5 Signs That Prove Chabacano Is In The Brink Of Extinction

1. The language of commerce in downtown Zamboanga is now mostly Tagalog

Recently, my mom who is currently based in Pagadian, visited Zamboanga city. Much to her surprise, the language of commerce in downtown Zamboanga is now mostly Tagalog. But she said that it is worse if you try to visit the KCC Mall de Zamboanga, where practically none of the mall employees speak Chabacano. She even said that it is now only in churches that one will hear Chabacano being spoken. Although I think she might have been exaggerating that last part.

I made the same observation when I visited a local fast food restaurant. The restaurant employee spoke to me in Tagalog and looked very surprised when I responded in Chabacano. It was as if she couldn't comprehend that someone would want to converse in Chabacano!

2. The emergence of Chagalog

While riding a Jeepney once, I heard a student use the word kapitbahay in a Chabacano sentence which really surprised me because judging from her fluency in the language, I expected that she knew the Chabacano word for kapitbahay. It was only much later that I became aware that borrowing and mixing words from Tagalog is becoming a fad when speaking Chabacano. What was even more surprising to me was the fact that they were borrowing words from Tagalog when just a few years ago, Chabacano speakers were only borrowing words from English.

A few days ago, in an online forum, I read something that really cracked me up. Somebody was complaining about some people saying makaiyak instead of makallora or makayura. Then somebody answered, ''wag tu, uso ese ngayon". šŸ˜‚šŸ˜‚šŸ˜›

Here are some posts that I found online using the word makaiyak.

"Shet. Makaiyak na makakilig el MMK. Hahahahaha pero el issue, nuay pa kame syempre resa. Hahahahaha"

"nuay gad sila man text makaiyak huhu"

"Aww. Makaiyak. Manada ya gad nuay ya sen porkawsa kuneste gera oh! :("

This, my friends, is Chagalog.

3. Fluency in Chabacano is entering an all time low

In the media, the Chabacano is changing. My uncle who watches a lot of Chabacano news programs observes that the Chabacano being used in these programs is now becoming lasang. He said that he is always hearing the anchors coining or inventing Chabacano words based on their similarity to the English equivalent. It's like Spanglish, wherein carpet becomes carpeta. This word though is made up and is considered incorrect.

Lasang is a Chabacano slang which means nonsense. Camins' dictionary defines lasang as: to tell tall tales.

These events are becoming more and more rampant in Chabacano. Along with code switching, it is a glaring sign that fluency in this language is entering an all time low.

In the 1930s, Tagalog was chosen to be the base of a standardized national language. However, even up to the 1970s, there were very few Filipinos who could speak this language. In recent studies, however, it has been found out that more than 80% of Filipinos now speak this language. This is certainly good news because the consensus is that we need a national language to bind us and to foster nationalistic fervor in us. But the bad news is that all of this comes at a price: our local Philippine languages, the link to our regional identities. I hope that someday, the local government will be able to establish a regulating body for the Chabacano language. A regulating body for Chabacano will definitely strengthen its position among the many languages that are spoken by the people in Zamboanga city today and will even make teaching the language easier.

4. It is uncertain if Chabacano can survive the recent influx of immigrants to the city

Zamboanga city has always been a melting pot of different languages and I think much of Chabacano's fate lies in whether the most recent influx of migrants to the city will have Chabacano speaking children or will become Chabacano speakers themselves.  Migrants, in the past, learned to assimilate and eventually became fluent Chabacano speakers. But this was when many ZamboangueƱos did not speak Tagalog. Today, most ZamboangueƱos already know how to speak Tagalog (with varying degrees of fluency) and migrants are finding out that they do not anymore need to learn Chabacano to live in Zamboanga city.

5. Many Zamboanguenos think lowly of Chabacano

A few years ago, I met somebody (in Manila) who said that he was from Zamboanga city and when I asked him if he spoke Chabacano, he answered poco lang. But when I started speaking to him in that language, I discover that his Chabacano is so much better than mine. šŸ˜‚ So I was like what is wrong with these people? Why are people embarrassed to say that they speak Chabacano?

The funny part is that a lot of people outside of Zamboanga city think that Chabacano is super posh. If you are living under a rock, posh is the new word for sosyal. In fact, my Chabacano speaking friend in Manila frequently tells me that when his friends hear him speak in Chabacano over the phone, they always comment that the language sounds so beautiful. It is cool to speak Chabacano! What's not cool is speaking unnecessarily in Tagalog when the person you're speaking to can perfectly speak Chabacano! All around the country, and the world even, there is so much interest in the Chabacano language that I fail to understand how Chabacano speakers can be so oblivious to the prestige that surrounds their language!

