MANILA – The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) is preparing to pilot next year, and promote nationwide, tourism that will highlight Philippine languages and culture.
"We're discussing the matter with LGUs (local government units) having jurisdiction over areas with Bantayog-Wika monuments representing languages there since these structures can be among tourist attractions," KWF senior language researcher Roy Rene Cagalingan said in an interview Friday.
Cagalingan said KWF has not identified the pilot area yet but the agency already commenced coordinating with its Sentro ng Wika at Kultura (SWK) extension arms around the country regarding information and activities for linguistic and cultural tourism.
"Such tourism aims to help raise public awareness and knowledge of Philippine languages and culture," he said.
People can be more motivated to do their share in preserving languages and culture if they are aware of, appreciate and understand these, Cagalingan noted.
Experts said preservation includes continuously using languages to prevent them from becoming extinct.
KWF is bullish about linguistic and cultural tourism prospects, noting the country has much to offer for this.
The agency reported documenting so far about 130 languages nationwide including Filipino, the country's national language.
"Sub-cultures nationwide are almost as many as Philippine languages," Bantayog-Wika project coordinator John Dungca said.
Philippine culture itself is a blend of eastern and western influences, he noted.
Cagalingan said the discussions of KWF and LGUs concerned will help local authorities develop linguistic and cultural tourism plans for respective areas.
"Those LGUs can design tours around Bantayog-Wika monuments," he said, adding that the tours can also cover rituals and other indigenous activities to help deepen tourists' understanding of local culture.
Cagalingan cited the “dongdong-ay” chant as an example of how tourists can learn about the Kalinga people.
"It's a way to see different manifestations of their culture," he said.
KWF senior language researcher Jose Evie Duclay said LGUs can likewise integrate SWKs into their respective tourism plans since these centers are helping the commission promote Philippine languages and culture.
"SWKs are cultural hubs that can be part of those plans," he said.
KWF continues installing and unveiling Bantayog-Wika monuments nationwide so people can be aware of, learn about and continue using languages these structures represent.
"The pedestal of each Bantayog-Wika monument has a marker showing information about the represented language," Dungca said.
Among KWF's plans is to install and unveil a Bantayog-Wika monument for each Philippine language, he noted.
Dungca said KWF already installed and unveiled 11 Bantayog-Wika monuments around the country.
The newest of those monuments is in Pangasinan, representing the province’s language and was unveiled by KWF this week.
Cagalingan said KWF can assist SWKs in generating language- and culture-related information for dissemination to tourists.
"We can either help undertake studies on the matter or look into research SWKs did regarding language and culture to ensure accuracy of information to be disseminated," he said.
Latest available data show that KWF and its partner public and private academic institutions around the country already established 40 SWKs nationwide, noted Duclay.
Those SWKs are based in such institutions and conduct various activities for helping KWF promote Philippine languages and culture, he said.
Installation artist Luis “Junyee” Yee Jr. prepared the design for the agency's stainless steel Bantayog-Wika monuments, KWF said further.
KWF said he also created the monuments installed and unveiled so far, using laser technology to cut ancient Baybayin letters into stainless steel.
The letters form several lines from Philippine hero Andres Bonifacio's poem “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Bayan”, according to the agency.
Bantayog-Wika monuments are lighted from within so people can read those lines at night, KWF said.
Earlier this year, KWF installed and unveiled its first Bantayog-Wika monument in Antique province for the Kiniray-a language spoken there.
KWF followed up such activity by installing and unveiling a Bantayog-Wika monument in each of Davao Oriental's Mati City, and the provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga, Occidental Mindoro, Bukidnon, Bataan, Batangas and Surigao del Norte, as well as Baguio City.
Those monuments represent the Tuwali, Mandaya, Kinalingga, Mangyan, Binukid, Ayta Magbukon, Tagalog, Surigawno.
Photo from ABS-CBN news