Sunday, January 3, 2016

¿Inglés o Castellano? (1916)

     A common tongue is, between man and man, like a family bond that, unnoticedly, generates brotherly and sympathetic feelings. From brain to brain, form heart to hear, it is the best conveyor of a communicating current that makes mutual understanding and solid union of hearts and brains possible.
    Efforts have been made, until recently, towards one worthy ideal; for men to understand each other by means of a common, though artificial tongue.
    But, being artificial, it failed to materialize and go through the idealistic stage, which result was for the better, anyhow.
    Every race, every people ought to have maintain, and develop their own language, for there are feelings that cannot be expressed in a foreign tongue.
    But in this there should be no exclusivism, since that would confine us within such a narrow space of action that it would be impossible to expand.
    We could not live alone, for the countries of the world are so strongly built into an unbreakable inter-dependency as to render it impossible for any single one of them to avoid homogeneity.
    And this compels us to understand them. And to understand them, and for them to understand us, intelligently.
    And for this there is nothing more efficient that their own tongue, in default of our own, to offer to them, a fact of paramount importance for us; for our language, sweet as it is to us, to our misfortune, has not been developed enough even for its general use throughout the country, though not through our fault. So, we find it absolutely imperative to choose the most widely used and the one we are most familiar with. And to adopt it like men, determinedly, without purposeless discussions, for our international intercourse.
    Fortunately for us—and this is no mean fortune— in this we have gone through the experimental stage; and, instead of only one, we have tow languages which, as if by nature, are as our own: the English and the Spanish.
    English, very little known fifteen years ago, is the Government’s official language, and the exclusive agency of our public educational system, from the university down to the village public schools; and it is now used in the social intercourse of about two million young Filipinos form among whom the leaders of the nation’s morrow will emerge; and, though to a lesser degree, by our press.
    Spanish, implanted here almost four centuries ago, is, mainly, the language of our reviews and periodicals, and of the leaders of the present generation, and is till intensely cultivated by them.
   Thus it would be simply impossible at this time to suppress either the one or the other; for, besides the many, many millions of the people’s tax and private money, and energy s well, already spent for both of them, they are now too far advance upon the inclined plain of naturalization in the Islands.
    Through them we are enable to get in contact with two immense worlds: the English world and the Spanish world; the first composed of two most powerful nations representing over a hundred and fifty million, exclusive of India; and the second, by twenty-three countries, of about one hundred and fifteen million inhabitants in all.
    And each has its richly, highly-developed literature which should be, as it is, ours, by means of which it may be possible to make one single aggregation out of all these many cultured countries for a practical, useful, positive Pan-American-Anglo-Hispanism through a joint, devoted, sympathetic movement of the powers of interest.
    England and the United States are related through tongue and by tie of blood; America, Central and South America, sister-countries physically and through oneness of interest; Central and South America, Spain, Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, united because of the early formation, into one single mold, of their Latin spirit and character; America and the Philippines, by the English language, the education of our youth, and other strong ties of friendship. With such powerful bonds of relationship, why should it not be possible to work out, as we said above, a union of hearts and brains for a mutually beneficial Pan-American-Anglo-Hispanism which, as an initial step, in the end may result in good to mankind?
    In so far as it may be possible, we ought to feel happy to work out this idea, which, visionary as it may seem, is feasible, particularly after the readjustment of each nation’s or group of nations’ sphere of activities after the great war, which is conclusively demonstrating the helping value, under certain circumstances, of even the least important power, and that the support of a small country is just as earnestly solicited as a great one’s.
    High is the price of the vindication of right!
    Such is the only consolation amid so much bloodshed and destruction!
    It may be possible, too, that such Pan-American-Anglo-Hispanism may cause the re-division of the world into two or three large, logical groups, perhaps more or less antagonistic. But, antagonistic or not, we are most hopeful that, at least in said groups, this “ism” will, in time, do away with dividing racial lines, under the powerful and pleasant influence of democratic brotherhood in the countries concerned, all under the protective and equalizing mantle of a community of interest and a common cause.
    Small powers will have then been duly acknowledged and dignified.
    May that not be but the first grand step towards that beautiful, not-impossible, human federation at a not-so-very-distant date?
    One century, two centuries? What are they, after all, but one or two days in the life of nations?
    Thus, to the question:
                                                      ENGLISH OR SPANISH?

in hope and conviction we answer:

    And this we respectfully submit to all who, for the promotion of mankind’s welfare, may feel directly or indirectly concerned, and heartily inclined to discuss and actively to labor for.

