SIL Philippines

First Philippine Language Summit, 2016

Working together for Philippine languages

(April 2016) The Philippines Secretary of Education, Bro. Armin Luistro F.S.C., gave a passionate plea for university decision-makers to each adopt a Philippine language. His reason was based on the value of each language, stating, "The heart and soul of the Filipino can be found in each distinct Philippine language.”

A National Language Summit sponsored by the Philippines Department of Education, De La Salle University and SIL Philippines was held on Tuesday 26 April at the Henry Sy Sr. Hall, De La Salle University, Manila. Over 130 university representatives attended, traveling from as far as Mindanao, Palawan and Northern Luzon.

This event in part celebrated the life of the Philippine hero of linguistics, the late Br. Andrew Gonzalez, by continuing a topic that was close to his heart—the study of Philippine languages. The aim of the summit was to discuss the opportunities that exist to work together to assess the current reality in the 183 Philippine languages listed as “living” in Currently, the living languages are listed as follows:

  41 are institutional

  73 are developing

  45 are vigorous

  13 are in trouble

  11 are dying

Each of the world's 7,097 known living languages are positioned on this chart to represent their vitality. A gray dot represents a single language, a black dot indicates 2 - 5 languages. Languages with more speakers are less likely to be endangered, whereas languages with fewer speakers are more likely to be endangered. (click images to enlarge)



The Secretary of Education gave an impassioned plea for universities to pledge interest in becoming “Centers of Excellence” for one Philippine language, to house research, promote development and become advocates for that particular language group. Thirty-nine universities have so far expressed interest in one of the Philippine languages, and more have been promised.

Over 130 university representatives attended, traveling from as far as Mindanao, Palawan and Northern Luzon. (click images to enlarge)

Once the languages are assessed, the hope is that many institutions working together with language communities could provide assistance needed to develop these languages, particularly those languages assessed as “in trouble” and “dying.” This assistance would need to be discussed and agreed upon with the language communities themselves, but could be activities such as language documentation, participatory orthography developmentdictionary publication or creation of materials for Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education.

Presenters at the summit:

Br. Armin A. Luistro, FSC, Secretary of the Department of Education
Mr. Jerson Abesamis on behalf of Dr. Ma. Cynthia Rose B. Bautista, Commission of Higher Education
Jaap Feenstra, Islands Asia Director, SIL International
Dr. J. Stephen Quakenbush, SIL International
Ryn Jean Gonzales, SIL International
Dr. Ricardo Nolasco, University of the Philippines Linguistics Department
Jason Griffiths, SIL Philippines Director
Emcee Dr. Rochelle Irene G. Lucas, SIL Board Member.

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