Comp Sci seniors champion Kapampangan preservation through Kulitan app launch
In an effort to further the use of the Kapampangan language and its Kulitan orthography, a group of fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) students will launch two Kulitan applications on Wednesday, February 14, 2024.
Erl Joshua Vergara, Winston Adam Lejarde, Angelica Marie Tanglao, and Arianne Dayle Yandan, collectively known as “Team Amanu,” who are behind the pioneer applications, explained that the said tools are their “effort[s] to revitalize the endangered traditional Kapampangan Script, Kulitan, through modern application development.”
The team’s Kulitan applications extend to the development of KulitanPad, which is a tool that allows users to write Kulitan scripts with its pad and keyboard features. Different from an existing Kulitan application online called “Learn Kulitan,” KulitanPad can produce shareable card images of the local script written by the user.
“The application also features ‘Card Creator’ mode, which is a means of exporting and sharing a created script through customizable digital card images,” said the team in an interview.
KulitanReader, the other application produced by Team Amanu, is also equally pioneering given its capacity to read and translate Kulitan scripts to their English alphabet counterparts—the first of its kind in the online space.
Aside from the mentioned, the two Kulitan applications will also be made available as website-based services, which the team describes as a move to “increase the accessibility and reach of the application to all web-supporting devices.”
In their preparation and development of the two applications, the BSCS students shared that they engaged in tedious but critical tasks of learning Kulitan and training their program—which, in the end, produced what is now a cutting-edge set of platforms for the orthography’s preservation.
“Each of us had [two] styles of kulitan characters to make. We then wrote each one of the Kulitan characters 500 times. The kulitan script has 40 characters, so each of us created 40,000 Kulitan characters to train our model,” they explained.
The two applications are part of the team’s thesis entitled “Amanu” – a bigger software that includes a Kapampangan dictionary and the Kulitan features above. Such efforts were continued as they saw the problem of decreasing Kapampangan speakers among young individuals.
“Almost every [Generation Z] Kapampangan’s first language is either English or [Filipino]. We have felt that with our application, we could be able to contribute to preserving our language by digitizing the language and script, which could be used to further use the language in technologies and advanced learning,” said Team Amanu.
With this monumental feat, the team seeks to serve as a benchmark that future efforts to preserve the Kapampangan language may also take inspiration from.
“While this may be just a small step towards the preservation of our language and culture, may this effort start the integration of Kapampangan to modern technologies and be acknowledged as one of Philippines’ major languages that must be given attention,” Team Amanu delivered.
The Kulitan applications by Team Amanu will be launched on February 14, 2024, 3:30PM at the Holy Angel University’s Center for Kapampangan Studies (HAU-CKS). Admission will be open and free to the public.
News Feature by Godwin Pring