Gregorio Nieva
The Philippine Review
January 1916

Monday, October 12, 2015

La Maestra de Mi Pueblo

    But all these friendship between the parish priest and the teacher, though not apparent was fictitious. Fray Pedro (and to say “fray” us to say that he was the cacique – the absolute despot of the town) could not tolerate that Jacinta should be a teacher, as all of them should be. Solicitous in the performance of her job, lover of all that was progress, propagandist of Spanish and of education, religious without being fanatic, admitting in her ideals all that contributed to the moral and material advancement of the country.

    “The teacher Jacinta,” Fray Pedro used to exclaim—“is an enemy of Spain; she teaches catechism in Spanish, she makes her pupils master this language and allows them to read the books of Pardo Bazan, of Velarde, of Perez Galdos and other malignant beings, freaks of the devil and of hell. Those young girls do not need grammar, geography, history, rhetoric, arithmetic, social graces, living languages in order to rear children for heaven. The day when they become mothers, provided they know how to pray, it will be more than enough.

    “But Father,” the teacher would say, “because the son takes more from his mother that from his father, because of the deep affection between them, because of that closeness that is established forever, if I do not educate those young girls, who tomorrow will be teachers of their children, I would be guilty. I would have a painful void in my conscience. Mothers educate their children; tomorrow they will constitute the nation, and from the instruction of those girls could solely spring up an educated, civilized country. You can see then what responsibility falls on me, when I take charge of the education of these young ladies. Furthermore, I try to give them the complete knowledge necessary for a woman who will tomorrow be a member of society. What would be said of a lady who does not know how to write a letter? What about a wife who does not know the most simple arithmetic of domestic economy? Would people not laugh if a young girl in society would say that Spain is Europe, or that Madrid is a seaport? That Legaspi declared war on the English, or that Magellan died traitorously assassinated? Would it not be shameful that these young girls, not knowing the principles of good education, repled to a compliment like this: “Young lady, you are as kind hearted as good-natured,” with these phrases: “shameless”, “impudent,” “heretic” ? When they become mistresses of their respective homes, they will have to entertain, and this is why I teach them the social graces. Tomorrow, perhaps, they will travel through Europe, and the study of French, English, or German will be necessary. I’m not enthusiastic that they embroider much, nor make flowers, nor crochet silk, or chenille; all these works are useless, they are not applicable. It is better that they know how to cut shirts, that they know culinary art, that they learn, those who have talent, music and painting because the cultivation of the arts cultivates the sentiments and ennobles the soul.

    “Don’t be stupid. Jacinta, all those things are mischiefs of the century. Let them learn to pray and stop being stupid. Knowing those things, they will not go to heaven”.

    “But Father, without having cultivated the spirit, without trying to be useful to one’s fellowmen, living the life of animals, I think the gates of paradise will no open to them. I want my students to become fervent Christians because without Christianity the morality of the family cannot exist; but it is not my desire to make them fanatics because from fanaticism to prison there is but one step.”

    “My God, Jacinta, do not blaspheme. Abandon those ideas suggested by the devil. I command you, God demands it of you through my mouth, and if you are familiar with “Si Tandang Basiong Macunat” written by a sage and a saint, there the education of your people is synthesized: The indio beside the carabao and the plow; away from them he becomes an enemy of God and Spain. Do not forget this maxim of a saint.”

Antonio Luna
The Independent, Manila
January 15, 1927

Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño

Friday, May 15, 2015

Teatro de Binondo (1847)

A theater company of natives and mestizos has  been organized, and the company performs Spanish dramas and comedies. The plays are not good enough to catch the attention of the Europeans. Neither are they so bad to cause endless laughter. Thus, one can experience more hours of entertainment here that  in the old one at Arroceros. One can be convinced that the company is achieving more than can be expected from people who have not seen real plays and have no script  to guide them. Especially if one notices the huge difference between a native and a comedian, or the bad Spanish they speak as their intonation is naturally languid, especially the women who have a high-pitched voices. They also dance Spanish national dances, and they are superior to the dancers of India and China, who, undoubtedly, can also attract a lot of attention.

