There’s A Page Devoted To Providing COVID-19 Awareness–In The Bikol Language

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The platform Magbikol Kita is helping out Bicolanos maneuver through technical, medical terms on Covid-19.

With recent DEPED studies showing that thousands of pupils in Bicol can’t read in English or Filipino, we ask: how else can we improve proficiency in a region teeming with rich languages and literary history? Is there a way to improve the use of language–for the young and old–in the age of social media?

The pandemic that is COVID-19 is changing lives, societies and cultures around the world. We’ve seen drastic shifts in economy, lifestyles, internet usage, among others. We’ve also seen the rising importance of information-sharing–ones that aren’t cluttered and actually inform (and do not add noise). There’s the occasional surfacing of fake news (which we hope to resolve) but that’s a different story altogether.

Fortunately, serving its purpose of instilling its local audiences the love for the Bikol language, Vic Nierva’s initiative Magbikol Kita (peppered across Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube) is serving another purpose: provide awareness on COVID-19 using the Bikol language. 

We slid into his DMs for a couple of questions, but for now, check out Magbikol Kita’s health advisories, providing its audience a way through medical and technical terminologies about the pandemic.

Reminders that are supported by visuals that are engaging, fun, tasteful and informational. Its execution? Far from a manila paper execution, apparently a standard at the House of Representatives.

Best of Bicol: These online materials are wonderful–they provide clear information to keep everyone abreast on this health crisis. We’ve seen some local government units printing out hard copies of your materials for public use (see below). Why is communicating information on COVID19 in the Bikol language important these days?

Vic Nierva: There’s a CoViD19 pandemic now. It affects us all—including Bikol. But all the information that are disseminated by official channels and authorties on this outbreak in English. There is no room for mistakes now, and one of the most potent tool to combat this problem is information. Information must be empowering. In this case, information should be in Bikol. If it is in Bikol, we will not be lost in misinterpretations. We will understand data straightforwardly. We will clearly know what to do and what to avoid doing.

Best of Bicol: Considering our position on the rise of fake news, some Bicolanos with no access to the internet, among others, how else can information dissemination be improved on social media platforms?

Vic Nierva: Because we’re on lockdown, I hope our government, especially the local government units (LGUs), convey all messages in the vernacular, in the language spoken by the constituents. I hope they use all the translated materials so that people will know and understand what’s going on. There have been initiatives to print and disseminate the social media in villages and I think that helps a lot. We are confronting something that’s new here, to use all means, including the most intimate of people’s languages, so that eveyone gets empowered. ■

Magbikol Kita s an online show that studies the intricacies and intimacies of the beautiful Bikol language. Hosted and conceptualized by writer and Bikol culture advocate Vic Nierva, Magbikol Kita aims to assist Bikol teachers, students, and speakers, especially in light of the mother tongue-based multi-lingual education.
For any inquiry on the Bikol languages, email us at magbikolkita@gmail.com. Follow Magbikol Kita through the following platforms:
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