Why Filipinos Should Also Learn Spanish Aside from English

There you were...right in a middle of a Latin night in a posh club. As you danced the night away, you were also singing your heart out. Then, you realized that it was a Spanish song that you sadly didn’t know! A hot Hispanic guy was right next to you, and was religiously singing with you. But suddenly, he went away.

- "Was it bad breath?" you asked.
-- "No, silly," told your amiga. "It was because you messed up the lyrics!"

It felt right all along, but the lyrics were all wrong! Darn it! You should’ve have known Enrique Iglesias lyrics better! 

Yes, Spanish songs are cool and catchy. But seriously, here are other reasons why learning Spanish is for the Filipinos too.


1. It's easier for us

Filipinos definitely have an edge in learning Spanish. The fact that there are over 4,000 Spanish loan words in the Filipino dictionary, it's a lot quicker to bank the words in the vault. Though with slight difference in spelling, some Spanish and Filipino words sound very much alike. 

In one of the Spanish classes before, I remember my professor having an easy breezy lecture on numbers since we, his all-Filipino students, already know by heart the numbers in Spanish.
Uno, dos, tres, no problem! Filipinos can surely count way better than Dora the Explorer!

2. It's part of Filipino culture

You have definitely seen and heard it. In names of streets, towns, and provinces. Even the country’s Filipino name Pilipinas was derived from Spain’s king Philip II during the 16th century. Filipinos know at least one person whose last name is either Cruz or Santos—names that came from Spanish as well. Whatever the ulam (viand) for the day is, from adobo to mechado, or desserts like leche flanturon and champorado, all have Spanish language origin.
With more than 300 years of colonization, Spain contributes a huge part to the Filipino culture. While it seems American fad has been dominating the country nowadays, Spanish culture is still a part of it (including siesta!) Not sounding too nationalistic here but in my opinion, it pays to recognize the past. Knowing the past gives an understanding of whatever we have at the present as Filipinos and bring this understanding to prepare for the future. 

3. Travel visa-free to Spanish-speaking countries

Did you know that there are currently 6 visa-free countries for Philippine passport holders where Spanish is the official language? Filipinos may travel without visa to Bolivia (90 days), Colombia (90 days), Costa Rica (30 days), Ecuador (90 days), Peru (180 days), and Nicaragua (90 days). (Source)
While a lot of Filipinos are dreaming of United States or Europe, which may have strict visa requirements, South and Central America are good travel destinations too. Having a knowledge of the language spoken in these countries would make you easier to travel around and communicate with the locals.

Who knows, these might also be good places for a job opportunity.  And since Filipinos are said to be all over the world, you might as well be one of them! ¡Vámonos! (Let's go!)

4. It's a connected language

If you want to learn other languages spoken in Europe, Spanish may be a good starting point. Why? Spanish belongs to the Romance language family. Mastering it's a key that may open doors to other languages with Romance origin. Including Spanish, the top widely spoken Romance languages are Portuguese, Italian, French and Romanian.
So if you fancy being called a polyglot, learn Spanish first and the rest will smoothly follow!

5. It's a booming career

Filipinos are said to be good English speakers, which makes the country a top destination among investors especially when it speaks of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. In fact, the Philippines has recently taken over India for the most number of BPO companies.
But aside from English support, there has been a demand for bilinguals and Spanish support is one of the most common languages that the country caters to. Earnings by bilinguals aren’t that bad. In fact, some careers are very promising that there's no need to go abroad to earn such huge amount.
Why go abroad when you can earn the same or more in the Philippines? ¡Qué bueno! (Great!)

6. It's a sexy language! 

Spanish is a language that is romantic in nature. While the norm tells that it's French, I personally find Spanish romantic too. Ever heard of Antonio Banderas or Penelope Cruz speaking in Spanish? A lot of movies in Spanish have interesting plots that's it's a sorry miss to not see it just because you cannot understand Spanish. 
Also, in terms of music, think of salsa, cumbia, tango, flamenco and bachata. They're so pleasing to the ears that a Latin playlist may go on forever. The house goes down when Spanish songs are played! The world of music dances to a lot of tunes in Spanish. Imagine the music industry without the likes of Shakira, Ricky Martin, and Jennifer Lopez!

How to learn Spanish?

Learning styles vary from one person to the other. But what worked effectively with me was the classroom setup. I believe that just like any college course, it’s best to study Spanish with a teacher and classmates to practice it with . Also, it's the best place to commit mistakes and learn from them. Living in a country where Spanish isn't widely spoken (it's not even a second or third language) makes it hard to retain and may die eventually. So an avenue to speak and write it's essential.

Where to learn Spanish?

To those in Manila, there are some schools offering Spanish courses. For prices, schedule, and other inquiries, visit their respective websites linked below:

Address: Unit D Ground Floor Ayala Tower I & Philippines Stock Exchange Tower Plaza Ayala Triangle Ayala Avenue Makati
Telephone: +632 5261482
Address: Department of European Languages College of Arts and Letters, UP Diliman Quezon City
Telephone: +632 9818500 local 2121
Address: Berlitz Language Center - Makati
2nd Floor Peninsula Court Building, 8735 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City
Telephone: +632 8132231

Address: Berlitz Language Center - San Juan
Unit 7, 2nd Floor Design Mix Center, 59 Connecticut Street, San Juan City
Telephone: +632 2175777

Address: Berlitz at Edu-cáre (Satellite Center)
L501-505, Level 5 Shangri-La PLaza Mall EDSA corner Shaw Blvd. Mandaluyong City
Telephone: +632 6389116
Address: Bldg. 10, TESDA Complex, East Service Road, South Superhighway, Taguig City

In my opinion, it does not necessarily mean spending a lifetime in Spanish school because it will definitely cost a lot of money (and time too). For as long as you have already set a foundation of grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and fluency, then most likely it's good to go. However, it's very important to continuously learn and use the language. Otherwise, it may eventually die.

How to keep the Spanish? 

The Internet has all the answers. For self-studying Spanish, Duolingo is a good website and mobile application. Also, Wordreference and Linguee are recommended reference websites for Spanish. Wordreference even has an interactive forum.

Another way to keep learning is to speak with natives. Find Hispanic expats living in the Philippines or travelers who are willing to do a language exchange. Nothing beats learning it from a native. Don't be shy! I'm sure some of them are also learning English, so you can help them improve their English in return. A hospitality website like Couchsurfing is a good place to find a language exchange buddy.

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Shelly C. Dimaculangan was a language translator in the Philippines. She finished AB Journalism at University of Santo Tomas in Manila where she took her first Spanish classes. After college, she continued learning Spanish at Instituto Cervantes de Manila. 



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