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But Jon Royeca still has to CATEGORICALLY define what a Filipino is

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Before I begin, I would like to apologize to Jon Royeca for not having responded immediately to his blogpost last September 13 which was his reply to my “Clarifying a misconception on the definition of ‘Filipino’” article because I’m still reeling from all this AlDub craze that’s sweeping the country (and, bit by bit, the world). Thankfully, Lola Nidora is now OK with Bae Alden and Yaya Dub seeing each other without any hindrance, so I believe this is the “tamang panahón” to answer him back.

By hinting that what I did last time was amateurish, I guess I have to be less courteous this time: the gist of Royeca’s understanding of the term Filipino is SHALLOW, I’m very sorry to say (I say this not to insult him; he simply inspired me to be frank). It’s as if he has already boxed himself to the shock of having encountered something “new”, i.e., Fr. Pedro Chirino’s definition of the word Filipino. There is more to it than that. But let’s first begin with his belittling of my use of Luis Rodríguez Varela’s poem “Qué Todos Seamos Buenos Filipinos“.

Royeca claims that “poems belong to the ambit of creative literature” and that “they can be purely fictional”. He “respectfully” added:

And so utilizing them as a source for one bold historical claim—like the peninsulares were the original Filipinos—is an amateurish and slapdash crack at historiography.

The above statement is merely his opinion, and I have to respect that no matter how condescending he may have sounded. Nevertheless, Rodríguez Varela’s poem was very much straight to the point. If only Royeca had an inkling of my language (Spanish), he should have realized that Rodríguez Varela made no hidden meanings in that poem. There were no ambiguities, no symbolisms, nor any other unfathomable forms of poetic diction. What you see is what you get.

Los primeros filipinos, vasallos son de Felipe. The first Filipinos were the vassals of King Felipe II.

These were Miguel López de Legazpi and those peninsular Spaniards, both military and friar, who were with him, who opted to stay here and die here. In effect, they ceased to become Spaniards. They became Felipenos or those who saw King Felipe II as their sovereign (in the same vein that the vassals of Carlos XI of Sweden were called Carolinos, the vassals of King Fernando VII Fernandinos, and so on and so forth).

Also, it is unfair to limit a historian to focus only on documents that have nothing to do with literature. Take, for example, a historian who wants to know more about the moods and sentiments of Filipino intellectuals towards the US invasion and occupation of Filipinas. Don’t tell me that the anti-US poetry of Claro M. Recto (“Oración Al Dios Apolo”), Cecilio Apóstol (“Al Yankee“), Jesús Balmori (“A Blasco Ibáñez“), and a host of others cannot be used as research material just because they “belong to the ambit of creative literature” (Royeca’s words).

And when I challenged Royeca to “point out any indigenous individual who called himself a Filipino during the Spanish times”, he answered back with “Jose (sic) Rizal and his fellow natives” which is, to borrow his words, a colossal blunder. The fact that I wrote indigenous individual in bold type and even underlined it is to emphasize something. Because, for sure, José Rizal was NOT an indigenous. He was a native of Filipinas but he was certainly NOT an indigenous individual.

To wit: indigenous and native may be slightly synonymous but are completely two different things. I am a native of Parañaque City but I’m certainly NOT an indigenous individual.

I trust that the historian in Royeca did no amateurish or slapdash crack in the comprehension of simple historical terms that experts like him should already know.

But Royeca, for FAILING to CATEGORICALLY define what a Filipino is, simply opted to beat around the bush. Nevertheless, I should not be too hard on him even if he belittled my use of poetry as a source material. After all, he has already boxed himself to the shock of encountering Fr. Chirino’s definition of Filipino. So I’ll just let him enjoy this refractory period of his.

Remember, boys and girls: declaring a historical evidence to the public to point out something is not enough. It always has to be interpreted with a good amount of critical thinking. And to end this, Royeca (and his partner Nonoy Regalado) should understand that IDENTITY has to stand on what you call YOURSELF and not what others CALL YOU.

AlDub You all,

Bae Pepe

Ultranationalism: what does it really mean?

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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).

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).


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?


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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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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Guillermo Gómez Rivera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” answered the Minister.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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