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Chabacano 101: Hispanized words you will probably encounter in Cavite City

By Carlos Jimwell Aquino


If Cavite City streets and century-old infrastructures could talk, Caviteños are sure that these witnesses will speak in Chabacano. This Spanish-based creole language molded the city in its infancy and rough years yet as time goes by, this seems slowly fading and forgotten. However, there are still marks that will show the face of this hispanized language and will let us feel nostalgic within this historical city.

Here are some of the Chabacano words and phrases that you will surely encounter within Cavite City.




Delicadeza

Perhaps most of you have heard the word delicadeza but are still confused as to what it really means. This Spanish loan word had a strange entry on our vocabulary as it has a specialized sense of definition. Literally, this means being delicate or graceful. However, in Filipino culture, it is actually quite far from its true meaning.

When Caviteños in particular say delicadeza, they actually refer more to a sense of knowing the proper or acceptable behaviors anchored on their moral standards. So if someone calls you “Walang delicadeza” (without delicadeza), you should start to observe yourself if you have done something wrong or not pleasing to their eyes.


Palabra de Honor

Many say that promises are meant to be broken but keeping it is a different matter. That is where the phrase palabra de honor (word of honor) comes in. Most Caviteños used this term as a verbal commitment to do something in the future or agree to someone’s favor. This kind of manner has a great impact on your personal relationship with others as it reflects that you have integrity and you are an honest person.


Duro Cabeza

“Duro Cabeza!”- this is probably among the phrases young Caviteños will remember when recalling the days that they were being scolded by the elders. This Chabacano phrase means stubbornness of an individual or figuratively a hard headed person (matigas ang ulo).

That is why this became a usual line of Caviteños when they are disobeyed or when they are losing patience with others. With that, duro cabeza can be named as the most accustomed adjective in the city as it is often included in jeepney signage, street arts and even in naming organizations.


Barilla lang na temprano

“Barya lang po sa umaga” (just coins in the morning) is a typical phrase which people may often see in public utility vehicles (PUVs). But in Cavite City, drivers have a creative way of using the town’s birth lingo to remind their passengers about paying transportation fees.

Instead of using the Tagalog translation, drivers have replaced their displays with the Chabacano term “Barilla lang na temprano.”

If you’ve read it for the first time, it will confuse you with what it means. So if you are taking PUVs within the city in the morning and you encounter this phrase, just prepare your coins to pay for your fare.


Gracia y vaya con Dios

You would certainly note this Chabacano sign at the back of the welcome arch if you are about to leave Cavite City.

“Gracia y vaya con Dios,” which means “Thank and may God be with you,” is a phrase that is often used by Caviteño elders when bidding goodbye to their guests. These words are also proof that Caviteños were religious and had a strong faith in God.




Those are just some of the Chabacano words one will most likely hear from a Caviteño. While many people say the language is being forgotten, it will certainly not be a memory of the past if people continue to remember and use these words or phrases.