Daniel Davies：The First ‘ North Philippines Research Congress’: A Personal Reflection
In early June, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to travel to St.Louis University in Baguio City, in the north of the Philippines. The 2019 inaugural ‘North Philippines Research Congress’ under the theme of “Indigeneity: Meeting the Challenges, Making a Difference” was a unique opportunity for me to attend a conference centred on research into and around the issues of indigenous peoples. Held by the School of Advanced Studies at St.Louis University, in the mountain city of Baguio, the conference brought together academics and community workers from the Philippines, and abroad, to share research surrounding indigenous cultures. My paper was just one of many focusing on issues of indigenous education within multicultural societies. As a multidisciplinary conference, papers and experiences were shared on many fields, including; art, education, sociology, anthropology, politics and engineering. The breadth of topics discussed offered a chance for horizontal exploration of contemporary issues of indigeneity of the Philippines, but also a chance for reflection on the wider concepts of indigeneity and indigenous studies.
The chance to share and discuss with my colleagues abroad brought to life the multiplicity of understandings and approaches employed within the narrow discipline of indigenious political studies. Within the papers shared by social and political scientists, at the conference, many similar themes were investigated however the tools and ontological approaches seemed different. In discussion of indigeneity, a variety of philosophers, forms of analysis and approaches were applied to understand local case studies. The conference was successful in showing that the indigenous issues are a dynamic and meaningful way to address major 21st century questions of nationalism and multiculturalism in an ever globalised world, and the growth of provoking and critical approaches and ideologies supported through close, maintained interaction between academics and local indigenous communities.
It was very interesting to learn about the extensive school-community partnership methods that were being applied throughout the Philippines. Following prescribed methods of free and prior informed consent and local participation, the research and insight of many of the presenters had been developed over a longer period, which allowed for deep and highly supported research approaches, and linked local communities to wider philosophical discourse and international issues of indigenous peoples. This is a model which I feel could be replicated in Taiwan as a parallel avenue of scholarship to the highly centralised system of short term grants.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the hard work and enthusiasm put into the organisation of the conference by the Ph.D student organisers, and the initiative of the staff to give the local Ph.D students such an opportunity to host their own international conference. I am extremely thankful to the Institute of Political Science at NSYSU, not only for bringing the ‘North Philippines Research Congress’ to my attention, but also for supporting me throughout the process of preparing my paper, and attending the conference. The trip not only acted as a chance to develop and share my own research, but to make new friends and learn from the participants, professors of St.Louis (especially those of the ‘School of Advanced Studies’) and the organisers of the conference.I look forward to more opportunities and hosting our colleagues and classmates from across the Luzon Strait in the future.