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Let's be serious with "Asia's Latin City"


I must admit that in the beginning I was vehemently opposed to the changing of our most beautiful, picturesque, romantic, poetic, fitting, historical, and legendary sobriquet, “City of Flowers” to the very colonial, irrelevant, sepulchral, and farcical “Asia’s Latin City.” But since, my voice is this newly-resurrected Empire of Rome, is truly just a voice in the wilderness, I have to bow in total obedience and respect to the collective wisdom of the “Senatus Populusque Romanus” and the supremacy of Caesarian authority. Besides, I discovered later, that the Chabacano which was the primary basis of this legislative act of converting all Zamboangueños to Latinos from Limpapa to Licomo, is really the equivalent of the dead Latin language. It’s not just pidgin Spanish which I mistakenly thought it was, but genuine Latin fulfilling all the requirements and requisites of a language as claimed by local linguists. I am sure they have already secured the official classification of Chabacano as a language from the Commission on the National Language.

I am fully convinced now that the moniker, “Asia’s Latin City” is something that should really be promoted not only for tourism purposes but also as our indigenous cultural heritage. In fact, I felt so embarrassed that I just considered Chabacano as a minor dialect when our language authorities insist that it is not just a major dialect like Cebuano and Hiligaynon, but really a full-fledged language, like Spanish, French, Italian, and others Frankly, I have very little knowledge about linguistics, really a far cry from the expertise and the proficiency of accredited linguists.

Ironically however, after almost four years of proudly trumpeting and flaunting this new moniker and flooding the internet with spectacular infomercial hype about “Asia’s Latin City,” we have not yet observed any public official speak, dress, and walk like a bona fide Latin from Latium, Italy. Even during the celebration of our most popular Annual Fiesta Pilar, aside from Chabacano, no other genuine and unique Latin cultural and historical spectacles are presented to entertain our guests coming from different cities and countries. Always highlighted are the very common dances like Cha-Cha, Tango, and other dances that are seen and better performed elsewhere in the world. Don’t you think that what should really be prominently and publicly exhibited are our indigenous Latin customs and traditions?

Very surprising is the fact that the colorful, crowd-drawing, and fascinating Regatta which is participated by the Samas with their indigenous vintas, is still maintained as the top attraction during the Fiesta Pilar Celebration. The Samas are not Latins whose ancestral home is Latium, Italy, but the descendants of the boat people who settled in Jambangan centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards. To make this Regatta truly Latin, may I be allowed to suggest that instead of using the Samas and their indigenous vintas, we invite Italians with their gondolas to be the participants in the race? But who am I to suggest? Just forget it.

Maybe I am just over zealous and excited about this new moniker. Can we expect our local authorities to be a little bit serious about “Asia’s Latin City” to avoid becoming the biggest cultural hoax in the world? May be the first thing that should really be done by our Latin lawmakers, is to redesign the  Sangguniang Panglungsod building adopting Roman architecture since it was they who passed CCR #760 , the landmark legislative act changing “City of Flowers” to  “Asia’s Latin City.” Let’s take pride of the fact that Zamboanga is the one and only authentic Latin City in the world today. This can very well be one of the 7 cultural wonders of the 21st Century. So for culture’s sake, let’s be serious about it.

May I just be allowed to make one little reminder: Please don’t forget to emboss the “ SPQR” at the  entrance of our redesigned and reconstructed Latin Legislature building. Mind you, our biggest and most famous Fiesta Pilar celebration is fast approaching. We have very little time left to make it a global blockbuster Latin festival.

By the way, can we have souvenir T-shirts printed with beautiful and very refined Latin sayings and phrases instead of those vulgar and culturally offensive ones. Our guests might think that we are a bunch of vagabonds and “ bruscos”. Remember the Caesarian language was the most classical and aristocratic in the ancient world… not lengua de kalye.

By Clem M. Bascar

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