HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 51 no. 1-4 (2005)

A Hispanic Legacy of Chabacano Poems

Emmanuel Luis A. Romanillos

Discipline: Philippine History, Philippine Literature



For my past research works hitherto unpublished, I came upon a great number of proverbs and folk songs. Some folk songs form part of Tindera de tinapá of the Zarzuela Chabacana Group of Cavite City. Articles on Chabacano Caviteño never fail to incorporate the literary work by Cavite City poet Eliodoro Ballesteros. That famed poem entitled Piesta (with my Spanish and English translations) and the Caviteño and Zamboangueño versions of D. José Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios are part of this anthology in this lecture.


Some years ago, I discovered another Chabacano poem, El Chavacano Caviteño, of eleven stanzas by Eliodoro Ballesteros. This poem – together with its English translation and critique – is incorporated in this paper. I acquired the second Ballesteros poem from Mr. Roberto Reynoso of the defunct Circulo Chabacano Caviteño. The bard first recited it in Cavite City in 1964. His verses depict the roots and characteristics of the local dialect. He urges fellow Caviteños to be proud of their Hispanic heritage and to speak Chabacano always. What follows in the first stanza of El Chavacano Caviteño:


                Nisós el maná heraldo di esti local dialecto

                Qui ta anunciá na mundo bajo el brillo del sol,

                Como un herencia santo, grandioso y nuay depecto

                Compuesto del lenguaje tagalo y español.


This well-regarded Fil-Hispanic poet, Jesús Balmori – adroit in both Spanish and Chabacano – authored verses in the two kindred languages. We have discovered his three rare beautiful sonnets (plus a short story) in Chabacano published in Revista Filipina in 1917. My paper will include them, as well as their Spanish and English translations and literaru critiques. Here is the first stanza of Balmori’s endearing sonnet, El que ta pensá ele.


                Na debajo de un pono que ta cargao de nanca

                Ta mirá bueno el biejo si puelte el merejada

                NA junto de ele, quieto, ta recostao el banca.

                Con un mujer querida que ta dormí cansada.


More unpublished verses, even those penned by anonymous authors, shall be included in this anthology of rare Chabacano of the Manila Bay Creole type. It is our ardent hope that these verses shall be forever preserved, for these Chabacano poems “speak about individual feelings,” or relate a story “on behalf of a nation or community,” or “communicate unspeakable aspects of human experience” in this cherished Hispanic linguistics legacy termed the Philippine Creole Spanish of Cavite.