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A REVIEW OF BROTHER ANDREW’S BOOK: “LANGUAGE AND NATIONALISM: THE PHILIPPINES’ EXPERIENCE THUS FAR”
Brother Andrew’s treatise “Language and Nationalism” was praised in the foreword by Cecilio López as “the most exhaustive and up-to-date treatment of the language problem in the Philippines”.
It may have been up-to-date when it was published, but by no means could it be described as exhaustive. One look at the list of references shows the absence of very important sources such as the following:
1.) The Official Census of 1903.
2.) The Ford Report of 1916, which shows that the use of Spanish was more widespread than commonly admitted.
3.) Pío Valenzuela’s History of Philippine Journalism.
There are many big and important facts on the language question that are not mentioned at all in Brother Andrew’s book, such as the fact about Spanish being the language of the Revolution, the role of Spanish in effecting the unity of the various Filipino ethnic groups which made the 1896-1899 Revolution possible, the role of the Chinese Filipinos in disseminating the language of Cervantes all over the country due to the fact that the Philippines was the most thoroughly educated Asian colony in the last decades of the 19th century, and the fact about the much higher circulation of Spanish language dailies than either the Tagalog or English dailies in the 1930s.
Brother Andrew González, FSC, uncritically accepted the figure of 2.8% as the percentage of Filipinos who can speak and write in Spanish at the turn of the century given by Cavada Méndez y Vigo’s book. This book was printed in 1870, just seven years after the establishment of the Philippine Public school system in 1863 by Spain.
Surely by 1900, more than 2.8% of the Filipinos were speaking and writing in Spanish and there was incontrovertible proof behind this assertion.
Don Carlos Palanca’s Memorandum to the Schurman Commission listed eight Spanish-speaking provinces in the islands in addition to the 9 Tagalog-speaking provinces which, according to him, are also Spanish-speaking. To this total of 17 Spanish-speaking provinces, Don Carlos added that there were only five other provinces where “only a little Spanish is spoken”. Don Carlos Palanca was the gobernadorcillo of Binondo and the head of the Gremio de Mestizos. (Chinese Christians were the ones referred to as mestizos since the Spanish half-breed was called criollo).
William Howard Taft’s 1901 statement after his tour of the Philippines clearly says that Spanish was more widespread than Tagalog.
This fact about Spanish being even more widespread than Tagalog in the entire archipelago is further attested to by the well-documented fact that American soldiers during the Fil-American war had to speak bamboo Spanish to all Filipinos –not bamboo Tagalog– in order to be understood without any interpreter. There is still that other fact about the early occupational government of the American Military in the Philippines having to published in Spanish, not in Tagalog, all its official communications in order to be understood by the Filipino people. An English translation was appended whenever necessary for the consumption of the Americans themselves.
This official use of Spanish by the Americans themselves went on up to 1910 when they started to issue communications in English but still followed by a corresponding Spanish translation of the same. In view of this fact, if a national Filipino national language needed to be established other than English, the correct choice should have been Spanish, not Tagalog.
A big fault of Brother Andrew’s book lies in his uncritical acceptance of Teodoro Agoncillo’s History of the Revolution. Agoncillo’s History book has already been proven to be heavily distorted by omission of facts, false interpretation of events and documents and by outright lies.. The omission of these other facts was done because the same could not be reconciled with Mr. Agoncillo’s own personal bias in the narration and teaching of Philippines history. An example of Brother Andrew’s fault with regard his uncritical acceptance of Agoncilo’s distortion of history is the conclusion that the founding members of the KKK (Katipunan) were Filipinos of lowly origin. The founding Supremo of the KKK is Andrés Bonifacio and it is not so that he is of lowly origin. Bonifacio was definitely not a poor man when he got into the Katipunan.
Nor were the other Katiputan charter members. Agoncillo also failed to mention that the Philippine economy was booming during that decade and that Bonifacio, unlike most other Filipinos, approved of the torture of a captive friar.
The years 1900 to the Commonwealth period (1935-1941) wre not well researched by Brother and Cotor Andrew Gonzalez. Thus, the language issue affecting the Filipinos then are not well discussed. Had Brother Andrew researched more on the language issue of that period, he would have found out that as laste as the 1930s Spanish dailies outcirculated wither the Tagalog or English language dailies.
He would have found out also that the use of Spanish during the following decade of 1940 was bound to even get stronger had it not been for the devastating 1943-1945 war.
