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Spanish language to hit airwaves

Spanish language to hit airwaves

Despite 400 years as a colony of Spain, the Philippines has retained little trace of the language but producers of the country's only Spanish-language radio program says that's about to change.
"Filipinas Ahora Mismo" - which loosely translated means "Philippines Right Now" - features book and movie reviews, information on the Spanish influence in different parts of the country and music by modern stars such as Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin, all in Spanish.
It is just a small step but its producers hope the show can help lead a revival in a language that has withered away in most of the Southeast Asian archipelago nation.
"It is not a question of making Filipinos speak Spanish again," says Spanish ambassador Luis Arias Romero. "It is a question of making Filipinos aware of the importance of Spanish in culture and world affairs."
The radio show, sponsored by the Cadiz Press Association, is part of this effort although the project's manager Chaco Molina concedes they still have a long way to go.
Molina said when the Cadiz association first proposed the plan, they suggested an eight-hour radio show. "I told them that was too ambitious. This isn't Guatemala where everyone speaks Spanish," he said.
The show, hosted by veteran Filipino broadcaster Bon Vivar, airs from 7-8pm (1100-1200 GMT) Monday to Friday on government-owned DZRM radio at 1278 kHz in Manila and in simulcast to several major cities.
"I see a renaissance of the Spanish language in the Philippines," says Molina, adding the show is aiming at a young audience who will be more receptive to the language.
What surprises Spaniards who come to the Philippines is the fact that their language has virtually disappeared.
The archipelago was first colonised by the Spanish in the early 16th century shortly after Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the islands and later died here in 1521. Spanish culture permeates the country where 80 percent of the population are followers of a Spanish-styled Roman Catholicism and where 20,000 Spanish words have been absorbed into most of the local dialects.
Even today, Filipinos eat paella, menudo and chorizo, have brazo de Mercedes and turrones for dessert and drink San Miguel Beer and Fundador Brandy.
But when the Philippines passed from Spanish to American control after the Spanish-American war of 1898, English completely supplanted Spanish.
Today, most Filipinos speak and read English.
Government policy
The most serious blow came in 1987 when the government removed Spanish as one of the official national languages of the country and did away with a requirement that college students take courses in Spanish.
Jose Rodriguez, local director of Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish cultural center, notes that ironically, only one Philippine university now offers a doctoral course in Spanish compared to 12 universities in South Korea and 10 in Japan.
Rodriguez says there is no updated figure on how many Filipinos can actually speak Spanish although Molina says a study in the 1990s found one out of eight Filipinos could understand some Spanish.
Molina says the Spanish language was never as widespread in the Philippines as in Latin America.
Christian missionaries who came to the Philippines found it easier to learn the local dialects to preach to the natives rather than teaching them Spanish.
Spanish was limited to a small intellectual and social elite while local languages like Tagalog and Cebuano continued to thrive under Spanish colonial rule.
In contrast, the American occupation implemented a vigorous public education system with English as the medium. Decades of American movies, pop music and publications further strengthened the language's presence.


Updated : 2021-09-26 18:54 GMT+08:00