Press Release: Vibal Foundation launches WikiFilipino at the University of Santo Tomas

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Language is more than just a tool for communication. It embodies a people's way of thinking, their culture, their world.

There are jokes in Filipino that fall flat when translated to other languages, and vice versa. There are also words that are very difficult, if not downright impossible, to describe in other languages. Is there even an English equivalent of “po”?

A people must celebrate its native tongue, because it is the key to preserving their culture. Using Filipino, for example, would allow information to reach a wider audience than it would if it were in another language, as well as spreading ideas in a way that would be easier for the average Filipino to understand.

In view of this, the Vibal Foundation established WikiFilipino, the Filipino-language branch of its online collaborative encyclopedia project, WikiPilipinas.

Officially launched on Jan. 31, 2008 and initially headed by award-winning writer Roberto Añonuevo, WikiFilipino aims to be a wide-ranging, relevant and profound repository of knowledge that Filipinos can use—and contribute to—wherever they may be.

Nakasalig ang WikiFilipino sa konseptong 'bayanihan ng sari-saring tao at institusyon na bagaman iba't iba ang paniniwala at ang uring pinagmulan' ay pinagbubuklod ng adhikaing lumikha ng Aklasang Bayan sa Himpapawid para sa kinabukasan ng Filipino saan mang panig sila naroroon sa pamamagitan ng pagsusulat (WikiFilipino is based on the concept of teamwork between different people and institutions who, despite differences in beliefs and origins, are drawn together by the goal of creating People Power Online for the benefit of future Filipinos, wherever they may be, by writing),” Añonuevo said.

The site's greatest difference from Wikipedia is that WikiFilipino entries are dedicated to cataloging Philippine-related knowledge and are presented not only in a language, but also in a style, Filipinos would easily understand.

It also encourages Filipinos to use their native tongue to write about topics ranging from the mundane to the academic, according to current site editor and renowned writer Sally Eugenio.

Gusto ng WikiFilipino na maghikayat sa mga Filipino na magpayaman at magmahal ng kanilang wika, at huwag itong talikuran. Mahalagang manatiling buhay ang wikang Filipino (WikiFilipino wants to encourage Filipinos to enrich and love their language, and not to turn their backs on it. It's important to let the Filipino tongue stay alive),” she said.

WikiPilipinas sites are introduced to students via the “WikiKaravan” school tour, which aims to encourage students to visit the sites and also generate interest in the Vibal Foundation's different projects, including news and features site Philippine Online Chronicles, electronic education site E-Turo and online digital library

The site's first school launch was on August 29, 2008 at San Beda College, during the "Linggo ng Wika" (Language Week). It will again be introduced to students on Nov. 21, during a one-day symposium presented by the Vibal Foundation and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Student Affairs, at the UST Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy Building.

Called “FILIPINOW: Do Not English Me, I Will English You!” the symposium aims to explore the importance of having a national language and to characterize Filipinos through their words.

Among the day's speakers will be University of the Philippines Prof. Vim Nadera (Ebolusyon ng Pakikipagtalastasan), UST Prof. Ferdinand Lopez (Filipino: Coño, Jologs, Bakla), romance novelist Gilda Olvidado (Mga Kwento sa Likod ng Romansa, Mga Romansa sa Likod ng Kwento) and singer, writer and poet Lourd de Veyra (Uso Pa Bang Mag-Filipino?).

WikiFilipino currently contains over 3,141 articles, with more being added every day by contributors. (by Ivy Jean Vibal)