José Honrato Lozano
Álbum Vistas de las Yslas Filipinas

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bienaventurados Los Humildes (1941)

Velvet Apple (English), Camagón (Spanish), Kamagong (Tagalog)

    The whole forest burned with the heat of a forge, of hell, even if the sun had hidden itself and the thicket lay enveloped in very dense shades and darkness.
    From time to time, the flash of lightning shook the clouds like a crack of a whip. And after an instant the thunder rumbled in the distance harshly.
   The beautiful birds of spring had sought refuge anywhere they could. The big red, yellow and white flowers, withered over their bent stems, fell. A swift wind, hot and cutting like the vapor of a crate, carpeted everything with petals and shattered leaves.
    The green pine tree, trembling and frightened, spoke:
    “Old kamagon, are you not afraid?”
    The kamagon smiled: “Afraid? Of what?...”
    “Of the storm that is coming.”
    The kamagon continued smiling:
    “Bah!... My friend; not everything has to be enchantment, light , flowers, and kisses… In the happiest life, there are many days of storm like this; I have seen so many, so many that now it is all the same to me whether  it’s the fire of sunlight or the gentle and white light of the full moon that illumines the forest. Furthermore, the storm passes away, like all things do; youth, love and glory itself.”
    “Yes, but the storm returns…”
    “And who tells you that youth, glory, and love do not return?”
    The atmosphere was becoming darker, the lightning each time sharper and almost without interruption, the thunder rumbled nearby; and some great drops of rain started falling indistinctly, raising a rustle of whiplashes.
    In the agitated forest one could hear the hissing of the reptiles, the screech of the kalaws, and the groans of the injured trees. A strong windstorm rose destroying everything in its way, throwing down nests and tearing down branches… Suddenly a red flame set the forest on fire, and it was followed by an infernal noise which stirred up the depths of the earth. Then the first thunderbolt fell, coiling itself like a snake of crackling embers around the beautiful and proud ilang-ilang, which slowly fell into pieces.
    When the devastating roar passed, the kamagon looked at the pine tree with pity. He had been stripped of all his arrogance, of all his stupid pride, and he seemed harassed and tremulous, prey of a terror that corroded even the sap of his deepest roots. Covered by his graceful branches which the rain mercilessly lashed, he seemed to be crying, shedding all the drops of water that were blown through his leaves. The kamagon, feeling sorry for the pine tree, spoke to him then over the tremulous sound of the wild elements.
    “Do not tremble, do not cry, this will pass”
    “Oh, grandfather, I am afraid to die!”

    “You will not die. You are still young; but if it is written that today you will stop existing, what difference does that make? Sooner of later it has to happen. All of us go the same way. It is only a question of some years more or less.”
    The echo of another thunder drowned his voice. Another infernal blaze blinded them, and both listened as at their very back a poor ilang-ilang tree scorched by the thunderbolt dryly plunged to the ground…
    The pine tree even more terrified, rose in a cry of desperate protest.
    “No, he did not want, could not, should not die, and die just like that, split by a thunderbolt. He was still young, and hardly had he enjoyed the divine sweetness of April. Why for black fetid death’s sake tear him away from his silvery nights that smell of flowers and dreams, from his golden days full of wings and rosy dawns?”
    Suddenly he kept silent, shuddered, shaken by a horrible death rattle, bending the ideal treetop that a thunderbolt now streaked with its blue, red, green, and yellow phosphorescence, like a long necklace of turquoises, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires hanging over its dead trunk. The poor pine tree was yet another dream which was falling, and immense dream of grandeur lost in the grandeur of the universe!


