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

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).

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.

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

Are “dangerous” places really dangerous?

When I moved to Manila in 2017, many people in Zaragoza seemed to be worried about me: Why are you going to such a dangerous place? Haven’t you heard about the ‘War on Drugs’? Honestly, I did not care: many of those people only showed jealousy and toxicity during their lives, and their comments would never be positive. On the other hand, I was exhausted of Zaragoza and Spain -I still am-, and I needed to flee as far as possible.

I lived in Manila for three years and I did not experience any violence against me. Just the opposite. And I frequented extremely poor places at any time. I remember two days with my good friend Alejandro Ernesto covering the barangays of HappyLand and Aroma, two of the poorest slums of the city -and I would say of the world-, plenty of garbage where people crammed into tiny shacks. One day, we forgot a cellphone in the motorbike, but we came back after half an hour and the cellphone was still there. And believe me, everybody was looking at us and realizing from the very first moment. The second day, we left the motorbike key inserted. We spent the whole day in the area and when we came back, the motorbike was still there, and an elderly woman came to us: she kept the key for us.

It is two months since I arrived to Rio de Janeiro, and when I moved similar comments were made: be careful, it is not safe, and avoid favelas! Well, I have been a few times to different favelas, and even if they are not as safe as Filipino barryos, they are not as dangerous as it is usually said. I would say they are safer than more touristic spots like Copacabana, Ipanema, or Lapa. People in favelas are poor -not as poor as in the Philippines- but again friendly, and even if they have a parallel cartel government, they follow their laws and they do not want stupid concerns. So, if you are not willing for troubles and you are intelligent enough, you will be safe, or at least, safer than in touristic hotspots.

But why the western perspective focuses so much on violence and poverty? Here I give three reasons: violence is morbidness, poverty is associated to violence, and violence devalues emerging tourist competitors.

(i) Violence is morbidness. Violence, as well as power and sex, attracts attention. And media want to get your steady attention. Then, they will monetize such attention. Violent content is a good strategy to achieve this goal, although it does not limit to slums violence. Any violence is suitable.

(ii) Association between poverty and violence. A self-defending human psychological strategy is to associate the unknown and danger. Middle-class and upper-class people tend to associate poverty, the unknown, with violence, the danger. Western people are mostly middle-class and upper-class people in a global scale, and they fit this thinking, as well as upper-class people in poor countries, who live close to these lowly areas but panicking them. This association between poverty and violence is unjustified.

(iii) Emerging countries are tourist competitors. Tourism benefits western countries more than emerging countries: western population tend to travel to other western countries, while middle and upper-class people in the emerging and poor countries also travel to western countries, the cultural references. However, emerging countries like the Philippines and Brazil offer tourist appeals western countries do not have, and they are increasing their tourist activity in detriment of traditional western tourist countries like France, Spain, or the United States. Promoting a reputation of danger and violence on the former is a means to halt this evolution.

There is no totally safe place or situation in our lives. Even if reduced, there is always a possibility for a problem. Are poor “dangerous” places totally safe? Of course not. Are poor “dangerous” places really dangerous? Not as much as many non-poor places.

Lecture at University of Santo Tomas

Historical, Social, and Geographical Hispanic Place Names in Metro Manila

Lecture conducted for the Department of Modern Languages of the University of Santo Tomas on March 12, 2021 (in English).

Location: University of Santo Tomas (online)
Date: March 12, 2021

Radio interview at ‘Investigadores por el Mundo’

Or click here for the ivoox site.

[English] Radio interview at Investigadores por el Mundo (Libertad FM), talking about Hispanic Place Names of Manila [November 17, 2020; in Spanish]

[Español] Aparición en el programa de radio Investigadores por el Mundo (Libertad FM), hablando de Toponimia Hispánica de Manila [17 de noviembre de 2020; en español]

[Pilipino] Ang pagganap ng aking Investigadores por el Mundo (Libertad FM), pinag-uusapan ang tungkol sa Hispanic Place Names of Manila [Nobyembre 17, 2020; sa Espanyol]

[Aragonés] Aparición en o programa de radio Investigadores por el Mundo (Libertad FM), fablando de Toponimia Hispánica de Manila [17 de noviembre de 2020; en español]

Coefficient of Joven-Romero: a fair tool to analyze Covid-19 impact.

