Origins of the Chabacano Chuca

The Chabacano word chuca means to hatch. It is most often spelled as chuka (with a ‘k’). But for this article, I will be using the letter c instead of the letter k.

I recently found out that in the Chavacano in Ternate, the word chuca also exists. It is spelled with a ‘k’ and it has the same meaning in the Chavacano of Ternate. It is interesting that Esteban A De Ocampo is himself not sure where this word originates in his book: The Ternateños: Their History, Languages, Cistoms, and Traditions. Note that the word chuka doesn’t exist in the Spanish language.

Here are some examples of how the word chuca is used in the Chabacano of Zamboanga.

Chabacano: Ya chuca ya ayer el huevos.
English: The egg has already hatched yesterday.

Chabacano: Pone na incubator con el *huevo para chuca ya ese.
English: Put the egg in an incubator so that it will hatch already.

*Some people pronounce this as huevo (with out the 's')

It is amazing that whenever I encountered a word in Chabacano that doesn’t sound like Spanish, I would usually suspect that it came from either Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Tausug, or Tagalog. Now I know that there are words that came from the Chavacano of Ternate which most likely is the mother language of the Chabacano de Zamboanga since it is the oldest of the Chabacano language.

This word most likely came from the Portuguese chocar as stated in one of the comments below made by Marcelo Yuji Himoro. The Chavacano de Ternate is said to have been influenced by the Portuguese language a lot.


  1. Amo "chocar" el palabra na portugues para "to hatch". Kaha Zamboanga tiene tamen un poquito influencia gallega? Sorry for my broken Chavacano :(

    1. Wow. Thanks for your isight! Indeed Portuguese also has some influence on Chabacano. I am not sure about Gallego though.

    2. Well, Galicia is still part of Spain, while Portugal became indepedent around 12th century. Is Portuguese presence is Zamboanga attested at all? Otherwise, maybe it's more likely Chavacano has Galician than Portuguese influence. Galicia and Portugal still share a language, and Portuguese is nothing other than a Galician dialect.


    4. Your first sentence gives "O ovo xa chocou onte." ("O ovo já chocou onte.") and "O ovo já chocou ontem." in Galician and Portuguese respectively. As for your second sentence: "Pon o ovo na incubadora para que choque." ("Pom o ovo na incubadora para que choque.") and "Põe o ovo na chocadeira para que choque.".

      PS: Sorry for so many comments in a row.

  2. Greetings, Jerome.

    By the way, I am César Momongan, Jr. from Cebú and I don't speak chabacano. I do speak Spanish and from what I know, your chabacano 'chuca' may be a corruption of the Spanish word 'chocar' meaning 'to smash' as in when two vehicles collide against each other. However, it is not used in the same manner as 'to hatch'. There is the Spanish verb 'empollarse' which means 'to become a chick' or 'to cram', but normally in Spanish, to mean that the egg already hatches and the chick comes out of it, we simply say, "Ya ha salido el polluelo del huevo tras romper la cáscara." Thus, 'chocar' is never used in this sense, unlike in your chabacano. I hope this explanation helps. ¡Saludos!


    1. Hola Cesar. Wow that's a good theory! I never thought of that. I appreciate your input.

  3. Hi again, Jerome:

    I just would like to comment on the first comment above regarding the gallego influence or something to that effect. Yes, indeed there is a great possibility of the Gallego influence on Chabacano because Gallego is a Portuguese dialect that is spoken in the region of Galicia in Northwestern Spain. If you check the map of Spain, its nearest neighbor is Portugal and to the north of it is Galicia. For this reason, the people in Galicia are generally bilingual in Gallego and Standard Spanish.

    César M.

  4. Thanks for all the comments guys. it is rather an interesting theory that the Chabacano words are in fact of Gallego influence instead of Portuguese. This certainly makes the Chabacano more interesting and fascinating.