Iloilo 2024 Abstracts


Panel 1: Local Histories and Environmental Humanities

The Ecological Archives of Laguna de Bay: Science, Coastal Management and Conservation in Luzon’s Freshwater Lake

Ruel Pagunsan
University of the Philippines, Diliman

In the first half of the twentieth century, scientific investigations were carried out in Laguna de Bay (LDB) to examine its ecological state. In 1928, the University of the Philippines Limnological Station was established to evaluate the fisheries industry in the country’s largest freshwater lake. The station and other research agencies produced scientific reports on LDB’s ecology and species composition, as well as on the lake’s productivity and capacity for introduced species. As one of the most productive resource frontiers, scientists also evaluated issues related to coastal management including the “questionable conservation” of the lake’s resources. In the period after 1946, as the nation faced food security issues, scientists were using LDB to document the possibilities and perils of creating similar fisheries frontiers in other parts the country.

This presentation examines the epistemological history of LDB as a site of science, resource management and conservation. It surveys the making of the lake’s ecological archives from the nineteenth century until the establishment of Laguna Lake Development Authority in 1969. It particularly follows the works of two Filipino biologists, Leopoldo Uichanco and Deogracias Villadolid, key scientists in the foundational years of the limnological station. The presentation looks into the narratives that they produced about the LDB, examining how they remembered it as a cultural and historical monument and how they reimagined its future to protect and preserve the lake’s ecology and resources.

Between Ilocandia and the Pajaro Valley: Developing a History of Migrant Agrarian Life

Kathleen Gutierrez
University of California, Santa Cruz

In the first decades of the twentieth century, thousands of farm workers from the Ilocos region migrated to Hawai‘i and the United States’ Pacific seaboard to labor on sugar plantations, on seasonal agricultural plots, and in canneries. In early 2021, scholars at the University of California, Santa Cruz launched “Watsonville is in the Heart” (WIITH), a community-driven research initiative to document the history of Filipino agrarian life in California’s Pajaro Valley, home to one of the most significant Filipino American enclaves of the twentieth century. After three years of intensive local research with descendants of the valley’s first Filipino settlers, WIITH is expanding its research scope to the Ilocos region from which the majority of WIITH’s community partners hail. This next phase of research builds on WIITH’s community-engaged research practices, oral history interviewing, and archival documentation to develop a history of migrant agrarian life between two deeply entwined yet often disaggregated nodes in U.S.-Philippine migration scholarship. This paper will present WIITH’s research model, preliminary findings, and hypotheses to share an emerging international research project linking two local histories through the environmental humanities.

At the Archbishop’s Table: Food, Society and Status in 1950’s

Karl Ian Uy Cheng Chua / Rad Xavier Rosal
Asian Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman

On 18 November 1951, Archbishop Jose Maria Cuenco became the first Filipino Archbishop of Jaro. To celebrate this event, three banquets were held in his honor, two on the 18 th of November and another one on the 19 th. What was striking about each banquet was that each had different food items served catering to the guests of each event. Being the first Filipino Archbishop, this has great repercussions to Philippine identity and status. Based on the menus, programs and newspaper articles written about the events, this paper will look at several concepts such as whether the food reflected some aspect of Philippine-identity. Using the newspaper articles and guest list, the paper will also look at whether the food items served reflected the period’s situation concerning social status.

Inter-Island Networks of Resistance in the Bisayas and Beyond, 1884-1930s: Local Histories and Environmental Contexts

George Emmanuel R. Borrinaga
Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and History, University of San Carlos

Anti-colonial resistance movements in the Philippines are well-studied topics given how they are seen as precursors to the Philippine Revolution and the rise of Filipino nationalism. However, less attention has been paid to the local historical and environmental factors that influenced these movements and to the lesser known legacies of these movements in our time. This is more so in the case of the Visayan islands in the central Philippines where little has been done to examine the shared socio-cultural and environmental roots and historical trajectories of different anti-colonial revolts which exhibited many similarities across space and time.

