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124th birth anniversary of Claro M. Recto

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On the occasion of his 124th birth anniversary, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES would like to pay tribute to one of the greatest Filipino thinkers of modern times, the late senator Claro M. Recto. Here is a brief biographical sketch of the Tayabeño nationalist written by Antonino V. Mico (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Commission of the Philippines).

CLARO M. RECTO
(1890-1960)

Senator Claro M. Recto is known as a statesman, a constitutionalist, a jurist, internationalist, parliamentarian, poet, scholar, linguist, patriot, and nationalist. He was born on February 8, 1890, in Tiáong, Tayabas (now Quezon), the son of Claro Recto, Sr., and Micaéla Mayo, of Lipâ, Batangas. He obtained his elementary education in Lipâ and in his home town.

As a young man, he was endowed with a marvelous mind, an active imagination, a venturesome spirit, and a firm determination to stick to his personal convictions. At 19, he was already a holder of the Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Manila; and at 24, he obtained his Master of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomás. In 1914, he was admitted to the Philippine bar and was licensed to practice law as a profession.

Recto’s political career began in 1916, when he served as legal adviser to the Philippine Senate. In 1919, he was elected representative from Batangas and served as House minority floor leader until 1925. In 1924, he went to the United States as member of the Parliamentary Independence Mission. He was admitted to the bar in the United States in 1924.

Upon his return to the Philippines, he founded the Demócrata Party, which served as a political thorn to the leadership of Manuel L. Quezon, when the latter was head of the Nacionalista Party and President of the Senate. He was elected senator for the first time in 1931 as a Demócrata and served as minority floor leader for three years.  In 1934, he became majority floor leader and President pro tempore of the Senate. He resigned his Senate seat when President Roosevelt appointed him Associate Justice in the Supreme Court in place of Justice Thomas Street, who retired. He left the Supreme Court in 1941 as a Nacionalista and again in 1953 as guest candidate of the Liberal Party. He ran as an independent Nacionalista candidate for President of the Philippines in the national elections of 1957, but lost.

Considered one of his immortal achievements in public life was his presidency of the Constitutional Convention, which drafted the Philippine Constitution, the first requirement towards the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth regime.

Recto was a brilliant poet, satirist, and author. He wrote such law books as The Law of Belligerent OccupationValidity of Payments During Enemy OccupationThree Years of Enemy Occupation, several one-act plays in Spanish, and a collection of poems. He was a recipient of the Zóbel Prize for literature and an honored member of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española.

The then President Carlos P. García appointed Recto Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary on the goodwill and cultural mission to Europe and South America in August, 1960. He was also appointed delegate to the 9th conference of the World Parliament Association in Venice in September, 1960, and was elected vice-president.

While giving a news conference in Rome, Recto suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered. He died in October 2, 1960.

Regarding his death, not a few historians believe that the great poet-turned-politician did not merely suffer from a heart attack. There’s this one interesting account from Raymond Bonner’s 1987 book Waltzing With A Dictator (pp. 41-42) that I’d like to share:

Transplanting democracy meant going after (Ramón) Magsaysay’s domestic political opponents, the most effective of whom was Senator Claro M. Recto, as unrelenting in his opposition to American foreign policy in the region as Magsaysay was slavish in following it. Recto, who was proud of his complete collection of Foreign Affairs, considered himself not anti-American but pro-Philippine. He criticized the bases agreement on the grounds, correctly, that the U.S. agreements under NATO and with other countries were far more favorable to the host country than was the U.S. arrangement in the Philippines. In Spain, the Spanish flag flew over the bases; in the Philippines, it was the American flag. When Washington claimed that the United States owned the lands on which the bases were situated, Recto prepared memorandums setting out the Philippine position that the United States had only leasehold rights, an argument eventually accepted by the United States. Recto was the “spearhead and brains of the national reawakening”.

The CIA set about to destroy Recto, who had been a principal drafter of the 1935 Constitution. It planted stories that he was a Communist Chinese agent who had been infiltrated into the Philippine Senate. To derail Recto’s electoral ambitions, the agency prepared packages of condoms, which it labeled “Courtesy of Claro M. Recto — The People’s Friend”. The condoms all had pinprick-size holes in them at the most inappropriate place. The agency went further. The CIA station chief, General Ralph B. Lovett, and the American Ambassador, Admiral Spruance, discussed assassinating Recto, going so far as to prepare a substance for poisoning him, an assassination plot that has not been publicly discussed before.

