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Thursday, February 14, 2008

1st Int'l Meet on Cordi Studies: My General Impressions

Overwhelmed. Shamed. Provoked. These words sum up my impressions on the recently conducted 1st International Conference on Cordillera Studies.Overwhelmed. Who would not feel swamped by the flood of scholarship pouring forth from the more than a hundred papers scheduled to be read during the three-day affair? Like apo newsman Ramon Dacawi who had wanted to attend each session , I was daily torn between dozens of "lovers." Realistically though, were the conference so scheduled as to have allowed me to listen in to every paper presentation, I'm sure I'd ended up in a hospital bed for "acute information diarrhea." Even the 23 papers I was able to listen to in full were simply too much for me, what with my limited lexicon boxed in for about 10 years by the language of sectarian theology. It was such a struggle negotiating the nuances of a different language of scholarship. There was just so much basic concepts to learn, and so little time to study for a working and family man like me. I must hasten to add, however, that although I was initially overwhelmed by this "flood," I did not drown. As I continue to stay afloat by just "dog paddling," I'm ever hopeful that in time I'll learn the right strokes and finally fearlessly frolick with other academics in the open sea of learning.

Shamed. Learning from foreigners certain facets of Cordilleran culture heretofore unknown to me was embarrassing. I have never been ashamed of my Igorot roots (finontok, or kinalinga), but I have never felt ashamed of myself in relation to my roots until the conference somehow blasted at my ignorance about my own culture. I realized how little effort I exerted to help in the documentation and development of our indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSP). I was brought to tears seeing Mr. Dulnuan stand as an authority of the Ifugao culture as I remembered my father who, even at the twilight of his life, worked hard for the preservation of the best of Kalinga culture. I regretted that I did not take much advantage of his amazing store of indigenous knowledge, and thus allowed almost a whole library to die with him. There were scraps from that lost library that I was able to save though, which is very encouraging as I don't have to start from scratch as I pick up from where he left off.

Provoked. In his closing remarks, conference organizer Professor Delfin Tolentino, Jr. expressed his hopes that the conference was provocative enough as to have somehow "altered the way we view things." It was to me, as it will continue to be. I deem it providential that a historic conference as this would be held at a time when I was tearing myself away from a sectarian background in order to engage in a more productive pursuit, one that can help me truly connect with my own identity and turn me into a better servant to my community.

May the University of the Philippines Baguio College of Arts and Communication (UPB-CAC) be blessed a hundredfold for sponsoring us in this rare event. May the CSC continue to be a strong tower of refuge for a heritage threatened by the lurking forces of apathy and malpractice, and a bastion of Cordilleran scholarship. Matago-tago tako losan!


yajude said...

..that library might have been lost, but the information gained by existing historians/scholars will always be passed from generation to generation and the scraps he left must be transformed into something, which is almost everything! It's never too late to help preserve our culture. We are all proud i-Kalinga!

Johanna A. Kostine said...

Keep up the good work Scott. I know you can do better than that! I am glad to know that there are people like you whose passion lies in the preservation of the uniqueness of our culture (igorots/people of the mountain). Your works will soon be the "treasure throve of wonders" for the next generation to come. Move on.........."Great moves start from where others may have left". I am proud to be i-Kalinga (i-Banao)myself and i always will!

scott saboy said...

and thank you for being such a great encouragement! :)