This paper will trace the links between different politico-religious movements in the Visayas and their spread to the nearby islands of Luzon and Mindanao from the late 19th to the early 20th century. It will apply a local historical perspective and insights from environmental humanities to draw together and make sense of data drawn from archaeology, folklore, Spanish chronicles, and more recent ethnographic studies, among others. It will argue that the hazard-prone and long-colonized islands of the Bisayas became a breeding ground for syncretic politico-religious traditions and movements that were shaped by various transformative socio-environmental crises across time. These groups' beliefs and practices would in turn be brought by migrants to the adjacent and culturally-similar provinces in the bigger islands of Luzon and Mindanao where apocalyptic sects traceable to these older Bisayan movements continue to exist today.

Panel 2: From Ridge to Reef: Indigenous/Local Ecological Knowledge on Resource Management

Waters of Injustice: The Uncompensated Stewardship of the Ifugao in Sustaining Lowland Water Needs

Marlon Martin
Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement

This presentation examines the environmental justice implications of water use in lowland farms and households sourced from Ifugao of the Philippines. Despite the critical role of the Ifugao in maintaining the watersheds that feed these agricultural and domestic needs, they receive no compensation for their stewardship. I explore the traditional methods employed by the Ifugao to manage their landscape, specifically their renowned rice terraces, which are not only an agricultural marvel but also an intricate system contributing to the sustainability of the regional water cycle. Through a mixed-methods approach, I document the enduring injustices faced by the Ifugao. This includes the lack of recognition for their ancestral domain rights and the absence of equitable water governance policies. I argue that the Ifugao’s contribution to the regional water system is undervalued and calls for a restructuring of legal and financial frameworks to ensure fair compensation for their ecological services. By highlighting this case, I contribute to the broader discourse on environmental justice and indigenous rights, advocating for a reconciliation of historical imbalances through sustainable and equitable resource management.

Kalukor: A Traditional Fishing Practice in Lingayen, Pangasinan

Nicanor D. Germono, Jr.
Provincial Government of Pangasinan, Pangasinan Polytechnic College
Benjamin P. Sison

This research delves into the rich tradition of Kalukor, a form of traditional fishing that uses the beach seine method in Lingayen –the capital town of the province of Pangasinan located along the Lingayen Gulf. Employing ethnographic interviews as the primary methodological approach, this study aims to elucidate the historical roots, transmission, and contemporary challenges associated with this time-honored practice. A previous study claimed that Kalukor emerged in the 1970s (Magat 2021); however, recent findings challenge this notion, revealing evidence that the fishing tradition dates back to the post-war era, specifically the late 1940s. This revelation underscores the enduring nature of Kalukor and its historical significance within the community. The research sheds light on the cultural transmission of the fishing technique, highlighting that the knowledge and skills associated with Kalukor are passed down from one generation to the next. Remarkably, individuals as young as seven years old actively engage in the learning process, emphasizing the integral role of familial ties in the perpetuation of this cultural heritage. Despite its deep-rooted history and cultural importance, Kalukor faces contemporary challenges that threaten its sustainability. Climate change emerges as a significant concern, affecting the marine ecosystem and subsequently impacting the traditional fishing patterns. Additionally, the encroachment of commercial fishing practices poses a threat to the delicate balance of Kalukor, jeopardizing the livelihoods of those who depend on this time-tested method. In conclusion, this research provides a comprehensive exploration of Kalukor, offering insights into its historical origins, transmission dynamics, and the contemporary challenges it confronts.

Panel 3: Cultural Heritage and the Communities

The Cultural Mapping of Panay and Guimaras Project

Martin Genodepa | University of the Philippines, Visayas

The Cultural Mapping of Panay and Guimaras Project is a major undertaking that aims to identify the natural and cultural heritage of the five provinces in the islands of Panay and Guimaras. The project is in line with the mandate of RA 11961 'An Act Strengthening the Conservation and Protection of Philippine Cultural Heritage through Cultural Mapping and an Enhanced Cultural Heritage Education Program. These two major islands in Western Visayas are inextricably linked primarily because of their proximity to each other. The underlying idea behind the project is not only to determine the shared natural and cultural of these islands and their people. It is envisioned that after the project, policies may be drafted to protect and safeguard what have been mapped and that further studies related to pure science, economics, and sociology among others may be conducted in keeping with sustainable development goals using or following the leads of the data provided by the project.

