Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Proposed Mindanao Panel - An Anthropology of a Marshland Community

PROPOSED PANEL– An Anthropology of a Marshland community
32nd UGAT Annual Conference

Panel Abstract

This panel features three studies conducted in an Agusan Manobo community in Brgy. Mambalili, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. Topics such as anthropology of sago, identity assertion and agricultural rituals are weaved together by focusing on the utilization of food resources in a specific ecological niche.


Heuristic schemas for an anthropology of sago (Metroxylon sagu) in Agusan Marsh (Agusan del Sur, Mindanao)
MJ Paluga, Department of Social Sciences, CHSS, UP Mindanao


The paper presents key preliminary results from an anthropological study (UP-Min Anthropology Field School 2010) of sago (Metroxylon sagu) forest and its structural relation to the wider socio-geographic space of Agusan Marsh (central area of study: Mambalili, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur) and some aspects of Agusan Manobo cultural practices. The spatial links of at least three ethno-ecological areas of the Agusan Manobo domain—danao/lake, yumbia/sago forest, pasak/agricultural field—is presented as a heuristic schema that appears to inform much of the enduring livelihood patterns and rhythms of marsh-dwelling Manobos. Highlighting sago as the focal object of this specific anthropological inquiry, the paper also presents a usable approach for an "object-oriented" anthropology.


Netibo lang ang nagakao’g unaw: producing and consuming identity among the Manobo in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur.
Jessie G. Varquez, Jr.– UP Mindanao


The main thesis of this paper is that there is a discourse of identity formation and assertion in appropriating unaw (local name of sago starch) extracted from a lumbia (sago tree) as a survival food in a predominantly Agusan Manobo community in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. By looking at the production, distribution and consumption of unaw in this community, the paper examines layers of narratives among the Manobo on how they view themselves as the rightful owner of the lumbia forest as part of their ancestral domain thus the right to extract sago starch and the social stigma associated in consuming the extracted sago starch. Queries on consumption, inter-ethnic relations and ecological management of lumbia forest are probed in this study.


Taephag: A Reflection on a Manobo's Concept of Thanksgiving
Raymundo R. Pavo - University of the Philippines Mindanao


Taephag is a Manobo ritual exercised before planting and/or harvesting. Interpreted as a spiritual activity, Taephag as an expression of thanksgiving entails a depth of complexity. In this respect, this article seeks to own this query: What is a Manobo's notion of Thanksgiving in relation to Taephag? This is the question which the present article hopes to address. As an initial thesis, we propose that in the Taephag, the Manobo's sense of gratitude is regulated by fear. While a Manobo farmer acknowledges the help of the Nature-Spirits for their permission to use the land and for protecting their crops, the Manobo is also wary that the ritual will not proceed undisturbed and as planned. This worry is based on his fear that the Nature-Spirits will later on inflict sickness/diseases on their families or be the cause of an unsuccessful future harvest. Between gratitude and fear, the Manobo, while engaged in the Taephag, tries to bracket his fear so he can focus on how the ritual should be performed. As he tries to provide a place (the ritual) where the Nature-Spirits can gather, it his sense of fear which secures his courage to persevere. Thus, it may be construed that it is this unique notion of fear which permeates a Manobo's notion of Taephag as thanksgiving.