Origins of the Chabacano Fija

A few days ago, I heard my two friends talking and I heard the word fija from their conversation. This got me listening because I have never heard this word in Chabacano. What got me more interested was that the way that the word fija was used in their conversation was similar to the Spanish fijarse.

Here now are some sentences using the Chabacano fija.

Chabacano: No fija na sol, queda malo tu vista.
English: Don’t stare at the sun; you’ll destroy your eyes.

Chabacano: Fija buenamente para conoce con el suspechao ladron.
English: Look closely so that you’ll be able to identify the alleged thief.

Chabacano: Fija tu con el hombre na retrato, conoce ba tu con ele?
English: Look closely at the man in the photo, do you know him?

As you may have noticed already, the Chabacano fija means 'to stare' or 'to look closely'. Remarkably, this word is nowhere to be found in Camins’ Chabacano dictionary. It does appear though in Rolando Arquiza Santos’ Chabacano dictionary (2010). Along with 'to look closely', Santos also defines the Chabacano fija as 'to fasten' or 'to make firm'. These other two definitions actually correspond to the meaning of the Spanish fijar. However, I did not use these other two definitions in the sentences above as I have never heard the word fija being used this way.

If we look at the meaning of the Spanish fijarse, here is where we will find the similarity between that word and the Chabacano fija (as it is used in the sentences above). The Spanish fijarse can mean to notice or to pay attention. Here are three sentences using the Spanish fijarse (taken from the Collins Spanish Dictionary Concise Edition 2006).

Spanish: No se fija en lo que hace.
English: He doesn’t pay attention to what he is doing.

Spanish: Voy a hacerlo yo primero, fijate bien.
English: I’ll do it first, watch carefully.

Spanish: Fijate como corre!
English: Just look at him run!

If you look at the sentences above, it isn’t hard to imagine how the Chabacano fija evolved and developed its meaning.

Some Chabacano speakers also use the word fija with the definition 'to notice'. In a forum, I saw this sentence: amo gayod ahora lang yo ya puede piha. Here is the translation: That's really correct, I noticed this just now.

The Chabacano fija is normally pronounced as piha (English h). Most people (especially young Chabacano speakers) will spell this word as piha.

I am not certain which definition of the Chabacano fija is more in use. I don’t even believe that a lot of people still use this word. It would be interesting to find this out from native speakers so if you speak the Chabacano de Zamboanga, please share your thoughts on this. Do you use the word fija in your everyday conversations? If so, how do you use it (which definition)?