Who was Dr. Bonifacio S. Sibayan?
Dr. Bonifacio Padilla Sibayan—whom the country’s top recognition for applied linguistics practitioners was named after— was one of the world’s pioneer scholars in sociolinguistics. He was a basic education teacher, school head, professor of linguistics and education, and a former president of the then Philippine Normal College (Now Philippine Normal University) from 1972 to 1981.
At the awarding of this year’s Bonifacio P. Sibayan Distinguished Professorial Chair in Applied Linguistics to RCTQ Director Dr. Gina Gonong by the Lingustic Society of the Philippines (LSP) on 19 March 2022, Philippine Normal University President Dr. Bert J. Tuga described Dr. Sibayan as “a premier educator whose works became the foundation of research and studies in applied linguistics, and sociolinguistics in the Philippines.”
“It is no surprise then that the LSP—a society for linguists and language educators that Dr. Sibayan co-founded in 1969— honors his legacy by naming the professorial chair after him,” Dr. Tuga said. Dr. Sibayan co-founded the LSP with another linguist, Dr. Ernesto Contantino of the University of the Philippines.
He took up Bachelor of Science in Education at Baguio College in 1950 and moved on to the United States to study Master of Arts in Education in N.E. Missouri State College in 1955, and Master of Arts in Education at the University of Michigan in 1959. He completed his PhD at the University of Michigan in 1961.
In her tribute to the former PNC president during the awarding of the 2022 Professorial Chair , Dr. Ruth Alido, dean of the PNU College of Teacher Development, said Dr. Sibayan is “best remembered for his dynamic leadership first as director of the PNU Language Study Center (LSC), then as dean of the Graduate School, and finally as PNC president.”
“He was also known for his creativity and passion, and the gift of vision for the PNC. Noteworthy in his achievement was his directorship of the LSC which was established in 1964 and served as hub for linguistics and language teaching research in the country,” Dr. Alido said.
The LSC supported and promoted the language programs of the former Bureau of Publish Schools. Dr. Alido shared that it was through Dr. Sibayan’s initiatve that the LSC was strongly supported by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and played host to visiting linguists and scholars from the University of California at Los Angeles, McGill University, and the University of Western Ontario.
Dr. Alido said that under his leadership, Dr Sibayan left behind a number of landmark projects at PNU, including i) faculty development in international universities, ii) locally-based teacher development in English and in Filipino language teaching, iii) applied research which included the bilingual education experiment using English and Filipino as media of instruction in the PNC’s laboratory school and the Language Policy Survey (LPS) of the Philippines, and iv) the development of publications including the initial report of the LPS of the Philippines, and workbooks on phonology, and morphology and syntax with focus on Philippine languages.
During his time, a massive textbook development project was undertaken for nearly eight years under the Language Study Center – Educational Development Projects Implementing Task Force (LSC-EDPITAF) initiative which aimed to produce textbooks and their accompanying teacher manuals for use in public elementary and secondary schools, and in support of the implementation of bilingual education policy.
In recognition of the LSC-EDPITAF project, Dr. Alido recalled that the World Bank donated a three-story building which used to house the LSC and the LSC-EDPITAF project staff. The building is now named the Bonifacio P. Sibayan Hall.
Dr Sibayan also initiated PNC’s ties with local entities such as the Samar Institute of Linguistics, the British Council, the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of the Philippines (UP), and the Fund for Assistance to Private Education (FAPE). The consortium paved the way for a PhD program in linguistics to be offered jointly by PNC, ADMU and DLSU.
“Dr. Sibayan was instrumental in making the PNC faculty grow professionally and culturaly,” Dr. Alido said. “He inspired leaders and researchers among us.”
Dr. Sibayan succumbed to stomach cancer on 28 January 2005 at 88 years old, leaving behind a legacy of excellence in the fields of applied linguistics and sociolinguistics in the country.https://www.rctq.ph/?p=3589FeaturePhilippine Normal University,Sibayan