     After a year, during another bright April morning, some woodcutters invaded the forest.
    And among the trunks and fresh branches of the trees which they hacked down with bolos and axes, they brought with them the withered remains of the green pine tree and the back kamagon.
    And it happened that while the people of the village needed firewood, the priest of the town needed a big cross for his church. And that was why he took the trunk of the old kamagon so he could entrust it to a skilled sculptor.
    And in that same night, while shattered into a thousand pieces, the pine became ashes in the rustic home-made stoves of the village; the kamagon, converted into a divine cross and adored, was raise over the holy and humble thrill of prayers.
   There it was humble, black, affectionate, serving as a support for a God who on top of him was dying and died of love…
    Meanwhile the priest over the pulpit began to speak, and his words penetrated the simple souls of the multitude like stars, like spikenards…

    “Blessed are the meek…”

Jesús Balmori
Manila (May 1941)

Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

María Clara (1905)

   María Clara has visited me in my dreams and I have told her:
    “Tell me, María Clara, tell me daughter of a sad country, is it true that you have died, that everything has ended?”
     María Clara looked at me for a long time: in her eyes gleamed that blissful childhood that the pale muse of Rettée knew.
    “What do you say, María Clara?”
    More silence. No word flowed from the lips of the spiritual virgin. All the anxieties awakened like an outburst of rebellion in my breast…
    “Talk to me, María Clara, talk to me.”
    And María Clara smiled sadly with an autumnal and ephemeral smile, and then she extended one of her white hands to me, hands like lilies and silk, hands of love and piety.
    “No,” María Clara has told me…” I cannot die. I am the spirit of my race, of your race; I am the incarnation of all the sadness, of all the glories, of all the happiness of the Fatherland. I live in you, as I have lived, as I live, as I will live, if you do not betray me, nor forget my good words.”
    Oh, yes. The words of María Clara were really very good. They were very good.
    “I am not going to betray you, I am not going to forget what you tell me.” I have answered her. “Look at me, I am my old usual self; a bit more sad and more bowed with life’s burden, it is true, but always at your side; always loving you like my own mother…always yours! Only in this way will we be able to save ourselves, attain glory and crown ourselves with laurels.”
    María Clara has not answered me, but she has placed her right hand to her breast and has given me her heart;
    “Take it,” María Clara has told me, “it is my keepsake for you. I gave Rizal that hear; I wish to give it to all Filipinos…  With it you will be great, strong and triumphant.”
    “And the danger, and the hand armed with steel? And the deep abyss and the inaccessible summit?”
    “None of that exists,” —María Clara has answered—“when the will is ready, when the intentions are true… I will know how to encourage you. Follow me. Do you not know that my kisses give life?”
    The dream vanished, and from then on I have followed María Clara — shadow of love and poetry — along the sad path of life.
    And María Clara has kissed me.

Fernando Ma. Guerrero
El Renacimiento. Manila
29 de diciembre de 1905

Sunday, July 6, 2014

País de Ensueño (1907)

Dream Country

    A princess was born in a land which the sun turns golden, that kisses the blue sea, and wherein the wind sings a hymn of eternal love.
    The immense palaces were filled with flowers, in the golden temples the bells reverberated, and on top of the walls of the imperial city, royal heralds of Happiness blew their trumpets of gold and trumpets of silver.
    A Chinese wizard wearing a sparkling dress baptized the princess. With his arms toward the sun and his forehead on his breast, he said:
    “In the name of Love and of Dreams, I baptize you little princess…
    “Oh my queen! How will the little princess be named?”
    And the queen, with the soul of a mother profaning the mystery of destiny, answered: “Well Happy.”

    The fairies began to arrive at the royal palace; the fairies arrived on fluttering carriages of doves and flowers, on carriages o wings and moonbeams. The palace was filled with music and dreams; the queen dressed in emeralds receive the court.
   And the fairies bending over the little princess, left in the royal cradle marvelous gifts.
     “You will be precious!”
    “You will be loved!”
    “You will have dreams!”
    “You will have joys!”
    “You will know how to cry!”
    The fairy of tears said, very slowly, preparing to pour over the eyes of the child her amphora’s essence. But the queen, trembling, interposed between the fairy and the cradle… “What were you saying? … her child should cry! her little princess should cry! her Princess Happy! No, never, she implored and moaned; that all the tears destined for her daughter should fall instead on her eyes and heart. The princess of the royal palace, the princes of the place of dreams and flowers could not, should not know tears…”

    The radiant and haughty fairy considered the request a slight and regarded the ignorance a malice, ascended her carriage of roses and bats, and disappeared through the air, entangling aromas and breezes along her golden route. But before leaving, she cursed the little girl:
    “Oh, you will not have tears! you will not know how to cry!”
    And the queen kissed her daughter. She had had saved her from tears.

