Press Release
October 27, 2017

Legarda Strengthens Cultural Ties with UK Thru PH Studies and Program

Stressing on the importance of strengthening cultural diplomacy, Senator Loren Legarda encouraged more collaborative projects with the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) in the University of London, as she witnessed the signing of an agreement for the development of the Philippine Studies Program in SOAS.

The agreement signed between the Philippine Embassy in London, represented by Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, and SOAS, represented by its Director, Baroness Valerie Amos, aims to advance Philippine studies in SOAS from 2017 to 2020 through a series of workshops, publications, research and travel grants.

Legarda, a staunch advocate of culture and the arts and Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, allocated P5 million pesos under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Budget in the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the advancement of Philippine studies in SOAS.

"It is exciting that it is now becoming a reality. It all started when I reached out to Dr. Cristina Juan from the Southeast Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics of SOAS for the possible inclusion of a Philippine Studies Program. With this agreement, many more people will have access to studying the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines through the modules offered in the SOAS Curriculum," Legarda said.

Baroness Amos said that the SOAS shares the same enthusiasm in developing a Philippine Studies Program, noting the long history and tradition of languages and culture between the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

Senator Legarda also welcomed the suggestion of Baroness Amos to include the languages of the more than one hundred Philippine ethno-linguistic groups in the Native Languages Documentation Project of the Endangered Languages Program. She said that she would increase the funding for next year of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) to document the extinct and endangered languages in the Philippines.

"I extremely support this initiative, especially for an archipelagic country, like ours, that has remote islands with small groups of people whose spoken languages are almost lost. We welcome further collaboration with SOAS, through skills trainings and other capacity enhancement activities, in order to comprehensively document all endangered languages of our ethno-linguistic groups in the country," Legarda said.

She also noted that this would complement the Language Markers Project, a project she funded for P15 million this year, which seeks to install language markers--designed by the artist Junyee from the University of the Philippines Los Baños--in different parts of the country where a specific language was born. In line with this, she has also urged the Department of Tourism and the local government units (LGUs) in providing language tours to include discussions on how the language started and was embraced by the community in order to widen the perspective of the youth, students, and tourists when visiting these areas.

"I also look forward to working with SOAS for the Endangered Languages Workshop in the Philippines. It will be a great opportunity for linguistics experts, professors, researchers, and fellow advocates to exchange knowledge and expertise in chronicling and studying the languages of all our indigenous groups, not just in the Philippines, but also within the ASEAN Region. This will be an important undertaking, especially for us, to recognize and understand the importance of languages in the development and progress of our ethno-linguistic groups in the country," Legarda concluded.

Aside from meeting with SOAS officials, Legarda was in London to open the first Hibla ng Lahing FilipinoTravelling Exhibition at the Philippine Embassy in London, her project with the National Museum, and to deliver a lecture on piña-seda weaving and embroidery in the Philippines at the SOAS-University of London.

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