Translate publications into Chavacano, other languages ​​PHL preserves language and culture


Jehovah’s Witnesses translate literature from English into at least 23 local dialects, an effort that also helps preserve Filipino languages ​​and culture.

Although the Witnesses primarily translate publications and other media formats for religious reasons, the translation initiative also preserves culture and history as there are few literary works in some local dialects.

Chavacano, for example, is the only Spanish-based creole in Asia, is widely used in the city of Zamboanga. This nickname reflects the Spanish culture, traditions, practices and architectures still present in the region, some of which date back to the 1600s.

According to historical references, the dialect originated when Spanish authorities directed the construction of a fortress in the city of Zamboanga in 1635. Filipinos from all over the Philippines were called in to work on the construction. Filipinos have designed a language that uses Spanish words but with Filipino syntax and grammar to communicate with Spaniards.

Four centuries have passed, the Chavacano is still used in several cities of the country. The dialect is also spoken in neighboring regions such as Basilan and Sulu. There is also a Chavacano-speaking community in Cavite.

Today, the Philippine government’s Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) aims to educate children and develop a strong foundation in the language of their birth.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, known worldwide for their work in Bible translation and Bible-based publications, also find using native languages ​​an effective way to help communities learn practical Bible advice. that establish strong family foundations, moral character building and social life. skills development.

Translation work by a pool of volunteers continues despite the pandemic.

“We first receive the source files in English, then we analyze the text to be transmitted to Chavacano in a clear, simple and easy to understand manner”, said Mr. Raymond Flores, supervisor of the Chavacano translation team of Jehovah’s witnesses. .

But like all other languages, Chavacano also changes over time. Modern words are used, while older terminologies become obsolete.

“We reside in Zamboanga City, so we can hear and observe how native speakers communicate. Thanks to this, we can adjust our translation so that it can be understood by all ages,” said Ms. Kathleen Bernardo, a native speaker and member of Chavacano’s translation team.

The Witnesses provide the website, which provides easy access to translated publications and media in 1,052 languages, all free to download. Among them, 23 are from the Philippines, including Chavacano, Tagalog, Cebuano, Iloko, Hiligaynon, Bicol, Waray-waray, Pangasinan, Ibanag and Filipino Sign Language.

All documents translated into Chavacano can be accessed via


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