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Why Spanish?

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WHY SPANISH
Jorge Domecq

Señor Don Jorge Domecq, Spanish ambassador to the Philippines.

On Wednesday, November 23, language teachers and experts from all over the region will assemble in the Instituto Cervantes de Manila for the Second Conference of Spanish as a Foreign Language in Asia and the Pacific which will be inaugurated by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. Many will remember the common heritage and the historical bonds between our two countries but wonder why reviving the Spanish language is an issue of interest in the Philippines as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.

Way back in 1937, President Manuel L. Quezon, referring to Spanish, said that “the Latin-American people believe and feel that we Filipinos form part of that vast family, the children of Spain. Thus, although Spain ceased to govern those countries many years ago and although another nation is sovereign in the Philippines, those Latin-American peoples feel themselves as brothers to the people of the Philippines. It is the Spanish language that still binds us to those peoples eternally if we have the wisdom and patriotism of preserving it.”

However, the 1987 Philippine Constitution abolished Spanish as an official language of this country. Although this decision could have been avoided, the truth of the matter is that the majority of Filipinos then no longer used Spanish in their daily lives and therefore the constitutional reform only represented a statement of fact.

It makes no sense to look back on the Spanish language just as an element of our common past, which is no longer there in our efforts to enhance our bilateral relations, to get to know each other better and to better understand our history and culture. We must admit, and we would be foolish not to do so, that there is so much about the Filipino culture that can only be understood fully if we have knowledge of the Spanish language.

Without forgetting Rizal, we can affirm that the “Golden Age” of Philippine literature (which paradoxically coincided with the American period in the Philippines and as Spanish began to disappear from all official communications) produced first-class writers like Pedro Paterno, Isabelo de los Reyes, Apolinario Mabini, José Palma and Fernando Mª Guerrero, who wrote all their works in Spanish. We must note that more than 20 percent of Tagalog words are of Spanish origin, although many of the popular expressions have a slightly different meaning. The oldest and some of the most important documents found in the National Archives of the Philippines or in the archives of the University of Santo Tomás can only be best understood and interpreted if one is fluent in Spanish. I am happy to say that we are working closely with Filipino authorities and some private institutions in the country to reverse this situation, among other things, by providing language training to the archivist who will have to ensure that the history that is there will continue to benefit future generations. All these efforts are commendable and need to be continued.

However, that is not the real reason why we are obliged to preserve and promote Spanish among the young and future generations of Filipinos.

Spanish must not be viewed as some archaic and dead language like Latin, that most Filipinos above the age of 50 remember as a compulsory subject in school, which they did not like and which for them was just a waste of time. Spanish should not be regarded either as a language of the elite spoken among Spanish mestizo families or as a legacy of a past that no longer exists. Spanish, along with the English language, is one of the only two global means that exist for communication (even if Chinese is the largest spoken language in the world). Today, more than 500 million people speak Spanish. It is also the second most studied language and the third most used on the Internet.

Furthermore, as far as the Philippines is concerned, Spanish can be a fundamental tool for many young Filipinos seeking employment in call centers or BPO businesses in this country or trying to get a better employment abroad as seafarers, nurses, social workers, etc. The United States is the main land of promise for the citizens of this country, and there are nearly 50 million North Americans who speak Spanish as their mother tongue. In addition, many Latin-American countries are notably increasing their trade and investment relations with Southeast Asian countries, gradually shifting their economic focus toward the Pacific.

If only Spanish were commonly spoken in the Philippines, along with the English language, the Philippines would become the next unbeatable business hub in Asia.

Since I arrived in Manila less than a year ago, I have been constantly asked about the relevance of Spanish in the Philippines of today. I would always reply by saying that I am very confident that Spanish is under no threat of disappearing. Manila has the third biggest Instituto Cervantes in the world in terms of number of students (an annual enrolment of 6,500) and at present, it can hardly take in more students. The real issue is whether we are ready to face the challenge of providing the young generations of Filipinos with the necessary academic backing that will enable them to study Spanish as a language of choice that will open for them a wealth of opportunities in employment. To this end, I hope to work closely with the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education.

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This article was first published in Inquirer.net.

Rizal’s Mi Último Adiós stirs patriotic fervor (Lifestyle – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News)

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A young lady scribbles a comment in Spanish on a message wall at Instituto Cervantes to mark José Rizal's 150th birthday (Earl Rosero of GMA News).

Please click here to read the full news.

José Miguel García’s take on “A party-list group for the Spanish language”

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Below is fellow propagandist José Miguel García’s views on the creation of a party-list group to advocate the full return of the Spanish language to our country.

