La Identidad Filipina (videoconferencia)


El Instituto Cervantes de Manila ofrecerá varios coloquios en los que intelectuales filipinos dialogarán sobre aspectos de la identidad filipina ligados a la huella hispana. En esta primera conferencia de la Tribuna Quijano de Manila, el antropólogo Fernando Ziálcita disertará sobre la identidad filipina. ¡No te pierdas esta experiencia!



Instituto Cervantes de Manila will offer various colloquia wherein Filipino intellectuals will discuss some aspects of Filipino identity with Hispanic traces. In this first lecture, anthropologist Fernando Ziálcita will talk about the Filipino identity. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Vintage Coca-Cola poster in Spanish

Because I’ve been with Facebook for more than a decade, I always look forward to its “Memories” functionality every day because it enables me to see all of my previous posts, posts in which I’ve been tagged in, anniversaries, and other insane and melodramatic moments that I’ve committed online on a daily basis. Facebook has somehow become a virtual storehouse of memories, memories that have been digitalized. In the future, it might even become a serious archival mine for historians.

Just this morning, my Facebook notification alerted me to all the posts that I’ve done and have been shared to me throughout the years on April 18. One of them captured my attention, a photo that I have almost forgotten: a vintage Coca-Cola poster written in the Spanish language. This poster can be found inside Ilustrado Restaurant located within the Walled City of Intramuros.


I have seen this poster many times but never did I even stop to read it with full attention nor interest, nor did it enter my mind to even take a photo of it (the above photo was shared to me on Facebook exactly a decade ago by a Spaniard who was a reader of my defunct Spanish-language blog Alas Filipinas). The last time I saw it was last month, but it was already covered with some hideous platform or wooden plank of some kind and I don’t know why the restaurant’s management allowed that eyesore (I hope it’s no longer there).

As I reviewed the text, I noticed something odd: the word “fontificante“. I have never encountered that word before. So I consulted the ever-reliable Diccionario de la Lengua Española (21st edition) published by the prestigious Real Academia Española (gifted to me a few years ago by José María Fons, cultural affairs coordinator of the Instituto Cervantes de Manila). True enough, no such word exists. But the verb fortificar does: it has two definitions:

  1. Dar vigor y fuerza material o moralmente (To give vigor and physical or moral strength).
  2. Hacer fuerte con obras de defensa un pueblo o un sitio cualquiera , para que pueda resistir a los ataque del enemigo (To make a town or any place strong with defense works so that it can resist enemy attacks).

It turns out that the fontificante on the poster is actually a typographical error. It should have been written as fortificante, a deverbal adjective (adjetivo deverbal) form of fortificar. Now the text on the poster makes more sense:

No hay bebida tan deliciosa y fortificante como el Coca-Cola. Pruébelo y verá como quita la jaqueca y apaga la sed.

I added the missing diacritical marks. Right below is my translation:

There is no drink as delicious and fortifying as Coca-Cola. Try it and you will see how it removes your headache and quenches your thirst.

I haven’t tried drinking Coke during a headache, so I’ll keep that in mind when that happens. Anyway, what makes this poster doubly interesting is that it was used as promotional material for the Filipino consumer. The address below it is the giveaway: Misericordia 12, Manila. There must have been a soda fountain there during that time. Today, this long but narrow street in Santa Cruz district is now known as Tomás Mapúa Street (named after the first licensed Filipino architect and founder of the Mapúa Institute of Technology). Interestingly, too, is the three-digit phone number that was in use during those days.

Even though the advertising material is in Spanish, it can be gleaned that it used to circulate during the US colonization of Filipinas because it was they, the US WASP invaders, who introduced the product to the archipelago in 1912 during the term of Governor-General William Cameron Forbes. During the entry of this famed soft drink, Filipinas was already under the shackles of the Bald Eagle for the past 14 years. Compulsory teaching of the English language had already been existing for more than a decade. But it appears that after all those years of strict English-language instruction, Spanish still had to be used by the colonizer to communicate with the general populace. They didn’t even use Tagálog! This poster, of course, is just one of many supporting evidence of the prevalence of the Spanish language in our country during the US colonial period. Throughout much of the period, several newspapers in Spanish were published, movies in Spanish were shown, and poetry books featuring celebrated bards (poetry reading was still in vogue during that time) were selling good.

To say that much of our countrymen never learned Spanish is one of our history’s greatest lies. In fact, one of the greatest ironies of our history happened during the US colonial era — it was during that time when the language of Rizal became widespread.

