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Category Archives: Provincia de Cavite

Around 80% of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces are submerged in floodwaters!

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Quick report

No, there is no typhoon taking place. But nonstop monsoon rains left 80 percent of Metro Manila flooded on Tuesday (7th of August) forced hundreds of thousands to escape out of their inundated homes, sparking traumatic recollections of the calamitous tropical storm “Ondoy” three years ago. Last night, Malacañang Palace suspended classes in Metro Manila and the nine provinces surrounding it.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa issued Memorandum Circular No. 34, ordering the suspension of classes Thursday at all levels, including postgraduate courses, in Metro Manila, Zambales, Bataán, Pampanga, Pangasinán, Tárlac, Bulacán, La Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal.

Actually, it has been raining for more than a week, even before typhoon Gener struck. The flash floods began gradually on Monday and severely swelled last Tuesday. Many places are in a state of calamity, especially communities along the Mariquina River and Laguna de Bay. Before last night’s memorandum, Malacañang Palace also issued a directive canceling work in both government and private offices. Even call centers/BPOs were not excluded from this, prompting the Business Processing Association of the Philippines to appeal; this is because this industry caters to international clients.

Now the sun is finally up, but barely. And the floods don’t mitigate that fast. And think of the countless families who were rendered homeless. Please, let us not allow ourselves to be mere spectators of this tragedy. We are all part of this…

How to help? Please click HERE and HERE.

We can all get through this together. That is the FILIPINO spirit. Dapat sama-sama sa hirap at guinhawa.

*******

Special thanks to my cousin, DJ Jam Alas of Magic 89.9, for the info on how to help the flood victims.

A bright future for Cavite’s “Hispanized dialects”

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This was news several days ago in Manila Bulletin’s website, but I just learned about it today…

Ternate moves to preserve chabacano
Anthony Girón

TERNATE, Cavite, Philippines — Mayor Lamberto D. Bambáo and the Sangguniang Bayan (Town Council) led by Vice Mayor Jayson D. Cabana have approved an ordinance that will preserve and promote the chabacano dialect in the area.

Ternate, a fourth-class municipality in Cavite, is one of the only three areas in the Philippines where chabacano, a dialect based on Spanish, is spoken. The two others are Cavite City and Zamboanga City in Southern Mindanáo.

The Ternate ordinance was acknowledged by Vice Governor and Sangguniang Panglalawigan (Provincial Board) Presiding Officer Recto M. Cantimbuhan during the last regular Monday session at the Capitol in Trece Mártires City.

With the approval of the ordinance, Chabacano would be taught in schools in the two municipalities and public signages in the areas would have to be in Chabacano as among moves in a bid to restore and promote the language.

My wife Yeyette (left) and daughter Krystal (right) at Ternate's welcome arch.

This is just perfect! But Chabacano Ternateño (Bahra) is not the only one taking the lion’s share of good news. Before the above article was published, Chabacano Caviteño (Cavitén) already had its share of good tidings way back January of this year:

Cavite City revives Chabacano
Anthony Girón

CAVITE CITY, Philippines — Mayor Romeo G. Ramos and the 13-man City Council approved recently the ordinance that will revive the “Chabacano” dialect in this city.

The ratified ordinance was forwarded to Sangguniang Panlalawigan for provincial approval. Vice Governor and Presiding Officer Recto M. Cantimbuhan and Majority Floor Leader Dino M. Chua have acknowledged the decree during their recent session.

The decree, titled “An Ordinance Preserving, Restoring and Promoting Chabacano in the City of Cavite,” was signed by Ramos upon approval by the council led by Vice Mayor Lino Antonio S. Barón last December.

The officials tagged the ordinance as “must” to save the Chabacano tongue from extinction in the city. The councilors unanimously approved the decree.

Cavite City, the former capital of Cavite province, is noted as one of the only three areas in the Philippines where Chabacano, a Spanish-like dialect, is spoken. The two others are Ternate, also in Cavite, and Zamboanga City.

Councilor Eduardo G. Novero Jr., the sponsor of the ordinance, and Local Tourism Officer Remedios Sto. Domingo-Ordóñez said that based on surveys, only seven percent of the 106,824 city population or more or less 7,000, can speak Chabacano nowadays.

The fabled Samburio of Ciudad de Cavite.


Between the two Chabacanos of Provincia de Cavite, I believe that Cavitén needs more attention and care. When I visited the place a few years ago with friends, I encountered very few people who spoke Cavitén. All the ones I found were elderly people. But in Ternate, the case was different. I brought my wife and daughter there last month for a field trip. There were so many speakers of Bahra left and right, especially in the town proper and in Barrio San José.

These initiatives from the local governments of Ciudad de Cavite and Ternate are a welcome move. Finally, culture heroes can be found in Cavite’s government offices!

Family trees

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I’m a family tree freak, being a history buff. I even astonish my wife for being one, especially because I know more about her ancestors than she does.

For years I’ve studied the lineage of renowned Filipino families: Araneta, Cojuangco, Salvador, Zóbel de Ayala. Now that we have a new laptop, I can start writing about these families and publish them in this blog very soon. But of course I will also need to research on my own family tree.

Through a family tree, clan members will have the opportunity to be able to know more about their respective family’s origins as well as promote closer ties to long lost relatives who share the same ancestor(s). Such is the case when I met on Facebook the relatives of my paternal great grandfather, Don Paulo Évora y Fortunato of Calapán, Mindoro Oriental. Paulo married a creole, Doña Rafaela Bonilla, of Unisan, Tayabas (now Quezon) province, and that marriage produced several children including my father’s mother.

