Una lengua robada: el español en Filipinas

¿Se le puede arrebatar un idioma a un pueblo? Desgraciadamente, la respuesta es sí. Mire y averigue…


Realización y montaje: Antonio Rodríguez Navarro
Guión: Guillermo Gómez Rivera


Debunking historical hatred

I came across this ugly Facebook discussion last year.

La imagen puede contener: texto

The clueless but hateful FB user in this screenshot besmirched our country’s Spanish past, a wondrous period in our country’s history that I have sworn to defend since I was a teenager. So here is my response to his accusations (which, in fact, is what millions of Filipinos also have in their equally clueless minds):

1) “polo y servicios” —> This actually benefited the natives more than the Spanish authorities. Aside from churches, the purpose was for public works such as roads and bridges that were meant for the natives themselves. Many of these are even still being used today. Unknown fact: those who were recruited to render polo y servicios were given a daily wage.
2) “land-grabbing” —> The Spaniards were the ones who brought here the concept of land titles in the first place. Pre-Filipino natives didn’t really own land. Most, if not all, didn’t have a permanent settlement. They moved from place to place, from forest to forest, especially when the land didn’t wield much for them anymore.
3) “demonization of local languages” —> On the contrary, the friars studied the local languages and even wrote grammar books to preserve them. There were even prayer books in the native languages.
4) “creating classes between them and us (peninsulares, insulares, indios)” —> These were for taxation purposes. Such classification still exists today: those who have higher salaries are taxed the most compared to those who earn lesser, such as the ordinary rank and file. Essentially, nothing really different then as now.
5) “guardia civil” —> They were the PNP of those days, a peace-keeping force against “tulisanes” (bandits) and other lawbreakers. Note: members of the guardias civiles were indios, not Spaniards.

Lastly, don’t treat José Rizal’s novels as if they’re history books. They aren’t. They’re fiction, written by a very young Freemason who was a huge fan of French satire.

Suggestion: if you really want to argue about Filipino History, learn Spanish and read original Spanish texts. Don’t rely on textbook history. 🙂

Rizal the poet

When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize his deep love of country.
When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize the deep impact nature had on his creativity.
When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize his deep devotion to the Virgin Mary.
When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize how pedagogic he was as he was romantic.
When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize that Spain indeed had conquered Mindanáo, that it is not for the Moros.
When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize that he was both a Nationalist Spaniard and a Patriotic Filipino.
When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize his high hopes for the youth.
When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize how exactly he felt whenever he was inspired or heartbroken.
When you study Rizal as a poet, you will realize that his first verse was a verse of love, and that his final one was still that of love.
Dr. José Rizal was not all about his novels. When you look at him as a poet, you will realize that he was one of the greatest WRITERS of the Spanish language, truly one of the all-time Filipino greats.
La imagen puede contener: una persona, primer plano
Stop studying him as a propagandist. It is high time that you all look at him as the poet that he really was.

Quezon’s Game: not a review

Quezon's Game.jpg

I have a few complaints on Quezon’s Game after having seen it last night with my wife (to celebrate her 43rd natal day):

1) Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar was a bit off to be the setting for Manila. It was too wide open to the elements, too much sky to be seen, with even a mountain for a backdrop. Vigan, Ilocos Sur or Intramuros would have been more believable.
2) There was too much English dialogue between Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmeña, and between Quezon and his wife Aurora. They spoke more in Spanish, of course.
3) Emilio Aguinaldo never conversed in English with fellow Filipinos. In fact, he had a disdain for it.
4) The rather contemptuous observation of a Jewish-run Hollywood is a recent one.
5) I heard Quezon utter “puñeta” only once.

While it has no overall significance to our country’s general history, Quezon’s Game was still a good period film that offered viewers a glimpse on the behind-the-scenes political maneuverings of a US-sponsored Commonwealth of the Philippines, not to mention another least-known human side to Quezon. Raymond Bagatsing showed us another convincing performance, Audie Gemora was a spitting image of Osmeña, and the white actors playing their white historical counterparts were all laudable in their thespian duties.

Also, Quezon’s Game was the second consecutive movie “game” that made my tears roll: the first was Avengers: Endgame😂

Mi Último Adiós (recital de poesía)

Unos días antes el Día del Libro 2019 (27 de abril), el Instituto Cervantes de Manila anunció en sus redes sociales que producirá un recital del famoso poema “Mi Último Adiós” de José Rizal. Invitó a filipinos hispanohablantes y estudiantes del idioma a participar. El recital fue grabado el mismo día dentro de la Biblioteca Miguel Hernández del instituto, y fue dirigido por el actor Pepe Gros. Se le dio una estrofa del poema a cada participante que luego recitó frente a la cámara, pero sólo se mostró una línea en el resultado final para dar cabida a más participantes. Krystal aparece en la sexta pantalla, y yo en la novena. El vídeo fue lanzado el miércoles pasado. ¡Feliz viendo!

