Colloquium Series, Fall-Spring 2006

Images of Cordillera through Visual Ethnography, February 16, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm, Center for Korean Studies Auditorium.

Speaker: Joel Arthur Tibaldo
Visual Ethnographer & Filmmaker-in-Residence
East-West Center, Honolulu

Preserved through the centuries, the culture of the Cordillera people, in northern Luzon, Philippines, has remained enigmatic and vibrant until recently, when the powerful forces of globalization threaten to dilute it. The Cordillera is also the site of the magnificent world wonder, the thousand-year old rice terraces or "Stairway to Heaven," recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site (one of only three in the Philippines). Art Tibaldo will present video snippets and discussion of some of Cordilleran rituals and arts, marvelous ancient practices in agriculture (e.g., irrigation, contour farming, balanced ecosystem, etc.), indigenous notions of peace and war, and mummification, among others. His art exhibits are now on display at the Art Gallery of the East-West Center. The exhibit, "Custom and Creativity: The Arts of the Upland Philippines," is partially funded by the Filipino Centennial Celebration Commission. More...

Filipinos Writing a Constitution: Nationalist Commissioners, American Spies and the Anti-Bases Movement in Post-Marcos Philippines, April 28, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm, Friday, Center for Korean Studies Auditorium.

Speaker: Vincent K. Pollard, PhD
Lecturer, UHM School of Pacific and Asian Studies

About the Lecture: Contrary to a mistaken belief, the eruption of the Mount Pinatubo volcano on 12 June 1991 did not terminate negotiations on the Philippines-U.S. Military Bases Agreement. Instead, President Corazon Aquino and her negotiating panel were already ensnared in an elaborate two-edged trap set by Aquino's own Constitutional Commission during June-October 1986. During the first year of her presidency, Aquino was nagged by challenges to her legitimacy. Secret cablegrams in 1986 also reveal intelligence failures by U.S. Embassy "Political Section" staff. Meanwhile, imaginative tactical leadership by "Nationalist Bloc" Commissioners and allied anti-bases NGOs linked to the contentious "parliament of the streets" facilitated acceptance of strategic compromises by the President and her supporters. The lecture is based on Pollard's Globalization, Democratization and Asian Leadership: Power Sharing, Foreign Policy and Society in the Philippines and Japan. More...

Inventing Paradise: The Tasaday, October 8, 2006, 7:00 pm, Kuykendall 410.

Speaker: Robin Hemley, PhD

In this talk, Dr. Hemley discusses his findings on the Tasaday controvery based on his newly published book, Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday, published by in New York by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2003. Hereunder is the publisher's summary of the book, and an indication of the contents of the lecture:

The riveting story of a modern Piltdown hoax-which may not have been a hoax at all.

In 1971, a band of twenty-six "Stone Age" rain-forest dwellers was discovered living in total isolation by Manuel Elizalde, a Philippine government minister with a dubious background. The tribe was soon featured in nightly American newscasts and graced the cover of National Geographic. They were visited by such celebrities as Charles Lindbergh and Gina Lollobrigida. But after a series of aborted anthropological forays, the 45,000-acre Tasaday Reserve established by Ferdinand Marcos was closed to all visitors, and the tribe vanished from public view.

Fast-forward twelve years. A Swiss reporter hikes into the area and discovers that the Tasaday were actually farmers who had been coerced by Elizalde into dressing in leaves and posing in caves with stone tools. Soon the "anthropological find of the century" has become the "ethnographic hoax of the century."

Or maybe not. Robin Hemley tells a story that is more complex than either the hoax proponents or the Tasaday advocates might care to admit. At the center of it is a group of very poor people who have been buffeted by forces beyond their control. Were the Tasaday the creation of gullible journalists, bumbling scientists, and an ego-driven madman, or were they the innocent victims of cynical academics and politicos? In answering that question, Hemley has written a gripping and ultimately tragic tale of innocence found, lost, and found again. More ...