Many of Don Paulo’s relatives are now in the US. A nephew of his, Raymond Évora y Heildebrand (son of Paulo’s brother Carlos) now serves as the Évora historian. He has a vast collection of Évora photos from yesteryears. And he even took the wondrous time of creating an online family tree for the whole Évora Clan.

Screenshot of a webpage dedicated to the Évora Family Tree.

On a related note…

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine, Antonio Saturnino Velasco y Filoteo, showed to me copies of his Spanish grandfather’s documents: birth certificate, passport, and naturalization papers. His grandfather, Don Saturnino Velasco y García was an immigrant from Arroyal, Burgos, Spain (his parents were Mariano Velasco and Patricia García). According to Cuya Tony, his abuelo married a Spanish lady. The marriage bore them Antonio María Benito Velasco who was born in Ciudad de Lucena, Tayabas (the same place where I was born).

Personal documents of Saturnino Velasco y García, a Spaniard who migrated to the Philippines and became a Filipino citizen.

Don Saturnino later remarried when his first wife died. He got himself a Manileña: Dolores Monzón of Malate, daughter of Julián Monzón and Juana Mijares. In the process, Saturnino’s son by his first marriage became Antonio María Benito Velasco y Monzón.

Antonio María, one of the managers of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc., married a Chavacana damsel from Ciudad de Cavite: Perla Filoteo de Velasco (daughter of Ramón Filoteo and Venancia García). The marriage produced many children, among them my friend Cuya Tony, an IT specialist in Mærsk Line Filipinas.

While checking the documents of Cuya Tony’s grandfather, I tried to imagine what was on the old man’s mind while he was taking care of his immigration papers. Did he immediately fall in love with his new home? How did he adapt to his new environment? Did he ever think ill of Filipinos? Or did he die with his heart fully transmogrified into one that is Filipino?

Don Saturnino Velasco y García and his bride. I'm just not sure if the lady is his first or second (photo taken from the Familia Velasco Facebook group).

Moving to another country is a difficult move. Although I haven’t done that myself (and I don’t have plans to), I had moved from one place to another ever since I eloped with my girlfriend (who is now Mrs. Alas). And I can tell you that in so doing, it was a hassle. The vicissitudes of having to adapt to a new environment was daunting. You’ll have to deal with different modes and schedules of transportation, new sources of daily commodities, new faces, etc. And I’m just talking about moving from one place to another within the Philippines. What more if we talk about moving to a different land whose cosmos is different from ours?

Cuya Tony told me that his late father, a former manager of one of the world’s most successful businesses, was very organized with all important documents pertaining to their family. All documents were meticulously filed, preserved, and in order. These precious files —the well-preserved Velasco documents as well as Lolo Raymund’s precious Évora photos— serve as windows to the past. That is why it is important for all of us to preserve whatever keepsakes there are at hand: receipts, scribbled notes, even electric bills. This, however, is too cumbersome for an ordinary person to do and is usually best left in the hands of history-sensitive individuals. Rizal was one such person. That is why we know so many things about him.

Indeed, a thorough study of one’s bloodline and filial traditions will help that person understand more about his clan’s religious, cultural, social, economic, and even political fluctuations throughout generations. Studying and getting to know the history of one’s family (without a tarnished past, that is) will inculcate in that person a sense of belongingness, pride, and being. The past is never dull. It is always engaging. Learning more about a past forgotten, a milieu living only in memory (and documents), will help our feet tread towards the right path.

Tanza Fiesta 2011 (Tanza, Cavite)

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When me, my wife Yeyette, and daughter Krystal visited Ternate last August 21, we passed by several Caviteño towns and cities. At the Antero Soriano Highway which coursed through Tanza, we noticed banners announcing that a week later, August 28, the town will celebrate the feast day of its blessed guardian, Saint Augustine. Me and my wife decided to attend the festivities.

A couple of days after our Tanza visit, I posted pictures of the event in Facebook. The photos (some are shown in this blogpost) showcase an array of handsome Philippine ancestral houses. I shared the album to a friend of mine who is a native of Tanza. Upon seeing the photos, she commented that she once read in a history book by the late historian Isagani Medina that Tanza was the only Caviteño town which sided with Spain during the tumultuous years of the Katipunan rebellion.

My first reaction upon reading her comment was that of concern. I have not read that book she was referring to, and I don’t mean to judge books that I haven’t even read yet. But based on her comments on my Facebook photos, I’m inclined to ask: was that book trying to point out that the reason for being of Tanza’s bahay na bató homes was the result of the town’s fealty to Spain during the tumult of the late 1890s? If so, then that information is misleading for I noticed that many ancestral houses in Tanza, although handsome and charming, appear not to have been built during the Spanish times. One perfect example is Casa Tahimic, one of Tanza’s oldest houses built in 1927 (see below).

But I hope that my hunch is just a hunch.

The fact is that Tanza was not the only town which sided with Spain. Many, if not all, local governments condemned the Katipunan for the single reason that their cause —no matter how honestly noble they thought it was— was nothing more but an infraction. To wit: the Katipunan was an underground movement perpetuated by conspirators who were mostly anti-friar. Local governments did not exactly put their cards in favor of this Tagalog underground movement. Rather, the movement was engineered, fueled, and powered by individual dissidents who had no powerful connection at all to each municipio/ayuntamiento around the Philippines, particularly the Tagalog region (there were a few exceptions, of course, such as the case of Emilio Aguinaldo: he was a gobernadorcillo when he joined Freemasonry and the Katipunan). That is why the Katipunan resorted to blackmail, destroying the reputation of many a rich individual who refused to support their secessionist cause.