A call for prayers. Un llamado para las oraciones.

My dear readers. Please pray for me. After being released from a long hospitalization last year, I noticed that my passion for reading and writing has dissipated. It now reached a point where I couldn’t even finish a page or two in just one sitting (before: I could finish a book or two within a day, and there existed a delight to scribble verses). I’ve been carrying a pen and notebook wherever I go, but I don’t even have the heart to use them. My uncomfortable circumstances (debts, chronic pain, court case between my parents, working at night for more than a decade, etc.) add up to this wretchedness of mind. And it’s getting worse. Anyway, I am fully aware that I am not as talented nor as well-known as many other Filipino writers, but writing is the only thing I know I’m good at. If I don’t write, I will die. But I believe in prayers; they have worked wonders. So my dear readers, this Holy Week, please pray for me. Thank you.
Mis queridos lectores. Por favor, oren por mí. Después de ser dado de alta de una larga hospitalización el año pasado, noté que se había disipado mi pasión por la lectura y la escritura. Ahora llegó a un punto en el que ni siquiera podía terminar una página o dos en una sóla sesión (antes: podía terminar un libro o dos en el transcurso de un día, y existía un deleite garabatear versos). He estado llevando un bolígrafo y un cuaderno donde quiera que vaya pero ni siquiera el corazón para usarlos. Y mis circunstancias incómodas (deudas, dolor crónico, caso judicial entre mis padres, trabajando de noche por más de una década, etc.) se suman a esta desdicha mental. Siento que se está poniendo peor. De todos modos, soy plenamente consciente de que no soy tan talentoso ni tan conocido como muchos otros escritores filipinos, pero escribir es lo único que sé en lo que soy bueno. Si no escribo, moriré. Pero creo en oraciones; han hecho maravillas. Así que mis queridos lectores, esta Semana Santa, por favor oren por mí. Gracias.

Why is Rizal a hero to you?

What’s your favorite Rizal poem? Chances are, you won’t be able to name one save for, of course, the usual stuff they taught us in school: the very last one he wrote. Do you even know how many poems he wrote? Are you even aware how exquisitely beautiful his verses are, and what are the usual themes of his poetry?

(as expected, I hear crickets chirping)

No hay texto alternativo automático disponible.

You see, Rizal was first and foremost a POET, a passionate bard who masterfully versified his profound love for Filipinas. He began his writing career as a poet and ended it as a poet. He is not all about the Noli and the Fili. He is not all about the Propaganda Movement. It is most unfortunate that he can no longer be understood by today’s generation when, at the turn of the 20th century, our forebears were cut off from his culture by a new language —THIS language I’m using right now— imposed by a nation experimenting with imperialism. When Rizal and his contemporaries were already soaring like Cervantes and Clarín, those hapless Filipinos who came after them had to learn anew the ABCs of another culture. So now we read him through bastardized and oftentimes annoying English translations. Unfortunately, we never soared like Shakespeare and Tennyson using the English language.

No hay texto alternativo automático disponible.

There was one, however, who came close: Nick Joaquín. But he was on a league of his own: his first language was Spanish, and many attribute his mastery of English, aside from his being an indefatigable bookworm, to his proficiency of his mother tongue (English and Spanish are cognates). It can even be argued that his translation of Rizal’s valedictory poem was more superior than the original. Perhaps among all Rizal translators, it was only Nick who was able to capture the imagination and depth of the national hero as well as the spirit of the Filipino.

No hay texto alternativo automático disponible.

But since we have been linguistically cut off from that faraway culture, our REAL culture, not all of us can be Nick anymore. Not all of us can be Rizal anymore.

Why is Rizal a hero to you?

No hay texto alternativo automático disponible.

Rizal is a hero not because of his defiance to authority. He is a hero because of his deep love of country, a burning love that can only be understood by reading his verses (NOT his novels) in the language in which he wrote them. This is something that all patriotic Filipinos should think about every time Rizal Day falls, so that its celebration will not be rendered futile.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC)

It is sad to note that the essence of Rizal’s heroism today has degenerated into mere hero worship and opportunistic commercialism. There is nothing wrong in honoring Rizal, but it is best that we thoroughly understand what his heroism really is all about. Understanding him is the best way of honoring his memory.