Kababayan Connections: Oliver Tolentino

By Jonathan A. Valdez

Kababayan Connections aims to connect conversations with Filipinos in the diaspora and UH Manoa students in how the study of the Philippines can be applied in different disciplines. Our first Connection is Oliver Tolentino.


Hollywood fashion designer Oliver Tolentino was born in Bataan and attended college and fashion school in the Philippines.  After years of hard work as a designer in Manila, Tolentino gradually came to dress a “who’s who” of Filipino entertainers including Arnel Pineda, Lea Salonga, Kuh Ledesma, Lani Misalucha, Cherie Gil, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Regine Velasquez, Pops Fernandez, Sam Milby and former First Lady Imelda Marcos.  Tolentino’s creations have also been featured at the Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, Grammys, SAG Awards, American Billboard Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Monte Carlo TV Festival, and on TV programs American Idol, America’s Next Top Model (cycles 17 & 18)ExtraDick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s EveThe View, The Early Show, Live With Kelly & Michael, and E!’s Fashion Police.

In 2009, Tolentino became the first Filipino designer to expand operations to the United States when he opened a boutique on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles while maintaining his Manila boutique in Makati.   Tolentino soon attracted Hollywood’s attention, and was honored as a 2009 OSCARS Designer Challenge finalist, chosen as the prestigious “2011 Designer of the Week” at the El Paseo Fashion Week in Palm Springs and chosen the next year as the first featured designer of San Diego Women’s Week.  In the Philippines, ABS-CBN & Metro Society magazine honored him as their prestigious MetroWear Icon in 2011 and eco-ethical endeavor Rags2Riches selected him as its 2011 Featured Designer.

In 2013, Tolentino became the first Filipino designer in 53 years to have a gown worn by an Oscar winner with director Jennifer Lee winning for the smash Disney animated feature “Frozen.”  Only Tolentino and Pitoy Moreno, who dressed Puertorriqueña Rita Moreno when she won “Best Supporting Actress award for West Side Story” in 1961.

Oliver answered some questions for us about his personal and professional life:

What was your first experience with Philippine fabrics and what was it?

OT      I was born and raised in Bataan province so my first experience with wearing the fabric myself was my baptismal dress when I was one year old.

What influenced you to use Philippine and environmentally sustainable fabrics in your designs, and also where do you see this advocacy leading the Philippines?

OT       Being a Filipino designer, I’ve always worked with Philippine fabrics in barongs and ternos for clients.  When I opened my main atelier on Melrose Avenue 5 years go, I decided to promote our local fabrics on the international stage, and especially in Hollywood, in order to help all the weavers and embroiderers back home who pass these skills down from generation to generation.   But first I had to modernize the look of the fabrics so they’d be popular with non-Filipinos.  In 2009, I introduced the fabrics with my Oscars Designer Challenge gown, and in 2010, I showed pieces at Bahamas Fashion Week where I introduced the dean of the Parsons School of Design in New York to our fabrics.  He had never seen them before.  

More recently, I have gotten Hollywood celebrities to wear our fabrics.   Carrie Underwood, Jessica Alba, Emmy Rossum, Sophia Bush, Maria Menounos, and Tara Lipinski wore my dresses made out of Philippine fabrics.  Carrie wore my peach piña gown to perform on American Idol, Tara Lipinski reported live from the Kentucky Derby in my pink dress, and Maria Menounos put 3 of my gowns up for a vote to Extra TV viewers and they chose my blue piña gown for her to host Extra‘s Emmy Awards red carpet.  These things provided high-profile exposure to our fabrics.  I’ve shown Philippine fabric pieces in L.A., Palm Springs, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Bahamas, Bali, Barbados, Hong Kong, Milan, and even at the U.N.’s Palais des Nacions in Switzerland, and I hope this will lead to our fabrics becoming more popular in the world, mostly because it benefits all the hard-working people back home who depend on this for their livelihoods.  I want to keep these centuries-old industries alive and prospering.

You mention briefly growing up and self-teaching yourself all about the fashion world in Bataan and visiting Aklan, Lumban, and Palawan, is there a dream spot in the Philippines you want to visit and why?

OT      I spend several months of each year in the Philippines.  I enjoy my time there and traveling to all our beautiful beaches and cities, but my dream spot will always be my home in Orani, Bataan.

Where do you see the Philippine fashion industry going?

