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Are we fake Latinos?


With frankness, I would like to make it very clear that I am not an authority in linguistics or history. The  definition and explanation that I am going to give to the term “Latin” come purely from my readings and experience. So, please understand if there are some ambiguities in my thoughts. I claim no perfection to anything I write. Please feel free to rebut or refute any erroneous statement I make. I will be very grateful for your corrective cognitive inputs. 

Let me now tackle the term Latin. Strictly from the standpoint of linguistics, Latin was the language spoken by the ancient Italic people of the Latium region. Latin also became the official or formal language of the Roman Empire, the first republic of the world. Latin has been known from as early as 500 BC in an inscription on a gold fibula or safety pin which reads: “MANIOS MED FHEFHAKED NUMASIO.” It is also to this day the primary liturgical language of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly in Vatican City. (Ref: Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.) 

The Latinos in Zamboanga City are not genuine Latinos by reason of race, history, and language. However, by virtue of CCR#760 authored by former Councilor Atty. Kim Elago and unanimously concurred by all the other local legislators present, the legendary and historical moniker,” City of Flowers” for Zamboanga City was changed to “Asia’s Latin City” primarily because of the Chabacano dialect which according to language researchers, is composed of 75% Spanish and the rest is a combination of several native dialects. By linguistic classification, Chabacano is just a dialect while Latin was a world-renowned, complex, intricate, and extremely difficult language, now considered dead.

If Chabacano is 75% Spanish why did they not call Zamboanga City “Asia’s Spanish City?” It would have been obviously reflective of City Hall. It would have been more appropriate and justifiable from the standpoints of language and conquest.  Why Latin City when Chabacano is not even considered pidgin Latin? Why, Oh, Why?  And the most embarrassing part, we don’t speak the Latin language! It’s hugely misleading to the whole world. There are no genuine Latins who speak the Latin language in Zamboanga City. Every foreigner expects all the inhabitants of Zambaonga City to speak pure Latin because of this  “Asia’s Latin City “ moniker.  It would have been very dialectically factual and appropriate if it was “Asia’s Chabacano City.” Nobody would have opposed it because it’s irrefutably true that majority of the residents of Zamboanga City speak the Chabacano dialect.  By the way, do you know why the Spaniards despised the Chabacano dialect? It was because they considered it without grammar and therefore “lengua de canto.” Coincidentally, it was also the Spaniards who first called the native inhabitants of Zamboanga Peninsula, Mindanao and Sulu as “Moros” according to historians.

By the way, Spanish is one of the Romance Languages which grew out of the dead Latin. Spanish is l00 % Spanish but it is not classified as Latin. Chabacano which is just 75% Spanish is considered Latin by our Honorable City Mayor and Councilors. They must have a very strong fascination for the Latin language.  Can we request them to deliver a speech in pure Latin anytime? My we request the councilors to use Latin as their language of legislation? We hope to experience this spectacular linguistic phenomenon in their succeeding sessions. Why not, they should prove to the whole world that they really deserve to be called Latin legislators. And the best way to do it is to speak pure Latin in the session hall.

If the fundamental justification for branding all the Zamboguenos Latinos by our Honorable City Mayor and Councilors, is the Chabacano dialect, then in fact and in truth we are all fake Latinos because we cannot speak pure Latin. Even the Mayor himself, has not been heard in public or anywhere else speaking pure Latin. I was informed, however, that his ancestors are from Spain, which entitles him to be called a pure Latino because Spain is part of the Iberian Peninsula, the homeland of the Latins. This must be the overriding consideration why he publicly announced in a business conference that Zamboanga City from then on, would be called “Asia”s Latin City.” Shortly after that public pronouncement, the Sangguniang Panlungsod, passed CCR # 760 legally branding Zamboanga City as “Asia’s Latin City.”

If all of us cannot speak proficiently the classical or even just the vulgar Latin language, then we are fake Latinos because the legal basis for the “Asia’s Latin City” moniker is the Chabacano dialect which is not even pidgin Latin but pidgin Spanish. And Spanish is not classified Latin but one of the Romance Languages which grew out the dead Latin like French, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, and others. All these romance languages which directly evolved from Latin, are not even classified Latin. Spanish is Spanish and French is French. How come Chabacano which is just pidgin Spanish is Latin in the classification of our Honorable Mayor and Councilors?

Don’t our Honorable Mayor and Councilor not realize that by branding Zamboanga City “Asia’s Latin City” principally based on the Chabacano dialect, they have legally classified this dialect as Latin not by reason of derivatives but by the linguistic identity as pure Latin?  Meaning Chabacano and Latin are one and the same. If this is the linguistic equation, then anyone who knows how to speak Chabacano can also speak Latin, and he who speaks Latin also speaks Chabacano. Is this the linguistic reality in “Asia’s Latin City?  If not, then we are all fake Latinos.

Just in case you are interested to know, the title of this column is French not Latin. Please forgive me if I am wrong.

By Clem M. Bascar

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