GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) honored and paid tribute to the rich culture and traditions of the Blaan tribe here through a Bantayog-Wika or language monument.
The KWF and city officials led the formal unveiling of the country’s 13th Bantayog-Wika for the Blaan dialect established at the Plaza Heneral Santos here on Wednesday.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the monument mainly recognizes the role of the Blaans, the city’s first inhabitants, in the area’s cultural development.
He expressed gratefulness to the KWF for selecting the Blaan tribe and the city as site of the language monument.
“The monument will be a symbol of our patronage for culture and an inspiration to promote and empower our Blaan brothers and sisters,” the mayor said in a report from the City Public Information Office.
The monument, which was a huge replica of a bamboo, contains the poem “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” written in “Baybayin” by national hero Andres Bonifacio and translated to the Blaan dialect.
It was built through the efforts of the office of Senator Loren Legarda, the KWF, the city government, and the Mindanao State University.
The unveiling ceremony was graced by national artist and National Commission for Culture and the Arts chairperson Virgilio Almario, and Sentro ng Wika at Kultura director, Dr. Debbie Cruspero.
Fulong Lucio Cawayan, the city council’s indigenous peoples’ permanent representative, said the establishment of the monument is a huge development for their tribe, which has long been struggling to preserve its culture and traditions.
He said it will serve as a reminder to members of their tribe, especially the younger generations, of their unique language and identity.
“We’re very happy and excited for this recognition and being given importance by the national government,” he said.
City Councilor Shandee Llido-Pestano, chair of the city council’s committee on tourism, said the Bantayog-Wika is mainly a symbol of the city’s unity, development and progress in the last eight decades.
“It can later become one of the city’s tourist attractions,” she added. (PNA)