jueves, 13 de enero de 2011

Education in Spanish RP (II) by Pío Andrade, Jr.

A more enlightening view was that of Carlos Palanca, the most
prominent Chinese in the last two decades of Spanish rule. He
submitted a memorandum to the Schurman Commission about the main
products and languages in the different provinces, Palanca listed 18
provinces as Spanish-speaking with 5 provinces as speaking little
Spanish. The rest of the provinces speak the regional language. The
Spanish-speaking provinces, the most prosperous provinces, were deeply
influenced by the friars and had a significant concentration of
Spanish-speaking, Chinese and their mestizos. Yet, in the other
provinces not classified either as Spanish-speaking or speaking little
Spanish, one could find several headmen who spoke fluent Spanish,
according to Stephen Bonsal, an American war correspondent who
traveled widely in the Philippines.
Still another revealing source on the widespread use of Spanish at
the time of the American invasion was the fact that American soldiers
had to speak crude Spanish, dubbed "bamboo Spanish", to make
themselves understood by the native Filipinos.
An important reference on the widespread literacy and, by inference,
the wide use of Spanish in the Country, is the 1903 Philippine census.
The Census, although deliberately--- it seems--- not answering
Spanish-speaking and writing inhabitants in the country at that time,
stated that the literacy rate of the Philippines at 20.2% including
those who can read and write in any Philippine language. However if
the figure that includes those who could read but could not write, the
same figure jumps to 44.5%. Surely this literacy rate has little to do
with the Americans who came to the Philippines only in 1898 and did
not start their public school system until 1900.
Agoncillo's statements downplaying the extent of education and the
widespread use of Spanish during the end of the Spanish era is
debunked by contemporary historical accounts on the subject matter and
by even the 1903 Philippine census.
Philippine history textbooks give the impression that the transition
of the medium of instruction in the public school system from Spanish
to English occurred smoothly. By the first decade, American
bureaucrats in the Philippines were informing the American authorities
in the USA that the Filipinos by the middle of the first decade were
already English-speaking. Actually, Spanish grew even more during the
1900-1920 period. Professor Henry Jones Ford of Princeton University
in his 1913 secret report on his six months travel and research about
the Philippine situation to President Woodrow Wilson, had this to say
on the use of Spanish in the country at that time: "There is however,
another aspect of the case that should be considered. I had this
forcibly presented to me as I traveled through the Islands, using the
ordinary conveyances and mixing with all sorts and conditions of
people. Although on the basis of School statistics the statement is
made that more Filipinos now speak English than any other language, no
one would think of the testimony of one's own ears. Everywhere
Spanish is the speech of business and social intercourse. For one to
receive prompt attention, Spanish is always more useful than English
and outside of Manila, is almost indispensable. Americans travelling
about the Islands, use it habitually. What is more, they discourage
the use of English. This was a development that took me by surprise. I
asked an American I met on an inter-island steamboat why he always
spoke Spanish to the stewards and waiters, and whether they could not
understand him in English. He said that probably many of them could
but one would not be treated with as much respect using English and
not Spanish; that Filipinos seem to loose their manners using English,
becoming rude, familiar and insolent."
Professor Ford further underscored the widespread use of Spanish in
the country by writing about the existing press thus: "There is
unmistakable significance in the fact that there is not in all the
Islands one Filipino newspaper published in English. All of the many
native newspaper are published in Spanish and in the dialect. The
Vanguardia, the Manila newspaper of largest circulation, has a Spanish
section and a dialect section, and most of the native papers
throughout the Islands follow this practice. The Philippine "Free
Press", the periodical of largest circulation under American control,
is published in English and Spanish, and all the American newspapers
use Spanish to some extent in conjunction with English. The only
purely Filipino paper that uses English at all is the Revolutionary
Organ, "The Philippine Republic", published at Hong Kong. It is in
Spanish and English. The avowed purpose being to reach American
readers in the interest of Philippine Independence."
