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Don Hilario Ziálcita has finally come home…

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Early this morning, I was chatting with Tita Maggie Ziálcita de Tomás, a former print model and an old friend (we used to be neighbors back in the 80s). I was asking her help if she knows where I can recruit household helpers (a usual problem for me and my wife).

Suddenly, her mobile phone rang. It was from her cousin Manny, a brother of renowned cultural anthropologist, Fernando “Butch” Ziálcita.

Tita Maggie’s voice startled during the brief phone conversation. After the call, she broke down. The news sucked the air out of my brain: Manny and Butch’s father, the great Don Hilario Ziálcita y Legarda of the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española (RAE), was dead. He was to turn 98 this year.

Prior to his death, Don Hilario may have been the oldest known Spanish-speaking Filipino, and was the oldest member of the RAE.

Flashback to 30 April 2004: a lazy afternoon at SPI Technologies. I was surfing the net when I suddenly encountered a news article reporting the unexpected death of Nick Joaquín the day before. Nick was one of the greatest Filipinos who had ever lived. And I almost met him a couple of times but didn’t. I quietly left my work station… and wept at some corner overlooking —of all places— Monte de Maquiling.

I idolized Nick so much to the point that I made an altar of him in my mind. Señor Guillermo Gómez, a close friend of his, proposed at least two or three times for me to finally meet him. But nothing came out of it due to schedule problems. What a wasted opportunity. What could have ever happened if I met the creator of Joaquinesquerie himself? Sayang. One of my life’s biggest regrets.

Now it’s followed by another loss.

Tita Maggie has invited me many times to visit her uncle. Don Hilario became one of my favorite poets after having read his collection of poetry, La Nao de Manila y Demás Poesías / The Manila Galleon and Other Poems, which his son Butch gave to me and other members of the Círculo Hispano-Filipino two years ago. It is a bilingual book published in 2004 containing some of Don Hilario’s poetry in Spanish coupled with English translations that were edited by Lourdes Brillantes. I then gave the book to my daughter so that she could perfect her Spanish.

Another sayang moment here because I was planning to interview Don Hilario, mainly to know more about the Intramuros of old, his poetry, and perhaps a chance to feature him in a new magazine that I am connected with right now. But it didn’t happen because me and Tita Maggie had a petty falling out a few months ago.

Nevertheless, 97 years on Earth is already a big achievement. Only a few people today are blessed to live that long. Don Hilario is one of those few. And his credentials are amazing. Don Hilario was a poet, a medical doctor in the field of radiology, a distinguished académico for the RAE, and a nationalist and true Christian — indeed, the quintessential Filipino, a gentleman of the old school, and a descendant of Don Agapito Ziálcita, one of the signatories of the Philippine Declaration of Independence.

To honor him, I am publishing a poem of his, translated from the Spanish original. This poem is apparently dedicated to his wife Mercedes, one of the daughters of Filipino patriot Julio Nákpil

THE RINGING OF BELLS

From the church… bells reverberate,
They reverberate, they reverberate
To toast
The dawn of a new day,
Its charms, its joys…
The bells reverberate, reverberate
Without ceasing…

Ringing out the memories
Of my life…
Echoing, echoing
To relive
The most precious moments,
Remembering the happy ones
As sleep comes…

The dying echoes
Fade away…
Moving away, moving away
Without wanting to.
I go on dreaming,
Reliving your memory,
Not wanting,
Not wanting it
To perish…

For you are unforgettable…

10 October 1997
Sioux City, Iowa

You, Don Hilario, are unforgettable. At last you are now with your beloved Merceditas…

Spread the love! Malate love! PT. 3 (Malate, Manila)

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MALATE NIGHTS

Malate is very popular particularly among foreigners and the Pinoy party animal. For a brief period during my last days in college, the lights and sound captivated my young heart.

