7 Ways To Tell If Somebody Is A Native Chabacano Speaker

Most people (even native Chabacano speakers) fail to realize that there is a distinct Chabacano accent. This accent is more pronounced among people who live in the rural areas of Zamboanga city who speak with a drawl. These people are mostly referred to as de monte (from the mountains), de arriba or de alla-alla.

The Chabacano accent is a telltale sign of a native speaker of the Chabacano language. You know you're a native Chabacano speaker when you do the following things:

1. You drop the 's' in certain Chabacano words

The hallmark of the Chabacano accent is the dropping of the letter 's'. When you hear somebody pronounce words like escuelapescaofiestados, and tres as eh-cuelapeh-caofieh-tadoh, and treh respectively, that is a native Chabacano speaker! This feature of the Chabacano accent might come from Spanish where they also sometimes drop their 's'. At work, there was a time when a Spanish customer asked me to look for an account using his name. When he gave me his last name, I was perplexed because he said his last name was de lo rios (which is grammatically impossible). I thought and thought about it until I realized that he was saying de los rios! 😒 Most people who speak like this though, are already old.

2. You pronounce the letter 'g' as a 'k' (or a hard 'c')

It might sound funny, but many native Chabacano speakers pronounce the letter 'g' as a 'k' (or a hard 'c') so that words like itlogbag, and ilog tend to sound like itlokbak, and ilok. This feature of the Chabacano accent might also come from Spanish where they also sometimes pronounce the letter 'g' as a 'k' (or a hard 'c'). One time, I heard a Spanish speaker pronounce the word jet lag as jet lahk. This primarily happens because, in Spanish, there are no words that end in the letter 'g'.

3. You sometimes pronounce the word yo as jo or cho

Have you ever noticed that whenever we say the word yo after gayod or gad, we sometimes pronounce it as jo or cho? For example no hay gad jo gusta con el comida. While there are also some Spanish-speaking countries like Argentina which pronounces the letter y as a j, I don't think that this feature of the Chabacano accent comes from that regional accent. This feature of the Chabacano accent simply comes as a result of what they call in the world of linguistics, relaxed pronunciation. This also occurs in other Philippine languages. For example, in Manila, you will often hear bus conductors pronounce Buendia as Buenja. In the English language, you will see this in instances where they pronounce 'don't you' as doncha or 'got you' as gotcha.

4. You pronounce words like cancion as canshon

In Chabacano, words that end in -cion, like cancion, recio, and nacion are pronounced as canshon, resho, and nashon respectively. This characteristic of the Chabacano accent comes from what they call in the world of linguistics, palatalization.

5. Your 'n' sometimes becomes an 'ng'

The 'n' in certain Chabacano words are sometimes pronounced as 'ng'. Words like tranca, trinca, cinco, and ronca (pronounced by most as runca) are pronounced as trangca, tringca, cingco, rungca. These words are pronounced in the same manner in the Spanish language. Sometimes, when a Chabacano word ends with an 'n', some people pronounce it as 'ng' (especially if the word that comes after begins with the letter 'c'). A good example is the word bien which sometimes is pronounced as bieng (e.g. bieng corre). Other examples are en caso and con quien which are sometimes pronounced as eng caso and cong quien respectively. This happens because of something they call velarization in the world of linguistics.

6. You pronounce the letter 'd' as a 't'

This can be heard in words like watawad which sort of becomes watawat. Other examples are pungod (pimples from Hiligaynon punggod), gayod (very), sumod (to be wary from Hiligaynon sum-od) which are pronounced normally in Chabacano as pungut, gayot, and sumut respectively.

7. Your 'n' sometimes becomes an 'm'

In Chabacano, we sometimes pronounce the letter 'n' as 'm'. Some examples are un vaso and un poco which are pronounced as um vaso and um poco respectively. According to this discussion, this also happens in Spanish and mostly occurs if un comes before a word that begins with the letter 'p' or 'b'. This also occurs because of velarization. Another good example is when we say conversa which tend to sound like combersa.

The Chabacano accent along with the Chabacano language are two precious legacies from our past and I hope that we, especially the youth, learn to treasure and be proud of them.


  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.

  15. Hace kita grande y queda orgulloso conn la nuestra lenguaje kay este es unico kanaton aqui na Zamboanga. Yo gane joven y dies-y-nueve años pero bien quiere gayod yo aprende el de aton lenguaje especialmente aquellos palabras de antes y que se llama bien hondo o de viejo. Fuera que ta ama yo el lenguaje de aton, quiere tambien yo have vivi y ayuda preserva el de aton cultura, artes, costumbres bonito, y tradiciones.
    Tiene gane yo experiencia cuando ya usa yo el "jejeje", pensaba sila Jejemon yo, y ya habla yo kanila kay de Zamboanga yo y "hehehe" ese. Bueno ahora kay ta enseña ya el Chavacano na maga bata na escuela principio Kinder hasta aca-tres Grado.
    Ojala hay hace ya lang era sila continua con ese hasta Grado Seis y ay enseña el lenguage Español na Segundaria o masquin hasta Colegio. Vale 'quel para continua usa el Chavacano y tambien ta aprende kita Español para omenta pa palabra de Español na Chavacano y hende puro mezclao de Bisaya, Tagalog, y Ingles ya lang las palabras ta omenta. Y para conmigo, si sabe kita Español ay puede este ayuda kanaton para conversa con otros paises ta usa Español, dale oportunidad trabaja na otro nacion ta usa Español,tiene amigo y amiga tiene mas grande valor de sangre Español,y queda usable para hende el otro habla que kita ta conversa lang quebrao Español si no sabe tambien kita el puro Español, kay makainsulto gayod aquel para kanaton. Cosa usteds puede habla?