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Manong Frankie vs Dahling Nick

The Instituto Cervantes de Manila was supposed to have a colloquium on the Filipino Identity (my favorite subject, more so than Filipino History) last March 18 in Intramuros. I already had the event pinned to my calendar, very excited to attend, because it will tackle Nick Joaquín’s philosophy about the said subject. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic came, altering the lives of billions around the world. The said colloquium will then have to wait.

Three well-known resource persons were invited: anthropologist Fernando Ziálcita, historian Ambeth Ocampo, and National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José. The last one mentioned, Manong Frankie, was reputed to be Nick’s best friend.


Manong Frankie was supposed to deliver a brief speech about Nick during the colloquium. But since the pandemic happened, he decided to just publish it in his Philippine Star column. It came out yesterday.

Halfway through the article, I had to stop upon reading this:

“We agreed on Don Quixote being the world’s greatest novel, and both of us worshipped Rizal. I always shut him up when he raised Spain to the sky, with this remark, ‘do not forget the Spaniards killed Rizal.'”

The above statement is actually a favorite litany of Manong Frankie whenever he shares personal stories of his dear friend. He has mentioned it many times in various essays and speeches. He even repeated it to me the first time we met. I did not even raise the issue of Nick being a Hispanophile.

But it’s an incomplete anecdote of the immortal Nick Joaquín. Here’s the complete, unadulterated, and untwisted version from Nick: A Portrait of the Artist Nick Joaquín (Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2011), a faithful biography written by his nephew, the late Antonio Joaquin:

“Frankie would often chide Nick for being such a Hispanophile especially when Nick would come out with statements such as ‘All good things in this country came from Spain’, prompting Frankie to remind Nick that it was the Spaniards who killed José Rizal. Nick would then end the argument by telling Frankie that had it not been for the Spaniards, he would still be an ‘Igorote’.”

I did not include anymore the “blowing of nose” incident because it’s just disgusting. 🤣 But I’m sure that Manong Frankie, with his razor-sharp memory, still remembers it. Besides, that incident is mentioned in Sari Dalena’s “Dahling Nick” documentary. 😂✌️

Anyway, it has become apparent that Manong Frankie will not stop sharing this favorite anecdote of his about his friend Nick. So just to balance things, and to RESPECT the memory of his friend, I will also never tire sharing Tony Joaquín’s side of the story. Nick is no longer around to defend himself against friends, I mean, enemies, so I think it’s just an honorable thing for a fan like me to stand up for him and defend his memory. Because frankie speaking, I mean, frankly speaking, I’m getting fed up with this hispanophobic anecdote already.

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To the Hispanophobic Filipino historian

Just recently, Rappler published an opinion piece by historian Jorge Mojarro (also a Spanish language teacher at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila) regarding the Elcano And Magellan controversy. In the said article, Mojarro wrote:

Philippine schoolbooks of history seem to be written not to understand the past nor to stimulate critical thinking, but to feed the students with tones of blind patriotism. If young Filipinos were learning properly the history of their nation, they would have not gotten so angry on social media with the new Spanish cartoon entitled Elcano & Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World, especially considering that nobody has seen it yet.

He was right on target. The culprit, indeed, is the current educational system that has already been structured to destroy the image of our country’s Spanish past to young students. At an early age, Filipinos have already been taught that we were invaded by Spain, that we were enslaved, that we were forced to become Christians, that the Spanish friars maligned us, that they have kept us ignorant, etc. etc. etc.

This is a form of brainwashing. Such allegations are not even substantiated by historical documents. But who exactly is to blame?

Our second guest blogger, Fr. Michell Joe “Jojo” Zerrudo (parish priest at the Most Holy Redeemer Church in Quezon City and current Catechetical Director and Exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubáo) points out to the culprits: the Filipino pseudo-historians behind those schoolbooks that Mojarro was referring to. The following posts were taken from Fr. Jojo’s Facebook.







Fr. Jojo may not be a historian. But he has what many Filipino historians today do not have: a piercing I.Q.