OT      I think the Philippine fashion industry is always going to be healthy because we Filipinos are so interested in beauty and fashion.  I hope my presence in Los Angeles and Hollywood helps open the doors for Filipino designers, and I think some of that has happened in the past 5 years.  I made a decision when we opened the L.A. boutique to put up on the display window in big letters “MANILA * LOS ANGELES” under my name so everyone driving by and any actress or stylist coming there would know where I’m from.  I speak about being a Filipino and our food and beaches with every actress I meet and dress.  That opens their minds to the Philippines and to wearing Filipino designers.  In a small way, I’m trying to be an ambassador not just for Philippine fashion but for the Philippines.  And I’m humbled that visiting Filipinos pass by my Melrose boutique and take photos in front because they are proud.

For aspiring fashion designers what advice would you give them that has served you well?

OT      Fashion is not all about glamour like people think.  It’s a business where you have to work long hours, learn, know your craft, and constantly challenge yourself.  The greatest advice I can give anyone wanting to be a designer is to study and know everything about your business, not just how to draw.  Keep studying and learning every day.  And love what you do.

You can find more about Oliver Tolentino at http://www.olivertolentino.com/


A special thank you to Oliver’s assistant Andrew Carutthers for being our go intermediary and helping CPS launch our first Kababayan Connection.

And another special thank you to Eileen Blancas for advice in writing this post.

How Philippine Studies Began

By Belinda A. Aquino

Although they are complementary and often used interchangeably, Philippine Studies and Filipino American Studies have separate origins and different scopes.  The earlier of the two, Philippine Studies, or studies on Philippine society and culture, started in the early 1900s when the country became a colony of the United States.  Commodore George Dewey’s defeat of the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay and the subsequent annexation of the archipelago in 1898 aroused great interest in American circles.

The historical documents in the Spanish archives were translated into English by Emma Blair and James Robertson, and published in 55 volumes as The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803.  U.S. President William McKinley subsequently created the Philippine Commission to collect whatever data were available on the new American colony in Asia.  It was headed by Jacob Schurman, then president of Cornell University, a prestigious Ivy League academic institution.

Another professor, Dean C. Worcester of the University of Michigan, who had been in the Philippines in the 1890s, got other American academics like David Barrows, Albert Jenks and N. M. Saleeby to conduct ethnological studies on the indigenous tribes of the Mountain Province and the Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu.  In time a group of scholars, mostly anthropologists, made their careers in Philippine studies.  This group included H. Otley Beyer, Roy Barton, Fay Cooper Cole, Laura Benedict, and John Garvan.

Beginnings of Philippine Studies

In 1916 Beyer, who was to remain in the Philippines until his death, put out a landmark volume, Population of the Philippines. The book expressed the hope that “educated Filipinos will awake to the importance of preserving for future generations the history of their own race, and that scientists of other countries may grasp the fleeting opportunity to record knowledge of interest to the world at large.” Beyer eventually became a big name in Philippine archaeology and inspired other Western academics to study the Philippines.

Carl Guthe headed the University of Michigan Expedition in 1922-25, which called attention to the country’s relationship with China and Southeast Asia in pre-Hispanic times. Linguists compiled a number of grammar books and dictionaries like the one on the Ibaloi language in Benguet by Otto Scheerer.   A pioneering contribution, Tagalog Texts, by Leonard Bloomfield, was published by the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1917.

The 1930s saw a flourishing interest in Philippine Studies, in part due to the efforts of Joseph Ralston Hayden, another University of Michigan professor who had been appointed Vice Governor General of the Philippines. The Philippine Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations requested Felix and Marie Keesing to undertake a study of government and culture in Northern Luzon.  It was also in the 1930s that one of the earliest Filipino scholars in the U.S., Serafin Macaraeg, obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.  During this period Filipino government “pensionados” were coming to the U.S. for further education and training.

The Second World War

World War II and its aftermath accelerated Philippine Studies largely due to the experiences of American servicemen who saw action in the Philippines.  U.S. policy-makers began to see the need for area and language programs for political and military purposes in the “Far East” or the “Orient.”  (The politically correct term now is “Asia”.)  Hayden was attached to the office of General Douglas MacArthur and had plans to establish a Center devoted to Philippine Studies at the University of Michigan because of the rich Filipiniana library collections in that campus.  But a fatal heart attack aborted the project, and it was only years later that a Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, which include the Philippines, was established.