The Spanish language is the most noble of all Filipino tongues!

OUR SITUATION
José Miguel García

POLITICAL

Our political situation is basically American directed. Many organizations have been established to influence the development of our nation. Among them was the Statehood Movement to move to make the Philippines a state of the United States. As many Filipinos are really worshipping dependents of the Americans, these, I believe are many. Maybe the Americans themselves do not want this. To the organizers of this, all I can say is: ¡Sin Vergüenza! There are the leftists who have been fighting to establish a political power base. But because of their conflict of interest with the Americans, they have remained marginalized because of the American covert and overt maneuvers. There are the Partido Nacionalista and Partido Liberal. These are the giant political parties who, because of the pro-American characteristics of the personalities and their actions throughout history, they have remained dominant, strong, and have outlasted all other political parties.

CULTURAL

Our national culture is basically worshipping dependency on the Americans. When I was a student, I remember my classmates regarding our Spanish language class as the most useless class. Some even despised it. It is true for many of us Filipinos. Most of us cannot see its relevance to any of our pursuit of economic, social, intellectual, technological, military, or developmental aspirations at the personal or at the community level. America is the only point of reference for ethical values, for cultural excellence, sound economic doctrines, sound military doctrines, superior technology, superior race, and all excellence in development. You can observe them in schools, among our youth, television, our radio programs, the songs played in radio, advertisements, and in the attitude of Filipino soldiers among us.

The questions to most of us filipinos that come to mind when confronted with the daily decisions as we struggle for the survival of life of our personal, family, career or business, on whether to use Spanish or not is: what for when there is already english which is hard enough for us to learn; what for do we need two languages to learn when one which is English, will already do; what for when English is the language of the economically, technologically, intellectually, and biologically superior race; why should we use the language of our oppressors? How will this help my business compared to English? How will this help me in my career?
And the prevailing answers to all these questions are: there is English already for those in the higher economic strata among us; and there is already the Tagalog plus our own local languages and dialects for the majority who are of the lower economic strata among us.

DEPTH OF REALIZATION

Who among us who are interested in the Iberian language are really convinced that we need to recover it because it is a vital instrument to recover our inherited national identity and developmental code? And who among us having realized this also realize that this is vital for our path to recovery from a pathological denationalized dependent individuals with an autosocial defense system, towards a wholesome nationalized self-sustaining and independent cohesive social unit? Who among us who are interested in the Spanish language realize that our loss of our inherited national development which includes our national identity is at the underlying cause of our national corruption because of the absence of love of nation and in its vacuum is filled with struggling individuals out to fill our materialistic hunger which is dependent on foreigners controlling our country?

How then can we even expect the Spanish language, a vital organ it may be, to survive in a body already spread with a developmental Heredity Injuring Virus already at the advanced stage manifested by the American Imperialism Defilipinization Syndrome?

PERCEPTION

Let us follow the path of good soldiers or physicians. In a maze of conflicts, they see a clear pattern of the situation enough to conceptualize the problem thru which solutions are revealed.

APPROACH

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

The aforementioned remark is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer and aviator (29 June 1900—31 July 1944). He was a successful commercial pilot before World War II, joining the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) on the outbreak of war, flying reconnaissance missions until the armistice with Germany. He joined the resistance movement, Free French Forces organized by General Charles de Gaulle against the German invaders. He disappeared on a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean in July 1944.

I mentioned the background of the author of that remark because I want to emphasize that his literary works which were notable were products of his experiences as a successful pilot. This makes that remark full of factual basis and therefore very credible.
Indeed, if you want to build a recovery vessel —political party for the Spanish language, which could take our nation to wherever we envision it to take us (towards economic liberation, towards high productivity, towards cultural excellence, and towards Hispanic shores)— do not convince the people to recruit, to organize and to go through the process. Instead, make the people yearn for the experience of a nation rich in glory — something that they could see and touch, and that it is no longer dependent on another people who control us, since this is already something they inherited, and it is their own and can come home to. Then you have build an inspired people. An inspired people will no longer be them as differentiated from you. From then on, they will no longer be identified as they. From then on, they will identify themselves as, we. It is because what has been sparking the passion in you is already the same in them. They have become you and you have become them. Then this time there is only we and us.

OPERATIONALIZATION OF THE EXUPÉRY CONCEPT

There would not be anymore a need to tell the people among us what process to take to build an organization to recover the Spanish language. We the people who have been inspired would not only not anymore need to be told what the procedures are, we ourselves would decide to build that organization. We would decide not only to build that organization but we would decide to build the best organization. The Spanish language this time would not be a decree written in a document, a requirement to pass school requirements or an artifact well preserved in a cultural institution. It would be alive within our developmental national hereditary code.