The place is very much alive at night especially during weekends and holidays. Malate is the perfect hangout for drinking sprees. Street parties aren’t rare. Several bars and restaurants catering international delicacies line the streets. But when my beloved Yeyette and I strolled there during Valentine’s eve, I noticed many Korean restaurants. And they’re not just many. It’s like they’ve taken over many streets there! I suddenly thought, “are we in Korea Town or what?”

I have to admit that I was a bit appalled by the fact that several Korean restaurants were all over the place. I have nothing against Koreans (except for their hilarious hairdo and corny pop music gimmickry), but perhaps I’m just getting fed up seeing them everyday in a country where they actually have no cultural ties. And it’s pretty alarming because up to now I still haven’t figured this “massive exodus” of Koreans to this Third World nation. What gives?

Anyway, my wife is a Korean fan. And so are two of my officemates, Louren and Clinton! But they’re not just fans. If given a chance, they are willing to become Koreans! My wife, who somehow resembles Korean ladies, is a Korean food addict. Louren knows how to speak and write Korean (aside from other languages). And Clinton even once quipped how he wished we Filipinos were Koreans! This fascination for Korea and Koreans boggles me. Boy and girl groups from that country have captivated a multitude of Filipinos. English tutorials for Koreans are everywhere. And the persona of Sandara Park still looms large (eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh…21!). Is Meteor Garden such a big influence and factor? LOL!

Strangely, while at the Manila Bay esplanade, a fisherman from the Manila Bay Angler’s Association asked Yeyette if I was Korean. Like, duh.

And after a fun and romantic evening stroll by the bayside, Yeyette had to look for a Korean restaurant which she used to patronize when she was still single. Man, that was like a decade ago! And so we walked around Malate like for almost half an hour.

Finally, she found what she was looking for:

Yakiniku Restaurant.

I had qualms entering an Asian restaurant. I’m just not used to it. I saw a couple of Spanish and Filipino restaurants along the way. But for Valentine’s sake, I had to give in to the ever-powerful Wifey, LOL! But upon entering Yakiniku, I realized the place’s coziness and ambience. And it’s just the right size to avoid a huge crowd as is the usual fare in most restaurants.

We found out later that Yakiniku Restaurant actually offers both Japanese and Korean delights. And that’s the reason for the photo below, haha!

Turning Japanese!

After our Yakiniku experience… I suddenly want to be Korean, LOL! Just kidding. Yakiniku caters mainly Japanese food. But to be honest, I did enjoy the food — and the thrill grilling the meat ourselves!

Afterwards, we had our refreshments at the iconic Café Adriático which was founded by the late Larry J. Cruz.

Café Adriático, a Malate landmark.

“LJC” stands for the initials of the late Larry J. Cruz. Founder and president of the LJC Chain of Restaurants. In 1979, Cruz, a journalist and information man, made a career change and opened his first restaurant, a small café in a modest corner of the Remedios Circle in Malate. He named the restaurant Café Adriático, after the street it was on.

Banking on little else than his eating experience as a seasoned traveler and the support of his media friends, Cruz who had never been in the restaurant business before, made Café Adriático the most talked about restaurant in town as soon as it opened its doors. The Café served good food and offered warm and friendly service. It was a place where people met spontaneously and enjoyed each other’s company in a setting that included conviviality. Pretty soon, Café Adriático became the venue where Manila’s elite hobnobbed with celebrities, artists, business leaders and political movers and shakers. (The LJC Group)

¡Chocolate eh!

Every time these scandals reached Father Salvi’s ears, he smiled and crossed himself, immediately reciting one Our Father. They called him a watchdog, a hypocrite, a Carlist, a miser. Padre Salvi would only smile to himself and pray more. The Alferez always told the few Spaniards who visited him the following anecdote:

“Are you going to the convent to visit that little dead fly of a priest? Careful! If he offers you chocolate, which I doubt he will… but if he finally offers, be on guard! If he calls the servant and tells him: ‘Fulanito, make a cup of chocolate, eh?’ Then you can stay and not worry; but if he says ‘Fulanito, make a cup of chocolate, ah?’ Then pick up your hat and exit running.”