The Fifties to the Present

A real breakthrough came in the 1950s when Professors Alexander Spoehr and Frederick Wernstedt got funding from the Carnegie Corporation for research on the Western Pacific and the Philippines.  A Philippine Studies Program was instituted as part of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago.  Many Filipino anthropologists were trained by Professor Fred Eggan of the Department.  Eggan’s death effectively discontinued Philippine Studies in Chicago.  But Southeast Asian Programs at other major American universities, such as Cornell, Yale, Berkeley, Michigan, Stanford, Northern Illinois, Syracuse and Hawaii included the Philippines in varying degrees in their academic curricula.

Cornell, for instance, had a long-standing exchange with the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPCO project) to train Filipino agricultural scientists.  Michigan specialized in training Filipino Ph.D.s in history.  A. Clyde DeWitt program at the same university provided graduate training for Filipino lawyers.  And as early as 1963-64, there had been courses on Philippine Anthropology and Tagalog at the University of Hawaii.  The university also produced dictionaries and grammar books on Tagalog, Ilokano, Pangasinan, Kapampangan, Cebuano, Bikol and Hiligaynon, a monumental work of Philippine language specialists.  Some of these specialists had served in the Philippines as Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s.  In 1969 the First National Colloquium on the Philippines was chaired by Charles Houston of Western Michigan University.

A major development field came in 1975 when the Hawaii state legislature passed a resolution authorizing the University of Hawaii to establish a program which was the forerunner of the current Center for Philippine Studies.

Thus, Philippine Studies in the U.S. was spurred mainly by annexation at the turn of the 20th century following America’s empire-building ambitions in the Pacific.  Studies on the newly acquired colony revolved around the traditional fields of culture, history, language, geography, archaeology, literature, arts and religion.  Many of these works reflected the “cold war” thinking of the time.  Research on tribal groups and cultural communities in remote areas was particularly fascinating for Western scholars from academic and religious circles. Dictionaries and language resources were developed.  Archaeological diggings and expeditions before and after World War II were undertaken in an effort to document the Philippine past.

A “special relationship” developed between colonizer and colonized even in the academic arena.  Some like to call this a “love-hate” relationship.  Appropriately, a favorite topic of research or contention was the state of Philippine-American relations, mainly on the issue of the U.S. military bases in the Philippines.  A resurgent wave of Philippine nationalism in the early 1960s, among other factors, was changing the ideology and direction of Philippine Studies on both sides of the ocean.  More contemporary fields like politics, international relations, drama, economics, sociology, psychology, and demography began to be popular in the postwar period.

Ethnicity as a Central Concern

Civil rights, the anti-war movement, women, ethnic minorities, and other groups forced dramatic social changes in American society in the 1960s.  These “sea-changes” spilled over into academia.  In time, non-traditional fields of study were asserting themselves as legitimate areas of intellectual inquiry.

For Philippine Studies, it was no longer enough to focus on a country 10,000 miles away across the Pacific. The Filipino community in America was growing much faster than its Asian counterparts, especially after the 1965 liberalization of immigration laws.  Local-born, second, third and even fourth generation Filipino Americans were coming on their own as distinct entities with different cultural and educational needs.  The question of ethnicity or cultural identity, usually taken for granted by immigrant or Philippine-born Filipinos, became a central concern for the American-born.

The experiences of their pioneering ancestors in the sugar plantations of Hawaii, the canneries of the Pacific Northwest, and the lettuce or artichoke fields of California needed to be told to the burgeoning Filipino American communities and to the larger society.  Not that the Philippines was no longer important or relevant. The home country was always there, albeit only as a memory or vignette of imagined community.  It had to be supplemented by knowledge on the Filipino experience in America.  This experience embodied stories of survival and strength, which the younger generations needed to know to bolster their own ethnicity.  “Our history” became the underpinning of many of the ethnic studies programs across the country in the 70s.

Thus Filipino American studies programs or centers have emerged in some campuses in America, combining the more traditional Philippine Studies offerings like history and language with newer courses on the continuing Filipino American experience.  In addition to Hawaii, the post-secondary institutions with such programs are the City College of San Francisco, California State University at Hayward, University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and Old Dominion University.  Among the bigger universities, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is particularly strong in research on the Philippines, especially history and politics.  Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego, Arizona State, Kansas State, SUNY Buffalo, Washington State, Oregon and Northern Illinois also have Philippine specialists on their faculty.

