2.0 Introduction to PCS

It is expedient that a study in PCS must be precluded with a close look at creole languages. among present day linguists, David de Camp seems to have presented a comprehensive view of creole language in his introduction to "The Study of Pidgin and Creole Language" (In Hymes: 1971; 15-17). The following account is extracted from the section on the characteristics and definitions of creole languages.

Originally, the term creole was derived from Postuguese crioulo. It meant then, a white man of European descent, born and raised in a tropical or semi-tropical colony. Later, this meaning was extended to indigenous natives and others of non-European origin. Later still, the term was applied to certain languages spoken by creoles. From then on, the term was extended to other languages of similar types.

Creoles have been traditionally classed as a deviant dialect of a standard language. It is also often called 'mixed language' which merely suggests that it is only a potpourri with no uniform coherent structure of its own. However, De Camp considers it a genuine language in its own right and not just a macaronic blend or inter-lingual corruption of standard languages.

Most creoles are European-based. They have, therefore, derived most of their vocabularies from one or more European languages. Creole French and Creole English are most frequently traced in West Africa and the New World; whereas, Spanish, Dutch, and Postuguese creoles are found to be more common in other parts of the world.

Further investigations show that by no means is all of the vocabulary of creole shared with its corresponding European language. It has been found, moreover, that in both phonology and syntax, the difference between a creole and a standard language are usually so great as to make them mutually unintelligible. In most cases, a creole is considered inferior to its corresponding standard language, but this is true only in prestige and social status.

A creole is the native language of most of its speakers. As such its vocabulary and syntactic devices like those of any language, are sufficient to meet all the communication needs of its speakers.

2.1 Philippine Creole Spanish (PCS)

In a more recent study of the creole language in the Philippines, Molony (1973, 1974) mentions the existence of five or six dialects of Philippine Creole Spanish in the country. Reference to Chabacano is made as the commonly used cover term for all dialects of PCS.

The term PCS was first used by Frake (1972;223) in Creole literature. To him it "is not simply a Philippine language with unusually heavy Spanish lexical influence, nor is it Spanish with a large number of Philippine loan words".

Most Spanish dictionaries will define Chabacano as something 'coarse, unpolished, ill-finished, awkward, clumsy'. When referring to a language, it would mean a language characterized by a drastic simplification of its lexicon and syntax, a melange of languages in contact, an interlingual corruption of standard languages. It is pejoratively referred as a 'lenguaje de trapos' (loosely, 'a language of odds and ends'; 'of rags'), Chabacano, however, is the popular name given to the PCS dialects spoken by several communities in the Philippines as their mother tongue. (Frake, 1971:223)

The Chabacano spoken in Ternate, Cavite City and the one which was once spoken at Ermita, Manila are identified by Frake (1971) as Manila Bay Creole (MBC). Analogically, for purposes of this present study, this writer identifies the Chabacano spoken in Zamboanga and Cotabato as Southern Mindanao Creole (SMC).

The geographical areas in the Philippines where Chabacano is spoken show indications of the origin or history of the PCS in the country (Map 1). Inasmuch as creole is said to be the dramatic result of languages in contact (Molony, 1973), this chapter presents data on what might be the inception of Chabacano in the distinct areas of the Philippines where there are now existing language communities that speak the Chabacano. Thus, the background of PCS is here traced in order to see better the language situation of each area from their geographical and historical position.

In organizing this chapter, a fuller and lengthier treatment and background of Ct is given, the fact that it is the language which is presented here for the first time.²

Note: Tr=Ternate Chabacano    Cv=Cavite Chabacano   Zm=Zamboanga  Chabacano     Ct=Cotabato Chabacano

² The section on Ct in this chapter is derived from the paper presented by this researcher at the 1975 International Conferences on Pidgin and Creoles, entitled, "The Cotabato Chabacano Verb". (See Appendix E)

2.11 Ternate Chabacano

Information on research done on Ternate Chabacano (Whinnom, 1956 and Molony, 1873) provide some historical data from which the following account was derived.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Ternate was the most important of the Island of Moluccas, Indonesia. At that time, several of the colonizing countries of rope quarreled over their claim to get hold of the monopoly of the spice trade of the world. In 1655, however, the Spaniards had to withdraw from the Moluccas in order to concentrate their forces in Manila. This was to fortify themselves against the threatened attack of a Chinese warlord, Koxinga.

