Acerca de Marco Antonio Joven-Romero

‘Estricalla’ is my personal space written in Aragonese, English and Spanish. I cover topics and issues of contemporary Philosophy, multiculturalism, topical issues and endangered languages. My father was from Zaragoza and my mother from Venezuela. I worked as a Spanish language assistant in Toulouse, as a researcher at UNED -where I wrote my PhD dissertation on Epistemology- and I have also worked with several radio programs. I am a professor at the University of Santo Tomás of Manila in collaboration with the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation and Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (AECID-MAEC).

How to obtain an official postgraduate in a Spanish University without leaving your city?

The establishment of postgraduate studies related to the Spanish language and cultures is of potential interest to Vietnamese students and society in their current circumstances.

Here I dig into the motivations for these studies in Vietnam, sketch the general process for establishing postgraduate studies, the main challenges, and introduce a solution for the training personnel question based on existing distance education.

I propose the establishment of a distance Spanish-language university examination center at Hanoi University as the first step to developing a proper postgraduate degree.


Spanish language and cultures are an asset for Vietnam, and the subsequent establishment of Hispanic postgraduate studies in the country is a potential advantage. Here I sketch the creation of these studies, their main concerns, and I focus on the personnel training challenge.

In the first section, “Motivation in Vietnam,” I discuss the reasons for establishing postgraduate studies in Vietnam, considering that pragmatic motivations related to tourism, international business, and relations with the Hispanic countries must prevail.

In the second section, “Requirements for a postgraduate degree,” I sketch the general basis for the establishment of these studies anywhere, which are the accreditation and support of the hosting University and other related authorities, the existence of academically trained personnel, the availability of facilities to develop researching and teaching activities, the creation and implementation of a curriculum, and the existence of a potential market. I mention similar initiatives in Asia that may serve as an example for Hanoi University and Vietnam.         

In the third section, “A possible first step for academic training,” I explain the distance university system, its history, its aims, how it helps to solve economic and logistic difficulties associated with face-to-face training in foreign countries, and I also explain how Spanish options are already implemented in the whole world, including Vietnam.

In the fourth section, “The specific case of UNED,” I discuss the case of the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, the leading online university in Spain and the Hispanic countries.

In the fifth section, “The proposal,” I argue that establishing an examination center of a Spanish-language distance university may offer an excellent advantage for advanced training and validation studies for Vietnamese students, helping to solve the training challenge.

In the sixth section, “The further step: the creation of a proper postgraduate degree,” I argue that the collaboration with a Spanish-language distance university may extend to other aspects once the proper postgraduate degree is established.

  1. Motivation in Vietnam

Spanish language in Vietnam constitutes a developing asset, especially in tourism, international business, and relations with Hispanic countries.

Tourism is a rising economic sector in Vietnam, and despite the Covid pandemic, figures are returning to 2019, when 80.000 Spanish citizens visited the country (Vietnam News Agency 2021). However, that is still a tiny number compared to the total of twenty million Spanish tourists visiting foreign countries, and these statistics do not account for other Spanish-speaking visitors: there is room for expansion. More in general, the Spanish-speaking world is constituted of twenty countries in which Spanish is the official language, mainly located in America but also in Europe and Africa. Some other territories like Puerto Rico also recognize Spanish as an official language, and even if figures vary according to different criteria and methodologies, it is usually assumed that the Spanish language presents more than five hundred million speakers. Political relations and business with these countries, territories, companies, and peoples are global economic advantages for any country. In this sense, Spanish speakers suppose 9% of the Global GPD, and countries where Spanish is the official language constitute 6.2% of the Global GPD (Fernández Vítores 2022).

The potential student of a postgraduate degree in Spanish or Hispanic Studies may be interested in the purely cultural and historical issues of the Hispanic world. However, to ensure the success of the proposed studies, the aforementioned economic and pragmatic reasons must be key elements when developing and implementing these studies.

Several Vietnamese universities offer postgraduate studies, mainly MA degrees, some of them Hanoi University, Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Vietnam National University, and Hanoi Foreign Trade University. However, as far as I know, no Vietnamese or Asian university offers a specific postgraduate degree in Spanish or Hispanic Studies. The lack of potential students’ market for such studies explains the absence, but economic and pragmatic reasons in the global world are potent motivations to think about their implementation. In this line, some Asian universities offer broad postgraduates in foreign languages or international relations in which the students can specialize in one or a few specific languages and geopolitical areas, among them Spanish or the Hispanic world. Some examples of these solutions are found in the National University of Singapore, Peking University, Fudan University in Shanghai, University of Tokyo, Seoul National University, National Taiwan University, and University of the Philippines (University of the Philippines 2023). To ensure the success of the proposed studies for Vietnam, these Asian options offer established reliable paths and models to follow.

