UST Department of Filipino celebrates National Language Month with webinar series

The Department of Filipino celebrated the Buwan ng Wika (National Language Month) 2020 with a series of webinars centered on this year’s theme, “Wika ng Kasaysayan, Kasaysayan ng Wika: Ang mga Katutubong Wika sa Maka-Filipinong Bayanihan Kontra Pandemya” (Language of History, History of Language: The Indigenous Languages Toward Filipino Bayanihan Against the Pandemic). The theme, given by the Commission on the Filipino Language aims to promote “bayanihan,” a Filipino term for “civic unity and cooperation” amidst the pandemic by ensuring that the Filipino people have access to information and can participate in the discussions about COVID-19 through the national language, Filipino, and other indigenous languages.

In his opening remarks, Department Chair Asst. Prof. Alvin Ringgo C. Reyes, mentioned that the series of webinars was only the beginning of a stronger “bayanihan” between the Department of Filipino and the wider community of Filipino teachers, researchers, and policy-makers as the Department pursues more endeavors that will facilitate the sharing of expertise on Filipino language and culture.

Opening the series on August 24, 2020 was UST Center for Translation and Translation Studies Chair Asst. Prof. Wennielyn F. Fajilan, Ph.D., who discussed “Pagsasaling Teknikal Bílang Tugon sa COVID-19: Ang Papel ng Pagsasalin sa Panahon ng Pandemya” (Technical Translation as a Response to COVID-19: The Role of Translation in the Time of Pandemic). Aside from sharing the protocol of the Center in doing technical translations, she also talked about the impact of COVID-19 on translation works, nationally and globally, which she classified as a form of “crisis translation.”

Being a public health concern, translation, according to Fajilan, also plays a crucial role in times of pandemic as it enables the people to understand the causes, symptoms, precautions and treatments for a disease, thereby empowering them to safeguard their health and ensuring the effectiveness of efforts for disease control and prevention.

Research Center for Social Sciences and Social Health Studies Education Lead Asst. Prof. Ma. Carinnes P. Alejandria, Ph.D., and Coalition for People’s Right to Health Co-Convener Dr. Joshua L. San Pedro discussed on August 26, 2020, “Walang Iwanán: Ang Pangangalaga sa mga Bulnerableng Sektor sa Panahon ng Pandemya” (No One Left Behind: Caring for the Vulnerable Sectors in the Time of Pandemic). She shared her long years of research as an anthropologist in Baseco, Manila, and how the different sectors of the said community, such as the youth, elderly, and women – already suffering prior to the pandemic – are suffering even more now that sources of livelihood and access to healthcare are limited. While the community is trying to be resilient, Alejandria voiced the support that Baseco residents need help from the local and national governments to ensure that they could cope with the crisis.

Meanwhile, San Pedro, also a medical frontliner at the Philippine General Hospital, provided medical and statistical updates on COVID-19 and suggested ways on how the healthcare system could be strengthened to ensure that sufficient healthcare could be given to Filipinos who are vulnerable to the disease. He also emphasized the role of language in ensuring transparency and accountability in times of the pandemic as this enables the people to understand policies and actions, and to demand the necessary action from the government.

Faculty of Arts and Letters Creative Writing Program Coordinator Asst. Prof. Joselito D. Delos Reyes, Ph.D., and Department of Filipino faculty member Mark Anthony S. Angeles, discussed  the last topic in the webinar series, “Ang Saysay ng Panitikan sa Pandemya” (The Value of Literature in Pandemic) on August 28, 2020. In his talk, Delos Reyes identified the pandemic of disinformation and ignorance being perpetrated amidst the pandemic of COVID-19 through social media. He encouraged the audience, mostly teachers, to counter this by encouraging their students to create meaningful creative pieces that they may be popularized through the said platform. Social media is even more relevant now that education in the country has shifted to online.

Angeles added to this by encouraging participants to be not only creators, but also critics who will ensure that literature is not employed for misinformation and historical revisionism and collectors who will compile the richness of words and writings that have emerged in the time of pandemic.

The series of webinars was broadcast through  the official Facebook page of the UST Department of Filipino and had a reach of approximately 42, 000 accumulated viewers.

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