It is relevant to mention here that as late as 1930, the Spanish
dailies had a much bigger circulation than either Tagalog or English
dailies. Noteworthy also is the fact that in the 1930's there were a
few Chinese periodicals in both Chinese and Spanish.
Another big proof for the prevalence in Spanish over English in 1913
Philippines cited by Professor Ford is the failure of Act No. 190
enacted by the Philippine Commission mandating English as the sole
official language of the courts and their records by January 1, 1906.
The law was amended several times to accommodate Spanish as
co-official language of the courts with English till January 1,1920.
And Filipino legislators and Constitutional delegates made Spanish
still an official language in the Commonwealth.
Spanish was also heavily used by American and Chinese businessman.
Pacific Commercial Company, the largest American trading corporation
in the country had the best Spanish teacher under their employ to
teach Spanish to new American employees from the beginning to the time
when the Japanese came. Meanwhile, the minutes of the Philippine
Chinese Chamber of Commerce was in Spanish from their inception in
1904 to 1924, after which Hokien was used.
Truly, Spanish was already deeply widespread at the time of the
coming of the Americans. Had it been used together with English in the
American-controlled Philippine public school system, Filipinos would
be like the Puerto Ricans today, speaking both English and Spanish.

Modesto Reyes Lim in a 1924 issue of the Rizalian Magazine ISAGANI
vehemently criticized the imposition of English upon the Filipinos. He
wrote: "¿No es acaso de sentido común, que hubiera sido muy fácil
propagar más el castellano, que ya se usaba como lengua oficial y se
hablada ya por muchísimas familias filipinas dentro y fuera de sus
hogares, y del cual contaba entonces el país con muchos literatos,
poetas y escritores distinguidos?" (Is it not of plain common sense to
know that it would have been far easier to further propagate Spanish,
which was already the official language and the mother tongue of so
many pure Filipino families, in and out of their homes, and from whom
where born so many writers, poets and distinguished men of letters?)
"Indudablemente, como dice un ilustre filipno miembro actual
prominente de la administración de justicia, que con el mismo tiempo y
dinero gastado, sistema y otros medios modernos de instrucción
empleados en la enseña del inglés, si en lugar de éste se hubiera
propagado en mucha mayor proporción que se haya hoy propagado el
inglés." (There is absolutely no doubt, says a Filipino jurist of
today, that if the same time and money, and the same teaching system
and methods, now employed in the teaching of English were instead
dedicated to the teaching of Spanish, the latter would have been
propagated in a much larger proportion in which English has been
Modesto Reyes Lim's criticism of the teaching of English to the
exclusion Spanish in the Philippines looks overly biased in favor of
Español, but the view is the same view of Edgar Bellairs, an
Associated Press was correspondent, who covered the
Philippine-American War and traveled widely in the Philippines.
Bellairs, in his book AS IT WAS IN THE PHILIPPINES, criticized the
teaching of English over Spanish in Philippine public schools thus: "I
lay it down as a proposition that if you start today and teach
thousands of children in the Spanish language, in a period of two
years, at the expiration of that time, you will have done more good
for these people and this country and the masses of them will have a
wider knowledge of their worlds' history and be more capable of
assessing this government than they will ever be at the expiration of
5 years under the present English language system".
It was a mistake to exclude the teaching of Spanish and its use as a
medium of instruction in the Philippine public schools system under
the Americans. The exclusion led to the ignorance of Spanish by
Filipinos, specially historians and journalists, who could, and
should, shed better lights on the distorted Philippine past.
The present ignorance of Spanish by Filipino historians and writers
perpetrates the ignorance by Filipinos of many positive and beneficial
aspects of Spanish rule in the formation of the Filipino Nation. This
ignorance is behind the lack of appreciation for our Spanish heritage
and the loss of that precious capital of human hope. It is the task of
historians and writers --- a task admirably and effectively played by
the late Nick Joaquin --- to disseminate the need of learning the
Spanish language to correct the heavily distorted history of our
Hispanic past and to destroy the black legend that falsely says that
Spanish rule in the Philippines was mostly evil when the contrary was

Education in Spanish RP (I) by Pío Andrade Jr.


