Sentro ng Wika at Kultura, headed by Dr. Forma Gonzales, is a satellite office of the Komisyon ng Wikang Pambansa. Its objectives are to safeguard, preserve and promote all languages and dialects in Tawi-Tawi. The approval of this office was signed on October 9, 2017 at the Komisyon ng Wikang Pambansa Office by MSU-TCTO Chancellor, Dr. Mary Joyce Guinto-Sali; Commissioner of Wikang Pambansa, Dr. Virgilio Almaro; and Assistant Commissioner, Dr. Purificacion Delima, and the other Commissioners of the Komisyon ng Wikang Pambansa.

The Sentro ng Wika at Kultura was officially launched on January 22, 2018.  The ribbon cutting was done by Prof. Benecito Maratas, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Hon. Jimuel Que, Mayor of the municipality of Bongao; and Prof. Hja. Aida Hadji, Vice Chancellor for Research and Development and witnessed by different directors, deans, chiefs of offices, faculty members, staff, students and other guests.

Dr. Gonzales welcomed the visitors and expressed her heartfelt gratitude. “Paglulunsad ng Sentro ng Wika at Kultura sa Tawi-Tawi, ito po ay isang satellite opisina ng komisyon ng wika at kultura mula sa Malacañang, Manila na ipinagkaloob sa mga Tawi-Tawians. Ito po ay unang pinag-uusapan ni Alkalde Que at Commissioners Almario and Delima na itinataguyod sa Bongao bilang pangunahing syudad or prime mover municipality sa lalawigan ng Tawi- Tawi,” she said in her opening message.

Mayor Que endorsed this satellite office at MSU-TCTO to preserve the dialects and culture of Tawi-Tawians. “Para po maipatupad ang layuning pagpapahalaga, pagsasaliksik sa ating wika at kultura ng mga Sama, Tausug at iba’t ibang tribo sa Tawi-Tawi na maaaring tawagin nang Tawi- Tawians dahil sila po ay desididong tumira dito sa Tawi- Tawi,” Dr. Gonzales added.

Mayor Que shared his involvement in this event. He cooperated and extended assistance to the commissioners. In his message, he also emphasized the importance of dialect and culture. “Awn na mga wika iban kultura na nalawah na katuh, awn   na   kaibanan   way   na na- save,” (There are dialects and traditions that we have lost already). So, it is very crucial according to him that we must give importance to the dialects of natives and culture of Sama and Tausug. He was also thankful to MSU-TCTO for the opportunity given to Tawi-Tawians to launch the Sentro ng Wika at Kultura in the province. “At nagpa-pasalamat din po ang LGU ng Bongao sa Mindanao State University – Tawi-Tawi sa pamumuno ni Chancellor, Dr. Mary Joyce G. Sali, sa pagtanggap ng responsibilidad upang dito mairaos sa inyong university ang proyektong ito,” he added.

“The launching of Sentro ng Wika at Kultura ay isang kolaborasyon or pagtulung-tulong, pagtulung-tulungan natin na maipalago ang kultura at wika dito sa bandang Tawi-Tawi hindi lang siguro sa wikang Sama kundi kasama na rin ang wikang Tausug,” Prof. Benecito Maratas, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs said in his message. Prof. Maratas explained that the Sentro ng Wika at Kultura of MSU-TCTO should include not only the culture and dialects of the Sama and the Badjao, but also the Tausug and the Yakan tribes. “Ang kultura ay napakahalaga lalong-lalo na kung paano ibalangkas ang ekonomiya ng ating lalawigan. Hindi pwedeng pabayaan nating sagasaan ang kultura dahil lang gusto nating mapalago ang ekonomiya,” he added.

Furthermore, Prof. Lukaiya Adjad, chairperson of Language Department, also gave her view about wika at kultura. “Ang wika ay siyang salamin ng kultura. Manaliksik po tayo ng linggwahe dahil kaakibat nito ay kultura. Ipagmalaki po natin ang ating kultura at wika ng Tawi-Tawi,” she asserted.

In the closing program, Prof. Aida Hadji was grateful to the municipal mayor for choosing MSU-TCTO as the prime institution of Sentro ng Wika at Kultura in Tawi-Tawi. She said that she had asked Dr. Gonzales as the head of Wika and Kultura, to give priority to Sinama dialect and its culture, because we are living here in Tawi-Tawi where majority are Sama. “We are very fortunate na itu mitu ma Tawi-Tawi. So, subey pasambu ta dahu ya sinama; manjari du mag-asuk, manjari du mag-yakan, sa’ subey bowanan ta priority Sinama,” (We are very fortunate that it’s here in Tawi-Tawi. So, we have to promote Sinama; we can speak in Sinug, we can speak in Yakan but we have to prioritize Sinama) she said. She also added that the mayor of Bongao should know how to speak Sinama. Thus, it is a challenge to everyone living here in Tawi-Tawi to really speak Sinama.

By Fatima Zahra I. Elloh

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