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"US troops learn Chabacano"

THE US military had contracted a firm in the US to translate four pages of a document called “Special Travel Project” into Tausug and Spanish for use by their special forces in Basilan and Zamboanga – Spanish because it is nearest to Chabacano, one of the two dialects spoken there with Chabacano being the more predominant in both places. Chabacano is also spoken in Cotabato, in some towns in Cavite, and even among the old families in Ermita, Manila.

Now, here's a tip. In Zamboanga: Speak Chabacano to Mayor Caling Lobregat and you make her the happiest person in the world. For all her life she has been advocating the preservation of Chabacano not only in Zamboanga, but in all parts of the country where this dialect is still being spoken. Caling descended from Spanish ancestors. So she speaks Spanish, and Cebuano too, the latter most fluently among the native dialects she uses. But she loves Chabacano.

The translated Tausug and Spanish statements are "basics." They are to be said in emergency situations when needed for survival, such as while wounded or lost. I have not read that manual yet, but as reported in the paper, the untranslated English version reads:

"I am an American and do not speak your language. I will not harm you! I bear no malice toward your people. My friend, please provide me food, water, shelter and necessary medical attention. Also provide me safe passage to the nearest friendly forces of any country supporting the Americans or their allies. You will be rewarded for assisting me when you present this number to American authorities.

"The American soldiers speaking Spanish may not be readily understood by the Chabacano speaking Yakan or Muslim natives in Basilan. The Chabacano, those natives speak is not even the formal version spoken by the old-timer Chabacano speakers in Zamboanga. Many of the old-timers have gone, and the Chabacano of the present-day Zamboangueños is incorrect per Bernardino S. Camins, author of the "Chabacano Zamboanga Handbook and Chabacano-English-Spanish Dictionary."

Mr. Camins, forgive my Chabacano translation of the statements: "Yo es un Americano y no hablo tu lenguage. Hinde yo hace malo contigo. No ay yo mal entencion para contigo, Mi amigo, por favor dale conmigo comida, agua, techo y medicina para cura. Lleva conmigo na un con todo cerca lugar na no ay peligro, o nacion ta suporta con maga Americanos o su amigos. Por este ayuda de tuyo, dale contigo premio el otoridades Americanos si presenta tu este numero."

Instead of Spanish, the US soldiers could memorize and later utter the above Chabacano translation to nonTausug speaking inhabitants according to what their manual directs them to say in times of emergency in Basilan or Zamboanga. I remember what my Wikang Pambansa high school teacher, who is an Ilocana, said. She said Chabacano was the most beautiful dialect she had ever heard among dialects in the Philippines because of its Spanish-Visayan-Moro multi-mixture.

But not all in down South should be war-directed and combat-ready. The American soldiers could spend their leisure time to know people and visit places in Basilan, and especially Zamboanga where the señoritas abound, before they are shipped home six months from today. Mr. Camins's book has this Chabacano dialog about being introduced to a lady, which I trust some GI Joes may want to learn for whatever purpose - noble or otherwise:

1. What is your name? - Cosa tu nombre?

2. Are you acquainted with her? - Conoce ba tu conele?

3. Please introduce me. - Favor introduci conmigo.

4. Ms. Santos, this is Tom Roy. - Ms. Santos, este si Tom Roy.

5. He wants to meet you. - Quiere ele conoce contigo.

6. Are you married? - Casado ba tu?

7. No, I am still single. - No, soltero pa yo.

8. Where do you reside? - Donde tu ta queda?

9. Can I visit? - Puede yo visita?

10. What are your intentions? - Cosa tus intenciones?

11. I want to meet your elders. - Quiere yo conoce detuyo mayores.

De: Manila Bulletin, 02/09/2002 , unknown author

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