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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!

¡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)!

Philippine national anthems (yes, with an “s”)

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Ladies and gents, below are the versions of the Philippine national anthem in various Philippine languages:

FILIPINAS
Julián Felipe
Castellano

Tierra adorada
Hija del sol de Oriente,
Su fuego ardiente,
En ti latiendo está.

¡Tierra de amores!
Del heroismo cuna,
Los invasores
No te hollarán jamás.

En tu azul cielo, en tus auras,
En tus montes y en tu mar
Esplende y late el poema
De tu amada libertad.

Tu pabellón, que en las lides
La victoria iluminó,
No verá nunca apagados
Sus estrellas ni su sol.

Tierra de dichas, del sol y de amores,
En tu regazo dulce es vivir.
Es una gloria para tus hijos,
Cuando te ofenden, por ti morir.

PHILIPPINE HYMN
Camilo Osías and Mary A. Lane
English

Land of the morning,
Child of the sun returning,
With fervour burning
Thee do our souls adore.

Land dear and holy,
Cradle of noble heroes
Ne’er shall invaders,
Trample thy scared shore.

Even within the skies
And through thy clouds
And o’er thy hills and sea.
Do we behold the radiance,
Feel the throb of glorious liberty.

Thy banner, dear to all our hearts
Its sun and stars alight,
O never shall its shining field
Be dimmed by tyrant’s might!

Beautiful land of love,
O land of light,
In thine embrace ’tis rapture to lie
But it is glory ever,
When thou art wronged,
For us, thy sons, to suffer and die.

LUPANG HINIRANG
Felipe Padilla de León
Tagalog

Bayang maguiliw,
Perlas ng Silañganan
Alab ng pusò,
Sa Dibdíb mó’y buháy.

Lupang Hinirang,
Duyan ca ng maguiting,
Sa manlulupig,
Di ca pasísiil.

Sa dagat at bundóc,
Sa simoy at sa lañguit mong bugháo,
May dilag ang tulâ,
At awit sa paglayang minámahal.

Ang quisláp ng watawat mó’y
Tagumpáy na nagníningning,
Ang bituín at arao niyá,
Cailán pa má’y di magdídilim,

Lupa ng arao ng luwalhati’t pagsintá,
Buhay ay lañguit sa piling mó,
Aming ligaya na pag may mang-áapi,
Ang mamatáy ng dahil sa’yó.

NASUDNÓNG AWIT
Jess Vestil
Cebuano

Yutang tabunon
Mutya nga masilakon
Putling bahandi
Amo cang guimahal

Mithing guisimba
Yuta s’mga bayani
Sa manglulupig
Among panalipdan

Ang mga bungtod mo ug lapyahan
Ang lañguit mong bugháo
Nagahulad sa awit, lamdag sa
Caliwat tang gawas

Silaw sa adlaw ug bitoon
Sa nasudnong bandilà
Nagatimaan nga buhíon ta
Hugpóng nga di maluba

Yutang maanyag, duyan ca sa pagmahal
Landong sa lañguit ang dughaan mo;
Pacatam-isom sa anác mong nagtucao
Con mamatáy man sa ngalan mó.

BANWÁNG GUINHALARAN
Eric D. Gotera
Hiligaynón

Banwang masinadyahon,
Perlas sang nasidlañgan,
Init sang tigpusuon,
Gacabuhi sa imo nga dughan.

Banwang Guinhalaran,
Payag ca sang maisog,
Sa mga manugpigos,
Wala guid nagapadaog.

Sa dagat cag buquid,
Sa usbong cag sa dagway nga gabanaag,
May idlac cag tiboc ang dilambong,
cag amba sang cahilwayan.

Ang idlac sang ayahay mo,
Isa ca matam-is nga cadalag-an,
Ang bituon cag ang adlaw,
Nangin masanag sa catubtuban.

Dutang nasambit sang adlao kag paghigugma,
Sa sabak mo matam-is ang mabuhi,
Ginapaquipagbato namon, nga kung may manungpanacop,
Ang mapatay nahanuñgod sa imo.

RONA CANG MAWILI
Bicolano

Dagang namo-motan
Aqui Ca nin sirañgan
Tingrao niyang malaad
Nasa si-mong daghan.

Rona cang mawili
Naguimatan bayani
An mansalacay
Dai ca babatayan.

Sa si-mong langit, buquid
Hayop cadagatan siring man
Nagcucutab nagbabanaag
An si-mong catalingcasan.

Simong bandera na nagquiquintab
Sa hocbo naglayaw
Dai nañgad mapapara
An simong bitoon Aldao.

Dagang nawilihan, maogma, maliwanag,
Sa limpoy mo hamis mabuhay
Minamarhay mi cun ika pagbasangan
An buhay mi si-mo idusay.

OH, FILIPINAS DALIN MIN CAGAL-GALANG
Pangasinán

Oh, Filipinas,
Dalin min cagal-galang
Musia na dayat,
Ed dapit letacan

Simpey gayagan,
Panag-ugaguepan day
Totoon lapag,
Ed dapit-seslecan.

Saray anac mo agda
Cawananen ya ibagat ed sica’y
Dilin bilay da no
Nacauculay galang tan ca-inaoan

Diad palandey, lawac, taquel,
Dayat o no dia ed lawang
Sugbaen day patey ya andi
Dua-rua no sikay pan-señguegan.

Diad silong na laylay mo mancaca-saquey
Tan diad sika man-lingcor tan mangi-agel
Bangta dia’d acualan mo aneng-neng day silew
Diad acualan mo muet akuen day patey.

PATRIA DE AMORES
Chabacano de Zamboanga

Tierra adorada,
Hija del sol de oriente,
Fervor del corazon,
viví na tuyo pecho.

Patria de Amores,
Cuna del heroísmo,
Nunca hay rendí tú
al mana invasor.

Na tuyo mar y mana monte,
y aire, y azul cielo,
Tiene esplende el poema y canción
del amado libertad.

Victoria árde el chispa
de tuyo bandera.
Nunca mirá apagáo
Su mana estrella y su sol

Tierra de gloria, del sol y amores,
vida dulce na tuyo abrazáda,
Un honor se para con nosotros,
Cuando tiene opresor, morí por tú.

Hmmm… Call me biased. I don’t really care. But NOTHING BEATS THE ORIGINAL.

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