RSS Feed

Author Archives: Pepe

Learn Spanish from a master!

Posted on

“…La batalla por el hispanismo en Filipinas se presenta desde el mismo hogar donde se tiene que hablar en castellano a los hijos; se presenta en las aulas donde se lucha por enseñar el español a los alumnos filipinos; se presenta en las emisiones de radio donde se inserta un programa, un número de canto o de declamación en español; se presenta en la televisión donde se inserta algún baile español, o unas canciones o toda una película; y se presenta, al fin, en la misma calle donde se le tiene que advertir al ordinario Juan de la Cruz de la hispanidad en su ser como indivíduo, como  sociedad y como nación integrada…” Guillermo Gómez Rivera

Time and again, yours truly have asserted that to be a complete Filipino, one must inculcate in himself at least a basic knowledge of the Spanish language since it had a major role in the creation of the Filipino National Identity. Acquiring this linguistic knowledge opens up secrets about our country’s past due to the fact that much of our unadulterated history is recorded in that language (take note that our national hero himself, José Rizal, clearly and deftly expressed his thoughts solely in Spanish). Once these secrets have been unlocked, a stark realization will dawn upon him that Spanish is indeed part and parcel of the Filipino spirit, that Spanish is truly indispensable, especially if we are to assert our “Filipinoness”.

However, we are not blind to the (sad) fact that not all Filipinos are interested in nationalistic talk. Many Filipino language students consider Spanish as just another language to learn. Many study it for the economic opportunities it offers. In my opinion, that is OK because the language will still lead the Filipino student, wittingly or unwittingly, towards that stark realization of nationalistic self. With the thousands of Spanish words and rootwords  that we use in everyday speech (regardless if you are Tagalog, Bicolano, Cebuano, etc.), there is virtually no escaping the Spanish language because it is truly “blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh“. It is in us already. All we need to do is to tap it to its full potential.

Going back to economics, it’s been observed that there has been a surge of interest in the Spanish language in recent years especially during the previous decade. This is because many BPOs and back office companies (such as APAC Customer Services, Genpact, Accenture, Mærsk Global Service Centres, and Convergys to name a few) are always on the hunt for Spanish-fluent workers to fill hundreds, if not thousands, of vacancies in their offices all over the country. The best part of this is that they usually pay Spanish speakers a much higher salary. In fact, ₱30,000 for rookies is already considered very low. Furthermore, there seems to be no stopping this huge demand for Spanish-speaking employees. More and more investors from Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries have set their eyes towards Filipinaw. And as an added bonus, the Spanish language also prepares the student to easily learn other Romance languages (of which Spanish is a part). Companies such as Hubwoo in Alabang and Sunpower in Biñán are always on the lookout for people who are fluent in either French or Italian. And the pay is even higher. Since Spanish, being a Filipino language, is easier to learn, it can be used as a stepping stone to learn these Romance languages. That’s why it should come as no surprise why Rizal learned Italian in just a few days, and that he and his contemporaries were able to master French with relative ease. Also, one’s proficiency in English will be enhanced since Spanish is its linguistic cousin (both are cognates). That explains why a Spanish-speaking Manuel Quezon learned English in about two weeks, and a Spanish-speaking Claro M. Recto mastered it in only three months.

And let’s not forget Spanish-speaking Nick Joaquín, the greatest Filipino writer in the English language.

Where to learn

In Metro Manila, there are two well-known institutions that offer comprehensive Spanish language lessons. The most popular among students, of course, is Instituto Cervantes located in Ermita, Manila. Locally known as Instituto Cervantes de Manila (ICM), it is not just a school but a cultural center as well. Every month, ICM has several activities in store for both students and the general public such as film viewings, literary and art exhibits, and scholarly symposia to name a few. These activities, aside from supplementing the grammar classes, intend to familiarize Filipinos with myriad versions of Hispanic culture which exist all over the globe, from Europe to the Americas. As such, those who are enrolled are wonderfully exposed to the cultura hispánica.

The other school offering Spanish is Berlitz which has two branches in Macati and one in San Juan. Berlitz is famous for utilizing a unique kind of teaching methodology which it calls the Berlitz Method®. This technique teaches students Spanish in the same manner one learned his own native tongue — through conversation. Both the ICM and Berlitz, however, teach Spanish to Filipinos only as a foreign language. This should not be the case because Spanish is not…

Were Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar, Graciano López Jaena, Recto, etc.  foreigners?

Learn Spanish as a native language!