“What?” asked the other man fearfully. “Does he dole out poison? Good heavens!”

“Man, no; not to that extent.”

“So?”

“Chocolate eh means espeso, thick; and chocolate ah means aguado, watered down.” (From José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, translated into English by the late Mª Soledad Lacson vda. de Locsín)

Ensaimada bread and quesong putî (white cheese).

Claude's Dream One

Although Café Adriático may be popular among artists, writers, and the like, I’m not that impressed with the place and the goodies we had had. I’m not saying the place is not comfy. It just didn’t impress me, that’s all (or maybe because it was too dark when we went there that night). And also, mosquitoes feasted on my bare feet (I was wearing sandals) during my whole stay there! Strangely, my wife (and perhaps other customers) didn’t feel any sting. I wonder what was that all about.

Café Adriático was named after the street where it stands, Calle Adriático. That street, on the other hand, was named after Macario Adriático (1869-1919), a cababayan of Yeyette because they’re both from Mindoro (the statesman’s from Mindoro Oriental; Wifey’s from Occidental). Adriático was the very first Filipino correspondiente to the Real Academia Española and is one of the founders of the prestigious Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española.

To be continued!

RELATED LINKS:
Love, love, love, Malate Love! (Malate, Manila)
Spread the love! Malate love! (Malate, Manila)
Spread the love! Malate love! PT. 2 (Malate, Manila)

The new “Propagandists”

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I’d been having dreams lately, drunken dreams with their peculiar lucidity in which the Experience Trail, the High Seas seemed to call louder and louder, more and more insistently with a voice that was at the same time music—a siren’s song that almost threatened me if I refused to obey its quixotic urgings … –Sol Luckman–

The nuevas “Propagandistas” —el Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera, Arnaldo Arnáiz, José Miguel García, and yours truly— convened for the first time this morning to discuss the formal founding of a website which would be the nucleus of our group (I playfully call it a “cyberclique”, LOL!!!).

We talked about our passion for Philippine History, how we got interested with the subject, and shared each other’s viewpoints on how to rectify the errors of this taken-for-granted field. Blithely, Señor Gómez likened us to Don Quijote, hopelessly fighting the windmills. We were like “madmen”, so to speak, because the topic of Philippine history is perceived to be reserved only in school. And we have to face it: we are like ants against rampaging elephants. But this knowledge that we have is our “curse”; we have to live with it. And we had to live through the somewhat belittled field of Philippine history for it encompasses everything that is truly Filipino, the very subject which in a way keeps us sane. For us, the study of Philippine history is a treasure trove of knowledge and discoveries about our past that has been taken away from us by a neocolonialist extragovernment.

After our meeting, I told the group that I’m so happy that our number has “grown”. This is because I thought that Señor Gómez and I are fighting a lonely war. The great Filipino scholar and I have known each other since 1997 (he’s been like a father to me). We’ve also been searching for like-minded people, but in vain. Historian priests Fr. José Arcilla, S.J., and Fr. Fidel Villaroel, O.P. would have been perfect allies. But as published men, they are on a league of their own. Besides, having them on board will only attract baseless and absurd accusations of “ecclesiastical bias” and “papism”. There’s also prolific researcher Pío Andrade, author of the highly controversial book The Fooling of America and a friend of Señor Gómez. But we couldn’t find him. And so it was a blessing that Arnaldo Arnáiz and I have met back in 2007; Having discovered who the real Filipino is through his own researches, he too started to look for like-minded individuals to whom he can share his thoughts. I happily introduced him to Señor Gómez (they later found out that they’re distant relatives). Then just last year, the mysterious José Miguel García found the three of us in cyberspace.

The rest, as they are wont to say, is history.

