What the true “Wikang Filipino” really is in accordance to its name

Several weeks back, I received an invite from the City Government of Santa Rosa through Ms. Gemalin Batino to be a guest speaker for their Buwan ng Wika celebration. The event, held in Solenad 3, Nuvali last Monday (August 6), was graced by Santa Rosa City Mayor Danilo S. Fernández, La Laguna province 1st District Representative Arlene Arcillas, Director General of the Film Academy of the Philippines Leo G. Martínez (in character as “Congressman Manhik Manaog”), officials of Enchanted Kingdom, and others.

A culture heroine of Santa Rosa, Gemalin, whom I first met five years ago during my first speaking engagement, is also a consultant for her city government’s heritage, arts, and cultural affairs, particularly for its “Heritage and Museum Development”. She was tasked to iron out last Monday’s event and was thus instrumental for making me as a guest speaker. The topic centered on this year’s theme, “Wikang Mapagbago”.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m more of a writer than a public speaker. But the topic is about national language, a subject in which I’m very comfortable with. So when I received the invitation from Gemalin, I gave no second thoughts. I felt it was the perfect time to “hijack” the Buwan ng Wika in front of a multitude and say what needed to be revealed: the true national language in accordance to its name.

I was allotted only 15 minutes, so not much was explained. But I was able to share the basics. And my point was to tickle the minds of people, to give them an “oo ñgâ, anó” moment, to make them think and to question critically the inexactitudes that have been fed to them from the very start.

So without further adieu, click on the screengrab below to view the video of my speech (yes, it’s in Tagálog, not in “Filipino”)…

Screengrab from my wife’s video.

Special thanks to my wife who recorded my speech in its entirety. I didn’t tell her to take a video. I was even upset because she did not take a single photo. ¡Te amo, mi única amor!

ARM Cuauhtémoc on Pilipinas HD

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The ARM Cuauhtémoc docked at Manila South Harbor’s Pier 15.

The atmosphere was festive when me and my wife arrived at Manila South Harbor’s Pier 15 that windy afternoon of August 6. The place is not entirely tourist friendly, it being a seaport. But as we neared towards where the visiting Mexican ship was berthed, we saw its country’s huge flag waving mightily from one of its masts amidst gray clouds and a cold wind, and loud cumbia music was joyfully blurting out from its numerous speakers as visitors both Filipino and foreign photographed the ship from within and without.

For the first time since the fabled Galleon Trade ended two centuries ago, México has finally “returned” to Filipinas via this historic goodwill visit of its navy’s sail training vessel, the ARM* Cuauhtémoc (BE01). The last time a Mexican vessel visited our waters was in 1815 when the galleon ship San Fernando arrived from Acapulco. Fortuitously, the name of that ship was also the name of our country’s discoverer, Fernando Magallanes, popularly known as Ferdinand Magellan, who was then a vassal of Spain (he was Portuguese lest you forget).

Could the arrival of that last galleon ship bearing his name served as something gloomily symbolic (the exit of Spain and the eventual US invasion of 1898)?

It should be remembered that Spain ruled us through México from 1565 to 1821. Only when México had declared her independence from Spain in 1821 were we ruled directly by the mother country. As such, the cultural exchanges that occurred between México and Filipinas cannot be ignored, not to mention the world’s first foray into globalization of which these two countries were a part of. I’ve already written extensively about this topic for a magazine (click here).

That is why the ARM Cuauhtémoc’s four-day goodwill visit, done in part to commemorate its 35th anniversary as well as the centenary of the promulgation of the Méxican Constitution, was something special. The vessel may not be a galleon ship but it strikingly looks like one. And it is docked in Manila Bay, very close to the Walled City of Intramuros, the original capital of Filipinas. It was a homecoming of sorts.