Bridging the Past, Sailing Toward the Future: Community Engagement, Local History Documentation, and Heritage Conservation in Ibajay, Aklan, Philippines

Thania Margarrette Coronica
University of the Philippines, Visayas

Bridging the Past, Sailing Toward the Future: History to the (and by the) People was a community engagement project conducted in the coastal town of Ibajay in the Province of Aklan, Philippines from 2021 to 2022. Part of the extension program Tourism Studies on Island-Based Opportunities for Growth in Western Visayas (TSIBOG) by the University of the Philippines Visayas, Bridging the Past or TSIBOG Project 6 collaborated with the local government, the provincial division of the education department, and scholars and experts from the social and natural sciences in training primary and secondary teachers, local government tourism and planning staff, homegrown creatives, and members of people’s organizations on documenting their history and promoting cultural and natural heritage. The project consisted of four phases: lecture-workshops on local history, culinary heritage, and environmental conservation; the writing of three learning modules by the participants; the making of learning videos based on the modules and promotional videos to be played in strategic locations in the municipality; and the completion ceremony where participants’ outputs were turned over to the education department and local government for dissemination. Observations during the conduct of activities and participants’ feedback showed how misgivings about fieldwork and research and feelings of inadequacy over knowledge about and conservation of one’s heritage can be overcome when community members are at the center of documenting and taking ownership of their history and heritage. Emphasizing ideas on stakeholder collaboration, heritage interpretation, and experiential learning, this presentation illustrates the value of community-led endeavors in sustainable heritage conservation.

Cultural Mapping: The Antique Experience

Anna Razel Ramirez
University of the Philippines, Visayas

As an emerging field of interdisciplinary research and a methodological approach for a collective and collaborative effort in community planning, development, and sustainability, Cultural Mapping plays a significant role in locating and consolidating historical, cultural, and natural heritage and properties. The Cultural Mapping of Antique from the collaboration of DepEd Antique, UP Visayas, Provincial Government of Antique, and National Commission for Culture and the Arts in coordination with the Office of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda brought a diverse range of stakeholders into the dialogue of cultural and natural heritage promotion and sustainability, taking it outside the purely local government unit – led mapping initiatives. The Cultural Mapping: Antique Experience revealed communities’ Duna (Natural Endowment), Kina-iya (Uniqueness), and Paranubliun (Inheritance). From the southern part of the province and all the way to the north, the cultural mapping unfolded unique individual and collective remembrances, expressions, and experiences which are purely their own . The Antique experience in cultural mapping proffered a platform for teacher-mappers who are also community members of the Antique’s coastal and upland communities to undertake scholarly pursuits and participate in community efforts. The inclusion of cultural bearers and IP teachers in the education agenda made way for community led mapping through the DepEd teachers under the supervision of UP Visayas. It ushered in appreciation of local knowledge in cultural heritage education, protection, and conservation by highlighting what is significant to their respective communities. Consequently, Cultural Mapping in Antique opens a discourse on greater possibilities of a community-driven approach to cultural and natural heritage development and conservation.

Exploring Ecological and Cultural Tourism in Pandan, Antique, Philippines

Sashah Dioso
University of the Philippines, Visayas

Pandan, Antique is known for ecological tourism activities in the Philippines’ Western Visayan region. The area is a consistent top tourist destination in the Antique province as it is home to the famous Malumpati River and the Duyong Golden Beach. The municipality also has a good potential for cultural tourism as some of its artisanal handicrafts and culinary dishes were featured in numerous television programs and social media postings.

The Tourism Studies on Island-Based Opportunities for Growth (TSIBOG) in Western Visayas is a one-year program implemented by the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) and the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) aimed to assess and develop tourism opportunities in the Western Visayas region. A project under the TSIBOG Program was dedicated to gathering various stakeholders in Pandan, Antique to foster increased appreciation and promotion of ecological and cultural tourism and to come up with related initiatives. Through inception meetings and seminar workshops, the collective input of various stakeholders produced promotional videos and a brochure on tourist attractions in the municipality. It also came up with nine children's stories on cultural practices related to fishing and farming written by public school teachers. These stories are now shared in classrooms while a plan is in the works to distribute copies of these stories to resorts and other tourism establishments for tourists to learn about aspects of the municipality’s cultural practices.