There is one teacher, however, who is now opening the doors to his home to Spanish language students who wish to learn the language the Filipino way, and in a manner which is homely, more personal, and guaranteed to be more effective. Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera, renowned scholar, linguist, maestro flamenco, historian, and 1975 Premio Zóbel awardee offers Spanish language classes to interested individuals. His classes, located near Chino Roces corner Vito Cruz extension in Macati City, are divided into four levels (1, 2, 3, and 4), with each level consisting of 30 hours. Tuition is only ₱7,000 nett per person (₱9,000 if one on one). The maximum number of students per class is up to four, thus ensuring intensive care towards the learning of each student. Classes run every Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, but other schedules may be arranged.

To those who have not yet heard of Señor Gómez, please take note that he is not just one of those many language instructors who teach for merely profit. The spread of the Spanish language in Filipinas has been his lifelong passion and advocacy. Other than that, Señor Gómez is the leading authority of the Spanish language in Filipinas. A veteran teacher of language of Cervantes, he was once the head of Adamson University’s now defunct Spanish Department for many years as well as a simultaneous interpreter (he was Thalía’s interpreter when the Mexican sensation visited our country many years ago) and translator of legal documents. He has also published various books and magazines on Filipino History and was the editor-in-chief of Nueva Era, the last Spanish-language newspaper in Filipinas. More importantly, Señor Gómez is the most senior academic director of the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española (a local branch of Spain’s Real Academia Española), the country’s only Spanish-language regulating body.

True enough, there is probably no other authority on the Spanish language in Filipinas but Señor Gómez. It’s a guarantee that you will be able to speak Spanish on the first day of class! Enroll now and in a few weeks time, you’ll be able to understand part of Señor Gómez’s Premio Zóbel acceptance speech posted at the beginning of this blogpost. For inquiries, please call 895-4102 or (0930)665-9156 and look for Mr. Hermie Manongsong.

¡Vamos a hablar español pronto!

Traditional Catholic baptism of Junífera Clarita Alas

Posted on

After yours truly was married in traditional Catholic rites last 2013 (a first in Southern Tagalog after many decades), local ecclesiastical history has once again been made when, on April 18 of this year (just two Saturdays ago), my daughter Junífera Clarita was solemnly baptized “according to the use of the islands of Filipinas” (Rito Mozárabe) at the Holy Family Parish Church in Roxas District, Cubáo, Quezon City. The last time this ancient baptismal ceremony was held in our country was more than four decades ago! And since the rites were traditional, all the prayers were done in Latin and Spanish.

Rev. Fr. Joe Michel “Jojo” Zerrudo, the renowned exorcist who officiated our traditional Catholic wedding, was once again the officiating priest. Junífera Clarita’s principal godparents were none other than my esteemed friends Gemma Cruz de Araneta (Miss International 1964 who is also a historian and heritage activist) and José Ramón Perdigón (a Spanish historian who manages the Círculo Hispano-Filipino). Click here to read the story!

Welcome to the Christian world, my dear daughter! Always remember: in this part of the world where we live, to be Catholic is to be Filipino and vice versa!

Walk Back in History: The San Nicolás-Binondo Heritage Tour

Posted on

Walk Back in History: The San Nicolás-Binondo Heritage Tour is a historical and architectural walk on the world’ s oldest chinatown. Walk the streets of historical San Nicolás and cosmopolitan Binondo. Explore their history and the evolution of their architecture. Learn the historical, social, political, and economic factors that gave rise to the unique architecture of the area. Apart from learning history and architecture, learn also another Philippine devotion to the black Christ, the Santo Cristo de Loñgos
—Mª Cecilia Sunico—

This unique tour, probably a first of its kind to be conducted in the ancient arrabales of Binondo and San Nicolás, will be launched on May 3rd, a Sunday. The tour begins at exactly 8:00 AM in front of Binondo Church. Make sure to wear casual summer attire and sandals or sneakers as this tour will require plenty of walking. The tour will be facilitated by my friend Cecille Sunico, a well-known heritage activist in Manila who is also a descendant of the famous Hilario Sunico; chances are, the bells ringing from your población‘s old church belltower were cast from Sunico’s San Nicolás foundry (see photo above)

The fee is only ₱500 per person (exclusive of meals). Click here to join!

Nature and tourism: think about it (Earth Day 2015)

Posted on

Undated aerial view of old Sariaya. © Saint Joseph’s Academy Student Canteen.

Look at all this extensive forest cover behind the town of old Sariaya in Tayabas Province! Do we even still have such scenery in that province, let alone in the rest of the country? The photo’s in sepia, but I could imagine how awed the photographer must have been to see a world blanketed in and endless sea of green at the foot of Monte Banajao.

Sadly, this scene is no more.