Indeed, many factors should be taken into consideration when studying (and reassessing) the sad, sad case that is Philippine History.

Tejero Bridge connects the towns of Tanza and Rosario. Tejero was the former name of Rosario.

Iglesia de la Santa Cruz de Malabón

Like most towns in the Philippines, Tanza was very much attached to the history of its town church. Perhaps unknown to many today, a parish is not just a church: it is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care of a parish priest. At the onset of Philippine History (or at the start of our nation’s founding on 24 June 1571), all towns started out as a parish. That is why at the heart of every old town or población, it is not unusual to find a church there, along with a plaza fronting it as well as several bahay na bató scattered around the area.

Iglesia de la Santa Cruz de Malabón.

Researching about Tanza later on, I learned that this little town used to be a barrio of San Francisco de Malabón, now known as General Trías. In fact, during its barrio days, Tanza was known as Santa Cruz de Malabón. People called it sometimes as Malabón el Chico to differentiate it from Malabón el Grande that was the población of San Francisco de Malabón (el Grande).

Tanza became an organized community in 1752. In 1760, the friars built a big residence and granary in the area. The place was eventually called Estancia (a ranch or a place for vacation). It was only seven years later when Estancia became known as Santa Cruz de Malabón. It became a full-fledged parish on 29 August 1780, just a day short after Saint Augustine’s feast day. That is why he was taken as the town’s patron saint. Today, the people fondly calls him by a Filipinized nickname: Tata Usteng.

The term Malabón was derived from either the old Tagalog words “labong” (bamboo shoot) or “mayabong“. It was said that in the early days, bamboo shoots were abundant in the area (I assume that was also the case for Ciudad de Malabón in Metro Manila). The Spanish words santa cruz (holy cross) were attached to Malabón as a testament to the people’s devotion to the sacred image of the Santa Cruz, a wooden cross said to be miraculous. The image is now on display inside the town church.

The miraculous Holy Cross of Malabón.

It is quite sad when in 1914, the name Santa Cruz de Malabón was changed and shortened to just Tanza. According to popular belief, Tanza was a corruption/mispronunciation of the word santa. The culprit of this unnecessary name change was a congressman of the American-sponsored Philippine Assembly: Florentino Joya, a lawyer from the said town. How this guy disrespected his hometown’s history I just could not fathom.

Speaking of history, Santa Cruz de Malabón’s place in Philippine History was a major one: it was here where officials of the Revolutionary Government elected in the Tejeros Convention took their oaths of office. This took place inside the convent of the Santa Cruz de Malabón Church on 23 March 1897. This event served as the prototype of the first República Filipina that was disrespected by the US WASPs later on.

A curious scene during this oath taking was the participation of a priest, Fr. Cenón Villafranca, who was said to be still under the authority of the Vatican (I’m just not sure if he was a Spanish friar or a member of the native clergy). On that same date, Fr. Villafranca administered the oath of office to Aguinaldo and other officials (elected during the Tejeros Convention), calling on “God to witness the solemn moment”. He was later denounced by Aguinaldo’s rival, Andrés Bonifacio, for having joined the Magdalo faction of the Katipunan.

On 23 March 1897, inside this convent adjunct to the church, Emilio Aguinaldo was sworn in as the first President of the Philippines. Mariano Trías was his Vice-President.

Casa Tahimic / Calle Real Restaurant

Along Calle Santa Cruz, where many ancestral homes can be found, there was this one house that grabbed our attention.

Calle Real Restaurant at the first floor of Casa Tahimic.

The house became doubly interesting when we noticed that it also serves as a restaurant. Whenever me and my wife visit old towns, we content ourselves to just taking photographs of ancestral houses. We seldom go inside for fear of disturbing the peace of its residents. But this house has a different allure and mystique to it. And since Yeyette is a food connoisseur, we both decided that this is one place that we should not miss.

So after taking pictures of other ancestral homes along that street and after attending mass at the church, we went back to Calle Real —the name of that house-turned-restaurant— for lunch. We were met by Mr. Michael Tahimic, brother of the owner of Calle Real (his sister, actually).

We were invited for lunch by Mr. Michael Tahimic, the grandson of the original owner of the house (the late Marcelo Tahimic, Sr.).

Due to the festivities, Mr. Tahimic told us that the restaurant was closed that day. Instead, he accepted us not as customers but as guests…

Because, yes, food was served inside the restaurant to celebrate the feast day of Tata Usteng!

Calle Real Restaurant is located on the ground floor of the eighty-four-year-old Tahimic ancestral house (where entresuelos are usually found). The restaurant started out in 1998. According to an article written by food expert Victoria Reyes-Ferrer for FOOD MAGAZINE (July 2003), Mildred (or Millie, Michael’s sister), and her husband Noel Lozada gave birth to this exotic-looking restaurant.

He designed and tested the menu; she dressed up the place. He takes charge of running the restaurant; she takes care of the ambiance… While Noel worked on the menu, Millie indulged in her love for interior decorating. She wanted an ambiance that suited the age and style of her ancestral home. Thus they filled the restaurant with antique and semi-antique collections from upstairs, they put on their collection of old records, hats, and old things.

