Spanish for Filipinos is good business!

There are practical ways to preserve and spread the Spanish language again in the Philippines . They are so simple, and obvious that it is easy to overlook them. The ideas just needs to be presented in a diplomatic,convincing, and practical manner to the officials, authorities and persons that can implement these ideas!

First, let us discuss why Spanish needs to be spread again and immediately in the Philippines. According to the "World Almanac and Book of Facts (1999)", there are more Spanish speakers than English speakers in the world with 358 million Spanish speakers versus 341 million English speakers.How does this relate to the Philippines in practical terms?

Well, currently, there are anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 Filipinos working and living in Spain depending on the reference you read with thousands more living and working in Central and South America. Obviously, these Filipinos needed to learn Spanish in a hurry in order to be effective and useful in those Spanish speaking countries.

In the year 2001, about 8,000 visitors from Spain went to the Philippines. Any Filipino sector or industry that deals with these Spanish tourists such as the tourism, banking, airline, hotel, and restaurant industries ought to teach their workers how to speak at least in basic or 'survival' Spanish if these industries want to provide excellent customer service, and attract more Spanish tourists. It is not necessary to remind these industries that providing excellent customer service is one sure-fire way to gain more sales and profits. Lastly, it would make common sense for any Filipino who desires to work not only in a tourism related industries, but also in the Philippine government Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine embassies or private Spanish business companies based in the Philippines, that their resumes include the "ability to speak at least basic or 'survival' Spanish."

Now, if this practical and common sense illustrations still do not appeal or create enthusiasm among Filipinos, then consider this data from the article "LA LENGUA ESPAŅOLA EN ASIA" by Fernando R. Lafuente:

In China, the demand for the study of Spanish language is so big that only one out of 60 students who want to study spanish actually gets the chance to study Spanish because there are only 200 Spanish professors in China.

In Japan, there are 60,000 university students of Spanish, 18 universities with departments of Spanish language and between 115 and 140 secondary educations in which the Spanish language is taught. The Association of Spanish scholars in Japan has around 400 members. A Japanese television network offers two days per week of Spanish programs, and a Japanese radio network broadcasts a 20 minute Spanish course from Monday to Saturday to an audience of between the 100,000 and 200,000 Japanese people. Does the Philippines have even a single radio or Television station that broadcasts in Spanish?

In South Korea there are about 2,500 and 3,000 university students of Spanish in 29 universities and 3 military schools. In addition, about 20,000 South Korean secondary education students study Spanish. The Korean Association of Spanish scholars has 200 members. About 400 South Korean candidates annually take the test to obtain a Diploma in Spanish managed by the Cervantes Institute.

In little Taiwan for the years 1999-2000, there were 2,227 university students studying Spanish in five centers of higher education.

It seems that our neighboring Asian countries may already have taken notice of the huge business market of 358 million Spanish speakers.

We ask ourselves, when will the Philippines become an economic success story like our Asian neighbors? We ask ourselves, why is it that our Asian countries take such a enthusiastic desire to learn the Spanish language even though they never had a significant Hispanic history like the Philippines? These are questions we need to reflect on.

Now, there are several ways to spread Spanish in the Philippines again. The obvious way is to simply imitate what our Asian neighbors are doing by training more Spanish professors, and by teaching Spanish in more Philippine schools(which the Philippines actually did in the past before the abolition of compulsory Spanish). As you can see from our neighboring Asian countries, the Philippines does not need to bring back compulsory Spanish to make the teaching of Spanish widespread again. All that is needed is for either or both the Philippine government and private institutions to make an effort to offer more Spanish courses and teachers in more schools with help from the Spanish government to lessen costs. That is all.

Now, if training more Spanish professors and offering more Spanish courses is not an option at all , another alternative is for the Philippine Department of Education and Culture to instruct teachers of the "Filipino" language to take the time to point out to their students which of the words in the "Filipino" language is of Spanish origin. This is a significant and practical way to spread Spanish again in the Philippines because according to several authorities there are more than 5,200 words in the Filipino language that are of Spanish origin. This words are also known as Hispanismos! Can you imagine 5,200 words in the Filipino language being of Spanish origin? This is more than enough vocabulary for a Filipino to converse in 'survival' Spanish with a native Spanish speaker. All that is needed is for the Filipino people to be aware and be reminded which of the words in the Filipino dialects that are of Spanish origin.

This Spanish awareness campaign can be done not only in schools, but by conscious usage of this 'Hispanismos' by newspaper reporters, radio, and television announcers, officials, military and police officers, actors, actresses, teachers, businessmen and priests which by constant repetition will in turn be used consciously by the rest of the Filipino population. If the Department of Education and Culture can be convinced to go ahead and train teachers of the 'Filipino' language in showing students these 'Hispanismos' or Filipino words of Spanish origin, the Philippine government will be hitting two birds with one stone, and that is, continue the teaching and promotion of the 'Filipino' language as well as teach 'survival' or basic Spanish based on the 5,200 words in the Filipino dialects that are of Spanish origin.

In so doing the Philippine government will help make each Filipino a multilingual speaker just like Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of Filipinos. The ability to speak in a variety of languages and dialects or to be a multilingual speaker empowers and enables you to be flexible and useful in conversations and in your job. Lastly, a Filipino citizenry that can converse even in basic Spanish will help the Philippines communicate more effectively with the huge business market of 358 million Spanish speakers in Spain, Central, South, and North America which our Asian neighbors are also trying to reach!

Lastly, even if the Philippine government is unable to implement one or both of the above alternatives, a concerted effort by private non-government groups and organizations, sympathetic businessmen, and hopefully assistance from the Spanish government should still be able to implement either one or both of the above suggestions through the conscious usage of Hispanismos in the Filipino dialects, and increased availability of teachers and schools for teaching Spanish. Finally, both businessmen and the government can help Filipinos retain or remember the Spanish they learn if they can set up newspapers,comics, magazines, dance clubs, movies, radio or television stations dedicated to broadcasting either Spanish or mixed Spanish-Filipino programs for all age groups from pre-school to adults.

My Filipino countrymen, join the "Filipinos and Friends of Filipinos for Spanish" group by a simple email request to:

You can also visit the website of Spanish Businesses based in the Philippines today

By: Antonio G. Faustino

"Spanish Made Easy For Filipinos" main web page