Why isn't Spanish widely spoken in the Philippines like in other Spanish colonies (e.g. Latin America)?
I want to refute each and every answer here that claims that Spanish wasn't spoken widely in the Philippines, simply because the historical record shows that this wasn't the case. In fact, and let me emphasize this, Spanish was spoken by a majority of Filipinos by the time the Americans arrived, and then some.What apparently led though to the dominance of English in Philippine society can be traced to the deliberate intention of the government of the United States and its functionaries in the Philippines to disconnect the Philippines from Spain, Spanish culture and the Spanish language, preventing its spread in an ultimately successful bid to "Americanize" the country and its people. This took three forms:The Americans laid down a superior education system.The Americans actively suppressed the use of Spanish and encouraged the use of English in Filipino public life.The Battle of Manila happened, destroying most of the city, and with its destruction died much of the city's Spanish-speaking population.Guillermo Gómez Rivera, the Philippines' foremost Hispanicist and the most senior member of the Academía Filipina de la Lengua Española, goes so far as to call it the first modern instance of cultural genocide. That claim is a very big stretch which, among others, makes Gómez Rivera a very controversial figure in the local academe (he is known to some as the Philippines' Don Quixote), but if you ask me, once you look at the record it makes some sense. I'll be citing a lot of his research, though the Wikipedia article on the Spanish language in the Philippines has a lot of other excellent sources as well, some of which will come out here.Why? First, we should lay down the facts as to how many Spanish speakers there actually were in the Philippines, as there are two conflicting accounts to this number.In the 1903 and 1905 censuses of the Philippine Islands, which were conducted by the United States, the numbers claimed that only 10% of the population spoke Spanish. When superimposed upon the total population of nine million people at the time, which Fr. Manuel Arellano Remondo of the University of Santo Tomas published in the General Geography of the Philippine Islands, there were only some 900,000 Spanish speakers in the Philippines.However, this number only counted those who spoke Spanish as their "first and only language". Later in 1908, Don Luciano de la Rosa, a katipunero, lawyer and member of the Philippine Assembly, asserted that this number was higher. He published a study showing that 60% of the total population of the Philippines spoke Spanish as a second language. This means that if you combine both numbers together, some 70% of the entire population of the Philippines spoke Spanish either as a first or second language.If some 70% of the entire Philippine population spoke Spanish in one form or another, that has to mean that the Philippines at the onset of American colonization had a Hispanophone majority and that the language was the language of Filipino social life. Early Americans in the Philippines in fact confirmed this reality. One of them was David P. Barrows, who had arrived in the Philippines to serve as the Director of the Bureau of Public Instruction (now the Department of Education)."Of the adult population, including persons of mature years and social influence, the number speaking English is relatively small. This class speaks Spanish, and as it is the most prominent and important class of people in the Islands, Spanish continues to be the most important language spoken in political, journalistic and commercial circles"That has to mean that Spanish was the predominant foreign language in the Philippines, and that it had a wide following. So what happened?Well, to address the first point, the Americans brought about an education system that surpassed what the Spanish had set up. But rather than producing just English speakers, the school system also produced more Spanish speakers. This actually alarmed Barrows."It is to be noted that with the increased study and use of English, there has been an increased study of Spanish. I think it is a fact that many more people in these islands have a knowledge of Spanish now than they did when the American Occupation occurred"But not to worry, he says. Barrows says that should the United States suppress the use of Spanish in the Philippines, its influence will wane because the Philippines is too far from the Hispanic world to expect any meaningful support from other Spanish-speaking countries. Gómez Rivera claims that this reveals the "white Anglo-Saxon policy of deliberately isolating the Filipinos from the Hispanic world that they belonged to"."But in spite of these facts, it is believed that the use of Spanish