Recto wasn’t assassinated, the idea abandoned “for pragmatic consideration rather than moral scruples” (and with Lovett later suggesting that the bottle containing the poison was tossed into Manila Bay). He died of natural causes at the age of seventy.

It is hinted on this book that Recto was “assassinated” in Rome. Also, there have been persistent rumors that Recto did suffer a heart attack, but his medication was not given to him immediately which led to his very untimely death. Rumors they all may be, but there is a saying in Tagalog: “capág may usoc, may apóy” (when there’s smoke, there’s fire). Also, it is interesting to note that the place where he passed away was just a stopover. Recto was really on his way to Spain, the land of his mother tongue which is Spanish. He had never been there all his life, thus the excitement throbbing within his nationalistic spirit. He had already prepared a speech in Spanish, “Por los Fueros de una Herencia“, of which he was to deliver there upon arrival. But because of his demise, it remained unspoken.

The CIA knew that Recto delivering that speech in Spain would have proven catastrophic to their neocolonialistic ventures which were then in its early stages, as the Philippines was granted a phony independence 15 years earlier. That is why it was imperative for Recto to perish before he reached Spain.

One could just imagine what nationalistic and nostalgic fervor Recto would have sparked in Mother Spain had he delivered his speech there. Spain, who was robbed of her islands in the Pacific and the Americas in 1898, would have rekindled “righteous anger” into delivering, perhaps, the final blows of that war that should have ended justly and nobly. What fireworks his speech would have set upon the citizens of our Patria Grande! “Sayang” is all I could utter. Sayang…

Feliz cumpleaños, Don Claro. Tendré una botella de Cerveza Negra en su honor.

Letdown beat downs

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So, where’s the Herencia Filipina website that I’ve been bragging about for more than a year?

Kaput.

No more websites. For now. In the meantime, I will have to content myself with my own puny FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS superblogs and entertain their half-a-dozen or so faithful readers and occasional detractors who merely want to earn a couple of brownie-points from those few faithful who are willing to polish my fingernails for free.

Due to lack of funds —or to be more precise: 0 funds—, I think this project has to be stalled in the meantime. We did solicit for help, but we almost got no response. Of course, stupid me. This advocacy of ours is not as popular as I thought it to be, no matter how noble (wow). Quixotic is the keyword. Sad.

I also did much reflecting these past few months. And I realized that I’ve been too boastful, too much of a friggin’ braggart just because I knew that Bonifacio loved scratching his balls after every meal, that Goyo del Pilar was a wuss prototype of Johnny Bravo, or that it was Aguinaldo himself who gave Mabini syphilis. My cayabañgan set in, just because I knew —or I thought I knew— a couple of historical chica minute tidbits than anyone else in Pinoy weblandia. And I’m thankful that I woke up from it. Silly me. I have to admit that I’m not really a historian nor a historical sociologist… I’m just a history buff. A blogger (a writer’s version of a ham n’ egger?). I have to accept the fact that everything that I’ll ever write in my blogs will never be taken seriously by scholarly heavyweights who, in turn, will never have time to hit the weights (but I have, bwehehe! :D). But of course. I’m just a blogger with no scholarly titles attached to my telenovela-sounding name.

And now that Andy Warhol’s prediction has come true, that in the future (which is now) everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes, it’s mighty difficult to put my head above a sea of online voices. So for now, while I wait for the right time to shine, I work alone. Just have fun and take it easy. There’s a time for everyone, anyway.

Él que lucha por un ideal grande, ha de amar la lucha por el puro placer de luchar, no por el triunfo, no por el botín, ni siquiera por la gloria. El premio del esfuerzo es el esfuerzo —Claro M. Recto—

Yeah, he’s the great Don Claro, the nationalist hero. But I’m Señor Pepito Albert, the King of the Hill.

Don’t mind this silly post. I’m just disappointed. At nañguíñguilo ang mga ñguipin simulá pa nung sábado…

So this is my 390th post! And WordPress is either telling me that "I rock!" or that "I'm just a rock". Celebrate?