The strength of Spanish is evidenced by the majority of cinema films shown between 1900 and 1940. These films, even if made in Holywood were in Spanish subtitles and talkies. And several of the Philippines produced full-length films had all-Spanish talkies.
Another important fact not found in Brother Andrew’s book is the role of the Spanish language in assimilating and integrating the Chinese emigrants into mainstream Filipino society. The 100,000 Chinese in the Philippines at the turn of the century spoke Spanish in varying degrees of proficiency. The Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce since its establishment in 1904 wrote its minutes in Spanish until 1924. When they ceased using Spanish in their official meetings and minutes, they reverted to Chinese, not English. Today, strange as it may seem, the last bastion of whatever Spanish language is left are the Chinese Filipinos, and not those of Spanish descent except the Padilla-Zóbel family that maintains the annual Premio Zóbel.
Finally, Brother and doctor Andrew González treated very superficially the question of nationalism and language. There should have been more discussions on the point that adopting a foreign tongue, or using foreign words, are not per se against nationalism. If nationalism is love for ones country and foreign words and language can best help literacy and communication, it is nationalistic doing so.
Neither did Brother and Doctor Andrew González realize that nationalism in the question of language can be destructive as has been the case in the Philippines. Doing away with Spanish orthography and the cartilla, the educational authorities did away with a very inexpensive and very effective method for teaching reading skills to the young. Exterminating Spanish in the schools made the Filipinos today estranged to their Hispanic past and made Filipinos prey to nationalist historians who misled several generations of Filipinos in the sense that Spain had done the Philippines very little good when the contrary is true.
What is the prime purpose of language? Is it not to make us understand one another better? Yet, Brother and Doctor Andrew González’s book gives the impressions that showing nationalism is the prime purpose of language.
To be fair to Brother Andrew González, we want to think that he is a victim of too many distortions found in Philippine History including the history of language among Filipinos. Thus, the remark of Cecilio López in his introduction to Brother Andrew’s book “Language and Nationalism”, the the same “is the most exhaustive and up-to-date treatment of the language problem in the Philippines” is only true in the sense that the very few books on the same subject are mostly superficial.
Perhaps it will be correct for us to recall a Spanish saying that prays: En el país de los ciegos el tuerto es rey.
I’d been having dreams lately, drunken dreams with their peculiar lucidity in which the Experience Trail, the High Seas seemed to call louder and louder, more and more insistently with a voice that was at the same time music—a siren’s song that almost threatened me if I refused to obey its quixotic urgings … –Sol Luckman–
The nuevas “Propagandistas” —el Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera, Arnaldo Arnáiz, José Miguel García, and yours truly— convened for the first time this morning to discuss the formal founding of a website which would be the nucleus of our group (I playfully call it a “cyberclique”, LOL!!!).
We talked about our passion for Philippine History, how we got interested with the subject, and shared each other’s viewpoints on how to rectify the errors of this taken-for-granted field. Blithely, Señor Gómez likened us to Don Quijote, hopelessly fighting the windmills. We were like “madmen”, so to speak, because the topic of Philippine history is perceived to be reserved only in school. And we have to face it: we are like ants against rampaging elephants. But this knowledge that we have is our “curse”; we have to live with it. And we had to live through the somewhat belittled field of Philippine history for it encompasses everything that is truly Filipino, the very subject which in a way keeps us sane. For us, the study of Philippine history is a treasure trove of knowledge and discoveries about our past that has been taken away from us by a neocolonialist extragovernment.
After our meeting, I told the group that I’m so happy that our number has “grown”. This is because I thought that Señor Gómez and I are fighting a lonely war. The great Filipino scholar and I have known each other since 1997 (he’s been like a father to me). We’ve also been searching for like-minded people, but in vain. Historian priests Fr. José Arcilla, S.J., and Fr. Fidel Villaroel, O.P. would have been perfect allies. But as published men, they are on a league of their own. Besides, having them on board will only attract baseless and absurd accusations of “ecclesiastical bias” and “papism”. There’s also prolific researcher Pío Andrade, author of the highly controversial book The Fooling of America and a friend of Señor Gómez. But we couldn’t find him. And so it was a blessing that Arnaldo Arnáiz and I have met back in 2007; Having discovered who the real Filipino is through his own researches, he too started to look for like-minded individuals to whom he can share his thoughts. I happily introduced him to Señor Gómez (they later found out that they’re distant relatives). Then just last year, the mysterious José Miguel García found the three of us in cyberspace.
