Friday, May 14, 2021

H. Arlo Nimmo, California State University

Professor Emeritus
California State University 

26 August 1936 - 14 May 2021 

Harry Arlo Nimmo, an American cultural anthropologist and short story writer, was born August 26, 1936 in the small farming community of Monroe, Iowa.  He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa where he majored in English and was active in journalism, serving as managing editor of the college newspaper and editor of the yearbook.

His growing interests in the Pacific and Southeast Asia led him to the University of Iowa to study anthropology in 1960.  The following year he continued graduate study in anthropology at the University of Hawaii where he was awarded a grant to the East West Center.  Under the auspices of the grant, Nimmo participated in the Coordinated Investigation of Sulu Culture jointly sponsored by the Ateneo de Manila University and the Notre Dame of Jolo College in the Philippines.  He conducted field research in the Tawi-Tawi Islands where he investigated the social organization of the nomadic boat-dwelling Sama Dilaut (also known as Bajau) for his MA degree which he received in 1965.

After completing his MA degree, Nimmo joined the newly created PhD program in anthropology at the University of Hawaii.  He returned to Tawi-Tawi in 1965 for an additional eighteen months of field research for his PhD dissertation which investigated changes that occurred when the nomadic boat-dwelling Sama Dilaut moved to houses and embraced a more sedentary life.   This research was sponsored by grants from the National Science Foundation (1965-1966) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (1966-1967). While in the field he also collected data for the Cross-Cultural Study of Ethnocentrism at Northwestern University sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation (1967). On returning to Hawaii, he was awarded a National Defense Graduate Fellowship for writing his PhD dissertation.    He received his PhD from the University of Hawaii in 1969.

In 1968, Nimmo accepted a teaching position in the Department of Anthropology at California State University Los Angeles and three years later, he joined the Department of Anthropology at California State University East Bay.  He returned to Tawi-Tawi for short research trips in 1977, 1982 and 1997.

Nimmo has written twelve books and dozens of articles.   Most of these publications (including two collections of short stories) are based on his Philippines research, but he has also written about American popular culture, San Francisco history and Hawaii’s volcano goddess Pele.  His book of short stories The Songs of Salanda won the 1994 Philippines National Book Award for Social Sciences and his book Magosaha, An Ethnography of the Tawi-Tawi Sama Dilaut won the 2002 Social Science Gintong Aklat Award for Excellence by the Book Development Association of the Philippines.   His biography The Andrews Sisters, published in 2004, was a finalist for the Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence. His collection of short stories, A Very Far Place (2012), was a finalist in the 2013 Philippines National Book Award for short fiction.  At the 2002 annual conference of the Anthropological Association of the Philippines, Nimmo was awarded special recognition for his research in the Philippines.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Gayia Beyer, Havas Ortega Group

Brand Anthropologist
Havas Ortega Group

25 October 1976 - 05 March 2021 

Gayia Beyer was the Director of Applied Anthropology of Havas Ortega Group. Her research focused on understanding contemporary life, particularly on the economics of living according to life-stage. She had 25 years of extensive fieldwork experience in the study of people’s mindsets, behavior and culture. Her work footprint enabled her to contribute and lead research programs in in the Academe, Development and Corporate Environments.

Gayia pioneered the use of ethnography as a major tool in the design of communications campaigns and marketing strategy for companies in the Philippines and abroad for over 12 years. Understanding the Millennial had been an ongoing passion since 2013.

Gayia, likewise, had been very involved and active in the undertakings of Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc. (UGAT). She shared her undertakings on branding and anthropology in several public fora organized by UGAT.  


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc. (UGAT)


The Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao Inc. (UGAT), organized in early 1977 and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1979, is the national organization of anthropologists in the Philippines. It is also known as the Anthropological Association of the Philippines. UGAT’s main objectives are:

  • To promote, develop and disseminate anthropological knowledge;

  • To promote, deepen the knowledge, understanding and participation of and among different ethno-linguistic groups in working towards an integrated national consciousness and development;

  • To promote and forge linkages among anthropologists and others doing related work within the country and other parts of the world;

  • To uphold professional ethics.
Since its founding, UGAT has been conducting annual national conferences not only to discuss professional concerns but also to make anthropology more involved in national issues affecting Philippine society and culture.

UGAT is a regular member of the Philippine Social Science Council (PSSC) and is affiliated with the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES).