150th birth anniversary of José Rizal: but no Spanish is so unRizal

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Para leer en el destino de los pueblos, es menester abrir el libro de su pasado. —José Rizal—

Krystal at the Rizal Shrine in Ciudad de Calambâ (taken just this morning).

Today, modern Philippine history is making history by celebrating history.

Our nation’s polymath national hero, Dr. José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realondo, turns 150 years today, the sesquicentennial anniversary of his birth. The whole archipelago, Filipino communities abroad, and all places of historical significance to Rizal are commemorating his natal day with lavish parties, parades, quiz bees, art and writing contests, and discombobulating speeches from politicians (happy is the “public servant”, indeed, who has been given the chance to grandstand on this very special occasion). There are even rock concerts and “special” appearances of TV personalities to boot.

It is indeed a national event (and international as well since overseas Filipino communities are also celebrating), an event that is reminiscent of the centennial celebration of our country’s “independence” 13 years ago.

During the previous years, I try to make it a point to attend Rizal’s natal day celebration in his hometown of Calambâ, La Laguna. Over the years, I find nothing new, except for the annual themes that nobody cares to enshrine into himself, primarily because they’re either in a foreign language (English) or they’re too over-the-top for an ordinary baker/bus driver/factory worker/saleswoman/mason/office clerk/service crew/etc. to comprehend. This year’s theme is Rizal: Haligi ng Bayan (Rizal: el Pilar de la Nación).

But what I do realize is that the Filipinos are made to appreciate him more and more. The “Love and Idolize Rizal” campaign has been brought outside the classroom is now out in the field, especially in this era of social networking in the internet. Filipinos are now encouraged to travel to places where Rizal had trod. This “appreciation campaign”, however, is focused more on Rizal’s life and loves and travels. Whatever energy that is left to make us appreciate his works is de-emphasized especially since his literary masterpieces are mere translations.

Who reads Rizal?

And that is what I want to rant about on this special day. How come that, in spite of a year-long preparation for his 150th birthday, the Spanish language —the language closest to Rizal’s heart and soul, the language of his mind— is again left out? How will the Filipinos ever have a full and genuine appreciation of his literary masterpieces —all written in Spanish— if they are made to read English and Tagalog translations?

And speaking of literature, there is yet another crisis: who reads Rizal’s work nowadays? And when I say read I mean to say reading for the sake of reading, i.e., enjoyment and pleasure.

On writing about Rizal’s famous novels, National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquín wove it perfectly more than anyone could:

Rizal’s books have been so beatified, so canonized, so enshrined, that they have almost ceased to belong to literature.

Whatever the motives of a writer to produce a work of literary art —be it religious, political, emotional, nationalistic, or just for the heck of it—, the reader’s enjoyment and/or mental gain will matter the most in the end. But in our case, the Filipino is being forced to read Rizal. A work of art, no matter what nationalistic bull it symbolizes, should never be enforced to be seen nor appreciated solely for the purpose of instilling nationalism. That is why this compulsory imposition of Rizal’s works further alienates the national hero from the average Juan de la Cruz.

Rizal law

In that, the late Senator Claro M. Recto had failed. A rabid nationalist and anti-WASP, he (together with Senator José P. Laurel) authored Republic Act No. 1425, more popularly known as the Rizal Law. This law is the reason why college students have Rizal’s Life and Works as a school subject. The opening lines of the law state:

WHEREAS, today, more than any other period of our history, there is a need for a re-dedication to the ideals of freedom and nationalism for which our heroes lived and died…

It should be noted that when this law was authored, the president back then was Ramón Magsaysay. He was well-loved by the masses but was notorious against Filipino nationalists such as Recto because the latter knew that the former had the full-backing of imperialist US (via CIA agent Edward Lansdale). Overwhelmed by imperialist enemies and alarmed by the seeming apathy of the Filipino masses, Recto thought it best to bring back Rizal’s nationalist endeavors to his milieu.

Unfortunately for the nationalist senator, he was barking up the wrong tree.

