Brown Bag Session – Reclaiming Our Voices: Advocating Decolonization through The Bikol Multilingual Corpus Project

  • Date: 20 Jul 2023 | 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
  • Venue: Palma Hall AVR
Linguistics Brown Bag Sessions 2023 No.1
Louward Allen Zubiri
PhD Student
University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
20 July 2023 | Thursday | 1:00 – 2:30 PM
Palma Hall 207
Fully In-person

This presentation addresses the pressing need to reframe linguistic practices in the Philippines, taking into account multilingualism (Gallego et al., 2021) and emphasizing documentary and revitalization initiatives (Zubiri, 2023). The decolonization of linguistics in the Philippines is a multifaceted process, as the field still bears the remnants of colonial legacies, which perpetuate Anglocentric ideologies, hypervaluation of non-Filipino scholarship, and the erasure of marginalized voices. To reclaim Filipino voices within Philippine linguistics, it is crucial to employ strategies such as reflection, self-critique, and counternarratives. The Bikol Multilingual Corpus Project (Zubiri & Deen, 2023) serves as a model for combining language acquisition and documentation techniques to study the language development and use of emergent multilingual Bikolano children. As an insider-led and community-driven initiative, it empowers local communities, scholars, and language practitioners to actively participate in reshaping linguistic practices that align with their linguistic and cultural heritage. This presentation highlights critical insights and methodologies from the ongoing development of the Bikol Multilingual Corpus, demonstrating its potential to promote sustainable Philippine linguistics and contribute to decolonization efforts in the country. By centering marginalized voices and adopting a community-oriented approach, this project showcases how linguistic practices can be reimagined to foster inclusivity, cultural preservation, and linguistic diversity within the Philippines.


Gallego, M. K., Dreisbach, J. L., Manzano, D., Santiago, V. C., Tupas, R., and L. A. Zubiri. (2021). Counter-Babel: Reframing linguistic practices in multilingual Philippines. The Archive, 17, 113 – 153.
Zubiri, L. A. (2023). Language Documentation in the Philippines. Unpublished Manuscript.
Zubiri, L. A., and K. Deen. (2022). An Insider’s Look at Intergenerational Transmission: The Case of Bikol. Paper Presented at the 8th International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation. March 2-5. [Online].


Louward Allen Zubiri is a Ph.D. student in Linguistics at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a student affiliate of East-West Center. He recently finished his Graduate Certificate in Multilingual Multicultural Professional Practice also at UH Mānoa. He completed his BA and MA in Linguistics at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Currently, he is a Visiting Research Fellow at UP Diliman for Summer 2023. His research interests are in the areas of description, documentation, and revitalization of non-dominant and/or scarcely described Philippine languages and scripts. He is interested in how these areas are informative of and interdependent with policymaking, education, community development, and heritage awareness. In addition, he is the Head Researcher at the Mangyan Heritage Center, and he is also part of Ethnologue’s Contributor Program with more than 100 contributions. He is a member of the Linguistic Society of America and the Linguistic Society of the Philippines. He is also the inaugural Sharing Language Diversity Fellow of the Endangered Language Fund.