On the other hand, nowadays the Spanish National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation has officially approved more than 500 MA and Ph. D. programs in Spanish universities that may potentially interest Vietnamese students (ANECA 2023).

  1. Requirements for a postgraduate degree

The requirements to create a postgraduate degree change among universities and countries, according to different legislation that usually varies over a few years. However, the essential criteria for the establishment of these studies are the accreditation and support of the hosting University and other related authorities, the existence of academically trained personnel, the availability of facilities to develop researching and teaching activities, the creation and implementation of a curriculum, and the existence of a potential market.

Here I will focus on personnel training and the possible collaboration with other institutions specialized in Hispanic Studies. Issues related to the university and institutional support are far from the scope of the present text, but I will add some points about researching and teaching activities, and the creation and implementation of a curriculum. First, it must be noted that postgraduate degrees require more facilities and resources than bachelor or similar degrees, as research activities constitute the kernel, and even when Information and Communication Technologies have eased access to materials during the last 20 years, the new necessary resources imply extra funding. Second, the creation and implementation of a curriculum must be in line with the curriculums established by other institutions all over the world, adding distinctive elements according to the Vietnamese case. In this sense, curriculums already developed by other Asian universities offering postgraduates related to Spanish and Hispanic Studies must be an inspiration.

I finish this section by emphasizing that to ensure the proposal’s success, a potential broad market must be guaranteed, and I establish two recommendations. First, the postgraduate program cannot focus on cultural, literary, or historical aspects but preferably on pragmatic elements. Second, the postgraduate program should be a broad foreign language or international relations program with different branches, including the Spanish option.

  1. A possible first step for academic training

Most of the academic personnel in a postgraduate program must hold a Ph. D. degree, usually lasting between 4 and 7 years. In the absence of opportunities to obtain a Ph. D. in Spanish-related issues in the country, Vietnamese citizens need to go to an international research center, which is economically and vitally very demanding.

The solution here detailed is distance education in the Spanish language. It allows BA Spanish graduates to continue their studies coursing master and doctoral degrees without the necessity of going to another country –more in general, admitted people can also take BA studies. In the Spanish case, these degrees are wholly recognized by the public system and broadly admitted in the private sector when offered by public universities and some specific private universities. Furthermore, titles given by public distance Spanish universities are acknowledged by the rest of the universities in the country –also by most of the European universities– which supposes an automatic validation of studies the student has been taking, so that a person can take an online MA and then continue her Ph. D. studies in the traditional face-to-face manner in any Spanish university.

Nowadays, and thanks to the collaboration of the Spanish Embassy in Vietnam, it is already possible to study in Spanish distance universities or traditional face-to-face universities offering distance programs, taking the subsequent exams three times a year in the facilities of the institution mentioned above. During the last two years, one student at Universidad de Alcalá and one at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, both living in Hanoi, have benefited from this collaboration, and it is open to any student at the Spanish public universities.

However, distance education also presents cons. First, not all students can adapt to this modality, especially when focusing on language and communication. Second, in our case, not experiencing local Hispanic cultures, and research methodologies and facilities at local institutions handicap the overall training. To counterbalance these issues, educational institutions are prepared for short research and training stays, which helps to solve these lacks without implying the money and vital consumption of a whole face-to-face postgraduate degree.

In the next section, I detail the case of Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (from now on, UNED). However, it must be noted that it is not the only open Spanish university and that traditional face-to-face universities are also establishing an increasing number of online degrees. Furthermore, other countries in Latin America like Mexico and Argentina have also settled many open universities during the last twenty years. I exemplify the proposal with UNED because it is the oldest open university in the Hispanic world and has developed most collaboration protocols with Spanish institutions, among them Spanish Embassies worldwide.

  1. The specific case of UNED

The Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) was established in 1972 to provide tertiary education for areas and people who had access difficulties, at that time mainly people living in rural areas or specific groups, like prisoners. Rural exodus and communications improvement eased rural people studying at universities in the province capitals, but at the same time, some other people found UNED helpful to obtain a second bachelor, a master, or a postgraduate degree (UNED 2023a).

UNED presents 74 associated centers, 61 in Spain, 13 out of Spain, and 117 examination centers, 108 in Spain and 9 abroad. Since 1981, UNED has opened international associated centers in Buenos Aires, Caracas, Lima, México, Sao Paulo, Berlin, Berna, Brussels, Lisbon, London, Paris, Bata, Malabo, and international examination centers in Bogota, New York, Quito, Santiago de Chile, Seattle, Frankfurt, Munich, Oporto, and Rome. Furthermore, UNED has established collaboration agreements with the Spanish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Spanish Department of Defense so that any student can require for examination at Spanish Embassies or military facilities in exceptional situations (UNED 2023b). In 2022, UNED had 160.307 students, 6.932 students out of Spain, 143 in Asia, and 1 in Vietnam. These figures are increasing in Latin America (UNED 2023c).

