Vice President Jejomar C. Binay revealed that the Ibanag language will soon be included as a medium of instruction in the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Mother Tongue-Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTB-MLE) program.

The Vice President said during the launching of the Ibanag Heritage Foundation (IBHF) Monday night that he wrote DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro in March to recommend the inclusion of Ibanag, the lingua franca of the Cagayan Valley region, in the MTB-MLE program.

“We stressed to Secretary Luistro that the inclusion of the Ibanag language would be very timely and strategic. It can serve as a springboard of the government’s advocacy to empower every Filipino youth with quality education, including those who belong to indigenous groups,” Binay said.

Binay has Ibanag roots. His mother, the late Lourdes Gatan Cabauatan, hails from Cabagan, Isabela.

He is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the IBHF.

The Vice President said his request to Luistro was part of the IBHF’s initiative to preserve the Ibanag language and culture.

“We have made the preservation of the Ibanag language our priority, because as I’ve said earlier, we may no longer find native speakers who know the language fluently,” he said.

Binay said Luistro’s response to his request was favorable and that they are now closely coordinating with the Indigenous Peoples Education Office (IPsEO) of DepEd.

“We are also closely coordinating with Indigenous Peoples Education Office and DepEd at the regional and local/division levels for the pilot implementation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multi-Lingual Education program in selected schools in Cabagan, Isabela and Tuguegarao City,” he said.

“Moreover, our research team is now developing learning materials in coordination with trained teachers and consultants, and collaborating with Ibanag language experts for the development of a standard orthography for Ibanag,” he added.

Binay said the IBHF has identified ten program areas that ensure the preservation of the Ibanag culture, namely: the language, history, folklore and literature, cuisine, historical and religious landmarks. Tourist spots, festivals and traditions, indigenous industries, endemic flora and fauna, and people-to-people partnership with local and foreign cultural organizations.

He said Tuguegarao City Mayor Delfin Ting has already committed to providing a space at the Tugueagarao City Hall for an Ibanag Library and Museum.

“We have also established links with the Department of Tourism Region 02 for the promotion of tourist attractions in Cagayan Valley,” he concluded.