In moving out of the Moluccas, the Spanish missionary who went with the troops took along with him some 200 Christians, better known as Márdikas. To this band of 200 immigrants can be traced to entry of Chabacano into the Philippines.

The immigrants settled in Ermita, Manila for a short time. By 1700, they moved to the mouth of the river of the Tagalog town of Maragondon, Cavite. IT is a place about 50 miles south of Manila, opposite the island of Corregidor, right at the entry of Manila Bay. The immigrants called this new settlement, Ternate, after their own homeland in the Moluccas.

At the time of their coming, the Márdikas were known to have spoken their 'own language' as well as amixture of Tagalog and Spanish (Blair & Robertson 24: 41, 66, 237). Eventually, they are assumed to have come to speak PCS as their native tongue (Frake, 1971:224-225).

Except available data from preliminary investigation made by Molony (1973, 1974) on sound changes in Chabacano, it is not ascertained if these people invented the language that they speak now or if they adapted a Philippine military pidgin or a Postuguese Pidgin brought from the Moluccas.

IN her 1973 study, Molony claims that there are 8,000 inhabitants of the town of Ternate who speak Tr. They gain their living mostly by fishing. There income is supplemented by cultivation. They are also helped by relatives who have gone elsewhere, especially to Manila and the United States to seek employment.

Tr is the first language of almost all of the people of Ternate. It has been observed, however, that almost everyone is bilingual in Ternate and Tagalog, the basis of the national language of the Philippines.

2.12 Cavite Chabacano (Cv)

In 1641, the Spaniards established an important naval yard on the Cavite Peninsula which is considered the traditional navy yard of Manila. It is from this settlement that the City of Cavite grew. While Cavite became a major naval base and shipyard, Ternate and Corregidor guarded the entrance of Manila Bay against Moslem raiders.

Whinnom (1956:12) assumes that Cv is the modern descendant of Tr, traced from the socio-economic situation of the great influx of Ternateños to Cavite City to work in the dockyards.

Whinnom's paper states that there are some 5,000 people 40 years and above who claim Cv as their first language. The proximity to the City of Manila where people find more opportunities other than work connected with the navy and dockyards is the main reason why many Caviteños are scattered outside Cavite City. Practically all communicate in Tagalog today. Even native speakers of Cv who are younger than 40 would opt for a Tagalog word or term when faced with a choice.

2.13 Zamboanga Chabacano (Zm)

From the beginning of the 17th century to the end of the 19th, Zamboanga was the Spanish military base in the midst of Moslem territory, in the southern part of the Philippines. Being situated at the southern part of the country and having proved an unprofitable possession compared to the yield of the Spice Islands, the fort of Zamboanga was set up more for purposes of interdicting slaving raids and piratical attacks, which were common practice at the time. (Blair and Robertson 10:9)

When in 1636 Fort Pilar was built, it was garrisoned by three hundred Spandiards and one hundred 'Visayan' troops (de la Costa, 1961:325). However, with the withdrawal of the Spaniards from the Moluccas as mentioned earlier, the Zamboanga troops were likewise recalled to Manila for further security from threatened invasion of Koxinga.

It was not until 1718 that that abandoned fort was reestablished at the urging of the Jusuit missionaries. This time, the garrison was made up of Spanish officers and Mexican soldiers and reinforced by Tagalogs and Visayans. Such a common labor and work contact of people with no common language among them surely brought about the language situation of the people living within the garrison and facing one common enemy from the outside.