, being ‘x’ a specific territory.

Abstract: Here I propose a Mathematical Coefficient to easily analyze Covid-19 incidence and evolution in different territories, allowing fair comparisons. The final goal is to provide a tool to avoid biased and unfair information, showing transparent and easy data in Media and Public Administration.

On October 12, 2020, the UK registered 17.232 new Covid-19 cases. The Spanish region of Aragon notified 357 cases (both data were given on October 13, 2020). At first sight, it seems that Aragon is having much better numbers than the UK, but if we take into consideration the total population of each territory -and we should- that is no longer the case. Aragon comprises 1,328,753 people, while the UK comprises 66,796,807 people, so that may explain the initial difference in the number of positive cases. A good measure to take into consideration the total population is to divide the number of positive cases by the total population:Aragon presented slightly worse numbers than the UK on October 12. However, the total population is not the only parameter we may consider if we want to be fair when analyzing and comparing. PCR tests are another hotspot, as some places are testing more than others. It is clear than the more testing in a territory, the more positive cases. Similar, a good measure to take into account the number of PCR tests done is to divide the total number of positives by the number of PCRs done:Aragon is depicting much worse figures. However, with this other measure we forget about the total population.

My proposal gathers these three different parameters: number of positive cases, total population and testing numbers. Coefficient of Joven-Romero is a number between 0 and 1, in which the closer to 0, the better, while the closer to 1, the worse: 0 ≤ CJR(x) ≤ 1. Note that 1 would mean that all the population in a territory have been tested and all of them have got positive Covid-19 results. On October 12, Aragon had a Coefficient of Joven-Romero of 0.0070606316 and the UK had a Coefficient of Joven-Romero of 0.0045051869. That means that Aragon had a 63.80713731% more Covid-19 impact that day (CJR(UK) / CJR(Aragon)). Public Administration and Medical Experts would establish limits and thresholds in this Coefficient of Joven-Romero in order to declare different Covid-19 impact levels, and subsequently, different measures.

Other parameters like the number of casualties or the ICU units occupied by Covid-19 patients may be considered too. However, they are not easy to establish: there are different criteria for ICU, some Covid-19 deceased patients presented other diseases, additional data are difficult to obtain in some territories, the weight these other factors must have in the final formula is debatable, etc.

The purpose of this coefficient is to easily communicate accurate information that allows fair and precise analysis and comparison. Coefficient of Joven-Romero is not addressed to Mathematicians, Statisticians or even Scientists in general, but to Media and Public Administration in order to avoid the spread of biased or unfair data, and to facilitate easy but accurate information transmission on Covid-19. According to this coefficient and this information, different Covid-19 impact levels and subsequent measures might be established.


  • I only consider PCR testing as that is currently the only feasible testing method to detect Covid-19.
  • At the beginning, I was willing to exemplify the proposed Coefficient of Joven-Romero with data from the UK and Spain. Unfortunately, Spanish official data are incomplete and unclear, and that made impossible such comparison. Then, I decided to use the Aragonese official data, well collected in the below-stated link.

Sources (UK Official Covid-19 Data) [Accessed on October 13] (Aragon Official Covid-19 Data) [Accessed on October 13]

Reggaeton: much more than a feminist matter

Abstract: Reggaeton is one of the main musical and cultural exponents of the Hispanic contemporary world. Feminist analysis and criticism are common, and the style itself is evolving. Here I defend that Reggaeton is not just a feminist issue, but a class phenomenon.

