Differences Between The Chabacano of Zamboanga and the Chavacano in Cavite city

Just a few hours ago, I encountered a very interesting blog called Habla Chabacano. The said blog is about Cavite and it's Chabacano. I found this amusing because I speak Chabacano de Zamboanga. As I read the posts in Habla Chabacano blog (which were partly in Chabacano), I quickly spotted the differences/similarities between Chabacano de Zamboanga y de Cavite.
First off, the Chabacano of Cavite is more spanish sounding than that of Zamboanga. The structure is also closer to Spanish. The sentence: What is Gina doing? would translate to:

Chabacano de Zamboanga: Cosa ta hace si Gina?

Chabacano de Cavite: Cosa ta haci Gina?

Spanish: ¿Qué está haciendo Gina?

As you can observe, the Chavacano de Cavite comes closer to Spanish in terms of grammar. In Chabacano de Zamboanga, you would utilize the word si which comes from Tagalog added to the subject if it's a person. Meanwhile the Chavacano de Cavite uses only the name of the person (without the si) for subjects which are persons.

Here's another example:

English: It brings to mind other dishes Caviteños eat, such as bacalao, croquetas, almondigas, etc.

Chabacano de Zamboanga: Ya puede yo acorda maga otro comida de Caviteños como el bacalao, croquetas, almondigas, etc.

Chabacano de Cavite: Ya culda yo di na ve otro mga vianda ta comi mga Caviteño como bacalao, croquetas, almondigas, etc.

Spanish: Recuerdo las otras viandas que los cavitenos comen como el bacalao, croquetas, almondigas, etc.

This brings me to something I spotted in the Chavacano de Cavite. Most words in the Chabacano of Zamboanga and and Cavite are similar, some have differences in terms of one/few letter(s) only.


Zamboanga Cavite Difference
acorda culda r-l
duele duli r-l, ue-u
puede pudi ue-e
tarda talda r-l
hace haci e-i
ele eli e-i
come comi e-i

As you can see above the r and e in Chabacano de Zamboanga is sometimes an l and i in Chavacano de Cavite, respectively. The ue in the Chabacano of Zamboanga sometimes becomes u in the Chabacano of Cavite. Take note that the acorda in Zamboanga Chabacano is acuerda in Spanish.

While the Chabacano de Zamboanga is 20% Tagalog and Bisaya, the Chabacano de Cavite is 20% Tagalog.

Another difference is how we say because. In Zamboanga, we say kay/cay, while in the Chavacano of Cavite city, it is kasi. To show intensity, we use the word bien. For example: bien caliente which means it is so hot. In the Chavacano of Cavite city, they add an -ng- at the end of the word and repeat it, much like in Tagalog. For example: Kiereng kiere which means to love so much.

Both languages use daw to show that what they're saying is not their idea. Both languages also use ta in front of verbs. They also use ya similarly (to show past tense).

I noticed though that in the Chabacano of Cavite city, they make haci into ci. Example: ta ci siksik todo which means she's squeezing in all her stuff.

I must admit that there were sentences which I couldn't understand (or at least decipher how it came to be). The thing is I never did any research for this blog post. Big booboo, I should've at least asked the blog owner what some sentences (which I couldn't understand) meant.

An example:

Chabacano de Cavite: Di ci babysit Dale mañana cun Marcos kasi tiene fundraising sana Leslee y Alyssa. Ta cumbida comigo kasi tiene daw silent auction. No ma niso di pudi anda na airport ha, kasi di pinta casa esti mi marido.

Here's what I think it means in English: Dale's babysitting Marcos because Leslee and Alyssa have a fundraising event. They invited me to this silent auction. We won't be able go to the airport because my husband has to paint the house.

Here's what that would look like in Chabacano de Zamboanga: Man babysit si Dale con Marcos kay si Leslee pati/y si Alyssa tiene un fundraising event. Hinde kame puede anda na airport kay mio marido nesecita pa pinta conel casa.

