Chavacano words and phrases
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53 Useful Chavacano Words & Phrases to Learn for Travelers

The Philippines has been colonized by Spain for more than 300 years, which is why there are a lot of Spanish influences to our culture, especially on our language, whether it be Filipino, Bisaya, Ilocano, Bicolano, Waray, or Hiligaynon. And, do you know that there are places in the Philippines where the locals speak Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole language which is sometimes referred to as broken Spanish or Filipino Spanish? Learn these Chavacano words and phrases and you’ll be amazed at how similar the language is to Spanish.

Chavacano is mainly spoken in Zamboanga City, one of the most notable port cities in the Philippines off the southwestern tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula in Mindanao. It is also tagged as “Asia’s Latin City” and the “City of Flowers”. Aside from Zamboanga City, Chavacano is also spoken in some parts of Basilan and Cavite.

So, if you are traveling to these places in the Philippines, why not master these useful Chavacano words and phrases? The locals would surely appreciate your effort to connect with them in their Chavacano language.

Basic Chavacano words and phrases for greetings and introductions

Zamboanga City Hall
Zamboanga City Hall | Photo credit: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ

1. “Bienvenidos!” = “Welcome!”

Use this Chavacano word to greet someone who just arrived. This is like “Mabuhay!” in Tagalog.

2. “Buenas dias!” = “Good morning!”

You can also use these variations:

  • Buenas tardes – Good afternoon
  • Buenas noches – Good evening / Good night

3. “Quetal” / “Quetal uste?” = “Hello” / “How are you?”

This is how you say hello in Chavacano. You can use this Chavacano word to quickly ask how the person is doing. This is like “Kamusta?” or “Kumusta?” in other Filipino languages. You may also use “Quetal ya tu?” or “Quetal uste?”, which means “How are you?”.

4. “Bueno, gracias!” / “Muy bien, gracias!” = “I’m good, thank you!” / “I’m fine, thank you!”

This is your reply to someone asking how you are doing. Use “bueno” for good and “muy bien” for fine.

5. “Kosa dituyo nombre?” = “What’s your name?”

Say this Chavacano phrase if you are asking for someone’s name.

6. “Mi nombre es <name>.” = “My name is <name>.”

If you want to give your name, this is what you say.

7. “De donde uste?” = “Where are you from?”

Say this Chavacano phrase when asking for someone’s hometown.

8. “Ta habla / Sabe tu conversa <language>?” = “Do you speak <language>?”

You use this if you want to know if someone can speak a particular language. For example, “Ta habla Chavacano?” or “Sabe tu conversa Chavacano?” (Do you speak Chavacano?).

9. “Jende yo habla / Nusabe yo conversa <language>.” = “I can’t speak <language>.”

This is your reply if you can’t speak the language. For example, “Jende yo habla Chavacano.” or “Nusabe yo conversa Chavacano.” (I can’t speak Chavacano.).

Useful Chavacano words and phrases for courtesy and social etiquette

Use Chavacano when joining Zamboanga Hermosa Festival
Zamboanga Hermosa Festival | Photo credit: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ

10. “Muchas gracias!” = “Thank you!”

You can add “very much” and make it “Muchisimas gracias”.

11. “De nada!” = “You’re welcome!”

Use this Chavacano phrase as a reply to someone who said “Muchas gracias” (Thank you).

12. “Dispensa kumigo.” = “I’m sorry.”

Say this Chavano phrase to apologize or politely interrupt someone.

13. “Adios” = “Goodbye”

Use this Chavacano word if you want to say goodbye to someone.

14. “Quidao!” = “Take care!”

This Chavacano word means “Take care!”, like “Ingat!” in Filipino.

15. “Tu ohala ay mira dayon!” = “See you soon!”

Say this if you wish to see someone again in the future.

16. “Por favor” = “Please”

Use this if you want to say “please” or when asking for a favor.

17. “Si” = “Yes”

Same with Spanish, this is what you utter when you say “yes” or you agree to something.

18. “No” / “Jende” / “Nunca” = “No”

There are different ways of saying “no” in Chavacano:

  • No hay – To mean “None” or “Nothing”
  • Jende – To mean “No” as in “Hindi” in Tagalog or “Indi” in Hiligaynon
  • Nunca – To mean “Never”

Useful Chavacano words and phrases for travel and exploration

Pink Beach in Santa Cruz
Pink Beach in Santa Cruz, Zamboanga City | Photo credit: Wowzamboangacity

19. “Onde?” / “Donde?” = “Where?”

Use this Chavacano word if you want to know where something is located.

20. “Para donde este anda?” = “Where is this going?”

You can ask this question if you want to know the destination or route, especially when riding a public transport.

21. “Onde uste anda?” = “Where are you going?”

Say this if you want to know where someone is heading to.