The turn-of-the-century mood and ambiance of Calle Real complements the delectable Filipino dishes served here. At Calle Real, the clock seems to turn counterclockwise with every bite.

Yeyette astounded by the interior decors (and preserved critters: butterflies, beetles, and scorpions from Palawan).

Reyes-Ferrer's magazine article on Casa Tahimic/Calle Real Restaurant

Casa Tahimic was also featured in the coffee table book Sulyáp sa Lumipas: Mga Tahanang Ancestral sa Cavite written by Emmanuel Franco Calairo.

Reyes-Ferrer mentioned that the Lozada couple used antique stuff from the house’s second floor for their unique restaurant’s design on the ground floor. But not all were spirited away for business use. Just take a look at all the marvelous treasures found inside the house proper…

Going up! So excited!

Posing in front of an antique mirror.

With Mr. Tahimic.

This house used to be a duplex because there was a wall that divided the interior of this house. The other half was owned by Michael's grandfather, Marcelo Tahimic, Sr. The other half was for Marcelo's brother Cayetano Tahimic. Years later, the wall was taken down by the younger generation.

From the outside, it can be seen that this house indeed used to be a duplex.

Genuine antiques fill the house!

Familia Tahimic.

Portrait of Sofía de Guzmán de Tahimic and Marcelo Tahimic, Sr. Below it is the name of their son, Atty. Marcelo Tahimic, Jr., inscribed in marble.

The initials of Marcelo Tahimic inscribed artistically on this wood design near the ceiling.

The initials of Marcelo's brother, Cayetano Tahimic.

Left to right: Noel Lozada and wife Mildred Tahimic de Lozada, Michael (Mildred's brother), and me. The Lozada couple manages Calle Real Restaurant which is just underneath us.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES would like to salute La Familia Tahimic for conserving their ancestral home. They did no harm to their ancestral home’s look even though they made use of its ground floor for business. And even the ambience of their business complements the Filipino feel not only of their house but also of their community. Because of extreme care rendered to their ancestral home, Casa Tahimic now serves as one of the bridges to our nation’s past in general and to Tanza’s history in particular. No doubt, the Tahimic Family of Tanza are heritage heroes. The love, care, and pride that they have manifested towards their very own bahay na bató, the true home of the Filipino family, should be emulated by those who still have that kind of house as their property.

Calle Real Restaurant is located at #8 Calle Santa Cruz, Población, Tanza, Cavite. To avail of their catering services (only ₱10,750 per head!), please contact them at (046)505-2836. Click here for their Facebook fanpage.

Please click here for more of our Tanza fiesta walkathon!

:-)

¡Platica na Bahra! Charming Chavacano PT. 2 (Ternate, Cavite)

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Si no sabe mira donde a vine
No di yega donde quiere inda.
—Ternateño Chabacano Proverb—

Pretty Praetorian Guards: Yeyette and Krystal on either side of the welcome arch. The sign means " We welcome all of you wholeheartedly".

When you say that the whole province of Cavite is purely a Tagalog-speaking region, think again.

To the northeast of the province, there’s Ciudad de Cavite with its senior citizens speaking Cavitén. And at the southwesternmost tip of Cavite province lies this quaint fishing town called Ternate. But this is no ordinary town; like Ciudad de Cavite up north, this town is frequented by linguists, polyglots, and Hispanists because of the townsfolk language: Chabacano.

But the Chabacano spoken in Ternate is different from its Cavitén counterpart. According to Dr. Evangelino Nigoza, the town’s historian and foremost defender of the language, Ternateños call their native tongue as “Bahra”. The linguistic structure of Bahra is “another world” of its own. And in my opinion, it is rather more difficult for a Spanish-speaker to understand because Bahra is somehow influenced by the Portuguese language aside from the fact that Ternateños tend to speak it so fast.

But why Portuguese?

It is because Ternateños are actually the descendants of Malays from Ternate Island in the Moluccas archipelago. These islands were formally possessions of Portugal. The first Ternateños were brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards in 1663. These Malay recruits were called Mardicas (“men of the sea”).

There were two reasons why the Mardicas chose to leave Ternate Island: the island was highly volcanic, and; to help defend Manila from Chinese pirate Koxinga. Fortunately for Governor-General Sabiniano Manrique de Lara (who ruled the Philippines during those panic-stricken times), Koxinga fell ill and died. But the Mardicas never returned to their native land due to the place’s severe volcanic activity. Instead, they were given a spot in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park) in Ermita, Manila.

It is perhaps during their brief stay in Bagumbayan that their language was further developed, for the people surrounding their little barrio, the Ermiteños, spoke Chavacano Ermiteño, Spanish, and Tagalog. However, frequent squabbles with the Ermiteños forced the Spanish authorities to move the Mardicas people to another place. Bahra de Maragondón (now Maragondón) in Cavite was chosen for them since the place was frequently attacked by Moro pirates. Anyway, it was agreed earlier that they were to help fight Koxinga in Manila. But since that never materialized, it was decided that their military services should still be used, but somewhere else.

In Bahra de Maragondón, the Mardicas settled at the mouth of the Maragondón River. But it was a swampy area filled with mangrove trees. These were cleared through the years, prompting them to till the soil. So aside from fishing, the early Mardicas were also farmers. They also intermarried with the natives of neighboring villages. They also built a watchtower which they called Mira — maybe that’s how they call a watchtower because in Spanish, the word mira is the present indicative (third person) or present imperative (second person) of the verb mirar meaning “to watch”.

