Wednesday, August 25, 2010

That Religious Guy: A long way for an accent

..... My quest for the Philippine Spanish accent started last school year and my, what a journey it has been. I have crossed the jungles of Yahoo! Answers. I have visited the quarreling hermits of Antimoon Forums. Amazingly enough, I have even constructed a home in the thriving online metropolis of the city called "Facebook" just to find Filipino hispanohablantes. I have done all these activities in search of an accent, but I come back with a better knowledge of my heritage and my islands, the Philippines.

..... Contrary to most people's perception of Filipinos, our “hispanicity” (nuestra Hispanidad) extends farther than our last names (i.e. Dela Cruz, Guerrero, Bautista) or the names of our desserts (i.e. Cuchintas, Brazo de Merced, Leche Flan). At one point in the archipelago's history, Spanish was spoken from Luzon all the way to Mindanao. Spanish was the language of the revolutionaries, our ilustrados like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Emilio Aguinaldo. We Filipinos owe our present democracy not to the Anglophone Americans but to our very own native Hispanohablantes.

….. Sadly, Spanish was quickly supplanted in the Philippines with the arrival of the Americans after WWII. America decided that we’d be better off speaking English and practicing Protestantism. After all, the Spanish language and Catholicism were simply remnants of a fallen regime, the last traits of the colonizers that would have to be erased. And so as Filipino newspapers in Spanish were forced to close and the educational system shifted to English, it wasn’t long before the Iberian tongue was slowly fading away.

….. One would think that with more than 300 years of colonization, we’d remember some things those Spaniards taught us. Sure, we may still have the odd Spanish phrase or word preserved into our native languages, but Spanish remains largely unpopular. Efforts like the decision to make Spanish compulsory in schools and courses taught by the Instituto Cervantes, however, are allowing the language to be revived.

….. I finally did learn about the Philippine Spanish accent. Drop by Señora Chavez’s Spanish 5-6 class and you’ll hear my “lisping” voice. The Philippine Spanish accent derives many of its features from the Castellano as spoken by the Spaniards. We regularly use “vosotros/vosotras” and our accent preserves the lleismo and distincíon of old. Therefore, I can be heard saying “conduthir” (conducir) and “otra veth” (otra vez) instead of “condusir” and “otra ves” like my Mexican friends. There also exists a slight short breathy sound (aspiration?) when saying the letter “g” and “j.”

….. The reasons for the Filipino accent being so like the Spaniard one is because unlike in the rest of the Hispanic world, Spanish went largely spoken by the upper-class. It never truly became the common, everyday language even though there were some attempts to educate the masses. Therefore, Philippine Spanish preserved many of the Iberian characteristics.

….. Learning Spanish has ultimately allowed me to understand aspects of my culture I never really learned about. Though the Philippines is in Asia, its languages, cuisine, religion, and customs identify it as the forgetful daughter of Madre España. I have learned where Filipino phrases like “basta kung” and “asikaso” are derived from (Spanish: basta con, hacer caso a), which makes me appreciate the diversity of the language spoken in my family. So if ever you find yourself in the Philippines, feel free to speak some Spanish. You might just feel surprised when someone asks you “Cual es su gracia?” (Which is your grace? / What is your name?)

- Jeremy Dela Cruz


  1. Oh Jeremy, you couldn't understand a word of Spanish I said to you! haha, but it's nice to see somebody get in touch with their roots:D --Karina.

  2. Karina[=
    HaHa. Don't blame him.
    He takes French!