Discussions on the State of the Spanish Language during the American Occupation

Arnaldo
Arnaldo
August 20, 2011

I spent the whole morning talking with Pio Andrade and GGR about the true state of the Spanish language during the American occupation in the early 1990’s [and some other historical stuff].
Below are some of what they had to say about the topic:
PA: The Americans forbided the teaching of Spanish when they came yet the Spanish capability of the Filipinos increased because the Thomasites had to learn Spanish for them to teach English effectively. Instead of decreasing the speakers of Spanish, they increased it.
A number of English publications in 1903 compared to the number of English and Spanish publications of 1918 shows the latter increasing. Almost all English publications had to dedicate Spanish sections in order to be widely read. Agoncillo’s claim of 2% [Spanish speakers in the 1900’s] have no reference. It’s a big  lie.
GGR: It’s a lie to you, to me and to all Filipinos [that Spanish was never spoken by Filipinos]. That’s why they’re [the US] here, to lie. The exploitation was unbelievable since the beginning.
You should have a copy of the book “Rizal’s Unfading Glory”, written by Padre Jesús María Cavanna y Manso. Its the most exhaustive research on the man. Its all there. They try to wishy washy Rizal. Trying to justify American colonialism by promoting the Americanized version of this hero. If they want to get serious about Rizal then they should study his poems, novels, songs and plays in Spanish!
The brave women of Malolos wanted to learn Spanish. Rizal supported them. The message was clear. A lot of people appears to be afraid of the true Rizal but the true Rizal must come out! People just want to repeat the same stories about the man.
WOP: I’ll never forget the stories of my adopted grandmother about Spanish [language]. Having been born in prewar Manila she grew up around people who spoke Spanish. Her father was Irish, having stayed in the country for so long learned Spanish. Her mestiza mom, part Swiss, also spoke it. Intramuros  exclusively spoke Spanish. This includes according to her the servants and the Chinese merchants!
She saw it as something very Filipino. She’s so proud that her generation spoke “the language”. She succeeded in teaching it to her children and grandchildren. And this is an American citizen.
My biological great grandparents, and this came from those who lived with them, spoke the language. My maternal great grandfather was said to be a strict disciplinarian [he evicted my grandpa from Dumangas] exclusively spoke Spanish at home. He was Aglipayan.
Its just strange that we all remember our grandparents speaking Spanish and yet we believe what was taught in school. That it was never widely spoken by Filipinos.

Pio and GGR posing with the newspaper interview ( ¿se retracto Rizal?...¡si!) showing Trinidad Rizal admitting that Jose indeed retracted before he died. GGR here commenting and having fun on the printed shirt (waikiki) of Don Pio!

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All other text enclosed in parenthesis is mine.

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Anonymous

My mother was absolutely pro-U.S. until before her death, when she had become noticeably disillusioned with America, after living there for over 30 years. My father spoke Spanish, as did his entire family, siblings, parents. But the language is passed on by the mother in most cases, and my mother did not speak more than a few phrases. However, her father did, and so did his entire family. Her mother was poor and did not get a decent education. When I was five years old something happened that was very difficult for me to experience. My mother called me to… Read more »

Leandro D. Quintana
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I believe I’ve made this comment before: Acquring a new language, regardless the method, is a gift. The Philippines are doubly gifted in that it is the recipient of two languages, Castillian and English. Unfortunately, the leaders of our country over the past 65 years or so, have led us to squander these gifts. Driven perhaps by a sense of insecurity or a misquided sense of nationalism, these leaders (political, educational, social) have engaged in the mindless attempt to impose a “national” language to the detriment of instruction and usage of both Castillian and English. And we have been the… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I remember my grandparents speaking Spanish. They never bothered to teach us their grandchildren, or I guess we never showed interest that’s why they never bothered or its possible that they did not want to confuse us. I now live here in Japan. We’re originally from Cebu.

Bogs
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I agree De Anda with your comment. I believe the vernacular should be emphasized. Tagalog should not be imposed at the expense of the region’s vernacular or own dialect/language. This I believe is a cause in our decline in our education system plus prevents our culture from flourishing and discovering itself as well as expressing itself in its own native tongue.
The imposition also of a “foreign” dialect or language, I think prevents us from writing in the vernacular. Writing that is, in correct or proper grammar.

Bogs
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This is not to defend the Americans or the Spaniards or to favor one colonial master over the other. In some of the on-line forums that discusses Philippine history and heritage, I have pointed out the importance of acknowledging our Hispanic past and its great contribution in developing our people into one nation (as the Spaniards are the ones responsible in creating our country and in uniting the diverse group of people.) Also in arguing that we are disconnected from our past because of the language barrier; wherein most of our written history up to this time, is in Spanish.… Read more »

Petty Mon
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Petty Mon

Spanish was once a Filipino language. That is if you read, observe and in my case, had the opportunity to speak with elder town people. Yes, it is not as widespread but it was used until 1950’s. The last people in the family to speak it were my Filipino Chinese grandparents. They were from CEbu city.

Tsinelas
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Tsinelas

I would like to learn it but for economic reasons – not because of anything else

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