The Hispanic Way: Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes and Customs in the Spanish-Speaking World

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Some native inhabitants became only nominal Christians. At any rate, there is no denying the fact that many Filipinos defended the Catholic faith devotedly. For example, prior to the imposition of Castilian rule, the Filipinos practiced swiddening or slash-and-burn agriculture. This farming technique involved clearing a hillside or a patch of land, cutting down the trees, burning the trunks, the branches and the leaves, removing the rocks, and then planting through the use of a pointed stick to create a hole on the ground into which seeds were thrown.

Then the farmer simply waited for harvest time to arrive. This situation changed when the missionaries taught the Filipino natives horticultural techniques requiring intensive cultivation of land through better irrigation and water management so as to lessen their dependency on rainfall. In addition to teaching the Filipinos new farming methods and introducing to them new crops such as maize, avocado, tomato, and cacao, from which the nutritious drink of chocolate was derived, the Spanish friars taught the rudiments of reading and writing to the natives, not to mention useful trades such as painting, baking and locksmithing.

In the course of Spanish colonization in the Philippines, the friars constructed opulent Baroque-style church edifices. These structures are still found today everywhere across the country and they symbolize the cultural influence of Spain in Filipino life. The opulence of these edifices was clearly visible in the ornate facades, paintings, and sculpture, as well as in the behavioral patterns of the people and in the intricate rituals associated with Roman Catholic churches. While it is true that the Spaniards exploited labor in the construction of the imposing Baroque-style sanctuaries for Roman Catholic worship, it is also true that these same edifices became the means by which Filipino artistic talents and inclinations were expressed.

The carpenters, masons, craftsmen, and artisans were mainly Filipinos. In this way, the Roman Catholic Church and religion influenced Filipino architectural and building style, even as the rituals and festivities of the Church influenced Filipino dances, songs, paintings, and literary writings. Through these influences, the Church afforded the Filipinos abundant opportunities for both solemn rites and joyous festivities and celebrations known as "fiestas.


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Dining, drinking, and merrymaking often followed or accompanied such religious activities. During these feasts, Spanish culinary specialties like "paella" a dish consisting of a mixture of rice, chicken and shellfish , "arroz valenciana" glutinous rice and chicken cooked in coconut milk , and "lengua" sauteed ox-tongue usually with mushroom sauce became part of the local table fare.

The rites and feasts served to provide relief from the drudgery of humdrum village existence, to release pent-up social and economic frustrations, or to foster community spirit and unity. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Spaniards enriched the Filipino languages through lexicographic studies produced by the friars. Many Spanish words found their way into the Tagalog and Visayan languages.

The Spanish words somehow fitted into the phonetic patterns of the Filipino languages.

Who are the Hispanics? – Reaching Hispanics

These Spanish words like "mesa" table , "adobo" marinated cooked food , and others are commonly used today in the daily practical transactions of the Filipinos with each other. Ironically, the friars came up with excellent studies on Filipino culture and languages even as they sought to overthrow this same culture through their implantation of Spanish civilization.

The influences from Spain have become permanently embedded in Filipino culture. The Filipino people themselves have internalized them. They cannot be undone anymore. For good or bad, they have catapulted the Filipinos into the world of Spanish culture, into the world of Spanish civilization and its products. Nevertheless, it must be said that the Filipinos did not receive the cultural influences from Spain sitting down.

They responded in a way that demonstrated their capacity to master the new and to balance the new against the old, in a way that called for their capacity to bring values and principles to bear with a critical and informed judgment, and in a way that called for them to be able to sift what is essential from what is trivial.

Thus they responded selectively to the novelties the Spaniards brought with them to the Philippine Islands. The Filipinos accepted only those that fitted their temperament, such as the "fiesta" that has become one of the most endearing aspects of life in these islands, and made them blend with their indigenous lifestyle to produce a precious Philippine cultural heritage.

Spain definitely lost its world empire in after the defeat toward the United States army, dedicating since then its colonial efforts exclusively to Equatorial Guinea and Morocco, in the African continent. But aside from the sorrow of the military disaster and the dislike against the United States for all the face and status lost in a time when ranking among nations was decided by square kilometres under their flag, it is neccesary to differentiate the cases of the caribbean colonies Puerto Rico and, mainly, Cuba and that of those in the Pacific Micronesia and, mainly, the Philippines.

