Spanish Contributions in the Philippines, what’s Good and what’s Bad?

June 5, 2023

People have often dismissed our history with Spain as nothing more than a time of oppression and that what good there was was negligible. It has even been said the Spanish era was only a disruption since we already had an established civilization before they arrived.

I recall a public grade school history teacher, Mrs Ceremonias, repeatedly describing the abuses of Spanish authorities to us young children. I gasped in horror, along with everyone else. Fortunately, I had an elder (whom I consider to be my adopted grandmother) who was well acquainted with Philippine-Spanish history enough to explain that not all bad things said about Spaniards are true. Some were indeed exaggerated. It’s ironic that the father of this wonderful old lady is an American official (the last American director of Iwahig prisons).

The span of 300 years is quite long. Failures and abuses happened, of course. Despite such circumstances, the colony endured. The encounter between Spanish and locals (1521) had ended up being a union of sorts, albeit a very complex and nuanced one, lasting until the final Spanish soldiers left Baler.

Although Spain ended its rule, the traditions it left behind persisted. The decline (i.e., loss of Spanish language) only began when the United States took control of Philippine education and government.

Religion, as well as other Spanish cultural legacies, remained prevalent.

When you hear about Spanish rule, what do you think are the good and the bad things? – A

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