The day of our visit was made extra special too because I was scheduled for an interview by renowned TV sportscaster Chino Trinidad for his Pilipinas HD channel right there aboard the ARM Cuauhtémoc. Embarrasingly, I was not aware of this media content providing platform which he launched last year (I’m not the TV type sort of guy, that’s why). Besides, mere mention of his name will immediately give people an idea of who he is: a sports broadcaster. But by some amazing twist of fate, his well-known persona has transformed from TV sports connoisseur to history aficionado who is hell-bent on searching for the Filipino Identity (one of his influences was his Tito Nick Joaquín, a drinking buddy of his father Recah who himself is a distinguished sports columnist). Chino strives to achieve this through documentaries and other programs that feature topics on Filipino History as well as the best of what our country can offer.

Being interviewed by Chino Trinidad for Pilipinas HD about the significance of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.

Interviewing Lt. Sánchez Hoz about what he knows of the Galleon Trade as well as the significance of the visit of the ARM Cuauhtémoc to Manila.

The interview centered on the importance of the galleon trade to Filipino History. The ARM Cuauhtémoc, we believed, was the perfect venue for the interview especially since, as already mentioned, it was the first Mexican vessel to have visited our country after 202 years. Chino also interviewed one navy officer, Teniente (Lieutenant) Sánchez Hoz, who was surprisingly knowledgeable about the deep bond between his country and ours. The officer spoke no English, so I served as an interpreter. The Spanish spoken by the Mexican crew members was somehow easy to understand, almost Filipino (compared to Spanish speakers from other countries who speak quite fast like those from Mother Spain) because the kind of Spanish that we Filipinos have acquired was from them; remember that we were ruled by Spain through their country for 256 years (we were ruled directly by Spain for only 77 years).

I’m not sure when this episode about the ARM Cuauhtémoc will be shown. I don’t think I’d be able to watch it since our cable TV provider has no Pilipinas HD. But it doesn’t matter. What matters the most is that this big part of our history, the galleon trade, will be shown on a TV channel whose aim is to ennoble the Filipino Identity. So I encourage all Filipinos who have a deep sense of love, respect, and concern for our history, heritage and culture to patronize Chino’s selfless project called Pilipinas HD. What he is doing is a great service to our country.

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Me and my wife with Chino Trinidad and his Pilipinas HD team (photo from Chino’s camera).

* Armada República Mexicana (Mexican Republic Navy).

What I think of Duterte’s war on drugs

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Millions of my fans must be wondering what I have to say about President Rodrigo Duterte and his controversial war on drugs. Last year, when I suffered from a severe depression and shut down my two world-famous blogs, I read one online comment from a detractor that the main reason why I ended my highly profitable online writing career was that I feared the new presidency.


Also, those millions of fans are still puzzled whether if I’m a “Dutertard” or not. It’s been more than a year since Duterte won as president but I haven’t written anything extensive about him at all.

I think it’s now time for me to break my silence. So just click here and see for yourselves what I really think of President Duterte and his bloody war against drugs.

Enjoy your weekend! 😊

The irony about the Velarde map

Exactly a week ago, Bartolomé Arnáiz, Sr., the father of my best friend Arnaldo, passed away. He would have turned 81 today, on the feast day of his namesake saint. Fate could have waited for at least another week not to take him away, to at least allow him to celebrate one more year, but didn’t allow him anymore. I am astonished at such deaths. I suddenly remember my paternal grandmother who died on the night of her son’s (my father’s) 59th birthday. Since then, I think my father had no reason to be happy whenever he celebrates his birthdays.

I tagged along my wife and our son Jefe who is Arnaldo’s godson to the wake last Sunday night to pay our last respects. And also to see Arnaldo. We rarely see him nowadays because he’s now living with his family in Singapore. The last time we saw him was last Easter Sunday, during the celebration of his son’s first birthday. Of course we didn’t expect to see him as his own lighthearted self. He loved his dad so much, and it must surely be more than awful to be in his shoes right now. In fact, I remember one time that he told me that the distance of employment to his house served as an important factor if he would accept a job or not, just so that he could be near his parents.

The blight in Arnaldo’s eyes was obvious when we saw him. He revealed to me that he felt a strange emptiness now that his father is gone. I can relate, since I adore my grandmother so much who, coincidentally, also died at the same age as his father’s. But if it’s any consolation, at least his father died in his sleep. It was a beautiful death, I commented. No pain, no hospitalization, no hassle. Just like how our favorite historian Nick Joaquín had left this world.