Loss of power in Cuba meant the forced weakening of very strong ties between both territories, cultural as well as economic: the repatriation of capital was so important that many of the biggest banks in contemporary Spain were founded with money sent from Cuba at the turn of the century. The ties with the Philippines, on the other side, were not so strong and, more than that, it can be said that progressively surged a feeling in the Peninsula of being freed from a heavy burden: there had been no profits from such colonization and dominance in Manila was widely perceived to be the most inefficient and ruled by religious orders.

After all, the United States had made a favour in the case of the Philippines and Micronesia, although not in relation to Cuba, the so-called Jewel of the Empire. It had been enough of adventuring in the Far East and since then it should be better to forget about all those territories; interest became exclusively exotic and shallow knowledge prevailed. As one of the obvious consequences, official relations with the area dropped dramatically and even was thought to abandon one of the two embassies in the area, the one in Tokyo or that in Beijing.

Also, any fact ocurred in the area has been undermined along the 20th Century and, with that, whatever happened to the former colonies there, aside from lip-service about the strong links and the hispanic identity of the Philippines. However, there were also private links, and they had become important enough as to continue functioning regardless of the official interest.

Ties between Spain and East Asia walked on their own effort after , regardless of offocial support and based mainly on those private interests. I deem neccesary to discuss those interests and, for reasons of clarity, I shall divide them into commercial, cultural, demographic and missionary interests. Those of a political character have not been included due to the limited importance and their rapidly changing nature.

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The choice of the year is because of two reasons, first because this year can be considered the lowest ebb of the Spanish presence however the information compiled is, in some of the cases, previous to the Pacific War and because, after the war, the mainstay on which the Spanish presence was based on changed totally: since then the official relations with east asian goverments dominated and those interests in Asia were not important anymore to shape the policy of Madrid. Wine was the predominant Spanish export product during the prewar period, being also the only commodity that was sold in quantities that did not fluctuated much.

It was followed in importance by canned foods and ores.

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The imports were mainly semi-manifactured goods, with specific items from each country, such as Japanese silk or Philippine tobacco or sugar, as well as occasional imports as rice. It is very difficult, however, to know both the exact figures and the specific features, mainly because much of the merchandise proceeding from or destined to the Far East was exchanged in the ports of Singapore, Hong-Kong or Port Said, near the Suez Channel.

The problem that most affected the Spanish trading in the Far East was the absence of a strong enterpreneurial structure, something similar to the problems Spain faced in the rest of the world: only family-type businesses with scarce resources were predominant in those export-import activities in ports like Kobe or Shanghai.

These small businesses operated mainly as locally based agents, purchasing in the name of their clients, evaluating merchandise, surveying the shipments and paying orders through bank loans, although in these cases the money was held until due authorisation for the money order was received.

After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil and the Sino-Japanese Wars, most businesses in those ports broken, partly because the wars caused the fall in the mutual trading activities and partly because the Spanish exchange policy strongly restricted the access to foreign currency after Franco's Nacionales' success, forcing the workers or owners of these little companies to find jobs with companies of other nationalities. Related partially to this fact, the most constantly mentioned problem in the documents -in addittion to the previously mentioned absence of a strong trading structure-, was the lack of a Spanish navigation line between the Philippines and Spain, although some of the routes reaching Northern Europe from the Far East made a stopover in Barcelona.

The Spanish commercial interests in the Philippines had a very different character from those in China or Japan and maintained their importance until the end of the period covered by this article and in spite of being under different colonial rulers. A much more extensive research would be needed to devote to these interests the importance they deserve but, in any case, it is neccesary to emphasize that the economic and political power in the Philippines was maintained esentially by the same families as during the Spanish colonial period. Although attached culturally to Spain and its values, we know little about their direct connections between their companies or their branches to Spanish ones, as most of their wealth and profits stemmed from exports to the United States.

The direct exchange between Spain and the Philippines increased since , from a total of 7 to million pesetas during the years preceeding the inauguration of the 2nd Spanish Republic , dropping later to a total of 4 million in , when the Spanish War started. Since , exports from the Philippines into Spain surpassed imports, but this imbalance was cleared by the net capital sent to Spain.

