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Spanish in the Philippines

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.

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Spanish in the Philippines

Postby El_Caudillo » Sun Oct 02, 2016 5:16 pm

I was shocked to learn that the Philippines came under Spanish rule in 1521. That's the same time as the conquest of Mexico! And before colonies were formed in Peru, Argentina etc. And then the Philippines stayed under the Spanish longer than Latin America! Most South/Central American countries gained independence from 1810 to 1820 (with the exception of Cuba, Puerto Rico?). The Philippines was taken from Spain by the USA in 1898.

SO...how come Spanish has basically disappeared from the Philippines and English completely taken over as the foreign language there? 377 years of Spain and 47 years of USA.
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Re: Spanish in the Philippines

Postby Rock » Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:22 pm

El_Caudillo wrote:I was shocked to learn that the Philippines came under Spanish rule in 1521. That's the same time as the conquest of Mexico! And before colonies were formed in Peru, Argentina etc. And then the Philippines stayed under the Spanish longer than Latin America! Most South/Central American countries gained independence from 1810 to 1820 (with the exception of Cuba, Puerto Rico?). The Philippines was taken from Spain by the USA in 1898.

SO...how come Spanish has basically disappeared from the Philippines and English completely taken over as the foreign language there? 377 years of Spain and 47 years of USA.


1. I'm not sure Phils. general population ever spoke Spanish to the degree it was spoken in Latam colonies. It was more a language for the elite if I'm not mistaken with local languages/dialects remaining intact among the masses. There are still many mutually unintelligible Filipino languages/dialects used around the islands here to this day though Tagalog is now generally known by most whether or not it's their first language. Also, I believe Spain administered Phils. indirectly through Mexico.

2. I recently visited Zamboanga City where the regional dialect used (even written on much signage) by many is very similar to Spanish. If you are fluent in Spanish and listen carefully, you can really understand a lot of what they are saying down there.

3. USA has been the defacto big brother from the takeover from Spain even after WWII. That's well over 100 years (several generations) spanning a period when USA was world's most powerful country economically, culturally, and politically.
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Re: Spanish in the Philippines

Postby El_Caudillo » Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:33 pm

2. I recently visited Zamboanga City where the regional dialect used (even written on much signage) by many is very similar to Spanish. If you are fluent in Spanish and listen carefully, you can really understand a lot of what they are saying down there.


I've actually been interested in this for a while. Their language is called Chavacano. I watched some Youtube videos about it - they have simplified the Spanish structure by just using the infinitive of the verb rather than conjugations. And they have eliminated masculine and feminine differentiation for nouns and adjectives. It looks like about 30% of the vocab is from Tagalog though.

I understand that the city of Zamboanga is safe enough, but being in Mindanao I guess you can't head out of town much? Did you go out at night?
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Re: Spanish in the Philippines

Postby Rock » Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:48 pm

El_Caudillo wrote:
2. I recently visited Zamboanga City where the regional dialect used (even written on much signage) by many is very similar to Spanish. If you are fluent in Spanish and listen carefully, you can really understand a lot of what they are saying down there.


I've actually been interested in this for a while. Their language is called Chavacano. I watched some Youtube videos about it - they have simplified the Spanish structure by just using the infinitive of the verb rather than conjugations. And they have eliminated masculine and feminine differentiation for nouns and adjectives. It looks like about 30% of the vocab is from Tagalog though.

I understand that the city of Zamboanga is safe enough, but being in Mindanao I guess you can't head out of town much? Did you go out at night?


I think Zamboanga City is safe enough for a short fly-in, tour a bit, then fly-out visit. There is a nice area by the sea which has a lot of restos and music at night. Downtown is kinda gritty but still a interesting. Then there is the new KCC mall which is a fun place to spend a few hours and scope out the interesting mix of Catholic and Muslim locals. Some people you see there look mixed or even Saudi.

