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Our Dying Languages Must Be Saved – Legarda

November 3, 2012

Senator Loren Legarda today pushed for the preservation of the country’s indigenous languages as she expressed support over current efforts to save such heritage.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Cultural Communities, said that a 2003 study revealed that the 32 known languages of the Negritos in the Philippines are already endangered.

“Many of our indigenous languages would face extinction if we fail to preserve and promote these kinds of national heritage. Language is not only part of our culture and history but also an important aspect of our identity as a nation,” she stressed.

The Senator said that according to the Defenders of the Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago (DILA), several native languages have become endangered due to social and economic forces.

She explained that many indigenous peoples groups have chosen to abandon their mother tongue and have shifted to languages that are perceived as superior because it would make them easier to become part of the community that they live in and opens greater economic opportunities particularly in employment.

Legarda said that one of the proposed solutions by the DILA to save the country’s indigenous languages is the Mother Tongue Based Multi Lingual Education (MTB-MLE) with a Culture-Based Curriculum (CBC)-an approach that uses the first language or mother tongue as medium of instruction in the child’ early years of education and which is now being undertaken by the Department of Education.

“Studies have shown that the use of the first language as the medium of instruction contributes to students’ better performance in school. Thus, the Mother Tongue Based Multi Lingual Education is a mechanism we can use to save our languages and help our children learn more effectively,” the Senator pointed out.

“Majority of Filipinos use Tagalog and English, but this does not mean we must care less or abandon our indigenous languages, which are in fact the first languages of our ancestors. It is only right and just that we preserve these languages as a sign of our respect for our history and heritage,” Legarda concluded.