I started taking classes in Spanish at the Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish language school and cultural center, located in Avenida Kalaw. Filipinos are fortunate to have this institution around, it provides everyone the oppurtunity to learn the Castillian language.
I have been reading Spanish text for sometime, although I could discern the meaning behind the words I feel that I am missing some important pieces. I am incapable of effective communication in Spanish. I realized that formal lessons is the right course.
I regret the fact that we removed Spanish subjects in our schools, It is a beautiful language, its part of our history and heritage – something that some popular history scholars would immediately dismiss, out of their nationalistic sentiments and the hate of everything that is Spanish.
The role that this language has played in our development has been annulled by our leaders in the past (both political & educational – an American manipulation) who views it useless. Instead, we make English subjects compulsary for everyone – a foreign language who came to our shores less than a century ago.
We Filipinos owe so much from this language, it enhanced our way of life, gave us Catholicism – our faith, Education and all the wonderful things that was shared to us by Spaniards through this language. It is only fitting that we respect it as part of our culture and history.
Let not the ‘historia negra’ blind us, the Spanish era was not the dark ages, it was a transitional period were we progressed into a better way of life, having better working communities, civilized, God fearing, educated and in order. We have to start reading our history – the real history.
I’m pleased with what I found out in the Instituto, they have been seeing an increased in enrollment. They credit the call centers demands for Spanish representatives. I hope that in the process, the students would not only use the skill to increase their pay grade but find in themselves the splendor of the Castillian language and how important it was then to our county – and how relevant it is now for us Filipinos. As the Profesor said in one of the class, ‘I hope you’ll fall in love with the Spanish language just like I did, you’ll understand our history and how people was then through this language’.
I’ve always advocated that our educational system bring back to our schools the Castillian language, if its too much to ask, at least make it an optional subject. Students of history, like me would definitely be interested in taking it up – and all the other Filipinos who understands its true historical value.
According to Pio Andrade, Spanish was widely used althrough out the archipelago. Proof of this is the Chinese Filipinos of Binondo. He uncovered that most spoke fluent Spanish. The 1% theory of the late Bro. Andrew in his book is inaccurate. It was not the language of the aristocrats but of common folks too. Filipinos was widely using the language in different levels of proficiency, most having a working knowledge of how to communicate, in fact in Visayas and Mindanao – it was the language that would be understood when, for example a Cebuano would find trouble understanding a Waray, not the Tagalog.
Americans study French, and some other country still honor their colonial language by studying it. It is still being disputed how widely used the Castillian language was during the Spanish era, some has cited that the Spanish intentionally disallowed its teaching because they do not want the poor Indios to learn Spanish – this is not true, the reason why it was controlled (not totally banned) is to protect the country from the liberals and antimonarchs coming from Spain and the rest of Europe, which was a natural reaction from the Catholic and Spanish hierarchy.
They wanted to limit books and all the other types of communication that could have subversive liberal contents. They fear that it could create a movement in the islands that would seek to overthrow the Spanish leadership.
In the end, the revoution did took place. If it was any consolation, it was the proof that Filipinos, was the most educated Asian of his time – thanks to the Spanish language.
Why Learn Spanish then?
Here are some exlanation Gerald Erichsen of About.com provided:
Better understanding of English: Much of the vocabulary of English has Latin origins, much of which came to English by way of French. Since Spanish is also a Latin language, you will find as you study Spanish that you have a better understanding of your native vocabulary. Similarly, both Spanish and English share Indo-European roots, so their grammars are similar. There is perhaps no more effective way to learn English grammar than by studying the grammar of another language, for the study forces you to think about how your language is structured. It’s not unusual, for example, to gain an understanding of English verbs’ tenses and moods by learning how those verbs are used in Spanish.
Knowing your neighbors: Not all that many years ago, the Spanish-speaking population of the United States was confined to the Mexican border states, Florida and New York City. But no more. Even where I live, less than 100 kilometers from the Canadian border, there are Spanish-speaking people living on the same street as I do. Knowing Spanish has proven invaluable in speaking with other residents of my town who don’t know English.
Travel: Yes, it is perfectly possible to visit Mexico, Spain and even Ecuatorial Guinea without speaking a word of Spanish. But it isn’t nearly half as much fun. I remember about two decades ago — when my Spanish was much less adequate than it is today — when I met some mariachis on top of one of the pyramids near Mexico City. Because I spoke (albeit limited) Spanish, they wrote down the words for me so I could sing along. It turned out to be one of my most memorable travel experiences, and one unlike what most tourists have the opportunity to enjoy. Time and time again while traveling in Mexico, Central America and South America I have had doors opened to me simply because I speak Spanish, allowing me to see and do things that many other visitors do not.
Cultural understanding: While most of us can’t hope to learn the languages of more than one or two cultures other than that of our own, those that we can learn help us to learn how other people learn and think. When I read Latin American or Spanish newspapers, for example, I often find that I gain a sense of how other people think and feel, a way that is different than my own. Spanish also offers a wealth of literature, both modern and traditional.
Learning other languages: If you can learn Spanish, you’ll have a head start in learning the other Latin-based languages such as French and Italian. And it will even help you learn Russian and German, since they too have Indo-European roots and have some characteristics (such as gender and extensive conjugation) that are present in Spanish but not English. And I wouldn’t be surprised if learning Spanish might even help you learn Japanese or any other non-Indo-European language, since intensive learning the structure of a language can give you a reference point for learning others.