FACTUAL BASIS FOR THIS CONCEPT

That is the reason why I am preparing a report which evolved from my earlier report on “Developmental Basis…” It will serve as a basis for the recovering of our inherited nation. It is supposed to capture that golden era of our nation during the conception of our filipino, our birth, during our infancy and our struggle to continue to live inspite the onslaught by the american invaders and chinese who they also helped to invade. It was the time when we: the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, many of those who came from the Iberian peninsula, the Castillans, Euskaldunak, and the Catalans, the Iberian natives of the land of mestizos, and the natives of this archipelago all united to become hijos del país and to be called Filipinos; formed a nation not in paper but in offering self, in the service of the nation; were clean and our surroundings were clean; conducted ourselves in an excellent manner; when our aspirations were towards giving life for the nation instead of material pursuits; inspite of social injustices like land grabbing and political power monopoly committed by many among the rich and the unethical social practices committed by the poor against fellow Filipinos which were both plain selfishness and taking advantage of fellowmen, can be corrected thru the balancing process of our maturation as a developing provided that we are a sovereign nation. It would be a strong basis to prove that this is a vision organic to us filipinos because it has happened and it happened at a time when the infection transmitted by the foreign invaders were not yet deep and wide.

This is necessary as there has to be a basis for whatever process we might pursue thereafter be it a political organization or a pilot project. As to a pilot project, there has to be a conceptual framework as a guide to a more concrete but smaller social unit for simpler management. This can serve as a showcase for our concepts and will be a tangible proof that our concept works. Let us learn lessons from how the French people, and the Israeli people developed to become among the most powerful and respected nations in the world today.

FRENCH NATIONALISM MOVEMENT

France utilized their glorious military history and the French language thru education and media to unite the French into a single nation. This process took centuries of development. This resulted to the present pride of the French of their nation and their being among the top superior nations of the world.

ISRAELI IDEOLOGICAL MOVEMENT AND THE RECLAMATION OF THEIR STATE

The present Israeli nation which was recovered in the 1940s have been in exile around the world for 2000 years. For at least hundreds of years, a developmental concept was pursued and disseminated among the dispersed jews all over the world. This concept with a program, Zionist Movement, was just the preservation of the Isreali identity and eventually the regeneration of their inherited nation for the purpose of reestablishing that homeland they so longed for thousands of years. How that longing was sustained was the product of their identity which remained preserved for 2000 years. Your giving importance to our national identity is indeed valuable for the preservation of our original nation. Language which is Hebrew for the Jews was an important organ that facilitated the dissemination and the sustaining for generations this Israeli Ideology and unity. For further information about this nationalist movement of Israel, you can read http://www.zionismontheweb.org/zionism_history.htm

PILOT PROJECT

As mentioned earlier, a pilot project is one option we can consider to apply our concepts and programs to a willing host community. An example is the town of Taal, Batangas. Taal because it is a town which belongs to a province with one of if not the most nationalistic people of the country today. It is also a town which has a big percentage of it’s structures, demography preserved from foreign corruption. In this town a developmental program can be proposed to the people thru it’s mayor which would enable the people there recover their inherited character which was during the time our nation was born thru the intercourse of the Iberian and the natives of the place and not yet corrupted by the foreign invaders. The economy would be agriculture and tourism based as well as the organic potential of that community. We can involve organic agriculture organizations in the area. There is one authoritative and professional organization I know personally existing in nearby Malvar, Batangas. We can involve the Instituto Cervantes to conduct support for reintroduction of the Spanish language to the masses, architectural research of the town development during the Spanish times. They may have some documents or maps available. Something similar to this has already happened in Ilocos. It was something like a heritage preservation program. Their economy improved substantially. This proposed Taal development project can even be deeper in scope. This all depends on the willingness of the host people of the town. Other alternatives could be the towns of Guimbal and Concepción in Iloílo.

POLITICAL ORGANIZATION

This is a long process starting with the preparation of this report of factual basis of this organic concept and program, to the getting the right persons to work with this proposed project. We can work this in tandem with a political and auditing organization to conduct studies, search for funding and monitoring of the progress of the program.

If this succeeds, it can easily be replicated to other areas of the country. Bcause by then, we the people of this nation will ourselves be the ones who would yearn for that vast and endless sea of national excellence where we would have realized that this has been really our own home all this time.

12/09/09

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