of ideas and opinions. Cung may nabasa ca sa mga isinulat co na sa tiñgín mo ay hindí tamà, puede mong sabihin sa aquin yan ng maayos. Marunong namán acóng maquiníg. Pero cung asarang calle lang ang gusto mó, sa YouTube ca na lang magcomento. He dicho.


  9. Be like Japan, Indonesia or Malaysia? Hindi ba kolonyal din yon? Que bobo eres!


  10. Me recuerda mucho este dialogo a uno que se escribió en los años 70…creo que fue el por entonces director de la RAE filipina. Contaba una historiera similar, que fue lo que le conto a su interlocutor que recibia las peticiones que el español se mantuviese como lengua oficial.
    Tambien contaba que su interlocutor hablaba mejor inglés que tagalo y le molestó tambien que la conversación fuese hecha en tagalo.

    Por otra parte, para sacar el “auténtico filipino” (me recuerda a la expresión “escocés auténtico”) habría que volver al cuerpo legislativo pre-hispánicas…eso si sería un cambio brutal…el sistema legislativo español se basa en el romano, bastante avanzado. Luego se me hace pensar que seria regresar a un sistema judicial bastante brutal y clasista.

    No obstante en el devenir de la historia, lo más probable es que los filipinos hubiesen sido asimilados o bien por los musulmanes(como Indonesia) o bien por los chinos (como Taiwan).No olvidemos que la población ancestral de ambos archipielagos también era malaya. Quizá ese sea el sino para ser “pilipino” haya que ser chino o musulman.


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