To begin with, Rizal’s novels were more anti-Catholic than anti-Spanish in nature (hardly nationalist), that is why he was met with opposition from the Catholic Church. The Vincentian friar Fr. Jesús Mª Cavanna argued intelligently that the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo belonged to a different milieu and that teaching them would misrepresent current conditions. It was therefore unwise to enforce the books in schools. But all protestations were ignored. Recto won and his bill was signed into law on 12 June 1956.

A curious section in this law, the first one actually, states that:

Courses on the life, works and writings of José Rizal, particularly his novel Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, shall be included in the curricula of all schools, colleges and universities, public or private: Provided, that in the collegiate courses, the original or unexpurgated editions of the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo of their English translation shall be used as basic texts.

The author(s) mentioned the word unexpurgated. This means that Rizal’s novels should be taught without censoring or amending it. If we are to go into technicalities (which is the wont of most laws and lawyers, if not all), translating his novels from Spanish to English is already tantamount to expurgation. And if taught in translation, the novels can be expurgated. This is evident enough in the numerous Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo textbooks that our schools use.

In this regard, the Rizal Law is, humorously, violating itself.

Rizal and the Spanish language

Truth to tell, although the said law states that English translations shall be used in the teaching of Rizal’s novels, Recto never had the English language in mind especially since this Tiáong native has Spanish as his first language. And being an intellectual and linguist (he reportedly mastered the English language in only three months!), he should have known first hand the dangers of translation. The late Ilonga writer/translator Soledad Lacson vda. de Locsín herself shared her insights into this matter while translating Rizal’s novels into English:

Spanish is a beautiful language; but translated into English literally, it becomes florid and clumsy with its long periodic sentences, shifting tenses and wandering modifiers and, therefore, less comprehensible.

To make the above statement simpler, how many ingenious Tagalog jokes are robbed of its humor when translated into English, and vice versa?

Translation per se is not bad. But oftentimes, it robs the cadence, the emotion, the sparse clarity, the wit, the humor, and the soul of what the original language had wanted to convey. Those who read Rizal through English translations of his novels do not notice the stark sarcasm of the author towards the institutions and persons that he was maligning. Another flaw which Lacon-Locsín had wisely observed was that there seemed to be a “greater pursuit to depict the political and social thoughts of Rizal’s time in the context of the translator’s milieu rather than simply to tell the story of a different world in a different time.”

Although translations have to be in tandem with the semantics of the age in which they are read to be appreciated, my own personal view is that they should, as much as possible, capture much of the nuances and cadence of the period in which they had been written; even at the risk of sounding awkward or stilted.

And how can the nuances and cadence of Rizal’s period be captured? By “capturing” Rizal’s mind. And how to capture this still mysterious mind?

There is a key: the Spanish language, of course.

We always quote Rizal: “To foretell the destiny of a nation, it is necessary to open the book that tells of her past.” But reading our past through translations is never enough. And it is not giving justice to Rizal whenever we read his poems, novels, and essays in English/Tagalog. English is so foreign to him as Swahili is so distant to us. In order to understand Rizal fully, it is necessary to capture the nuances of his genius.

Not only that, by learning Spanish we will uncover more about ourselves. We shall be able to, at last, open the book that tells us of our past. Our real past. Already, the small amount of “Spanish evidence” that we have is shedding much light about who we are and what we were. What more if we are able to salvage more than 13 million documents stocked in the National Archives, written in Spanish, waiting to be “decoded”?

Hopefully, our nation’s leaders will make something that is significantly historic: by fully reintegrating the Spanish language back into our lives. In doing so we will be able to understand what Rizal was all about, what his motives were, his emotions and attitude towards everything he tackled, and why he truly deserves to be called el pilar de nuestra nación.

*******

My Facebook photos of Rizal@150.

A call for the preservation and defense of Spanish in the Philippines

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A CALL FOR THE PRESERVATION AND DEFENSE OF SPANISH IN THE PHILIPPINES
Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera

Dear Friends,

We all know by now that the Spanish language is another tool of development, especially economic development, with the advent of call centers serving the Spanish speakers of the USA and elsewhere in the world. We also know that our country has everything to gain and nothing to lose if we move for the preservation of Spanish through its teaching in our school system.

Those among us who are culture, history, sports (football especially), science, and art buffs also know that Spanish is strongly pertinent in all these fields of human endeavor, and even if we may know English well it is also good to know another language like Spanish.