Some of those who know us should already have an idea of what we’re up to. This group, particularly the website that we’re planning to set up, will encompass everything that we’ve been fighting for all these years: the recovery of our national identity (which is based on our undeniable hispanic/latin physiognomy and culture), to counterattack the ludicrousness of the so-called leyenda negra (that the Americans “saved” us from the “evil clutches” of the Spanish Empire), the rectification of an ill-written and bigoted Philippine history, and the defense of the much maligned Catholic Church, the faith which brought the Western civilization to these once heathen shores. In one way or another, all this shall be realized by bringing back the Spanish language as an official language of the Philippines (or –perhaps– at the very least, to have it taught in all levels of education).

Here is a brief profile of my comrades:

We shall continue what our heroes fought for. The struggle for the conservation of our national identity espoused by one of the greatest Filipino Nationalists who has ever set foot on this planet, Senator Claro M. Recto, will never falter.

1.) ARNALDO ARNÁIZ has been a history buff for as long as he can remember. An astute researcher and a master when it comes to the life and psychology of national hero José Rizal, it is surprising to note that Arnáiz has had no formal training in historiography and historical research. He is, in fact, a business process outsourcing (BPO) professional and a jiu jitsu expert. Instead of taking up History, he pursued Computer Management and earned his degree from the University of Perpetual Help Rizal (now the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA).

Later on, Arnáiz took advantage of the BPO boom in 2002, earning six years of exceptional experience in call centers. His work ethic paid off in 2004 when he was promoted as a team leader (supervisor). In that designation, he helped lead a pioneer customer service account in APAC Customer Services, Inc., eventually winning the Best Team Leader award a year later. In between working as a call center supervisor and a traveler-photographer, he delves into the mangled world of Philippine history. Through his own, he was able to discover our true roots. But it wasn’t always that way in his younger years:

I’ve realized lately that I have become what I, as a younger man, hated to become: negligent of one’s history. When I was child, I can recall getting upset whenever my classmates would make fun of Bonifacio (the Andrés hatapang ‘di a tacbó joke). I don’t know why and where this started, but my history education as a child was better than the other kids in town. I have the luxury of learning from one of our well-off neighbours who had in their collection a vast array of titles, some are centuries-old books.

The rest of my History lessons was concluded in schools. Although the lessons were barely acceptable to my standards, I’ve always felt that it was insubstantial. In my adult years after college, I bought my own books to supplement my studies but not as avid as I once was. ‘Past is past’ they say, but unless you study them you will continue to make the same mistakes. As my favorite history quote goes, ‘One faces the future with one’s past’. I now try to regain some lost ground in my study of history. It’s never too late for all of us to study and preserve what is left.

A curious note: although Spanish is not his native language, Arnáiz is a staunch defender and advocate of the said tongue. Like the late non-Spanish-speaking senator, Blas P. Ople, this distant relative of Señor Gómez seriously deserves to be commended a Premio Zóbel medal once the said oldest literary award-giving body in the country is reactivated.

2.) To introduce Señor GUILLERMO GÓMEZ RIVERA would already be superfluous in the light of his myriad of accomplishments in the field of arts, literature, language, and history. He is described in Wikipedia as “a Filipino writer, journalist, poet, playwright, historian, linguist, and scholar of Spanish and British descent from the province of Iloilo”…

Gómez Rivera is an academic director of the prestigious Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española (Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language), the local branch of the renowned Real Academia Española based in Madrid, Spain, and part of the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (Association of Spanish Language Academies). He is also a teacher of various Spanish dances, and is considered the undisputed maestro of Flamenco in the Philippines.

In addition to his contributions to Philippine literature and history, Gómez is also an accomplished linguist and polyglot. He speaks and writes fluently in his native Hiligaynon as well as in English and Tagalog. Aside from being an acclaimed master of the Spanish language in the country, he is also conversant in French, Italian, Portuguese, Kinaray-a, and Cebuano, and has made an extensive study of the Visayan and Chabacano languages.

