Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Spanish, anyone?

Posted by butalidnl on 24 February 2010

The Philippines just signed an agreement with Spain (on 23 February) to reintroduce the teaching of Spanish in Philippine public high schools.  The Philippines plans to do this by 2012. Oh no! Some people will say. After all those years of struggling to get rid of the Spanish requirement, why is the government reintroducing it?

I don’t know exactly what government officials think, but I think the teaching of Spanish is a good idea. In the first place, Spanish is one of the world’s main languages, and is spoken in many countries. With many Filipinos living and working in Spain, and perhaps soon also in other Spanish speaking countries, it may be good for Filipinos to have some background in Spanish.

The Philippines is unique among former Spanish colonies in not having Spanish as the national language. But the Philippines is still close to the heart of Latin Americans; and our country is in a good position to link Latin America with Asia. Think about Latin American companies setting up their Asia headquarters in the Philippines.  And of Filipino workers going to Latin American countries.

And of course, with the language comes the culture.  Latin America is rich in experiences, be it cultural, economic or industrial.  This wealth of experience is not known to us, primarily because it has to be translated first into English before we can learn about it. But, in-depth experiences from the people of Latin America will continue to be deprived to us, as long as we don’t speak Spanish. And of course, Filipino experiences can also not be shared with Latin Americans.

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