I know we’re still far from August which in the Philippines, is the “Buwan ng Wika” (Language Month), but given the news last month of the Supreme Court upholding its decision that Filipino and Panitikan to be no longer required subjects in college, I believe this post is timely and relevant. A nation’s identity is defined by its languages, and it’s sad to hear that Filipino, and all the Philippines’ other regional languages are under attack, dying even.
I’ve lived in Metro Manila for many years, but Filipino is not my first language. I grew up in Bukidnon, where we speak in Bisaya. It’s an intricate yet beautifully unique language. I still remember in college when my friends get fascinated when I converse in Bisaya with my other schoolmates from Mindanao. I guess I can say that I’m essentially muli-lingual, because I can speak English, Filipino, and Bisaya.
|| Related: Rediscovering my Love for Bukidnon through Art.
I also understand a bit of Ilonggo because both of my parents are from Iloilo. I never learned to be fluent in the language because we don’t speak it at home. This made me realize that for a language to survive, we have to keep on using it.
This is why I’m happy to know that there’s a local brand that’s making an effort to keep our Filipino languages alive. Talasalitaan PH, is a clothing line selling statement shirts that feature a few of the local languages of the Philippines. The shirts come in black or white, with a simple yet eye-catching print that show phrases in Waray, Karay-a, Bikolano, and Subanon. It’s a nice way of driving conversation about our languages – for instance, prior to seeing the shirts, I did not know that Subanon is spoken in Zamboanga.
Talasalitaan PH’s shirts can be shipped directly to your home (with corresponding shipping rates). When I got the package, the shirts were neatly wrapped in thick paper, and tied with a thin, brown rope. It’s nice to know that this brand is environment friendly too!
The shirts that I have are in Bikolano (“Ginibo ko Gabos”) and Waray (“Gin Kapoy Na Ko”). If I’m not mistaken, there are only 6 phrases that are available so far. There are 130 languages in the Philippines, so here’s to hoping that the business grows big enough for it to make shirt designs for each one.