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Spanish in our history

I stumbled upon this interesting video by Paul who manages YouTube’s Langfocus regarding the brief history of the Spanish language. In just a little over eight minutes, he was able to explain its origins, how it spread out to different parts of the globe, commented on the Spanish-Castellano controversy, and even mentioned the countries that still use it as an official language.

At the 1:13 mark, however, Paul mentioned something hurtful (at least to me). “It also used to be an official language of the Philippines but it is not anymore”, he said.


But it’s true, anyway. Spanish was our country’s official language beginning 24 June 1571 but was unceremoniously booted out from the 1987 Constitution, the main reason being that there are only few Filipinos who speak it. While arguments about this reason continue to this day, particularly in various Facebook groups and pages concerning the Spanish language in Filipinas, it cannot be denied that the non-inclusion of the Spanish language in our present constitution is an act of gross disrespect towards our country’s history. In the words of the late Senator Blas Ople, we have “disinvited ourselves” from the Hispanic world when the framers of our present constitution removed Spanish. Just ponder over the following instances…

The proclamation of our independence was read out in Spanish. Our first constitution, the Constitución de Malolos, was written entirely in Spanish. The deliberations of our first congress, the Congreso de Malolos, were in Spanish. The official decrees and correspondences of our first president (Emilio Aguinaldo) and first prime minister (Apolinario Mabini) were in Spanish. Our newspapers which fought against Spain and the United States were in Spanish. Our poets (Claro M. Recto, Cecilio Apóstol, Jesús Balmori, Fernando Mª Guerrero, etc.) who decried US colonization wrote their anti-imperialist verses only in Spanish. THE ORIGINAL LYRICS OF OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM WERE IN SPANISH! The name of our country, Filipinas (and this does not exclude its variations Pilipinas and Philippines), is Spanish! Even our last names and our native cuisine are in Spanish!

Millions of ancient papers documenting our country’s history that are stored in our national archives are in Spanish, still unread, still waiting to be deciphered. That is why this language is an important part of our history and culture. And even in the realm of economics, Spanish is crucial nowadays. Multinational companies pay bigger salaries to Filipinos who can speak the language compared to those who use only English. That is why Spanish should not be made an optional subject in schools. It should be mandatory.

Finally, we have our national hero, José Rizal, who wrote his final love letter to all of us using the Spanish language. Yet here we are now, taking that love letter for granted by reading it only through translations.

Fellow Filipinos, think about it.

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