More funds eyed for documentation of extinct languages

October 28, 2017

SENATOR Loren Legarda intends to increase next year the budget of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) to “comprehensively” document the extinct and endangered languages in the Philippines.

She witnessed on Friday the signing of an agreement for the development of the Philippine Studies Program in the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

The agreement signed between the Philippine Embassy in London, represented by Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, and SOAS, represented by its Director, Baroness Valerie Amos, aims to advance Philippine studies in SOAS from 2017 to 2020 through a series of workshops, publications, research and travel grants.

Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, allocated P5 million under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) budget in the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the advancement of Philippine studies in SOAS.

She also welcomed Amos’ proposal to include the languages of over 100 Philippine ethno-linguistic groups in the Native Languages Documentation Project of the Endangered Languages Program.

“I extremely support this initiative, especially for an archipelagic country, like ours, that has remote islands with small groups of people whose spoken languages are almost lost,” Legarda said.

“We welcome further collaboration with SOAS, through skills trainings and other capacity enhancement activities, in order to comprehensively document all endangered languages of our ethno-linguistic groups in the country,” she added.

Legarda said that this would complement the Language Markers Project, a project she funded for P15 million this year, which seeks to install language markers—designed by the artist Junyee from the University of the Philippines Los Baños—in different parts of the country where a specific language was born.

“It is exciting that it is now becoming a reality. It all started when I reached out to Dr. Cristina Juan from the Southeast Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics of SOAS for the possible inclusion of a Philippine Studies Program,” she said.

With the agreement, many more people will have access to studying the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines through the modules offered in the SOAS Curriculum, she said.

Amos said that the SOAS shares the same enthusiasm in developing a Philippine Studies Program, noting the long history and tradition of languages and culture between the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

Aside from meeting with SOAS officials, Legarda was in London to open the first Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition at the Philippine embassy in London, her project with the National Museum, and to deliver a lecture on piña-seda weaving and embroidery in the Philippines at the SOAS-University of London.