Origins of the Chabacano Words ending in -AO

In the course of learning Spanish, I was able to unravel one of the biggest secrets of Chabacano. Over the past few years, I have always wondered why most past tense verbs in Chabacano like the words burned, changed, arranged, and seated are different from their Spanish counterparts. In Spanish, one would add -ado to verbs ending in -ar like quemar, sentar, and cambiar while in Chabacano, we tend to say quemao, sentao, cambiao, and arreglao (instead of quemado, sentado, cambiado, and arreglado. This has always been a mystery to me until I heard a Spanish podcast explain that in Spain, this is an informal (or lazy) way of pronouncing the -ado words. The person in the podcast even went as far as saying that her father would often get irritated when she pronounces these words in this manner. Quite "Chabacano" (of bad taste) indeed.

Probably one of the most prominent theories out there as to why Chabacano is incorrect Spanish is the fact that the natives just parroted what the Spanish soldiers were saying. One of the things that verify this theory is the fact that there are practically no written texts in Chabacano except those which came out in the late twentieth century. In fact, the only book that I have seen written in Chabacano were a Bible and a dictionary. There might have been or may be a Chabacano newspaper but Chabacano is mostly a written language with its utilization primarily being on local news (on TV or radio stations), daily speech, and a few songs.

Other examples to prove the fact that Chabacano is parroted Spanish is the fact that probably ninety percent of Chabacano speakers (myself included) will tend to say comigo and umpoco but then would not know that these words are actually spelled as conmigo and un poco (respectively) in Spanish *'n' before 'm' and 'p' is pronounced as 'm' in Spanish*.

Another good example is the word that Chabacano speakers use for the tagalog bahala which is dejalo (literally, leave it). A Chabacano speaker would probably not understand this word if it was written down this way. When spoken though, this word is pronounced as it is pronounced by Spanish speakers: dialo, dealo, or jalo (like 'j' in Jack). Now if you know Chabacano then you might have recognized this word. But notice how you weren't able to recognize it in the proper written form initially?

This brings me to the last point that I would like to raise up in this article. The local government in Zamboanga should probably come up with a body (probably composed of people from the academic sector in the city) which would establish rules and a standard in spelling Chabacano. This body should address questions like should we spell words like comigo with an 'n' between 'o' and 'm' or should we adopt the the spelling that most Chabacano speakers would understand? Should we spell words with Hispanic origins the way they are spelled or use the tagalized system of spelling (eg. teacher becomes titser and cake becomes keyk) in which case contigo would be spelled as kontigo and cielo will be spelled as siyelo.

There is a good reason why we don't have a standard for spelling Chabacano words and that is there really isn't probably a need for one. In my entire life, the only instances which I could think of wherein there were a need for spelling in Chabacano was whenever I email my friends and family in Zamboanga or when I text them (in which case I would spell words exactly as I would pronounce them). Ademas, I would normally utilize English in writing. It is my dream therefore that there will be more and more texts written in Chabacano so that there will be a need for a standard of spelling in Chabacano. it might not be urgent but in the long run, I believe this will make us more orgulloso of the very unique language that we speak.