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Cebuano netizens may now search on Google using Cebuano

By Eddie O. Barrita

CEBU CITY, Sept. 18 (PNA) – Cebuano netizens may not have noticed it yet, but “Bisdaks” (short for Bisayang dako or true-blooded Cebuano), wherever they are in the world, may now look something up on Google using Cebuano as search language.

Cebuano became part of Google’s search language since April last year, and the effort to do so was led by someone who is not a native Cebuano.

Jacqueline Siwala, who spearheaded Cebuano language advocates in the project, said it took nearly 10 years to succeed in making the language a part of the Internet search engine.

“The effort initially began in 2005, when Google asked volunteers to translate Google interface phrases into Cebuano,” Siwala said.

Siwala grew up speaking Filipino as a child. Her father is from Laguna and her mother is a native of Cabanatuan City.

She learned Hiligaynon when her parents, now retired police officials, were assigned in Iloilo in 1986.

She visited Cebu for the first time in 1997 during an art convention and became a permanent resident since 2012.

“I’m in love with Cebu,” she said.

Siwala said Vincent Isles, a lawyer and Children’s Legal Bureau member, responded to her project by translating around 600 text strings that Google wanted translated.

Text strings, in computer programming, are the commands containing programming texts.

A group of linguists and academicians in Cebu reviewed Isles’ work before it was submitted to Google on Oct. 20, 2005.

Siwala said they did not receive a response so a letter was sent to Google almost a year later to follow up on the project.

The group still failed to receive any reply and the project languished.

In late 2011, the project came back to life and the translation process ballooned from 600 to 7,760 text strings.

Siwala said lawyer Manuel Lino Faelnar approached Lubas sa Dagang Bisaya (Ludabi), a Cebu-based group of which Faelnar is a board member, to complete the project.

Ludabi, which focuses on the preservation of Cebuano arts and culture, pushed through with the translation, which was completed with the help of representatives from public service, academe, linguistics, law, education, technology, culture and broadcast industry.

Aside from Faelnar, Siwala and Isles, the other members of the Google Search Cebuano Team are Dr. Jess Tirol and Atty. Cesar Kilaton.

Their project became a reality when Cebuano was included in the release of the Google Search-Philippines in April last year. (PNA)

CTB/EB/

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