Corporate Social Responsibility


Smart promotes awareness on IP and Muslim literacy, cultures in Kadayawan

by Smart Communications | Sep 05, 2019
The showcase focused on Smart's mother tongue-based literacy mobile apps Matigsalug, Tahderiyyah, and Ta’allam

With roots traced back to festivals in the 70s that highlight thanksgiving rituals and ceremonies of the indigenous and Muslim people of Mindanao, Kadayawan is the best time to honor and celebrate the rich culture of Davao City.

PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) did just that when it recently featured the tribes of Davao in an exhibit that promoted cultural inclusivity and literacy. The three-day showcase, held in conjunction with the annual event, focused on the mother tongue-based literacy mobile apps of Smart that help promote both learning and culture among Davaoenos and tourists alike.

The local apps highlighted during the festival include Matigsalug, Tahderiyyah, and Ta’allam, developed by Smart in partnership with content experts, government and non-government organizations, local government units, and academic institutions.

The first tribal app of its kind, the Matigsalug app features songs, dances, and language of the Matigsalug tribe based in Marilog District in Davao City. Made to teach young Indigenous People (IP) basic literacy, the app also allows anyone to learn and appreciate the undiscovered Matigsalug culture.

Kadayawan revelers also learned about the rich culture of the Bangsamoro region with the app Tahderiyyah, which is based from the Islamic Kindergarten curriculum implemented in the region. The first literacy app specialized for Bangsamoro children focuses on stories with Islamic values and expressions, on top of Arabic alphabet and number games.

Another Arabic app is Ta’allam (Arabic for “to learn”), which highlights reading and counting exercises, and Islamic prayers such as Dua, Surah, Salah, and Wudhu. The app was developed specifically to support the implementation of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) Program in General Santos City and Sarangani Province.

26-year-old Jehaina Emba of Toril attended the event with her daughter, who enjoyed playing tribal games on the Matigsalug app. “Ganiha pani siya diri pero okay lang kayo kay at least educational iyang ginadula ug about sa mga tribu. (She’s been staying at the exhibit for quite some time, but I don’t mind. It is actually good because she’s playing with an educational and tribal-centered app),” she said.

Emba commended the apps, emphasizing it can really help promote he tribes’ culture and preservation. “Children can learn about other tribes on the apps,” she said. “They will surely appreciate these innovations because it helps them learn in an interactive, educational, child-friendly, and fun way,” Emba explained.

Also a Bagobo-Tagabawa, Emba admitted that she used to worry about how today’s technological advancements could compromise the preservation of IPs cultural practices. However, this is not the case with those who use LearnSmart apps, as they are specifically intended to help children discover more about their heritage – but in a modern, enjoyable way.

“Among the things kids need to learn by the age of five include language, cultural wardrobe, and other practices – and the app contains all of these,” Emba said.

Smart Community Partnerships Head Darwin Flores emphasized that the company’s ultimate goal in developing mother tongue based apps is to provide fun and interactive support learning strategies. “Developers of these advancements are committed to heritage preservation for the present and future generation,” he stated.

For the government’s part, Department of Education 11 spokesperson Jenielito Atillo said the Kadayawan exhibit was able to underscore the need to further promote Davao’s culture and people. Among those who manned the different literacy apps booths included volunteers from the Matigsalug IP youth community (through the City Cultural Office) and from the Pamulaan Center for IP Education. The Ta’allam and Tahderiyyah app booths were managed by volunteers from the Mercy Islamic Foundation.

Jorlan Borromeo, Daiyah or missionary of Mercy Islamic Foundation took pride in being part of LearnSmart’s Arabic apps. “It can get hard for some to study Quran because it is written in Arabic language, but these apps will make it easier for them to learn the core values of Islam,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pamulaan Center for IP Education volunteer Dale Perez said LearnSmart apps prove how technology can help preserve culture. “Technology is often associated as one of the factors why IPs culture is diminishing, but this is not the case with the Matigsalug app,” he boasted.

“We want to show the world that it can be the other way around: that the app makes children more appreciative of our culture,” Perez added.

As a collaborative effort with DepEd, colleges, universities, and local stakeholders, the line-up of LearnSmart literacy apps include Bahay Kubo (Filipino), Kaalam (Cebuano), Kaaram (Waray), Katao (Inabaknon), Singsing (Kapampangan), and Sanut (Ilokano). Having bagged local and international awards and nominations, these apps emphasize Smart’s direction to build strong partnerships with community stakeholders. “This will allow us to develop innovative and sustainable programs that bring real value to all Filipinos,” said Stephanie Orlino, Head of Education Programs at Smart.

For more information on Smart’s mother tongue-based literacy apps and Smart’s other education programs, email or follow Smart Communities on Facebook at