Among the Spanish distance education options, UNED is the most institutionalized one, which eases collaboration with other Spanish institutions, like the net of Spanish Embassies or the AECID in Equatorial Guinea. On the other hand, UNED started its operations with a classical mail work philosophy, and with the irruption of the Internet during the 90s and its development until the present, the university platforms are sometimes obsolete or overlap. Old-fashioned and multiple interfaces, tools, and protocols make it difficult to study at UNED, and the university offers the students an introduction course. Online universities established afterward (e.g., UDIMA in 2006, UOC in 1995) usually have more intuitive platforms.

A MA at UNED costs about 2.000€, a BA costs about 4.000€-5.000€ in total –1.000€ every year, four years–, and a Ph. D. costs about 3.000€ in total –600€ every year, four years. These prices are indicative but include total costs –the tuition fee, the initial inscription fee, and the title, record, and English translation expenditure fees. They may vary slightly depending on the degree, and they are similar in the rest of Spanish public universities. However, Spanish private universities tend to be much more expensive.

  1. The proposal

Any person anywhere in the world, preferably Spanish speakers, can apply for studies at open Spanish universities. However, local titles are not immediately accepted, and academic commissions at the receiving universities must evaluate every particular case, which delays procedures. These admission procedures have three possible outcomes: total acceptance, refusal, or acceptance under certain conditions, typically requiring taking extra subjects to be accepted in the program and the studies. In addition, international validation by the Spanish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Spanish Department of Education may be required for students applying to BA studies.

Furthermore, Spanish Embassies can manage exceptional cases, as they are doing nowadays. However, they might not have the material and personal means to manage examinations for a growing number of students.

To solve both issues, I propose to establish collaboration between an open university and Hanoi University (from now on, HANU) to develop an examination center of an online university at HANU facilities and to create a protocol of studies validation that can benefit Vietnamese BA graduates in Spanish language who want to continue their training in Vietnam.

Focusing on the existing cases, UNED has often established its international centers thanks to agreements with other Spanish institutions –e.g. Spanish School Miguel de Cervantes at São Paulo, AECID at Equatorial Guinea centers– or renamed international universities or private companies –e.g. Microsoft in Seattle. For an Asian case, Universidad a Distancia de Madrid (from now on, UDIMA) has established an international center in Hong Kong, under an agreement with Rosaryhill Secondary School, where any student can take the MA in Spanish Teaching, the MA in Bilingual Teaching, and the Ph. D. in Education (UDIMA 2023).

My proposal establishes the creation of an examination center in HANU, but not an associated center. While I consider the former a feasible option, the latter implies more personal recruitment and larger material means –tutors and tutorships, classrooms, library, administrative staff– which are not affordable according to the possibilities of the current Vietnamese market of Spanish and Hispanism potential scholars.

Finally, such a center of an open university in HANU would serve not only HANU students and instructors but the whole of North Vietnam, and probably the whole country as well as surrounding countries like Cambodia and Laos. Spanish-related students in this area would have this examination center as a reference.

  1. The further step: the creation of a proper postgraduate degree

The aim of this communication is not the promotion of Spanish language distance universities in Vietnam or just the formation of students and teachers to help them to obtain MA or Ph. D. degrees in Hispanic Studies, but to sketch the general ideas and challenges to settle postgraduate studies related to Spanish language and Hispanic Cultures in Vietnam, and more specifically in Hanoi University.

In the previous sections, I have discussed how distance universities are feasible solutions to face the economic and logistic challenges taking postgraduate studies in any Hispanic country may suppose for Vietnamese citizens. Therefore, these institutions may favor Vietnamese teachers’ and student’ training.

Based on the proposed collaboration, the open Spanish university and HANU can establish further collaboration on research projects, exchange programs, materials, and mutual degree recognition once the postgraduate degree is founded in HANU. In other words, the distance university is not only a tool for Vietnamese teachers’ and students’ training, but it also may offer further support and mutual collaboration that benefit both parties, being the initial examination center the cornerstone of the whole partnership. Furthermore, between personnel training and the establishment of proper postgraduate studies, co-advisory of Ph. D. and MA theses by both a Hispanic professor and a Vietnamese professor is a compelling instrument to enhance the collaboration environment.

Finally, we should not forget that no degree establishment is possible without institutional support and a potential market of interested people.