In the attached clip, Spanish X-Factor judge Eva Perales strongly criticizes Reggaeton music, and more specifically, an amateur couple made of two Hispanic migrant men. Some of the sentences and arguments of Perales are:

(i) Have you ever listened something else apart from Reggaeton?
(ii) Reggaeton damages me as a woman (…) I do not like sexist lyrics (…) Why don’t you talk about women in other way?
(iii) [After mocking] Reggaeton kicks my ass.

The song, sentences and arguments from the Crazy Boys state:

(i) [Song The Maniatic Girl] Look, I fancy the Maniatic Girl (…) I like your body, and you all (…) You make me brutally horn (… ) You are easy, you flirt me and I become crazy, crazy.
(ii) [To Perales] You are abusing the weak.
(iii) Reggaeton is music too.
(iv) You are a racist of the music.

Even when this episode happened in 2008 and it might be intentionally prepared and streamed, similar scenes following same patters have happened during the last decade. In general terms, feminism activists and scholars have analyzed and criticized Reggaeton, and former and new Reggaeton singers have lately adapted (Merlyn 2020, Morales 2020, Villagra 2007). Sexism is highlighted, but Reggaeton is also considered violent and vulgar in comparison with already settled genres. The attached clip perfectly prints Reggaeton hotspots. 

Reggaeton spread during the 90’s in Hispanic America among lower class societies and it tended to print their reality characterized by discrimination, sexism, violence and vulgarity. Upper class Hispanic American societies criticized and ridiculed the new style. Spanish society, richer in average and many times far from Hispanic American contemporary currents, first ignored Reggaeton and then criticized it, similarly to upper class Hispanics. However, the new style has been powerful enough to permeate into the whole Hispanic -and Global- society (Carballo 2007). On the other hand, singers are adapting and blurring its sexism, violence and vulgarity, and sometimes it is used for vindicating feminism and women. Here I remark that there also are geographical, racial and normative aspects, and all of them, together with the feminist issue, rely on a class difference.

Geographical difference

Reggaeton spread in Hispanic American countries. Only after a decade, it was introduced in Spain among criticism. The America-Europe difference towards Reggaeton is still present. Reggaeton in Spain responds to Hispanic migrants and global tendencies more than to linguistic, cultural or historical ties. Economic standards in Spain tend to be higher than in Hispanic American countries, while Hispanic migrants in Spain tend to hold worse positions.

Racial difference

Inside Hispanic American countries, racially speaking Reggaeton is more popular among Hispanics than among Europeans and Caucasians. Links between race and class in Hispanic America are well known and deeply studied, showing a tendency of middle and lower classes being Hispanic mestizo and aborigines, while upper classes maintaining Caucasian features (Domínguez 2018; McCaa, Schwartz & Grubessich 1979). In Spain, Reggaeton is far more popular among Hispanic migrants.

Normative aspect

Reggaeton has been devalued in comparison with mainstream already established genres: the norm. Reggeaton’s sexism, violence and vulgarity, derived from lower class styles and ways of living, is attacked from upper class people and established genres creators. However, as it happened with many other cultural manifestations, Reggaeton -or at least, a soft Reggaeton- is permeating, convincing global spectra and making norm.


Eva Perales and the Crazy Boys discussion was rapidly analyzed from feminism. But it is much more than a feminist matter: it is a woman criticizing sexist singers and styles, but also a Spanish criticizing two Hispanic American migrants, a white manager criticizing two dark-skinned mestizo creators, a rock lover criticizing Latin music, and ultimately, a rich person criticizing two poor people.

The real difference underlying the whole discussion is economic. Poverty and discrimination explain rough sexism among low class people, the refusal to mainstream styles and the emergence of new subversive styles. Upper class people tend to defend the establishment, in this case represented by settled genres. In the Hispanic America context, economic difference is linked to race difference, and the same economic difference partly defines differences between Spain and Hispanic America. Many times, Spanish and upper class people criticize sexism, vulgarity and violence, but they do not focus on the real problem: poverty.


