UP CIDS hosts a seminar on Philippine Studies for Chinese researchers

UP CIDS hosts a seminar on Philippine Studies for Chinese researchers

Twelve Chinese scholars and experts participated in the “Seminar on Philippine Studies for Chinese Researchers” organized by the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS) China/Strategic Studies Program, in cooperation with the UP Office of the President, and the Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, Inc. (APPFI). The seminar was conducted last August 17 to 26, 2015.

The Chinese participants invited to take part in the seminar represented seven institutions. These institutions include the School of International Relations of Xiamen University, the Philippines Institute in Sun Yat Sen University in Guangzhou, the Philippine program at China-ASEAN Institute of Guangxi University, the College of ASEAN of Guangxi University of Nationalities, the School of International Studies of Jinan University, the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences,  and China Institute for Reform and Development.

Prominent scholars and experts in various fields of study were invited as lecturers on topics such as Philippine history and anthropology, Philippine society and culture, Philippine government and politics, Philippine socio-economic and development issues, Philippine foreign relations, and Filipino psychology. Aside from lecture sessions, the Chinese participants also went on tour visits which enhanced their understanding of Philippine culture, economy, and politics. The seminar aimed to impart more accurate knowledge and better understanding of Filipino society and institutions, and in turn, contribute to the Chinese participants’ ability to be better interlocutors of Philippines-China relations.

Dr. Aileen Baviera officially welcomed the Chinese participants during the Opening Ceremony last August 17, 2015. The first lecture for the seminar was delivered by Dr. Carlos Tatel from the UP Department of Anthropology. He presented a general survey of Philippine history. In the afternoon, Dr. Cynthia Zayas, the director of the UP Center for International Studies discussed the distinctive feature of the Philippines’ maritime civilization, while Ms. Melinda de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility talked about the press in Philippine society.

Later that day, a Welcome Dinner sponsored by the UP Office of the President was held in the Board of Regents (BOR) room in Quezon Hall. UP President Alfredo Pascual and Vice-President for Academic Affairs Gisela Padilla-Concepcion formally welcomed the Chinese participants to the university.

On the second day of the seminar, the lectures covered topics on Philippine society and culture. Dr. Nestor Castro, a professor in the UP Department of Anthropology and currently the Vice-Chancellor for Community Affairs, addressed the question “Who is the Filipino?” in his lecture. Dr. Melba Maggay, the director of Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture talked about religion in Philippine society. Ms. Teresita Ang See, executive trustee of Kaisa Heritage Foundation Inc. discussed the subject of “Tsinoys” or Chinese-Filipinos in Philippine life.

The third day of the seminar was devoted to a walking tour in some of the most significant cultural sites in Manila. The Chinese participants toured Intramuros and the National Museum. The participants also visited the Bahay Tsinoy Museum and listened to a brief talk by Dr. Richard Chu on a historical perspective of the role of the Chinese in Philippine economic life.

Philippine law and politics was the overarching theme of the lectures on the fourth day of the seminar. Dr. Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (IMLOS) and project leader of the China/Strategic Studies Program, opened the session with a discussion of the government structure and the judiciary. UP Department of Political Science professors Dr. Jean Franco and Dr. Aries Arugay delivered lectures on legislative politics and on the issues, challenges and prospects of Philippine democratization, respectively. A professorial lecturer from the same department, Dr. Temario Rivera talked about elections, political families, and political parties. Dr. Teresa Melgar from the UP Department of Sociology gave a lecture on civil society and social movements.

On the sixth day, issues on socio-economic development were discussed. Dr. Emmanuel de Dios from the UP School of Economics lectured on contemporary trends in the Philippine economy. Dr. Jorge Tigno, the current chair of the UP Department of Political Science gave an overview of labor migration from the Philippines and development, while Dr. Carolyn Sobritchea, former director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies (CWS) talked about the situation of women and men in the Philippines.

China/Strategic Studies Program coordinator Dr. Aileen Baviera and project leader Prof. Herman Kraft delivered lectures on Philippine foreign relations on the eighth day of the seminar. Dr. Baviera talked about Philippines’ relations with China and ASEAN while Prof. Kraft discussed Philippine-US relations.

On the morning of the ninth day of the seminar, Prof. Jay Yacat of the UP Department of Psychology discussed Filipino social thinking, influence, and relations. In the afternoon, the Chinese participants were given an orientation tour of the House of Representatives. This visit served to supplement the participants’ knowledge on how the Philippine government works. They were able to witness how public hearings are held, and how bills are discussed in the lower house of Congress.

To wrap up the whole seminar, a roundtable discussion on Philippine-China relations co-hosted with the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies (PACS) was held on the last day. The roundtable discussion was moderated by Ms. Teresita Ang See. The event started with  opening remarks by Dr. Ellen Palanca, the director of the Confucius Institute of the Ateneo de Manila University. Four speakers delivered brief presentations: Mr. Chito Sta. Romana, UP Asian Center lecturer, on an assessment of political relations; Dr. Tina Clemente, UP Asian Center associate professor, on an assessment of economic relations; Dr. Li Kaisheng, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences associate professor, on Chinese and Philippines mutual misperceptions; and Dr. Huang Fei, Xiamen University assistant professor, on insights into the Philippines and the future of relations. Dr. Aileen Baviera synthesized the presentations and delivered the closing remarks.

Later that evening, a farewell dinner hosted by Mr. Carlos Chan of Liwayway Marketing Inc., a major Filipino business operating in China,  served as a closing ceremony. Dr. Aileen Baviera and APPFI Chairman Raphael Lotilla awarded the Chinese participants with certificates of completion and tokens of appreciation.

Overall, the “Seminar on Philippine Studies for Chinese Researchers” proved to be a success. Aside from fulfilling its aim of providing knowledge on Philippine society, culture, economy, and politics, the seminar forged new networks and friendships among the organizers, the participants, and the lecturers. The exchange of knowledge and the building of mutual confidence and trust is expected to help promote constructive approaches in Philippines-China relations, and to contribute to long-term benefits for the peoples of the two countries.