Saturday, February 26, 2005



Posted 05:25am (Mla time) Feb 19, 2005
By Bambi Harper
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A15 of the February 19, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

MAYBE you have gotten tired of my Muslims (someone was complaining about all those names, although that's probably the way they sounded to Capt. Thomas Forrest 300 years ago). So for a change of pace, a friend downloaded some articles from the Net and e-mailed them to me. They deal with a language seldom heard these days, especially in Ermita where it has virtually disappeared. It is also spoken in Cavite and Zamboanga, but with the demographics taking place it may well be another piece of heritage that may not survive. It may surprise you to know (it did me) that it was spoken as well in Binondo, Paco and Trozo (where my maternal grandfather came from). The language is also found, it seems, in Davao and Cotabato and may even exist in Sabah! According to a 2000 census, a total of 210,000 people speak Caviteño and Ternateño.

Godofredo Samonte of Cavite City tells us that Chabacano came into existence when migrating Spaniards settled in Ternate, Cavite, Ermita in Manila and Zamboanga and married native women. In an effort to understand each other, Spaniards tried to learn Tagalog while the Filipinas mixed Tagalog with Spanish. Samonte states that Chabacano's origin was a mispronunciation of Spanish words as in "Bini tu aqui" which comes from "Ven aqui" or "Vente aqui" (Come here). The Spanish "De donde vienes?" (Where do you come from?) becomes in Caviteño or Ternateño "Donde tu ya bini?"

It is possible though that the Caviteños learned it from the Mardicas, 200 of whom were brought over from Ternate in the Moluccas and first settled in the Ermita for around 50 years. In 1700, they were relocated to Maragondon, Cavite facing Manila Bay where they christened their new home Ternate after their old homeland.

In 1641, the Spaniards established a shipbuilding yard in Cavite and in time this became an important naval base. It was from here that the city of Cavite developed and it is entirely possible that the Mardicas sought work in the naval yard thus propagating their language.

A very charming example of the metaphoric quality of Chabacano is this example: "Ta sali ya el prusision" sounds like it means the procession is leaving, but it means the rice in the pot is already boiling. Or "Cumi uno buta dos" referring to eating shell fish since you eat the meat and throw away the shell, "thus the expression, eat one and throw away two."

You also had a mixture of two languages as in "Tu un daldalero" from the Tagalog daldal ("talkative").

If Chabacano once was a mixture of Spanish and Tagalog, today American English has also been added as in "Absent eli na lecture ayel." Obviously "absent" and "lecture" are English, demonstrating that Chabacano is still a growing language, absorbing new words.

What you also might find intriguing are the prayers Samonte gives us in Oracion Chabacana. The Sign of the Cross is El Señal del Sta. Cruz - Na nombre del Tata, y del Hijo, y del Espiritu Santo. And Our Father is El Reso del Señor (literally The Lord's Prayer), which goes:

Niso Tata Qui ta na cielo:

Quida santificao Tu nombre;

Manda vini con niso Tu reino;

Sigui el qui quiere Tu aqui na tierra igual como na

cielo! Dali con niso ahora, niso comida para todo el

dia; Perdona el mga culpa di niso, si quilaya ta

perdona niso con aquel mga qui tiene culpa con niso;

No dija qui cai niso na tentacion, pero salva con

niso na malo.

Then we have the Hail Mary or El Saludo del Angel con Maria (The Angel's Greeting to Mary):

Ta saluda yo contigo,Maria,

quida alegre tu! Lleno tu di gracia! El Senor

ta alli contigo! Bendito tu mas di todo el mga mujer,

y bendito rin tu Hijo Jesus!

Sta. Maria, Nana di Dios: Riza para

niso, el mga qui tiene culpa, ahora y na hora di

niso muerte.

El Gloria con el Santisima Trinidad -

Gloria con El Tata, y con el Hijo, y con el Espiritu Santo.

Igual como na principio,

ansina ahora y para todo El tiempo.

Finally here are Spanish words that have been adopted into Tagalog or Chabacano but whose meanings have changed:

Ya (Chavacano) denotes past tense. (In Spanish, ya means "already.") "Donde andas?" (Chavacano) means "Where are you going?" (In Spanish, anda means "to walk or operate.") Siguro means "maybe." (In Spanish seguro means "sure, secure, stable.") Syempre means "of course." (The Spanish siempre means "always.") Pirmi (Tagalog, Visayan, Chavacano) means "always." (The Spanish firme means "firm, steady.") Basta means "as long as." (In Spanish basta means "enough.") Maske/maski means "even if." (The Spanish mas que means "more than.") Kubeta means "toilet/outhouse." (The Spanish cubeta means "bucket.") Casilyas (Visayan, Chavacano) means "toilet/toilet seat/to shit." (The Spanish casillas means "chess squares, hut, cabin.") Lamierda/lamyerda means "paint the town red." (The Spanish la mierda means "shit, excrement.") Puto means "a rice cake." (The Spanish puto means "a male prostitute.") Baho means "pungent or smelly." (The Spanish bajo means "descend, below.") Sabi means "to say." (The Spanish saber means "to know.") Barkada means "group or friends." (The Spanish barcada means "boatload.") Sugal means "gambling." (The Spanish jugar means "to play"). Mamon means "fluffy bread." (The Spanish mamon means "a woman's large breast.") Pera means "money." (The Spanish perra means "silver coin.")


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