I would not remind you, of course, that as Filipinos, Spanish is a substantive part of our national culture and national identity.

Let us then remind Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Jr. about the need to teach and promote Spanish, for Filipino economic and cultural progress.

Let us of course remind Noynoy that Spanish is the principal language of his own paternal grandfather, El Senador Benigno Aquino, the first, a CLOSE associate of Fil-Hispanista Claro M. Recto, wrote and spoke in perfect Spanish AND EVEN MOVED to preserve this language during his time.

Let us remind Noynoy that Spanish is the principal language of legislative deliberation on the part of his own maternal grandfather, El Representante Don José Cojuangco, and of his other maternal grandfather, Don Juan Sumulong, who were brilliant writers and speakers of only Spanish in the course of their respective political careers in this country.

In the Cojuangco ancestral tombs, the lápidas are even written in Spanish. All these show that the families whence he, Noynoy, came used, spoke and wrote in Spanish and if this practice has stopped in the new generations of his own family and clan, it is due to circumstances beyond his control. But that Spanish has its importance today for the rising generations of Filipinos seeking for world opportunities is something that cannot bedenied for even inside the USA, Spanish is a widespread language.

I will then request each one of you to write him about Spanish in any of the points given above. For all you know, he, Noynoy, might even be grateful to you.

Join our movement for the restoration of Spanish in RP as one of our tools of development.

Saludos. Your friend,

Guillermo Gómez Rivera

Without Spanish, the Filipino will be disfigured

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WITHOUT SPANISH, THE FILIPINO WILL BE DISFIGURED
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.

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–

What if Allen Ginsberg was a Filipino?

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WHAT IF ALLEN GINSBERG WAS A FILIPINO?
Or how I syncopated the essence of “Hadda be Playin’ on the Jukebox”
José Mario Alas

Hadda be flashing like the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Hadda be playing on Wowowee
Hadda be loudmouthed on The Buzz!
Hadda be announced over loud speakers
The military and the Abu Sayyaf are in cahoots
Hadda be said in socialite language
Hadda be said in Pinoy headlines
Aguinaldo, Magsaysay, and Aquino stretched and smiled and got doublecrossed by low life international goons & agents
Gay bankers with criminal connections
Dope pushers in NBI working with dope pushers from China working with big time syndicate Parañaque City
Hadda be said with a big mouth
Hadda be moaned over factory foghorns
Hadda be chattered on barber shop news broadcast
Hadda be screamed in a rural slaughterhouse
Hadda be yelled in the plazas where young lovers are petting it out
Hadda be howled on the streets by newsboys to jeepney barkers
Hadda be foghorned into Pásig River
Hadda echo under hard hats
Hadda turn up the volume in cheeky high school proms
Hadda be written on unused library books, footnoted
Hadda be in headlines of Sagad, Hataw, and Toro
Hadda be barked over TV
Hadda be heard in side alleys thru KTV bars
Hadda be sent via SMS
Hadda be cellphones ringing, comedians stopped dead in the middle of a comedy bar joke in Las Piñas,
Hadda be GMA, NEDA Neri, Mayor Atienza, and COMELEC Ábalos golfing together weekends or whenever/wherever –
As reported by almost all dailies across the islands
Hadda be the Freemasons and the neocolonialists together
Started war on Mindanáo, poison on Recto, assassination of Luna and Aquino
Hadda be dope cops and the kidnap-for-ransom crooks
Kidnapped all those filthy-rich scions in Chinatown
Hadda be the NBI and the military working together in cahoots against the leftists
Let Lucky Manzano campaign for both mommy and daddy… family relations, party fidelities, political madness
Hadda be religious goons bribing cross-eyed officials with vote-rich members, singing gospel gobbledygook, praising money and recruitment
Hadda be heard inside the classrooms:
Nationwide brainwashing by UP professors
Hadda be the police, and organized crime, and the military together
Bigger than Gloria, bigger than ZTE-NBN!!!
Hadda be a gorged throat full of murder
Hadda be mouth and ass a solid mass of rage
A red hot head, a scream in the back of the throat
Hadda be in Obama’s brain
Hadda be in Clinton’s mouth
Hadda be the Pinoy language committe, pidginizing our tongue,
erasing our identity, forgetting who we are, what we were…
The Palace, the military, the billionaire cronies, the police, UP historians teaching the leyenda negra,
Protestants and Freemasons,
Dope pushers and sadists,
One big set of criminal gangs working together in cahoots
Hitmen, murderers everywhere, outraged, on the make
Secret drunk brutal dirty rich
On top of a heap of slovenly prisons, industrial cancer, burned plastic bags, garbage cities, Hollywood movies, Erap’s resentments
Hadda be the rulers, wanted law and order they got rich on
Wanted protection, status quo, wanted junkies for poll watchers, wanted influence, wanted Magsaysay to die in an air crash, wanted war over the Spratlys for oil to feed their diamond-laced cats
Hadda be the police and organized crime and the military and Gary V.
Multinational capitalists’ strong arms squads,
Private detective agencies for the very rich
And their armies, navies, and air force bombing rival political clans and their hapless supporters.
Hadda be neocolonialism, the vortex of this RAGE
This “gobbleization”
Man to man
Nation to nation
Hayden to Katrina
Horses’ heads in the haciendero‘s bed, Luisita turf and farmers’ rallies, hit men, gang wars across political landscapes,
Bombing Basilan with “firecrackers” will not settle the score (because they never wanted to settle the score for hunger for funds)
Joma’s red democracy bumped off with the Palace’s pots and pans, a warning to rural local governments
Secret armies embraced for decades, the military and the Palace keep each other’s secrets, the Freemasons and the anti-Catholics/Protestants never hit their own,
The KKK and Ku Klux Klan are one mind
Brute force and full of enmity
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
It hadda be rich, it hadda be powerful,
Hadda hire history from US universities
Hadda murder in Indonesia — 500,000
Hadda murder in Indochina — 2,000,000
Hadda murder in Czechoslovakia
Hadda murder in Chile
Hadda murder in Russia…
Hadda murder kids over 10 in Sámar
Hadda murder in the Philippines — 1,250,000

