This 18-year-old Filipino student has developed an app that translates Filipino languages

Jun 3, 2023 1 comments
Have you ever tried translating a Philippine language online? It's like trying to decipher hieroglyphics. There aren't many web translators available for the various dialects spoken in the country, which can make communication difficult and frustrating. 

But thanks to a new web app by 18-year-old Jose Arron Franz Suoberon, you can now translate between a dozen Philippine languages with ease. His app, which includes Jejemon and Bekimon as language options, has already gained a lot of popularity and attention since its launch on May 25, 2023. So if you're ever lost in translation, be sure to check it out!

In an interview with Metroscene Mag, he shared about his inspiration for the web app, how he created it, and his future plans.

The Creator and His Creation

It's not an exaggeration to say that this Ilonggo prodigy has already achieved greater things at 18 than most of us could when we were the same age. With his ingenious web app translator, he has shattered language barriers for a dozen Philippine languages, capturing the attention of the world since its grand debut on May 25, 2023. 

The web app is called "Translata" a tool that would help people translate between Philippine languages. He announced the launch on his Facebook post, saying, "Lost in translation? I made a web-app designed to help you translate between Philippine languages. ps. I included Jejemon and Bekimon as language options for some extra fun."

The Journey of a Hobby Project

Jose created "Translata" as a hobby to keep up with his classmates in college in terms of experience. It all started while he was scrolling through his Facebook feed during a class and saw a meme about chatGPT conversing in Cebuano. He discovered that the model not only understood Hiligaynon phrases but also translated them into both Tagalog and English seamlessly. 

"Classes ended just last week po if my memory serves me right, and that's when I decided to bring my idea to life. I started with a basic design concept, envisioning how the app should look and function," he shared.

He began coding right away utilizing the online resources he had learned to use throughout 2020. He integrated the GPT 3.5 Turbo API by OpenAI, built necessary functions, and tested them with the help of Google, Stack Overflow, and ChatGPT.  He took charge of the user interface design, ensuring it was user-friendly and straightforward. Once the web app's development was complete, he uploaded it to Netlify, a free hosting tool, and thus, Translata was born. 

"It's been a fun and simple hobby project for me, something to do in my free time. I wanted to save people the hassle of logging into chatGPT, setting up prompts, and wondering if it could really translate our local languages. Translata streamlines the process and provides a more convenient way to get those translations done."

Translata's Language Options and the Imperfections 

This web app is truly a game-changer as it offers translation that includes Tagalog, English, Cebuano, Ilocano, Waray, Bicolano, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Hiligaynon, Chavacano, Jejemon, and Bekimon. What sets "Translata" apart is that it also includes Jejemon and Bekimon as options. Jejemon is a subculture in the Philippines characterized by the use of unconventional spelling and grammar, while Bekimon is a gay lingo that has gained popularity in recent years. Having these two as options adds a fun and unique aspect to the web app.

Despite its impressive feat, Jose acknowledges that his web app may have translation inaccuracies and still needs improvement, but he also emphasizes that human interpretation and context are crucial for accurate translations.

Twitter Reactions and Comments

Tonyo Cruz, a columnist in Manila Bulletin, tweeted about Jose Suoberon's web app, which quickly garnered attention and praise from netizens. Many Twitter users chimed in, expressing their excitement and appreciation for the app and providing feedback on how it could be made even better. 

However, some netizens also reminded the public to be gentle with their critiques. 

Jose Suoberon's future plans with Translata

"I must be honest that I might have to pause or discontinue the project if the bills start piling up, may bayad po ang paggamit ng API ng model ng chatgpt," he said.

Currently, the bill for the 8.5k users is 750 pesos, and it's just a test run to gauge the app's potential. However, if someone can take care of the financial side and manage the web app, Jose would be more than willing to pass the baton and ensure its continuity. Although, for now, he's content with what he's accomplished with his resources and time.

Looking ahead, Jose has big plans for his future. Despite studying at a maritime school in Iloilo, he plans to pursue BSCS or software engineering course as he heads in his freshman years.

Translata is a prime example of how a hobby project can have immense potential and become an indispensable resource for users with further development. Let's continue to support innovations like this while preserving the integrity of each language and dialect. Try the Translata here.


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