In due time, the spot which they cleared away mangove trees became the foundation of present-day Ternate. Also, they renamed their new home: from Bahra de Maragondón to Ternate, in memory of their former home in the faraway archipelago of Moluccas.

During the Spanish times, Ternate was just a barrio (equivalent to today’s barangáy) of Maragondón. But years went by, it became a separate town altogether. In 1904, however, during the American occupation, Ternate was attached to the town of Náic. It became a separate town again in 1914.

It is said that Ternate survived various turmoils in the history of Cavite: the Tagalog rebellion of the Katipuneros as well as the invasion of both Yankee and Jap. But it barely survived the American retaking of the Philippines, and that was during the closing days of World War II. Only seven homes survived. That is why when me, my wife, and our daughter Krystal visited Ternate last 21 August, we hardly saw ancestral homes. I think we saw only one. :-(

Oh, those evil US WASPs…

*******

Below are the original seven Mardicas families who transferred from Ternate Island, Moluccas, Indonesia to the Philippines:

1.) De la Cruz
2.) De León
3.) Estéibar
4.) Nigoza
5.) Niñofranco
6.) Pereira
7.) Ramos

Their descendants still live today. And surprisingly, they all know the history of their ancestors!

Charming greenery!

Iglesia de Santo Niño.

The Iglesia de Santo Niño is just perpendicular to the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.

The image of the Santo Niño.

My dear Yeyette right below!

We just love climbing bell towers. =)

It's him again.

At the close of World War II, the whole town of Ternate was almost wiped out. Only a few ancestral houses were left.

Ternate Municipal Hall.

Banco de Ternate has lovely green fields for a backdrop.

There are many Chavacano speakers at the Población, particularly at the public market.

At the San José Bridge. Isla de Balót (yonder) divides the mouth of the river into two before it meets Manila Bay.

Meeting new friends at Barrio San José. It is said that this barrio (now called barangáy) speaks 100% Chavacano. I believe it's true: everywhere we looked, the people spoke Chavacano! They amazed my wife and daughter so much!

My daughter posing with Chavacano-speaking kids!

Those mountain ranges beyond divide Ternate, Cavite and Nasugbu, Batangas.

The other side of Manila Bay. The islands of Corregidor and Caballo are already visible from here.

With Ternateño fisherfolk. I conversed with them in Spanish; they used Chavacano. But we understood each other rather well!

Manila Bay's famous sunset... from another point of view, that is.

My wife gazing towards Punta Gordo (that faint bluish land mass beyond).

At Ranrich Beach Resort. No more time to swim, though.

Merienda time! All these people you see with my wife and daughter are Chavacano speakers!

Flashback: on 1 February 2008, I attended the book launching of Dr. Evangelino Nigoza’s bilingual book BAHRA: Manga Historia, Alamat, Custumbre y Tradiciong Di Bahra (The History, Legends, Customs and Traditions of Ternate, Cavite) at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila. Dr. Nigoza is a member of the Cavite Historical Society and is the president of Cavite West Point College (also in Ternate).

During the program, there was a conversation in Chabacano featuring the three major variations of this Philippine Creole tongue: Dr. Nigoza represented Bahra; Dr. Enrique Escalante represented Cavitén, and; Mr. Ben Saavedra represented Chavacano Zamboangueño. The conversation was not only educational — it was also filled with humor due to some miscommunication among the three. And it was more hilarious for the Spanish-speakers who were in attendance, listening to the conversation and eager to grab a copy of Dr. Nigoza’s book.

After the program, I got myself a copy of his book, and got a chance to talk to him briefly. Unfortunately, he could not sign autographs because he could no longer write — his writing hand was paralyzed by a stroke.

But I got to see him again years later. This time with Yeyette and Krystal in tow. And there at his home (very near the town church) we discussed in length his book, the state of Bahra in Cavite, as well as future plans for the conservation of this Philippine Creole Language.

Dr. Nigoza revealed to me that he is preparing a second part for his book BAHRA. That would be his second book on the subject. Also, he is working closely with the local government and schools on how to propagate Bahra. When asked about the state of Bahra in Ternate, he told me that it’s in the “50/50″ level. I could hardly believe it because me and my family were on the road the whole afternoon. We found so many Ternateños speaking Bahra. They were everywhere, especially in the Población and Barrio San José. We heard kids playing using Bahra. Street vendors and fishermen were talking to each other in Bahra. Compared to Ciudad de Cavite, Ternate has a higher chance of preserving its language.

But at the back of my mind, maybe I have to believe Dr. Nigoza. He’s been living in Ternate all his life; I just stayed there for a couple of hours. Dr. Nigoza’s efforts should be lauded, applauded, and supported. Like the late Nyora Puring Ballesteros of Cavitén, Dr. Nigoza stands as the lone Don Quijote of Ternate.

I pray that all Ternateños, especially the descendants of the seven original Mardicas families from the Moluccas, will all become Dr. Nigoza’s Sancho Panza when it comes to preserving and promoting Bahra.

¡Platica na Bahra!

At the house of historian Dr. Evangelino "Enjoe" Nigoza.

Click here for more of our Ternate photos (and videos)!

Chabacano in El Filibusterismo

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Not many Rizal readers today are aware that the National Hero knew how to speak Chabacano!

Below are two rare instances wherein Rizal used this Spanish-based Creole tongue in his second novel, El Filibusterismo. The first dialogue is taken from Chapter 18 (Supercherías):

―¿Porque ba no di podí nisós entrá? preguntaba una voz de mujer.