The rest, as they are wont to say, is history.
Some of those who know us should already have an idea of what we’re up to. This group, particularly the website that we’re planning to set up, will encompass everything that we’ve been fighting for all these years: the recovery of our national identity (which is based on our undeniable hispanic/latin physiognomy and culture), to counterattack the ludicrousness of the so-called leyenda negra (that the Americans “saved” us from the “evil clutches” of the Spanish Empire), the rectification of an ill-written and bigoted Philippine history, and the defense of the much maligned Catholic Church, the faith which brought the Western civilization to these once heathen shores. In one way or another, all this shall be realized by bringing back the Spanish language as an official language of the Philippines (or –perhaps– at the very least, to have it taught in all levels of education).
Here is a brief profile of my comrades:
1.) ARNALDO ARNÁIZ has been a history buff for as long as he can remember. An astute researcher and a master when it comes to the life and psychology of national hero José Rizal, it is surprising to note that Arnáiz has had no formal training in historiography and historical research. He is, in fact, a business process outsourcing (BPO) professional and a jiu jitsu expert. Instead of taking up History, he pursued Computer Management and earned his degree from the University of Perpetual Help Rizal (now the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA).
Later on, Arnáiz took advantage of the BPO boom in 2002, earning six years of exceptional experience in call centers. His work ethic paid off in 2004 when he was promoted as a team leader (supervisor). In that designation, he helped lead a pioneer customer service account in APAC Customer Services, Inc., eventually winning the Best Team Leader award a year later. In between working as a call center supervisor and a traveler-photographer, he delves into the mangled world of Philippine history. Through his own, he was able to discover our true roots. But it wasn’t always that way in his younger years:
I’ve realized lately that I have become what I, as a younger man, hated to become: negligent of one’s history. When I was child, I can recall getting upset whenever my classmates would make fun of Bonifacio (the Andrés hatapang ‘di a tacbó joke). I don’t know why and where this started, but my history education as a child was better than the other kids in town. I have the luxury of learning from one of our well-off neighbours who had in their collection a vast array of titles, some are centuries-old books.
The rest of my History lessons was concluded in schools. Although the lessons were barely acceptable to my standards, I’ve always felt that it was insubstantial. In my adult years after college, I bought my own books to supplement my studies but not as avid as I once was. ‘Past is past’ they say, but unless you study them you will continue to make the same mistakes. As my favorite history quote goes, ‘One faces the future with one’s past’. I now try to regain some lost ground in my study of history. It’s never too late for all of us to study and preserve what is left.
A curious note: although Spanish is not his native language, Arnáiz is a staunch defender and advocate of the said tongue. Like the late non-Spanish-speaking senator, Blas P. Ople, this distant relative of Señor Gómez seriously deserves to be commended a Premio Zóbel medal once the said oldest literary award-giving body in the country is reactivated.
2.) To introduce Señor GUILLERMO GÓMEZ RIVERA would already be superfluous in the light of his myriad of accomplishments in the field of arts, literature, language, and history. He is described in Wikipedia as “a Filipino writer, journalist, poet, playwright, historian, linguist, and scholar of Spanish and British descent from the province of Iloilo”…
Gómez Rivera is an academic director of the prestigious Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española (Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language), the local branch of the renowned Real Academia Española based in Madrid, Spain, and part of the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (Association of Spanish Language Academies). He is also a teacher of various Spanish dances, and is considered the undisputed maestro of Flamenco in the Philippines.
In addition to his contributions to Philippine literature and history, Gómez is also an accomplished linguist and polyglot. He speaks and writes fluently in his native Hiligaynon as well as in English and Tagalog. Aside from being an acclaimed master of the Spanish language in the country, he is also conversant in French, Italian, Portuguese, Kinaray-a, and Cebuano, and has made an extensive study of the Visayan and Chabacano languages.
Critics regard him as the Spanish equivalent to his friend Nick Joaquín’s English. Joaquín’s body of written works were discreetly about the “Hispanic soul” of the Philippines brought about by three centuries of Spanish rule. Joaquín’s stories in particular were sentimental, reminiscing the Philippine’s Spanish past as well as its decline. Gómez wrote on the same theme, more thoroughly about the decadence of the country’s “Hispanic soul,” but his style was much frank and straight to the point—the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) were the cause of Spanish decline in the Philippines. Also, unlike Joaquín, Gómez focused more on fiery essays than short stories.
