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Urbis Romae Dies


After four years of being branded as “Asia’s Latin City,” with much enthusiasm and eagerness, I went around the 7-kilometer radius to find out whether dramatic transformation has already taken place with respect to the modus vivendi and modus operandi of the natives and migrants of this place legendarily and historically known as “Jambangan,” most particularly the three original ethnic inhabitants, Subanen, Sama, and Tausog.  Driven by mixed feeling of excitement and anticipation, I tagged along with me my outmoded cell phone with the first generation camera feature expecting to document a luxury of authentic eye-catching and head-turning Latin spectacles, such as opera houses, basilicas, villas, emporiums, gallerias, palazzos, piazzas, etc.

I did this in preparation for the coming of my friends and tourists from other cities and countries who might have been chosen this Latin territory to be their priority destination in hopes of witnessing and experiencing authentic Latin cultural, architectural, musical, and theatrical spectacles lined up by our local government in fitting celebration of Urbis Romae Dies on February 26. Worried that they will ask me to be their tourist guide, I have to be ready and prepared to take them to the most popular and unique marvels and wonders of this only “Asia’s Latin City.” In fact, the first tourist attraction that I intend to show is the Senatus Populusque Romanus, the local legislature which was responsible for the new moniker primarily because Chavacano which is spoken with very little variations in Isabela City, Lamitan City, Cavite City, some part of Sibugay province, some parts of Cotabato City, and of course, Zamboanga City, is largely Latin. This explains why they insisted that this city should be branded for tourism purposes, “Asia’s Latin City” and not “Asia’s Chabacano City.” How then can we satisfactorily explain to our visitors that this is the only “Asia’s Latin City” when a great number of inhabitants in Isabela and Lamitan cities also speak the Chabacano dialect? Where is the uniqueness that they are bragging about? Don’t you think that these two other cities should also be logically branded “Asia’s Latin Cities?”      

To my dismay, I could hardly see anything genuinely Latin within the 7-kilometer radius. Even the giant billboard at the Airport welcoming foreign and domestic tourists to “Asia’s Latin City” does not contain a word of Latin which should have been the most strategic and ideal place on which to impress strangers and provide them with basic information about our Roman customs, traditions, art works, architecture, and language.

What are misleadingly featured in multi-color photos are the American-built City Hall, the Hispanic Fort Pilar, the colorful sails of the native vintas, an impressive sampling of flowers, a towering monument in a garden, and of course, as official imprimatur to this welcome signboard, the seal of “Asia’s Latin City” and the signature picture of our Mayor plus his favorite Spanish greeting: Bievenidos a Zamboanga! I am sure there are appropriate Latin words or phrases to use instead of the Spanish welcome greeting: “Bienvenidos a Zamboanga.” Our language experts are the right authorities to consult with respect to this matter. Why not commission them? I know they are just too eager and willing to be of help to our city government.

Although I always experience extreme difficulty in using Latin words and phrases, I make it a matter of moral obligation to use a couple or more every time I write for publication just to give the slightest truism or factuality to the “Asia’s Latin City” moniker. I avoid using Chabacano or Spanish because they are not officially classified as Latin by accredited and renowned language authorities although some claim that Chabacano and Latin are one and the same which was the casus belli why our honorable City Councilors unanimously passed CCR 760 virtually converting all the inhabitants of Zamboanga City to Latins even if not a single soul is functionally literate about this language. The irrefutable truth stands that until now four years after the passage of the CCR 760, we still have to hear any City Councilor speak or write pure Latin to serve as our model.

Don’t you think that our modi vivendi and operandi should reflect our brand name “Asia’s Latin City? Obligatorily, the political officials who were responsible for the whirl-wind passage of CCR 760 are the ones who should act, talk, write, and dress like bona fide Latins, the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Latium, Italy. By the way, when can we hear a top local government official deliver a speech in pure Latin? Can we have it on Urbis Romae Dies? Let’s all look forward to that! That must be the day of our Latin lives.

by Clem M. Bascar

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