―Abá, ñora, porque ‘tallá el maná prailes y el maná empleau, contestó un hombre; ‘ta jasí solo para ilós el cabesa de espinge.

―¡Curioso también el maná prailes! dijo la voz de mujer alejándose; ¡no quiere pa que di sabé nisos cuando ilos ta sali ingañau! ¡Cosa! ¡Querida be de praile el cabesa!

Charles Derbyshire translation:

“Why can’t we go in?” asked a woman’s voice.

“Abá, there’s a lot of friars and clerks in there,” answered a man. “The sphinx is for them only.”

“The friars are inquisitive too,” said the woman’s voice, drawing away. “They don’t want us to know how they’re being fooled. Why, is the head a friar’s querida?”

The second Chabacano conversation in the same novel can be found in Chapter 28 (Tatakut)

―¿Ya cogí ba con Tadeo?” preguntaba la dueña.

―Abá, ñora, contestaba un estudiante que vivía en Parián, pusilau ya!

―¡Pusilau! ¡Nakú! ¡no pa ta pagá conmigo su deuda!”

―¡Ay! No jablá vos puelte, ñora, baká pa di quedá vos cómplice. ¡Ya quemá yo ñga el libro que ya dale prestau conmigo! ¡Baká pa di riquisá y di encontrá! ¡andá vos listo, ñora!”

―¿Ta quedá dice preso Isagani?

―Loco-loco también aquel Isagani,” decía el estudiante indignado; no sana di cogí con ele, ta andá pa presentá! ¡O, bueno ñga, que topá rayo con ele! ¡Siguro pusilau!

La señora se encogió de hombros.

―Conmigo no ta debí nada! ¿Y cosa di jasé Paulita?

―No di faltá novio, ñora. Siguro di llorá un poco, luego di casá con un español.

Charles Derbyshire translation:

“And have they arrested Tadeo?” asked the proprietess.

“Abá!” answered a student who lived in Parian, “he’s already shot!”

“Shot! Nakú! He hasn’t paid what he owes me.”

“Ay, don’t mention that or you’ll be taken for an accomplice. I’ve already burnt the book you lent me. There might be a search and it would be found. Be careful!”

“Did you say that Isagani is a prisoner?”

“Crazy fool, too, that Isagani,” replied the indignant student. “They didn’t try to catch him, but he went and surrendered. Let him bust himself―he’ll surely be shot.”

The señora shrugged her shoulders. “He doesn’t owe me anything. And what about Paulita?”

“She won’t lack a husband. Sure, she’ll cry a little, and then marry a Spaniard.”

Since I am not fluent in Chabacano and due to its numerous variations, I am not sure if the above conversations are Cavitén (the one spoken in Ciudad de Cavite) or Ermiteño (spoken in the arrabal of Ermita). Most probably it was the one in Ermita since Rizal lived in nearby Intramuros. I hope somebody who is an expert in Chabacano languages would be able to clarify this. Then again, both Ermiteño and Cavitén have Tagalog as their substrate language. So it could be difficult to determine most especially since Ermiteños is already considered as a dead language.

Chavacano has fascinated so many linguists and scholars both foreign and Filipino. But Rizal got ahead of their fascination by including these Chavacano dialogues in his novel. But why did he do that? What was he thinking of in including Chabacano while writing this novel in faraway Europe? What was his motive? Was it to promote these Hispanized dialects? As far as I know, he did not even add any comments or notes to caution readers that those dialogues were not Castillian but Chabacano. Or perhaps he didn’t consider Chavacano any different from Castillian, much less Filipino Castillian?

At any rate, these Chabacano dialogues provided some added attraction and even humor to the novel’s already dark theme.

Charming Chabacano! (Ciudad de Cavite, Cavite)

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Caviteño fanfarrón,
Roba cualta na cajón.
—Chabacano Caviteño Proverb—

In just a few months, it will be November. Aside from All Saints’ Day, November reminds me of that brief but wonderful trip that I made to the historic City of Cavite in the province of the same name nearly four years ago.

I was then a call-center guy. Me and two of my officemates, Khalil and Jordan, were invited by our Caviteña officemate, Marian. Her father’s a Spanish-speaking gentleman from Pampanga while her mom is a native of Cavite City.

We went to Cavite using Khalil’s convertible van. And since it was my first time to ride one, I spent most of the trip with my face against the wind!

Now entering Cavite City!

Like many places in the Philippines, Cavite City has a very interesting history to tell. It is, in fact, replete with history because many scholars and nationalists point to it as the birthplace of Philippine Nationalism: the infamous Cavite Mutiny (20 January 1872) happened at Fuerte de San Felipe leading to a series of events which culminated in the execution of Rizal and the Katipunan revolt years later.

Cavite City is the original Cavite, i.e., the whole province of Cavite was named after it back in the days when it was not even a city yet. The name Cavite is said to be a Spanish corruption of the Tagalog word cauit which means “hook” because the place is actually a hook-shaped peninsula. In old Tagalog, this kind of land formation is called tangwáy. As a matter of fact, the place was known as Tangwáy (in a letter to Emilio Jacinto, Andrés Bonifacio twice referred to the town as Tanwáy, another spelling for Tangwáy). But the change of name from Tangwáy to Cauit is unknown.

But why Cavite instead of Cauit then?

