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Without Spanish, the Filipino will be disfigured

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Guillermo Gómez Rivera

That is what many of our thinkers and heroes and nationalist writers have affirmed. One of them is Claro M. Recto. He was the one who said that “without Spanish, the Filipino will be disfigured”. He even added that without Spanish, the Filipino will be led to lose all his rights and will be led unto sophisticated forms of slavery, oppression, and poverty.

Senator Mariano Jesús Cuenco said that “only an anti-Filipino will work to eliminate the teaching of Spanish to the students in High School and College…” He added: “A Filipino, be he poor or rich, and more so if he is an educator, who works for the abolition of the teaching of Spanish, is a bad Filipino…”

The two statements coming from two great Filipinos complement one another because what they say is true.

Even former National Language Institute Director, José Villa Pañganiban, wrote that “the teaching of English, Spanish, and the native tongue in our schools contribute to compleat the Filipino identity and personality…”

It is then an established fact that those who are against Spanish are either bad or ignorant Filipinos. Or both.

A Minister of the Marcos regime declared, over TV and what was later called the controlled press, that Spanish is “useless because I find no use for it in my daily life…”

Irked by this official declaration, a young Hispanista asked him: “Are your first and last names not Spanish?”

“Yes,” answered the Minister.

“Don’t you use your Spanish hame and surname everyday? And when you want your bus to stop, don’t you say para?”

The Minister could not answer. He was proven wrong. Spanish is being used by Filipinos everyday, either partially or entirely because it is part of the national patrimony.

Spanish forms a good part of every major native language or dialect in the Philippines. The study of any of our native languages would not be possible without a previous knowledge of Spanish. This explains why Tagalog, called “Pilipino”, has not really advanced as a tool of education and science because the so-called “puristas” have been trying to undress it of its Spanish basis. The use of Lope K. Santos’ “Balarilà”, noted for its mispelling of Spanish words in Tagalog and the invention of new words to replace those of Spanish origin, is the principal cause of the stagnation of Tagalog as the basis of the national language project. Instead of spreading fast a national language, the “puristas” wasted time and money to first overhaul Tagalog of its Spanish influence.

We point this out to show that whenever Filipinos, involved in what could be a good project, turn instead to eliminate Spanish influence, the project they have fails. ¡Mga buisit!

In effect, there is an old Filipino tradition that teaches younger Filipinos not to despise Spanish, because to do so is to court bad luck, buisit. It is related to a prophesy (hulà). The Filipino should love the Spanish language because it is his language. He should study it with interest and not be ashamed to speak it always together with his other tongues. Filipino history, identity, culture, and literature are in Spanish.

Aside from having Spanish as part of his heritage, the Filipino youth should also know that Spanish is also an international language. It is the second language of the USA. It is the principal language of 1/3 of North America, the whole of Central America and the Caribbean countries, and the whole of South America (except most parts of Brazil), not to mention many countries of Europe and Africa. For trade, labor emigration, diplomacy, and the development of the professions, Spanish is important.

Aside from studying Spanish in classes, students will do better if they, by themselves, also make efforts to study Spanish outside of schools. To help them, they should encourage the inclusion of Spanish in publications and TV shows.


This short motivational essay for students was taken from the textbook La Flor de Manila y Lecciones (Español Estructural) which was published in the late 1970s. I just made some very minor edits.

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8 responses »

  1. I am in total agreement. Let’s reclaim our hispanic heritage by reintroducing and promoting the Spanish language in the Philippines. It is not only a significant part of our history but would be a great advantage for trade and commerce with the half a billion Spanish-speaking world.


  2. what a joke!

    after all the cruelty spain and the spanish bastards have done to our people you patronize them? the filipino culture would become Purer without the spanish intervention.

    Spain owes the philippines an apology. you shoul all be ashamed of yourselves. also have a spanish name has nothing to do with a racial and nationalistic identity, aren’t we in a democracy? heck the senator can use a japanese name if he wants…

    you are an embecile.

    • IMBECILE. That’s what you are. IMBECILE.

      Check your premises and get your facts straight, hopefully from a credible historian. And get ready to be proved wrong, IMBECILE.

      • It is normal for ignoramuses to call people names especially if they can’t beat them. So this is OK. At least I know that there are people who are so insecure of me. =)

  3. “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
    – Mark Twain

  4. Nonsense. Utter nonsense. Using superstition to scare the “filipino” into submission to the european master conquistador. The continuing presence of remnants, mere remnants of spanish, are being clung to by old guard spanish wanna be-s and old timers who cling to a dreamworld make believe spanish aristocracy that they never belonged to while they raise their noses above hard working filipinos.
    In this modern day, i cannot read some philippine literature because use of spanish makes the stories undiscernible from the landscape in M-E-X-I-C-O. I reach out like many later generation “filipinos” of non spanish
    origin and cannot find identity under your false layers of adopted illusion. Spanish is for Mexicans, Puert Ricans, Spaniards, and Central and South America

  5. Dear Pepe,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. I completely agree and I share the same sentiments. I am Filipino and an enthusiast of the Spanish language and culture as well. I believe that we Filipinos should learn the language because it is part of our history and culture. We can’t avoid it, so why not embrace it? It is such a beautiful language. I have dedicated my life to the language. It was my major in college and I spent 3 years studying it in Instituto Cervantes as well. Right now I am pursuing further studies in Madrid to be able to teach Spanish back home.

    Espero que podamos charlar más sobre esta tema
    estamos en contacto

    Un Saludo,



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