The general factors for the establishment of a postgraduate degree anywhere are the accreditation and support of the hosting University and other related authorities, the existence of academically trained personnel, the availability of facilities to develop researching and teaching activities, the creation and implementation of a curriculum, and the existence of a potential market.

Accreditation and support of the hosting University and other related authorities are far from the scope of this communication, as well as the arrangement of facilities. About the existence of a potential market, I defend a pragmatic approach focused on economic activities for the interest of Vietnamese society. In this sense, postgraduate studies must pay special attention to tourism, business, and international relations. On the other hand, and following similar Asian experiences, I argue that generic postgraduate studies on foreign languages, business, and relations, with specificities and branches in Spanish, are a much more reliable and feasible option to ensure the success of these programs. Their curricula must be established according to these principles, again paying attention to what other Asian universities have developed during the last decades.

However, the hotspot of the present communication is personnel training. To establish a postgraduate program, professors must have deep conditioning, most of them holding doctorate degrees. Nevertheless, spending years in another institution to achieve this goal is very demanding economically and vitally. The proposed solution involves promoting distance education, with the possibility of mixing distance and face-to-face pieces of training. It must be noted that distance education is totally recognized in Spain and Europe, and it is already possible in Vietnam thanks to the collaboration of the Spanish Embassy –two cases in the last three years. In this sense, a partnership with a Hispanic distance university to establish an examination center would benefit current instructors and students who want to continue their training. In addition, it would ease examination procedures and validations. For example, UNED has a long international trajectory, Spanish institutional support, and competitive fees, while UDIMA has already founded an associated center in Hong Kong.

The alleged partnership would also suppose a starting point for further association on research projects, exchange programs, materials, and joint degree recognition once the proper postgraduate studies are created. Finally, the cooperation project, and more specifically, the foundation of an examination center of a Hispanic distance university, supposes a benefit for both Hanoi University and the Hispanic institution, and such mutual convenience, if honest, would assure the success of the collaboration.


ANECA [Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación] (2023), Listado de titulaciones. Accessed on February 15, 2023. Available on

Fernández Vítores, David (ed.); El español en el mundo: anuario del Instituto Cervantes 2022, Madrid, 2022. Available on

UDIMA [Universidad a DIstancia de MAdrid] (2023), Centros colaboradores. Accessed on February 15, 2023. Available on

UNED [Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia] (2023a), Conócenos. Accessed on February 15, 2023. Available on

UNED [Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia] (2023b), Solicitud de realización de exámenes en situación excepcional. Accessed on February 15, 2023. Available on https://serviI

UNED [Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia] (2023c), Portal estadístico. Accessed on February 15, 2023. Available on

University of the Philippines (2023), Graduate and Postgraduate. Accessed on February 15, 2023. Available on

Vietnam News Agency (2021, October 8). Webinar seeks to attract Spanish tourists to Vietnam. Accessed on February 15, 2023. Available on

Hispanic Social Place Names of Manila: Estudios de Lingüística Aplicada

Hispanic Social Place Names of Manila. My last article at Estudios de Lingüística Aplicada.

Place names mirror the social history of a territory, the daily life, and the relations of its settlers. Hispanic historical social place names in Manila depict the urban society during the colonial period. In the following pages, I gather and explain the living Hispanic toponyms coined before the 1945 Manila battle and discuss the different activities, peoples, and economic classes they depict. I conclude that different areas were prone to administrative, financial, leisure, military, nonprofit, rural, transport, and working-class activities: the distance to Intramuros, the core of the historical city, witnessed their relevance.

Download the whole pdf article here.

Major Place Names of Spain in Metro Manila: Moenia, Revista Lucense de Lingüística y Literatura

Major Place Names of Spain in Metro Manila. My last article at Moenia.

Joven-Romero, M.A. (2021). Major Place Names of Spain in Metro Manila. Moenia: Revista Lucense de Lingüística y Literatura, 27. 

Spanish place names are common in the Philippines due to historical reasons. Here I offer a comprehensive list of stable major place names of Spain in the National Capital Region of the Philippines (Metro Manila) and I analyze the results according to social, geographical, historical, and linguistic views. I finally defend that place names are coined and evolve according to historical, social, political, and economic reasons. Colonial past, population growth, and globalization are the leading causes for place names in Metro Manila.

Download the whole pdf article here.

Spanish is an endangered language

New Viejo Bridge, Manila, Philippines

In the 15th century, the kingdom of Aragon experienced a language switch: the Aragonese language used by medieval institutions -mainly notaries and court scribes- was changed into Castilian -currently Spanish- as ordered by the newly arrived dynasty of the Trastámara. Little by little, nobility and higher classes changed their language following the fashion introduced by the new kings, and then the middle classes. In the 16th century, almost every text in the kingdom was written in Castilian, and the old -and now vulgar- Aragonese language was used and preserved just by lower classes, mainly farmers at that time.