There’s not much catching up to do. Such activity is meant for happy reunions. However, the history buff in Arnaldo will never go away, even in tragedies like this. And so during the funeral, we talked about our favorite topic, and the only topic that we really want to talk about: Filipino History, and its implications to the modern Filipino era. He reminded me of our mutual ally Señor Guillermo Gómez. A few years ago, when his only daughter had died in Bacólod, he immediately booked a flight for the funeral. But while he was there, he still had time to take photos of Bacólod’s ancestral houses and other historic spots. Of course Arnaldo and Señor Gómez were not being disrespectful to their beloved dead. They are simply passionate people who have a noble mission to fulfill: to ennoble the Filipino Identity. For them, time should not go to waste. Every happening, whether joyful or tragic, must be interspersed with advocacy. Because a person with no advocacy at all is worse than a dead person.

One of the interesting topics that we talked about that night was China’s encroachment of Bajo de Masinloc, otherwise known as the Scarborough Shoal. The whole world already knows what had happened to it: it’s a shoal that belongs to our territory (obviously). Superbully China took it from us. Our country’s previous regime then took the case to The Hague because our military’s too puny to stand up to a superbully. We won the case, but the superbully refused to budge. It did not even take the case seriously. And there’s nothing the United Nations can do to stop this superbully from giving us back what really belongs to us.

However, what interests us both is not the decision of The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration to rule against China but the steps which the Filipino contingent did to win the case. One of the things that they did was to use Filipino History as evidence against China. I’m specifically talking about the 1734 Murillo Map, said to be the “Mother of all Filipino Maps”.

The map took its name from the cartographer who made it: Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde y Bravo, a Jesuit priest (1696–1753) from Granada, Spain. Aside from his priestly duties, he was also a writer, having published various books about history and church matters. In 1734, he published in Manila a scientific map of Filipinas which now bears his name and is now called as our country’s “first land title”. The map clearly labels there all the islands that were within the territory of our country, including the disputed Scarborough Shoal which was then known as Bajo de Masinloc.

The Filipino contingent happily brought this treasured map as a weapon against China’s geographic stupidity. Unfortunately, the superbully never even bothered to send a team to face the Filipino contingent at The Hague. While the map was indeed a powerful evidence, it was rendered useless to international bullying.

But the real irony here, as observed by Arnaldo, is this: we Filipinos have been hating our Spanish past so much for the longest time, even going as far as to say that Spain invaded us and enslaved us when the historical truth says that Spain was the kingdom which created us out of a multitude of disunited and independent ethnolinguistic groups whose territories were not clearly defined. And here we are now, running back to her delineated map to seek help. Shouldn’t we not use this map because, in the first place, it was created by a Spanish priest who belonged to that evil empire that enslaved us?

Spain already shaped our territory a long time ago. It was Spain that made Luzón, the islands of the Visayas, and Mindanáo part of what came to be known as the Filipino State, or Las Islas Filipinas. The Velarde map is a living testament of that creation. And yet up to now, we condemn our Spanish past to hell even as we make the Sign of the Cross each and every time that we needed to do it — ironically another ritual that was taught to us by Spain.

Despite his depression, Arnaldo was still astute of mind during our conversation. And he was right. We only have ourselves to blame. Because we let go of what we already have. Spain painstakingly marked our territories in scientific precision and pointed out which island or shoal belongs to us or not. We were much bigger before; we even had Guam, Borneo, and Formosa (Taiwan). Look at us now. We couldn’t even keep what remains of our territory in a stable manner. And now that an empire, which is perhaps far more dangerous than the previous one that truly despoiled us since 1898, is lurking every now and then, we run to maps and rituals whose creators and progenitors we proudly despise. We are such an ungrateful nation. We truly deserve to be bullied by the Chinese.

In your charity, please pray one Our Father and Three Hail Marys for the eternal repose of the soul of Bartolomé Arnáiz y Cañete. This blogpost is dedicated to his memory. Thank you.

