“It takes a few people to spread knowledge.”
Arguably, a memorable line from renowned anthropologist and professor emeritus Dr. Alicia P. Magos that encapsulates and highlights the decades of research on the indigenous peoples of Panay, particularly the Panay Bukidnon and the community’s famed ten (10) epics collectively known as sugidanon.
In the last stretch of activities for the celebration of the National Indigenous Peoples Month, the Center for Western Visayan Studies (CWVS) held a public forum entitled “Pagtib-ong isang Kultura sang Panay Bukidnon: Doing Research, Ethnography, and Advocacy since the early 1980s” on November 4, 2022, at the Little Theater, UP Visayas-Iloilo City Campus, 8:30-11:30 am. The event was hosted by Prof. John Rey Hontanar, Faculty-in-Charge of UPV’s Language Program.
The event began with an opening message from Dr. Clement C. Camposano, UPV Chancellor, read by Dr. Philip Ian P. Padilla, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, reiterating the commitment of the University towards the “protection and promotion of the country’s cultural diversity.”
His message adds that one must be wary of the “locations of power” and the “politics of representation,” making sure their voices will always be at the forefront and the center of this discourse.
He reminded attendees that indigenous research should be a decolonizing and liberating discourse, freeing the indigenous peoples from exoticization, marginalization, and injustice that should ultimately be empowered to uplift these communities.
Ms. Anna Razel Limoso-Ramirez, the Associate Researcher on the Epics of Panay, introduced Dr. Magos along with the long list of achievements and recognitions she had achieved throughout her decades-long research, noting that she is still not done with her work. Afterward, a video presentation was shown that detailed the early works of Dr. Magos on the Panay Bukidnon indigenous community and the research on the epics of Panay.
In her talk, Dr. Magos recounted her love for history, literature, and anthropology as well as the struggles of doing research in the mountains of Central Panay.
The remoteness of the location, the long treks, and even the challenge of the ongoing insurgency in the upland areas was among those she and her research associates had to face.
However, she reiterates that her passion as a researcher and the goal of giving the community the avenue to be heard delivered fruitful rewards: the recording and the eventual digitization and publication of the 14-volume sugidanon or the epics of Panay and the awarding of the Gawad Manlilika ng Bayan (GAMABA, National Living Treasure) to Federico “Tuohan” Caballero, one of the chief epic chanters in the community.
Her drive and lifelong advocacy to give the community recognition and continued promotion of the indigenous systems and practices led to the establishment of the School for Living Tradition (SLT) in Brgy. Garangan, Calinog, Iloilo.
An open forum was held afterward moderated by Prof. Johnrev Guilaran, Chair of the Division of Social Sciences. Many of the former students and mentees of Dr. Magos including Dr. Christine Muyco, Prof. Joyce Colon, and Mr. Rene Trance, shared their experiences and expressed their appreciation for the valuable lessons she has inculcated throughout their time with her as their professor, describing her humble demeanor and her passion for indigenous research. Dr. Magos’s advice to young academics, scholars, and students is to strive with passion and give your best in all.
A plaque of recognition was presented to commemorate the invaluable contribution Dr. Magos has made to the University and indigenous studies as a whole.
Prof. Nilo Araneta, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, gave the closing remarks and message on behalf of Dean Dr. Alice Joan Ferrer, thanking Dr. Magos for her service.
The event was spearheaded by the Center for West Visayan Studies headed by Prof. Frances Anthea Redison and faculty members of the UP Visayas College of Arts and Sciences. (Mr. Kyle Philip M. Ravena, CAS-SocSci)