Journal Information

AGHAMTAO is the official publication of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc. (UGAT), the Anthropological Association of the Philippines.  Beginning with its maiden issue in 1978 devoted to a stocktaking of Anthropology in the Philippines, it continues to provide a forum for the “scholarship and the practice of anthropology,” covering such diverse areas as development and sustainability, disaster, ethnicity and national unity, education, and mass movements. The journal features selected papers read in annual conferences as well as reports from special events organized by UGAT.

AGHAMTAO comes out as a regular issue in October. All articles are screened by the Editorial Board, and undergo a double-blind review process. ​Issues of the journal are available at the PSSC Central Subscription Service.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Book of Abstracts! Mindanao Regional Conference

The Book of Abstracts for the Mindanao Regional Regional Conference of the 42nd UGAT Annual Conference is now available! See/download the BOA from this page: 

The conference starts today, November 21, at 8:30AM! Register now (  to access the Zoom details of the conference. See you!

Friday, October 30, 2020

UGAT 42nd Annual Conference

42nd Annual Conference
Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc (UGAT) 
16-28 November 2020

Line-up of conference activities!

Online conference events for the 42nd Annual Conference of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT/ Anthropological Association of the Philippines)!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Felixberto Roquia, Jr., University of the Philippines

University of the Philippines 

02 December 1947 - 29 October 2020  

Naglingkod si Dr. Joji bilang Pangulo ng Ugnayang Pang-AghamTao (UGAT), ang samahan ng mga antropolohista sa Pilipinas, noong 1990s.  Naihalal siya bilang Pangulo at ako at si Dr. Daylinda Cabanilla bilang mga Pangalawang Pangulo sa kumperensya ng UGAT sa Cebu noong 1993.  Isang kawalan si Joji sa hanay ng mga practitioner ng Social Impact Assessment sa Pilipinas. - mula kay Dr. Nestor Castro, 29 October 2020 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

UGAT 42nd Annual Conference Call for Abstracts


42nd Annual Conference of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc. (UGAT)
Via Zoom and Facebook Live
University of San Carlos, Cebu City
27 to 28 November 2020

Encountering Colonization and the Pandemic in the Visayas:
Local Experiences and Responses

Conference Conveners: 

Zona Hildegarde S. Amper, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology, Sociology and History  
University of San Carlos, Cebu City 

Enrique G. Oracion, Ph.D.
Silliman University, Dumaguete City
Jose Eleazar R. Bersales, Ph.D.
USC Museum, University of San Carlos, Cebu City

The COVID 19 outbreak that has affected people across social class, ethnicity, gender, and age, in different countries, occurs as we approach the 500th anniversary of Lapulapu’s victory, as well as Magellan’s success in circumnavigating the world, and the introduction of Christianity in this country. While colonization has resulted in significant socio-cultural changes on pre-colonial indigenous cultures, the pandemic has ushered in a so-called “new normal” that has also drastically changed the way people interact and transact with each other.  The Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT), or the Anthropological Association of the Philippines, would like to scrutinize such significant events and their long-lasting effects on cultures of the Visayas.

Christianity may be considered as the most significant cultural consequence of Spanish colonization to the country. But this religion was utilized to subjugate the local population and coerce them to convert to a belief system imposed by the colonizers. Despite the victory of the locals led by Lapulapu over Magellan and his men in 1521, this group of islands now named the Philippines came under the rule not only of Spanish but also American colonizers for centuries. Encounters with the colonizers were experienced by local peoples in different places across different time periods, sometimes violently. Such historical events illustrate how cultures encounter each other through various forms, resulting in a number of challenges, consequences, and changes, on both sides.  

On the other hand, the present health emergency posed by a virus that has spread like wildfire throughout the globe, has forced people to make drastic changes in their lifestyles, daily routine, livelihood, mode of education, among others.  It has also highlighted political inadequacy, health care limitations, as well as economic problems.  This new type of encounter in the modern technological age has forced people to adopt new ways of thinking, behaving, interacting, communicating, and acting, to ensure safety and good health.  Just like colonization, the pandemic is ushering in a number of socio-cultural changes in various aspects of life.  

Anthropological insights are necessary to provide a grounded analysis of our colonial past as well as the present-day challenges of a pandemic.  This conference shall critically analyze the cultural implications of these significant events, highlighting experiences and local responses of peoples of the Visayas to such situations both in the past and in the present.  We are now calling for abstract submissions from anthropologists, allied social scientists, development practitioners, and those from other disciplines, which focus on community and personal experiences, institutional and individual responses, situational and contextual analyses related to our colonial past as well as the present pandemic which has resulted in drastic social and cultural changes. 