La identidad filipina

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Filipino desde nacimiento.

Esta mañana en la oficina oí a un compañero de trabajo peruano que preguntaba a nuestras colegas filipinas sobre el alfabeto que usamos. A mi sorpresa absoluta, las chicas le hablaron de la <<Abakada>> que ya no está en uso por muchos años. Desde entonces ha sido sustituido por otro alfabeto que en sí mismo es también inaceptable.

De todos modos, volviendo a mi historia. Como no podía soportar la ignorancia que estaba escuchando, envié inmediatamente a mi compañero de trabajo peruano un mensaje a través de Skype diciéndole que la Abakada ya está pasada de moda. También le conté sobre la ortografía original conocida como el Abecedario Filipino de 32 letras que siempre uso cuando escribo en tagalo. Nuestra conversación de Skype condujo entonces a preguntas sobre la Historia de Filipinas, particularmente sobre el pasado español de nuestro país.

Le preguntó al <<tipo equivocado>> sobre la Historia de Filipinas, ¡jajaja! 😂 Pero en serio, me equivoco sólo en el sentido de que mis puntos de vista sobre la Historia de Filipinas no son convencionales. Sin embargo, mis puntos de vista sobre la historia de mi país se encuentran en una base muy sólida. Por lo tanto, para darle una idea de lo que somos como pueblo, le dije en resumen acerca de lo que realmente es un filipino…

Las primeras personas que se llamaban a sí mismas como filipinos no eran los indígenas sino los españoles que nacieron en nuestro archipiélago. Estos españoles de pura raza, que también eran conocidos como españoles insulares, crecieron aquí y hablaron y escribieron completamente en español. Se consideraban a sí mismos como <<indios>> o nativos, diferentes de sus compañeros españoles de España. Incluso consideraban a los españoles de la península como <<forasteros>>.

De hecho, había una persona que primero se llamó a sí mismo como un filipino — ¡e incluso escribió ese gentilicio en un libro suyo! Se llamaba Luis Rodríguez Varela (1768-1826) de Tondo, Manila.

Posteriormente, los nativos indígenas (los políticamente correctos preferirían el término “grupos etnolingüísticos”) —y estos fueron los tagalos, ilocanos, bicolanos, pampangueños, ilongos, cebuanos, etc.— que fueron bautizados en la fe católica, se embebieron de la cultura occidental, y aprendieron a hablar, leer y escribir en español, comenzaron a asimilarse al mundo de lo filipino. Ellos también comenzaron a llamarse a sí mismos como filipinos a pesar de que no eran blancos (incluso los chinos que comenzaron a hablar en español y fueron cristianizados, i.e., se convirtieron en católicos). Este fenómeno cultural inició el <<cosmos filipino>>, el mismo mundo que fue aspirado por Rodríguez, José Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar, P. José Burgos, y muchos otros personajes históricos de los tiempos españoles, incluso el escritor tagalo Francisco Balagtás que usó el Abecedario Filipino de 32 letras cuando escribió su obra maestra <<Florante at Laura>>.

Este proceso de hispanización tuvo lugar dentro de más de tres siglos de dominio español. Y esta misma hispanización dio a luz a nuestra identidad nacional, el filipino. De por sí, aquellos que no eran hispanizados como los montañeses (ifugáo, mañguián, ita, etc.) y los moros de Mindanáo no se convirtieron en filipinos. Por lo tanto, si vamos a medir el filipino de hoy utilizando las perspectivas históricas y culturales, es seguro decir que un filipino no católico y no de habla español no es un filipino completo. Ellos son filipinos sólo en virtud de la ciudadanía. Pero desde un punto de vista histórico, cultural e incluso espiritual, no son auténticos filipinos.

Lo que le dije a mi compañero de trabajo peruano puede ser difícil de tragar. Le dije que muchos historiadores y aficionados de la historia me odian por mis opiniones. Pero, como he mencionado antes, mis opiniones se basan en un terreno sólido: el idioma español, porque una gran parte de nuestra historia está escrita en este idioma. Esta es la <<amarga verdad>>.

