Traditional languages 'dying'

A CALL to save traditional languages has been made by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

Dr. Abubacar Datumanong, NCCA head of Southern Cultural Communities, said there are many challenges the indigenous peoples communities are confronting nowadays and one is oral tradition.

"Statistics show there are 120 to 187 different languages all over the Philippines and two of these are dead with 40 different languages now endangered or in extinction," Datumanong said.

Datumanong detailed the vital role of education in the preservation of IP languages "because traditional education is not inculcated in curriculum, especially in basic education, so very important target dito are the young ones, especially now that our cultural experts are old and some have already died we need proper transmission of knowledge of indigenous cultural tradition specially in Intangible Cultural Heritage [ICH]."

Datumanong said the NCCA helps in the preservation of ICH through programs to promote and preserve tradition through the School of Living Tradition [SLT], an informal school made to become a venue for those who want to learn from the community.

Datumanong said the SLT program has a pool of experts from the different communities and they translate their knowledge and skill to all those who want to learn, as well as technical assistance provided by the NCCA, when a group needs expertise of a resource person, assistance program for cultural communities for local government units, academe, organization and individuals.

This month, the NCCA leads the celebration of National Indigenous Peoples' Month showcasing the richness of cultural communities and native traditions.

Themed "Vital Wisdoms: Learning with the Indigenous Peoples" (Buháy na Dunong: Pagkatuto Kasama Ang Mga Katutubo), the celebration manifested the indigenous peoples' intangible cultural heritage, which includes oral traditions, languages, rituals and practices, knowledge systems, and craftsmanship, among others.

As a highlight, the NCCA is holding a national conference called "Kálkalí," which means "conversation" in Kankana-ey. It will be held at the Maryhill School of Theology, Quezon City, on from October 28 to 29.

The eight sessions in Kálkalí will feature speakers from cultural communities together with representatives from concerned sectors who will share their views and experiences pertaining to intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in the Philippines.

In the process, Kálkalí aspires to generate issues, new perspectives, and debates on, but not limited to, the aesthetic, legal, moral, ethical, and pedagogical dimensions of ICH, which will inform current and future initiatives and advocacies in safeguarding ICH in the Philippines.

Forum director for the Kalkali is Dr. Eufracio Abaya, anthropologist and professor from the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

The forum expects active participation of teachers, local government functionaries, researchers, mass media workers, and related practitioners from across the country.


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