A Chabacano Christmas Song + An Interview in Spanish With A Former Zamboanga Mayor

It’s that time of the year again when we all feel generous and kind towards one another.

For most of us, Christmas is a very busy time of the year with family reunions and Christmas dinners to think about. But there was a time in the not so distant past when Christmas was a quiet holiday. This is what is being described in the song that is featured in this blog post.


Noche sagrao, brillante maga estrellas
oh noche que el Salvador ya nacé.
Por largo tiempo el mundo ya esperá se
que aquí canaton el Dios hay vené.
Ta gozá el mundo por este esperanza,
un día nuevo hay podé llegá.
Todo hincá y oí voces del ángel,
oh noche divino, el Cristo ya nacé !
Divino noche, oh noche de amor!

Ta llevá el luz de fe sereno y claro,
y adorá con el Niño Jesús.
Ta llevá el luz del cielo bien ardiente,
ya llegá Magos de lejos lugar.
Na un pesebre el rey de los reyes,
amigo diaton, Ele ahí quedá.
Sabé el Señor hacé lo que se debe,
mirá con el rey y na su presencia incá.
Ta aquí el rey, con Ele todo hincá.

Cristo Señor, oh alabá su nombre!
Su gloria y poder para siempre proclama,
su gloria y poder para siempre proclama.
Oh adorá con Ele, oh adorá con Ele!
Vené y adorá con Cristo el Salvador.
Este es el canto de Pascua!

What is very striking in the lyrics for me is the usage of pode instead of puede. It is always said that Chabacano verbs are Spanish infinitives minus the r at the end (habla instead of hablar, come instead of comer, vivi instead of vivir). But the flaw in this theory is that there are Chabacano verbs that are third person Spanish conjugations. For example, we say puede, tiene, hiede, and quiere in Chabacano and not pode, tene, hede and quere (respectively). Admittedly, there are times that we do say tene, hede and quere but generally, we tend to say tiene, hiede and quiere. Pode though is a very different thing as I have not come across it until this song.

If we analyze the lyrics of this song, it is obvious that the Chabacano used here is one from a very different era. I believe this was the Chabacano that was spoken during the turn of the century which was heavily laden with Spanish. This was probably the Chabacano spoken during the time that Lipski described as a period wherein Chabacano was hispanified.

Lyrics of this song were taken from the YouTube page of this video. It was edited by the late Zamboanga city mayor Ma. Clara Lobregat. If you think that the Chabacano in the song above is bien Chabacano or Chabacano hondo, this is probably because Mrs. Lobregat was born in the 1920s, a time when the traditional Chabacano was still very much alive, She also belonged to a Spanish speaking family and this may also have heavily influenced her Chabacano. Below is an interview (conducted in Spanish) with Mrs. Lobregat regarding the status of the Chabacano language. She talks about a time when the Chabacano language was already disappearing because of the inflow of migrants to Zamboanga city and the fashionability of mixing Tagalog words when speaking in Chabacano. I remember that during her stint as Zamboanga city mayor, the city government was really aggressive in promoting the Chabacano language. It was a time when we greeted our teachers at school in Chabacano, and employees in the city hall answered the phone in Chabacano.