Make no mistake about it! The state of Chabacano today is lamentable. Let me sound the alarm bells as early as now! Unless more aggressive preservation efforts will be implemented, the day will come when Chabacano will only be spoken inside the home. This prediction is bleak but it is not without merit.

Conversa Chabacano!


  1. No hay otro con puede disculpĆ” aquĆ­ sino con estos mana hijo de pepita Ultra-Tagalista, el KWD los demĆ”s personaje que ta empujĆ” por el TagalizaciĆ³n del Filipinas. Ademas, fuera de ese, ya quitĆ” tambiĆ©n kita el enseƱanza del lengua Chavacano porque antes "gao/dao", tiene man gale sujeto en Chavacano pero ya abolĆ­ cuando el Tagalo ya renombrĆ” ya como Fefita (este filipino 'dialect') gale. ^_^

    Sobre todo, jendĆŖh lang el lenguaje Chavacano ya aparece afectao de este sino todos los 175 Idiomas Filipino na paĆ­s. ..y siempre, gracias KWF!!!!

    OjalĆ” algĆŗn dĆ­a tiene quien oĆ­ mi ruego que hay abolĆ­ ya el lengua nacional y el kwf.

    ¡¡¡¡¡ZamboangueƱo Yo!!!!

  2. Como una Etnia ZamboangueƱo con poco sangre de pamfaron (Ylongo ^_^ jaja), te deseo creƔ una academia se llama "ACADEMIA DE LA LENGUA CHAVACANA"
    con su obligaciĆ³n y responsibilidad:

  3. Por Ćŗltimo jendĆŖh yo ta creĆ© por el concepto de tenĆ© Lengua Nacional na un paĆ­s multilingual como el Filipinas de aton... porque el cosa kita debe tiene es una lengua puente que neutral y no sesgada.
    Una paĆ­s donde ta reconocĆ© y ta dalĆ© igual oportunidad y privilegio para Democracia y libertad lingĆ¼Ć­stica y EmancipaciĆ³n idioma.

  4. Unveil equivalent in ZamboangueƱo Chavacano is "DevelƔ".

  5. Ta mira yo aron ese palabra desvela o devela, ta referi ese na aquel ta quita el mujer suyo velo. Pero el palabra unveil na inscripcion el suyo definicion otro. Na ingles, el palabra unveil puede queda aquel quita el velo o aquel inaugura, pero hinde na Chabacano. Si pensa kita, puede man y ta pasa man gayod este ansina como gane na caso del palabra unveil. Pero para conmigo, si no hay sila encontra palabra na Chabacano para unveil (que quiere decir inaugura), era ya usa ya lang sila palabra sinonimo. Si cosa man aquel palabra, no conmigo pregunta kay yo, bueno lang yo mancuento.hahaha. :P

  6. Jajaja

    Aay amo gale...
    Tiene se kita palabra "Inaugura" o "InauguraciĆ³n". Hmmmmm.... ^_^

  7. Hola a todos! Despues de un tiempo sorprendido por el aumento del numero de blogs hispanofilipinos y,sobre todo de chavacano zamboangueno,con presencia en internet,television,radio,musica y,al parecer,el deseo del gobierno local de promocionar la lengua,con los carteles que muestras en la calle,organismos publicos o eventos como el Dia de Fundacion del Chabacano,o Zamboanga,Ciudad latina de Asia...tenia la esperanza,de ser ahi este lenguaje,algo vivo en la calle,en el pueblo,como ultimo vestigio de "un poquito de espanol".....el panorama que presentas es muy triste y me sorprende.Si,creo que hace falta una Academia de la Lengua y una normalizacion de la lengua.Por toda esta idea que tenia en la cabeza,de visitar un dia Filipinas y,sobre todo Zamboanga,para pasear por sus calles,comer en un restaurante,escuchar chabacano y poder comunicarme con un filipino,a pesar de que el gobierno espanol,no aconseja a los turistas espanoles en Filipinas,visitar Mindanao,me resulta especialmente triste.Aparte de este comentario,deciros que comprendo todo el sentido de lo que decis,pero me pierdo en palabras como "gao/dao" "man gale" "Fefita" "jendeh lang".Lo de Chavacano Lasang,es verdad,lo veo mucho en la television,es terrible.Un saludo,Joaquin

  8. Maga palabras sinĆ³nimos del "InaugurĆ”", como el siguientes:

    DesplegĆ” (poco comĆŗn pa este)
    ComenzĆ” (hmmmmm palabra comĆŗn este)

  9. na amo ya gad este el resulta del mga violagion ta ta hase daw kame sa escuela antes. kay si man kwento chabacano, paga un peso. so kien kulpable aqui?

    1. Si, ansina tambien na de amon escuela antes. No puede conversa Chabacano.

  10. na kay si man kwento daw kame chabacano na eskwela antes paga daw un peso. na amo ya te el resulta aura. so debe gad ase bibi or omenta elective subject para preserba el chabacano.