This is an online or virtual conference hosted by the University of San Carlos, scheduled for two days from November 27 to 28, 2020.  No registration fees will be charged for presenting in, or attending this regional conference.  Those interested in making a presentation may submit an abstract of not more than 250 words to  on or before October 18, 2020.  Notice of acceptance will be issued by email by the end of October.

For further information, please visit the website of UGAT or send a message at You may also check out UGAT’s Facebook Page for updates.

Come join us in the UGAT-Visayas Regional Conference and let your voices be heard, mga BISAYA!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

UGAT 42nd Annual Conference Call for Proposals


42nd Annual Conference of the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc. (UGAT)
Online Conference hosted by the Ateneo Institute of Anthropology
Ateneo De Davao University, Davao City, Philippines
21 November 2020

Conference Convener: 
Augusto B. Gatmaytan, Ph.D.
Ateneo de Davao University

Encountering the COVID-19 Virus in Mindanao:  
Peoples’ Responses to the Pandemic

This is a world that is now hyper-aware of the spread of COVID-19 virus across the globe, and across our country.  Even those who question the pandemic’s reality or existence have to acknowledge how it has captured the rest of the world’s resources, energy and imagination.  As of 14 September 2020, the World Health Organization reports a total of 28,637,952 cases of infection worldwide and 917,417 resulting deaths.  In the Philippines, there are 257,863 confirmed cases and 4,292 deaths. Beyond this massive loss of life and the wave of grief in its wake, there are the economic and political consequences of the lockdowns and other responses to the pandemic of states and peoples.  Given that ‘the way humanity exists in the world … is by being social through and through’ (Fuentes 2020: 24) we also note the cultural, health and psychological consequences of quarantines and social distancing.  Observers have noted that the virus does not operate as a ‘great leveler’, affecting rich and poor, powerful and powerless alike.  Instead, the pandemic seems to disproportionately afflict the poor and marginalized sectors of society. 

It is this skewed impact that encourages us to draw on the Anthropology of Disasters in the analysis of the pandemic and its impact.  This literature emphasizes that a disaster is not just a natural event—such as the leap of a virus from an animal host into the human population—but also ‘the product of social, political and economic environments [that] structure the lives of different groups of people’ (Wisner, et al. 2004: 4, also Bankoff 2003: 154).  Our approach to the pandemic must thus address ‘the amount of “access” that people have to the capabilities, assets and livelihood opportunities that will enable them … to reduce their vulnerability’ to disasters, while keeping in mind that this ‘pattern of access … is subject to (and the result of) agency, decision making …, struggle over resources, and also cooperation’ (Wisner, et al. 2004: 79, 99).  This draws analytic attention from the state’s response to the pandemic, to the ‘everyday social inequalities … that determine who becomes infected in the first place’ (Keck, et al. 2019: 4).  It is this attention to the social that now serves as the starting point for explaining why it is the poor who bear the brunt of the pandemic’s impact.

This is not to reduce the poor and marginalized to ‘vulnerable and helpless victims’ of the pandemic (following Gaillard 2015: 13).  Rather, it calls for greater consideration of peoples’ capacities to ‘face threats’, which capacities are ‘often rooted in resources that are endogenous to the community and that rely on local knowledge, indigenous skills and technologies, and solidarity networks’ (id.).  Moreover, the reaction of a person—or of a family or neighborhood, organization or institution, local government unit or state—to a disaster is ‘not random, unordered and wholly immediate’, but follows from ‘what those events mean and represent to them within their interpretative schemes’ (Bankoff 2003: 159).  Thus, ‘attention to local explanations and experiences of epidemic events [provide] a critical space to interrogate the differing social impacts of outbreak response’ (Keck, et al. 2019: 3). 

It is with the intention of exploring Mindanao peoples’ explanations and experiences of the pandemic that the Ugnayang Agham Tao (UGAT) invites scholars, practitioners, teachers and students of Anthropology, colleagues in the social sciences, and other stakeholders to submit proposals to present case studies at the Mindanao Regional Conference of the 42nd Annual Conference of the UGAT.  The organizers are interested in studies illustrating and illuminating peoples’ understandings of, and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Lumad and Bangsamoro communities, whose experiences remain underreported.  This conference will be an online or virtual conference hosted by the Ateneo Institute of Anthropology, scheduled for 21 November 2020.  No registration fees will be charged for presenting in, or attending this regional conference.

