Monday, December 1, 2008

Filipinos' Little Spanish and More English

Today my mom started renovating her room and we hired a carpenter. The renovation was a call to the modern design of the interiors she saw on magazines and television. We were actually brainstorming and directing all the this and that. As I observe them working, I heard one shouting at his companion “Largo! Largo!” I was surprise and suspecting that it is a Spanish word. How come he was able to use it. I don’t even use that word in usual daily communication. I tried to think deeper the meaning of the word. I waited to the response of the second person. He brought in a long lumber. Then I think “Ahh maybe it means long” as we also called “Pantalon” (Pants) as delargo or de Largo (in proper context). That probably why we use commonly the word delargo to describe the long pants.

There are thousands of Spanish words in Filipino language. You cannot compose a Filipino sentence without a Spanish word on it, maybe not really be a sentence but surely in a paragraph. If you are a spanish speaker you might probably understand what I am trying to say on this Filipino Ilonggo sentence: “Gusto ko ang sapatos nga barato pero alta kalidad” which means “I like cheap shoes but with high quality.” In Spanish: “Me gustan los zapatos baratos pero de alta calidad” If you go to the market and buy something surely you will hear a lot Spanish numbers. If you are going to ask a prize they will answer you using Spanish numbers or English numbers. For example; “How much is the pork?” Possible answer you may hear: “ Cuarenta cada kilo” or they may also say “Forty per Kilo”, then if you ask someone about the time, they may answer you in Spanish or in English. Usually older Filipinos use the Spanish phrases, but if you ask a younger person they will surely use the English phrases.

What is also unique with Filipinos is our names. Usually our first names are in English but our family names are in Spanish. For example; Michael Perez, Christine Lopez, Peter de Leon. Our identity as Filipinos has been totally influence by the western culture. Our names are just a representation of the two foreign dominations, Spain in 1521 and the United States in 1899.

The Philippines (Filipinas) is named after King Philip II of Spain (Rey Filipe II de EspaƱa), and it became a territory of the Viceroyalty of the New Spain which was governed from Mexico City until the early 19th century, when Mexico obtained independence. From the 1820's, the archipelago was ruled directly from Madrid, Spain. The Philippines for 333 years as Spanish province (Provincia del Mar) is not enough to become a total Spanish speakers like Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Well, it is also a good thing that we Filipinos was able to preserve our own native tongue with more than 170 native languages (dialects) all over the archipelago. Somehow, I am also disappointed that the gift of Latinity to the Filipinos by the Spaniards is continually lost in time.

Each region of islands in the Philippines has its own dialect. To be able to communicate with each other Spanish language was being used for three centuries. Spanish is the Philippines’ first national language. Before the American came, Philippines is almost Hispanized through an exchange culture between Spain through Mexico. With the decline of Spain's power over its colony is the time and rise in power of the United States. The Philippines made English as the co-official language. Eventually the Filipino in 1937 realized to seek its own identity. They Established Tagalog (a dialect spoken in Manila, the capital city) being called Filipino as the official language of the Philippines. From then on we got three major languages; Spanish, English, and Filipino. Not until the 1980's when Spanish was officially removed as part of the country's major language.

I am happy to think that until now there are still Spanish creoles left existing in some provinces of the Philippines. Such as in the province of Zamboanga where they speak almost or broken Spanish, being blamed to the Spaniards in history who did not teach the locals well.

The Philippines became a Christian nation because of Spain and having a Democratic government because of the United States of America. The Americans was the first to build public schools in the Philippines with English as medium of instruction. Until now, the Filipinos enjoy this gift as fluent English speakers in Asia and with half to extinct Latinity.