Suzanne Furstner Foundation Scholarship 2011: Shortlisted Entry Number 3

Six Weeks in Barcelona – The Fulfillment of Many Dreams

Growing up in a city where people usually greet each other with “qué tal” instead of “hello”, I have always been fascinated by the country that has left so much of its mark in my native land.The Philippines was under the Spanish rule for more than three centuries. During this period, Spain has shared its language, culture and traditions to the Filipinos. We may not have gained much from Spain in economic terms but it has left us a rich cultural heritage that defines so

much of what we are as Filipinos today. Even until now, the Spanish heritage is still visible in many places in the country.

I grew up in Zamboanga, a city that was originally a Spanish headquarters in 1634. It was established as a quaint little Spanish town that the Spaniards can call their “home away from home.” Even today, this city still has narrow streets, calles as the Spaniards would call them, that are typical of many old Spanish towns. Fort Pilar, the fortress that was built as a defense against the pirates, still stands even up to this day. After the Spaniards have gone, the front area was transformed into a chapel where masses are held daily. When I was a child, I remember attending masses with my father in Fort Pilar every Sunday. With my small hand in his, I would confidently walk though the aisles of the chapel knowing that I was with the“strongest and most loving man” in the whole wide world. I knew that my father would never let go of my hand. He will always be there for me. It has been more than six years since I last held my father’s hands. He has gone on ahead of me but I know that he has never let go of my hand. Whenever I go back to my hometown and pass by Fort Pilar, loving memories of my

father fill my mind. It is there in that Spanish fortress that I am reminded of my father’s kind and loving nature.

When I was in high school, we were required to study two novels written by our national hero Jose Rizal. Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo were written by Rizal in the 1800s to awaken the Filipinos to the true state of the Philippines while under the Spanish rule. Although the novels were supposed to breed hate for Spain in the hearts of Filipinos, what I felt was fascination for the rich cultural heritage that Spain has brought to my country. It was amusing how the Filipino characters in the story conversed in Spanish even when they were just here in the Philippines. Studying these two books stirred up a longing in my heart. I vowed to myself that one day I will travel to Spain and visit as many places as I can in that country so I can learn its language and experience its culture. So when I had the chance to visit Intramuros, a walled city in Manila built during the Spanish period, I was excited. I knew that this was the

closest that I can get to Spain – for now. Upon entering Intramuros, I was amazed to see that the Spanish influence is still very much visible here. I walked through the city’s streets taking in as much history as I can. But in my heart, I knew that one day I would be walking through the streets of some of the cities in Spain where I will be able see so much more than what I was seeing in Intramuros. First it will be Spain, then the world.

For me, seeing the world entails learning as many languages as I can. I can say that I have a knack for learning languages because when I was just in First Grade, I already knew four languages. When I lived in Indonesia, I learned one more language in just a few months. I can truly say that language is such an amazing “invention”, if I may call it that. By just combining different sounds, one is able to convey messages to other people. Just by changing the tone of your voice, you are able to express different emotions. Every language has its own intricacies. Each one is unique and interesting. Although some languages are easier to learn than others.Being able to express oneself in more than one language is a wonderful experience. But some people are not as flexible as I am. These are the people who think that learning a new language is torture. I want to help them discover the joys of language learning.

I have ventured into teaching before but due to my lack of training, there were many instances when I became frustrated with my students and with myself. I hope that I will I get this scholarship so I can help others learn English in a more effective manner. My dream is to be able to empower the Filipino youth by giving them an opportunity to learn a global language

that will make them more competitive in the marketplace. English may be one of the official languages of the Philippines but many students in public schools are not receiving quality English language teaching. As a result, their level of English competency is very low. I want to do something about this. But before I can do something significant, I need to be properly trained.

So Six weeks in Barcelona is the fulfillment of many dreams: the dream to see Spain; the dream to learn Spanish; and, the dream to get proper equipping as an English teacher so I can positively impact the lives of many people. I hope that you will be an instrument in fulfilling these dreams. To Barcelona I say, “Hasta que te vea, Barcelona!”

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