This is the basic linguistic history of Aragon usually referred to, and even if it is not false, it is not totally accurate (Tomás, 2020): the Spanish elements in the Aragonese texts appear some centuries before, under the influence of external cultural and political trends like the one offered by the Toledo School of Translators and Alfonso X “The Wise”. In the 14th century and even before, higher classes in Aragon spoke and wrote Aragonese language, but Spanish elements were popular, and that helped the fast language switch that occurred during the following century.

Back to the present, on May 29, 2022, Professor David Fernández Vítores offered a provocative interview about the current role and the future of the Spanish language, plenty of points rare to find out in the academic literature. According to professor Fernández Vítores, Spanish is not that powerful language that will menace the hegemony of English, but rather a declining language that needs to seek out a kind of agreement with English in the international linguistic market. Spanish is almost disappeared in the Philippines, its influence has dramatically decreased in Morocco, and the Hispanic community of the USA, even if proud of being Hispanic, do not always transmit the language to the new generations. And people who state they speak Spanish sometimes do not properly handle the language. In these and other cases, Spanish is residually used as a folk element at specific moments, as the Aragonese language is used in traditional festivities in many Aragonese villages where the settlers hardly use it.

Nowadays, English is the language of science, research, and technicalities, and higher classes handle English, educating their children in the international language: even if most of the peoples speak other languages, English is the language of powers and intellectuals, and the middle classes are imitating the trend. English is also the lingua franca, the one speakers of different languages use at encounters, at short and middle migrations, or to give foreigners basic instructions. In the Aragonese Middle Ages, the powerful language was Latin, and lingua franca was rarely a concern as Romance languages were close enough to allow communication.  

Nowadays, Spanish is the language of leisure. The language of Despacito song, Shakira, J.Lo, Becky G, Daddy Yankee, or Maluma, the language of songs talking about sex, drugs, and alcohol. It is the language to be listened to while drinking cocktails and twerking at ‘Spanish’ night, after an exhausting researching and working serious ‘English’ day. Interestingly, between the 17th and 20th centuries, farm tales called pastoradas were popular in some Aragonese areas, and they were often dramatized in festivities. These tales represented the society at that time, with its powers and peoples, and the mocking and rude dialogs between the mairal and the rapatán (head shepherd and trainee shepherd) were the only ones written and represented in Aragonese (Benítez & Latas, 2022).

Spanish is not experiencing the language switch Aragonese language experienced in the 15th century. Not yet. But powers and peoples are developing the breeding ground to allow such a switch if there is political pressure in the close future, as happened to the Aragonese language. And even if there is not such a political effect in the Spanish case, such a future might be inevitable anyway.


Benítez, M.P., & Latas, Ó. (2022). Sobre la pastorada aragonesa: Estudio filológico de las pastoradas en aragonés del siglo XVII. Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza.

Tomás, G. (2020). El aragonés medieval: lengua y Estado en el reino de Aragón. Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza.

Villarino, Á. (May 29, 2022). ¿El español va a desbancar al inglés? En realidad está en retirada en todos estos países. ElConfidencial.

Five years of my first Ph. D.: my experience at the Department of Logic, History and Philosophy of Science, UNED

On May 5th, 2017, I defended my first Ph. D., in Philosophy, at the Department of Logic, History and Philosophy of Science (Spanish acronym: LHFC) of the National University of Distance Education (Spanish acronym: UNED), after four years of work thanks to a grant given by the Aragonese Government. Five years later, with much more life experience, I would like to express my views about my stay there.

First, I feel I could have done more at LHFC. Honestly, I did not arrive at my best personal moment, but personal reasons are hardly an excuse. With my current experience and in my present moment, things could have been different.

But at the same time, I did not receive proper support there. My advisor, Doctor Jesús Zamora Bonilla, was absent from his duties during the four years. I was lost, he gave me no path to follow -or better said, he gave me a different one every time we talked during the first year- and he was just trying to find a co-advisor to do his job. I only realized he was following my updates when he used them in a SEFA Congress presentation. And he seemed to be much more worried about political and writing development and promotion, than about researching, teaching, and advising. Luckily, he posed no trouble when I deposited the thesis. Honestly, I do not understand why to accept a Ph. D. student if you will not dedicate him time enough.

A different opinion deserves Doctor David Teira Serrano, the Head of Department at that time, with a bad reputation that I could experience in my first department meeting, when another professor and he told each other to “fuck off”. However, he was always helpful to me, he helped me so much with my first publication, and he gave me some pieces of advice that I considered useless at that time, but that turned out to be astonishingly useful over time.  

