The Chabacano Expression Coloring Colorao

The Spanish word Colorin is also a bird which in English is called a "Goldfinch".

"Coloring, colorao, el cuento acabao". This is something that parents would say to their kids after telling them a story or a fairy tale.

It's funny because I have never encountered this expression in my entire life and it was only when I went to Manila that someone introduced me to this expression. A woman in her forties who has a father from Zamboanga city and can speak Chabacano (but had never been to Zamboanga city) asked me if I know the expression coloring colorao, el cuento acabao. Upon getting a blank stare from me, she explained that this is how her dad would end a story when she was a kid during story-telling time. I asked my dad, aunt, and uncle about this expression and only my uncle was to able to identify it correctly. They are in their fifties. You can imagine that one would be hard pressed to find Chabacano speakers in their twenties (which is the age group which I belong to) who are familiar with this expression.

The Spanish version of this expression is "y colorín colorado, este cuento se ha acabado". This expression most probably came from the Spanish language.

In Chabacano, coloring means to blush or to describe the color of blush (as in coloring el punta de su nariz) and colorao is the color red. The Spanish equivalent of these words (colorin and colorado) mean the same thing. This post gives possible explanations on why colorado in Spanish becomes colorao in Chabacano.

The best English equivalent of this expression is "and they all lived happily ever after".

I also posted this expression in the Zamboanga de Antes Facebook group.

It looks like this expression is also known as "coloring colorao, icha cuenta acabao". Icha comes from the Spanish echar


  1. Yes, ¡Colorín colorao, el tiempo acabao! to end a story.

    In Caviteño to start a story, we say con aquel vez... (once upon a time...), which in Spanish would be había una vez or érase una vez.


  2. En España decimos «colorín, colorado, el cuento se ha acabado»

    'Colorín' es una variación de 'color'; 'colorado' es 'rojizo'.

  3. Meant to type, ¡Colorín colorao, el cuento acabao!