The Chabacano O

"Mira tu o. Eroplano ba ese? Pajaro?" (Look, is that a plane? A bird?)

I recently read about the Portuguese word (or interjection?) o which is a shortened version of olha (look) and is used to get people's attention to see something. I decided to write this article because in the Chabacano de Zamboanga, we have this exact word and it is used almost in the same way. Here is an example dialogue (taken from with the Portuguese o in it:

- Onde fica a praça? (Where is the square?)

- Aqui o, vá reto e dobre na segunda rua à direita. (Here, go straight and turn at the second street on the right)

Now let's take a look at how we use the word o in Chabacano.

Chabacano: Bonito o! (said while looking at something)
English: Look, it's beautiful!

Chabacano: Come ya tu 'se o (said by somebody who doesn't want his food anymore and is asking someone else to eat it)
English: You finish that off

Chabacano: Senta tu... aqui o... (said by somebody inviting someone to seat in a house)
English: Have a seat... over here...

Here are some conversations in Chabacano with the word o:

-Onde ya si Phil? Cosa ya! Atrasao ya kita. (Where is Phil? Damn! We're late already.)
-Na sabe ya tu con Phil, atrasao aquel masquin cuando. (Well you know how Phil is, he's always late.)
-Taqui ya o el cabron! (Here he comes now.)

-Favor saca con el bola (Please get the ball.)
-Donde ya? (Where is it)
-Talla o. (Over there.)

-Donde yo con este pone? (Where do I put this?)
-Larga lang con ese alli na saco. (Just dump it in the sack.)
-Donde saco? (What sack?)
-Ese saco alli o (That sack over there.)

Now, as you may have noticed, the Chabacano word o, may very well have come from the Portuguese o. Although another usage of this word in Chabacano seems to deviate from its Portuguese counterpart. Here is an example:

-Quien ya ruba con el sen aqui na mesa? (Who took the money on the table?)
-No sabe yo. (I don't know.)
-Habla ya kay hinde de mio aquel sen. (Tell me already 'coz that money isn't mine.)
-No sabe gayod yo quien ya saca. (I really don't know who took it.)
-Habla ya o! (Come on, tell me already!)

In the usage above, the o is used as an interjection to express persuasion.

This usage of o also occurs in Tagalog, although it is used very sparingly as compared to Chabacano. In an informal Chabacano conversation,  it would not be uncommon for you to hear this word being used a few dozen times.


  1. Haha, it's very nice to see this expression being used in Chabacano. Nice article, amigo!

  2. Tiene pa otro expresión que ta usa kita el Particle/Sustantivo "No".

    ¿Vale man se volador, no?
    Mira gat tu, ¿De tonto gayot, no? ^_^