I was also lucky of meeting great researchers at the department, and one of them, Cristian Saborido admitted twice that “they could have done more with me” -honestly, if you are going to say that and then you will do nothing, it is better to shut up and leave hypocrisy away. It was also sad to meet great researchers and people that could not flourish in such a negative context.

One day I was talking to a Galician predoc colleague about how difficult was to live in Madrid with a salary of 1,000 euros. Last two years I decided to live in Zaragoza, and I went to Madrid once or twice a week. There was no other option: something people from Madrid did not take always into account in informal discussion.  And UNED is a state university, not a Madrid university -the same university in which I pursued my second Ph. D., in Philology, as an on-line student, in a better personal moment and with two better advisors, Doctor José Ramón Carriazo Ruiz (UNED) and Doctor Jorge Mojarro Romero (UST, Manila).

In short, after five years of amazing professional and vital experience in much better contexts (2017-2022), now I feel I arrived in a bad place at a bad moment when I did my Ph. D. in Philosophy at the Department of Logic, History and Philosophy of Science at UNED. I feel I could have done more there. I feel they did not help me as they could. But far from being a trauma, it was another life experience to acquire both personal and research skills, to learn to differentiate among friends, enemies, and -the trickiest ones- false friends.

Note: Someday I will talk about the selection procedures there at LHFC.

Press Appearance: Arainfo

Recent Press Appearance: Arainfo (April 8, 2022: in Spanish).

Arainfo (2022, April 8). La lengua aragonesa llega a Vietnam[Press release]. Retrieved from

Un total de 124 alumnos de la Universidad de Hanoi (Vietnam) están conociendo la lengua aragonesa en el presente curso 2021/2022 en el marco de la asignatura de Lingüística Peninsular, de la carrera de Filología Hispánica impartida por dicha institución.

En estas clases introductorias, los alumnos están conociendo la historia del aragonés, su situación sociopolítica, su presencia en la enseñanza, en los medios de comunicación y sus crecientes comunidades neohablantes. También han recibido nociones sobre aspectos introductorios gramaticales y léxicos del aragonés, y se han ejercitado en situaciones básicas en aragonés. Como proyectos finales, algunos alumnos han elaborado producciones audiovisuales y pequeñas obras de teatro en aragonés, que han expuesto a toda la comunidad universitaria.

El seminario de introducción a la lengua aragonesa y el conjunto de la asignatura Lingüística Peninsular son impartidos por el doctor Marco Antonio Joven Romero, profesor del Departamento de Lengua Española de la Universidad de Hanoi (Đại học Hà Nội. Acrónimo inglés: HANU) en colaboración con la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) y el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación (MAEC).

PhD Thesis: Hispanic Place Names of Manila

Hispanic Place Names of Manila, my second PhD dissertation at UNED, in Philology, under the advisory of professors José Ramón Carriazo Ruiz and Jorge Mojarro Romero.

Hispanic Geographical Place Names of Metro Manila: Anuari de Filologia, Estudis de Lingüística

Hispanic Geographical Place Names of Metro Manila. My last article at Anuari de Filologia.

Joven-Romero, M.A. (2021). Hispanic Geographical Place Names of Metro Manila. Anuari de Filologia: Estudis de Lingüística, 11, 17-44.

Place names print the physical characteristics of the territory they name and Hispanic geographical place names in Metro Manila depict the geography of the region. In the following pages, I extract and explain the living Hispanic geographical toponyms in Metro Manila, and I discuss the different physical features they describe according to these categories: Body of Water, Farming, Fluvial, Land, Sea, Underground, Urban, Vegetation. I conclude that items responding to different categories follow specific space patterns according to the physical characteristics of the territory and the Spanish colonial activity

Download the whole pdf article here.

Press Appearance: Interview at The Manila Times

Interview at The Manila Times, on ocassion of my second doctoral dissertation: Hispanic Place Names of Manila.

Mojarro, J. (2021, December 21). A doctoral dissertation on the street names of Manila [Press release]. The Manila Times. Retrieved from

MARCO Antonio Joven Romero is a native of Zaragoza, Spain. He spent three years in the Philippines as a lecturer of Spanish language at the University of Santo Tomás. Despite having a Ph.D. in philosophy, he decided to pursue a second Ph.D. in linguistics at UNED, Spain. The topic he chose for his doctoral dissertation was the toponymy of the streets of Manila, a city that, as he has declared many times, he loves so much. Given that I am not only his friend, but also the co-director of his dissertation, I take advantage of this circumstance to interview him for The Manila Times.

Marco, what did you know about the Philippines before coming to teach? And why did you choose this archipelago as your destination for three years?

