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Oct 04th
Home Sections Literature and Fourth Estate Help Save the Philippine Languages
Help Save the Philippine Languages PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Literature and Fourth Estate
Written by Allan Albert   
Monday, 10 September 2007 17:19

One of the articles posted here in MabuhayRadio was a Privilege Statement by The Hon. Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., regarding the Preservation of the Philippine Languages, and how they are being threatened into extinction by non-use.

What a frightful thought... imagine all that identity, culture, and history gone from the face of the earth, never to be heard of again.

What's even scarier is that this IS happening right now, as we speak.

We've already lost our native alphabet (baybayin) as lamented by Jose Rizal in his poem "To My Fellow Children"

Our mother tongue, like all the highest that we know, Had alphabet and letters of its very own; But these were lost -- by furious waves were overthrown, Like bancas in the stormy sea, long years ago.

Our languages will suffer the same fate unless we do something about it now.

Other than Tagalog, we already have less dialect speakers than we did before. In my family alone, it is only my mother who can speak "Cuyunon" (the dialect of Palawan) . Some of my sisters can understand a few of the words, but only because they lived in Palawan for a little while. At best, I only know a silly phrase or two. And it wasn't from lack of interest either. I desperately wanted to learn how to speak that dialect, or at least understand it, so that I wouldn't feel left out of the conversations between my relatives. They, in turn, knew that I couldn't speak it so whenever they talked to me directly, they just automatically reverted to English - since they spoke that fluently.

So much for learning by exposure.

As for learning by reading, well, the sad truth is it was easier for me to learn to speak French or Spanish. Unlike those two foreign languages, there were no books, tutorials, dictionaries, or anything else that would have helped me learn the dialect.

So that got me thinking... Aside from the recommendations of Sen. Pimentel, perhaps another way to fight the extinction of our languages is to make it easy for others to learn it... 

With that in mind, we here at have implemented a new feature - Sariling Wika (Dubbed WikaPedia).

It can be found in the left side menu of our website and basically it's an online dictionary for our different dialects. Anyone can enter new words and definitions into this dictionary, just make sure that you define it clearly :).

I've started by creating categories for the languages mentioned in Sen. Pimentel's article, and of course, I added Cuyunon. Unfortunately, I know none of the dialects except for Tagalog, and I would need your help to put in the words. Only then does it become usefull.

If any more language/dialect categories need to be included, please post them in the forums so that I can add them immediately. Please mention too what areas of the Philippines they cover so that I can add that in the description.

Of course, If you mention any other languages to be added, I expect you to populate that category with a few words at least :)

Visit it here

Maraming Salamat ...

Edit: I've added a feature for our authors, too! If a word is defined in the WikaPedia, and used in an article, the definition automatically shows up when the cursor is hovered over that word. For example: ibon, hipon and langgam are words that are defined in the WikaPedia - the definitions (bird, shrimp, ant) should show up when you hover your mouse over those words. notice to the green W sign next to the words that have the translations.


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Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2007 02:24
Comments (3)
1 Thursday, 17 December 2009 09:40
Please stop calling Philippine languages as "dialects." "Cuyonon" is a langauge!
2 Monday, 21 December 2009 20:29
Hi Ish, I appreciate your passion, please pardon the use of the term "Dialect" in some paragraphs on this article. It was in no way, shape, or form, intended to be offensive.

The distinction between "Language" and "Dialect" is often blurry, politicized, and perhaps more of a perspective than an actual distinction - As a matter of fact, "Language", according to the Yiddish proverb, is a dialect with an "Army or Navy".
3 Saturday, 27 March 2010 00:52
March 27,2010
Lito Osmeña’s Case VS. ABS-CBN Is An Apparent Language Discrimination
By Quirico M. Gorpido, Jr.