He won a Premio Zóbel in 1975 for his play El Caserón (The Big House) which was published in 1976. He has since been a longtime master of ceremonies for the said award-giving body. Prior to this, Gómez won second place in the Premio Manuel Bernabé for an essay on the historical and nationalistic value and import of the Spanish language.
Much of the theme for Gómez’s poetry, as well as his essays and short stories, lie mainly on the destruction of which he calls the “Filipino Cosmos,” i.e., the destruction of Philippine languages and culture due to American neocolonization.
Gómez is a somewhat belligerent writer, as can be gleaned by his scathing attacks in his Spanish weekly newspaper Nueva Era against what he observed as local pro-compulsory “ONLY-English-language government officials” who he accuses as vile puppets of US WASP neocolonialism. Many of his writings boast of proofs against these people he accuses. Through his monumental body of literary works, he has advocated his Filipino readers to “rediscover” their Spanish past in order for them to gain knowledge of their true national identity.
Another way of doing this is through cultural dissemination, particularly through dance. Aside from sharing his knowledge of flamenco, he has made several researches on Philippine songs and dances, especially those of Hispanic influence, which he was able to contribute to the internationally acclaimed Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. In fact, most of the Spanish-influenced native songs and dances choreographed by the said group can trace their origins from Gómez’s researches, which earned him the role of an adviser for Bayanihan.
He was also a recording artist, having recorded Filipino songs that were originally in Spanish, as well as Chabacano songs that were popular in areas were Chabacano used to be prevalent.
Gómez is also credited for reintroducing into the modern local film industry the now forgotten film Secreto de Confesión. It was the first film that was produced in the Philippines that was spoken and sung in Spanish (la primera película hablada y cantada en español producida en Filipinas).
He was also the National Language Committee Secretary of the Philippine Constitutional Convention (1971–1973) during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos. As part of the committee, he fought for Tagalog to become the country’s national language. In the same convention, Gómez teamed up with other nationalists to preserve Spanish as one of the country’s official languages. Spanish, however, later was made an optional language (together with Arabic) from the Freedom Constitution of 1987 when Corazón Aquino took over from where former strongman Marcos had left.
Due to his tireless efforts in attempting to bring back the Filipino national identity based on Spanish, he is considered by some of his hispanist/nationalist friends, such as Edmundo Farolán, as El Don Quixote Filipino.
These astounding accomplishments (including those not written above!) should earn Señor Gómez no less than a National Artist Award for Literature and/or Dance and/or Historical Literature and/or Music (for his two-volume LP Nostalgia Filipina). Surprisingly, the credibility of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts spiralled down to the sewers when it chose to give awards to undeserving people such as those who glorify blood and gore on film.
3.) Unfortunately, I cannot discuss much about our compañero JOSÉ MIGUEL GARCÍA (not his real name) due to security purposes, no thanks to this corrupt, neocolonized, and LAME puppet government. For now, his real identity cannot be revealed (thus the reason the four of us don’t have a photo together). But this is all I can say about my tocayo: .
Call me pretentious; I don’t really care (been called worst names in the past). But now that there are four of us, I can proudly say that our heroes did not die in vain after all.
Those @-h0les who have been spreading blatant lies and stupidities about our country’s history will VERY SOON have their “beautiful day” in cyberspace.
“To accuse the Spanish, over and over again, of having brought us all sorts of things, mostly evil, among which we can usually remember nothing very valuable, ‘except, perhaps,’ religion and national unity, is equivalent to saying of a not very model mother, that she has given her child nothing except life, for in the profoundest possible sense, Spain did give birth to us — as a nation, as an historical people. This geographical unit of numberless islands called the Philippines –this mystical unit of numberless tongues, bloods and cultures called a Filipino– was begotten of Spain, is a Spanish creation. The content of our national destiny is ours to create, but the basic form, the temper, the physiognomy, Spain has created for us.
Towards our Spanish past, especially, it is time we became more friendly, bitterness but inhibits us; those years cry for a fresher appraisal. –Nick Joaquín (La Naval de Manila, October 1943)–
So many writers and scholars have claimed that our race has no identity of its own. They say that we are still seeking an elusive national identity. Most of them somehow have this “warped” view of the subject, stating that more than three hundred years of Spanish colonization hindered the development or natural evolution of our identity. Some say that the Filipino identity started to exist only when the Philippines revolted against “Spanish tyranny and oppression”. And some argue that we still have to develop it.
