In order to fight the possible loss of culture and language through the Philippine islands, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) plans on installing monuments throughout the country in honor of each Philippine language.
The proposed measure was introduced during the recent three-day Kongreso sa Wika event held by KWF, which concluded just last Saturday, August 4 2018. National Artist for Literature and KWF Chairperson Virgilio Almario said to delegates present at the conference that “There’s a chance for languages spoken in your areas to have their respective monuments”.
According to Almario, under the project Bantayog ng Wika the KWF would potentially provide, deliver, and install the monuments in cooperation with local governments who would in turn be tasked with preparing sites and pedestals. The installation of these monuments could help tourism by adding extra draw to the towns and cities, says Almario.
The educational aspect is also important. The monuments would serve as a reminder of the many languages enriching Philippine culture and possibly sustain public interest in them.
“Those monuments will enable the public to learn about our country’s languages,” added Almario.
Project coordinator John Lerry Dungca cited KWF’s own 2013 survey to discuss the diversity of languages in the country. According to the data, the Filipino people speak a total of 130 languages.
However, languages are alive so long as people speak them, making them vitally tied to culture. Dungca also spoke to remind the public that practicing these languages is an important part of protecting cultural heritage.
Dungca also announced that installation artist Luis “Junyee” Yee, Jr. has designed the singular design meant for all Bantayog ng Wika monuments to be used nationwide. The design is bamboo-shaped stainless steel creation standing at about 3 meters high. Embossed on the monument are letters in Baybayin spelling out excerpts from Philippine hero Andre Bonifacio’s poem “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”. A light will be housed within the monument to allow for the inscriptions to be read even at night.
The poem was selected to promote patriotic love when people view the monuments. “Such lines’ inclusion in the design aims to help promote love of country and not just the use of native languages,” Artist Yee explained.
On the importance of language and why the monuments are so significant, Yee adds that “Language is a cultural heritage that’s intangible, so having physical reminders like monuments will help prevent this from becoming forgotten and eventually dying.”
Under the Bantayog ng Wika program, the KWF has so far installed monuments for the languages Kinaráy-a in Antique, Tuwali in Ifugao, Mandaya in Davao Oriental, and Ikalinga in Kalinga province. In August, the program will expand to include two more monuments honoring the Ayta Magbukon in Batangas on Aug. 20 and Tagalog in Batangas on Aug. 23. By Proclamation 1041 series of 1997, August is the National Language Month. So these unveilings are timely for the celebrations, which began with the recently concluded Kongreso sa Wika.