Most of the Zamboangueño Chavacanos are in Zamboanga City, but there are pockets of them in the middle and southernmost tip of the Zamboanga peninsula; and Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in Western Mindanao.

Chavacano is a Spanish-based creole language and known in linguistics as Philippine Creole Spanish. Spaniards who settled in the Philippines intermingled with the natives and even married Filipinas. To be able to communicate, both sides had to learn each other’s languages. To express themselves, the natives mixed Spanish with their particular language — Tagalog in Cavite, Ternate, and Manila; and Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Moro languages in Cotabato, Davao, and Zamboanga. As such, there are six varieties of Chavacano: Caviteño, Cotabateño, Davaoeño, Ermiteño, Ternateño, and Zamboangueño.

In 1635, Zamboanga was better known as San José Fort under Spanish control. Spanish Friars, hoping to spread Christianity in Islamic Mindanao and defend the fort from Muslim pirates petitioned for military support. Thus, during this period, laborers from Luzon and the Visayas; Spanish soldiers; masons from Cavite (the largest group of newcomers); sacadas from Cebu, Iloilo, and Dapitan; and the Samal and Subanon tribes came together. The different local languages, the presence of the Spanish military, and the establishment of religious and educational institutions engendered a pidgin that eventually developed into Chavacano, a Spanish creole. The language has survived in the region for over 400 years.


Chabacano de Zamboanga Handbook and Chabacano-English-Spanish Dictionary
Escalante, Enrique, Chabacano for Eveyone: A Guide to the Chabacano Language


Photo of the Week

Visitors wait outside the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite

Visitors wait outside the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite

Donate your article, news, poetry, photos or anything about the Philippines!

For Questions and Comments send us an email.

World Connections