Carballo, P. (2007). Reggaeton e identidad masculina. Intercambio, 3 (4), 87-101.

Domínguez, J. I. (2018). Race and ethnicity in Latin America. Routledge.

McCaa, R., Schwartz, S. B., & Grubessich, A. (1979). Race and class in Colonial Latin America: A critique. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 21(3), 421-433.

Merlyn, M. F. (2020). Tell me what you listen to and i will tell you who you are. Representing women in 100 of the more popular reggaeton songs in 2018. Feminismo/s, (35).

Morales, C. D. (2020). Una propuesta para el análisis de los estereotipos femeninos en los videoclips de reggaeton: Caso práctico de los cuatro vídeos más vistos en 2018 en YouTube. Revista Internacional de Cultura Visual, 7(1), 13-26.

TV appearance at ‘Culture Shock’

[English] TV appearance at Culture Shock (UST Tiger TV) talking about my academic activities and my everyday life at University of Santo Tomas (Manila, Philippines) [Second Term, 2020]

[Español] Aparición en el programa de televisión Culture Shock (UST Tiger TV) hablando de mi actividad académica y mi vida diaria en la Universidad de Santo Tomás (Manila, FIlipinas) [Segundo cuatrimestre, 2020]

[Aragonés] Aparición en o programa de televisión Culture Shock (UST Tiger TV) fablando d’a mía actividat academica y a mía vida diaria en a Universidat de Santo Tomás (Manila, Filipinas) [Segundo cuatrimestre, 2020]

[Pilipino] Ang pagganap ng aking Culture Shock (UST Tiger TV). Ipinakita ko ang aking mga akademikong gawain at ang aking pang-araw-araw na buhay sa University of Santo Tomas Manila, Pilipinas) [Pangalawan termino, 2020]

Recent Press Appearances

[English] Recent Press Appearances: Agencia EFE and associated press (May 22: in Spanish), and The Manila Times (May 19: in English).

[Español] Apariciones recientes en prensa: Agencia EFE y medios asociados (22 de mayo: en español), y The Manila Times (19 de mayo: en inglés).

Gómez, S. (2020, May 22). El chabacano se refina para sobrevivir [Press release]. Agencia EFE. Retrieved from


El uso extendido de inglés y tagalo -originario de la isla de Luzón, la mayor de Filipinas, y adoptado como lengua nacional- está menoscabando el uso de las más de 170 lenguas minoritarias del país, “relegadas a las clases populares, gente mayor y al ámbito familiar”, explica a Efe el profesor de español en la Universidad Santo Tomás de Manila, Marco Joven-Romero.

“Pero eso distingue en la actualidad al chabacano, que aunque pierda hablantes, sí goza de cierto estatus social. Ya no es vista como una lengua vulgar porque es criolla española, heredada de la elite cultural clásica”, explica este estudioso de los hispanismos en las lenguas filipinas.

El chabacano simplifica la conjugación de los verbos, así como la distinción de género y número, algo que la elite cultural española de la colonia veía como una corrupción vulgar y barriobajera de la lengua cervantina, consideración que ahora está cambiando.


Joven aclara que el chabacano es en realidad una familia de lenguas con variantes como el zamboangueño o chabacano de Zamboanga, el más hablado, pero también existen el cotabateño de Cotabato o el akbay en Davao -versiones extintas en esas ciudades de Mindanao-.

En la isla de Luzón, las variantes del chabacano son el caviteño (en la ciudad de Cavite), ternateño (en el pueblo de Ternate, provincia de Cavite) y el ermiteño (en Ermita, barrio de Manila), cuyo último hablante murió a principios de los 2000.

“Los lingüistas no se ponen de acuerdo en si los hablantes de las diferentes versiones del chabacano se entienden entre ellos. Mi impresión es que se pueden llegar a entender, pero seguramente están más cómodos hablando otra lengua común”, indica Joven.

