This article is available in Spanish.

Spain’s enduring legacies are not only evident in Filipino culture, gastronomy and language, but in politics as well. In its entire political history, the Philippines had six Spanish-speaking presidents. Some of them delivered speeches in clear, distinct Spanish — a refreshing thing to listen to and a rare treat in this English-dominant world.

From Aguinaldo to Arroyo, hear them speak in Philippine Spanish:

Emilio Aguinaldo (1899-1901)

Aguinaldo is the first president of the Philippines under the Malolos Constitution.

Here’s a short speech of him in a travelogue titled “Around the World in 80 Minutes with Douglas Fairbanks”:

If you want something longer, here is him giving a speech in 1929:

Manuel Quezon (1935-1944)

It is no secret that Quezon is an advocate of Spanish. Here is what he wrote per The Philippine Star: “Spanish is what links us to the Hispanic countries. We should have the prudence and patriotism to conserve it not because we would be good Filipinos if we loved Spain, but because to be good Filipinos we should love everything that serves to strengthen the Philippines and assure its independence and tranquility.”

Here is Quezon delivering a speech in Spanish in the 1920s:

Elpidio Quirino (1948-1953)

Quirino is the second president of the third republic. In 1953, he gave a speech — in English — when he was bestowed with Spain’s Highest Award.

“I congratulate myself on the success of this demonstration, an evidence of the love and affection of Spain for the Philippines,” he said.

And here is a video of Quirino giving a speech in Spanish at the Malacañang Palace for the Spanish community in the Philippines. The video was uploaded by the Philippine government itself.

Carlos Garcia (1957-1961)

Garcia, known for popularizing the “Filipino First” policy, is the eighth president of the Philippines.

According to historian Jose Marianito Luspo, Garcia could have not been a president if he “did not speak fluent Spanish.”

The story goes like this: The executive secretary of “Big Spanish,” aka Manuel Quezon, noticed Garcia’s “impeccable Spanish.” And so, Quezon urged Garcia to run for senate. The rest is history.

Diosdado Macapagal (1961-1965)

Macapagal is the ninth president of the Philippines; his clan is one of the few Filipino families that speak Spanish at home.

Here is a video of Diosdado, speaking in Spanish, when he visited Spain:

And here’s a video of him meeting the Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco in Madrid:

Ferdinand Marcos (1965–1986)

And speaking of dictator, the Philippine’s most famous despot surprisingly advocated the use of Spanish during his regime — though there are no verifiable sources that he actually spoke it.

“Spanish language is a part of our priceless national heritage, which we share with the great Hispanic community of nations,” states the Presidential Decree he signed on March 15, 1973.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2001-2010)

Arroyo, Macapagal’s daughter, is the only past, Spanish-speaking president in the 21st century. She is an “avid hispanista whose language at home was Spanish.”

Here is Arroyo speaking in Spanish during an interview with a news channel in Peru sometime in late 2000s:

This is another video of her, having a conversation with then-Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain:

Spanish is either an underappreciated cultural heritage or a legacy of colonialism for most Filipinos.

If you want to know how typical Filipinos speak in Spanish, here’s “How Does the Philippine Spanish Accent Sound Like?

Arvyn Cerézo
Arvyn Cerézo is an arts and culture writer/reporter with bylines in Book Riot, Publishers Weekly, South China Morning Post, PhilSTAR Life, the Asian Review of Books, and other publications. You can find him on and @ArvynCerezo on Twitter.

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