11 November 2007


It is easier for me to tell of my emotions in Chavacano (a creole lingo that mingles Spanish with two or maybe three of the major Philippine dialects).

As a child, I spoke several dialects, depending on who I talked to. We talked in Tausug, a Muslim and Bahasa Melayu sounding dialect, in deference to our father who spoke in one other language, English, and would not talk in any other dialects. To our Mom, who is multi-lingual, we spoke mostly in Chavacano, because it has more words that convey feelings and emotions. We turned to her, sought her, when we were con hambre (hungry); con dolor (in pain); triste (sad); alegre (happy). We carry on the practice in our adult lives. We speak the respectful Tausug to our father and older brother; Chavacano to our Mom. Well, their grandchildren is another story; Meeza can only speak English to them while her cousins would speak in Tagalog and Tausug. Talk about Babel in one household.

Chavacano was the language of childhood fun, taunting and ruidoso. I remember these proverbs we learned in childhood in addition to those I wrote in a previous post:
De negro si vivo
De colorao si muerto
(Black when alive, Red when dead)
This was in reference to the Christian's practice of 'colouring' their dead.
Cielo arriba, cielo abajo
Agua entremedio
(Sky above, sky below, water in the middle)
This is a proverb indicating the coconut fruit.

The high-browed critics of Chavacano would say that it is 'kastila-kastilahan' or lengua de parian, but it was one language that gave us our humanity, that made childhood a sweet memory, a language of the heart. By the way, the parian or padian (seller in a boat), is one proud symbol of the beloved Kampung-Ayer of the Bruneians.

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