This took place under different categories: as revenues from properties in the Philippines whose owners lived in Spain; as pensions sent to the relatives in Spain by those working in the Philippines, or as amounts proceeding from the total or partial liquidation of the interests possessed by repatriated Spaniards 1. In the period before the Pacific War, two processes affected the development of Filipino-Spanish links: the dramatic diminishing of the speculative capital benefits, due to the failure in gold mining investments 2 , and the massive denationalisation of the elite, which had kept Spanish citizenship until then 3.

Consequently, the proportion of Philippine foreign trade under Spanish management fell from around two thirds in the s to a minimum percentage in the period just after the Pacific War. This change was mainly because Spanish managers and businessmen had changed nationality not due to decreasing fortunes, which were maintained and increased regardless of which passport they held. Created in , based in Barcelona and built with French capital, its expansion took place mainly during the first third of the 20th Century, during the American period. In the Philippines, it was estimated that, besides the state administration, it was "the organisation feeding more people", among them around spanish citizens.

Tabacalera dealt with almost all Philippine export products, specially tobacco, sugar, copra, and coconut oil, while it imported specially spanish wine, olive oil brands and canned food. It also had subsidiary companies such as "Tabacalera Steamship Co. These societies were recorded according to the rights and duties of the Philippines law, although their capitals were partly or totally Spanish. Spanish family-owned bussiness were of much bigger importance than those run in Shanghai or Kobe.

Perez Samanillo". We do not have much information about his businesses in Spain although he sometimes spent six months a year in the peninsula; a source opposed to him stated that "although it is known that among them [his businesses ] is "Editorial Calleja", and it is also rumored as a mere probability that he is connected with the dollars exchange black market".

The connection of these Filipino-Spanish capital with the Chinese mainland seems to be important, as they were following the route of the chinese inmigrants that were so significant to the Philippine economy. One of them was the "Chino-Spanish Trading Co. The Jai-Alai Courts were run in Shanghai, Tientsin and Manila by companies of different nationalities, but were considered to be one of the more important businesses run by Spaniards.

Since midth century Spain had started enjoying its derivative prerogatives, such as functioning almost freely in the foreign concessions and benefiting from extraterritoriality, but the end of those privileges would come soon and, also, was not in its hands: there was no other choice than doing what big powers decided. No special affinities existed between China or Japan on one hand and Spain on the other and their mutual perceptions were based mostly on second-hand images and information, which reached both territories mostly through English-speaking channels.

Some direct information came through Spaniards or Latinamericans residing in Asia who contributed to journals or newspapers edited in the Peninsula while religious publications where writtings by missionaries could be found did not reach the general public. But not only China or Japan showed little affinities with Spain, also those territories where the Spanish presence had been sporadic -such as Pohnpei in Micronesia, occupied only at the end of 19th century-, felt little affinities. Needless to say, the Philippines and Guam were the territories with stronger cultural links to Spain, but it is also neccesary to emphasize that compared with Latin American countries the identity was felt in a much lesser degree.

The more important aspects of this cultural influence remain even nowadays: the language and the Catholic religion. At the beginning of the Pacific War, the Spanish language still maintained its role in the Philippine society. It was used by around 1 million people, basically among middle-upper and upper classes, as a language for understanding among themselves, and still maintained its position as the official language for law and administration as well as was the lingua franca in trading, together with English. Also, it had acquired a curious role in the societies of both the Philippines and Guam because, although having been a colonial language, it took on an anticolonial character as a way of national identificacion and resistance to the rule of the United States which was symbolised by English.

Its role went much further beyond the spanish community 8 Regarding the Catholic religion, an overwhelming majority of the native population in the Philippines practised it and even in Micronesia Catholicism was followed by as many persons as those who were Protestants, although the proportion in each island varied extremely.

The perception of this overall spanish cultural identity, furthermore, was less noticed than in other cases since they were deeply assimilated within the society and its structure. There was not much effort from Spain to make these links stronger. The sporadic mentions in the Peninsula of the mutual affinities between Spain and its colonies and to the common history were never backed by financial means. Furthermore, the ties were restricted to very reduced groups of those specialized or with direct connections such as family or missionary zeal. In the Philippines, however, hispanic identity spread much beyond the community: newspapers in spanish language were widely read and the community itself afforded the invitation to academicians, charlistas, poets or writters to visit the islands in order to perform artistic exhibitions or conferences.