The case studies documenting and explicating local responses to the pandemic may be presented or read live during the conference, or be in the form of pre-taped audio presentations, or of videos or slide-presentations with or without live commentary.  Those interested in making a presentation may email their proposal in the form of an abstract of not more than 250 words to .  The deadline for submission will be on 01 October 2020.  Notice of acceptance of proposals will be issued by email by mid-October. 

For further information, please visit the website of UGAT at or send a message at You may also check out UGAT’s Facebook Page at for updates.

Bankoff, Greg.  2003.  Cultures of Disaster:  Society and Natural Hazard in the Philippines.  London and New York:  RoutledgeCurzon.
Fuentes, Agustin. 2020. A (Bio) Anthropological View of the Covid-19 Era Midstream: Beyond the Infection, Anthropology Now. 12:1, 24-31, DOI: 10.1081/19428200.2020.1760635.  ISSN: 1942-8200 (Online) journal homepage: https://www.tandfoline.come/loi/uann20.
Gaillard, J.C.  2015.  People’s Response to Disasters in the Philippines:  Vulnerability, Capacities, and Resilence.  New York:  Palgrave Macmillan.
Keck, Frederic, Ann H. Kelly, and Christos Lynteris.  2019.  ‘Introduction:  The Anthropology of Epidemics’, in The Anthropology of Epidemics, ed. Ann H. Kelly, Frederic Keck, Christos Lynteris.  London and New York:  Routledge.  Pp. 1-24.
Wisner, Ben, Piers Blaikie, Terry Cannon and Ian Davis.  2004.  At Risk:  Natural Hazards, Peoples’ Vulnerability and Disasters, 2nd ed.  London and New York:  Routledge.
World Health Organization.  2020.  Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Weekly Epidemiological Update and Weekly Operational Update (as of 14 September 2020), at, accessed on 14 September 2020.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Mercedes Lactao Fabros, Anthropologist


09 March 1953 - 16 May 2020

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Mahirap Maging Mahirap: How are the poor coping with COVID-19?

Mahirap Maging Mahirap: How are the poor coping with COVID-19?

Kwentong Kalusugan sa Komunidad ukol sa COVID-19 (KKK-COVID19)
Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC), Ateneo de Manila University
Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc. (UGAT) 

UGAT thanks everyone who joined its first-ever webinar, where four anthropologists talked about the impacts of Covid-19 and the resulting quarantine on the urban poor.

Here is an infographic prepared by Ateneo de Manila University student Kay Atienza, who joined the webinar and got inspired to design this visual aid free of charge.

The speakers of the webinar facilitated by Dr. Mary Racelis of the Institute of Philippine Culture discussed topics related to the experiences of Filipinos during the enhanced community quarantine, with a focus on the plight of the urban poor.

Dr. Maria Carinnes Alejandria of the University of Santo Tomas discussed the struggles of the residents in BASECO compound in Manila, particularly those involved in the garlic industry.

Dr. Josh San Pedro of the Coalition for People's Health shed light on the struggles of disseminating COVID-related information to the public as reflected in his work as a physician-anthropologist in Quezon City.

Dr. Gideon Lasco of University of the Philippines Diliman highlighted the most vulnerable sectors of the society during COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the point that the pandemic can be viewed as "syndemic". The issues arising during ECQ should not be divorced from the apparent disparities brought by different social, economic, and political contexts.

Watch the video here

Maria Paz Palis, Ateneo de Manila University

Ateneo de Manila University

25 January 1965 - 22 April 2020

Maria Paz Palis made her transition around 1:30PM today, April 22, 2020 in Iloilo City. She died of complications to breast cancer. Paz was 55. Please continue to pray for her eternal repose.

Patsy was a valiant spirit, a prayer warrior, unwavering in her love and support to family and friends, and always positive and upbeat in spite of pain and challenging situations. Join our family as we celebrate a life well lived! — from Joseph Palis, 22 April 2020

Friday, April 17, 2020

Mahirap Maging Mahirap (UGAT and IPC Webinar on COVID 19)

Mahirap Maging Mahirap (UGAT and IPC Webinar on COVID 19)

Kwentong Kalusugan sa Komunidad ukol sa COVID-19 (KKK-COVID19)
Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC), Ateneo de Manila University
Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao, Inc. (UGAT) 

Join us as we co-host (with Ateneo's Institute of Philippine Culture) an online conversation on COVID-19 with anthropologists who are working closely with marginalized communities.

