by Avryl Claire Macaranas, Angela Mariz Ibon with Jasmine Bermudez, Angela Magsipoc, and Nikki Rosales

In line with the 24th annual celebration of International Mother Language Day (IMLD), English major freshmen students at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines-San Juan (PUPSJ) conducted a two-hour program highlighting the country’s diverse multilingual and cultural identity last February 22, 2023.

The students showcased their talents’ by interpreting the theme of the event. As language majors and future educators, organizing this event was crucial since it provided the opportunity to be exposed to and learn about cultures other than theirs.

Resource speakers, Hon. Jameco A. Dayanghirang and Mr. Saleem Samad.

Hon. Jameco A. Dayanghirang, a pureblooded Mandayan public servant, served as the local resource speaker while Mr. Saleem Samad, a prolific Bangladeshi journalist, served as the international speaker.

“Incidentally, I was born in 1952, when the language movement was violently suppressed by the Pakistan security forces,” Samad recalled as he narrated the IMLD’s history.

IMLD was established in 2000 to promote peace, multilingualism, and protection for all mother languages all over the world. IMLD’s date, annually celebrated every 21st of February, was deliberately chosen to recognize the 1952 Bengali Language Movement in Bangladesh honoring the Dhaka University students who lost their lives during a protest for their right to freely speak their mother language.

Nowadays, this day is observed in Bangladesh through a month-long festivity while other countries have different approaches such as the Philippines where it is observed through school-based student-led programs.


Opening prayer in different Philippine local languages, Bisaya, Ilocano, and Mandaya, led by Jaffaith Barbac, Gwen Valerie Sacdal, and Eunice Emma Manatad.

Sheena Narag, the program’s assistant director, delivered the opening remarks and extended her heartfelt gratitude to everyone who participated, including their beloved professor, Dr. Genevieve Balance-Kupang, in making the event a success. “As a student, I believe that the core of IMLD is respect for all the world’s languages.” The IMLD background was revisited by Mae Ebot. Rea Joy Tulaylay explained how other countries observe IMLD and Claudine Aposta acknowledged this celebration’s legacy.


Hon. Jameco A. Dayanghirang advocates for cultural diversity and language preservation.

“I was raised in a community where people did not lose their native tongue and maintained it everywhere they [Mandaya tribe] went,” Hon. Dayanghirang prefaced. Growing up in touch with his language which is a significant cultural representation of his Mandaya identity, his speech centered on advocating for endangered language promotion and preservation. He also addressed the issue of lacking access to education due to the language barrier which affects 40% of people worldwide.

“We can be forgiven for not being able to learn the world’s most obscure languages… but we should still be promoting the importance of these languages and encouraging the maintenance of mother tongues,” Dayanghirang urged as he concluded his speech.

Mr. Saleem Samad delivers his speech about the important roles played by the Bangladeshis which paved the way for constituting IMLD.

Mr. Samad emphasized that “languages are vital for people and the world as instruments to preserve identity, development, education and integration.” He also recounted how Bangladeshis were oppressed by Pakistani elites, prompting them to launch protests for Bangla, their native language, to be recognized as their official national language. In Bangladesh, IMLD enabled 50 different Adivasis, national ethnic communities, to study their languages in schools. Thus, this helps to promote each country’s preservation of culture and tradition.

Presently, they celebrate IMLD by organizing a month-long book fair, poetry festival, open-air theater, and discussion program held on the Dhaka University campus.

“All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue,” the journalist said, wrapping up his speech.


Intermission number. Althea Rodales, Ronnalyn Cubillanes, and Jeanine Miña performs their song covers. The middle and last screenshots show Nicko De Guzman and Merry Liao while performing a duet of Qing Fei De Yi, a theme song of a popular Chinese series.

The “Foreign Land Music” team sang four covers-The Bulalakaw, Porque, Tu Canción, and Qing Fei De Yi respectively. “It is critical that we commemorate this day so stakeholders are aware of the value of human language in their daily lives,” according to the group’s leader, Ms. Althea Rodelas.

Preserving Diversity:  Sienna Posadas and Agatha Lopina campaign for action in promoting multilingualism and native language preservation.

Campaigners Sienna Posadas and Agatha Lopina encouraged everyone to preserve native languages and promote multilingualism through the use of technology to bridge vital gaps between languages and cultures around the world.

Inclusive Love. Revin De Ocampo performs her spoken poetry “Thankful.”

“Although we live miles apart, we are connected through our hearts, protecting each of us, loving every dialect we have, expressing gratitude, love and respect” De Ocampo delivered a heartwarming line.

Sean Hubert Agan and Keith Lainel Rosas shared their artworks titled ‘Climate Action’ and ‘Zero Hunger,’ which is glammed with bright colors to portray a positive manifestation and hope towards the goals of sustainable development proposed by the United Nation.

 Kristel Bernardo and Dawn Ashley Go showcasing their respective cultural attires.

Kristel Bernardo shared a video wearing the clothing of the Mangyan People, and traditional Filipiniana clothing while Ashley Go presented the traditional Japanese “kimono.” They shared facts about the symbolism of these costumes. This segment gave spice to the speeches, song, spoken words and the audience was pleased and delighted to the awesome local and international costumes presented.

The Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Hon. Jameco A. Dayanghirang and Mr. Saleem Samad for their insights and wisdom as guest speakers during the IMLD celebration.

Dr. Balance-Kupang renders her heartfelt closing remarks, expressing gratitude and delight for all those who took part in making the IMLD meaningful and memorable.

Dr. Genevieve Balance Kupang congratulated the clever leadership of Ms. Mheriel Aguilar, the director of the program, her assistant director, the masters of ceremonies Anah Sofia Rodriguez, Niño San Juan, and all the students for the success of the program and thanked the speakers for their noteworthy contribution. “You got the essence of the celebration, my dear Class! Here’s a bright light hanging from the Baguio tree to signify how grateful I am for your becoming,” Dr. Balance-Kupang, exclaimed. She also expressed her appreciation to the students’ concern for highlighting the country’s culture and refinements in the program. Ms. Mheriel Aguilar sealed off the celebration with a substantial expression of graciousness to recognize her classmates’ synergy in the successful implementation of the IMLD program.

“The Groove Makers.” Philip Garcia, Kristine Caaya, Daniela Buenconsejo, Carlo Ayende, Aleck Santos, Joanna Cajayon, Maria Dela Cruz, Annalyn Tolentino, Allen Balderama, and Jenimel Mancilla dance some Hiphop and KPOP songs.

Dancing to the music “Bring the Beat” and “Kill this Love,” “The BSED 1-1 Groove Makers” entertained and delighted everyone with their groovy dance moves.

Following this program’s success, Dr. Balance-Kupang and Mr. Saleem hinted possible collaboration on student cultural exchanges for the succeeding IMLD if the time and resources allows.

Masters of ceremony, Añah Sofia Rodriguez, and Niño San Juan.

About the authors:

Avryl Claire Macaranas is a freshman English Major student PUPSJ. She is a former news contributor of The Leadon, Quirino High School’s Official English School Paper Publication. As part of The Leadon’s staffer, Avryl gained valuable writing skills and other journalistic principles essential for becoming a good educator in the future.


Angela Mariz Ibon is a freshman English Major student of PUPSJ. She was a former layout artist and news writer of “Ang Sagisag” in junior high school, and “Dyaryo Tambuli” in senior high school. She is dedicated to expressing her emotions and own perspectives through writing and sharing it to other people.