Hispanism century walked on its own effort, mostly driven from the Archipelago.

Spanish: Cultural Holidays and Traditions

The Catholic religion remained as a fundamental stronghold from the years of Spanish dominance in the Philippines. Besides this, in the rest of the region, there were aproximately 3. Due to it and despite the fact that the task of taking care of the faithful was in charge of religious orders with members from many nationalities, missionaries became the most widespread Spanish presence around the Asia-Pacific region during the first half of the 20th century. Transnationality was one of the characteristics of those Orders and they allowed changes of nationality in their ownership when neccesary, such as when Spain lost Extraterritoriality Rights in China in or when, in the beginning of the 's, the Jesuits decided it was more convenient to adapt to new rulers using replacing the Spaniards with Americans.

On the other side, the economic resources owned by the religious orders thanks to the Spanish colonial period had made the Philippines a key point for the religious presence in the Asia-Pacific area: it was through these resources that their missions were financially supported and from where received some kind of instructions. The presence of the regular Spanish clergyman was as follows during the Pacific War:. In the Japanese Archipelago the most important presence was by the Dominican Fathers. They were located at the island of Shikoku, in far poor rural areas.

The reduced number of Spanish jesuits in Japan were mixed up with priests from other nationalities, living in the city on Yamaguchi, capital of the prefecture of the same name and in Kojimachi, in Tokyo. There were also a Salesian and a Marian. In Micronesia, changes of colonizer were frequent after the Spanish departure, but its missionaries managed to maintain a strong presence, partly because assingment in these islands was a destiny not many desired.

The Agustinians from Spain were replaced by Germans until World War I, when the Japanese took over and maintained under a same flag a lot of territories conquered during the conflict. Tokyo requested the Vatican to send missionaries from countries that had maintained their neutrality in the conflict and therefore the Spaniards went back to proselityze, this time Jesuits who had no other way but to accept the instruction from the Pope.

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In Guam, there were no changes since Americans bought the island to Spain. The Agustinians were evicted after the Spanish defeat and this territory, under American rule, became a jurisdiction of the Spanish Capuchins until , when American Missionaries belonging to the same order were sent. The transmission of beliefs, celebrations, customs, ideas, information, legends, practices, stories, etc.

Many traditions are passed down in oral form. An accepted manner of behavior, which may include both religious and secular practices and beliefs. Traditions help us connect with our people: country, community, family and friends. It is sort of like glue; it keeps us together. There are several Hispanic traditions — too many to list here. But just to give you a taste, here are a few of the most popular customs that are practiced in Latin America as well as in the United States:.

Such items represented gifts from the gods. This tradition has also spread to the United States. He or she would then be blindfolded. Needless to say, some children and adults would end up being hit on the head. Instead, it is gently opened by pulling the strings attached to it. This is way safer than the older tradition. But they were also broken during First Communions, Baptisms and other celebrations. For this special day, the girl wears a very elaborate dress, usually in a pastel color.

Most parties also include a waltz, which the girl dances with her father, older brother or other male relative.

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This is a traditional Mexican birthday song some people say that in fact, it is two songs in one. The tradition has spread to different Latin American countries, particularly in Central America where it has become widely popular. The song is usually sung in the morning and sometimes as a serenade serenata. How lovely is the morning in which I come to greet you, We all came with joy and pleasure to congratulate you, The day you were born all the flowers were born, On the baptismal font the nightingales sang, The morning is coming now, the sun is giving us its light, Get up in the morning, look it is already dawn.

Las Mananitas - Find here the complete lyrics to this popular birthday song. Also find here background information and videos. In Mexico and other countries November 1st is dedicated to honoring and remembering babies and children who have passed on. During the Day of the Dead , people remember family members and friends who have passed away. In Mexico, people erect "altares" altars in honor of the departed. These altars can be decorated with flowers, pictures of the deceased, fruits and other foodstuffs.

Indeed, some of these altars can be quite elaborate see picture above. On this day, people also go to the cemetery to "enflorar" place flowers on the graves of family members and friends and many spend the day there. Even though this day revolves around death, it is a very festive tradition which focuses on celebrating the life of those who have crossed to the other side.

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Christmas is one of the most popular Hispanic traditions.