Tagalog-speaking people must give respect to the other groups of Filipinos who have possessed their respective languages or Mother Tongues different from theirs. They should not think that their language, that is Tagalog, has become superior with the rest of the languages in the country for the reason that it was chosen as our national language. If the choice of a national language was based on numbers or of the majority, it should be Cebuano or the Binisayang Sinugboanon.
However, this was not the case, it was the reverse. A Tagalog-speaking President in the person of Manuel Quezon was the one, as I’ve learned in high school, who proclaimed Tagalog as our national language thru the so-called “nearness of the heart” nomination or emotional choice. I do not know how the other groups of Filipinos have reacted to the proclamation at that time since they are living very far from the Presidential Seat in Metro Manila.
Thru the powerful broadcast media like the radio and TV other groups of Filipinos in various regions of the country have gradually learned to speak Tagalog. Aside from the elementary and secondary level where it was also taught as a subject. Because of this scheme many Filipinos have learned to speak it. But it does not mean that the Tagalog language has become a superior language.N0! It would be better that predominant languages in various regions of the country be also taught as subjects in the elementary, high school and college. If the Tagalog language is being taught in all levels of school in the country, why can’t our respective Mother Tongues also?
The Tagalog-speaking people in Luzon and now in other places of the country where they’ll have chosen to live or were married to other groups of Filipinos with their own inherent languages, should not think that their language is superior compared to other Filipinos’ Mother Tongues. Particularly for the educated Tagalog-speaking individuals, they must give respect to other languages that each of us have inherently learned from our parents and forebears. They should avoid enforcing their languages to other groups of Filipinos. They should be given the freedom to speak their respective languages to their provincemates in the privacy of their off-screen activities even in some Tagalog-sponsored shows and to any kind of audience outside their places.
Every group of Filipinos should also speak and write in their respective languages to their fellowmen provincianos. Speaking in Tagalog to our fellow Visayans or fellow Waray-Waray or Bicolano or llonggo,or Ilocano,or Kapangpangan and others is not the proper way of nurturing,patronizing,cherishing,sustaining and loving our respective languages.
It is only by using our respective languages in our speaking and in writing that we are intellectualizing our respective Mother Tongues. There’s no other way to do that than what I have stated above..
If you asked why I write my article in English, it’s because it’s my chosen medium. Although occasionally I also write in my Mother Tongue which is Cebuano or the Binisayang Sinugboanon. Another reason for writing my article in the English language is because I’m addressing this to all educated Filipinos including those non-Filipinos who happen to read my article.English, my chosen medium in writing my articles, is my preference because the English language is an international language or universal language. A language that is internationally declared or chosen as the universal language is no longer a foreign language to all educated people in every country of the whole world, regardless of his /her race, color, creed or nationality.
It should be the second language to all educated peoples in the face of the earth. They ought to know now how to write and speak in this particular language besides their own languages. Learning other languages is an advantage to any Filipino or other nationality because he/she has a unique edge than those who only know to speak their respective local tongues. Multi-lingual speaker Filipinos have the broad flexibility to adjust their tongues to another languages spoken by other races of the world.
Going back to the case of senatorial candidate Lito Osmeña of Cebu City versus ABS-CBN,the latter should come to realize that there are many languages in the Philippines archipelago that also need to be respected with equality and fairness. A senatorial candidate though not a Tagalog speaker should be allowed to speak in his inherent language in his campaign ads on TV or radio.
Airing his political ads in Manila-based media or any other Tagalog-owned outfit in the country as I understand it, is also important because a senatorial candidate has a nationwide voting coverage because he’s representing not just one group of Filipinos but for different groups of Filipinos in various provinces and regions. He is not only a representative of one region but a representative of all Filipinos. His representation is different from that of a Congressman who only represents one district in a particular province. It is understood that any group of Filipinos who would approach a Senator for assistance of which he is capable of doing is also welcome. Besides, a senatorial candidate wants that a great majority of Visayan voters who are also living in different places of the country, and some are even residing in Luzon can convey his intention to run for an elective post.
Therefore, there’s no need for the ABS-CNB management to change Osmeña’s message on his ads into Tagalog.Osmeña has his own inherent language and the Tagalog-owned network should give him due respect for the Bisaya/Cebuano senatorial candidate.
Atty. Manuel Faelnar cited article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(the Philippines is a signatory of this declaration) that says, “Everyone has the right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; the right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
Atty.Faelnar adds, “In Article 12 of the UN Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, it says, “Everyone has the right to carry out all activities in the public sphere in his/her language, provided it is the language specific to the territory where he/she resides. These activities in the public sphere include political advertisements. Furthermore, ABS-CBN’s requirement for as Tagalog translation so the advertisement could be aired is vexing and humiliating, not only to Cebuanos but to all non-Tagalog Filipinos”.
In this respect, Article 26 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides: “Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons. The following and similar acts, though they may not constitute a criminal offense, shall produce a cause of action for damages, prevention and other relief.” As always Atty.Faelnar ends his messages with a quote from Ornolfor Thorsson, Iceland’s Presidential Adviser who said, “Without our languages, we have no culture, we have no identity, we are nothing”.
Hence, the only effective way to patronize,nurture,cherish,sustain,love and intellectualize our respective languages here in our country, the Philippines, is to use it always in our speaking and in writing in all occasions towards our fellow provincianos wherever we are living or staying. Abandoning or neglecting our respective Mother Tongues by using other language which is not inherently ours in speaking or in writing towards our fellow provincianos means you are abandoning your own culture and you have no identity. Can you live with that? If we like/love to speak another language or languages that are acquired thru persistent learning in some linguistic schools, why can’t you cherish and love your own language? We should speak only either in Tagalog or English to other groups of Filipinos who cannot understand our own respective languages.Why should a Cebuano or a Bisaya would say “bawal”to his/her fellow provincemate when we can say “guidili or guinadili”?Why should a Cebuano or Bisaya would say “Huwag magtapon nga basura dito” when speaking to his/her fellow Bisaya when he can say “Ayaw paglabog og basura dinhi”.Why should a Cebuano or a Bisaya would say “kayang-kaya” when he can say it in his/her own language “mahimo kaayo” o kaha “sayon kaayo”Ug uban pa nga maingon-ingon niini. We should always cherish, sustain and love our respective Mother Tongues by using it always in our speaking and in writing towards our fellow provincianos throughout our lives because these are the legacies of our forebears. We can only use to “insert” a Tagalog or English word or words in speaking or in writing our respective languages if a certain thing or something has no existing words in our own languages. But that is a rare happening. It is also important to read materials/articles written in our respective Mother Tongues in order to enrich our speaking and writing style and to improve our way of expressing our ideas in our languages.
These measures that I have been mentioning here are also recommendably applicable to other existing languages in the whole world regardless of races, creeds, nationalities or religions.Again, we should always put in our minds the statement of Mr. Ornolfor Thorsson, Iceland’s Presidential Adviser, who said, “Without our languages, we have no culture, we have no identity, we are nothing”.
Freeman/PhilStar Columnist Valeriano ‘Bobit’ Avila also says,”Indeed, language has always been a major irritant in our journey to nationhood. It is unfortunate that after we got rid of our Spanish, American and Japan colonizers and given true Independence, another ethnic group wants to colonize all Filipinos and force them to become Tagalog speakers.” (Quirico M. Gorpido, Jr.)

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