The Mysterious Chabacano Accent

Most people (even native Chabacano speakers) fail to realize that there is a distinct Chabacano accent. This Chabacano accent is more pronounced in very early migrants and would not exist in people who migrated to Zamboanga only in the late 19th century. Among Zamboangueños, possession of this accent is mostly a source of ridicule, especially among those that have it and those that do not. Those who have it are mostly referred to as de monte or 'from the mountains' by those who do not. The main reason why they are being branded as de monte is because these people are usually from far-flung villages in the mountains.

The characteristics of the Chabacano accent consists of a missing 's', a 'g' which is pronounced as a 'k' and a 'd' pronounced as a 't'. A missing 's' can be found in words such as escuela, pescao, fiesta, dos, and tres. These words when pronounced with a Chabacano accent would be pronounced as eh-cuela, peh-cao, fieh-ta, doh, and treh respectively. 'G' pronounced as a 'k' can be found in words such as itlog, bag, and ilog. These words, when pronounced with a Chabacano accent would be pronounced as itlok, bak, and ilok respectively. Meanwhile, 'd' pronounced as 't' are present in words such as watawad, edad, and ciudad in which case they are pronounced as watawat, edat, and ciudat respectively when pronounced using the Chabacano accent. Note that in the words edad and ciudad, the middle 'Ds' are pronounced as soft 'Ds' but the end 'Ds' are pronounced almost like a 't'.

People who have this accent also seem to utilize a lot of dead/archaic Chabacano words. When a Zamboangueño listens to a de monte speak, he would be awed at how deep the Chabacano words would be.

What is puzzling about the manifestation of the Chabacano accent is how it came to be and how uncannily similar it is to the Spanish accent.

There is more to learn about Chabacano. Although the Chabacano accent is something that has never been touched by any article I have seen in the internet, I am hoping that linguists and historians would conduct in depth studies on this aspect of the Chabacano language. Moreover, I am hoping that through this article, Zamboangueños who have this kind of accent would look at themselves as an integral part of the Philippines' shared past with Hispania and should, therefore, see their accents more of a source of pride rather than shame.


  1. muy informativa sñr Jerome!

    como ya engranda ya de nuevo generacion, si na normal conversacion completo todo el letra na cada palabra pero si jendeh mas gat yo pone antecion el mi acento... ta aparece que ta perde ya el "s" na cada palabra mio.

    por eso, este yo firmi ta puede recibi comentos desde mi mana compañeros.... "cosa ya se ronan, dol de alla man gat kita"

    pero na dentro de poblacio lang man yo ya engranda o entre el pueblo.

    siendo ese man el de ila mana comentos, nunca yo ya tene huya conversa sino mas con orgullo pa yo ta conversa y mas ta precura pa gat yo conversa bien en Zamboangueño.

    un Nativo y nuevo generacion Zamboangueño,
    Ar. Ronan Paul D'ayot y Bulahan, uap

  2. Gracias por tu comentario.

    Para conmigo mas bonito oi conel Chabacano si ta perde el s. :D

  3. amon gayoT noy... :D

  4. Mi saludo contigo Sen~or Herrera. Uno yo de aquellos que quiere si conversa man chabacano ase ya embonamente. Bien mucho palabras que puede ustedes uji este maga tiempo hende mas amo. Gracias cun este di uste blog. Que bonito!

  5. No soy un Chavacano, pero yo tengo interes a aprender esta lengua Creolo. Sobre la base de lo que he aprendido aquí en los Estados Unidos, el acento de los chabacanos parecerse a la de Taino delas Boriquas (Puertoriquenos).

    Soy consciente de que los Filipinos están tan preocupados con acentos gruesos, pero creo que muestra un carácter fuerte. ¿Que te crees?

  6. Hi. Thanks for your comment. Filipinos in general are known to have a neutral accent. I'm not sure if this also applies to Spanish as well as English. Although, based on my experience, Filipinos use their Filipino accent when speaking Spanish.

    Claro que los Filipinos tienen un caracter fuerte. Esto les ayuda superar problemas con una sonrisa.

  7. quiere decir gale.. debe yo esta alegre si firmi conmigo ta tenta mis compañeros que dol de monte dao yo si ta conversa!;-)jejejeje


  8. Hi. Bien bueno. Impressive blog.

    Have you by any chance heard of the Bible in Chavacano? Is there any way I could get one? Thanks.

    A Chavacano in Manila

  9. Yes I know there is a bible in Chabacano written by Claretian priests. I am not sure if it is still being sold though. I'll try to ask around.

  10. You may buy the Chabacano bible here:

  11. Anyone who knows Spanish very well knows that in colloquial Spanish, the S is sometimes aspirated, meaning that it sometimes sounds like H. For example, Spanish speakers would really sometimes say colloquially eh-cuela instead of escuela. Also, in Spanish, the D is weak. That's why in Spanish, people would sometimes say pescao instead of pescado. And if you clearly listen to Spanish speakers, the D at the end of the word sometimes sound somewhat like T or TH in "thing" or is not pronounced at all, e.g. usted -- usteth, ustet, or uste. That's the same with the letter G.
    What I'm trying to say is, this "Chavacano accent" is in reality a carry over from Spanish. I find this article very interesting because now I know how heavily influenced Chavacano is by colloquial Spanish. It's not a "corruption" that Chavacano speakers say "pescao" or "ehcuela". That's literally what native Spanish speakers really would also say colloquially.

  12. You're right. The Chavacano accent is very similar to the Spanish accent. They are almost the same. The D and S are so weak that Spanish speakers would pronounce pescado as "peh-cao".

  13. Jerome:

    Mi esposa gane firmi ta habla conmigo. .

    Nah! cosa ya se . . "Pehcao" gayot man kita alli ta pronuncia... jajajajaja

  14. not only that Usted becomes uste or usteth but the letter "S" also dissappeared when pronouncing the word.
    like my Cuñada whe she makes a joke "cosa ya gat u(h)te!"...
    basta . .. as if she is from the mountain! Inclan el apellido de arriba..jajajajaja
    pero kame de Liamong antes.. jajajaja entonces igual lang gale came de arriba monte.