Se cree la primera variante de chabacano nació en la base naval española de Cavite, cercana a Manila, a principios del siglo XVII, entre los trabajadores traídos de México y otras partes de Filipinas que mezclaron sus idiomas con el español del capataz. Muchos de ellos luego emigraron en Zamboanga para construir la fortaleza.

El caviteño conserva tan solo unos 300 hablantes en los barrios de San Roque y Caridad, el casco antiguo de Cavite, aunque la lengua goza de prestigio e integra la identidad cultural de la ciudad.

Más curioso es el caso del ternateño, chabacano con sabor portugués que mantiene unos 3.000 hablantes en la pequeña localidad de Ternate, donde en 1663 se instalaron nativos y mestizos de las islas Molucas -donde España y Portugal reinaron conjuntamente entre 1580 y 1640- tras ser invadidas por Holanda.

La Corona Española cedió ese territorio al suroeste de Luzón a unas 200 familias de las Molucas que se mantuvieron fieles a España e importaron a Filipinas su particular versión del chabacano que aún sobrevive.

Other sources for the same piece of news:

Mojarro, J. (2020, May 19). Father Peláez and his search for justice [Press release]. The Manila Times. Retrieved from

A few weeks ago, I asked Dr. Marco A. Joven-Romero, a Spanish instructor at the University of Santo Tomas, how many streets in Metro Manila carried the name “Peláez.” He is the right person to ask because he is finishing a doctoral dissertation on the history of the toponymy of the streets of Manila. He pointed out three completely irrelevant and hidden streets in Manila, Parañaque and Quezon City. Apart from that, there is a small primary school bearing his name. Nothing else.

TV appearance at ‘Charrín Charrán’

Promo ad. Speaking Tagalog and Aragonese:

[English] TV appearance at Charrín Charrán (AragónTV) showing my academic activities and my everyday life in Manila during the Coronavirus crisis, and promo ad in Tagalog and Aragonese [April 26, 2020]

[Español] Aparición en el programa de televisión Charrín Charrán (AragónTV) mostrando mi actividad académica y mi vida diaria en Manila durante la crisis del coronavirus, y anuncio promocional en Tagalo y Aragonés [26 de abril de 2020]

[Aragonés] Aparición en o programa de televisión Charrín Charrán (AragónTV) amostrando a mía actividat academica y a mía vida diaria en Manila mientras a crisi d’o conoravirus, y anuncio promocional en Tagalo y Aragonés [26 d’abril de 2020]

[Pilipino] Ang pagganap ng aking Charrín Charrán (AragónTV). Ipinakita ko ang aking mga akademikong gawain at ang aking pang-araw-araw na buhay sa Maynila sa panahon ng coronavirus, at promo ad sa Tagalog at Aragonese [Abril 26, 2020]

TV appearance at ‘Aragoneses por el Mundo’ Special Coronavirus: Manila

[English] TV appearance at Aragoneses por el Mundo. Special Coronavirus (AragónTV) showing my academic activities and my everyday life in Manila during the Coronavirus crisis [April 25, 2020]

[Español] Aparición en el programa de televisión Aragoneses por el Mundo. Especial Coronavirus (AragónTV) mostrando mi actividad académica y mi vida diaria en Manila durante la crisis del coronavirus [25 de abril de 2020]

[Aragonés] Aparición en o programa de televisión Aragoneses por el Mundo. Especial Coronavirus (AragónTV) amostrando a mía actividat academica y a mía vida diaria en Manila mientras a crisi d’o conoravirus [25 d’abril de 2020]

[Pilipino] Ang pagganap ng aking Aragoneses por el Mundo. Especial Coronavirus (AragónTV). Ipinakita ko ang aking mga akademikong gawain at ang aking pang-araw-araw na buhay sa Maynila sa panahon ng coronavirus [Abril 25, 2020]