The downside is, in current American academia, ethnic or area programs are the first to be cut or eliminated in times of budget crisis.  They cannot compete with the newer or market-oriented programs like computer science, information systems, management, communications, science and technology, and so on.  As universities continue to downsize their area studies programs, it is hoped that the ethnic communities themselves will help keep them alive in some way.  Endowments, donations, gifts, scholarships, and other resources from the various Filipino American communities can augment the diminishing funding for such programs in universities across the nation.  At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, for instance, benefactors like Robin Campaniano, a Filipino American alumnus of the University of Hawaii and University of San Francisco, help to keep the Center for Philippine Studies afloat with their occasional donations.  Of course, we could use more, as our responsibilities increase without corresponding support.

In the long run, sustained financial initiatives from the outside will be critical to keep Philippine Studies and Filipino American Studies viable on any campus.  We live in an increasingly competitive and insidious world. And it is somewhat disappointing that for all the long decades of the so-called “special relations” between the United States and the Philippines, Philippine Studies in America is sporadic and has not been institutionalized. The promising programs in earlier decades have died a natural death either from attrition or lack of viable support.

But they say it’s never in the Filipino spirit to end on a bitter note.   And I suppose I echo the resolve of my colleagues when I say that the show must go on – we must keep Philippine Studies alive.

[This article first appeared in Filipinas magazine in October 2000. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.]

Doctoral Research Opportunities in Brunei Darussalam


For graduate students who wish to pursue a PhD (in History or Critical Asian Studies): The University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD) is offering full scholarship grants for 3 years to deserving applicants.  Possible areas of research include, but are not limited to, comparative history & historiography (mainly Indonesia and the Philippines, and to an extent Malaysia), Mindanao and Sabah-related issues, Filipino migration and (trans)national identity, history and memory of the 2nd WW or post-war political violence, and history of ideas and politics of knowledge production/consumption.

Minimum Requirements: MA in History or related disciplines (if BA, Summa or Magna Cum Laude); IELTS or TOEFL; and a developed research proposal.

For inquiries, please email, Dr. Rommel Curaming at rommel.curaming@ubd.edu.bn.

For more information please visit http://gsr.ubd.edu.bn/ 

Congratulations to the 2014 CPS Grant and Scholarship Awardees

The Center for Philippine Studies of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is proud to announce our grantees and scholarship awardees for 2014.  From all of us here at CPS, congratulations and mabuhay!

2014 Alfonso Yuchengco Endowment Fund

Dylan Beatty is an MA graduate student in Geography.  He will be traveling to the Philippine to conduct research on mapping and contestation in the Spratly Islands produced by the Philippine state.  This research will contribute to the completion of his MA thesis.

2014 Ligaya Fruto Endowment Fund

Jonathan Sawyer is a PhD student in Urban and Regional Planning.  He will be traveling to the Philippines to conduct research on disaster resettlement and resilience in the Bicol region on the island of Luzon.  The results of the field study will used towards Jonathan’s dissertational project.

2014 Corky Trinidad Scholarship Fund

The Corky Trinidad Scholarship was awarded to three graduate students.

Isabel Chew is an MA graduate student in Asian Studies.  She will be completing her MA thesis focusing on the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, Philippine nationalism, and Filipino diaspora in Hawai‘i.

Rusyan Jill Mamiit is a doctoral candidate in Natural Resources and Environment Management.  Her dissertation project focuses on assessing efficiency, sustainability, and social cohesiveness in the rice sector in the Philippines.

Aaron Rom Moralina is a doctoral candidate in History.  He will be traveling attending the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison to study Bahasa Indonesia.

Lapuz Lecture at Philippine Consulate General





Lapuz Flyer-page-001


Philippine Consulate General presents:

“The Game that Angels Play: The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Unite States–Philippine-American Relations and the Search for Regional and National Security”

Lecture by Professor Jose David Lapuz

Friday June 13, 2014, 4:00pm to 5:00pm at the Philippine Consulate Genral Lanai.  2433 Pali Highway, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817

RSVP by Thursday, June 12, 2014 c/o Mr. Jeffrey T. De Mesa or Ms. Tess Canilao at (808)595-6316. 

Hearing the Voices of Aloha in the Philippines

For friends in the Philippines, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Voices of Aloha will be touring in the Philippines from June 8 to June 17.

Voices of Aloha, an ensemble of current students and alumni of the University’s Chamber Singers, our school’s most selective choral ensemble.  Singers in this group are members of some of Honolulu’s most prominent choirs, including: St. Andrew’s Cathedral Choir, the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, Hawai‘i Opera Theater chorus, Hawai‘i Vocal Arts Ensemble, and others.

Below is a list of public concert dates and locations.  For more information please see the Voices of Aloha Program Book at the link below.


Concert List:

Performance #1
Event: Aloha Concert
Date: Friday, June 6, 7:30 pm
Location: Orvis Auditorium

Performance #2
Event: Los Baños Feature Concert
Date: Monday, June 9, 7:00 pm
Location: Dioscoro L. Umali Hall, UP Los Baños, College, Laguna

Performance #3
Event: RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins (Benefit for typhoon-destroyed churched)
Date: Wednesday, June 11, 7:00 pm
Location: Manila Cathedral-Basilica

Performance #4
Event: University of the Philippines, Chancellor’s Home
Date: Thursday, June 12, 10:00 am
Location: UP Diliman

Open Clinic
Event: Clinic with Maestro Jojo Velasco
Date: Friday, June 13, 9:30–12:00
Location: University of St. Paul’s, Manila

Performance #5
Event: University of the East Choral, 15th Anniversary Concert
Date: Friday, June 13, 8:00 pm
Location: Tanghalang Pasigueno, Pasig City

Performance #6
Event: Manila Feature Concert
Date: Saturday, June 14, 7:00 pm
Location: College of St. Benilde

Performance #7
Event: Union Church Service
Date: Sunday, June 15, 10:30 am
Location: Union Church, Makati City

Performance #8
Event: Cebu City Feature Concert
Date: Monday, June 16
Location: University of San Carlos

For more information please contact Dr. Miguel Felipe at mfelipe@hawaii.edu.

Book Reading: FILIPINAS! Voices from the Daughters and Descendants of Hawai‘i’s Plantation Era


On Sunday, June 8, 2014 please join  the storytellers of Filipinas!: Voices from the Daughters and Descendants of Hawai‘i’s Plantation Era at the Hamilton Library  301 at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa from 1:30 – 3:30pm.  Joining the book’s editor, Dr. Patricia Brown, are storytellers Amalia Bueno, Charlene Cuaresma, Deanna Espinas, Nicolita Marie Garces, Sharon Matutino, Lise Miller, Rose-Marie de Aquino Phillips, Anna Ramos, and Darlene Rodriguez.

The event is free and open to the public.  Parking is also free.

For more information please contact Dr. Patricia Brown at pbrown3311@gmail.com for more information.

FLYER FILIPINAS! Storytellers UHM Hamilton

CPS Colloquium Series: A Year in Review

The Center for Philippine Studies’ Colloquium series for hosted seven colloquium speakers through the Fall 2013 and the Spring 2014 semesters.   Featuring speakers spanning the fields of American Studies, Education, Law, Psychiatry, and Communication, the CPS Colloquiums covered topics ranging from Filipino diaspora, Filipino Americans in higher education militarism, to Philippine law.

Speakers this year included:

  • Joyce Mariano, Assistant Professor (American Studies)
  • Vernadette Gonzales, Associate Professor (American Studies)
  • Jon Okamura, Professor (Ethnic Studies)
  • Patricia Halagao, Associate Professor (Education)
  • Faina Abaya-Ulindang, Professor* (History)
  • Samuel E. Anonas, Dean* (Social Sciences & Humanities)
  • Jamail A. Kamlian, Professor* (Philippine Studies)
  • Diane Desierto, Assistant Professor (Law)
  • Anthony Guerrero, Professor (Psychiatry)
  • Gretchen Gavero, Assistant Professor (Psychiatry)
  • Francis Dalisay, Assistant Professor (Communication)

*From Mindanao State University, Philippines

For more information on each speaker and their research interests please see the flyers below.






A warm mahalo to all of our CPS Colloquium speakers!

USIP Peace Education Project Reports

First History Seminar-Workshop, June 2013

Left to right: Dr. Datumanong Sarangani, Dean Samuel Anonas (standing), Dr. Macapado Muslim, Chancellor Lorenzo Reyes, and Dr. Federico Magdalena.

Under the auspices of the US Institute for Peace (USIP), CPS conducted the first of three workshops for history teachers from Mindanao State University on June 21-23, 2013. This workshop is part of the two-year project entitled “Teaching Enriched History and Bridging Cultures: In Search of Peace in Mindanao, Philippines.” Dr. Federico Magdalena, Project Investigator, went to Iligan City to supervise the successful conduct of the workshop. He was assisted by Dr. Samuel Anonas, Dr. Faina Abaya-Ulindang, and Dr. Jamail Kamlian, project coordinators from MSU.

The project’s objectives are: (1) to enhance the capacity of selected history teachers, and (2) the early prevention of violent conflicts, and promoting a culture of peace among students who belong to Christian, Muslim and Lumad (term for tribal communities who are neither Muslims nor Christians) ethnic groups.

A principal concern of the project is to promote peace-building efforts in sync with national and local initiatives, such as the MSU program of integration for which the university owes its reason for being. MSU is the second largest state university founded in 1961 to address the educational needs of the Muslims and tribal communities in Mindanao, and make them productive citizens (rather than problems) of the nation. The project goals also coincide with the current peace talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government, now at its tail-end. The peace process is connected with the Moro (Muslim) aspiration for self-government in Mindanao, which has been going on for the last four decades.

The workshop brought 44 teachers from six MSU campuses to listen to lectures, and design an innovative curriculum where students learn knowledge and skills of local history (history of Muslims and Lumad peoples), and peacemaking. Through this curriculum – enriched with peace education – the students will acquire values of trust, cooperation, and peaceful co-existence in a multicultural setting. The wide social distance between Muslims, Christians, and Lumads will hopefully diminish. Eventually, they serve as bridges of cross-cultural understanding in their own communities. Such change is resonant with the mandate of MSU to integrate the Muslims and Christians and bring about harmony, peace and development in the southern Philippines.

MSU President Macapado Muslim, who graced the opening ceremony, congratulates the organizers for inculcating peace concepts in the curriculum. He believes that multiculturalism needs a culture-sensitive education not only for Muslims but for Christian as well. Dr. Datumanong Sarangani, former Executive Vice President of MSU and one of the speakers, says the workshop is “long-time coming,” and is very much welcome.

After the workshop, the teachers returned to their respective stations – ready to chart a new direction for teaching local history. The enhanced curriculum will be pilot-tested for four semesters to see its impact on student attitudes and behaviors. An evaluation and monitoring scheme shall be implemented, based on a format using pretest and posttest, to find out if this curricular change is going to make a difference.

Details of the workshop are found Here.

Workshop-Report 2013

USIP is an independent, nonpartisan institution established and funded by Congress to increase the nation’s capacity to manage international conflict without violence. Its Grant Program increases the breadth and depth of the Institute’s work by supporting peace building projects managed by non-profit organizations including educational institutions, research institutions, and civil society organizations.


Second History Seminar-Workshop in Iligan City, 2014


The workshop, conducted on April 23-25, 2014 at Crystal Inn, Iligan City, ended with a resounding success.  This event is a follow up workshop of the first one conducted in June 2013, under the auspices of the UH Center for Philippine Studies in cooperation with Mindanao State University. Both are made possible through a grant provided to CPS by the United States Institute of Peace to enhance the capacity of MSU history teachers in their effort to inculcate peace culture, and develop peacebuilding skills and abilities among their students.  The project team consists of Dr. Federico Magdalena (Project Investigator, UHM), Dr. Faina Abaya-Ulindang (Coordinator for MSU Iligan Institute of Technology), Dr. Samuel Anonas (Coordinator for MSU Marawi campus), and Dr. Jamail Kamlian (Coordinator for MSU Tawi-Tawi campus).

The 3-day event was graced by Dr. Sukarno Tanggol, Chancellor of MSU Iligan Institute of Technology, who gave the opening remarks.  The program closed with a short statement from Dr. Ed Ignacio, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the same institution.

Forty teachers participated in this workshop. They represent five campuses of Mindanao State University (Marawi, Iligan, Tawi-Tawi, Naawan and Maigo). All of them are involved in the teaching of History 3 (History of Muslims and Lumads) in Mindanao, a course required for all students of MSU.  During the workshop sessions, they assembled in three groups and discussed ways of improving the history curriculum as well as the manual developed for this purpose by some of their co-teachers.  They proposed to make this curricular initiative infused with peace education as a model for all courses not only at MSU but in all tertiary institutions in Mindanao. They lauded the project for its support to the history faculty who have benefited from the capacity building effort of the project as it encourages peacemaking among the student beneficiaries.  Additionally, they expressed unanimous support for sustaining development of skills and tools in peacebuilding and evaluation (e.g., Focus Group Discussion) in aid of effective pedagogy. The teachers requested that a workshop dedicated to FGD methodology be conducted during this year.