Honestly, it was quite random. I was going through the worst time of my life: my father died in 2013, I could not — and in some way I still cannot — accept it, and I had never been comfortable in Zaragoza, the place where I was born. A good friend, Jesús, recommended that I go to Asia because of my personality, and there was an option as an AECID lecturer (Spanish Cooperation Agency). I took it. That was the best choice of my life.


You have told me several times that you love the city, that Manila is the best place to be. Why is that when so many people claim this city is unlivable? Is your love for the city what made you carry out research on its street names?

Manila is not an easy city, but it is the city that made me happy, and at the same time, it was the place where I could learn a lot of things about life. It was the city that made me a real adult. People of Manila always loved me, and I loved Manila people too — although sometimes I also hurt some people because of my lack of maturity. I am an active person, and I could not stop meeting people and covering every small alley of Metro Manila. When I arrived in Manila, I was an adventurer, and Manila is the best city for adventures. Before coming to Manila, I also carried out a study of Aragonese toponymy in A Fueba in the province of Huesca in western Spain. So, I had all the academic and personal ingredients to carry out a study of the Hispanic place names of Metro Manila.


How did you carry out your research? Could you tell us any curiosity that happened while doing fieldwork?

There are three main methodological steps in this work: more than 800 surveys of settlers of all the cities and districts of Metro Manila, a research on the previous studies and maps, and my personal fieldwork all over the area.

About curiosities, I covered Aroma and Happyland, two of the poorest slums in Metro Manila, for two days with my friend Alejandro Ernesto, a photo reporter. The first day he left his cellphone in his motorcycle and the second day he forgot the motorcycle keys. After entire days covering the dumps, no one took the cellphone or the keys! On another occasion, I was covering a cemetery where some people live, and I could hear a couple having sex — I suppose on a tomb. And when I went to Señorita Street and surroundings, I could not stop hearing the song “Señorita” by Camila Cabello, which the locals boasted about.


Could you tell us what are the three most remarkable findings of your research?

First, around 55 percent of toponyms from the Spanish period are preserved while around 45 percent are lost. Considering the new toponyms, around 75 percent are Hispanic. I think these figures are interesting when dealing with the recurrent debate on Hispanic place names in the Philippines.

Second, the preserved Hispanic place names of Manila reflect the society of the city during the Spanish period: a kernel in Intramuros, the rising bourgeoisie in Binondo — and to a lesser extent in Ermita — and the rest of the classes and activities further away. The furthest place names refer to farm and logistics activities.

Third, most of the recent place names in Metro Manila do not adhere to popular naming processes or to administrative-political norms, but to pure economic factors. Economic power is creating new cities and districts — e.g. BGC, Ortigas, some places in Makati, and so on — coining new place names according to markets.


What do you think of the habit of local politicians who in an attempt to immortalize their names, replace the previous names of the streets with their own? Do you think the Philippines needs some legislation regarding this topic?

I am sad every time a place name is changed or lost, in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world. Let me say that most of what we know about Celtic and Iberian peoples in Spain is because of preserved place names. And some of them seem to refer to local leaders, probably tyrants! Place names have crystallized, and they are preserved more than any other linguistic feature. And following the previous example, Celtic and Iberian languages disappeared in Spain millennia ago, but we still have these names. They are a treasure that allows us to partially know these languages too. The Spanish language is almost lost in the Philippines, but the Hispanic toponyms show the history, the identity and the geography of the country, and they also show some of the characteristics of the Filipino-Spanish language. About legislation, the Philippines and all the countries of the world must be conscious of the significance of place names.


Do you expect to carry out further research on the Philippines or do you want to move on to another thing already?

If possible, I would like to continue studying Hispanic place names in the Philippines. Even more, I would like to return to the Philippines and make a life in the country that has made me happy. However, due to the pandemic and my work, I do not find it easy. Furthermore, when I arrived in Manila, I was an adventurer. Now, I am looking forward to more stability, and I am not sure Manila is the best city for that. But finding such stability in the Philippines is my greatest desire. Let me add that the study of place names in the Philippines is not developed, and while the cities show social place names, the rest of the country presents a vast number of geographic place names to be studied.


Do you believe Metro Manileños should be proud of their city? Why?

Totally. Manila is an unknown city with many attractions. Reporters from several Spanish television networks agree with me: they were delighted when I showed them the “unknown” city. And contrary to what is sometimes stated, it is safe. Actually, Manila is not a city but a set of cities with different cultures and even language differences. Manilans are friendly and that compensates for the traffic and pollution problems. However, far from romanticizing the existent huge inequalities, the city must work to solve them. If there is something the people of Manila cannot be proud of, it is precisely the inequality in the city, which is translated into an extreme daily slavery that I hesitate to say existed any time before.