    But not from pain. The child, a woman even as she was a princess, suffered like all women. And they would see the grimaces of anguish of that infantile and divine face that suffered and suffered without being able to cry.
    And the queen, looking at the girl, learned one thing.
    “That pain without tears is twice as painful”

    It was springtime. The princess was pretty. The princess was pale.
    Like the fairies said, she was beautiful, loved, she had dreams, and joys.
    But she has no tears. She knew pleasure, she yearned to cry with joy, she could not…
   And since then, Princess Happy became the most unhappy of princesses.

    One time—it was late afternoon in the royal gardens — the princess caught a glimpse of two lovers who were concealed by the foliage.
    The man had his arm round the waist of the beloved woman; she with her head thrown backwards, received a kiss on her lips.
    The princess followed with her sad eyes the idyllic dream; but suddenly the branches rippled, the sweet pair were lost among the flowers, and a vibrant and harmonic sob of love shook in the breezes.
    Each flower was a mystical censer, a light and vague perfume rose, like the soul of a poet, towards the heavens; a silvery trickle sang in the fountain where a pale swan supported the plinth of a fantasy statue.
    And the princess moved away, she moved away slowly from the garden, with her throbbing breast, with swollen eyes, with her heart full of envy and foolish things.
   The princess moved away, she moved away from the splendid and cursed garden of love.
   A heavenly heraldist. Over the gules Venus shone—golden light—and the new moon raised its great blue eyebrow, like the arch of light of a bowman who shot arrows in the sleeping atmosphere, the conquered monarch that moved away fleeing.

    Tears of sorrow, monstrous and bitter tears are the waves of the ocean. Tears of joy, tears of crystal and of laughter are the dewdrops that the morning showeres over the wings of birds and on the lips of the flowers. Melancholic tears, golden tears — perhaps tears of love —are the leaves that Autumn pulls off the dead branches.
    But in the luminous eyes, in those bid dreamy eyes of the princess, there are no tears.
    The queen, worried to death, requested national consolation for her daughter. Who knew the remedy to make the princess cry?
     Over the walls of the imperial city, the royal heralds of Pain blew their trumpets made of horn and their trumpets made of amber. It is not known from what cave came an old hunchback and horrible woman.
    “I am a thousand years old,” she said, “and I know that the only way to erase the hatred of the fairy of tears is that a handsome youth not related to the princess come to her palace to seek pardon.”
   The royal heralds of Pain again blew their trumpets of horn and their trumpets of amber. A handsome warrior presented himself in the court.
   “I shall go”
   As he offered his services, he looke at the purple and sad eyelids of the poor princess.
    “Blessed are you! said the queen.
    “And return soon,” she sighed.


    She dreamed about the return of the warrior, of the handsome and beloved warrior.
    Because she love him, she loved him with all her soul, since she saw his gallant eyes looking at hers stained with melancholy. And the warrior returned. The whole court dress in gold to receive him. He returned happy and satisfied, narrating adventures of the journey; abysses surmounted, monsters defeated.
   “And here is, Princess, the amphora of tears which you desired so mush; here are all your tears; you will cry, Princess, on the day the crystal that keeps them breaks.”
   “And what do you desire as a prize,” she asked, dreaming of putting the royal crown on him.
   “Nothing, Princess; only my pity urged me to make you happy. I am already happy, so very happy that I no longer wish for more.”
    From his eyes appeared a light of love; the Princess followed his eyes and she found them in the air, bursting into a kiss with that woman whom she heard one afternoon cry of love in the royal gardens..
    Then she felt jealous; in her soul she felt despair; and the glass of amphora of tears was broken.
    And before the royal court all dressed in gold, before all the court assembled to celebrate that matchless good fortune, the princess cried her first tears, which were more painful than all the sad pains in her past.

