Although English is the official language of Philippines, Spanish is still perceived as an important historical and cultural knowledge and is considered the language of the elite, more than English.
The language in fact is maintained by mestizo families and by educated youth, especially in the province of Cebu, Zamboanga and Bacolod. This is because of the historical roots Spanish has left in the Filipino culture all long the colonial era, from 1565 when the Spanish lnguage was first introduced, till the early 20th century when bagan the American hegemony. In 1990 there were around 2,658 Spanish speakers in the country. This number doesn’t consider however the 300,000 creoles that speak Chavacano, one of the 170 Philippine languages that most sounds like Spanish. Actually there are thousands of Spanish loanwords in the Filipino languages and because of the traditional base and the similarities shared by these languages, Spanish is admitted in written legal documents and courts of law. Additionaly nowadays, a great demand in call center industries has made the interest for the Spanish language growing.
Spanish ceased to be the official language of the State in 1973 as well as a required subject in college in 1987. Although the historic background of the Spanish variety spoken in Philippines, which is full of Maxican linguistic influences (Philippines were administrated by Mexico rather than by Spain itself during the colonial period), the new generation of Spanish speakers are confoming with European Spanish grammar, phonology and vocabulary.
There are more than 10,000 Spanish words in all dialects spoken in Philippines. They are mostly archaic Spanish words which were preserved and adapted to Spanish-based creoles. The most interesting aspect to analyse is however the presence of false friends, that are words used in the Filippino language that phonetically and graphically speaking could be confused with Spanish words, but that actually have totally different meanings.
|WORD IN THE FILIPINO LANGUAGE||ENGLISH TRANSLATION||SIMILAR SPANISH WORD||ENGLISH TRANSLATION|
|Basta||As long as||Basta||Enough!, Stop!|
|Baho||Pungent, Smelly||Bajo||Below, Descend|