A Latina in the Philippines Part 3

In travel on August 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm

It’s interesting how the more and more differences I seem to observe between Filipinos and Latinos living in the U.S. the more I stop myself to reflect on the larger picture and notice that both groups seem to have more in common than we may even know at first glance.

For one thing, there hasn’t been a single Filipino parent I have met who doesn’t take pride in their child’s accomplishments, especially when it comes to education. Families of all socio-economic levels that I’ve met so far fill their mouths with saying things like “my daughter has won major awards”, “all my children have passed the board exam” or “I have six children and they are all professional”.  It seems to me this is no different than how many parents around the world feel as education means more than a degree but a door to a brighter future…

And that’s where I’ve noticed that like Latinos who travel to the U.S. in search of their American Dream, Filipinos also do their fair share of traveling in search of a better life. While I knew there are a ton of Filipinos who have taken over large pockets of cities in the U.S. like Los Angeles, Miami, NY/NJ I had no idea that many of them are also taking their specialties beyond nursing to places such as Australia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and even Ireland (just to name a few).  In fact, the number of overseas Filipinos account for about 11% of the total population of the Philippines…that’s about 8-11 million Filipinos in search of their “dream”. The main difference with Latinos who come to the states is that in many instances Filipinos leave their country through employment agencies or other programs with degrees in nursing, civil engineering, architecture, etc…. They then rapidly certify their degrees in these countries to be able to continue pursuing what they’re good at instead of settling for any job. This advantage comes from their ability to be multilingual.

This is why language is key. While the U.S. struggles to understand how to speak to Hispanics…whether in English or Spanish or even in Spanglish or perhaps with cultural relevance regardless of language – here’s a country who has already figured it out and is doing just fine. Of course keeping in mind they don’t have the added cultural layer that U.S. Hispanics have of being bicultural in one country.

To my astonishment Filipinos have managed to use their media (from TV shows, and billboards to radio and even DJ endorsements) in both Tagalog and English with ease; going back and forth between languages because to them at the end of the day it’s about the content. So, as a foreigner it’s incredible to see a commercial where the model or spokesperson flips to both languages while the supers (or the writing that you see in the commercial) are all in English yet still manage to convey the message that this particular product will make my hair thicker and stronger (check out this Jollibee (Filipino fast food chain) commercial as an example:  And, if you travel to other cities away from the capital where even street signs are in English, you’ll soon realize each island has multiple dialects and schools teach children Spanish and/or Mandarin as a pre-requisite…making these people multilingual.

Perhaps there are more than a few things U.S. Latinos can learn from our Filipino friends who may look a bit different than us but who are also in search of that “dream”. From their focus on higher education, to their priority in adopting a new culture while staying close to their own values; these seem to be great tips that can certainly help us Latinos back in the U.S.

  1. Insituto Cervantes de Manila has been effortlessly working on “reviving” the Spanish language and re-establislhing it as an official language along with Tagalog and English. The main initiative is “not” to replace Tagalog and English, but to make Spanish a “living” language in the Philippines again even if it just spoken by a small but a formidable part of the populace. This would definitely open many doors of oppurtunity for the Filipino and Latin American economies.

    If this occurs, the Philippines can appreciate thier role as a liason of sorts; 1) Geographically it is in Asia, 2) linguistically they are fluent in English which connects them to North America, and 3) historically and culturally they have much ties to Latin America.

    It is time that the Latin Americans attempt to embrace the Philippines as their “primos” from Asia. Revive the Spanish Language in the Philippines…pass it on…

    Thank you for your article. Informative as it was outstanding!!

    • Wow, I had no idea the Instituto Cervantes de Manila has been trying to revive the Spanish language. This is no small task given so many Filipinos are now opting to study Mandarin instead of Spanish in school for the betterment of their careers.
      But I do have to agree with you, given we have many things in common with Filipinos I love the idea of considering them our Asian cousins!

      Thanks for visiting Latinas y Punto and hope you continue to join in on the conversation.

  2. Hi latinasypunto!

    Thank you for your response. If you think about it, what benefit would Mandarin be to Filipinos, when there are or will be 100 million English speakers in China? If one talks to a Chinese speakers the lingua franca would be English, I believe and my opinion 🙂

    Anyways, the Philippines would benefit from acquiring the language again – not as a whole nation – but to the three sectors; Zamboanga, Cavite and Cebu – where a Spanish Creole language called “Zamboangeno”, which is 80% spanish, is spoken by 2.5 million inhabitants.

    To know more about the Spanish linguistic plight in the Philippines, there’s a web page “Spanish Made Easy for Filipinos” that has numerous articles regarding revitalizing the Spanish language in every-day use – not for those who do not wish to use it but for those who “want” to learn it or already know it but not at the standard form. Also, look into “Spanish words in the Philippine languages” to discover 5,000-10,000 “Hispanismos” or Spanish loan words already incorporated into the various dialects.

    The point of Instituto Cervantes is, Filipinos view their Spanish colonial past as dark and brutal and the language is been villianized where English is the more pragmatic “world” language. They are trying to re-invent, re-analyze and embrace 330 years of colonial rule as “part” of their heritage and parlay it into a global econonic potential. The majority of Filipinos don’t even know or care to know three centuries of their own heritage.

    Unfortunately, many Latinos don’t know that the Philippines was also part of the Spanish Empire, and like Puerto Rico, sold to the United States after the Spanish-American war which is why Puerto Ricans are U.S. Citizens and English replaced Spanish as the 2nd language/lingua franca…It’s a blessing or a curse depending which way you look at it. Anyways, I’ve wasted too much of your time. Thank you once again!

  3. Correction @ the 3rd paragraph…”…that is why English replaced Spanish as the 2nd language/lingua franca IN THE PHILIPPINES”.. Sorry about that confusion.

    Thanks again and enjoy your world travels Latinosypunto! Take care okay?

  4. Also click onto “Filipino words with Spansih origin”…many Filipinos don’t even know these are Spanish words and they use it everyday..Go figure? Last time ;-D

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