Critics regard him as the Spanish equivalent to his friend Nick Joaquín’s English. Joaquín’s body of written works were discreetly about the “Hispanic soul” of the Philippines brought about by three centuries of Spanish rule. Joaquín’s stories in particular were sentimental, reminiscing the Philippine’s Spanish past as well as its decline. Gómez wrote on the same theme, more thoroughly about the decadence of the country’s “Hispanic soul,” but his style was much frank and straight to the point—the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) were the cause of Spanish decline in the Philippines. Also, unlike Joaquín, Gómez focused more on fiery essays than short stories.

He won a Premio Zóbel in 1975 for his play El Caserón (The Big House) which was published in 1976. He has since been a longtime master of ceremonies for the said award-giving body. Prior to this, Gómez won second place in the Premio Manuel Bernabé for an essay on the historical and nationalistic value and import of the Spanish language.

Much of the theme for Gómez’s poetry, as well as his essays and short stories, lie mainly on the destruction of which he calls the “Filipino Cosmos,” i.e., the destruction of Philippine languages and culture due to American neocolonization.

Gómez is a somewhat belligerent writer, as can be gleaned by his scathing attacks in his Spanish weekly newspaper Nueva Era against what he observed as local pro-compulsory “ONLY-English-language government officials” who he accuses as vile puppets of US WASP neocolonialism. Many of his writings boast of proofs against these people he accuses. Through his monumental body of literary works, he has advocated his Filipino readers to “rediscover” their Spanish past in order for them to gain knowledge of their true national identity.

Another way of doing this is through cultural dissemination, particularly through dance. Aside from sharing his knowledge of flamenco, he has made several researches on Philippine songs and dances, especially those of Hispanic influence, which he was able to contribute to the internationally acclaimed Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. In fact, most of the Spanish-influenced native songs and dances choreographed by the said group can trace their origins from Gómez’s researches, which earned him the role of an adviser for Bayanihan.

He was also a recording artist, having recorded Filipino songs that were originally in Spanish, as well as Chabacano songs that were popular in areas were Chabacano used to be prevalent.

Gómez is also credited for reintroducing into the modern local film industry the now forgotten film Secreto de Confesión. It was the first film that was produced in the Philippines that was spoken and sung in Spanish (la primera película hablada y cantada en español producida en Filipinas).

He was also the National Language Committee Secretary of the Philippine Constitutional Convention (1971–1973) during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos. As part of the committee, he fought for Tagalog to become the country’s national language. In the same convention, Gómez teamed up with other nationalists to preserve Spanish as one of the country’s official languages. Spanish, however, later was made an optional language (together with Arabic) from the Freedom Constitution of 1987 when Corazón Aquino took over from where former strongman Marcos had left.

Due to his tireless efforts in attempting to bring back the Filipino national identity based on Spanish, he is considered by some of his hispanist/nationalist friends, such as Edmundo Farolán, as El Don Quixote Filipino.

These astounding accomplishments (including those not written above!) should earn Señor Gómez no less than a National Artist Award for Literature and/or Dance and/or Historical Literature and/or Music (for his two-volume LP Nostalgia Filipina). Surprisingly, the credibility of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts spiralled down to the sewers when it chose to give awards to undeserving people such as those who glorify blood and gore on film.

3.) Unfortunately, I cannot discuss much about our compañero JOSÉ MIGUEL GARCÍA (not his real name) due to security purposes, no thanks to this corrupt, neocolonized, and LAME puppet government. For now, his real identity cannot be revealed (thus the reason the four of us don’t have a photo together). But this is all I can say about my tocayo: I am mighty glad to have someone like him on our side.

Call me pretentious; I don’t really care (been called worst names in the past). But now that there are four of us, I can proudly say that our heroes did not die in vain after all.

Those @-h0les who have been spreading blatant lies and stupidities about our country’s history will VERY SOON have their “beautiful day” in cyberspace.

Which organizations should convene to create a political party for the Spanish language?

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I hope that the humble blogpost I wrote yesterday will not be belittled nor ignored by those who are supposed to back it up. I am not forcing them to support my idea — I am actually begging them to do so.