    1. Si, ansina tambien na de amon escuela antes. No puede conversa Chabacano.

    2. No puede usa cay para man practice el ingles. Ese el rason, jende ba? šŸ˜Š

  11. Chavacano dialect in Cavite was totally gone. Nobody now know how to speak Chavacano from the province of Cavite.. Maybe if there are people who are around 90-100 yrs old from that place.

    1. Tiene pa ta conversa Chavacano na Cavite. Cuando ya anda yo na municipal de Ternate, Cavite alla ta conversa pa sila chavacano pero gendeh manada como aqui na Zamboanga.

  12. Poreso tiene grande necesidad de poner mas esfuerzo para puede preserva con el lenguaje de Chavacano/Chabacano.

  13. I don't think that people of zamboanga shouldn't consider to speak in tagalog because if we are going to the other cities and we can only use the languange of chabacano it could be hard for us to communicate with the others so I think even though we speak chabacano we should also consider our national languange. and by the way I like how this person make this article

    1. The article does not tell you not to speak or learn Tagalog or English. The article is simply encouraging people to avoid speaking unnecessarily in Tagalog when the person you're speaking to can speak Chabacano. :)

    2. I agree with you.

      We ZamboangueƱo Ethnic need to be assertive of our own Ethnicity. Time to reject and oppose the HEgemonic Imposition of Primacy of the language, culture, identity and history of the Tagalog in our Educational System in all levels starts from Kinder to Colleges. Let's seek to have our own Human Rights towards Ethnolinguistic Democracy with Equality and Equity.

      It is high time that we ZamboangueƱo Ethnic should learn and be educated only in our ZamboangueƱo Language "Chavacano" starting from Kinder to College and all books shall be written as well in our own language like how the Tamil Ethnic, TElugu Ethnic, Kerala Ethnic, et.al. of India are implementing. also, of course learning English to be our TOOL as bridge language which can be introduced as early as 6th Grade till College. and there is NO need for us ZamboangueƱo Ethnic to learn the Language of the Tagalog Ethnic. WE are ZamboangueƱo Ethnic and we are NOT Tagalog Ethnic!!!!

      WE shall end and put a stop to this Tagalog COLONIZATION.
      IF we will not become aggressive and assertive towards our ZamboangueƱo Ethnic, our Ethnicity will get extinct!

  14. Nuway yo keber el lenguwahe chabacano ta muri. This language has no original dialect. they said it is originated from latin but it is not. The chabacano is an assorted language coming from different tribes or nations. So it has no original identity. They (chabacanos) are immigrant and came from outside of zamboanga and they created this language to justify that they are zamboangenos. But truthfully, they were not zamboangenos. If you observe, almost all the words in chabacano came from other language so it is not originally chabacano. May i call it halo halo language

    1. EQUIVOCAO usted!

      El Chavacano es un lenguaje. el LENGUA NATIVA del Raza o Grupo Ɖtnico (Ethnic Group) ZamboangueƱo.

      The ZamboangueƱo Ethnolinguistic Nation is just of the two Offspring of the Subanon Ethnolinguistic Nation. The other is the Kalibugan Ethnolinguistic Nation.

      Both ZamboangueƱo Ethnic and Kalibugan Ethnic are offspring and evolved from the Subanon Ethnic.

      The difference were during those times: Those Subanon Ethnic, especially King Timuay Saragan's Lineage through Princess Nayac Saragan who married Bunsgu and had children Macombong and Tongab along with their loyal followers who accepted the Catholic Faith, some adopted the hispanic name and hispanized, these people evolved into a new Ethnicity along with having their own Culture, Identity, Literature, History and everything. Thus, a ZamboangueƱo Ethnic was born. Whereas those Subanon Ethnic who have accepted the Islamic Faith and were Islamized they evolved into a new Ethnicity and they are now the Kalibugan Ethnic. However, those at that time who remain as Pagan Subanon Ethnic remain as Subanon Ethnic until. Although today's modern world, many of thse PAGAN Subanon Ethnic have also converted to Christianity but still they remained as Subanon because they never evolve into someone new.

      That's how culture & Identity, or Ethnicity as a whole evolves.


      ahora si ta habla usted kam ƉTNICO ZamboangueƱo maga inmigrantes , alli tu equivocao porque kita na Filipinas maga Inmigrantes lang tambiĆ©n.

  15. I respect your opinion. Thank you. No need for demeaning and hurtful comments. I was born in Zamboanga City and I understand Jerome's sentiments. I'm sure if you have traditions of your own or your family's that you want to preserve for the next generation, you can get Jerome's sentiments as well. ✌️