Anthropologists Mary Racelis, Maria Carinnes Alejandria, Josh San Pedro and Gideon Lasco will share their observations about COVID-19 and the urban poor experiences during the nationwide quarantine, public health and medical interventions, and local and global responses. They will share their observations about on-the-ground realities and point to ways to improve our response to the pandemic.

This webinar is co-sponsored by Ugnayang Pang-AghamTao (UGAT), Ateneo de Manila University's Institute of Philippine Culture, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Philippine Center for Health and Research Development.

Maria Carinnes Alejandria, PhD
- Assistant Professor, University of Santo Tomas

Joshua San Pedro, MD
- Co-convenor, Coalition for People's Right to Health
- Community Physician, Council for Health and Development

Gideon Lasco, MD, PhD
- Senior Lecturer, University of the Philippines Diliman
- Research Fellow, Ateneo de Manila University

Mary Racelis, PhD (honoris causa)
- Research Scientist, Institute of Philippine Culture
- Senior Lecturer, Ateneo de Manila University
- Senior Lecturer, University of the Philippines Diliman


This webinar is FREE and open to the public. Register Now at

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

TALAARAWAN: a collection of autoethnographic diaries in the time of COVID-19

We are inviting everyone, not just anthropologists but also students, professionals, kids, academics, government, non-government, the religious sector, corporate employees, our frontliners, and volunteers, to send to us your everyday anecdotes of your experiences, reactions, feelings, and observations during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Since 15 March, NCR has been placed into a lockdown as a government measure to contain the spread of the COVID-19 acute respiratory disease. The following day, an enhanced community quarantine was announced extending the lockdown to the entirety of Luzon, while several local governments in Visayas and Mindanao posed restrictions of their own. The lockdown has caused a massive and abrupt societal change closing businesses, suspending classes, shutting down public transportation, and momentarily halting work, urging more than 50 million people to stay at home—an abnormality in our normative way of life. Suspending what essentially constitutes our daily lives has exposed the overwhelming social inequality in our country, the frailty of our economy highly dependent on import and export, the politics of the opportunists, and the kind of morality we hide underneath our language and behavior. Living on lockdown and staying at home are not the same for every Filipino. For some of us, the pandemic has occupied so much of our thinking and created a confused, incomprehensible emotional and psychological state, while for many people living in underprivileged circumstances physical distancing, handwashing, and wearing masks are only secondary to their day-to-day struggle to get food for their families.

As the only association of anthropologists in the Philippines, the Ugnayang Pang-Agham Tao sees the importance of listening to the personal and connecting it to the collective memory and cultural experiences of Filipinos in this extraordinary time. We encourage you to send us your own observations, reactions, and experiences based on the different senses—sight, smell, touch, hearing, feeling. Your submissions can be in the form of any of the following: short journal entries, long essays, photographs, photo essays, audio recordings, video, description of what you are feeling or the smells or the sounds you associate with or peculiar to you while you are under quarantine, screenshots and links to news you follow, drawings and illustrations of your environment, a list of words to describe the situation, etc. Your diary entries are in itself diary entries in the strict definition of the term. We are interested in submissions that you are writing for yourself and not only for the public or for clout such as the kind for a blog, Facebook, or Twitter. The submissions we seek include the reactions you experience intimately but are otherwise concealed.

We are particularly interested in your reflections on the following: What worries you during this time? What do you think about the government response? How do you feel about the volunteer efforts among the private sector and the civil society? What does ‘physical distancing’ and ‘quarantine’ look like to you? How do you cope or interact with others while on quarantine? While on lockdown, what do you feel before you go to sleep and after waking up? Have you also lost track of time? What are you thinking about when you need to go outside? How do you feel about the security checkpoints? What is your mood? What is the mood in your environment? Has there been a change in the way you understand yourself, family, personal and professional relationships, neighborhood, community, the medical workers, frontliners, the government, your schoolwork, society in general? How do you visualize the Philippines after the pandemic? What should we learn from this experience?