Please do your country a favor by bringing back the Spanish language as a co-official language of this country, vis-à-vis Tagalog and English.

I have no personal political ambitions. And even if I have the political machinery and mindset to become a statesman, I will still not opt to do so. It’s simply not in my system. I’m content of just sitting on the sidelines to observe and comment. To echo what former PNP Director-General (and now Senator) Ping Lacson said many years ago during a TV interview, “I hate politics. And to put it more bluntly, I hate politicians”.

So why am I doing this? Why do I zealously put forward the idea of having a political party to achieve this nationalistic dream of restoring the Spanish language to where it rightfully belongs? Because like what I said yesterday, the political arena is currently our only chance of achieving this dream. I may not have been able to register for the upcoming 2010 Philippine National Elections, but that doesn’t mean that I have totally lost my faith in our country’s political system. That’s why I’d like to give our democratic functions one more chance. Not by exercising my right to suffrage but by creating a “minor” or small political party (or party list) with the noble aim of recognizing the Spanish language’s true worth and deserving status in this country.

I strongly believe that putting forward the idea of making Spanish a co-official language together with Tagalog and English has a very big chance. In the first place, Spanish has long been an official language of this country until it was callously stripped of its status in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Most legal documents and statutes that we now have in the three branches of our government (namely the the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments) were originally written in Spanish before it was decided to translate them into English (and sometimes in other native languages). I don’t even have to mention the Spanish language’s impact towards our multifarious cultures and languages (not excluding behavior and even spiritually) since it has already been discussed and debated before.

The Spanish language SIMPLY needs to be brought back to the Filipino cosmos. Not for the language’s sake, but for OUR SAKE. It shouldn’t have been taken away in the first place.

I would like to call on all major institutions in the Philippines (and perhaps those in Spain as well), which has a strong connection to the Spanish language and culture, to sit down and convene about the language’s future in our country. Will the Spanish language just remain a thing of the past, something that should just be treated as an interesting scholarly topic for future dissertations? Should it be considered merely as a stepping stone by BPO professionals to augment their salaries? Should the language be treated only as a school subject? What should be the treatment Filipinos of today should give to the language of their forefathers and heroes who had helped shaped this nation? Shall we content ourselves of merely treating the Spanish language as nothing but a cultural gem that is kept in a see-through vault for everybody to see and admire?

To the best of my knowledge, the organizations which have the answers to the foregoing questions are the following:

Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española
Commission on Higher Education
Cruzada Internacional por la Reivindicación del Español en Filipinas
Department of Education of the Philippines
Heritage Conservation Society
Instituto Cervantes de Manila
National Historical Institute
Spanish Embassy in Metro Manila
Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation
The Government of the Philippines
The Government of Spain (and concerned representatives of other Spanish-speaking nations)

And of course, the list should include the foremost online group in the country today which advocates the return, dissemination, and conservation of the Spanish language in the Philippines: the Círculo Hispanofilipino, of which I am a member since 2001. It was founded by –of all nationalities– a German!

It will also help if the powerful Zóbel de Ayala family revives the country’s oldest literary award-giving body, the prestigious and legendary Premio Zóbel which has been on a sabbatical since the year I joined the Círculo Hispanofilipino. Bringing back the Zóbel Award will not only spark the fiery zeal and interest to promote Spanish in the country’s sociopolitical landscape — it will also inspire writers who do not write in Spanish to explore a whole new linguistic world. It might even inspire the few remaining hispanoparlantes filipinos to bring out the literary genius in them (whatever happened to Marra Lánot?).

I may have missed some groups. But I believe that the abovementioned list should lead the advancement of the Spanish language in the country. A dialogue or convention should be brought forth. May this meeting be made a national event.

With the symbiosis of the groups mentioned above, this political party which will struggle for the advancement of the Spanish language in the 2013 Philippine General Election will not just be an ordinary party-list group.