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Película 2019 — 18th Spanish Film Festival

Instituto Cervantes de Manila, in cooperation with the Embajada de España en FilipinasTurespaña, and other related cultural organizations brings us once again one of the most anticipated annual film festivals in the country: Película. Now on its 17th edition, Película features a selection of quality films of various genres (comedy, drama, suspense, animation, documentary, and short film) from the Spanish-speaking world. It is a perfect opportunity for Filipino students of the Spanish language to hone their listening skills as well as to get acquainted with contemporary Hispanic culture. Below are the schedules as well as the press release (both in English and Spanish) from Instituto Cervantes de Manila…

PELÍCULA is a Spanish Film Festival organized every October by the Instituto Cervantes (Manila), in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain to the Philippines. Created in 2002, this event shows award-winning Spanish and Latin American films. The Film Festival has grown through the years to become the most important exhibition of Spanish Cinema in the Southeast Asian region. PELÍCULA 2019 will treat you to a collection of good quality movies, many of which have been awarded in prestigious festivals. Comedy, drama, thriller, animation, documentary, short film are some of the many element inside the festival’s program. Enjoy PELÍCULA!


Creado en 2002 por el Instituto Cervantes de Manila, PELÍCULA se celebra cada octubre en colaboración con la Embajada de España en Filipinas. El Festival ha crecido a lo largo de los años hasta erigirse en el más importante escaparate de cine español en el Sudeste Asiático. En esta XVIII edición te invitamos a disfrutar de una selección de obras de calidad, muchas de ellas premiadas en festivales de prestigio internacional. No se trata únicamente de una cita con el cine español, pues el Festival también propone una mirada al cine latinoamericano y a las voces surgidas de un continente que se expresa mayoritariamente en español. Comedia, drama, suspense, animación, documental y cortometraje, son algunos de los géneros que encontrarás en la programación de PELÍCULA 2019. ¡No te lo pierdas!


Película will run for 10 days, from October 3 to 13 at Greenbelt 3. Click here for more information. ¡Nos vemos allí!

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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!

How Spanish is spoken in Filipinas

The following video shows how Spanish is spoken as an authentic Filipino language.

The recordings on this video (edited by Neptuno Azul) were made by Spanish scholars Antonio Quilis and Celia Casado-Fresnillo as they were interviewing native Filipino Spanish speakers. Their research resulted in the book “La Lengua Española en Filipinas” which was published ten years ago in Madrid, Spain.

The Spanish spoken in Filipinas is a variant of standard Spanish, or Spanish spoken in Spain, particularly in the capital which is Madrid. Unknown to many, there are several variants of Spanish (Colombian Spanish, Argentinian Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish, etc.) as there are many variants of Tagálog (Batangueño Tagálog, Manileño Tagálog, etc.). Ours is very similar to the variant spoken in México because from there our country was ruled by Spain (México was then known as “Nueva España” or New Spain) from 1571 to 1821. During that period, there was much Spanish and Mexican emigration to Filipinas, hence the linguistic similarities.

As can be heard from the video, Filipino native speakers of Spanish do not speak the language as fast as other Spanish speakers from other countries. Perhaps the most obvious difference between Spanish Filipino and standard Spanish is that the voiceless dental fricative or /θ/ is not distinguished from the voiceless alveolar sibilant or /s/, a characteristic that we share with our Latin American counterparts (this lack of distinction between /s/ and /θ/ is called the seseo). There are other linguistic characteristics such as the yeísmo, the non-aspiration of the /s/, the shifting of the [ɾ] and [l] at the end of syllables, etc. These distinctions are best observed in a classroom setting (effectively provided by the Instituto Cervantes de Manila).

Another good example of Filipino Spanish can be heard right here, spoken by no less than our country’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo.

While it is true that Spanish was not spoken as a first language by many Filipinos compared to other Spanish overseas subjects, it was spoken either as a secondary or tertiary language in our country. Add to the fact that schools during those days also taught French (back then the lingua franca of the international diplomacy), Latin, and even classical Greek and Hebrew. It is thus not surprising that Filipinos during those days were multilingual. A well-educated Tagálog spoke not just his cradle language but also Spanish and other languages taught to him in school. A Visayan wrote not just in Cebuano or Hiligaynón or Aclanon but also in Spanish. A Bicolano uttered his prayers in three languages: Bícol (Bícol Naga, Rinconada, etc.), Spanish, and Latin, perhaps even more. But it cannot be denied that the prevailing language back then was Spanish, the language that wove together both national unity and identity.

