Origins of the Chabacano Abuya

The word abuya means 'to appear' in the Chabacano of Zamboanga. I initially thought that it came from Hiligaynon. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turns out that it came from far Ternate in Cavite. Yes dear readers, it looks like the word abuya comes from the Chavacano de Ternate.

There is a difference in spelling though. The word is not actually abuya in the Chavacano of Ternate but rather, buya. At least this is how the word appears in Esteban A De Ocampo’s The Ternateños: Their History, Languages, Customs, and Traditions.

In the book, the Chavacano de Ternate word buya is defined as to float, to emerge, or to appear. De Ocampo (in his book) says that the word comes from the Spanish boyar. The problem with this theory is that there is no such word as boyar in Spanish. It is possible that boyar is an archaic Spanish word or it could be a word not used in standard Spanish. Although I don’t have any problem believing that it could be a Spanish word because boyar could possibly be similar to the English verb buoy (which means to keep something afloat).

Anyway, here are some sentences using the Chabacano word abuya.

Chabacano: Abuya gaha el hermana de Maria?
English: Do you think Maria will show up?

Chabacano: Ta abuya lang ele si tiene ele cosa necesita.
English: He only shows up when he needs something.

Chabacano: Ese el cosa ya abuya na computer.
English: That is what appeared on the computer.

Chabacano: Donde estaba este cen? Ya abuya lang man este aqui na mesa…
English: Where did this money come from? It just appeared on the table out of nowhere.

Chabacano: Ta abuya pa ba aquel aqui?
English: Does he still show up here?

As pointed out by one of the comments below. this word may come from the Spanish aboyar which means 'to float'. It's not hard to imagine how the Chabacano meaning came to be if indeed this word came from the Spanish aboyar. Camins' Chabacano dictionary defines this word as 'to appear' and 'to emerge'.