Ready to habla Español again?
Filipinos are no strangers to Spanish culture.
With more than 300 years of shared history, it's hard not to be
familiar with the culture that our former colonizers left behind. There
is always a bit of Spanish flavor permeating into our everyday lives:
From the food that we eat, to our choice of matinee idols, and
even to the shows that we watch on primetime TV.
This familiarity extends even to our diplomatic relations. Spain
considers the Philippines "the Asian country with greatest political
relevance." Just last year, President Arroyo was given full honors and
courtesies by Spain during her three-day visit to the country.
Alongside the many agreements that the two countries forged was
Arroyo's promise to the Spanish government to promote the Spanish
language in the country, a declaration which prompted some to ask if
this meant a return of Spanish language teaching into the curriculum.
Not so, says Instituto Cervantes director Jose Rodriguez. Or at least, not yet.
"What the President said in Spain is that the sitting government is
committed to promote the Spanish language in the country. That
commitment must be now articulated into reality, and that is a very
important commitment on the part of the President and the government,"
In the past, it was required in college to take 12 units of Spanish.
There was no escaping learning the root words of verbs, the
conjugations, or the recital of poems in Spanish.
The matter of whether every Juan dela Cruz will be learning ` como
estas?' with their "How do you do's?" is still very much an undecided
matter according to Rodriguez, who is only sure that whatever
agreements are reached between the two countries, the 17-year old
Instituto Cervantes is sure to play a pivotal role.
"It's now government to government, and I do not know what the role of
Instituto Cervantes is right now. We can't commit on what our role will
be because it will be up to the governments to define what the policy
will be, but definitely the Instituto Cervantes must have a role," says
Rodriguez. "We are now training 6,500 students studying
Spanish here in Metro Manila, and from time to time we have courses for
the improvement of the teaching of Spanish, updating the Spanish
teachers from all over the Philippines."
Time for reacquaintance
With or without an agreement, Rodriguez stresses that learning the
Spanish language is not just a matter of looking back at a shared
history, or to fulfill a desire to sound like a snotty mestizo.
"I think it's time to know each other, because we are not informed
properly," he says. "Whenever I am in public speaking engagements, I
have to inform them that Spanish can be a tool for economic
development. Spain is one of the ten largest economies in the world.
Forty-five millon people speak the language in the United States of
America. Even here in Instituto Cervantes, we have people from the
United States looking for billingual people for call centers, or as
caregivers, nurses, even lawyers."
Rodriguez also points out that despite the shared history, the
Philippines is lagging behind its Asian neighbors when it comes to the
importance Spanish is accorded in the school curriculum.
"The Philippines must be at the same level as their neighbors in South
East Asia," he stresses. "South Korea has 13 universities which have
Ph. D.'s in Spanish. In Taiwan they have 10. Here in the country, it is
only the University of the Philippines that offers a doctorate in the
language. It is my goal that Filipinos, through information, know the
importance of the language, how it can change your life. It can be an
Instituto Cervantes is certainly not lagging behind when it comes to
promotion. Aside from its immensely popular Spanish film festival
Pelicula, held every October, Rodriguez says that they are trying to
reach as many people as they can through different activities,
workshops, events, and partnerships with institutions sharing the same goal of popularizing Spanish.
"We are forming more and more agreements with institutions that have
the same vision and mission of spreading the language, and we are
looking for more and more agreements. Right now we are even preparing
for an agreement with the University of Nueva Vizcaya," he reveals.
Those partnerships aren't just one-sided affairs either: Rodriguez says that both partners flourish in this relationship.
" We have very committed and involved partnerships with other
institutions," he says. "The Instituto will be present for the affairs
of that particular college and university and help them not only in
upgrading their teachers and systematizing their courses, but even in
their cultural affairs and even with providing language scholarships.
At the same time, we here at the Instituto get to go out and meet the
people, hear their ideas, and in the process make better policies."
More recently, the Instituto Cervantes, together with the Cultural
Center of the Philippines, brought to the country renowned Spanish
conductor Bernardo Adam Ferrero for a concert whose proceeds will
benefit the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Instituto has also partnered with the launching of Chabacano publications in Ternate, Cavite.
"Berso sa Metro"
Another partnership that may be more familiar to frequent riders of the
city's trains is the Instituto Cervantes' "Berso sa Metro" campaign.
The campaign displays famous verses written in Spanish by Spanish,
Latin American and Filipino poets inside the carriages of the LRT and
the MRT trains.
"`Berso sa Metro' is an idea that we came up with, and is a campaign
that is out there to make people think about their roots," he says.
"Our two countries have an intertwined history. No matter how we want
to change it, the history is there.''
Rodriguez encourages people to look into the positive side of that shared history, in the language and culture.
`'We put up Spanish poems with Filipino translations and Filipino poems
with Spanish translations so people can compare. We are not telling
people to study Spanish, we are just letting people think about what
our two countries share. If we have information, we have the most
important tool; people will know what role Spanish plays in
The advantages that we have over other Asian countries, says Rodriguez, is also something that should not be set aside.
"The Philippines has more advantages when it comes to learning Spanish,
and they should not waste the momentum that they have. If you have the
language, you have the advantage. It is the language of the times and
you have to flow with the times," he says.
Manila Bulletin, 25 de enero de 2008
Ronald S. Lim
|Category: Articles and News | Added by: janus (2009-05-20)
| Rating: 0.0/0||
Total online: 1