I only get to see scenes of towns standing beside huge forests in movies filmed abroad. But in our country, it’s deplorable. I remember scaling one mountain in Batangas years ago and was aghast to find a ramshackle house in the middle of an upland forest there being maintained by a family with kids who still go to school every day. And the house’s surroundings have been cleared off for farming. That was almost a decade ago; I start to wonder if they have neighbors there now. Our country has lost so much forest cover because of capitalist activities. Back then, one could really say that our country was really paradisiacal. But when rapid commercialization crept in at an alarming pace, only a few places, many of which are now privately owned, are left to enjoy.

In my opinion, nature is what attracts tourists the most. All else is secondary. Therefore, aside from tangible heritage, our natural surroundings are what our country should value the most. Our government should learn how to strike a balance between industrialization and environmental protection. A well-conserved forest cover side by side with built heritage will definitely bring our country to places in the tourism scene.

¡Feliz Día de la Tierra!

Lights out: doing our small share for the environment (Earth Hour 2015)

Posted on

Earth Hour 2015 has just concluded. For one hour, from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM, people all over the world were encouraged to turn off their non-essential electric lights as a symbol for their commitment to the environment, particularly in combating climate change. My family chose to turn off everything: lights, electric fans, etc. Our kids were thrilled to see our humble apartment unit lit up only with candles because it’s not every day (or every night for that matter) that they get to experience a modicum of flickering light in the darkness.

Moments after turning off the lights, I looked out the door and saw that our neighbors’ houses were still all lit up. I was amused to find out how apathetic our neighborhood was toward calls for environmental activism. Either that, or me and my family were simply well-informed (one concerned neighbor even rushed to check us out to see why we were in the dark), not to mention very engaged in environmental issues.  We are indeed true blue netizens after all.

So I’m dressed up like an 80s guy with my very short shorts. Cute.

We haven’t had our dinner yet when the time to turn off the lights was about to begin because Krystal and I arrived late (I always had to fetch my daughter in San Pedro Macati from her Saturday flamenco class). There was no other choice but to eat our dinner in a romantic candlelight setting with dancing shadows all around us. And one good thing led to another because Yeyette had time to reminisce and share to us her childhood memories in her idyllic hometown of Abra de Ilog in Mindoro Occidental.

During her youth, Abra de Ilog had no electricity. The municipality began to receive electric power only in 1987. So that means that she and her family endured many years of gas-lamp-lit evenings. But those were happy nights spent with her beloved grandparents —both deceased— and sister (their Caviteño father was a traveling DAR officer while their young mother was still finishing her studies in Batangas City). As do most of their town mates, they ate their supper quite early: between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Those were usually hearty dinners because their grandfather was a happy farming fellow and their grandmother was the loudest at the dinner table. They all shared stories about what had transpired during the day, about what Yeyette and her sister Kathleen did in school, how their Tatay Baríng’s farm was doing, how their friends and neighbors were faring, etc. Occasionally, they frighten each other with ghost and asuáng stories to complement the cold air (much of Abra de Ilog is forested). Amidst all the happy talk, shadows produced by the gas lamp at the table and candles in other parts of the house were dancing all around, the shrilling calls of the cicadas outside was an orchestra, and the occasional tokay gecko (tucô) blurts out its nocturnal croaking.

My wife’s family did not immediately go to sleep after dinner. They still had time to enjoy the cool forest breeze coming from the mountains in front of their ancestral home. They enjoyed chatting with neighbors. And sometimes, Yeyette and her sister played patintero with their friends. The best part of all those peaceful evenings is when they gaze upwards to the sky lit up with countless stars, their población‘s only source of light.

My wife had an awesome childhood. And I always remind her of that. Our children never got to enjoy such moments because we’re now living in a different part of the country where it’s highly urbanized. Heavy fumes from vehicles and factories shield our view of God’s marvelous starlit sky. Earth Hour reminds all of us to value not only our environment but also to remember and cherish the simplicity of bygone days.

Ultranationalism: what does it really mean?

Posted on

It has been observed that the term ultranationalism has become a pejorative description for nationalists who display an extreme fervor to or advocacy of the interests of their country. Those who claim to be “citizens of the world” are the ones who are quick to calumny nationalists, often accusing them of being this so-called ultranationalism.

But what, really, does ultranationalism connote? Legendary nationalist Claro M. Recto had this to say:

It is evident that our brand of nationalism is different from that of our accusers. We have no desire and we have never attempted to deny the national self-interest of other peoples in their own countries. We merely want to defend our own, in our own territory. We are nationalists but we can live in harmony with other nationalists, because all nationalisms can work out a plan for coexistence which will not detract from the sovereignty of any one nation. Those who are bent on carrying their nationalisms beyond their national frontiers in order to overrun other nationalisms have ceased to be true nationalists and have become ultra-nationalists, which is another word for imperialists. Ultra is a Latin word which means beyond in space, as in the terms plus ultra and non plus ultra. An ultra-nationalist, therefore, is one who wants to be first not only in his own country, but also in other countries to which he is a foreigner; that is, an imperialist.