“A definite national identity has continuously eluded the Filipino peoples,” declared Gabriela Network. “Colonizers and imperial powers have thwarted fledgling attempts at nationhood, redefining the archipelago for their own benefit.” The late statesman, Carlos P. Rómulo, wrote intrepidly that “our history is a record of the search for the Filipino identity,” implying thus that there is an absolute absence of it. “The examination is urgent because we are witnessing a resurgence of the spirit, expressing itself in a boldness with which we like to conceive our politics, our social organization, our intellectual and artistic tradition, our system of education, and, more significantly, the assertiveness with which we like to regard ourselves in relation to the larger context of Asia,” he continued.
Retired colonel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (and author of the History of the Armed Forces of the Filipino People) Dr. César P. Pobre even tried to explain why there is a lack of such an identity: the country’s archipelagic nature, a deficiency of unity and unifying symbols other than the national language and flag, colonial policies, the protracted terrorism of local communist and separatist groups, and demographic diversity.
But to say that we do not have our own identity is tantamount to declaring that we have no country, that we are not a unified network of nations. Or that perhaps we are a nation of fools. From Aparri to Joló, aren’t we all proud and united in joy whenever boxing hero Manny Pacquiáo waves the three stars and the eight-rayed sun in victory over a devastated (and pre-match loudmouthed) opponent? Our nationalistic pride is always stirred up whenever a kababayan receives honors abroad. And we are angered in unison whenever we receive news that one of us is harmed overseas. Our nationalistic fervor is alive. We acknowledge each other’s united presence even in other countries. Doesn’t this prove that we already have an identity? We already have a concept of nationhood, but the problem is that this concept is somewhat bigoted and not wanting in atavistic blindness. In this age of information and ecumenism, we are no longer finicky toward racism. It’s (supposedly) a thing of the past. Why then are we still behind in identifying our very own identity as a people?
We do not need to seek nor build our own identity. It’s already here, ready to strike us in the face. What needs to be done is to simply identify it. It is already within us. We just need to tap it. And make it known among ourselves.
But what is national identity? It is generally accepted that this concept refers to a group of people’s distinguishing characteristics or specific features, making each of its member feel a warm sentiment of belongingness to that group. Sentient commonality is present regardless of racial origin (i.e., regional attributes) or creed or regional peculiarities. Its importance thus cannot be taken for granted.
“A nation strongly built is a nation secure,” remarked Dr. Pobre. “To be strong it must have unity. And to have unity it must have, among others, a national identity. Hence, the quest for national identity is an imperative to building a strong national community.” It is so true. Therefore, if we already have a national identity, why are we still a weak and blighted nation, blind with rage toward our past, particularly at our glorious Spanish past? Because we haven’t been able to identify this controversial identity. Or we refuse to do so.
The words “glorious Spanish past” has to be mentioned and even emphasized because it is exactly from that epoch that our identity was first formed and forged. Before the Spaniards came, there was no Philippines and no Filipino people to speak of. The Filipino identity is the product of the Filipino State that began to exist in Spanish on 24 June 1571. The Filipino State was founded together with Manila on that same date, with the government having Spanish as its official language. It’s as simple as that; no more need to use effusive language and pretentious arguments.
With the birth of a nation follows the birth of its people’s own unique identity. Before 24 June 1571, each tribe (called indios) living all over what is now known as the Philippine archipelago had their own petty kingdoms, languages (including a system of writing), culture, traditions and customs, beliefs, and identity. Technically speaking, they were divided as various independent states or countries. That was all changed when Spain occupied the islands and united all of them into one compact and homogeneous body (that is why those who refused this generous Spanish act should not consider themselves as Filipinos in spirit).
In nation-building, the people has to be united first and foremost. And in order to be united, its peoples should acknowledge a shared identity among themselves. Our forefathers, the first ones who synthesized the concept of nationhood back in 1571, avowed to this shared identity through concepts and newfound knowledge brought about by Spanish culture. “In our orthodox history education, it’s regrettable that the core appears to be lessons in history with a ‘nationalist’ attitude,” wrote fellow nouveau “propagandist” Arnaldo Arnáiz. “That in order to glorify the homeland, we must acknowledge that colonialism was entirely immoral and therefore never produced any meaningful transformation, that we have an obligation to focus on ways to remove its influence, and that we must to go back to our pristine origins — that the more aboriginal our mindset is, the more Filipino we become. Along this line of thinking, there are those who argue that to be a Filipino, the correct attitude must be above all that of an Asian. This essentially puristic approach is an attempt to undo the path of our evolution as a society. The trouble with this is that the Filipino’s base can only be traced in its mestizo genesis. Even the formation of its name, ‘Filipino’ and ‘Filipinas’, is the outcome of that merger.”