*******

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

A party-list group for the Spanish language

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¿Qué amor no ha vuelto…? –Manuel Bernabé–

Let us not mince our words nor our time anymore. The Spanish language can never become a part of the modern national landscape if it is not advocated upon by a party-list group in the House of Representatives.

It is of course a far-fetched idea to create a major political bloc with the sole objective of bringing back a language that is no longer widely used in the country today. So let us just focus on the idea of having a party-list proportional representation to revive the language in question.

But then again, if the Spanish language is no longer widely used in the Philippines –without even having a compact community speaking it– why should we even waste our time to forward the language into the political mainstream and social consciousness of the modern Filipino world?

For one: Spanish is something that is already ours. It is us. It is part of our national patrimony. It defines our national identity. We can never be a complete and a compleat Filipino without the Spanish language.

The Spanish language is replete with all the attributes which delineate the very core of our being Filipinos. It is a fact that we use countless Spanish words every single day in our speech. It is a fact that our body language speaks the same way as how our Latino counterparts do. It is a fact that our country is the only country named after a Spanish royalty. It is a fact that our surnames and towns and provinces and cuisine are in Spanish. It is a fact that our national hero relayed his thoughts in Spanish. It is a fact that most of our heroes or bayani discoursed and wrote in this immortal language of Cervantes. It is a fact that the statutes of Asia’s first republic –the one established in Malolos, Bulacán– was written down in Spanish.

It is a much hotter fact that the Philippines is the only Latino country in Asia. Geographically speaking, we are a part of Asia. But when it comes to culture, we are outside of it. We’d rather be in Europe or in Latin America.

It is not enough for the Spanish language to be simply taught again in our schools whether public or private, whether in elementary or secondary or in tertiary. It is not enough for it to be disseminated through mass media, whether in print or telecommunication. It is not even enough for a whole community or two to use it as a means of communication. It is never enough.

It must be once again used as an official Filipino language.

The Spanish language must be guarded, spread, and ennobled. In the first place, that is the mandate of the country’s oldest state institiution, the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española of which the current government leader, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is a member. But the Academia failed when Spanish was stricken out by the Supreme Court during the promulgation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

It is not enough that Ms. Arroyo signed a directive in Spain two years ago to renew the teaching of the Spanish language in our country’s school system. No. It must be brought back nationally by giving it at the very least a co-official status together with English and Tagalog (yes, Tagalog, and not the vague term “Pilipino”). And once the language is brought back into the political mainstream, another important aspect will follow: culture, true Filipino culture which is originally based in Spanish. Actually, we already have it in our daily routine — Filipino culture rooted in Spanish can be seen in our dances, in our food, in the manner we act and enunciate, and in the manner we communicate with our Maker. But through language and culture, it will make us realize that without Spanish, our identity as a people would have been nothing. And with such realization, it will spur in us the imperative to be more watchful of any untoward action against our identity.

We also have to come to terms with our past. Enough with the silly notions about the “evils of Spanish colonization” and all that blah. It is time that we give our past a fresher appraisal by using the Spanish language in our everyday lives. Once the Filipino youth learns the language, there would be no more need for those loose, indifferent, poor, and (sometimes) almost inexact English translations of historical books written in Spanish; the true context, essence, and meaning of Spanish texts read in their original form shall remain intact. The Filipino youth will then realize that almost everything learned inside the classroom about our nation’s history was either forged or grossly inaccurate. The myth of the so-called Leyenda Negra shall finally be extinguished.

If Spanish is returned, it will also prove to be a boon to the local economy, particularly to foreign trade, because Spanish is spoken in more than 20 countries. According to a recent research, Spanish speakers all over the world is estimated to be almost at half a billion as of March 2008. And that’s one huge Hispanic/Latino market. Potential profits from exports to Spanish-speaking countries are highly foreseeable. And aside from the Latino countries, Spanish is also the second largest language in the United States (whose government, ironically, was the culprit behind the subtle annihilation of Spanish in the Philippines since the time they invaded our islands). So it is clear that forging links through language will eventually be beneficial for both parties concerned.