Panel 4: Indigenous Knowledge and Landscape Management

Resilient Livelihoods, Industrial Landscape, and Development Challenges:  A Case Study of Zhihing Community

Chung-Kai Kao
National Chengchi University

Zhihing, the indigenous community from Taiwan relies primarily on the peach industry as its core livelihood, significantly influenced by market forces and governmental policies. Confronted with intense market competition, decreasing labor, rising production costs, and extreme weather conditions, the peach industry's revenue in the tribe has steadily declined, posing increasingly severe livelihood challenges.

To sustain a stable livelihood, various households within the community have developed diverse livelihood strategies based on family structures, knowledge, skills, and resources. Apart from independently managing the peach industry, some have ventured into non-agricultural sectors or sought alternative livelihoods outside the community.

Utilizing in-depth interviews and participant observation methods, this study, centers on households as units and aims to investigate the livelihood strategies devised by each household. It analyzes how family members leverage local knowledge and social networks to respond to the demands of the peach industry, aiming to create livelihood resilience.

The research revealed that many tribal households attribute industry challenges to legal constraints and population migration. Some have attempted to mitigate these challenges by cultivating diverse peach varieties across varying altitudes and establishing stable agricultural labor exchange programs. Simultaneously, others have shifted towards construction or service industries to secure consistent income. At the community level, efforts have been made to develop cross-household sales initiatives.

However, the livelihood strategies in this study have not entirely resolved the industry's challenges. Therefore, the concluding section of this research will discuss the future of peach industry and propose relevant recommendations.

The dialogue between indigenous land knowledge and the national land legal framework, using the example of the Wulai Community

Hsu Ling Wen
National Taiwan University

Due to past colonial experiences and the oversight of indigenous land rights in the national land legal framework, Taiwan indigenous peoples have faced challenges such as land scarcity, a lack of substantive planning, and the inability to fully realize economic benefits from their land. How can the Spatial Planning Act serve as a tool for indigenous peoples to advocate for their land rights? Within the framework of this legislation, the process of planning between indigenous communities and public agencies reflects disparities in the discourse of knowledge and power. How can indigenous local knowledge be transformed within the context of the Spatial Planning Act, and how can it shape a constructive dialogue with the national land legal framework and the engagement with public agencies? This article will explore the case of the Wulai Community, focusing on how indigenous land application has long been restricted by Spatial management of the area, based on the Urban Planning Act, which designates a specific area for water sources. Through the lens of the Spatial Planning Act, the discussion will delve into the knowledge differences that exist in the dialogue on land rights between the Wulai Community's indigenous peoples and the national management system. It aims to examine the potential of indigenous local knowledge as a means of advocating for land rights within this legal framework.

Seeing Xiangtan:A Cultural Landscape Analysis of a Contemporary Pingpu Village

Liang-yu Chen
National Chengchi University

The indigenous groups residing in the western plains of Taiwan, commonly known as the Pingpu ethnic groups and using Austronesian languages, are generally believed to have assimilated into Han Chinese society and largely disappeared after periods of colonization by the Dutch, Qing Dynasty, and Japan. Research on their land experiences has primarily focused on the process of land loss during the Qing Dynasty (17th to 19th centuries). The aim of this study is to present the land experiences of the Pingpu ethnic groups from the Japanese colonial era to the post-World War II period (20th century) through ethnographic investigations and landscape studies.

Taking the Makatao people in Xiangtan Village on the alluvial fan formed at the junction of the shallow mountains and plains in southwestern Taiwan as a case study, this research explores the changes in their original shifting cultivation and dynamic management of riverine terraces. These transformations occurred after the implementation of national projects such as building levees, establishing fixed land orders, introducing capital development, and creating sugarcane plantation farms. The study contrasts the Makatao people's dynamic landscape management logic with national order differences and employs continuous landscape analysis at various scales to examine the gradual marginalization of the Makatao people in the political and economic spheres.

The research also demonstrates that although the Makatao people of Xiangtan Village no longer use their language, their unique experiences of the relationship between people and land remain significant contemporary sources of memory and identity.



Panel 5: Climate Change in Southeast Asia: Insights from the Past to Inform the Future

How can natural climate archives better inform future hydroclimate variability in Southeast Asia?

