I keep asking myself lately. Why didn’t I (a Filipino) didn’t learn to speak the Spanish language early on?
We had Spanish lessons in school during our time. Our Tagalog language contains so many Spanish words that we use every time we speak. And a lot of our habits (as I observe and compare now) are very similar to most Latin people, specifically to the people of Mexico (where I always spend vacation time lately).
Why didn’t our grandparents (who spoke the language) encouraged us to learn Español or taught us to speak it? Why didn’t our government included it in our curriculum? Why, oh why?
Those questions kept ringing in my head as I try, at this time, to learn the Spanish language. I have been practicing everyday – reading books, memorizing words, learning how to conjugate verbs, connecting with language interchangers, etc. etc. – just to be able to at least be conversant for when I am in Mexico.
Honestly, I think I just became interested in learning the language because I am frequenting a Spanish-speaking country. I’d like to be able to get around more quickly, safely and cheaply whenever I’m there for that is the kind of traveler that I am – I like to travel like a local.
When I was still living in the Philippines and was going around Southeast Asia, it never even crossed my mind to learn to speak Spanish. I don’t think it is relevant or useful to me that time.
So, the answer to my questions above must be that the language is more relevant and useful to me now than it was before.
But to be honest, at the moment, I regret not being able to learn Spanish when I have the opportunity back when I was younger. If someone advised me otherwise, I could have been persistent in learning it. If I have to move to Zamboanga to learn Chavacano, I’d do it. Damn, even my Spanish teachers didn’t tell me the importance of learning Spanish for the future.
So…. do I think now that it is important for Filipinos to learn Spanish?
I think so, yes. For the following reasons:
Numero Uno: The Spanish language is part of our history: I don’t know if the younger generation of Pinoys nowadays still hear Spanish being spoken by the older folks, but during our youth, our grandparents and other older folks speak it to us. Why? Because Spanish was once the language spoken in the Philippines due to the Spanish (or Mexican) occupation of the country. And it was not a short stint – more like 200 plus years! Why we just lost the language after the Americans took over is one of the things that I am researching at the moment.
Numero Dos: A greater chance of hooking-up or dating Latinos/Latinas: This is my favorite part. And I wish I was single whenever I think of it. Have you had the chance of meeting latinas/latinos in person? I did. For hundreds of times. And I tell you, they are one of the most gorgeous people in the world! I have never met a person from Spain, though – even here in Canada. But if the pictures available on the internet is to be believed, they look like latinos. If you wanna date these people, learn Spanish. It’s the best and most effective way.
Numero Tres: More opportunities career wise: According to Wikipedia, the Spanish language is spoken by more than 400 million people and is the second most spoken in the world. And in the US, there are more than 30 million Spanish speakers. If you work in the call center industry, you know what it means to your career advancement to speak both English and Spanish. More than that, you have a greater opportunity of working in a Latin country either as a translator or a teacher – just like some of the Filipinos I met in Mexico.
Numero Cuatro: For older Filipino folks, learning a new language is good for your health: There was a study done in Toronto about the relation between dementia and bilingualism. It says there that the more languages a person can speak, the more dementia was being delayed. We have dementia health history in our family so, I’m hoping that it will help my brain delay it from coming now that I am learning Spanish as a third language.
Numero Cinco: Learning Spanish (or any other language) is cool! Have you experienced getting a surprise look by a son or daughter when he/she hears you talk in Spanish in one of your travels together? I have. And it feels so good! Imagine, your son or daughter thought they knew you for the longest time and then was surprised that you can speak passable Spanish? Their amazement is priceless!
There are probably more reasons why us Filipinos should have learned to speak Spanish but, the most important reason is – the Spanish language is part of our heritage. We can never deny that. No matter if the history behind the time when the language was spoken in our motherland was the longest chaotic time in our history, IT IS part of who we are. The Mexicans and the other Latin countries experienced the same (or maybe worse) but they retained the language. Why didn’t we do the same?
So, summing all of those up, I really think we should learn Spanish as Filipinos. How about you, kabayan. What do you think?