Hadda milk us more till we fall apart…

11/24/09

Spanish for English

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Thanks to midfielding1 (a YouTube user who uploaded the video), we can now listen to President Manuel L. Quezon giving a speech in Spanish! See video below (at 3:02):

President Manuel Quezon learned English in only 18 days (and not three months as I wrote in the comments box of that video in YouTube, my mistake; three months was actually the time it took for another great Spanish-speaking Filipino, Claro M. Recto, to learn and MASTER the English language). Quezon’s primary languages were both Spanish and Tagalog. But like most Filipinos of his time, he was more articulate in Spanish.

Yes, I said MOST Filipinos. Because you see, it is not taught in our classrooms that when the US invaded (not saved) the Philippines in 1899, they killed around 1,250,000 Filipinos — that is about 1/6 of the population during that time! And they murdered more Filipinos in such a short span of time compared to those who perished in more than three centuries of Spanish rule! And worse, more Spanish-speaking Filipinos also perished in the last world war. Those who survived either migrated to Spain or to the US. And the few remaining are now regarded as a very small and almost forgotten minority.

Today, there are more or less 3,000 Filipinos who use Spanish as their primary language, i.e., they think in Spanish (the 1990 census declared that there were 2,660 Spanish-speaking Filipinos).

In my family, there are only two of us who use Spanish: me and my dad’s sister, María Rubia E. Alas. Before us, the last member of the family who spoke in Spanish was Tía Rubia’s maternal uncle, Windalino Évora y Bonilla of Unisan, Quezon province. Uncle Carding was also fluent in French (another cognate of Spanish); he died in 1997, the last Spanish-speaker of Unisan town. Sadly, the rest of the family seem not to care about the language anymore. But I am trying to conserve it by teaching it to my children: my nine-year-old daughter Krystal is already conversational; my five-year-old son Momay can speak and understand the language moderately; my second son, Jefe, who is already two, can comprehend the language (I can already give out orders to him in Spanish); And I plan to make Juanito, who is barely a year old, a pure Spanish-speaker. Actually, my children’s primary language is Spanish. But since their playmates and our neighbors and my wife’s relatives all speak in Tagalog, I’m having a hard time maintaining the language up in their psyche.