Lastly, by making Spanish as an official (or co-official) language again, it only means that we give due respect to our country’s history, thereby we learn how to respect ourselves in the process. For why should we totally forget a language that has been here for more than three centuries? We haven’t even surpassed that monumental epoch in terms of years. And worse, we haven’t progressed as a nation with the removal of Spanish (unlike in the days of the Galleon, arguably the precursor to what is now known as “globalization”). Our pantheon of heroes may have risen against Mother Spain, but they eloquently (and ironically) wrote their protests in beautiful Spanish prose and nonfiction; in fiery speeches, they spoke the language with much candor, fluency, and aptness. Why such bitterness and resentment towards our Spanish past? The Spaniards aren’t even here anymore. And what they bequeathed to us –the innumerable concepts and tools that we now use to enjoy life– have never been proven to be a curse to us. Why such condemnation while it is us who seem to act so vile by being so ungrateful everytime we nod to what lies or inaccuracies we hear against our Spanish past which is our very own history? To repeat: it is not the Spanish era – it is our very own history.

To all concerned groups and individuals, hispanistas, and the few remaining Spanish-speaking Filipinos, we must all unite to help move forward the language which united the whole archipelago into forcing itself into self-governance more than a century ago. Ya es hora para custodiar, difundir, y enaltecer verdaderamente el idioma verdadero de nuestra patria. A political party must be organized to realize our cause. This system may not be perfect, but let’s try to work it out and go with the flow. I say, enough with useless discussions and online forums. So much has been tackled regarding the topic, but nothing substantial has materialized save for a couple of related websites and a struggling Filipino blog in Spanish. Everything has already been debated and clarified. It’s time to take the debate to a much higher level: inside the august halls of Congress where the Spanish language used to have a stronghold. Besides, we already know what we want. I couldn’t make it any more simpler than this: Spanish is an official language of the Philippines. It is time to take action to “relegalize” it. Active solidarity and participation is the key. Get organized! Action speaks louder, words are lame. It is too late to plan for the 2010 Philippine National Elections. But we still have plenty of time to organize and mobilize this party-list group for the 2013 Philippine General Election (tentatively on 13 May 2013) wherein all 240 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested.

If there is a need to reorganize the Propaganda Movement, so be it. But this time around, the struggle is different. The atmosphere is more politically hostile than before. But the cause nobler; the advocacy much bolder. We are going up against a fortified wall built with hatred and fear and ignorance. But with our collective will –and with prayers– we can all do it. And this we do not only for ourselves but for future generations…

It is time we go back to our roots.

No es, ciertamente por motivos sentimentales o por deferencia a la gran nación española que dio a medio mundo su religión, su lenguaje y su cultura, que profesamos devoción a este idioma y mostramos firme empeño en conservarlo y propagarlo, sino por egoísmo nacional y por imperativos del patriotismo, porque el español ya es cosa nuestra propia, sangre de nuestra sangre, y carne de nuestra carne, porque así lo quisieron nuestros mártires, héroes y estadistas del pasado, y sin él será trunco el inventario de nuestro patrimonio cultural; porque si bien es verdad que la Revolución y la República de Malolos y la presente República fueron obra del pueblo, también lo es que los que prepararon y encauzaron eran intelectuales que escribieron en castellano sus libros, sus discursos, sus panfletos y sus ensayos, para realizar obra de doctrina y labor de propaganda; porque seria trágico que llegase el día que para leer a Rizal, a del Pilar, a Mabini, a Adriático, a Palma, a Arellano y a Osmeña, los filipinos tuviéramos que hacerlo a través de traducciones bastardas, en fin, porque el español es una tradición patria que si tiene raíces en nuestra historia también las tiene en las entrañas de nuestra alma, y porque el español es el “ábrete, Sésamo” de la cueva encantada que guarda, como tesoros imperecederos, los más altos pensares y los más altos sentires de que ha sido capaz el hombre desde la mañana de la civilización. –Claro M. Recto–

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