Filipinos in the 20th Century were repeatedly taught or told in schools and in the press, that Spain always kept their ancestors uneducated to have them ignorant and the always docile subjects of Spain. The blame was, in particular, thrown upon the friars, "who, from motives of their own, discouraged the learning of Spanish by the natives, in order that they may always act as intermediaries between the people and the civil authorities, and thus, retain their influences over their charges". The most common proof cited for the alleged uneducatedness and ignorance supposedly reigning in Hispanic Philippines is the incontrovertible fact that only the Philippines, among all the other former Spanish colonies, is not Spanish-speaking today. But was this really so? The 1896 revolution, the first revolution in Asia by a colonized people for independence from the colonizer, refutes the charge that
Spain did not educate the Filipinos, for revolutions are not made by the ignoramuses but by the educated folks. Indeed, most of the leading lights and leaders of the 1896 Revolution were Ilustrados, or educated folks. The propaganda literature and the communications coming from the Revolutionaries were mostly in Spanish; and the Malolos Constitution was debated and drafted in Spanish. The revolution was
made possible by the widespread knowledge of Spanish. Thus, Spanish was the language of the 1896 Revolution and Philippine nationhood.
The 1896 Revolution is but one of the many proofs against the oft-repeated assertion that Spain deliberately did not educate the Filipinos, specially in the Spanish language. This assertion is nothing but a big lie. This lie is another black legend, and black propaganda, concocted by anti-Spain and anti-church zealots, xenophobic nationalists, leftists ideologues, the American controlled Philippine Public school system, and the American missionary societies of the early days of American rule. This black legend and propaganda,
which has caused severe negative effects upon many facets of
Philippine life, must be exposed as nothing else but a destructive historical distortion. And that is the object of this article.
King Philip II's Law of the Indies (Leyes de Indias) mandated
Spanish authorities in the Philippines to educate the natives, to teach them how to read and write and to learn Spanish. However, the latter objective was well-nigh impossible given the realities of the time. First, there were very few Spaniards in the Archipelago to teach Spanish at that time. Second, the Philippines, at the coming of Spain, was inhabited by diverse tribes with different languages, customs, and religion. Third, the geographical barriers - - - the seas, the mountain ranges, lush virgin forest and the absence of enough roads made travel and communication difficult during those years. Thus, the friars, the vanguard of evangelization and education, opted instead to learn the native languages first and in order to use them as tools to evangelize and teach the natives in the missionary schools.
But Spanish was also taught to those who wished to learn the
language. Among these were the native principalía and the Chinese traders who only began to come in greater numbers after the coming of Spain to the Philippines. Spain introduced the first movable printing press in the country and with it Tomas Pinpin, the Prince of Filipino printers, publish a book on how to learn Spanish. In the UST Archives
are three extant Spanish-Chinese dictionaries published during Spanish era.
Another proof that Spain's language education was taking place in the first years of Hispanization in this Country was the Galleon Trade.
This is the longest and the most hazardous of sea-borne trade in history which largely benefited the Philippines, China and Mexico more than it ever benefit Peninsular Spain.. The Galleon Trade would not have been possible if the Filipinos, Spaniards and Chinese could not communicate with each other in Spanish.
In 1863, with the passage of the Education Reform Act in the Spanish
Cortes, the Philippine public school system was born.  Separate schools for boys and girls were established in every pueblo for the compulsory education of Filipino children. The law also established the Escuela Normal to train male and female teachers. This was ten years before Japan had a compulsory form of education and forty years before the
American government started a so-called public school system in the country.
It is important to cite here two scholarly studies made on the state of education in Asia, including the Philippines, by two non-Spanish and non-Catholic writers during the nineteenth century. The first of these non-Spanish writers is the eminent Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal.