Jesus Balmori
Excelsior, Manila
May 30, 1907

Translated to English by Pilar E. Mariño

Monday, April 28, 2014

Quezon y El Idioma Inglés (1921)

One of the greatest problems that the Philippines must solve is the question of language. An independent nation for which the Philippines is aspiring to be must have one and only one official language. Up to the present time, English and Spanish are used interchangeably or simultaneously. Assurances have been given that the English language will finally become the official language of the people of these islands, the promise having been made many years ago. However, that promise has not as yet been redeemed. It is, however, reassuring to know that while the promise has not yet been fulfilled, no backward step has been taken in this connection. The millions of children in the public schools will be more than glad to learn that Senate President Quezon favors no language other English as the official language for the Philippines as shown in the Speech he delivered before the Inter-Alumin Union on March 12 which partly reads:

    “I have just read your constitution and found that one of the things for which you are working is to have the English language declared as the only official language in the Philippine Islands. I have been for the proposition long before I knew English, and I really think that this is not a debatable question. It has been settled long ago by our Government and by our own people. When it has been decided that the English language should be the language to be taught in the public schools, that was tantamount to a definite declaration on the part of the Government that English will ultimately be adopted as the only official language of the Philippine Islands. For it would have been a waste of money to teach a language that could not be used by the men and women who have to go through many years of schooling to learn it. It would not have been only a waste of money but unjust to these young men and women. Of course, the English language has to be the official language of the Philippine Islands. It is out of the question to think of any of our native dialects for this purpose because we could not come to an agreement as to which one would be adopted. As a Tagalog I will fight to the end of my life for the adoption of the Tagalog, and Mr. De Leon, your President, will try to have the Ilocano as the official language. Besides, our native dialects have not the literature necessary for the education and intellectual training of our youths: If we have to pick up a foreign language English is the only language. It is the international language in the Far East. I remember when I first left the Philippine Islands in my trip to Russia — that was in 1909 and at the time I could only speak the Spanish language — from the time I landed in Hongkong until I met the first Filipino in Paris I could not understand anybody whom I met. And that trip made me learn English.

    “On one occasion I sat on a table and intended to order for some eggs. I picked up the menu and pointed at something in it. I thought it was eggs but they gave me fish. So I was right there and then convinced that if I want to eat eggs and not fish I had to learn English.

    “But there are some more important reasons. One of the aims of this society, as I learn it tonight, is to preserve democratic institutions, and, my friends, the English language is the best means of preserving democratic institutions in the Philippine Islands. I do not want to be more unpopular than I am now with the Spaniards and therefore I am not going to say what could be learned thru the Spanish language of liberty. I shall simply say that if you want to have a clear notion and conception of liberty and freedom you have to get it through English literature.

    “But there is another reason which at this juncture is much more important from our point of view than all the others. You know that we are having a very hard time in convincing some Americans that we should have an independent Government. Those who are opposed to Philippine independence, as I have said on various occasions, may be divided into two or three classes. I am not going to describe now these different classes but I simply want to say that I think we can meet all of them through some kind of argument. When they see already that the hands of ate are pointing to the day when the separation must take place they will at least want to see that something permanent has been left here by the American people. And that should appeal to the pride of the American nation, to their sentiment — which according to Professor De Joya governs the world.

    It would be a source of satisfaction and pride on the part of the American people to know that the time spent here by the United states has not been lost, that something has remained and will remain in the Islands forever. It would appeal to the American nation to know that even after their flag has been pulled down that American institutions and American ideals have become the heritage of the Filipino people. They will be assured of this when they know that the English language has been adopted by the people of the Philippine Islands as their official language. This is important that when I was a Resident Commissioner in the United states, in my travels I met people who discussed with me Philippine independence and generally at the end of the discussion they would ask: “What would be your language? What would be taught in your schools when we leave you?”. They of course know that English is now being taught in the schools. I invariably answered that it would be the English language. So I say, that the adoption of English as the official language of the Philippine Islands is a good means of securing Philippine independence.

Revista Filipina
April-May 1921