A continuación, él hizo una pregunta muy interesante, como si hay una institución o quizás una ley o algo así que debe supervisar esta definición de lo que es un filipino. Le dije que no hay ninguno. Lo que le conté es simplemente una observación histórica, un análisis de la verdad histórica.

Para muchos historiadores, antropólogos, y sociólogos, y al público en general como un todo, es muy fácil determinar QUIÉN es un filipino. Pero no todos ellos pueden definir LO QUE es un filipino, que es una pena.

¿Bakwit ba?

As one of our city‘s consultants for historical and cultural matters, yours truly was invited last month to a meeting of top city hall officials who were preparing various activities for the month-long Buwan ng Wika (language month) which is celebrated every whole month of August. This year’s theme is “Filipino: Wikang Mapagbago” or Filipino: a language that changes (or causes change).

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Image: DepEd LP’s.

One of the activities that was being prepared was an essay writing contest for city hall employees. Me and my partner Tita Linda Sietereales (the Tagálog translator for my first book “Captain Remo: The Young Hero“) concocted several possible topics related to the language month’s theme as well as formulated the criteria for judging. We then passed it on to the department concerned for review and approval. I came up with three to four topics which Tita Linda then polished, she being an expert writer in Tagálog (she and her famous novelist friend Lualhati Bautista were colleagues in Liwayway magazine many years ago).

While I was conjuring up possible topics for the essay writing contest, the theme for the language month kept playing on my mind. Wikang Mapagbago. A language that causes change. Suddenly, the first word that popped into my head was a novel one which I heard only recently from TV reporters and broadcasters who have been reporting about the Battle of Marawi for the past three months.

I am talking about “bakwit“, a Tagalized form for an evacuee.

Since the terrorist attack on Marawi (or should I say Dansalán) in Lanáo del Sur Province, thousands of residents have evacuated to various parts of Mindanáo and beyond. Reporters speaking in Tagálog keep on referring to them as bakwit instead of evacuees. Perhaps these reporters refuse to use Taglish and found it appropriate to just Tagalize an English word that is often used in times of crisis. Much like the word “suspek” which was derived from “suspect” or a person who is suspected to be guilty of a crime or offense.

However, journalist Asunción David Maramba insisted that bakwit is not new. It is actually an old word that has been used since the end of World War II. In fact, he even used the word in a column that he wrote way back in 1991. This simply shows that the word has been with us all along for years, thus its usage as a Tagálog word should no longer be frowned upon. Besides, words like bakwit, suspek, and the like do not sound English anymore; apologists for Taglish (yes, there are such people) will say that they have become as Filipino as adobo.

Nevertheless, is the usage of such words correct? Are these neologisms even allowed by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) or the Commission on the Filipino Language? It seems like it as this official regulating body of the Filipino language (based on Tagálog, if I may add) hailed last year a new Tagálog word called “fotobam” which is but a new English word form derived from photobomb. However, it can also be argued that while such neologisms can be deemed correct, they are not readily embraced by many who are still conscious and sensitive about deliberate language changes, evolution, and degradation. Many years ago, former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tátad found time to comment about this language phenomenon, nay, problem in his political book “A Nation on Fire: The Unmaking of Joseph Ejército Estrada and the Remaking of Democracy in the Philippines“. In it, he wrote that:

Filipino itself has not grown. On the contrary, it has been bastardized. The result is Taglish — an awkward and artless combination of street Filipino (which is Tagálog-based) and street English, unworthy to sit in the company of other national languages.

The good senator, himself a litterateur during his younger years before he dabbled in politics, had good reason for saying this as such (although consciously he may not have had it in mind). It is because Tagálog is a phonetic language, while English isn’t. For starters, a simple explanation would be this: Tagálog is written as it is pronounced, and vice versa. Cung anó ang sulat ay siyá rin ang bigcás, at cung anó ang bigcás ay siyá rin ang sulat. The same cannot be said for English.

So, mix them up together —a phonetic and unphonetic language— and what do you get? A linguistic abomination called Taglish.