We would rather take the meaning of ultranationalism from a master of words and an expert in etymology (many critics in literature regard him as our Filipino version of Miguel de Cervantes) than from those with shallow understanding of the true import of nationalism. Nevertheless, we have to admit that there really are nationalists who do show an extreme kind of nationalism to the point that they have disregarded or neglected the interests of other countries. But such people are a minority and do not really represent the lofty ideals of nationalism. The kind of nationalism they adhere to can be classified as bigoted or chauvinistic. But it doesn’t really matter. What matters the most is placing ultranationalism in its proper etimological perspective, that ultranationalism is imperialism after all. Period.

And speaking of bigotry or chauvinism, there are actually no “ultranationalists” (to borrow from anti-nationalists’ twisted definition of the term) in Filipinas. What we have are regionalists who claim that their province or region or town/city or ethnicity is better than the rest. Take this photo, for instance:

Photo taken at the border of Tagaytay, Cavite and Nasugbú, Batangas last 13 September 2011.

“Welcome to the Province of the Brave”, says this welcome arch, signifying that travelers are about to enter the Province of Batangas. Aside from the “warm welcome”, what does the message really want to imply? That Batangas is the only province of the brave? And what does that say of the other provinces? You see, there are many ways to promote provincial or regional pride without overdoing it or putting others down. Regionalism is not only anti-nationalist but anti-Filipino as well. We have to remember (and treasure) that the concept of the Filipino is what united our once divided and warring ethnolinguistic groups.

Other than the parochial message, this arch is a total waste of tax payer’s money. As if the arch behind it is not enough (they could’ve just added the name Batangas with that of Nasugbú).

Noynoy’s sense of gratitude and loyalty (or the apparent lack of it)

Posted on

Much has been said for and against incarcerated senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Ejército Estrada, and Ramón “Bong” Revilla, Jr. Despite alleged evidence against them regarding their double-dealing relationship with pork barrel queen Janet Nápoles, we have to face the sad fact that they are yet to be proven guilty. Same thing goes with the much-hated Bínay father-and-son tandem.

No, I am not trying to exonerate these people. For all we know, they could really be guilty of the accusations hurled against them. But like what I said, they’re still considered innocent until proven as crooks. And I’m inclined to give them the benefit of a doubt because if there’s one thing that we can really be sure of, it is this: they are all opponents of the Liberal Party of the Philippines, the political team of President Noynoy Aquino. It is the same party that had a hand, directly or indirectly, in tormenting its political rivals in the local government unit. The party’s name was palpable in the removal of Emilio Ramón Ejército as governor of La Laguna Province last year, in the disqualification of Calixto R. Catáquiz for his final bid as mayor of San Pedro Tunasán during the 2013 elections, and in the suspension of Cebú Governor Gwendolyn García during the final days of 2012. It was also the same party that tried to remove Manila Mayor Joseph Ejército Estrada not too long ago, but failed.

The funny thing here is that the mentioned LGU personalities were victimized by an obvious witch hunt not because of corruption in office but mainly because of their rivalry with their LP counterparts. But the part that hurts the most is that these political casualties, with the exception of the Ejércitos, Revilla, and García, all risked their lives, careers, and even reputation in EDSA back in 1986 when an emotional crowd was protesting against a dictator whose main rival at that time was none other than President Noynoy’s mother who was not even there (one instance: a young Calex Catáquiz was kicked out from his home by his own parents who were friends with Marcos upon learning that their son was supporting the People Power Revolution). Those politicians who gave their all-out support to the mother have instead gotten the shorter end of the stick from the son.

Has the president forgotten?

This bizarre sense of gratitude coming from President Noynoy comes into question now that his presidency is being beleaguered by reproach, nay, anger from the same voting public which catapulted him to power five years ago on account of his (covert) involvement in the Mamasapano tragedy. And this national anger is being fanned all the more by his seeming loyalty towards the selfish cause of a known terrorist group toying around with the word “revolution” despite this group’s manifest participation in the aforementioned tragedy. Where does his loyalty really belong, to the Filipino people who has supported him and his family throughout the decades, or to those troublesome pre-Filipino savages in the south?

Time and again, the president has beamingly declared that we are his bosses, and he our faithful servant. But looking back to how he has been walking on the tightrope that is contemporary history, it appears that the balance pole he is using has been carved out from the forests of Malaysia.

Follow me on Twitter.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 934 other followers

%d bloggers like this: