On the Making of an English-Cebuano Visayan Dictionary

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On the Making of an English-Cebuano Visayan Dictionary

Mayor Adelino B. Sitoy

President, Akademiyang Bisaya,Cebu City
External Vice President, League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Cebu Chapter
Municipality of Cordova

Cordova, Cebu 6017

Tel No. (032) 238-5096

Our first step was the formation on July 26, 1995 of a duly registered Visayan Academy of Arts and Letters Foundation, Inc. (Akademiyang Bisaya) (changed to a single-named: AKADEMIYANG BISAYA on April 22, 2009) which is a non-stock, non-profit and non-sectoral corporation. Its primary purposes are: (1) to preserve and develop the Visayan-Cebuano language and culture; (2) to encourage the adherence to such language and culture by the Visayans; (3) to work for the teaching of the Cebuano-Visayan language in the Visayan-speaking areas; and (4) to undertake projects to achieve the foregoing objectives.

The original founders of the Akademiya were:



















Except for one free lancer, the original organizers came from the different organizations of Cebuano-Visayan writers such as the Lubas sa Dagang Bisaya (Ludabi), Bathalad-ong Halad sa Dagang (Bathalad), Puting Dagang, Dagang Foundation, and Ang Sugbuanon. Atty. Adelino B. Sitoy, Akademiya President, was four-time President of Lubas sa Dagang Bisaya (LUDABI).
The original Chairman of its Board of Directors was the late Atty. Jesus P. Garcia, Sr., himself a consummate lover of the Cebuano-Visayan language, who was also the Board Chairman of SUNSTAR DAILY. To the Akademiya, Chairman Garcia was God-given because SUNSTAR DAILY has a printing facility. Days before his demise, he kept repeating his wish that the Akademiya’s first project, the English-Cebuano Visayan dictionary, be completed and printed. Years back, he prematurely ordered SUNSTAR DAILY to purchase a costly kind of paper (Bible class) which unfortunately became moldy and non-usable when the dictionary was ready for printing.
Even before the Akademiya’s incorporation, meetings were already held towards its formation. The first one took place in 1994 at the City Hall of Cebu City with the blessings of Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña and Vice-Mayor Alvin B. Garcia. Twenty Visayan-Cebuano writers attended it. It was agreed that an Akademiya be organized membered by all the Cebuano-Visayan writers belonging to all Cebuano-Visayan writers’ organizations in the Visayas and Mindanao. The ultimate objective was to be able to put up a comprehensive English-Visayan Cebuano dictionary. Elected President Atty. Adelino B. Sitoy was charged with the incorporation of the organization first known as the Visayan Academy of Arts and Letters Foundation (Akademiyang Bisaya).
During the incorporation process, Atty. Sitoy thought of including as members of the Board such Cebuano big names as Gov. Lito Osmeña (another ardent lover of the Cebuano language), Cebu City Congressmen Antonio Cuenco and Raul del Mar, and even businessman Joseph Gaisano and, of course, Sunstar Board Chairman Jesus Garcia, Sr. to be able to support the Foundation in its operation.
After the incorporation, the Akademiya started to hold weekly and monthly meetings. Writers from Cayagan de Oro City and Iligan City went out of their way to attend the meetings in Cebu City. But later, attendance dwindled. So, it was decided to request Atty. Cesar Kilaton, Jr. and Mr. Rogelio S. Pono to focus on the project until its completion. Luckily, they agrred. Meantime, Atty. Sitoy had to shoulder the necessary expenses himself. In the course of the operation, the City of Cebu also provided some financial assistance. Rep. Cuenco also allotted funds for the project. Chairman Garcia assisted too. But the bulk of the expenses were shouldered by Atty. Sitoy.
The dictionary Editorial staff was composed of: Atty. Adelino B. Sitoy - President and Managing Editor, Atty. Cesar P. Kilaton, Jr. – Executive Editor, Rogelio S. Pono – Associate Editor, Gumer M. Rafanan, Alex A. Abellana, Jesus F. Estaño (+) 2000, Estanislao T. Empinado, Imelda J. Perez and Marianita U. Mangubat – Research Editors and Ma. Chona S. Maestrado – Secretary.