As mentioned, Taglish apologists would be quick to defend this by saying that such a linguistic phenomenon is natural. They have a term for it: code-switching. But there is a flaw. Code-switching occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties. But one has to note why a speaker has to do so. In our case, we were colonized by the United States for almost half a century, and have been neocolonized by them afterwards. This only goes to show that this code-switching called Taglish is a by-product of colonialism and/or neocolonialism. I might not have any problems with code-switching had the U.S. WASP neocolonialist invaders themselves also speak Taglish (or Engalog for that matter) in their own turf. But they don’t. And they won’t.

One might question Tagálog’s purity (or impurity) even without having been invaded by the U.S. After all, there are more than five thousand Spanish root words in Tagálog. And we haven’t even tackled all the other indigenous languages —all of which are phonetic like Tagálog— that were also influenced by the Spanish tongue. In this regard, isn’t this Spanish-influenced Tagálog that we have been using for centuries also a form of code-switching? Not at all. First of all, Tagálog, which is phonetic, is a perfect match for Spanish for the simple reason that the latter is also phonetic. Both, therefore, are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that reveals a beautiful picture upon completion. This is one of the reasons why in the introduction to my defunct Spanish-language blog, I wrote that the meeting between España and Filipinas in 1521 (then later on in 1565) was “una fuerza mayor increíble, una obra milagrosa de Dios.” It seems both nations, at least linguistically, were really destined to meet to fulfill some quirk of history that is beyond human understanding.* Secondly, Spanish words have been entrenched into our linguistic psyche more than English words ever did. That is why Spanish words such as aparador, barrio, Dios, pantalón, and thousands more sound very native to us compared to Taglish or English words. Finally, there is this sub-branch of linguistics called phonaesthetics which deal with the aspects of art and beauty in a language. Chabacano, said to be derided during its early years, cannot be considered as a mere pidgin or another form of code-switching. It is a Spanish-based creole language, another product of our country’s “phonetic identity” which has the blessings of phonaesthetics. Chabacano has produced its own body of literature that is respected and valued through the years. Taglish doesn’t (with the very rare exception of some of Bautista’s socio-political novels). What passes off today as Taglish literature is derided as gayspeak, if not salitáng canto (street language). And it will remain so for good.

Humorously, one should find it odd how some English nouns become Tagálog verbs in Marawi (“ina-armalite“, “sina-sniper“, etc.).

So what now with bakwit? If it is so phonaesthetically inappropriate for a Filipino to use it as a substitute for evacuee, then what should be the linguistically acceptable alternative? This is the rule: if no Tagálog equivalent is readily available, do not invent new ones (remember those awful words “hatinig” and “salipawpaw” of the 1940s?) nor Tagalize unphonetic words. Simply use that word’s Spanish counterpart. For bakwit, see below:

evacuado if the evacuee is male (evacuados for plural)
evacuada if the evacuee is female (evacuadas for plural)

If we aspire for a language that changes, we have to make sure that it changes for the better. And it changes not just for its own sake but for the betterment of the people that uses it. After all, a language is used not merely as a tool for communication but also as a means to elevate a people’s intellect. Language should evolve naturally, not deliberately. We are a phonetic-speaking people. As such, words derived from an unphonetic language (bakwit, suspek, most especially last year’s fotobam, etc.) will never effect any positive change that will augment our intellect.

*It should be noted that before 1521, our country was not yet formed as a state. It was only during the so-called Spanish colonization period beginning on 24 June 1571 that our country began to exist as a political entity. I simply wrote the above in such a way so as to prevent further confusion.

Racial classification during the Spanish times

Mestizo is probably one of the most abused words in our country today because many use it without really knowing what it really means. The word is often used to refer to white-skinned Filipinos. The likes of 80s actor Ian Veneración, who is currently enjoying a career comeback, is a perfect example of what a mestizo is in the eyes of Filipinos. On the other hand, Bea Alonzo, his leading lady in a popular soap opera in ABS-CBN, is the perfect model for a mestiza, the mestizo’s feminine counterpart. Filipinos also tend to relate mestizos to having Spanish blood. But little does anybody know that mestizo and mestiza technically mean more than just skin color. They have something to do with racial mixture, and it’s not necessarily just Spanish blood.