The Spanish alphabet, then as now, rarely uses the letter “W”. So instead of “Cawit”, the name of the town was spelled “Cauit”. However, since Spanish is a daughter of Latin, the letter V was used (“U” was a variant of “V”). The last letter, “E”, is a contraction of “eh“, a common but meaningless inflection in Southern Tagalog dialects (you’ll usually hear “ala eh” at the end of each sentence among Batangueños). Through the years, with the evolution of language and orthography, Filipinos gradually pronounced Cauit as Cavite (the letters V and B are both pronounced the same in Spanish: /biː/).

Ridiculously, however, due to the “Pilipinization” of many Tagalog words that began in the 1970s (Rizal’s obnoxious Nueva Ortografía del Lenguaje Tagalog was the inspiration, but I will expound on that in a future blogpost), many Filipinos began misspelling the names of places and even people. In the process, they started spelling Cavite as Kabite; Bulacán as Bulakán; Cauit as Kawit; Calivo as Kalibo; Cabugao as Kabugao; Caloocan as Kalookan. Puro na lang kalokohan. Thankfully, though, the spelling “Cavite” still persists despite the widespread orthographic nonsense.

Back row (from left to right): Marian, me, and Khalil. Front row: Samantha (Marian's daughter) and her cousins Julienne and Jasmine. The squatter-infested belfry ruins of Santa Mónica Church is right behind us.

Cavite City’s territorial history may confuse many, especially when the nearby municipality of Cauit/Kawit is mentioned. For a time during the Spanish regime, when Cavite was then a huge town and not yet a city, it comprised the municipalities of Cauit, Tierra Alta (now Noveleta), and Imus. The territory which we now call Cavite City was then known as Cavite La Punta since it was a point or tip of land jutting out towards Manila Bay. Actually, two elongated land masses of this small peninsula extend towards the bay and is connected by a narrow isthmus to mainland Luzón: to the northwest is San Antonio and Punta Sangley (Sangley Point). Jutting towards the northeast is the part where the district of San Roque (and the Philippine Naval Base/Fort San Felipe) is located. Cañacáo Bay is sheltered between the land masses of both San Antonio-Sangley Point, San Roque, and the aforementioned isthmus where the districts of Caridad, Santa Cruz, and Dalahican are located.

Cavite La Punta was also called Cavite El Puerto because of Fort San Felipe where the shipyard and arsenal for the Spanish navy were situated.

The ruins of Santa Mónica Church, destroyed during the last war. Only the bell tower remains. Locals call it samburio. Squatter families now live in and around it.

Legend has it that whosoever climbs this tower, somebody below will die. That is why me and my friends were not permitted to climb it.

The main industry of Caviteños from the abovementioned districts was fishing. But others did some small-scale farming as well as backyard poultry and hog raising. During the Spanish times, these districts were once barrios or towns. In 1614, Barrio San Roque was founded. Next were the barrios of Caridad and San Antonio. Sangley Point was already in existence since the 10th century, not really as a town but as a trading point between pre-Filipinos and Chinese merchants (the Tagalog word “sanglâ” meaning “to pawn” comes from the Cantonese word “sang-lei”, later Hispanized as Sangley, thus clearly showing here not only the origin of the name of Punta Sangley but also indicating the mercantilist attitude of the first Chinese in our archipelago) . There used to be a hospital in Sangley Point back in the 1870s built for sick and wounded soldiers. It became a naval station right after the Battle of Manila Bay (which just happened nearby). A few years later, in 1901, all the barrios in this hook-shaped peninsula were merged to form the Municipality of Cavite. It also became Cavite province’s capitolio (today, the capital is Trece Mártires). On 26 May 1940, Cavite became a chartered city.

And immediately right after the war, Cavite’s once pristine image gradually faded away due in part to rapid urbanization and poor city planning. Squatter families such as Badjáo tribesmen from Mindanáo migrated to create shanty communities. And the waters started to decay due to pollution.

And side from Santa Mónica Church, there was another casualty: the Chabacano language.

Khalil and Jordan in front of the Biblioteca y Museo del Ciudad de Cavite.

Chabacano caviteño

Chabacano is a Spanish-based creole language. There are five variants (or dialects?) of this hybrid Philippine tongue: Caviteño (Ciudad de Cavite), Cotabateño (spoken in parts of Ciudad de Cotabato, Maguindanáo), Davaoeño (spoken in parts of Daváo), Ternateño (Ternate, Cavite), and Zamboangueño (Ciudad de Zamboanga). There was another one in Manila called Ermiteño that was spoken in the arrabal (district of Ermita) but is now extinct (but rumors still pervade that some very elderly folk along the US East Coast speak the language; also, there was a report years ago that an old grandmother and her grandson somewhere in Las Piñas still speak it).

So what is Chabacano, really? A language, dialect, or merely a pidgin? Some may call it a pidgin for the mere fact that the Spanish term chabacano (from where Chabacano was derived) means gaudy, tasteless, coarse, and even vulgar. But Emmanuel Luis Romanillos, linguist, polyglot, translator, and scholar, has this to say:

Hay quienes quieren describir el chabacano como la filipinización lingüística del castellano. El chabacano de Mindanáo es el idioma español bisayizado, el caviteño la tagalización del castellano. Pero más correcto llamarlos como dialectos españolizados. Fue vehículo de comunicación y diálogo de unas comunidades que intentaban deshacer los obstáculos lingüísticos que les separaban los gobernantes españoles.

