Origins of the Chabacano Escuro

“Escuro ya. Noma sale na casa.”

This is probably something that you would hear in Zamboanga city when darkness sets in. While the streets are well lit and safe, most Zamboangueños prefer to stay indoors at night. In fact you wouldn’t see a lot of night life or business establishments that are open at night in the city. This is changing little by little though, especially with the recently opened Paseo del Mar.


Paseo del Mar is a park located near the fort Pilar. It is very popular both with the young and old. It becomes packed when the sun starts to set at around five thirty in the afternoon. I have personally witnessed the sunset at Paseo del Mar and I can really say that it was breathtakingly beautifully. It outdoes the Manila bay sunset any day.



The word escuro, in my opinion, may come from the Spanish oscuro. According to the book of Esteban A De Ocampo titled The Ternateños, this word also exists in the Chavacano de Ternate. He spells it as eskuro. Here are sentences using the Chabacano escuro:

Chabacano: Porque bien escuro aqui?
English: Why is it so dark here?

Chabacano: No tu lee na escuro.
English: Don’t read in the dark.

Chabacano: Bien escuro man siempre masquin de dia ya?
English: Why is it so dark when the sun is already up? *literally why is it so dark even though it’s already day time?

Here are some words related to the word escuro which I got from the Chabacano dictionary of Camins:

Escurrana – dark clouds

Escurece – to darken or darkening (adjective)

I only hear the word escurrana when I watch TV Patrol Chabacano. However, I hear escurece a lot of times, especially when I’m with a person with a malboca (which means a person who says bad words a lot *literally bad mouth). Ta escurece ya mio vista is something that you would probably hear from Zamboangueños. It means my vision is darkening. It is something that we Zamboangueños say when we get mad and we feel like we are about to quarrel someone.

What seems to be missing from Camins’ dictionary is the word escuridad. The words oscurro and iscuro also appears (with the same meaning) in Camins’ dictionary. Escuro and iscuro though are the more used spelling/pronunciation.

Here is something for you to think about though. Escuro is actually the Portuguese word for dark.

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