will wane. It is unsupported by Spanish-speaking countries adjacent to us"It didn't help that Spanish in the Philippines was actively demonized by the United States, and this took many forms. On the one hand, it was made to look old-fashioned and Spain was painted as the "evil" colonial power that murdered Rizal and that the Americans saved the Filipinos from. On the other, the American colonial government expanded English education and made English the language of higher education despite the resistance of prominent educators. This marginalized Spanish from all facets of public life, so much so that it was said that speaking in Spanish was to speak of persecution.If Spanish wasn't the lingua franca of the Philippines, then why is the "golden age" of Philippine Spanish literature considered to have taken place in the years prior to World War II? Up until the 1920s and early 1930s, some of the most prominent pieces of Filipino Spanish literature were produced by some of the country's foremost writers, and this wouldn't have happened if most Filipinos weren't literate in Spanish. Philippine literature in English, on the other hand, was still in its relative infancy.Colonial policies were effective in increasing the number of English speakers: by 1918, the number of English native speakers was at close to 900,000, while Spanish native speakers were at 750,000. By the 1940s, although English speakers were clearly becoming the majority, Spanish was still spoken in urban areas. In fact, Spanish was still the language of Manila, not English, to the extent that the district of Ermita even had its own distinct variety of Chavacano, the now-extinct Ermitaño or Ermiteño. (More on this in a separate Quora answer.)However, World War II came about, and with it came the death of millions of Filipinos, many of whom were Spanish-speaking. In the Battle of Manila, over 100,000 people died either in the Japanese-perpetuated Manila massacre or the American air bombing of the city, which ultimately leveled most of the city. In the ensuing battle, 90% of Spanish-owned buildings and institutions were destroyed either by the Japanese or the Americans, and Intramuros and Ermita were the hardest hit, dismantling the heart of Hispanic life in Manila. With the United States effectively winning three wars (the Spanish–American War, local wars from the Philippine–American War to the Moro Rebellion, and the Battle of Manila) on Philippine territory, English was imposed as the language of the victor.At this point, while I am generally proud of what the United States has achieved for itself, the darker side of its history should be called out as well. Being an American outside the United States has allowed me to be more critical of its worldwide legacy, and ultimately, it becomes our responsibility to learn from it.A professor of mine at the Ateneo de Manila once said that the reason why the United States has some of the world's best historians is because they have to cover up all the evil the country has done over the last 200+ years. While that claim is debatable, you can't deny that the United States has systematically destroyed non-white cultures in its quest for empire. The Philippines may be one example, but what about Guam? Hawaii? Native Americans? Heck, even Puerto Rico? Our greatness has come at the expense of other peoples, and while it's a stretch to say that we should make it right, it's only fair to have a critical discussion about it and to see how we can move forward.Spanish may be dying in the Philippines thanks to the Americans, but it's not dead yet. If anything, I'm hopeful for its future, but for that to happen, we need to have a very serious discussion about what exactly happened here. Gómez Rivera, Guillermo. "La persecución del uso oficial del idioma español en Filipinas". RArbil (119). Gómez Rivera, Guillermo. "2. NUMBERS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES: AGUSTIN CAVADA, MANUEL ARELLANO Y LUCIANO DE LA ROSA". In Statistics: The Spanish Language in the Philippines. Gómez Rivera, Guillermo. "4. NUMBERS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES: THE 1903 CENSUS, TIRSO DE IRURETA GOYENA Y DAVID P. BARROWS". In Statistics: The Spanish Language in the Philippines. Gómez Rivera, Guillermo. "5. INCREASE IN THE NUMBERS OF SPANISH SPEAKERS". In Statistics: The Spanish Language in the Philippines. Quilis, Antonio and Casado-Fresnillo, Celia. La lengua española en Filipinas: historia, situación actual, el chabacano, antología de textos. Madrid: Estilo Estugraf Impresores, S.L. (2021). Gómez Rivera, Guillermo. "Educadores y sabios adredemente olvidados". La Guirnalda Polar (53), March 2001. Rodríguez-Ponga, Rafael. "Pero ¿cuántos hablan español en Filipinas?". Cuadernos hispanoamericos (631), January 2003. "The Sack of Manila". The Battling Bastards of Bataan.