A Sample of Spoken Chavacano de Ternate or Ternateño

I recently found a video on YouTube featuring a group of people, one of them speaking in Spanish and the others speaking in Chavacano de Ternate.

In the past, I have concluded that Chavacano de Cavite and Chabacano de Zamboanga are somehow mutually intelligible especially if it is written. It is a totally different story though with the Chavacano de Ternate.

In this video, I only understood what they were talking about because of the Spanish. I think the Spanish guy only understood because of context clues. The videos are titled Platica na Bahra which most probably means speak in Bahra. Bahra is what these people call their language.

Here is the first video.

What I found weird with this first video is one of the Chavacano guys saying señol. I’m not sure but I think I heard something like de donde ka señol. I’m not sure about the ka but it sounded like that. I know it should’ve been vos (bo). It’s funny because I know one country in Latin America which pronounces the letter r as ‘l’ and that country is Puerto Rico. Yes, in Puerto Rico, señor becomes señol, and verdad becomes veldad.

Then the people in the video proceeded to talk about the islands surrounding them. At some point, it was established that the small island (or the chiquiting) is called Prayle. I have since noticed that Caviteño and Ternateño seem to replace the last two letters of certain words like chiquito and poco (to form diminutives) with ting. In the case of poco, it becomes poquiting or pukiting. I have never thought that these words also occur in the Chabacano de Zamboanga. But apparently, they do. I am not sure though whether these words only exist in the old Chabacano or if they are only used by only certain groups of people or if they are only used by groups of people from certain places. In the dictionary of Camins, the words unpukiting, unratiting are listed as Chabacano de Zamboanga words. For my part though, I only know un poquito and un ratito. But I do remember that we have words like diuting and gording which are actually diminutives of diutay and gordo.

It’s very funny that the Chavacano guys didn’t seem to realize that this guy was speaking to them in Spanish. In fact, in the end, one of them asks the Spanish guy where in Los Baños is Chavacano spoken. The Spanish guy then explains that he speaks Spanish but that they can understand each other a little. The Chavacano guy seemed to be in doubt but in the end agreed, saying, “bung poco lang” (very little only).

Here is the second video.

In this second video, I seem to understand more than what I understood in the first one.
The conversation begins with the Chavacano guys saying that Chavacano is spoken fast while Spanish is a bit slow. Well if you ask me, the Spanish guy was speaking with a Filipino accent and thus he spoke at a slow rate. But if you listen to Mexicans or Spaniards speaking, it would be very fast also.

Then the Spanish guy’s wife approaches and one of the Chavacano guys say hermana ñol? Or at least that’s what I heard. So I guess the word ñol (with an l) also appears in the Ternateño. One thing I’m not sure of is if they treat this as a word or as a shortened version of the word señol. There are many words like this in the Chabacano dialects. In my Chabacano, aquel and ese are usually shortened to ‘quel and ‘se although all of us know that we are saying aquel and ese and we don’t treat these as words. It is just another way of pronouncing these two words.

Then one of the Chavacano guys in the video asks if the wife also knows Spanish. The Spanish guy says that his wife can only understand Spanish but that his daughter can speak Spanish. Then one of the Chavacano guys says, “muchacha pa lang, sabi ya” (she’s only little but she already knows). Then the Chavacano guys seemed to have talked about sharks because I think I heard the word tiburon or was it tiburung? Then the talk went to the Mexicans or the ones that Manny Pacquiao fight. Then the Spanish guy said that the Chavacano guys talk very fast like the Mexicans. Then one of the Chavacano guys said something about Canada. The Spanish guy cut him off thinking that the Chavacano guy was about to say that Spanish is spoken in Canada. But one of the Chavacano guys also cut him off saying that he was about to say that Spanish is taught as a subject in Canada.

Well, I certainly enjoyed deciphering that conversation. One day, I will try to go to Ternate or Cavite city and have myself a lovely conversation in Chabacano with these people.


  1. Caviteño and Ternateño diminutives seem to copy another form of the Spanish diminutive:
    poquitíng = poquitín (Sp)
    chiquitíng = chiquitín (Sp)

    Note that Spanish words ending in -n are usually velar in certain areas of northern Spain and many places in Latin America, especially in the Caribbean.

    (¿pukitíng? - that spelling looks obscene! LOL! ¡xD!)

    The fisherman is asking, "¿Hermana, ñol?"
    He's asking if the woman approaching is the interviewer's sister.
    Ñol = Señor (Sp)
    Ñora = Señora (Sp)

    I find Ternateño easier to understand than Zamboangueño.

  2. I think the guy speaking spanish is Pepe Alas, the blogger of Alas Fiipinas in your blogroll links.

  3. I know dat Ternateno Chavacano is influenced with Portuguese...

    1. Indeed. The original Ternateño was spoken in Ternate island, Indonesia, by the Mardjiker (or Merdicas). These were the people who was born from unions of the Portuguese with the native people. After they and the whole Christian population were expelled in 1575 they went to the place which is now known as Ternate in the Philippines.