In solidarity with the United Nation’s (UN) declaration of the year 2022 as the start of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (Decade), the UP Diliman (UPD) Department of Linguistics (DLingg) held Paglulunsad at Paglalayag, a lecture presentation and website launch in celebration of DLingg’s centenary.
This was also the department’s first face-to-face event since the pandemic began in 2020.
Jem R. Javier, PhD, Paglulunsad at Paglalayag project coordinator, in his welcome remarks, hoped the lectures and presentation will serve as a testament to DLingg’s commitment to promote and preserve the country’s indigenous languages by empowering the ethnolinguistic communities through teaching and extension works.
“We hope that you see in today’s program the importance of linguistics and language studies as a social science determined not to just highlight language as a product of culture and human knowledge but also of the collective history, memory, and experience of the community that speaks it. As any fundamental right of a human being, linguistic right is essential and should be respected and honored by anyone at all times,” Javier said.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Strating, PhD, an associate professor in politics and international relations at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and director of La Trobe Asia, thanked the organizers for making La Trobe Asia part of the event.
She also gave the audience copies of the latest issue of The La Trobe Asia Brief featuring the policy brief Indigenous Language Rights and the Politics of Fear in Asia by Gerald Roche, Madoka Hammine, and Tuting Hernandez.
Strating said the policy brief is essential in that it reminds the people of the importance of language rights as human rights.
Roche presented the policy brief at Paglulunsad at Paglalayag and mentioned two recommendations to protect human rights and indigenous rights advocates and to help the International Decade of Indigenous Languages become successful.
“We recommend that a special rapporteur for human rights defenders needs to immediately start producing the report on the indigenous rights and indigenous language rights,” Roche said.
Roche was talking about the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders whose job, he said, was to protect human rights defenders around the world and produce reports about human rights defenders in relation to specific issues.
Roche is an anthropologist and a senior research fellow at the Department of Politics, Media, and Philosophy at La Trobe University.
“The second thing that we recommend is that the people who are in the organizational committee for the Decade needs to form a working group that provides recommendations to indigenous activists about how to protect themselves legally, physically, etc., to engage in this activism in a way that they would not be placed at risk, in a way that would not put them in danger, and in a way that would not result in them becoming part of those horrible statistics about the targeting of indigenous rights defenders,” he said.
The Paglulunsad at Paglalayag also launched the Katig Collective organization and its website.
According to its website, it is an initiative that seeks to advance the rights of various Philippine ethnolinguistic groups. Its mission is to raise awareness regarding the situation of the country’s languages. The Katig Collective website serves as a repository of information about Philippine languages that are endangered, threatened, and moribund.
“We at the Katig Collective think that the overall system that promotes inequality and social injustice continues to interfere with the way of life and rights of many ethnolinguistic groups including and especially the liberty to use their own language,” said Patricia Asuncion, a research assistant at DLingg and part of the Katig Collective.
She added that Katig Collective aims to raise awareness regarding the situation of the country’s languages including the communities that speak them.
At the presentation of the Katig Collective, DLingg teaching associate JM de Pano said the website features a map showing the 175 endangered languages of the country.
“Of the 175 languages of the Philippines, 35 are considered endangered, 11 are on the brink of extinction, two are extinct: Agta, Dicamay and Agta, Villa Viciosa,” de Pano said.
Lastly, Maria Kristina Gallego, PhD, DLingg chair, presented her research, Stories from Babuyan Claro.
“To sum up, as small, previously isolated communities become more integrated into the modern nation-state, the social linguistic context of which the communities are built become more fragile and the story of Babuyan Claro is a clear example of this fragile social linguistic setting where a kind of egalitarian multilingualism that existed in the past which favored the emergence of Ibatan has changed to a more hierarchical one at present leading to shifts in the language ecology of the community. So while a particular sociopolitical change has resulted in more positive attitudes and greater use of Ibatan language, its viability in the future is not certain precisely because of the dynamic nature of the community. It is only with long lasting social change that we can be certain of the Ibatan people’s and language’s continuity in future generations,” Gallego said.
Paglulunsad at Paglalayag was held on Nov. 22, 2:30 p.m. at the Palma Hall second floor lobby. Kontra-GaPi, the resident ethnic music and dance ensemble of the UPD College of Arts and Letters, performed at the event. Vincent Christopher A. Santiago, an instructor at DLingg, was the event host.