Don't travel far out of town, especially to the south. Don't stay for more than a short period nor develop any sort of predictable routine. Just show up unannounced except for with a trusted friend or two, tour and hang out for a few days, decide hotels last minute, and keep low profile. I don't think I would wanna be a fixed expat down there. You would become known by many in time as it's pretty small and that would leave you exposed to the bad elements.
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Re: Spanish in the Philippines

Postby MrMan » Sun Oct 02, 2016 11:02 pm

The Philippines probably suffered from the plague and other diseases, being so close to the mainland that Europe is also a part of. The linguistic displacement in the New World may have had to do partly with the chaos that came from disease. It's just an idea. I suspect the Philippines had a number of small local languages like the New World colonies. It is interesting that Spanish did not become more strongly engrained. Maybe it had something to do with the type of people who went to the New World, too.
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Re: Spanish in the Philippines

Postby OutWest » Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:12 am

El_Caudillo wrote:I was shocked to learn that the Philippines came under Spanish rule in 1521. That's the same time as the conquest of Mexico! And before colonies were formed in Peru, Argentina etc. And then the Philippines stayed under the Spanish longer than Latin America! Most South/Central American countries gained independence from 1810 to 1820 (with the exception of Cuba, Puerto Rico?). The Philippines was taken from Spain by the USA in 1898.

SO...how come Spanish has basically disappeared from the Philippines and English completely taken over as the foreign language there? 377 years of Spain and 47 years of USA.


The Philippines was ruled as a slave plantation for the Vatican and other Spanish elites. The Spanish treated Filipinos as sub-human. When Spain had already ruled for 300 years, if you were Filipino, you had to get permission from a priest to learn how to read. vast swaths of the Philippines was owned by the church.

Under Pershing, it took about 24 months to have things such as public works. A public post office and public education. The Spanish installed feudal slavery wherever they went. The Catholic Church hated Pershing. He stripped them if their vast holdings and instituted land reform.
Never the less, Spanish was still widely spoken till WWII but was fading fast as the Philippines leading trade partner was the English speaking US. Once English became the official language of business and government, the move to English excellerated.
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Re: Spanish in the Philippines

Postby Conjo » Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:18 am

The Spanish never bothered to learn the Filipino masses how to speak Spanish, because they considered them too stupid. Of all their many colonies and of all the natives around the globe they oppressed, they despised the Filipino race the most. Why? I don't have a clue.

Oddly enough, South Africa to this day speaks a version of Dutch, whereas Indonesians don't. Indians mostly suck at English too. Sometimes these things make no sense. The priorities of the colonial powers are very random.
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Re: Spanish in the Philippines

Postby El_Caudillo » Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:28 am

It's interesting what colonial languages caught on where. French caught on in Africa as a lingua franca but not in Indochine. In fact when I went to Vietnam I found it hard to see what the French had left behind except some architecture, baquetees and coffee machines. Counter that with the fact that the French gave citizenship to residents in its former colonies which didn't rebel. See French Guyana, French Polynesia etc. In contrast the British didn't. I used to teach English to the French Ambassador to New Zealand and he thought that the British really let the people in Hong Kong down by not granting them citizenship.

Portuguese never caught on in Macao, I think they just keep up the Portuguese bits of the city for tourists. Allegedly there is a language called Macanese which combines Portuguese and Cantonese. I did go to one Macanese restaurant in Macao and had Galinha a Africana a Portuguese dish influenced by cooking from the African colonies...Angola and Mozambique. In Angola at least Portuguese did takeover as the language. East Timor has Portuguese as the language of the courts and official documents but hardly anybody there can speak it!

So maybe it was harder for languages to get a hold in Asia - or the colonists just didn't bother to try and teach the masses there? Although Indonesian is full of Dutch loan words, while Vietnamese to my knowledge has few French words in it. How is the English in Myanmar? Malaysia was once an English colony, but I think they abandoned English as a medium of instruction in state schools. I'd say English has been going slightly backwards in Hk and that's understandable as Mandarin is now a more practical second language.

I'm guessing that not that many Spaniard actually settled in the Philippines and that their diseases like smallpox and the flu didn't reek such havock as in Mexico or Peru and so native populations and languages remained strong. However, I always find that the Filipinos have strong Spanish sounding accents when they speak English - even if they don't speak any Spanish.
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Re: Spanish in the Philippines

Postby Johnny1975 » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:03 am

There were a lot of spanish filipinos in Manila until WW2 when a lot of them were killed. Also I think spanish was spoken widely, but when the US came they tried to change history. A lot of old literature is in spanish. I think it was more popular than most people think. Spanish people are even part of the social hierarchy (at the top, of course).
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