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Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR)


Latin, like the term Moro, has no indigenous dialectal or linguistic roots in Jambangan, Samboangan, or Zamboanga. The Moro, however, as I previously disclosed, was the moniker given by the Spaniards to refer to all the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu irrespective of ethnicity and religious beliefs when they first arrived in Jambangan a long time ago according to historians. By the way, may I just remind everyone of the linguistic fact that Jambangan or Samboangan and Zamboanga are one, and the same? People in the know, say that Jambangan is a Malay word which means “Land of Flowers or “Garden of Flowers” in English. Local historians say that it was also the Spaniards who officially changed Jambangan or Samboangan to Zamboanga during the laying of the cornerstone of the fortress which is now popularly called Fort Pilar on June 23, 1635. So it is impossible to separate the moniker “City of Flowers” from Zamboanga or Jambangan because they are one and mean same. Realistically and literally, therefore, the new moniker should be “Garden or land of Flowers: Asia’s Latin City.” Stupendously beautiful!

Where did the Latin term come from? The word Latin according to the Reader’s Digest Great Dictionary of the English Language derives from the name of the ancient region of Latium which is roughly equivalent to the modern Lazio. The Latins were an ancient Italian people who from the 4th century BC were dominated by Rome.  Latin was also the language of Rome and its empire.  The Kingfisher Children’s Illustrated Dictionary tells us that, “with the fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476 and the breakdown of communication, local variations of spoken Latin developed. These evolved into the Romance Languages: Italian, Provencal, French, Catalan, Spanish, and Romanian. Latin words form a large part of the vocabulary of many European languages.”  Yet, they are not called Latin. Spanish is Spanish, French is French, Italian is Italian, English is English, Portuguese is Portuguese, Romanian is Romanian, Catalan is Catalan, but in Zamboanga City Latin language has been equated with Chabacano dialect by local linguists, hence, “Asia’s Latin City.” What a perfect moniker!

If you recall, Latin was the language which was used as the primary basis for the brand name first  proudly declared and officially announced by the Hon. City Mayor in a business conference held at Garden Hotel about three years ago, to change the historical, legendary, most loved and cherished sobriquet “City of Flowers” to “Asia’s Latin City.” Of course, the justification is the Chabacano dialect which has many words that could be derived from the dead Latin language. This is a linguistic reality that we all have to accept. Basically, the Honorable Mayor authoritatively equated Chabacano with Latin which means that Latin is Chabacano and Chabacano is Latin.  Why “Asia’s Latin City and not “Asia’s Chabacano City,” kindly ask our Hon. Mayor and Councilors for the full historical details and scientific linguistic explanation. I am sure they are always ready to do that.

So in  a flash, the local legislators, fully convinced that indeed the Chabacano dialect is a very valid  linguistic justification for the change of the “City of Flowers” moniker of Zamboanga to “Asia’s Latin City,” passed City Council Resolution #760 virtually converting all living and non-living things in Zamboanga City to Latins without even the benefit of public consultations. By CCR # 760, the Honorable Councilors of Zamboanga City, the Mayor and all the inhabitants within its territorial jurisdiction had already been converted legally to Latins of Latium, Italy. Practically, the Zamboangueños were Latinized overnight without their prior knowledge and consent, by our Hon. City Councilors and duly approved by our Hon. City Mayor. This is diametrically opposed to what our Honorable Councilors are telling us that true democracy requires public participation, consultation, and consent because sovereignty emanates from the people. Some legal experts even advanced the idea that any law or ordinance passed without public consultation and ratification is without applicability, force, and authority. Read the article, “Constitution of No Authority.” 

By virtue of this local legislative act, the Zamboangueño identity had been legally erased including its ancient history. The Subanens, Samas, Tausogs, and all the other ethno-linguistic groups, have also been converted to Latins because when you change the moniker of a place, all its living and non-living entities are also changed. You don’t only apply this moniker to the tenants of City Hall or the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod but to all animate and inanimate objects within the city’s territorial limits, from Licomo to Limpapa.  Our Honorable Mayor and Councilors are fully aware of the over-all applicability and consequence of this legislative act. First and foremost however, when you say “Asia’s Latin City,” It refers to its people not to the language or dialect they speak. This is because without people no language or dialect exists. Dialect or language is not hereditary. It is learned as a tool of communication. You may be a Zamboangueño but you don’t speak Chabacano. You may be an Italian but you don’t speak Italian but Latin. You may be a Spaniard but you don’t speak Spanish but Chabacano.

But why are we still calling ourselves Zamboangueños when we have already been legally converted to Latins? What’s happening? Have we forgotten City Council Resolution #760 changing “City of Flowers” moniker to “Asia’s Latin City” which clearly means that this city is inhabited by people who speak the Latin language? Are we that easy to forget? Do we really have short memories?  Remember, we cannot deny the fact that it was the Hon. Councilors who converted us all to Latins, the ancient inhabitants of Latium above the Tiber in Italy by virtue of CCR #760.

So we should be the first to call ourselves Latins. Please from now on let’s talk, walk, and dress like genuine Latins or Romans to prove to the whole world that we are in fact genuine descendants of the first inhabitants of Latium a place above the Tiber, Italy, Iberian Peninsula and not Zamboanga Peninsula. Otherwise, foreigners will be wondering why this is called “Asia’s Latin City” but the inhabitants are fake Latins because they do not speak, walk, and dress as Latins.   

So to be law-abiding, cooperative, and solidly supportive to our Hon. City Mayor in promoting our Latin history, culture, ethnicity and language, we should forget our Zamboangueño identity because we are now legally called “Asia’s Latin City,” meaning, City of Latins not Zamboagueños. Modesty aside, I was the first columnist who used “ PONS ASINORUM” as the title of my column which is pure Latin hoping that those who approved CCR # 760 would follow suit and make Latin as their language of legislation and official communication. But on the contrary they continue to call themselves Zamboangueños with no indication that they will soon speak, walk, and dress as real Latins even during their sessions. For starters, it would be historically proper to change the Sangguniang Panglunsod to its Latin version: SEÑATUS POPULUSQUE ROMAÑUS (SPQR) which means “ Senate and the People of Rome.”

Meanwhile while you are still making up your minds, let’s join hands and all together shout at the top of our voices,” Viva, Ciudad Latina de Asia! Adelante, Latins de Asia!

By Clem M. Bascar

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