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Ian Veneración and Bea Alonzo are the stereotypes of a mestizo and a mestiza, respectively (photo: Bandera).

During the Spanish times, our country’s population was classified according to the following racial structure (in alphabetical order):

1. CHINO CRISTIANO — Christianized full-blooded Chinese. Example: Co Yu Hwan (許玉寰), the ancestor of President Benigno Simeón “Noynoy” Aquino III and the rest of the Cojuangco clan. He changed his name to José when he was baptized.

2. ESPAÑOL INSULAR — Full-blooded Spaniard born in Filipinas. Also known as “Filipino”. Best example is Luis Rodríguez Varela of Tondo Manila, the first man to use the term FILIPINO. He even called himself “El Conde Filipino“.

3. ESPAÑOL PENINSULAR — Full-blooded Spaniard born in Spain. Example: Governor General Ramón Blanco and Pablo Feced (Quioquiap).

4. INDIO — Full-blooded native (Austronesian). Example: Apolinario Mabini.

5. MESTIZO ESPAÑOL — Half Spaniard, half native. Also known as “criollo”. Example: Fr. Pedro Peláez, one of the first priests who supported secularization (he died when the Manila Cathedral collapsed upon him during the devastating earthquake of 1863).

6. MESTIZO SANGLEY — Half Chinese, half native. Example: Saint Lorenzo Ruiz.

7. MESTIZO TERCIADO — Part Chinese, part native, part Spanish. Also known as “tornatrás”. Best examples are Dr. José Rizal and Fr. José Burgos.

8. NEGRITO — Aeta.

As can be gleaned above, there are actually three types of mestizos, and one of them, the mestizo sangley, doesn’t even have Spanish blood.

The reader should be cautioned that this racial classification system had no disciminatory undertones whatsoever. This was used for taxation purposes only. When I first blogged about this three years ago, I made the mistake of using the title Racial caste system during the Spanish times. Upon seeing the word “caste”, a Spanish blogger angrily castigated me and even went so far as to call me a racist. He thought that I was making similarities to the caste system in India which was the one that was truly discriminatory and endogamous.

Despite the racial classification, racism in Filipinas was almost non-existent during the Spanish times. John Bowring, then Governor of Hong Kong who visited our country, was impressed with the lack of racial barriers:

Generally speaking, I have seen at the same table Spaniard, mestizo and Indian—priest, civilian and soldier. No doubt a common religion forms a common bond ; but to him who has observed the alienations  and repulsions of caste in many parts of the Eastern world—caste, the great social curse—the blending and free intercourse of man with man in the Philippines is a contrast worth admiring.

Whatever discrimination that existed during the Spanish times had little or nothing to do with race but with social status. In Spanish, this is called clacismo, or rich vs poor. So ingrained was clacismo to the Filipino psyche that it has become the usual plot in many memorable films, whether they be romance, action, or comedy. The poor-boy-falls-in-love-with-rich-girl and vice versa has been a tried and tested formula. Its most recent reincarnation was on TV and even became a global phenomenon: AlDub.

Today, racial classification among Filipinos is already difficult to determine as the world is fast becoming populous, cosmopolitan, and multinational. Unlike during the Spanish times, when people were still few, Filipinos have intermarried not only with Europeans but with virtually all races all over the world. New intermarriages have produced new breeds. We now have Fil-Australians, Fil-Nigerians, Fil-Colombians, Fil-Nepalese, etc. Alonzo, therefore, cannot be typecast as a mestiza because she has British blood. I’m just not sure about Veneración, but I heard that he does have ample Spanish blood to be called a mestizo. However, he’s already generations away from the time the above classification was set, and his Spanish forebears who had lived closest to his time must have had intermarried with varied other races, as with many other Filipinos who also look as “mestizo” as him, in which case the term mestizo should already be rendered obsolete.