22. “Ay volve ya yo na mi casa.” = “I’m going home.”

If you are going home, you can reply using this Chavacano phrase.

23. “Paquelaya?” = “How?”

Say this word when asking how to do certain things like asking for directions or instructions.

24. “Paquelaya yo puede llega na <location>?” = “How to go to <location>?”

If you want to know how to arrive at a certain place or location, just use this phrase. You may also use, “Como anda?”.

25. “Cuanto el pasaje?” = “How much is the fare?”

Use this Chavacano phrase if you want to know how much you should pay for the fare.

26. “Nusabe yo.” = “I don’t know.”

You can say this if you don’t know the answer to a question.

27. “Para!” = “Stop! I’ll get off here.”

Say this if you want to alight from a public transport like a jeepney or bus. You can also add “please” and say, “Para anay, por favor.”

28. “Ayuda!” = “Help!”

Utter this Chavacano word if you need help.

29. “Perdido yo!” = “I’m lost!”

You can approach a local and say this if you’re lost.

30. “Cosa ya hora?” / “Cosa hora ya?” / “Que ora ya?”= “What time is it?”

If you want to know the time, just ask this.

31. “Tiene quidao!” = “Travel safely!”

This is another way to say take care in Chavacano, specifically when someone is about to travel.

Practical Chavacano language for shopping and buying

Use Chavacano when interacting with the locals in Zamboanga City
Mariki, Zamboanga City | Photo credit: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ

32. “Puede yo compra?” = “Can I buy?”

If you want to buy something, you can say this phrase.

33. “Necesita yo con <item>.” = “I need <item>.”

You say this Chavacano phrase if you need something. For instance, “Necesita yo con sabon.” (I need soap.).

34. “Cuanto este?” = “How much is this?”

This is the Chavacano language translation if you want to know the price of something.

35. “Bien caro eso!” = “That’s too expensive!”

Caro means expensive so say this if you find the item too expensive.

36. “Bien barato eso!” = “That’s too cheap!”

On the other hand, barato means cheap so you can utter this if you find the item cheap.

37. “Pwede ba tu dale diskwento comigo?” = “Can you give me a discount?”

If you want ask for a discount, just say this Chavacano phrase.

38. “Tiene uste mas grande?” = “Do you have a bigger size?”

Grande means big, so say this Chavacano phrase if you are asking for a bigger size.

39. “Tiene uste mas jutay?” = “Do you have a smaller size?”

And if you are looking for a smaller size, you can say this instead.

40. “Jende yo quere elo.” = “I don’t want it.”

Say this if you don’t like the item or thing.

41. “Jende yo interesado.” = “I’m not interested.”

If you’re not interested, just say this phrase.

Handy Chavacano phrases for eating

Use Chavacano when buying food in Zamboanga
Panyalam delicacy in Zamboanga | Photo credit: Arvin and Aiky

42. “Comé kita!” = “Let’s eat!”

When you invite someone to dig in, just say this Chavacano phrase. You may also add the name of the food after like “Comé kita pan!” (Let’s eat bread!).

43. “Kun hambre ya yo!” = “I’m hungry!”

You can say this when you’re hungry, but don’t forget to be polite.

44. “Busog ya yo!” = “I’m already full!”

And when you’re already full, you may say this.

45. “Quiere yo con <item>.” = “I want <item>.”

If you want something, just say this phrase. For example, “Quiere yo con pescado.” (I want fish.).

46. “Un taza de <drink>, por fabor.” = “A cup of <drink>, please.”

This is particularly useful when you want to order a cup of coffee or tea. You say, “Un taza de cafe, por favor.” (A cup of coffee, please.).

47. “Sabroso!” / “Delicioso!” = “Delicious!”

Use these Chavacano words if you want to express that the food is delicious.

48. “Muy salado este!” = “It’s so salty!”

Say this when the food is too salty.

49. “Muy dulce ele!” = “It’s so sweet!”

When the food is too sweet, you can utter this remark.

50. “Muy amargo ele!” = “It’s so sour!”

If the taste is too sour, you can say this.

51. “Muy picante ele.” = “It’s so spicy!”

And if it’s too spicy, you can say this comment.

52. “Resa kita.” = “Let’s pray.”

When praying, especially before meals, you can use this Chavacano phrase.

53. “La cuenta, por favor.” = “The bill, please.”

If you are done eating and you want to ask for the check or bill, just say this.

These are just some of the basic Chavacano words and phrases that’ll come in handy when you explore Chavacano-speaking places in the Philippines like Zamboanga City, Basilan, and Cavite.

How many of these Chavacano words and phrases are you familiar with? Let us know on our socials: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

*Special thanks to Mr. Rene M., a native Chavacano speaker born and raised in Zamboanga City, for reviewing and confirming our Chavacano language translation.

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