VIGAN CITY – There is just one Center for Ilokano Studies and Museum in Region 1, and it is here in this World Heritage City.
The University of Northern Philippines’ Center for Ilokano Studies and Museum is the only one found in the region, said Dr Eleanor Belizar who heads the center and an advocate for the advancement of learning of the Ilokano dialect, an indigenous language of the Ilocanos.
The Center envisions itself as a living repository of the rich and colorful history and heritage of the Ilokanos, both material and non-material.
Because Ilocano traditions and culture are fast disappearing, the center wants to preserve what are left of these, Belizar added. These will prove to the world that Ilocanos are proud of their ancestors’ role in the history of the Philippines through the people’s writings, literature, folklore, and artifacts.
Students, academicians, and researchers are brought together in the center to discuss how to preserve Ilocano culture and traditions. Here they use inter-disciplinary approach to study these.
They also listen to series of lectures not only on Ilokano culture, but also on the Filipino society and the environment.
To keep the fire of Ilocano culture burning among young residents, the center conducts seminars, trainings, literary competitions, poetry reading sessions focused on the Ilocano language. It has established the UNP edition of the Ilocano writers group, Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano (GUMIL) to immerse the students in their native tongue.
Another valuable role of the center is its being a bridge to the ethnographic researches on the lives and rituals of the indigenous communities of the provinces of Ilocos Sur and Abra.
To enrich its library, it documents the works and researches of Ilokanos, collects books, magazines, other forms of Ilokano literature, and documents Ilokano folklore through the researches of students in social sciences.
It also maps Ilokano researches by UNP faculty members and students, and the students belonging to different tribal communities of the Provinces of Ilocos Sur and Abra.
To widen its reach, it builds linkages with institutions and groups with the same goals and objectives of promoting and preserving the Ilokano heritage with different entities.
Belizar is inviting students, teachers and culture enthusiasts from other schools and provinces to the center located at the second floor of the main library building of UNP. The center and museum is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00PM Monday to Friday. (JND/ICR – PIA 1 Ilocos Sur)