This is not to say that the Spaniards were pure saints and that they didn’t do us any wrong at all. “Colonialism has its faults,” says Arnáiz. But it should be noted that the Spanish takeover was mainly for evangelization because unlike other colonies, the Philippine archipelago had no spices nor any major gold deposits (save perhaps for a few places such as the one in Paracale, Camarines Norte). This country, in fact, developed into a progressive nation through the latest technologies and economic breakthroughs coming from the West. And this economic progression later on paved the way for former US President William McKinley’s infamous “Benevolent Assimilation” proclamation in 1898, thus shaming and mocking the precepts of his own country’s Monroe Doctrine.
Such a fact prompted another “modern propagandista” and foremost Filipinist/Hispanist of our time, the great scholar and 1975 Premio Zóbel winner Guillermo Gómez Rivera, to observe that “the Filipino State became so rich and so vibrant that from a mere missionary outpost it went on to become a colony, in the Spanish sense of the word. It went on to become an overseas Spanish province under a Ministerio de Ultramar until it graduated into the 1898 República Filipina which the invading American forces of the 1900s literally destroyed with an unjust war by murdering one-sixth of its total population.” Señor Gómez further adds that “the Americans claimed the Philippine Islands as a ‘territory of the United States of America’ but never gave any American citizenship status to the Filipinos as Spain did from the start of her rule. Thus, while it was the Spaniards who started for all Filipinos the organization of what was later to become their own Filipino State, the basis of their national patrimony and rights, the American WASPs* took away from the Filipinos, their own STATE.”
If only today’s generation are still Spanish-speaking like our ancestors, the abovementioned facts would have been very easy to grasp. And more facts would have been uncovered, especially those that were twisted by today’s educators who are under the influence of WASP neocolonial policies. Another colleague of ours, José Miguel García, correctly ascertained that “many of our documents, records, and literature were written in Spanish. These are records of our past. Without records of our past, we do not have access to our common origin as a nation. Without our common origin as a nation, we do not have a common identity. Without a common identity, we do not have anything to do with each other as a nation…”
Once our true Filipino Identity, an identity based on our glorious Spanish heritage, has been correctly identified and made known to all, nationalistic pride and patriotic love will have more sense and meaning. That is why it is imperative to bring back the Spanish language in this country. It is the key to identify and recover our national identity.
“Only when we become aware that we have an inheritance and how and where it was taken can we recover our national identity,” wrote García. “Only then can we recover our beautiful stock. Only then can we recover our national genetic code and regenerate once more our beautiful stock from which development of not only the once glorious Manila will again spring, but our once glorious Filipinas.”
Ladies and gents, the ball is now in our hands.
*White Anglo-Saxon Protestant
I hope that the humble blogpost I wrote yesterday will not be belittled nor ignored by those who are supposed to back it up. I am not forcing them to support my idea — I am actually begging them to do so.
Please do your country a favor by bringing back the Spanish language as a co-official language of this country, vis-à-vis Tagalog and English.
I have no personal political ambitions. And even if I have the political machinery and mindset to become a statesman, I will still not opt to do so. It’s simply not in my system. I’m content of just sitting on the sidelines to observe and comment. To echo what former PNP Director-General (and now Senator) Ping Lacson said many years ago during a TV interview, “I hate politics. And to put it more bluntly, I hate politicians”.
So why am I doing this? Why do I zealously put forward the idea of having a political party to achieve this nationalistic dream of restoring the Spanish language to where it rightfully belongs? Because like what I said yesterday, the political arena is currently our only chance of achieving this dream. I may not have been able to register for the upcoming 2010 Philippine National Elections, but that doesn’t mean that I have totally lost my faith in our country’s political system. That’s why I’d like to give our democratic functions one more chance. Not by exercising my right to suffrage but by creating a “minor” or small political party (or party list) with the noble aim of recognizing the Spanish language’s true worth and deserving status in this country.
I strongly believe that putting forward the idea of making Spanish a co-official language together with Tagalog and English has a very big chance. In the first place, Spanish has long been an official language of this country until it was callously stripped of its status in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Most legal documents and statutes that we now have in the three branches of our government (namely the the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments) were originally written in Spanish before it was decided to translate them into English (and sometimes in other native languages). I don’t even have to mention the Spanish language’s impact towards our multifarious cultures and languages (not excluding behavior and even spiritually) since it has already been discussed and debated before.
