Hispanic Heritage Month takes place between September 15 to October 15 every year as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latino community. Beginning in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally observed as “Hispanic Heritage Week” under President Lyndon Johnson, but it was later extended to a month during President Ronald Reagan’s term in 1988.
Since then, the month has been celebrated nationwide through festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more. The month also celebrates the independence days of several Latin American countries, including: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on September 15th, Mexico on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. They also include holidays that recognize Hispanic contributions such as Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day that is celebrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Philippines of Hispanic Heritage
While Philippines is part of Southeast Asia, officially classified as Asians, Filipinos are considered to be of Hispanic heritage because of its historical, linguistic and cultural ties with Spain. Philippines was under the Spanish rule between 1571-1898, over three-and-a-half centuries that Spanish colonial period in the Philippines lasted longer than that of a lot of countries in Latin America, including Mexico.
After the Philippines along with Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico fell under United States rule following America’s victory in the 1898 Spanish-American War, English was instated as the language of instruction throughout the expanded American empire.
The Cervantes Institute — Spain’s language and cultural agency — estimated that at the beginning of the 20th century, there was an estimated 60 per cent of Filipinos who spoke Spanish as their second language. But by 1987, Spanish in the Philippines was de-listed as a co-official language, alongside English and Filipino. Currently only about 0.5 per cent of the Philippines’ 100 million-strong population speaks Spanish; however, it’s still home to the most number of Spanish speakers in Asia. But linguistically, the roots of Spanish have not entirely left the Philippines, as a third of the Filipino language is derived from Spanish words, constituting some 4,000 “loan words”. This legacy is evident right from the get-go, as ‘hello’ (kumusta) is derived from Spanish’s ‘how are you?’ (cómo está).
Today, as the status of Spanish in the country recovers from its 19th-century American defeat, the 21st century is pointing toward a new role for a language traditionally associated with colonial subjugation. This is mainly due to the English language’s subsequent dominance across the islands as a lingua franca throughout the 20th century.
Presidential Proclamation on National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 2022
National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans, who have enriched our culture and society and helped make America into the incredible country it is today. Hispanic-American men and women embody the American values of devotion to faith and family, hard work, and patriotism through their countless contributions as leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and members of our Armed Forces.
Observing Hispanic Heritage Month allows our country to show its recognition and support for the work Latinos are doing in helping this country grow.