9 Signs That Chabacano Is Still Alive And Well in Zamboanga City

1. Chabacano Graffiti

When I was kid, graffiti written in Chabacano were everywhere in Zamboanga city but today, you would be hard pressed to find them anywhere in the city. So when I saw one during my recent trip to Zamboanga city, I had to get off the trycicle and take a photo of it. My mom was very surprised when I asked the driver to stop and was very amused when she saw what I was doing.

By the way, could you guess in which barangay this photo was taken? Post your answer on the comments section below (and no, there are no prizes involved, just bragging rights 😛). HINT: the photo was taken in front of a barangay hall.

2. Chabacano Books

These books were published by the city government in an effort to promote the Chabacano language. I think the Chabacano children's storybooks are really cool. Hopefully, they can create a pdf version soon.

3. Multilingual Employees

At Sunflower restaurant, an old one in Zamboanga city, I was so delighted by the cashier who was able to take orders in Chabacano, Tausug, Cebuano, and Tagalog! I was like this girl should get a language allowance for being able to speak all those languages!

In another restaurant inside a mall, a waiter asks me and my mom, dos ustedes ma'am? This is how you seat restaurant guests in Chabacano (if you don't want to assume the number of guests, you can ask cuanto ustedes). 😀 After taking our order (also in Chabacano), I was so surprised when the waiter comes out of the kitchen and tells me in Tagalog that they were out of what I ordered. When I listened to the restaurant employees talk to each other, I noticed that it was in a mix of Chabacano, Cebuano and Tagalog. I also found out later that the waiter was actually from Pagadian city so he spoke to my mom in Cebuano. The funny thing was that after the waiter went into the kitchen, he started speaking in Tagalog again with my mom even though my mom was speaking to him in Cebuano. 😂 

But I do get it. As somebody who used to work as a bilingual customer service representative at a call center in Manila, I know how hard it is to switch between different languages several times in a day. In my case, I had to switch between English (my third language) and Spanish (a language that I just studied on my own) around twenty times everyday. On top of that, I had to speak Tagalog with my colleagues, and occasionally Chabacano with a few people in the office from Zamboanga city. Yes, switching between four different languages multiple times a day is enough to make anybody forget what language they were supposed to speak. 😛

4. Hecho De Zamboanga

These products are proudly Hecho De Zamboanga. The first photo shows a bottle of Alavar's Bagon Gata.

Hopefully, more products coming from Zamboanga city would be labelled with the words Hecho De Zamboanga. 😀

5.  Chabacano Stickers In Tricycles

These Chabacano stickers I found in tricycles around the city are pretty cool. The first one has a unifying message in Chabacano, Filipino, and English. 😀 The second Chabacano sticker asks passengers to pay the exact amount.

The driver was so surprised to see me taking a photo of these stickers. I guess that isn't something he sees everyday. 😛

6. A Reminder To Pay Your Taxes Chabacano

The tax collecting agency in the country (BIR) has a prominent sign outside its doors reminding people to pay the correct taxes in Chabacano!

This should erase all doubts in people's minds about the government's seriousness in its tax collection efforts. 😛

7. Chabacano Ambulance

If you think the Chabacano police cars I wrote about in a different post were cool, wait until you see the Chabacano ambulance!

I found this Chabacano ambulance parked outside of the Red Cross in Zamboanga city. What is interesting and curious at the same time is the spelling they used (aucillo from the Spanish auxilio and projecto from the Spanish proyecto).

8. Chabacano Newspaper Columns

Zamboanga Today still has a newspaper sports column written in Chabacano. From time to time, they also have Chabacano caricatures.

If you wish to see more Chabacano sports newspaper columns, just click here.

9. A Chabacano Reminder for Overcharging Tricycles

I found this at the KCC Mall de Zamboanga. It reminds tricycle drivers and owners about the penalties for overcharging of fare.

By the way, could you guess in which barangay the first photo was taken? Post your answer on the comments section below (and no, there are no prizes involved, just bragging rights 😛). HINT: the photo was taken in front of a barangay hall.


  1. Na mi caso, nunca yo ta conversá en Tagalo y cualquier Idioma con el maga extranjeros na mi Ciudad de Zamboanga. Jendêh yo el extranjero, entonces Jendêh yo el hacé ajuste para kanila, sino ellos conviene hacé ajuste para conmigo.

    Además, no hay también yo quever si tal extranjero ta conversá en Tagalo o en Inglés conmigo, está importante que ta entendé yo kanila y siempre, mis respuestas firmi en Chavacano.

    Por ultimo, bien radical mi percepcion na mi vida y ese parte de mi resistencia contra el IMPOSICION HEGMEONIA del TAGALO Contra kanaton todo Grupos ETnicos jendeh Tagalos.

    Por eso masquen adonde parte del mundo yo, dos Idiomas lang yo ta conversá. en Zamboangueño Chavacano a los Zamboangueños y Ingles a los gente que Jendêh Zamboangueños.

  2. Favor llama con ese "Tagalog", jendeh "Filipino". NO kita GLORIFICA con el Tagalo.

  3. Este post es muy revelador. Gracias Jerome!!

  4. Me hablo los idiomas tagalo, inglés, pampangueño, y castellano/español, en ese orden de preferencias. Y pude leer relativamente bien esa redacción deportiva**. Es raro, ¿no?
    A veces yo leo de la gramática chabacana en línea, sóla su básica. Pero ahora el saber su básica gramática, combinado con las reglas gramáticas de los idiomas tagalo y castellano así como los vocablos compartidos y usados por todas tres lenguas, tremendamente me ayudó descifrar tu idioma criollo hermoso llamado El Chabacano.
    Alta alabanza, ¿no?