The Spanish language SIMPLY needs to be brought back to the Filipino cosmos. Not for the language’s sake, but for OUR SAKE. It shouldn’t have been taken away in the first place.
I would like to call on all major institutions in the Philippines (and perhaps those in Spain as well), which has a strong connection to the Spanish language and culture, to sit down and convene about the language’s future in our country. Will the Spanish language just remain a thing of the past, something that should just be treated as an interesting scholarly topic for future dissertations? Should it be considered merely as a stepping stone by BPO professionals to augment their salaries? Should the language be treated only as a school subject? What should be the treatment Filipinos of today should give to the language of their forefathers and heroes who had helped shaped this nation? Shall we content ourselves of merely treating the Spanish language as nothing but a cultural gem that is kept in a see-through vault for everybody to see and admire?
To the best of my knowledge, the organizations which have the answers to the foregoing questions are the following:
Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española
Commission on Higher Education
Cruzada Internacional por la Reivindicación del Español en Filipinas
Department of Education of the Philippines
Heritage Conservation Society
Instituto Cervantes de Manila
National Historical Institute
Spanish Embassy in Metro Manila
Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation
The Government of the Philippines
The Government of Spain (and concerned representatives of other Spanish-speaking nations)
And of course, the list should include the foremost online group in the country today which advocates the return, dissemination, and conservation of the Spanish language in the Philippines: the Círculo Hispanofilipino, of which I am a member since 2001. It was founded by –of all nationalities– a German!
It will also help if the powerful Zóbel de Ayala family revives the country’s oldest literary award-giving body, the prestigious and legendary Premio Zóbel which has been on a sabbatical since the year I joined the Círculo Hispanofilipino. Bringing back the Zóbel Award will not only spark the fiery zeal and interest to promote Spanish in the country’s sociopolitical landscape — it will also inspire writers who do not write in Spanish to explore a whole new linguistic world. It might even inspire the few remaining hispanoparlantes filipinos to bring out the literary genius in them (whatever happened to Marra Lánot?).
I may have missed some groups. But I believe that the abovementioned list should lead the advancement of the Spanish language in the country. A dialogue or convention should be brought forth. May this meeting be made a national event.
With the symbiosis of the groups mentioned above, this political party which will struggle for the advancement of the Spanish language in the 2013 Philippine General Election will not just be an ordinary party-list group.
Today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
THE FILIPINO IDENTITY
Guillermo Gómez Rivera and José Mario S. Alas
Since the Philippines is now witnessing a world full of turbulence and incertitude, trudging on a road leading almost to hopelessness (and quite possibly another world war), it is high time that we Filipinos should wake up and face the facts, and to discern the real cause behind all this farce and evil.
We Filipinos were stripped of our national identity upon the arrival here of our so-called liberators: the North Americans, particularly the Thomasites. From that time on, the Republic of the Philippines (the Anglicized translation of La República de Filipinas) has never been the same again. Everything that is Filipino was literally mangled, especially during the 1945 massacre of Manila courtesy of the Yankee soldiers (see WARSAW OF ASIA: THE RAPE OF MANILA by José Mª Bonifacio Escoda). Therefore, before anything of the same tragedy happens again, we better arm ourselves with the powers of historical research and delve into the truth amidst all the lies taught to us by some “idiotcators.” Remember that the past is our gateway to the future.
The Filipino identity is the product of the Filipino State that began to exist in Spanish on 24 June 1571. The Filipino State was founded together with Manila on that same date, with the government having Spanish as its official language (THE FILIPINO STATE by Gómez Rivera as published in emanila.com).
In 1599, the previously existing native ethnic states went into the Filipino State as co-founding members. They incorporated themselves with the Filipino State when they elected the Spanish King (Rey Felipe II) as their natural sovereign (page 23 of THE HISPANIZATION OF THE PHILIPPINES by John Leddy Phelan, University of Winsconsin Press, USA, 1959). This election was verified during a synod-plebiscite held also that year.
From that time on, and after forming part of the 1571 Filipino State, our pre-Hispanic ancestors also accepted Spanish as their official and national language with their respective native languages as auxiliary official languages. Thus, the previously autonomous Ethnic States that existed before 1599 were respectively the ones that belonged to the Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Pampangueños, Bicolanos, Visayans, Mindanáo Lumads, and the Moro Sultanates of Joló and Maguindanáo.
