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WHY I’M WITH LUDABI

When national televisions air prime-time shows that use mixed-up languages and vernacular, some raise a concern.

No, they are not as exacting as stern conservatives are. They too agree that language must journey with the times, albeit cautiously and consciously. They just want their language, which their forefathers used to tell their tales, to be free from whimsical bastardization.

Cebuano is a language spoken by about 20 million people making it the most widely spoken member of the Visayan languages. It is named after Cebu, the Philippines’ second largest metropolitan. To say, Cebuano is a language

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used by a people whose cultural and historical significance transcends far beyond recorded history. But Cebuano, just like many languages suffers from misuse and “bastardization,” as former Cordova Mayor Arleigh Sitoy, Cebuano language champion.

“True, we cannot deny that the Cebuano language too must evolve with the time so as to remain useful and relevant. But we cannot just allow it to be bastardized by unconsciously changing its grammar or mixing it with other languages or vernacular that ultimately destroys its otherwise beautiful cacophony,” Sitoy said. Think about funny cellular phone messages.

“However we should not also become too purist about it because we might alienate younger speakers,” he furthered.
Now springing back to full health, Sitoy, the national president of the Lubas sa Dagang Bisaya (LUDABI), takes it upon his shoulder more persistent than before to let the Cebuano language flourish.

A year ago, Sitoy suffered from a severe stroke that ultimately affected his functions as president. And without a helm, LUDABI, entered a period of dormancy.

“Now, I’m challenged to take on the job I have committed myself to do,” he said.

Currently, Sitoy is occupied with initiatives such as: First, the formation of LUDABI chapters composed by students and young professionals intended to bridge generation of speakers and ultimately to cultivate among the young the love for the local language.

Second, the continuation of the integration of the teaching of the Cebuano language in grammar schools (which started in the municipality of Cordova) and the partnership with the University of Bohol to credit the study of the Cebuano language as tantamount to having a masters degree.

Third, the expansion of LUDABI’s membership. And fourth, more importantly, is the compilation of a Cebuano grammar book that will complement the recently launched Cebuano Dictionary, an initiative carried on by his father, another Cebuano language champion, Atty. Adelino Sitoy, currently the mayor of Cordova.

“Ultimately, our vision is to make LUDABI a vehicle to let the Cebuano language flourish and develop more,” he said. By that he means that Cebuanos and those who speak the language may develop greater affinity and affection towards the language to appreciate its songs and literature for example.

After all, the Cebuano language is not only a tool of communication. More than that, it is a reflection of the

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Cebuanos’ aspiration, their life—their soul. JSC

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