To date, no record has been found nor is there any tradition of native creole-speaking Márdikas who participiated in the resettlement of Zamboanga. Thus the Márdikas cannot be traced as responsible for a dialect of PCS in Southern Mindanao. Frake assumes that Zm represents an independent creolization of the same pidgin.

So far, the only reference found in historical materials written in Spanish with regard to what the people of Zamboanga spoke (mentioned by Frake, 1971; and by Forman, 1972) is a quotation from Montero y Vidal (1888: 37). "Los naturales de Zamboanga hablan todos, aunque imperfectamente español".

If MBS and SMC developed independently along parallel lines as data seem to point out, then the presence of similarities between the variants under study can be accounted for by one theory for another on the origin of pidgins and creoles.

One way of accounting for it is to say like Hall (In Todd, 1971: 31) that these language or dialects all derive from practically the same stock, that is from Spanish and from Philippine languages. On the other hand, it can also be accounted for by the possibility that there are universal patterns of linguistic behavior appropriate to contact situations (Todd 1971: 41).

2.2 Cotabato Chabacano (Ct)

To date, there has been no study made of Ct as a language identified with a speech community of its own. Except for a passing mention by Macansantos (1971) and Forman (1972) of Zamboanga Chabacano speakers in Cotabato, and Molony (1973, 1974) as Ct being possibly one of the five or six dialects of Philippine Creole Spanish, there is, so far, no documentation on Ct.

2.21 Native Ct Speakers

Those who claim to speak Ct are those who belong to the old families of the original capital of the Province of Cotabato which is now Cotabato City proper. What is considered as the speech community of Ct includes the immediate geographical environs which extend to Tamontaka, the river población and the first Christian settlement of the province (founded early 19th C) as well as the old bay poblaciones of Parang (1854) and its neighbor, Polloc Point, the old minor Spanish naval station.

It is difficult to ascertain the number of Ct speakers today. In the 1969 Philippine Census which claimed the total Cotabato population as 1,029,119, there were only 7,102 Chabacano speakers. In 1970, the total population rose to 1,136,007 with only 4,983 reported Chabacano speakers.³

In this connection, a rough estimate of three generations of typical Ct family was made.[4] Assuming that the first generation had 100% Ct speakers, the second had only 98.9%; and the thirst generation had an abrupt drop with only 20.92% Ct speakers. The third generation represents the children born within the period of the past twenty years.

Although the number of Ct speakers tapers to an evident reduction or near extinction, there are living informants between the ages of 73 and 80 who claim that Ct had always been their language at home. They further claim that they had always spoken Ct with their elders as far as they can remember.[5]

³ I believe that the methodology employed by the Bureau of Census and Statistics is not adequate to reflect the authentic statistical variables. In the more than 25 years as a Religious for instance, I never knew of any census team coming to the convent to gather such information and other pertinent data on what language the citizens speak. [get back]

[4] The study was made of my own family for a paper entitled, "The Segmental Phonemes of Ct" (Typescript, Manila, 1972-73)

The following is a table of the three-generation sampling. I belong to the second generation of Ct native speakers.


Generation | Population | Ct Speaker | Percentage | Non-Ct Speakers |      %     | Total

  First         |     16         |      16         |       100%   |           0                |       0     | 100%

 Second     |      43        |       39        |         98.9%|            4               |      1.1%| 100%

  Third       |      67         |       14       |       20.92% |          53              |  79.08%| 100%

[get back]

[5] This was a result of a series of personal interview made in August 1973 at Cotabato City and Tamontaka, Cotabato. Seven of the interviews were recorded. [ get back ]

2.22 The Socio-cultural background of Ct

There is always the open question of whether Ct is a distinct PCS variant or a mere transplant of Zm.

The summary of data which follows will trace the possible process of creolization that may have taken place in the formation of Ct. Significant data were extracted from Madigan and Cushner's (1961) entitled, 'Tamontaka Reduction: A Community Approach to Mission Work'.[6]

During the Spanish occupation of the Philippines in the latter nineteenth century, Tamontaka, a poplación some three miles south of the townsite of Cotabato (Cotabato City now) was the headquarters of a Spanish military garrison and center of Spanish authority over Central Mindanao.

