Friday, October 12, 2018

A President's Message

MI HIJA, MI PATRIA. In one of his "fireside chats", periodic public affairs radio broadcasts from Malacañang through which he updated Filipinos on the activities of the republic, former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino spoke about fatherly pride and the country's affection for Spain, a powerful message for the Día de la Hispanidad, its purity unblemished by the annoying background noise. Still a grieving widower when he ascended to presidency in 1948 (his wife Alicia and three children Armando, Norma and Fe Angela were killed by the Japanese during the Battle of Manila), Quirino also faced the challenges of postwar reconstruction and the Hukbalahap insurrectos. His only surviving daughter Victoria became the youngest official hostess of Malacañang at 16, performing the functions traditionally ascribed to a First Lady, this time having returned with a medal from an official trip to Spain. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Staying Alive

DÍA DE LA HISPANIDAD (October 12) is observed on the same week as Columbus Day. Spanish is the most widely-spoken foreign language in the city, and as a filispanophile trying to learn it late in life, I find memory trainer Anthony Metivier's book interesting, what with the Philippine flag on its cover, and am delighted to see and hear Pinoys speak the language. The use of Spanish in the Philippines started its rapid decline after the Second World War when American pop culture flooded the country (The New York Times' effect on man?) and got another nail in the coffin when the new constitution removed it as one of the country's three official languages in 1987. Its comatose state got some jolt when Spanish-speaking presidenta Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a directive in 2007 requiring the Philippine school system to resume including Spanish in its curriculum, for which she deserves some credit. And thanks to the (dwindling) number of Spanish-speakers in the country (and maybe to the creole Chavacanos), we maintain memberships in the Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española and the Unión Latina

Also thanks to programs of the Instituto Cervantes de Manila, partnerships with the Spanish and Chilean governments which offer scholarships and teacher-training programs to Pinoy students and educators, and other filispanophiles like Pepe Alas of San Pedro, Laguna (his blog went belly-up in 2016; ¡Alas, que lástima!), the Spanish language torch in the Philippines is still alive, barely. Whatever. But this Chavacana girl's love song, applauded by viewers from as far away as Spain and Mexico, is haunting. TV Patrol Chavacano is equally interesting, although I cringe every time I hear the improper use of simple articles--el calle, el universidad--in every other sentence. Also check out these hour-long broadcasts of the radio program Filipinas, Ahora Mismo before it also folded up in 2009 when the Spanish government discontinued funding as it faced its own economic recession. (More ¡que lástima! Any wealthy sponsors out there?) Finally, let's move to madre España and watch the performance of "Yo Te Diré" by filispañola Alexandra Masangkay, star of the movie 1898, Los Ultimos de Filipinas, if only to see just how pretty she is. And this not-so-HD file of the anti-war movie (shot in the Canary Islands and Equatorial Guinea) without subtitles for exercise and look for the controversial Pinoy sex in public scene.

I think we Pinoys have the natural gift of learning a language, given the multitude of dialects in the country many of us know how to speak, and that we are losing out on opportunities in the Latin world, job-wise and otherwise, by skipping on this endeavor to learn a not-so-new language. I believe we Pinoys will be better served, and will discover a whole new horizon, if we learn and know how to read, write and speak Spanish the way we do English.

Miembros de la Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española (ASALE)