KWF urges use, preservation of local languages

Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) is advocating for the usage and preservation not only of the Filipino language but also of native languages.

KWF Chairperson Arthur Casanova highlighted that among the 130 local languages, many are endangered and disappearing due to the declining number of people speaking them.

“The most important thing to remember is that in the whole Philippine archipelago, there are a lot of native tongues which we should continuously patronize, explore, perpetuate, and foster,” he said.

The chairperson cited that the national and native languages should be preserved and passed on to the next generation as they are part of the country’s culture and history. 

Casanova also underscored that children should be taught on the cultivation of local languages now that they are given increased time using the Internet and their gadgets with the coronavirus disease pandemic urging the shift to ‘new normal’.

“This [teaching the language] is very important because as the common saying goes, our language is the window to our souls. This symbolizes our identity and individuality that is why we need to use and patronize our language,” he said.

Casanova pointed out that the use of local languages not only in academic purposes but also in daily interactions will reflect the Filipino identity of having a rich culture and languages. 

With this, KWF is set to launch twelve books with monographs about folklores, literature, and culture written in different native languages to be used by children in kindergarten until sixth grade under the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education in schools.

“Despite the pandemic, we are really trying to continuously conduct research about the Ortograpiyang Pambansa [national orthography],” Casanova added.

The commission is mandated not only to cultivate, enrich and nurture the national language but also to propagate, research, and preserve the local languages.  

In addition, KWF also has a Bahay-Wika project which is the first language immersion program in the country geared to revitalize native languages which are at risk of disappearing through interactions between children 2-4 years old and local-language speakers who are usually the elders.

“This is a continuing project which we will be doing in the coming years. We are in the midst of the pandemic that is why it is a challenge for us to do immersion activities,” Casanova said.

There is one of these located in Abucay town in Bataan established in 2018 which is teaching and preserving the Ayta Magbukun language.

Moreover, KWF has conducted free weekly lectures and webinars about the National Orthography, Korespondensya Opisyal, and Masinop na Pagsulat in line with the celebration of the National Language Month [Buwan ng Wikang Pambasa] for the whole month of August.

“These lectures are free, and can be accessed through the KWF website… Those who are unable to join the webinars could visit our Facebook page live streaming and watch them there,” Casanova announced.

KWF has also opened various competitions including the Sanaysay ng Taon and Timpalak Jacinto sa Sanaysay essay writing contests; and Dangal ng Wika and Kampeon ng Wika competitions which honors individuals or groups with significant contributions in enriching, spreading, and preserving the Filipino language in various industries or discipline.

The observance goes with the theme Filipino at mga Wikang Katutubo sa Dekolonisasyon ng Pag-iisip ng mga Pilipino which highlights dignity, equality, and respect to local languages and dialects and the culture of the communities as owners of these.

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