In 1869, the Jesuit Superior of the Philippine Mission conceived the idea of a Catholic village community (referred to as reducción, patterned after the Jesuit project in Paraguay) which was to be composed of Muslim converts located in the heart of Muslim land. This community was conceived, would be made of exemplary Catholic men and woman who would win the Muslims to the Faith by sheer force of their example. Because the village would be situated in or near the center of the Muslim territory, they would be on familiar terms with the Muslim of their neighborhood.

It was not until 1872 that funds were solicited from generous benefactors from Manila and the project began to take shape. The Jesuit Fathers located the new institution at Tamontaka where ten years earlier they had set up a mission for the Tiruray, a pagan minority of the place.

With funds in their hands, the missionaries ransomed the first group of children from the slave market on September 9, 1872.[7] These became the nucleus of the ideal Christian village as envisioned in 1861. The ransoming of slaves was made possible because slavery was practiced among the Muslim chieftains, and slave children could be purchased at almost any desired age. By 1875, there were 100 boys and girls in the orphanage built for this purpose, with boys completely segregated from girls.

When the funds ran low, the Fathers decided to start a farm at Tamontaka to help solve the problem of sustenance. Along this line was the practice of providing a piece of land together with some basic farming implements and a beast of burden to the wards of the orphanage. This is done when those of marriageable age expressed their desire to marry. A good number of libertos (the liberated, as they were called) married the partners chosen for them by their spiritual guardians. The marriages in general, worked out well.

[6] There are available to this researcher, historical sources from works of Combes, Pastels, and Cartas Edificantes de los Misioneros de la Compaña de Jesus en Filipinas which are duly annotated in the Bibliography. However, for the purpose of summarizing pertinent data in this study, the English translation of the Madigan-Cushner paper was used. The latter drew heavily from the above-mentioned sources. [get back]

[7] The Mindanaos (as the natives were identified in historical documents) were known to be pirates who invaded and burned down coast towns and villages in Luzon and the Visayas. They also captured people. (Blair and Robertson 18:126) [get back]

It is this writer's assumption that among the children ransomed by the missionaries, there were those who were captured during piratical raids. If such were the case then the children brought into the Tamontaka Orphanage, aside from Muslims, were made up of native speakers of other Philippine languages. These languages were non-intelligible to each other and Spanish had to be the dominant and common language of communication. Therefore, the situation of languages in contact as a possible point of reference for an influencing factor in the formation of pidgin and/or creole was indeed present in the Tamontaka situation.

2.23 The socio-cultural situation

The children from this Christian village who were originally Muslim, were shielded from the Islamic religion and Islamic culture during their period of formation. As adults, however, the Christian culture of their community life at Tamontaka was expected to penetrate the Islamic culture of the surrounding areas without itself being weakened by the contact. The confines of the ideal village did not make it remote from the white man, because the institution needed the protection of the Spanish army and the children were educated by the Spanish priests in the Spanish language. Later in 1875, the first group of Filipino Sisters (now known as Religious of the Virgin Mary) arrived at Tamontaka to assist the Fathers in the formation of the children. Spanish continued to be taught. Thus the children were remote from the Muslim of the place, although their remoteness was cultural, not spatial.

In the Tamontaka situation, the Muslim child came into the institution was an isolated individual without group backing to support performances of the cultural patterns which he had preciously known. The child had his formation in the Muslim culture as a child. But he also possessed a child's plasticity to adapt to new social patterns. These circumstances greatly affected the resulting community culture and therefore, affected the language as well.

It was observed that the culture of the Tamontaka children seemed to have been basically Spanish Catholic, modified by Maguindanao customs and practices.

Another factor which contributed to the resulting culture is that there were a number of older children who were brought into the institution to become a steadying influence on the younger children. At the same time, there was need of adult help in the heavy physical labors of building and farming.

On the other hand, people living in the village outside the institution were not necessarily products of the institute. Aside from the Muslim, there were also Tiruray couples who were brought to Tamontaka for instruction and training in the Faith.

Under these circumstances, the child in the institution was brought up and formed. Aside from prayers and practices of devotion., the children were taught to work, read and write and how to spend leisure time properly and profitably.

The children were trained to speak Spanish inside the house be were encouraged to speak Maguindanao outside. This 'bilingual' situation was considered important for later contacts with the Muslim and in achieving the apostolic vision for which the village was organized. At this point, it was noted by the missionary chroniclers (referring to the Madigan-Cushner article) that the language that the children spoke was in fact less Maguindanao than Chabacano, a mixture of Spanish and Maguindanao words, expressions and grammar. (Underscoring mine.)

2.24 The Zamboanga Contact

By 1879, there were 127 boys and girls in the institution. In 1882, the number had increased to 148 boys and girls. However, not all these children were ransomed slaves. During a cholera epidemic in Zamboanga at about this time, many lives were claimed and many were left orphans. These Zamboanga orphans were sent to the Tamontaka orphanage bringing about an added language contact in the Tamontaka situation. Thus, by 1897, there were 250 children in the institution and more than 100 families made up the Tamontaka community.

With the withdrawal of the Spanish forces from Tamontaka at the advent of the Spanish-American War, the missionaries decided to bring to safety to Zamboanga the younger children, the nuns, and some sixty-old families totalling to about 400 people. After the war, some of these people chose to return to Tamontaka, while the rest remained and established themselves in Zamboanga. With the return of the evacuees, another wave of language contact took place.

2.25 The Creolization Situation

The socio-economic-cultural pressures inevitably imposed upon the initial Christian community of Tamontaka must have been the very environment which was responsible for the formation of a creolized language in the place.

That Zm had its role in the later development of Ct cannot be denied, but the Ct had its own separate point of incipience and growth is another fact.

The Ct language situation was further affected by the phenomenal population increase which was occasioned by the migration of homeseekers and settlers to the Province of Cotabato. This was brought about by the opening up of vast public lands which were converted into homesteads. Public highways and bridges were constructed and evidence of material progress drew more people from the different parts of the country.

Cotabato, otherwise known in the Philippines as the 'empire province', was thronged by homeseekers, agricultural pioneers, capitalists, and pioneering professionals. Later still, the American missionaries, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, took over the spiritual guidance and Christian education of the province. They contributed significantly to the cultural expansion of the province through schools, hospitals, press and radio. The waves of population invasion have likewise brought about a linguistic invasion into the language situation of Ct native speakers.

2.3 Summary

Linguistic investigations in the recent past (1956-74) seem to point out that the earliest evidence of the beginnings of PCS can be traced to the year 1700 as coming from Ternate, Moluccas. Molony (1973:43) states that 'Linguistic evidence for the transmission of Ternateño to the Philippines, occurs in the form of a few Indo-Pacific, Malay and Postugese terms used today mostly in the dialect of Chabacano spoken in Ternate, Philippines'. Whinnom, on the other hand, considers Cv as the modern descendant of Tr, its locale being Cavite City, a navy yard since the 17th century.

In general, PCS is categorized into two general classification, Manila Bay Creole (MBC) and Southern Mindanao Creole (SMC). In referring to Tr and Cv, Frake (1971, In Hymes: 228) claims that the two share enough distinctive differences from regular Spanish or regular Philippine usage that they must be considred historically related dialects of the same language. Tr and Cv, as well as the Chabacano formerly spoken in Ermita, Manila are identified as MBC.

On the other hand, Zm and Ct are identified as SMC. Both correspond more closely to the shape of the form in modern Spanish. The incipience of Zm goes back to the year 1718, the reoccupation and refortification of Fort Pilar in Zamboanga. Ct is traced to the late 19th century the year 1872 when the first Christian village community was organized in Tamontaka, Cotabato.

A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School Ateneo de Manila, by Sister Maria Isabelita O. Riego de Dios, R.V.M. 1976


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