In his monumental 3-volume book on ASIAN DRAMA, Myrdal wrote of Philippine education under Spain, in the following terms:" The earliest colonial intruders in Europe in South Asia were the two Catholic imperialist powers, unlike Spain and Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain, who arrived later, they had a planned educational policy from the beginning. One of their missions, in addition to economic exploitation, was to convert the pagans to the Christian faith. What is important is that this duty was interpreted
as requiring the education of the people to read and write – a policy that would hardly have appeared warranted had political power of commercial and fiscal exploitation been the chief and only purpose."
"This had the most far-reaching effect in the Philippines, which was under Spanish rule continuously for more than three and a half centuries. By the early part of the seventeenth century, the ground had been laid for a system of even a secondary and tertiary education that was not directed merely toward religious teaching. And the priest
and monks, who worked closely with the civil authorities, began creating a network of elementary schools, in which both religious and secular subjects were taught. By 1863 the Spanish colonial government had adopted a program of compulsory elementary education that was to
be free to all children between the ages of seven and thirteen. When the Spanish left a generation later, this ambitious program was far from being fulfilled. Nevertheless, the Philippines was already ahead of most other South Asian colonies in popular education." (underscoring
done by the author)
Another reference worth citing on education in the Philippines under Spain is British author H.A. Wyndham's 1898 book NATIVE EDUCATION IN
MALAYA. Wyndham concluded that the Filipinos were the most educated of the colonials he studied.
One of the most vociferous voices claiming that Spain did not educate the Filipinos was UP historian emeritus Teodoro Agoncillo who wrote in THE REVOLT OF THE MASSES that "When the Americans took over the Philippines, only 2.5% of the Filipinos spoke and wrote in Spanish".
This figure was taken from the 1880 book of Cavada Mendez de Vigo. Later, in his history textbook , THE HISTORY OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE, Agoncillo also claimed that "it is safe to say that the literacy rate
of the native population was somewhere between 5% and 8%". These Agoncillo claims are wrong for these two statements on the Philippine literacy can not be sustained by factual evidence.
Agoncillo failed to see that since 1811 with the publication of DEL SUPERIOR GOBIERNO, the Philippines had a popular press which further disseminated the Spanish language in the country. The Philippines was the first country in Asia to have a popular press in Spanish and, by the coming of Dewey, there were many more popular newspapers and books
published in Spanish. The several newspapers in the native languages most always carried Spanish language sections. Manila, itself, (then with about half a million people) had three Spanish language dailies in the morning and three other dailies, also in Spanish, in the afternoon. These dailies in Spanish had no equal counterparts in other Oriental countries.
Since 1863, with the passage of the Education Reform Law in the Spanish Cortes, the Philippines was given by Spain a public school system with Spanish as the sole medium of instruction. This is another big push for the increased learning and use of the Spanish language by Filipinos..
Another factor for increased Spanish literacy was the Chinese
population. The Chinese community obligates Chinese cabecillas or Chinese barangay captains to teach rudimentary Spanish to new Chinese immigrants. After a month in these Chinese-owned schools, the Chinese immigrants spoke kastilang tindahan, or Caló Chino Español, a kind of
Spanish Chabacano, that later become fluent albeit accented Spanish .
When these Chinese immigrants intermarried, they brought forth Spanish-speaking mestizos. The 100,000 Chinese population at the turn of the century were all conversant in Spanish though in varying proficiency, from the kastilang tindahan of the new Chinese immigrantsto the fluent Spanish of Chinese old timers.
The growth of the popular press, the public school system and the Chinese population increased Spanish literacy in the Philippines by the time of Dewey's advent. Joseph Earl Stevens, an American who resided in Manila from 1893-1894 had these to say about Spanish in the country in his book YESTERDAYS IN THE PHILIPPINES: "Spanish, of
course, is the court and commercial language and, except among uneducated natives who have a lingo of their own or among the few members of the Anglo-Saxon colony, it has a monopoly everywhere. No one can really get on without it, and even the Chinese come in with their peculiar pidgin variety".