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The Bicolanos of Spanish Heritage

According to Wikipedia, twenty percent of the demographics of Bicolandia are Hispanic. It ranks second in the country that has a high percentage of Spanish Filipinos. Being born and raised here in the City of Naga I would, definitely, concur with this research findings.

When I looked at the yearbook of my late mother most of her classmates were indeed Caucasians. Even in my time, at the private schools that I attended, I have seen Spanish Bicolanos up close and personal. During Sunday mass at the Naga Cathedral, my late mother would approach her comadres and greet them with pleasantries.

Some of the movie stars in the local showbiz industry hail from Bicol. Locals refer to them as Kastila, Mestisohin, or may lahi. The European look which is the beauty standard in show business are met by the aspiring actors and actresses from the region. Beauty pageant candidates from Bicol also placed in International competitions and a few even brought home the crowns. To cite examples, Precious Lara Quigaman who got Miss International; and Catriona Gray, who won Miss Universe.

With a Spanish blood base in their genes, they are all the more enhanced by recent intermarriages with Caucasians from the United States, Canada, Australia, and other European countries. This can be compared with the look of Hollywood celebrities with Filipino heritage like Haley Stanfield and Olivia Rodrigo. Upon first glance you would not be able to surmise that they have Filipino blood.

However, the Spanish Bicolanos are Criollos, they may also be at least 75 percent Spanish. A good example would be Jaime Fabregas who is an actor. He looks as Spanish as Pilita Corrales who hails from the Visayas.

Why are there so many Spanish Bicolanos? From History, the City of Naga, formerly called Nueva Caceres, was an old royal city of Spain. Hence, the Spanish colonizers were present in the region since the early stages of colonization.

If you would hear mass in a Catholic church there is a high probability that the priest would be of Spanish descent. Why? Well, in Spanish families it is often encouraged to at least have one son to pursue a priestly vocation.

Another hypothesis would be, during the Second World War, many Spanish Filipino families, fled Manila and headed to the Bicol Peninsula. There were over a million Spanish Speakers who died when the Japanese occupied the Philippines. Providentially, for those who escaped and went to Bicol they survived.

It is interesting to note that during that time majority of the Filipino population could speak Spanish as a first or a second language contrary to popular belief. And, the intermarriages among different races were indeed admirable and documented by scholars who visited Luzon at that time.

At present, people from neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Malaysia would have a common observation that Filipinos are a lighter shade of brown. Artificial Intelligence clearly illustrated that, and, if you would see unmixed Filipinos then you would really notice the stark difference.

Now, older folks refer to them as Kastila and younger ones would call them Fil-Ams or Filipino Americans. In the Spanish Catholic Cemetery, there is also a distinct language transition. The older generations epitaphs are written in the language of Cervantes while the recent family members’ epitaphs are carved in English.

How about in present times, where would one see Spanish Bicolanos? In Churches, Schools and Universities, in restaurants and malls, and television which is, incidentally, over-saturated with Eurasian to European looking actors.

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