When To Use 'Habla' and 'Conversa' In Chabacano

I recently became friends with a Chabacano Speaker in Manila. This new friend learned her Chabacano from her Zamboangueño father. She, however, has never set foot on Zamboanga soil. Growing up in Manila and having only her family to practice her Chabacano with, she speaks the language with some nuances. For instance, I noticed that she never uses conversa and would only use habla. I noticed too that Spanish speakers trying to speak in Chabacano would do the same thing.

Chabacano is a complex language with grammar rules that are hard to explain but are imperative when learning to speak the language fluently. 😀

Here is a quick guide on when to use 'Habla' and 'Conversa' in Chabacano.

When to use Habla

1. Reported Speech

Example:

Chabacano: Ya habla si Maria a las cinco daw tu conele encontra na airport.
English: Maria said that you would fetch her from the airport at five o clock.

Chabacano: Ya habla ya gayod yo contigo! Ladron aquel gente!
English: I told you so! That person was a thief!

2. To Ask Someone to Repeat Something

Example:

Chabacano: Cosa tu ya habla?
English: What did you say?

3. Command (specific *there is something specific that the speaker wishes someone to say)

Example:

Chabacano: Habla tu si cosa tu quiere.
English Translation: Tell me what you want.

Chabacano: Habla tu con tuyo tata no mas ya le vene aqui.
English Translation: Tell your father not to come here anymore.

When to use Conversa

1. To Refer to the Act of Speaking

Example:

Chabacano: Ya conversa conmigo ayer si Maria.
English: Maria spoke to me yesterday.

Chabacano: Otra clase man ese mujer ta conversa.
English:  That woman speaks differently.

Chabacano: Sabe tu conversa Tausug?
English: Do you know how to speak Tausug?

2. Command (General)

Example:

Chabacano: Conversa daw tu mas suena.
English: Could you speak louder?

Chabacano: Conversa tu con tuyo nana.
English Translation: Talk to your mom.


Most people pronounce and spell this word (especially young Chabacano speakers) as kumbersa. Instead of the word conversa, one can also use man cuento.

I'm not sure about the Chabacano languages in Cavite city and Ternate, but I think both of them use platica instead of conversa.

For Spanish speakers trying to learn Chabacano, just remember to use habla whenever you would say decir in Spanish and conversa whenever you would say hablar in Spanish.