The purpose of this article is to introduce both languages to each other. The Chabacano in Zamboanga is now evolving (incorporating new words brought by the Muslim and Bisaya migrants). The modern Chabacano (which became modern primarily because of the Tagalog and Bisaya migrants) is now becoming 'more modern'. Chabacano actually underwent two evolutions. Traditional Chabacano (which is more Spanish sounding in terms of spelling, grammar, and vocabulary) died when the migrants came here and brought with them foreign words. Later these migrants intermarried with the 'real' Zamboanguenos and 'yo' later became 'iyo', 'tu' became 'itu', and 'conele' and 'conmigo' became 'kunele' and 'kumigo' respectivelly

Today those 'real' Zamboanguenos are mostly aged and residing in Spain or America. They migrated when things started getting bad in the Philippines. The Chabacano that I know is the modern Chabacano. However, the modern Chabacano is now also dying (or if you think of it romantically, is evolving). The Tagalogs who come here are putting certain words in the vocabulary of Chabacano. For example, today you would hear some people saying: nuay pa ka come? The correct form is no hay pa tu come? Most of the people who talk like this are those migrants from the nearby provinces who come here to work as helpers, drivers, and sales ladies. These people then influence other people and now we have a lot of young people who speak like this. Whenever I hear my friends talking like this, I quickly scold them because it is so wrong.

The problem that Chabacano de Zamboanga faces is nothing though compared to the Chavacano de Cavite because the latter is virtually dead. I am hoping that the local governments can do something about this problem. Let us love the Chabacano because it is unique and it's a legacy of the 400 years of history that Spain and Mexico gave to us.

Habla Chabacano! Conversa Chabacano!

Arriba Zamboanguenos y Cavitenos!


  1. chavacano de zamboanga is very unique at sana manatili ito hangang sa susunod pa na henerasyon
    im from pagadian zamboanga del sur

  2. alegre que yo nunca ta usa esos palabras o escribi en esa forma.

    porque mas prefiero yo usa "yo, mi, mio, de mi, de mio, de tu, de tuyo, usted, de usted, de ila o de ellos, ellos, sila, vosotros de vosotros, aton, amon, de aton o diaton, de amon o diamon"

    donde gaja yo hay anda?
    mi nombre es Ron.
    mio este laptop.
    de usted ba este?
    amon gane este libro.
    aton libros estos.
    loco man vos...
    tu gale, jendeh come?

    pero si rabiao yo, este el palabra comun para conmig..

    Evos ya! loco este...;-)

    buenas noches y Dios te Bendiga!;-)
    Ron 29años,,, uno del mana nuevo generaciones Zamboangueño hablantes.

  3. Deberas gayot, si ta uwi yo mga bata ta usa ka/ikaw imbies tu/ytu ta duele gayot di mi orejas. el mga bisaya bien plojo gayot aprende di aton lenguahe.

  4. Este generacion de maga jovenes ta usa mucho palabra tagalog por causa del influencia na escuela. Poreso bueno este ahora curiculum K-!2. Hay implimenta ya el uso del chabacano principia na Kindergarten. Viva Zamboanga!

  5. Este generacion de jovenes ta usa mucho maga palabra tagalog ta mescla na chavacano. Poreso bueno este ahora nuevo curiculim donde el chavacano usa como medium of instruction para preserva el cultura de chavacano, K-12.

  6. BUENAS! :)

    afaik, ang chabacano de cavite - is a mix of tagalog and spanish. and i agree with you when you said that cavite chabs is almost close w/ regards to the spanish grammar. while chabs de zambo is a mix of spanish and bisaya (some include moro and ilonggo terms as well) -- this is because of the intermarriage of different cultures. inavoidable yan.

    i wish though i could talk more in chabacano - though sabi yo chabacano, no mucho habla.. hehe. :)

    good blog! bookmarked by the way. if you haven't stumbled upon this site - do check it out... na mi pensamiento, quiel writer esti site queda na Cavite. :v www.angelfire.com/art2/roger_santos/pensamiento.html

  7. Gracia por el informacion. yo tambien estaba na nuevo generacion de chavacano. Mucho ya cosa cosa ya cambia en nuestro lenguaje. Este por causa mucho ya ganet de Zamboanga que ta vivir en otros lugares. El maga nuevo gente na Zamboanga amo el una causa de cambio na Chavacano. Nececita nosotro mismo hace correcto el cosa error en hablada o conversada de nuevo generacion 'y mas malo ya el quien ta pricura aprede con este lindo lenguaje.

  8. hola....lo que mas me gusta es...chabacano de zamboanga...porque en este dialecto casi todas palabras...were from spanish...95% spanish...