  • The Akademiya President, lawyer Sitoy, was Dean of the College of Law, University of Cebu-Banilad, Cebu City. He was Assemblyman for Cebu province when the regular Batasang Pambansa was organized. “ADDY”, as he is fondly called, obtained his Bachelor of Laws Degree (Ll.B.) from the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, in 1960 – cum laude. He finished his Master of Laws Degree (Ll.M.) in the University of Southern Philippines, Cebu City, in 1969 with a rating of “Excellent” in thesis writing. His examiners were former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former Supreme Court Chief Justice (former Senate President) Marcelo B. Fernan, and former Mayor Ronald Duterte of Cebu City.

He was Press Secretary to Hon. Jose L. Briones, Governor of Cebu, in 1961. During his student days, he was Editor of several student publications such as, the Light of Lapu-lapu, official publication of Abellana National School, Cebu City; Sudents Catholic Action Newsletter; The Students Courier, Cebu Daily News supplement; The Lower Case, Journalism Class publication, University of San Carlos; The Carolinian, official publication, University of San Carlos; and the YOL Courier [the youth’s political organ of Serging Osmeña in Cebu).

  • Laywer Cesar P. Kilaton, Jr. was a professor in business law of the University of San Carlos, Cebu City. This year, he received an Outstanding Alumnus award from the University of the Visayas, Cebu City, his alma mater. A prize-winning pen-pusher, he writes short stories, poems, articles, essays, dramas and novels. His novel entitled “Kon Maantigong Moantos Ang Kasingkasing” was best seller among pocket books printed by ABC Publications.

His English poems included anthologies of the different publications outside of the Philippines. He is a member of the International Society of Poets, U.S.A. He is one of the founders of the Dagang Foundation, Inc., a non-stock corporation or group of writers coming from Cebu City. He is the Chairman of its Board of Trustees since 1992 until now. He wrote the hymn titled “Dagang” for the Foundation including its musical notes.

Atty. Kilaton, Jr. translated the New Testament of the Bible into Binisaya headed by Mons. Patricio Alo, Bishop of Mati, Davao in cooperation with Pauline Publications, Cebu City. One of his novels is serialized in the “Ang Lungsoranon”, the official organ of the Archdiocese of Cebu. While working on the dictionary, he wrote the Visayan-Cebuano Grammar presently adopted by Akademiyang Bisaya.

  • Writer Rogelio S. Pono is a short story writer, poet and novelist. He worked before in the Department of Public Information which was changed to Ministry of Public Information and then later, to Office of Media Affairs and finally, to Philippine Information Agency. He was once the President of BATHALAD.

Writer Pono was an Editorial Assistant of Southern Outlook and an Associate Editor of Bantayan sa Hari, and Editor of Tubod ug Kahayag Newsletter, Sugid, Hiyas and Kaliwat magazines. His works were published in different magazines and newspapers and even books like MGA KATITIKANONG ANI, WAGAS BULAWANONG ANI ’88, SUGBUANONG BALAK (1940-1988), LUBASAN, SANGGI, LUNHAWNG HANGIN, KALIRING and ABC PUBLICATIONS (love novels).

He was the 1994 Writing Grand Awardee for short story in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the 1994 Writer of the Year in Dr. Leonardo C. Malalis Writer of the Year-BATHALAD AWARD. His prize-winning records included the following: first prizes: 1 novel, 2 short stories, 1 article, 2 poems; second prizes: 3 short stories, 5 poems, 1 script writing, 1 short short story, 3 articles; and third prizes: 3 essays, 1 script writing, 1 short novel, 4 short stories, 4 poems and 1 article. He wrote six novels that were published in Bisaya magazine and 12 love novels in ABS Publications.

The dictionary consists of 1,214 pages and 66,000 words. It was formally launched by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn F. Garcia at the Capitol Social Hall on May 7, 2009 in the presence of Provincial Officials like the Vice-Governor and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and also of the Cebu’s town Mayors and other invited guests. Writer Kilaton, Jr., in a separate dissertation, explains how to use the English-Visayan Cebuano dictionary. His writeup is hereto attached as part hereof.

Meanwhile, the newly recognized AKADEMIYANG BISAYA was formally launched on October 17, 2009 at Parklane Hotel under the leadership of its new Chairman, Atty. Jesus B. Garcia, Jr. (former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communication, during President Fidel V. Ramos’ time). The Akademiya’s next project: to assist the DepEd in its implementation of Department Order No. 74 of the Secretary of Education which directs the use of regional languages as bridges in the teaching of subjects in the preparatory schools, Grades I, II and II.

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