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Vibal’s Online Tertulia and a Tribute to Guillermo Gomez Rivera

July 28, 2021

It’s not every day that you get to thank a personal hero in front of an audience (well, an online audience that is). I am happy to have been a part of this program by the Vibal Foundation called “Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española Tertulia & Concert to Honor Its New Honorary Academics”.

The program ran a short tribute for Don Guillermo Gomez Rivera before the honours were given. My small part was a recorded greeting and my expressions of appreciation to Gomez.

In the program, Sr. Gomez inducted two distinguished people, Sra. Dña. Georgina Padilla and Sr. D. Gaspar Vibal y Asuncion as honorary members of the prestigious Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española.

Vibal Backstory

I have known Vibal Publishing to be a producer of impartial quality Filipiniana books, but I have not known the story behind why. I have found them to be an anomaly in the local publishing scene.

During the event, Mr. Gaspar Vibal explains why he was especially interested in Filhispanic history and culture at a very young age. Their neighbour, the Marco family, has had an impact on his childhood. Early on, he was subjected to the wonders of Philippine-Spanish food, dance, songs and literature. The Marco family lived the old way of life and personified the hispano generations of the past.

I grew up in the same circumstances. We were a lower-middle-class family. But like the Vibals, we had a neighbour that lived the old Filipino way of life, the late Dña. Amparo Quillen Keyser. My fascination with her stories, songs, and her old books left a lasting impression on me.

Doña Georgina

I do not know her personally, but I have met her in Instituto Cervantes a couple of times. The last one was memorable.

During an event, Sr. Gomez, stood up and started an impromptu Q&A session. In one of his responses, he criticized US colonial policies. One of the Spanish Instituto Cervantes Administrators became visibly upset. He called for his staff to take the mic. Doña Georgina, who was nearby gave him a look and said, “but that’s our history!”

From that time on, I knew where Doña Georgina’s heart is. She is the epitome of our proud fil-hispanic history.

I can’t thank her enough for having republished Don Antonio Abad’s “La Oveja de Nathan”. In the program, she explained why she published the book in both English and Spanish side by side. Her aim was to give students the opportunity to see Abad’s work in its original context and help them learn Spanish.

Reading it has helped me improve my Spanish. I have brought a small number of books from Manila. La Oveja is one of them.

Future of Spanish

I can’t help but remain optimistic about the future of Spanish after hearing from the elders in Vibal Foundation’s program. It will remain for as long as we value our history.

I have always thought the value of Spanish lies in its historical importance to us. It is all on us, the young ones, to carry it forward.

* * *

“No quiero que el español muera en Filipinas”. – Enrique Zóbel

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[…] we were preparing for the surprise video tribute for Señor Gómez, fellow history blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz remarked that it is about time that people start acknowledging his value while he is still alive. […]