MANILA – The country’s next language ambassador may come from the out-of-school youth (OSY) sector.
Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) opened the possibility as qualified Filipino OSYs nationwide can, for the first time, join its 2021 iKabataan Ambasador sa Wika (iKAW) competition for 18 to 25-year-old speakers of indigenous Philippine languages.
“iKAW is already open to young people attending and not attending school,” said KWF senior language researcher Dr. Jose Evie Duclay who’s in charge of the competition.
Even those who stopped going to school for either a year or one semester can join provided they meet iKAW’s qualification requirements, he added.
In deciding to open the competition to OSYs nationwide, KWF took into consideration the continuing coronavirus disease pandemic. It’s unclear if they will still be allowed in succeeding years while a wider age bracket is being considered.
“Many were not able to continue attending school,” he noted.
Aside from being an indigenous language speaker, KWF requires each iKAW contestant to be of impeccable character (has not been charged or broken any law) and adept in the Filipino language.
Among those who can provide recommendations for contestants are elders of an indigenous community, he continued. Applications will be accepted at 5 p.m. on July 9, 2021.
An overview of the project the applicants want to undertake and the indigenous language spoken must be included.
“Any project about development, promotion, and preservation of an applicant’s language can be proposed,” Duclay said.
The 2021 iKAW competition winner will receive from KWF PHP100,000 to fund the project and a cash prize of PHP20,000.
The winner, who may be announced during the Araw ng Pammadayaw traditionally held every August, will serve as KWF’s official language ambassador for one year.
Duties include implementing the proposed project, helping KWF develop information materials, and serving as a role model for language preservation.
“Our ambassador won’t receive any salary but KWF will pay for transportation, food, and accommodation if invited by the agency to attend its meetings and other activities,” he said.
KWF launched the competition in 2019 to mobilize the youth and raise awareness about protecting, preserving, and promoting indigenous Philippine languages. It was suspended last year due to the pandemic.
Jhon Joseph D. Pandong II, a Bukidnon teacher who speaks Binukid, was the inaugural winner. (PNA)