PhD in Philology: Hispanic Place Names of Manila

Hispanic Place Names of Manila. PhD Defense.

On December 15, 2021, I defended my second PhD, in Philology at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED, Spain): Hispanic Place Names of Manila, a research work carried out between 2017 and 2021, which I have introduced in several papers and media.

I obtained a calification of Outstanding with Distinction Cum Laude by a tribunal formed by professors Francisco Moreno Fernández, Celia Casado Fresnillo, and Daisy López Pargas. The advisors for the thesis were professors José Ramón Carriazo Ruiz and Jorge Mojarro Romero.

The thesis will be available soon at UNED’s public repository.

Toponimia Hispánica Social de Manila. Glosas: Revista de la Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española

Toponimia Hispánica Social de Manila. My last Philology article at Glosas. 

Joven-Romero, M.A. (2021). Toponimia Hispánica Social de Manila. Glosas: Revista de la Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española, 10(1), 66-102.

Place names mirror the social history of a territory, the daily life and power relations of its settlers. Hispanic historical social place names in Manila depict the society of the city during the colonial period. Here I extract and explain the living toponyms coined before the battle of Manila in 1945, and I discuss the different activities, peoples, and economic classes they depict. I conclude that different areas were prone to administrative, financial, leisure, military, non-profit, rural, transport, and working-class activities, at different distances from the heart in Intramuros according to their relevance.

Download the whole pdf article here.

Lecture at University of Santo Tomas: Aragonese Language (in English)

Aragonese Language

Lecture conducted for the University of Santo Tomas on September 25, 2021 (in English).

Location and organizers: Department of Modern Languages, University of Santo Tomas (Manila, online).
Date: September 25, 2021

Should You Shut Up? Experts, Spectators, and Charlatans

People want to talk. And people want to talk more and more during crisis periods. And we are living a turbulent period now. So people are talking more and more, and most of the times they are not willing to listen. Of course, I am thinking about Covid-related issues -measures, vaccines, forecasts-, but more in general, about the largest social dilemma nowadays: expertise or democracy?

But before dealing with the dilemma and before giving or considering opinions on topics, three categories of subjects must be established: Experts, Spectators, and Charlatans.

Experts are the ones in the field, those who have studied and worked the topic for many years and present knowledge and skills the rest of people do not have. A virologist when talking about viruses, an auto mechanic when considering cars, or a footballer when playing football are experts in their fields.

Spectators correspond to trained audience. Doctors should be spectators on Covid, as well as any person who has got an interest on the topic followed by hours of witnessing, experiencing, or studying. People who have been recently reading and analyzing studies and measures on Covid are spectators, as well as football fans and sports commentators, or particulars fond of cars having tried many of them: they cannot develop further research, but they can evaluate experts work.

Charlatans are just charlatans. People with no experience or training in the field, but giving opinions and even trying to influence decisions with no idea. Covid commentators grabbing a beer, me in the case of football, or people who have never driven a car are the counterparts here.

When considering the debate expertise vs. democracy, the former sets decisions focusing on experts, while the latter must set decisions giving more relevance to spectators -but never to charlatans!

Furthermore, we often tend to consider that experts’ studies and opinions must converge, while that is not true -actually, I would say that is false most of the times. That does not mean that some experts are efficient and reliable while others not: there may be better and worse experts, but if they are not efficient and reliable enough, then they are not experts at all but probably charlatans. It is just that their studies drove them to different results. And, at the very first, all of them are correct if they followed a rigorous scientific methodology.

Establishing boundaries between the three categories is challenging too, especially between spectators and charlatans. When does an individual have training enough in order to be considered a spectator? Obviously, it depends on the case, and not all the spectators are equally trained and reliable in their opinions. But just let me argue that some rhetorical and philosophical universal tools are useful in order to detect charlatans, and they are also suitable for becoming a good spectator in most of the fields -clue: often charlatans are not able to listen to others and they tend to devalue experts.

And what about the common individual who wants to become an spectator? Now the last clue of this post appears: dissemination, that is, the bridge between the experts work and knowledge, and masses, done by the very experts and experts on dissemination. Unluckily, many current media pretend to disseminate while they are not -many times masking non-scientific purposes-, and masses have not some basic tools to detect fake dissemination, feeling they have reliable information when they do not. Again, philosophical tools are essential to counterpart machination, and they should be included in our education systems since a very early age.

Lecture at Universidade de Brasília: Aragonese Language

Aragonese Language / Lengua aragonesa

Lecture conducted for the Instituto de Letras of the Universidade de Brasília on May 24, 2021 (in Spanish).

Location and organizers: Universidade de Brasilia (online), in collaboration with MAEC-AECID (Government of Spain).
Date: May 24, 2021.