Zamboanga City : Asia's Latin City?

When Zamboanga City was named Asia's latin city, a lot of people reacted to it. Some negatively and some positively. The primary aim of this new title is to drive in tourism. Some people said that it would be a rip off. But Zamboanga city looks latin as any city in Latin America does. In fact most cities in the Philippines can be branded as a Latin city. The British historian Arnold J. Toynbee went even as far as saying that "the Philippines is a Latin American country that was transported to the Orient by a gigantic marine wave". Zamboanga City having Chabacano (the only Spanish creole in Asia) as its language makes it even more deserving of the title.

The term Latin or Latino is used to refer to anything or anyone that comes from Latin America. It is also used to describe something which has affinity to Latin America.

The term Hispanic meanwhile refers to anything with affinity to Spain. Remember that Hispania and Espania means the same thing: Spain.

Latin America is the collective term for all countries in the Americas where Romance languages (i.e. languages derived from Latin, and hence the name of Latin America) are spoken: Spanish, Portuguese, French, and their creoles.

Different words mean different things to different people. In Anglo-America, these terms have various meanings. However those meanings do not apply to the people outside of Anglo-America.

I remember a radio announcer saying that the more accurate title is 'Asia's Hispanic city' and not 'Asia's Latin city'. However, let us not forget that from 1565 to 1821 or 256 years, the Viceroy of Mexico directly governed the Philippines from Mexico city. In fact, most Spaniards who migrated to the Philippines came from Mexico and not Spain. Migrating from Spain to the Philippines would not have been practical because travel would have taken a long time. The Suez canal which cut travel time opened in 1869, only a couple of years before Spain sold the Philippines to the USA. For this, both Hispanic and Latin are correct. I am talking from a historical standpoint though and not political.

In this article, Abu Anis , a spokesman of an organization in Zamboanga City and Basilan province, said Resolution No.760 which branded Zamboanga City as "Latin City" has no justification culturally and historically. He went on to say that Zamboanga City was never part of the Philippine territories. But how can one say that Zamboanga city was never part of the Philippine territories when the Spanish Fort of Pilar was built to protect the city from pirates. This obviously means that Zamboanga was part of the Philippine territories.

Mr. Anis even accused (Mayor) Lobregat of acting arrogantly for never consulting the historians and intellectuals, adding that he is acting in sheer “ignorance” or “pride” as half-baked descendants of the Spaniards. This prejudice and hatred against the Spanish people is one exhibited by most ignorant Filipinos. It is most commonly an emotion planted in Filipinos by movies like 'Rizal' which depicts Spaniards as arrogant, stiff, and cruel, and by history books which has nothing but bad words for the Spaniards.

He even said that: to foreigners Latin is not in Latin American countries but in Rome where the spoken language was once Latin, although Latin is now a dead language. Visitors are sometimes frustrated when they cannot find Romans but Badjaos and Samals, who are begging from these newcomers or urging them throw coins into the sea. What a statement! It makes my heart ache to see such under researched statements.

A corrupt Spanish, that is what Anis calls Chabacano. This is totally an erroneous statement. For one, Chabacano is not Spanish. It is a well known fact that Chabacano is a Spanish creole.

A very good example of proof that Zamboanga City and even the Philippines qualifies as '"Latin" is the fact that this country belongs to the Latin union. The Latin union is an organization of all countries which speaks a language derived from latin such as French and Spanish (Romance languages). The Philippines, even though not having Spanish as an official language, enjoys membership in this union because of its cultural affinity to Spain.

It is a fact that when you are in America, the Filipino would typically be mistaken as a Latino. It is a fact that you would feel more comfortable around Latinos than any other kinds of peoples. It is a fact that the Spanish which we spoke in the Philippines years before was Mexican Spanish. It is a fact that there are words in our language which comes from Nahuatl (a group of related languages and dialects of the Aztecan branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family which is indigenous to Mesoamericaorigin (e.g. tatay (tatle), nanay (nantl), abokado (avocado), bayabas [from guayaba(s)]). Zamboanga is qualified to be called as Asia's Latin city. However preposterous it might sound to the typical ignorant Filipino, it is the truth. origin (e.g. tatay (tatle), nanay (nantl), abokado (avocado), bayabas [from guayaba(s)])Zamboanga is qualified to be called as Asia's Latin city. However preposterous it might sound to the typical ignorant Filipino, it is the truth.

Zamboanga: Asia's Latin City? Definitely!

Update! This article got featured in the Filipino Cultured blog (Filipino Treasures section). Thanks to Ric for the added exposure. Here's an excerpt on what he has to say about my article:
This is a great article about Zamboanga and the Spanish creole written by my friend Jerome, who I completely agree with.
The complete article which Ric wrote can be found here.

10 comments:

The Mindanao Examiner said...

Hi Jerome,

Read your article about the branding of Zamboanga as Asia's Latin City and it's a good information.

May I republish the same article for the Mindanao Examiner?

Thanks.

Al Jacinto

992-5480

Jerome C. Herrera said...

Yes you may. But please do credit me. Please do email me when it gets published. Thanks.

The Mindanao Examiner said...

Thanks a lot Jerome!

Al

Philippine said...

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Carl Unger said...

Hey Jerome, I read your article and I'm impressed by it, it has strengthened by desire to go to the Mindanao region. I'm a half filipino foreigner who would like to go the Zamboanga region.

Do you think this would be a dangerous move?

Thanks

Jerome C. Herrera said...

Well, it wouldn't really be that dangerous. Just be careful.

Anonymous said...

impressive! made me appreciate my roots even better... great idea to have come up with this article to at least clear out issues with the "branding". muchisimas gracias!

Anonymous said...

Zamboanga "Asia's latin city"...definitely.

(Have a look at this interesting YouTube clip on Chavacano de Zamboanga.

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=7E-M4ML5SLg

It will leave you in no doubt that Zamboanga is definitely "Asia's Latin city)

In fact, the entire Philippines should be known as "Asia's Latin America".

This is exemplified in their culture, food, language (Tagalog, Cebuano etc have thousands of Spanish loan words), surnames, religion, festvals and the importance of the family.

Andrew said...

The bad publicity with regards to Spanish cruelty and arrogance has been attributed to the British via our American Colonizers. This is known as the "Black Legend."

We tend to think that Latin America is a continent with a homogenous culture, but the truth is, there are various differences even within a particular country. It is debatable whether we can call Zamboanga a Latin city, but the truth that cannot be denied is, Spanish culture and influence has touched Zamboanga. Therefore it has as much right to being called a Latin city as much as any city in the Americas.

Creole is any Latin-derived/Romance language with an admixture of English and various languages including the native ones. Major Latin-derived languages include more commonly, Spanish, French, Portuguese and though having no creoles, Italian and Romanian (and even smaller populations of Romance languages such as Catalan).

Rapi Castillo said...

This is a great article. Although I do not like how Anis was demonized by this. The locals have long been embittered by the occupation, so what you are hearing from him, in my opinion, is a historical and territorial spat.

Wow this artik is so long ago but still timely.