Four Mindanao speakers shared their expertise in this event, which we did not have in our June 2013 workshop. They included Fr. Eliseo Mercado, past president of Notre Dame University, an ardent peace advocate who was a frequent lecturer in fora sponsored by the US Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.  He gave an update of the recently concluded peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation.  Another powerful speaker is Dr. Grace Rebollos, former president of Western Mindanao State University and civic leader in community peacebuilding. She also gave an excellent lecture on the ground realities in peace negotiations during the 2013 Zamboanga City caper that resulted in tremendous loss of lives and property during the 3-week siege initiated by the Moro National Liberation Front.  The third speaker is Dr. Datumanong Sarangani,  Professor Emeritus at MSU.  He helped guide the participants about history curriculum making as part of the university mandate, and in synch with the recently concluded peace talks (March 27, 2014) in Mindanao between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.  Finally, Prof Raymond Llorca, another Professor Emeritus from MSU, presented his commentary on the History manual and called attention to some social issues for future consideration. He noted, for example, the fact that the Lumads are fast disappearing (if they have not disappeared yet).   They constitute an interesting topic in history as well as anthropology (ethnography).

In that workshop, the Project Investigator also made a report on the status of the USIP project and presented some statistical data on the gains of the curricular program. He noted that the students significantly improved their knowledge of local history, and became aware of certain issues (e.g., discrimination, mining) related to minorities. In one campus (Iligan), for example, students have turned into peace activists. However, attitudes and values toward other ethnic groups have remained about the same.

After the workshop, the Project Investigator  stayed around for a while and worked  with the teachers to ensure the proper revision of the history manual and its possible adoption as textbook for all campuses of MSU.  He also met with the coordinators for future activities, as well as with the secretariat for the workshop proceedings and other matters.

The project team has proposed a roundtable discussion to present the initial results of this curricular experiment on peacebuilding at the Philippine Anthropological Conference (UGAT in Filipino) in Baguio City, on October 23-25, 2014. This is a major part of the project’s activities for this year in terms of visibility and dissemination. Such presentation also resonates well with the peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

Mindanao is creating waves nationally these days. The USIP project is catching some ripples in the hope of becoming part of the national conversation on peace and development.

A more detailed report is found by clicking this link – Workshop Report 2014


Third Workshop Report,  2015

The third and last workshop on peacebuilding in the curriculum was conducted on May 24-25, 2015 at Crystal Inn, Iligan City. This is part of the two-year project under the auspices of the US Institute of Peace, which the University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Philippines implemented in collaboration with Mindanao State University (three campuses: MSU Marawi, MSU Iligan and MSU Tawi-Tawi). The project aims to establish bridges of cultural understanding among Muslim, Christian and Lumad students at MSU, and hopefully among others in the communities where they live. In so doing, it also attempted to enhance the capacity of history teachers who are assigned to handle Hist 3 (History of Muslims and Lumads in Mindanao), which teaches students values necessary for establishing peace and minimize conflict. This course incorporated peace education concepts, including values and attitudes that promote multiculturalism and non-violence.

The two-day event highlighted the presentation of results of the project since it began in 2013, and allowed participants to evaluate its impact on the students and teachers. There were 32 teachers who attended the workshop. After two years (or four semesters), the project team presented results of the “quasi-experiment” to show what has been achieved in teaching the enriched history course in the three MSU campuses.

Overall, the results of the experiment are quite satisfactory though in the beginning there were problems. The project team is proud to have done this initiative to the finish.


Prepared by:

Fred Magdalena
August 15, 2015

Congratulations our 2014 Mānoa Awardees – Aurelio S. Agcaoili and Roderick Labrador

On April 30, 2014 at the Mānoa Awards Ceremony in Orvis Auditorium.  Chancellor Tom Apple and campus leadership were joined by the awardees and their students, colleagues, family and friends to celebrate their accomplishments.  Two professors affiliated with the Center for Philippine Studies, Professor Aurelio S. Agcaoili of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literature and Professor Roderick Labrador of Ethnic Studies were both awarded Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching.

Congratulations Aurelio and Roderick!  Mabuhay!