A Chabacano Christmas Song + An Interview in Spanish With A Former Zamboanga Mayor

It’s that time of the year again when we all feel generous and kind towards one another.

For most of us, Christmas is a very busy time of the year with family reunions and Christmas dinners to think about. But there was a time in the not so distant past when Christmas was a quiet holiday. This is what is being described in the song that is featured in this blog post.


Noche sagrao, brillante maga estrellas
oh noche que el Salvador ya nacé.
Por largo tiempo el mundo ya esperá se
que aquí canaton el Dios hay vené.
Ta gozá el mundo por este esperanza,
un día nuevo hay podé llegá.
Todo hincá y oí voces del ángel,
oh noche divino, el Cristo ya nacé !
Divino noche, oh noche de amor!

Ta llevá el luz de fe sereno y claro,
y adorá con el Niño Jesús.
Ta llevá el luz del cielo bien ardiente,
ya llegá Magos de lejos lugar.
Na un pesebre el rey de los reyes,
amigo diaton, Ele ahí quedá.
Sabé el Señor hacé lo que se debe,
mirá con el rey y na su presencia incá.
Ta aquí el rey, con Ele todo hincá.

Cristo Señor, oh alabá su nombre!
Su gloria y poder para siempre proclama,
su gloria y poder para siempre proclama.
Oh adorá con Ele, oh adorá con Ele!
Vené y adorá con Cristo el Salvador.
Este es el canto de Pascua!

What is very striking in the lyrics for me is the usage of pode instead of puede. It is always said that Chabacano verbs are Spanish infinitives minus the r at the end (habla instead of hablar, come instead of comer, vivi instead of vivir). But the flaw in this theory is that there are Chabacano verbs that are third person Spanish conjugations. For example, we say puede, tiene, hiede, and quiere in Chabacano and not pode, tene, hede and quere (respectively). Admittedly, there are times that we do say tene, hede and quere but generally, we tend to say tiene, hiede and quiere. Pode though is a very different thing as I have not come across it until this song.

If we analyze the lyrics of this song, it is obvious that the Chabacano used here is one from a very different era. I believe this was the Chabacano that was spoken during the turn of the century which was heavily laden with Spanish. This was probably the Chabacano spoken during the time that Lipski described as a period wherein Chabacano was hispanified.

Lyrics of this song were taken from the YouTube page of this video. It was edited by the late Zamboanga city mayor Ma. Clara Lobregat. If you think that the Chabacano in the song above is bien Chabacano or Chabacano hondo, this is probably because Mrs. Lobregat was born in the 1920s, a time when the traditional Chabacano was still very much alive, She also belonged to a Spanish speaking family and this may also have heavily influenced her Chabacano. Below is an interview (conducted in Spanish) with Mrs. Lobregat regarding the status of the Chabacano language. She talks about a time when the Chabacano language was already disappearing because of the inflow of migrants to Zamboanga city and the fashionability of mixing Tagalog words when speaking in Chabacano. I remember that during her stint as Zamboanga city mayor, the city government was really aggressive in promoting the Chabacano language. It was a time when we greeted our teachers at school in Chabacano, and employees in the city hall answered the phone in Chabacano.


8 comments:

  1. In Caviteño, podé, tiene, and quiere are used (usually pronounced pudí, tieni, and quieri, respectively.)

    To me, it sounds weird to hear a conjugated spanish verb in Chabacano. Fiirst of all, I am more fluent in Spanish than in Chabacano, so when I hear the verb puede, I automatically associate its subject as the 3rd person singular (usted/el/ella) and nothing else, whilst if I hear podé (again in Chabacano) I automatically am listening for the verb's subject.

    This variation of podé/puede seems to be more a generational difference rather than geographical. Doña Caling would be a contemporary of my late mother if these two women were alive today. My mother (a Caviteña, daughter of a Zamboangeño) always differentiated between PRE-war and POST-war Chabacano.

    I do notice that the POST-war Chabacano (regardless of geographic origin) is definitely less Castellano and highly corrupted with words from the local vernacular.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hola de nuevo desde el sur de Espana.Muy interesante esta entrada tuya y el canto de Navidad.Aqui si se nota claramente lo castellano y se entiende rapido y practicamente todo.Interesante el comentario de la persona de Cavite.No se si el chabacano de Cotabato o jolo estan con fuerza,quizas podrias hablar de ello en otros comentarios.Un abrazo, Joaquin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. señor joaquin
      mi madre estudio en cotabato por un tiempo, donde dijo ella que algunas ciudadanos hablaban el chabacano. pero hoy, nadie habla la lengua toda via. de la mismo manera, tengo un primo politico que viene de jolo, y dice el que el dialecto ha desaparecido hace mucho tiempo ya.
      recuerdos de cavite
      - roberto peña valentin
      ciudad de cavite

      Delete
    2. Hola Roberto! Que emocion conocer filipinos de Cavite que hablen espanol como tu.Perdona que han pasado unos dias y no he podido responderte y agradecerte de corazon tu comentario.Estoy muy interesado en los idiomas chabacanos y su evolucion,muy interesante y,a la vez triste,lo que hablas de Cotabato y Jolo.Tambien interesantisimo tu comentarios sobre las diferencias de pronunciacion por barrio en Cavite.Apasionante.Participo en diferentes blogs hispano-filipinos y de chabacano de Zamboanga,no se si puedes indicarme alguno de chavacano de Cavite,estare pendiente de tu contestacion.No se si sabes algo sobre la situacion del Bahra o lenguage de Ternate,de primera mano.De nuevo mi alegria por tu comentario.Un fuerte abrazo Roberto,desde Espana!.Joaquin

      Delete
  3. even within the city, there are variations in accent and pronunciation of chabacano in cavite city, depending on the district of the city where one resides.
    in general though, puede = podi or pudi, tiene = teni or tini, quiere = queri or quiri. the residents of the district of caridad are more spanish in their pronunciation, but residents of san roque and san antonio, and a special site called gangley are true-blue chabacanos.
    my parents are pure chabacanos too, but are both very fluent in spanish, so consequently we, the children, also got to speak spanish too, aside from the vernacular chabacano. one thing i noticed though is that even if there is no conjugation in chabacano, the vocabulary is exactly the same as in spanish. for example, the distinction between madera and leña can be appreciated by all cavite chabacanos. but there are some chabacano terms that differ with their spanish meanings like "playa", "seguro", or "escucha". these three terms mean beach, sure and listen in spanish but mean sea, probably and peep in chabacano.
    - roberto peña valentin
    ciudad de bacoor, cavite

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's great to discuss Chabacano grammar and lament the loss of proper vocabulary and usage. Any language evolves over time and Chabacano is no different except in one respect: Chabacano is fast becoming extinct and that is because of migrants from the Visayas and Sulu areas who speak their own languages. Chabacano is now only spoken by 10% to 15% of Zamboanga City's population -- down by half from 1990(?). In another 10 - 15 years , Chavacano will be extinct. We should be discussing ways to propagate the use of it through widely disseminated print, radio, tv media.

    -- Voltaire de Leon, Toronto, On Canada voltairext@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete