Where are the Chavacano speakers of Cavite? What ever happened to this unique Creole language? Before we could answer this questions, we must first understand what is Chavacano. There are two types of Philippine Creole Spanish, the first one and most well known of the two, the Chavacano of Zamboanga. This particular variance is actually thriving, used in all types of media like Radio, Prints, Television and even in recorded songs. The Chavacano of Zamboanga is mostly Spanish words mixed with Visayan and moro words and set in Visayan Grammar. It was said that this particular Chavacano has more than 600,000 speakers, mostly in Zamboanga. Said to be one of the oldest Creole in the world and very far from dying.
But it was "Gone with the Wind" for the Chavacano of Cavite. Once flourishing in different parts of Cavite like Ternate, Maragondon and Cavite City and also some parts of Manila like Binondo and Sta.Cruz. This variance of Chavacano is a mixture of mostly Spanish Words and Tagalog words and set in Tagalog Grammar. We have this saying in English that "If you don't use it, you'll lose it", and that is what exactly happened to this Chavacano. I myself are from Cavite and i basically grew up in Cavite City. You see, Chavacano in Cavite was perceived as a language of the social elite, not just the people in Cavite but most of Filipinos, that if you speak this language its either you have Spanish blood in you or you are rich, so a lot of Non Chavacanos - Cavitenos really want to learn Chavacano even though this is not their language, so you would probably think it was doing great, right?, but in the midst of poverty?
During the late 70s a lot of people from other parts of the country most especially from the Central Visayan Region started migrating to Luzon particularly in Manila, seeking good paying jobs, most of these people ended up in the poor sections of Manila, while others ended up in the near by provinces with easy access to the city of Manila, like Cavite. While the outsiders grew in numbers, More than 70% of the original Cavite City's residence mostly Chavacano Speakers have already moved out of Cavite City, bringing with them their language. Some of them migrated in the United States and some to other places were there are less crime( where there's poverty usually there's crime). But there are still Chavacano Speakers left there, mostly old people.
Another culprit is it's proximity to Manila. Most people living near the City of Manila like those living in Cavite follows whatever new trends there are in manila and English is a new trend. Everything Spanish are old and everything American are new and trendy. The death of Chavacano in Cavite, or in fact, the Whole Spanish - Philippine culture, started dying when the U.S. won the Spanish - American war in 1898. Headed by Commodore George Dewey, the Americans killed Hundreds of Spaniards in Manila during that war. During the American Colonization of the Philippines, Americans built a base in the northern part of the Cavite City peninsula, where the old Spanish Fort San Felipe used to be (some parts of the old Spanish fort can still be seen and are intact) and called it Sangley Point, thus further killing the language. Presently, nothing has been done to help this dying language to recover. Even the remaining people who speaks Chavacano stops Speaking it and are not even teaching it to their children. I think the only solution to this is to at least create a Chavacano learning Center wherein Cavitenos can study and learn Chavacano language and culture. To the local government of Cavite, please do something before it's too late.
To read more about the Chavacano of Cavite and Chabacano in General, Click these Links Habla Chabacano, Herencia Espanola, Chavacanos de la Cuidad de Cavite and Chabacano/Spanish and the Philippines Linguistic Identity by John M. Lipski, The Pennsylvania State University. Thanks to TVE(Television Espanola) and Salita Blog. To listen to Chavacano de Zamboanga, click HERE.