The appointed day of the advent of the Chabacano language in Zamboanga dates back to the establishment of Fort Pilar on June 23, 1635. Thus, Ordinance No. 374 of 2011 mandates the celebration of the “Dia de Fundacion de Chabacano” every June 23.
During the Spanish period, the Jesuits proposed the establishment of a permanent fortification in Samboangan (now Zamboanga) using Melchor de Vera’s design (Spoehr 1973). This fortress was named Real Fuerza de San Jose, later called Fort Pilar during the American period. The fort is located in Cagang-Cagang, now known as Rio Hondo. It was then one of Mindanao’s first stone structures and the only one with coastguard galleys (Blair & Robertson 1906).
The evolution of the language, later called Chabacano, a Spanish derivative, was born when the Spaniards brought in men from outside Zamboanga to help with the fort’s construction. It resulted from communication between these people, the natives of Zamboanga, and the Spaniards.
Photo credits: Katherine Wee Sit