UPD visits culture bearers in Baguio

After a successful seminar-workshop on indigenous and traditional cultures in Quezon City, the committee in charge of the UP Diliman (UPD) Culture Bearers-in-Residence Program embarked on another seminar-workshop, this time in Baguio.

According to UPD Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Maria Vanessa Lusung-Oyzon, one of the key roles of UP is to lead in protecting indigenous knowledge or the katutubong kaalaman and kaalamang bayan.

“[The] UPD Culture Bearers-in-Residence Program was conceptualized as one of the ways UPD innovates the promotion and preservation of indigenous and local knowledge,” Lusung-Oyzon said.

Organizers and participants of Bisita Kultura: The Cordilleras (Bisita Kultura: The Cordilleras. Photo by Jose Carlo G. de Pano, UPDIO)

Speaking before participants of the Bisita Kultura: The Cordilleras seminar-workshop, Lusung-Oyzon said the activity was another important initiative to ensure that what the program envisions will be realized.

“We hope that through this program, we can further amplify the voices of the culture bearers, our cultural treasures, as they pass down their wisdom, share their rich cultural and historical knowledge [and] learning experiences to our students as well as our faculty, our researchers, and young artists through formal, informal, and non-formal meaningful learning sessions,” Lusung-Oyzon said.

She hoped that the Culture Bearers-in-Residence Program will go further and touch more lives until it makes a difference.

Meanwhile, Sir Anril P. Tiatco, PhD, co-chair of the committee, said the program’s steps to ensure the preservation of indigenous and local knowledge are through teaching via formal and non-formal pedagogical activities.

“The culture masters are envisioned to teach and mentor UPD students, young researchers, and young artists, even scientists, even entrepreneurs, for a period ranging between three weeks and six months,” Tiatco said.

In addition, he said the communities of the culture bearers shall also benefit from the program through joint projects with their students and through scholarly activities with UPD’s faculty.

Participants and organizers of the seminar-workshop visit a culture-bearer in his community. Photo by Jose Carlo G. de Pano, UPDIO

Bisita Kultura: The Cordilleras had six seminar-workshops. The sessions were the following: Indigenous Practices and Traditions: Impact on Everyday Life by Edgar “Cordillera’s Bamboo Man” Banasan, founder of EDAYA Arts Collective; Indigenous Knowledge: Impact on Everyday Life by Leah E. Abayao, PhD, dean of the UP Baguio (UPB) College of Social Sciences (CSS); Indigenous Knowledge and the Transfer of Knowledge: The Case of Cultural Performances (Roger S. Federico, faculty member at the Khon Kaen University College of Local Administration, Thailand); Visiting a Cultural Community: Research and Ethics (Analyn Salvador-Amores, PhD, professor at the CSS); Impact and Implication of Mounting an Exhibition on Indigenous Peoples: Focus on the Cordillera (Jennifer C. Josef, PhD, director of the UPB Museo Kordilyera); and Indigenous Knowledge: Impact on Youth Leadership (Ezrah Alyssa Ananayo, Samahang Kabataan chair of Barangay Happy Hallow).

In her message to the participants, Director Monica Fides Amada W. Santos of the UPD Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts said there is still work that needs to be done to have a Culture Bearer-in-Residence Program that is inclusive, culturally sensitive, and ethical.

“When I say inclusive, I mean a program that creates a learning and teaching environment, and that reflects cognitive justice which calls attention to and addresses hierarchies of knowledge. I think iyon ang isang gusto nating i-address in the program,” she said.

Santos also reminded the participants to be mindful of their actions when dealing with indigenous knowledge or local practices.

“As we try to give respect to the different forms of indigenous knowledge channeled through these culture bearers, we must also think of how this program might affect the community and the culture bearers themselves in terms of how we view our own knowledge and our own sense of self. We need to be conscious of our own positionality, our objectives,” she said.

In closing, UP Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Co-Chair of the UPD Culture Bearers-in-Residence Program Ma. Theresa T. Payongayong said, “Mahalaga na habang lumalawig ang ating pagkaalam sa pamamagitan ng mga talakayan at konsultasyon, mas lumilinaw ang dapat lamanin ng guidelines sa pag-anyaya ng culture bearers at pagprotekta mula sa cultural misappropriation. Marami pang kailangang matutuhan at kailangang gawin, hindi pa tayo hihinto rito.”

Bisita Kultura: The Cordilleras was held from Nov. 24 to 26 in Baguio City.