Aside from these indigenous or native Ethnic States, the pre-Hispanic Chinese of Mayi-in-ila Kung shing-fu, or what is now known as Manila, likewise joined the Filipino State when they accepted the King of Spain as their natural sovereign. More so, because they knew that they would become the chief benefactors of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade that would in turn last for 215 years.
Hence, all of the above mentioned people became, ethnographically and politically, Filipinos as well as Spanish citizens or subjects when they freely accepted the Spanish King (Rey Felipe or King Philip II) as their natural sovereign in 1599, resided in the Philippines to do business, and paid taxes to His Majesty’s Manila government. It is because of this historical event that the Spanish language is an inseparable part of every Filipino’s individual, collective, and national identity. Because of this fact, Philippine education today, to be truly Filipino, must have Spanish as its medium of instruction as was the case before the Americans came, since without a notion of this language no Filipino can say that he is truly Filipino in his identity (Caviteños and Zamboangueños should, and can, start with their own Chabacano vernacular).
This is why a nationalist of the stature of Claro M. Recto declared that: “Without Spanish the inventory of our national patrimony as a people will be destroyed, if not taken away from us since Spanish is part of our flesh and blood as Filipinos.”
Teodoro M. Kálaw, another great Filipino, also said that: “The Filipino national identity, as well as what we know and recognize as Filipino culture, remains primarily articulated and manifested in Spanish because this is its original language. The Filipino Civilization is a beautiful blending of the Spanish and the indigenous civilizations. Without Spanish and its beneficial influence, we betray our own rights to dignity as a people and stop being Filipinos in order to sadly become economic slaves of another power.”
It is therefore a very condemnable crime against the Filipino people, in the words of Cebuano Senator Manuel C. Briones, to educate the new generations of Filipinos without any Spanish as, at least, one more subject in their curricula.
“More so,” added then Senator Manuel C. Briones, “because Spanish is also a world language!” And this is totally true because, at this writing, Spanish has around five hundred million primary speakers and another seven hundred million people as second-language speakers.
Should present-day Filipinos be left-out?
However, that is not the complete point. The main argument is that we Filipinos, before joining the battlefield against imperialism/neocolonialism, should very well know who the real enemy is. Moreover, we should realize that whenever we throw punches at the enemy, the only ones who we hit are ourselves due to the ignorance that we have about who we are and what we were. Our language, our culture, as well as our history and identity, were all distorted (this can be observed through the fiery writings of Recto, Kálaw, Briones, Jesús Lava, Renato Constantino, and even Nick Joaquín, regarding this matter; among those mentioned, perhaps it is Recto who divulged the most scathing truth on the agenda of the Americans and what they did to our country).
Even national hero José Rizal can be considered as an American-invented hero in some sense (see VENERATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING by Constantino). This is not to say that Rizal’s heroism was horseplay. Rizal was an ardent nationalist, a great writer and scholar, bar-none. He has every right to be our national hero for he instilled in his followers the importance of nationalism and national identity. However, the American regime managed to distort everything about him, and even used his tussle with the Spanish government in the Philippines when in truth, Rizal, who was a Freemason, was solely against the Spanish friars particularly the Dominicans who ordered the expulsion of his family, together with other Calambeños, from Calambâ, Laguna due to a land dispute.
The scheme of using Rizal’s “hatred” (kunô) against Spain was taught in all the schools, public and private, from pre-school up to college, little by little conditioning the minds of young Filipinos into accepting the absurd notion that the real villains were the Spaniards and that our saviors were the Americans. This alarming lie being done in our school systems still exist, quite obviously.
So now that it is made clear what a Filipino is, perhaps the question should be rephrased: should present-day Filipinos remain unconcerned about what those foreign oppressors did to us and are still doing to us?
GUILLERMO GÓMEZ y RIVERA — is a Filipino writer, journalist, poet, playwright, historian, linguist, polyglot, and scholar of Spanish and British descent. He was appointed Secretary of the Committee on National Language for the 1970-1971 Constitutional Convention. In 1974, the Department of Education condecorated him for his work as teacher and writer with the Plus Ultra Filipinas Award. In 1975, he was awarded the Premio Zóbel, the oldest literary award in the Philippines. And if I go on, this profile of Señor Gómez would have outworded the foregoing essay.
JOSÉ MARIO “Pepe” ALAS — is just an ordinary blogger with simple dreams but higher hopes.