Filipino language and culture making waves in German universities
BERLIN, Germany – Interested Germans and expats as well as second generation Filipinos can now formally study the Filipino language in Berlin. The course is now being offered this term at Humboldt University, one of the country’s prestigious educational institutions. This comes as the Philippines and Germany celebrate 65 years of diplomatic relations.
Filipino Language Instructor Antonio Galang, Jr. is teaching the course. Although it’s quite early to tell as the course is merely a few weeks old, he’s optimistic. “Some are very much interested and religiously attend the classes,” said Galang.
He added that at this point, Filipino has yet to become a priority course for some of the students who are also taking other language courses, such as Mandarin and Japanese. “[Currently, Filipino] is just for extra credit and not considered a full language course this winter semester. However, this will change as the Filipino language is going to be offered as a full language program this coming Summer Semester.”
Then senator, now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda gave full support to the project, saying there is much to be gained in cultural exchanges, especially at a level where young minds are being shaped.
“Apart from trade, we should also continue to harness cultural diplomacy together with political and economic initiatives with other nations. The establishment and flourishing of a Philippine Studies Program in Humboldt and in Ruhr University is just the start of a stronger partnership with Germany,” Legarda said.
Filipino culture in Germany
Recently, Legarda also spoke at Ruhr University located in Bochum, Germany. At a lecture attended by students and faculty, she talked about the strong weaving tradition in the Philippines. She discussed the process of bringing piña-seda to life and how traditional textiles are more than just materials for clothing and design – they’re the ties that bind a culture.
“The strengthening of the local tropical fabrics industry is attuned to our advocacy of promoting sustainable development and preserving our rich heritage,” Legarda said during her lecture, adding that such initiatives will also provide jobs especially for those in the countryside.
“Furthermore, it unlocks the creativity of Filipinos, which is overflowing. The Philippine piña-seda textile has great potential in the world market. We can make it prized items even here in Europe as it has been in the past centuries because the quality of our handwoven fabrics with intricate embroidery is truly world-class. Through the Hibla Travelling Exhibition, we aim to do just that,” she added.
After a successful run in Frankfurt, the Hibla Travelling Exhibition, which showcases the country’s pina-seda weaving tradition will be making its way in Berlin in early 2020. The Philippine Embassy in Berlin says there is already great interest from fashion educators and their students to learn more about the Philippines’ weaving traditions.
Philippine Ambassador to Germany Maria Theresa Dizon-de Vega – who began her work as Ambassador in May of this year – is already implementing programs to advance the promotion of Filipino culture in Germany.
One of her projects is to assist the university in sustaining the public's interest in Philippine Studies, assuring the continuation of the program. She also cited Legarda’s support in the renewed academic engagement of the Philippines with German universities. This, through funding for the program facilitated by Legarda, ensures the promotion of Filipino culture in Germany.
“The Ruhr University program, coordinated by the Philippine Consulate General in Frankfurt, follows on the heels of the Ongoing Advancing Philippine Studies program in one of Germany’s most prestigious educational institution – Humboldt University – which was launched earlier this year,” Dizon-de Vega said. “These programs are just the beginning. We definitely see stronger bilateral relations between the Philippines and Germany in the coming year.”
Coming soon to PH: Sports diplomacy, Rizal’s textile collection
With the Filipino football teams making waves at the Southeast Asian Games, it’s no surprise that there’s been greater interest in the sport among Filipinos.
Legarda and the Philippine Embassy also conceptualized a program to promote sports diplomacy, which seeks to invite a world-renowned soccer team to the Philippines and conduct training for students and avid fans.
Cultural exchanges with Germany are not new. One of its proponents was actually Dr. Jose Rizal who published his novel Noli Me Tangere in Berlin. Before returning to Manila, the national hero donated a collection of artefacts from the Philippines, along with his friend Dr. Adolf Bastian.
Among the items are handwoven textiles like piña barong and shawl, Bagobo attire, a salakot, a Mandaya baby carrier, and a T’boli abaca wrap skirt.
Bastian later became the founder of the Berlin Ethnological Museum and those artefacts are now part of their permanent collection. These items will soon be loaned to the Philippines’ National Museum and will be exhibited for a limited period.
A documentary on Rizal’s sojourn in Germany is also in the works. It will include never before seen videos and pictures as well as interesting interviews with the descendants of people who knew Rizal and grew up hearing stories about him. – Rappler.com