The COVID-19 diaries project is a collaborative work and the main goal of the project is for all of us to remember this time and learn from our own experiences and experiences of others. This project is a work-in-progress, but with your permission we intend to use your entries to curate an online (and later on physical) exhibit of TALAARAWAN. We can also bring together some entries for a special issue of the AGHAMTAO journal or a feature of your entry on the UGAT Blog (

All of your entries will only be used for the purpose we aim in this TALAARAWAN project. Submitting your diaries to UGAT means you are giving us consent to publish your entries. All entries will remain confidential and your identity anonymous if you choose to. Please be ensured that we will respect your data privacy rights (

Your diary entry can be in any Philippine language or in English. Please include your name (optional), date of diary entry, affiliation/ taga-saan, your occupation (e.g. student), and age. There are two ways to submit your diaries:

1) You can send your submissions to, if you particularly want to remain anonymous. Please use an email address where you want us to contact you.
2) You can publicly post your entry on social media (FB, IG, Twitter) and use #talaarawanCOVID19 or tag us @ugat1978. Using the hashtag or tagging us means you are allowing UGAT to use your post and your name.

If you have questions, you can message our FB Page @ugat1978 ( or send them to


Thursday, March 5, 2020

UGAT 42nd Annual Conference Call for Abstracts


Anthropological Association of the Philippines
University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines

42nd Annual Conference
1521 and Beyond: Anthropology of Encounters
05-07 November 2020
University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines

Christianity may be considered the most significant cultural consequence of Spanish colonization in the country.  But this religion was utilized to subjugate the local population and coerce them to convert to a belief system imposed by the colonizers.  Despite the victory of the locals led by Lapulapu over Magellan and his men in 1521, this group of islands now named the Philippines came under the rule not only of the Spaniards for centuries but also the Americans thereafter.  Encounters with the colonizers were experienced by local peoples in different places across different time periods, sometimes violently. Such historical events illustrate how cultures encounter each other through various forms, resulting in a number of challenges, consequences, and changes, on both sides.

As we approach the 500th anniversary of Lapulapu’s victory, as well as Magellan’s success in circumnavigating the Earth, and the introduction of Christianity in this country, the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT) would like to scrutinize various types of encounters before, during and beyond 1521 up until the present.

Encounter as a phenomenon has different typologies and layers of interactions with temporal and spatial dimensions corresponding to when and where two or more people meet and the circumstances that unfold before, during, and after every encounter. The traditional type of encounters is direct and face-to-face between individuals or groups involving actual physical movements together with certain products or objects, plants, and animals, ideas and technologies as commodities—like the experiences with Muslim traders and Spanish colonizers—which may have been used in the transaction in order to gain access to a particular place or to negotiate for other scarce commodities for mutual benefit or for the pursuit of some hidden agenda.

The other type of encounters, in contemporary times, does not only involve physical movements of people across places but include those engagements mediated by information technology, social media, transportation and communication systems, and other social networks that allow the parties involved to satisfy or achieve their respective purposes. But because encounters may involve individuals, groups, communities or organizations with varied and often conflicting interests due to social class, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age group, political position, and so on, as well as of commodities with differentiated values; the results of such encounters may be favorable or unfavorable.  Due to the power imbalance between the involved parties inherent in the hierarchy of encounters, no mutually beneficial results are assured, but can be worked out by both parties in the process.

Therefore, this conference invites anthropologists, practitioners, and supporters of anthropology to submit and present studies that examine the cultural contexts, meanings, dynamics and consequences of encounters beyond its common notion as physical meetings of different peoples.

Individual and panel abstract submissions may cover the following topics:

  • Precolonial contacts
  • Exploration and colonization
  • Evangelization and religious contacts
  • Travel and tourism
  • Religious movements
  • Social movements
  • Indigenous Peoples in transition
  • Community engagements
  • Virtual communities
  • Digital encounters
  • Classroom encounters
  • Supply chain and product branding
  • Expatriates and overseas workers
  • Encounters with globalization
  • Zone of encounters
  • Encounters between economic systems & practices
  • Political encounters
  • Violent encounters
  • Cosmological or ideological encounters
  • Art objects and appreciations
  • Gender and sexuality encounters
  • Self and others
  • Law and enforcement
  • Human and non-human encounters
  • Inter-generational encounters
  • Discourse on time, space and place 
  • Researchers and the researched
  • Science and local knowledge intersections 
  • Decolonizing anthropology
  • Intercultural marriages
  • Intercultural communication 

Proposals that do not fall under any of the identified topics above may be given consideration.