Una conferencia sobre la evolución del “bahay na bató”

Asistí esta tarde una conferencia sobre la evolución de la casa ancestral filipina, más conocido como el “bahay na bató”. La conferencia fue impartida por el Sr. Martín Tinio en la Casa Azul del Instituto Cervantes de Manila en Intramuros. El Sr. Tinio es un reconocido experto de las casas ancestrales filipinas. De hecho, ha publicado un libro (con Fernando Ziálcita) sobre este tema titulado Philippine Ancestral Houses. Ese libro ya está fuera de impresión.


El Sr. Tinio estaba visiblemente enfermo ya que estaba tosiendo todo el tiempo, pero el espectáculo debe continuar.

Después de la conferencia, los participantes recibieron un tour gratuito en la cercana Casa Manila, un bahay na bató que es una réplica de otro bahay na bató que estaba de pie en Binondo durante los tiempos españoles. Esta casa que en realidad es un museo fue diseñado bajo los auspicios del Sr. Tinio hace muchos años.

Bueno, tengo que irme. Estoy apresurado porque sólo estoy en un cibercafé cerca del Far Eastern University, jaja. No sabía cómo llegué aquí… ¡creo que estoy perdido! 🤣

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Película 2018 — 17th Spanish Film Festival

Instituto Cervantes de Manila, in cooperation with the Embajada de España en FilipinasTurespaña, and other related cultural organizations brings us once again one of the most anticipated annual film festivals in the country: Película. Now on its 17th edition, Película features a selection of quality films of various genres (comedy, drama, suspense, animation, documentary, and short film) from the Spanish-speaking world. It is a perfect opportunity for Filipino students of the Spanish language to hone their listening skills as well as to get acquainted with contemporary Hispanic culture. Below are the schedules as well as the press release (both in English and Spanish) from Instituto Cervantes de Manila…

PELíCULA, the biggest Spanish film festival in Asia, kicks off on October 4 at the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas, Makati! This year we are turning 17 and to celebrate it, we have selected more than 20 of the best recent films from Spain and Latin America. For the lineup of films, screening schedule, and updates about PELíCULA 2018, check out the Instituto Cervantes Facebook page.


PELíKULA, el mayor festival de cine español de Asia, comienza el día 4 de octubre en los cines Greenbelt 3 de Makati. En esta edición el Festival cumple 17 años y lo celebramos ofreciendo más de una veintena de las mejores películas españolas y latinoamericanas recientes. Para más información sobre los filmes, horario de proyecciones y noticias del Festival, consulta la página de Facebook del Instituto Cervantes de Manila.

Película opens tomorrow,  October 4, at Greenbelt 3. Click here for more information. ¡Nos vemos allí!

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Uicang Español = Uicang Filipino (Buwan ng Wika)

At dahil “Buwan ng Wika” ñgayón, pahintulutan niyó po munà acóng gamitin ang uica na sariling atin (sa pamamaguitan ng sinaúnang “Abecedario Filipino”).


Ang español ay uicang Filipino. Hindî itó uicang bañagà. Atin itóng pag-aralan, pagyabuñgin, mahalín, at gamitin sa pang-arao-arao na paquíquipagtálastasan sa capua nating Filipino. Sapagcát sa uícang itó nabuô ang ating pambansáng identidad (identidad nacional). Sa uicang itó nahubóg ang ating nacionalismo. Sa uicang itó binigquís ang ating mg̃a isla, at pinagbuclód ang ibá’t-ibáng raza sa ating archipiélago/capuluán. Yumaman ang vocabulario ng ating mg̃a uicang catutubo (tagálog, bisayà, ilocano, etc.) dahil sa uicang español. Itó ang uicang guinamit ng ating mg̃a bayani para macamít ang ináasam-asám na casarinlán… ¿Hindí ñga bat itó ang uica ng ating pambansáng bayani? Sa pamamaguitan ng uicang español, nilabanan ng maguiguiting na Filipino ang mg̃a manlulupig at mananacop. Sa uicang español din cumalat at tumibay ang ating cultura. Ang tunay na casaysayan ng Filipinas ay nacasulat sa uicang español. At higuít sa lahát, ang ating pananámpalataya sa Dios ay umiral at namulaclác sa pamamaguitan ng uicang español.

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Hindí mababauasan ang ating pagca-Filipino capág tayo’y gumagamit ng salitáng español. Bagcús, maguiguing más completo pa ang ating pagca-Filipino sa uicang itó.

Samacatuíd, ang tunay na Uicang Filipino ay español, hindí tagálog.

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¡Mag-aral na ng uicang castila sa Instituto Cervantes de Manila! Cuha ni: Jerry Almonte.