My translation: Some want to describe Chabacano as the linguistic Filipinizatión of Spanish: the Chabacano of Mindanáo is “Visayanized” Spanish while Caviteño is “Tagalized” Spanish. But it is more correct to call these as “Hispanized” dialects. It was a vehicle for communication and dialogue between communities that tried to break the language barriers which separated them from their Spanish rulers.

I agree with him. Using Spanish, I have spoken to many Chabacanos already: Zamboangueños, Caviteños (Marian’s family members and neighbors), and Ternateños. Although with some difficulty, we somehow understood each other. Indeed, Chabacano is, in the words of Romanillos (which I translate again), “basically Spanish despite the obvious differences in morphology, phonetics, syntax, and lexicon”.

But whence did Chabacano come? And how did it materialize? Nobody knows for sure. Several cultural anthropologists and linguists have theorized and postulated: Charles O. Frake, Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera, John Holm John Lipski, Patrick Steinkrüger, Keith Whinnom, and Romanillos to name a few. Although there could never be a direct answer, there seems to be a consensus that all Chabacano dialects —with the exception of Ternateño/Bahra— originated from Ciudad de Cavite, and that it particularly started among non-Spanish-speaking indios (natives) working at the Cavite shipyard. The workers naturally had to communicate with their Spanish army superiors. In the process, this communication developed over the years into something different: not Spanish, not Tagalog, but Chabacano. And gradually, these workers also started to speak this hybrid thing in their respective households in particular and in their communities in general.

I could just imagine the humor among the Spanish army superiors laughing merrily at the coarse Spanish of the laborers in the shipyard. Perhaps it was they, the army officers, who first termed this creole tongue as “chabacano”. But eventually, these army officers who were obviously outnumbered by the natives, had to speak Chabacano as well in order to be well understood by their subjects. Nahawa na rin silá. :D

Years later, when this hybrid language was fully developed, some of its speakers, both army officers and laborers, were sent to Zamboanga to help man Fuerte del Pilar. And so these first speakers of Chabacano were immersed in a new linguistic environment: in the milieu of the Bisayà (Hiligaynón and Cebuano). Hence, Chabacano Zamboangueño was born. And gradually, this new Hispanized dialect spread to other parts of Mindanáo. The rest is history.

Iglesia de San Roque. This church (which was under renovation when I took its photo) houses the oldest known painting of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines: Nuestra Señora de la Soledad de Porta Vaga.

Ironically, Chabacano Caviteño (locals there call it “Cavitén”) is now a dying language while its offshoot, the Chabacano dialects of Mindanáo (particularly Zamboangueño) are alive and kicking. I read somewhere that only less than a thousand Caviteños speak it, and most of them are senior citizens. When I went there in 2007, Marian took all the trouble bringing me to places where there are Chabacano speakers. We even had to persuade those we found (not excluding her mom) to speak their native tongue.

The trouble is that the seniors failed to teach the new generation of Caviteños on how to speak the language. Another problem is heavy migration of non-Chabacanos from nearby towns and provinces. They are getting outnumbered yearly. There is a public school for locals (right in front of the Biblioteca y Museo del Ciudad de Cavite) who want to learn the language. And there are special masses in Chabacano held inside San Roque Church. But I am not sure if these are still under operation.

Nuestra Señora de la Soledad de Porta Vaga

Speaking of San Roque Church, this House of God is also the home of the country’s oldest known Marian painting called Nuestra Señora de la Soledad de Porta Vaga, or Our Lady of Solitude of Vaga Gate in English. At the back of this painting is an inscription in Spanish: “A doze de Abril 1692 años Juan Oliba puso esta Stma. Ymagen Haqui“. In English, it means: This most holy image was placed here by Juan Oliba on 12 April 1692.

Our Lady of Solitude of Porta Vaga was Canonically Crowned on 17 November 1978. Her feast days are held every 2nd and 3rd Sundays of November. Like many ancient Christian icons in the Philippines, this painting is believed by many devotees to be miraculous.

Nuestra Señora de la Soledad de Porta Vaga.

My souvenir poster distributed by the Cavite City Hall. It's now posted on a door in our cramped apartment unit.

For a first-hand information about Chabacano Caviteño, you may want to follow Josie Valentín del Rosario’s Habla Chabacano blog. First-hand, because she is a native speaker of this Hispanized dialect. And she tries her very best to preserve and conserve her city’s beloved language via the internet.

To conclude this blogpost, I share to you a Caviteño Chabacano song from the 1700s sung and recorded by Señor Gómez (accompanied by Roberto Buena’s rondalla) for posterity. This was recorded in the LP Nostalgia Filipina released in the 1960s and rereleased a few years ago.

Click here for more photos and videos of my 2007 journey!

¡Hasta la vista, Cavite! From left to right: Mrs. Catacutan, her daughter Marian, and me. Jordan's behind us. And why was I wearing that freaking ID?!

*******


In memory of Purificación “Nyora Puring” Ballesteros y Nicolás (18 May 1927 — 22 December 2010), the Mother of Chabacano Caviteño.

♥ Happy 10th Year Anniversary, Dear Wifey! ♥

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Our first photo together when we were still in college (circa 1999).

Our first photo together, taken at her sister's place in Barrio Molino, Bacoor, Cavite, during our college days (circa 1999).

¡Feliz décimo aniversario, mi amor, mi corazón, y mi vida — Yeyette Perey de Alas! ♥♥♥Qué estemos juntos para siempre, con nuestros cuatro niños bonitos, dentro los abrazos del Señor Dios.♥♥♥

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