Los filipinos: 333 Años de Dominio Español

October 5, 2018


Although 333 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines might sound like a long time to someone in our country, it is a drop in the bucket when applied to the Timeline of Philippine History. Archaeologists believe inhabitants have occupied the island since the earliest traces of humankind. Recent findings in the Callao Cave produced carbon dated skeletal evidence dating back some 67,000 years. Moreover, early social groups that included the Austronesians, South-East Asians, Indians, Chinese and Arabs settled along the major river deltas. The seafaring inhabitants of these maritime villages began to trade and the region has remained a cultural melting pot since the first millennium.

The earliest recorded visit by Europeans was the arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Spanish colonization of the islands began in 1565 under the Mexico-based Viceroyalty of New Spain and Spanish was named the official language and served as the lingua franca of the country for more than three centuries. After the U.S. occupation following the Spanish-American war in 1898, English was taught in the school systems and was later added as a second language. After the Japanese occupation during World War II, the Treaty of Manila established an independent Philippine Republic. During early phases of self-leadership, political leaders established a national language, known as Filipino, which is closely based on the indigenous Tagalog.

Today, in this culturally rich and diverse nation, there are as many as 182 native languages spoken with twelve indigenous languages having a minimum of one million native speakers each. In recent years, numerous proposals have been enacted to conserve many of languages and dialects for each of the 135 ethno-linguistic groups that have their own distinct Philippine language. Most Filipinos speak both English and Tagalog. If they live south of Luzon, they may also speak Cebuano. Nonetheless, the vast majority of residents are polyglots, who are fluent in several regional languages depending where they live and trade. It seems fitting that Filipino, which is spelled with an "f" and one "p" (so named for the Spanish las Islas Filipinas) is the official language of the Philippines.

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