Going back to President Quezon, one main reason why he learned English that fast is because of his Spanish. Although English is a West Germanic language, it is also a cognate of Spanish. Countless words in Spanish resemble those in English. Take the following words for example:

Biblia / bible
botón / button
mantener / to maintain
mártir / martyr
política / politics
responsable / responsible
sufrir / to suffer
teléfono / telephone
televisión / television
tolerar / to tolerate

Many proper names in Spanish also have their English counterparts:

Jesucristo / Jesus Christ
Clara / Clare
Juan / John
José / Joseph
María / Mary

That is the reason why the first generation of Filipinos under the American Occupation were much better speakers and writers in the English language compared to our generation. National Artist for Literature Nicomedes “Nick” Joaquín (1917-2004) is regarded as the greatest Filipino writer in English. But his primary language was Spanish. The quintessential poet in English and another National Artist for Literature, José García Villa (1908-1997, son of Simeón Villa, a physician of President Emilio Aguinaldo and a close associate of General Antonio Luna), also had Spanish as his first language. The Philippine Star’s Máximo Solivén (1929-2006) also spoke in flawless Spanish. And who could ever forget playwright and thespian Wilfrido Mª Guerrero (1917-1995) whose “Wanted: A Chaperon”, among other plays, is now considered a classic? Guerrero is a descendant of Lorenzo Guerrero (1835-1904), another native hispanoparlante. He first wrote in Spanish before shifting to English. And many of his plays were even staged in the US!

The abovementioned great men of Philippine letters had previous notions of Spanish, a daughter of the Latin language, therefore a basis by itself of English. That is why the English of the early 20th-century Filipinos were much superb compared to ours.

And that is why teaching Spanish in Philippine schools is crucial to the government’s efforts to make Filipinos fluent in English. The 24 units of Spanish should be brought back to colleges and universities. Imagine… Spanish has been with us for more than three hundred years. English for just a hundred or so. But why put so much importance to the latter? Isn’t it that Spanish is a global language, too? English was never ours in the first place. But Spanish is something that is already ours…

“Spanish is a national, Filipino tradition, for not only has it seeds in our history but roots that saturate the very core of our national soul and being, for it is the “open sesame” to the enchanted cavern that keeps like enduring treasures the highest thoughts and the deepest feelings of our race since the dawn of civilization.” –Claro M. Recto–

What are you lookin' at?

Special thanks to Inu Yasha (a reader of FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES) for sharing the MLQ video to us! =)

Our Senate Has Lost It…

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SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES

Once upon a time, the august halls of the Philippine Senate was just that — august. Parliamentary procedure and language were at the helm, respected, practised. Back in the days when speeches, debates, and other deliberations were done in the Spanish language, each and every Senator had the highest respect for each other and for their individual selves. Although some of them do not agree on each other regarding various national issues, they do not in any way regarded each other as enemies even if their respective political parties were warring against each other.

Gone are the days of “old school parliamentary talk”. What we hear most of the time from our current crop of senators are pure grandstanding of the highest order, not to mention ad hominem attacks. Privilege speeches are now meant to augment one’s stature and to attack the character of the persons whom they loathe. But during their time, Claro M. Recto, Cipriano Primicias, Manuel Briones, Eulogio A. Rodríguez, Sr., Mariano Jesús Cuenco, Lorenzo Sumúlong (an uncle of President Cory Aquino), Enrique Magalona (a fierce defender of the Spanish language; grandfather of FrancisM), Rogelio de la Rosa, and a host of other Spanish-speaking gentlemen of the old school awed the Filipino masses with their shining personas of respectability and style through their speeches and how they carried themselves. Their lifestyle were neither ostentatious nor severe. They were a class of their own.

During and after elections, whether or not controversies have hounded the election procedures, these gentlemen of the old school still kept their cool toward each other. In argumentation and debate, intelligent sarcasm is what they used, making their minds even sharper and poetic. Nowadays, our senators are more straightforward to the point that they are already losing the respectability of what a senator should really be. In argumentation and rhetoric, one should be poetic.

Speaking of poetic, many senators of past years were poets in the Spanish language. But our generation’s senators couldn’t even compose a verse in English. What we have now are actors, product endorsers, and a bunch of other interesting characters fit for entertainment.

Our Senate has lost it…

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