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Opinion

The teaching of Spanish in the Philippines
June 27, 2004

(Marcelo H. del Pilar, better known by his pen name, Plaridel, was the most intelligent and indefatigable leader of the Filipino separatists in the 1880’s. He was the real soul of the Propaganda Movement which preceded the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Born in Bulacan on August 30, 1850, he was a lawyer and brilliant writer. He founded the Diariong Tagalog in 1882 where he denounced the Spanish maladministration of the Philippines. In Madrid, he founded and for five years edited the La Solidaridad, the organ of the Filipino expatriate activists. He died of tuberculosis in Barcelona on July 4, 1896. The Samahang Plaridel reprints his editorials in this syndicated weekly column, translated from Spanish by Guadalupe Fores Ganzon.)

In the Philippines, it is a distinct achievement to be able to talk and write in Spanish. It is embarrassing not to possess the ability. On every occasion, it is considered indispensable and to a certain degree even disgraceful not be able to answer in the official language.

It is unbelievable that with such a common goal between those who command and those who obey, the outcome is barren of the best and numerous laws passed centuries ago to achieve and effect precisely what the government wishes to concede and what the people long to receive.

What is the cause of this failure? Where is the obstacle? In the weakness of the means chosen? In teachers? In the fiscalizing agencies? We know not, nor do we care to know? We are afraid of certain truths in the Philippines. Exile to Jolo, Paragua and other islands, if not to the field of Bagumbayan strikes dismal terror to lovers of truth and—by the sufferings of Christ!—we do not wish to know the truth.

We shall limit our labor to explaining some basic facts in the teaching of Spanish in order to contribute to the study of effective means of disseminating the language in the Philippines through primary education which is charged with this important service.

The efforts of the authorities are also futile: They should be disabused. Ever since the last century, measures were taken which went to the extent of declaring the priests who tried to teach Spanish in the Philippines enemies of the country. We are also witnessing how the person who tries to learn Spanish and more so, who tries to teach it, is regarded the enemy of Spain, a filibusterer, a heretic and a renegade.

There is no need to arouse the zeal of the authorities in the Philippines. All those who govern the islands, from the Governor-General down to the petty constable—everybody, absolutely everybody—pledged and is pledging the same policy recommended by the Minister of the Colonies.

What will give positive result is on our opinion the loyal and sincere cooperation of those who give permits to teach those who give or deny morsels to the teachers.

Counting on such a cooperation, it inevitable that the teacher who teaches tutta concientia shall eat: He who does not shall find penance for his sin. The permit will be denied him and without much delay or strategy, the teacher suffers hunger.

We believe it therefore convenient to ask, to pray, to entreat—on our bended knees if necessary—for the sincere cooperation of those in charge of supervision and nobody doubts that the outcome would be favorable.

For this only the thing is needed: To inspire them with the desire to disseminate Spanish in the Philippines, the desire to agree and favor direct intercourse between rulers and ruled, the desire to give up their position as intermediaries between one and the other; to inspire them finally to give up this position where they are master in terrifying the people by threats of government tyranny and in terrifying the government by threats of rebellion of the people.

— From La Solidaridad
15 February 1889



  
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