Conference Convenors

Jose Eleazar R. Bersales – University of San Carlos
Enrique G. Oracion - Silliman University
Zona Hildegarde S. Amper - University of San Carlos



  • Submissions must use the prescribed Submission Form ( which includes an abstract  (250 words) written in a style that is accessible to non-academic audiences. 
  • The submission must be original and has not been presented in other conferences or published in journals or books.
  • Proposals may be written in English or in any Philippine language. 
  • Proposals for panels must include a panel abstract as well as paper abstracts.
  • Kindly email the completely filled-out Submission Form (in pdf) to

Deadline: 01 June 2020

Notice of acceptance of proposals will be issued by email by July 2020


For further information, please contact the head of the conference secretariat, Ms Marjury Dino (+63 956 538 2816) or at

To learn more about our conference venue, you can check the web page of University of San Carlos at

Please like our UGAT page on FB for updates:

Reclaiming our root crops

SECOND OPINION: Reclaiming our root crops
Philippine Daily Inquirer
05 March 2020

Gideon Lasco

Most Filipinos today consider rice as by far our most important, if not our one and only, staple food, a sine qua non of our daily meals. Whether one’s viand is bistek Tagalog, lechon Cebu, fried chicken, or sautéed fish, it is cooked with rice in mind.

In some parts of the country, the primacy of rice has been around for centuries;

Pigafetta noted as much. But the same cannot be said of other areas where it was root crops that people ate regularly. Even where rice was a staple, root crops shared its place among the commonly consumed foods, as in sinigang which was meant to be a complete meal, with gabi serving as carbohydrate source. Our ancestors would have been none the poorer. Unlike rice, which is relatively labor- and land-intensive, root crops grow even in unfavorable conditions. They also have nutritional profiles superior to white rice. Gabi (taro), for instance, is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and the leaves are edible, too (laing!). Beyond gabi, ube (purple yam), and the New World-sourced kamote (sweet potato), and kamoteng kahoy (cassava) -- each of which has different varieties -- we have dozens of root crop species with their unique flavors and profiles.

What can explain the shift to rice?

People might respond by saying “well, rice tastes much better.” But even taste, a subjective quality, is shaped by culture; our fondness for rice draws from our having been eating it since childhood and our meals having been designed to complement rice. There must be a stronger explanation for the relative decline of root crops in our consciousness.

One answer involves changing attitudes toward both rice and root crops. As the physical anthropologist Francisco Datar said in the Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT) conference last November in Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte, rice was — and still is — perceived as a “prestige food” in various parts of the archipelago, leading to its desirability and eventual ubiquity. Conversely, root crops were seen as an inferior food, leading to their being shunned by people. We still see this low regard for root crops today in expressions like “kinakamote” and the very telling “Go home and plant kamote!”

Agricultural technologies that have made rice widely available are another contributory (and corollary) factor, with rice varieties today far more productive in yield than those in the past. Even with rice shortages, the ease of importing all but guarantees rice’s ubiquity, even as the economics of it raises questions of equity for our rice farmers.

Conversely, despite the efforts of scientists (there are Root Crops Research and Training Centers in Baybay, Leyte, and La Trinidad, Benguet, not to mention the work of DOST and UPLB), there has been relatively little investment in root crops, whether in terms of agricultural research, food technology, or marketing.

This marginality of root crops is unfortunate for a number of reasons. As mentioned earlier, root crops are actually very nutritious, and hold the potential to enrich our culinary heritage. Although ube is beloved by Filipinos as a dessert and is increasingly being recognized abroad, we miss out by ignoring other varieties and species. In the UGAT conference, for instance, UST’s Hermel Pama gave a colorful account of namu in Bicol, and when I shared this topic with my medical colleague Johanna Banzon, she spoke of kayos in Iloilo.

Moreover, root crops can reduce our (over)dependence on rice, increasing our food sovereignty and diversity, benefiting overall nutrition, and helping indigenous and marginalized communities who are most vulnerable to inflation and fluctuations in rice prices.

Finally, a revival of root crops can contribute to building resilient communities, particularly in our age of climate crises. As Development Academy of the Philippines’ Julieta Roa pointed out, also in UGAT, root crops have always served as “survival foods” -- but knowledge about them, including how to remove toxicity, is fast fading away.

Of course, I am not saying we should abandon rice completely. My modest appeal, echoing what others have said, is that we include root crops as part of our diet and give them the attention, research, and investment they deserve. Reclaiming our root crops will make us more rooted in our rich biocultural heritage, healthy in our diets, empowered in our food choices, and resilient as a nation.

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