Mick Griffiths
Wiliam Paterson University

Southeast Asia is a region that is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with recent trends from instrumental observations indicating rapid increases in temperature and rainfall extremes. Yet, while future model projections suggest that these trends are likely to continue into the future, there is much uncertainty as to the natural versus anthropogenic fingerprints of these changes due to the short observational record and uncertainties in climate models. In this presentation, I will provide an overview of the current understanding of natural climate variability in Southeast Asia (Laos, Indonesia) spanning the past 10,000 years. I will also highlight the potential of integrating this historical climate information with climate model simulations which can: (1) help to elucidate the driving forces behind the observed changes, (2) test hypotheses and climate model skill, and (3) ultimately project more accurate future impacts in within the context of a warming climate. 

Speleothem constraints on Vietnam hydroclimate variability

Kathleen Johnson
University of California, Irvine

The timing and mechanisms of past hydroclimate change in many regions of the tropics are poorly constrained, limiting our ability to evaluate climate model performance and thus inform adaptation and mitigation efforts. Proxy records of past hydroclimate can provide critical information about the dynamical drivers of regional precipitation variability, and contribute to improved climate projections, yet the existing data is sparse in space and time. Filling these gaps can contribute to evaluation and improvement of climate models, by helping to: 1) Constrain the magnitude and timing of precipitation change in response to external forcings and internal ocean-atmosphere variability , 2) Evaluate the spatial pattern of regional precipitation changes in models, and 3) Provide robust data for proxy-model comparison studies, which may help reveal model biases. Speleothems are ideally suited archives of past hydroclimate due to their precise U-Th based age models and the multiple hydrologically sensitive proxies they contain. In this talk, I will present multi-proxy hydroclimate records from our field sites in Vietnam, and discuss how we combine cave monitoring, proxy system modeling, instrumental climate data, and isotope-enabled climate model output to investigate the dynamics of hydroclimate variability on interannual to orbital timescales.

Using historical climate and oceanography to infer future challenges to the Coral Triangle

Paul Barber
University of California, Los Angeles

The Coral Triangle is the world’s most biologically diverse marine ecosystem, supporting the nutritional and economic needs of 100s of millions of people. Although these valuable ecosystems are threatened from both local processes such as destructive fishing practices and pollution, they also contend with global processes such as climate change and ocean acidification. While these contemporary processes are important to consider in the sustainability of these valuable ecosystems, changes in global ocean circulation patterns associated with climate change could have equally profound impacts on the future of the Coral Triangle and the populations that it supports.

Coastal archaeological sites represent the Holocene fossil record of human marine ecosystem exploitation, impacts and sustainability

Tomas Wake
University of California, Los Angeles

Coastal archaeological habitation sites provide stratified records of human subsistence refuse derived from marine and estuarine ecosystems. These sites can have occupational histories reaching back several thousand years, sometimes even longer. The vertebrate and invertebrate species included in these archaeological deposits provide deep time records of human resource extraction, use patterns, environmental and climate change. These data can help inform scientists, agencies and the public about past human adaptations to environmental and climate changes, adverse effects and sustainable practices that relate to future resource management decisions. Several examples are provided.

Comparative Analysis of Dam-Induced and Climate Change Effects on Freshwater Ecosystems in Southeast Asia and the Nile Valley Using interdisciplinary archaeological and life sciences methods

Amr Shahat
University of California, Los Angeles (Online)

This study discusses the human-induced climatic changes and ecological impacts of dam constructions in Southeast Asia and the Nile Valley, offering a comparative perspective on how dams have altered freshwater ecosystems. Interdisciplinary methods interlinking archaeological and life sciences such as stable isotopes are applied on both ancient and modern plants and shells to provide deep-time data on changes in environmental and climatic conditions attributed to dam projects. In Southeast Asia, the construction of dams such as the Mekong River dams has significantly altered river dynamics, affecting local biodiversity, and food security among indigenous communities in downstream countries in Laos and Cambodia. The research employes a comparative approach by relating these impacts to those observed in the Nile Valley examining the ecological consequences of the dams on freshwater resources, indigenous foodways and cultural heritage using stable isotopes on ancient plant-food remains from ancient tombs and settlements. The data from Nile Valley highlights shifts in water availability, and temperature changes over time, providing insight into historical and contemporary human induced climatic and ecological changes. The comparative approach underscores commonalities and divergences in ecological disruptions caused by dams in these culturally distinct regions. The paper also discusses the urgent need for a paradigm shifts and advocacy for the freshwater resources to be to be governed in an ecologically responsible, just, and resilient way as planetary assets essential for the life in our planet.

