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

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