Panel 6: Policy and Climate Change Research

Understanding and Exploring the Potential of Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) with Western Science and Management Knowledge (SMK) to Promote Sustainable Fisheries and Coastal Resource Governance and Resilient Socioecological Communities in Lagonoy Gulf, Philippines

Raul G. Bradecina
Partido State University

Island and coastal communities’ histories and economies are shaped by oceanic environments. For instance, the northern equatorial current system played a key role in th formation of Early Modern Period Southeast Asia economic and social landscapes. Coastal and island ecosystems not only consist of physical and biological attributes, they are also influenced by cultural perceptions. Landscapes are culture before they are nature. In Bicol’s colonial history context, Agta Tabangnon co-evolved with culture of mainstream society and lived within a dual perspective of indigenous view and that of colonizer. Their economic decisions maybe based from this duality. They reside in ancestral domains bordering Lagonoy Gulf among its resource users and resource-dependent communities. The Gulf as tuna fishing ground have current developments in fisheries management providing opportunity for application of cultural dimensions that look into how culture and indigenous knowledge support sustainable resource governance and socioecological resiliency amidst climate change impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems and ecological services such as the: (1) overlapping spaces for commercial and municipal fisheries that provided complications in institutional arrangements governing spatial fishing operations, (2) initiatives to secure fishers’ livelihoods by establishing market access, responsible fisheries and provision of selectively caught tuna product to environmentally aware European consumers, (3) policy and governance initiatives strengthening community rights-based management and exclusive access rights to fisheries through managed access with reserves (MA+R). Most of these developments adopt western science and management knowledge (SMK). The application of western cultural context to inform resource management systematically underrepresented ethos of fishers whose norms and practices influence outcomes of these initiatives. Including sociocultural dimensions in resource management may increase buy-in, reduce conflicts, costs of negotiations, and yield better alternatives that address concerns about these developments in fisheries management. Integrating cultural dimension of sociocultural environment i.e traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to SMK enhances the resilience of social- ecological systems by providing diversity of knowledge for problem solving. This paper will discuss how oceanic environments influenced cultural and economic landscapes of coastal communities that defined current resource utilization and coastal conservation challenges and management adopting Western management knowledge system. It will also discuss local studies that provide information on ethnicity and social capital such as trust and reciprocity, primitive communism in tuna fishery and the cultural network of social security evolving from the evolving hunter-gatherer society of modern day Agta which can be used positively to promote sustainable governance and resiliency of fisheries and coastal resources as socioecological systems.


Climate-resilient coasts in Southeast Asia: Policy and Research

Gay Defiesta
University of the Philippines, Visayas

Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. The 2021 Climate Risk Index included three Southeast Asian countries in its list of top ten most affected by weather and climate-related disasters from 2000 to 2019. The region’s vulnerability is contributed by several interacting factors, such as exposure to multiple and cascading hazards, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity due to poverty and inequality.

The most vulnerable populations to climate change are located in coastal areas where exposure to climate-induced hazards such as typhoons, storm surges, coastal erosion, and rising sea levels are high and frequent while poverty is widespread. Coastal communities, therefore, are highly exposed to hazards but lack the capacity to adapt.

Understanding the unique characteristics of coastal communities is crucial in addressing climate vulnerabilities in these areas. Research conducted on the impacts of climate change, vulnerability, and adaptive capacity in the coastal communities of Southeast Asia will provide helpful information on the region’s path towards resiliency.

A preliminary assessment of related studies was conducted to analyze the current regional scientific information on climate change impacts and the policies that address them. The literature survey highlights essential themes, the most common methodologies, variables, and policy recommendations tackled by authors. The insights from the literature shed light on the most recent scientific inquiry on climate change impacts that is crucial to evidence-based policy decision-making in the region.

Climate Change and the Philippine Basic Education Sector: Challenges, Responded and Opportunities

Christian E. Rivero
Department of Education Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service

According to the World Risk Index 2022, the Philippines ranks as the first and most at risk from the climate crisis. As a country perennially plagued by disasters relating to intensified weather conditions, it is of no question that schools and learners' well-being are affected, resulting in a significant lag in learning competencies nationwide. The Department of Education (DepEd), representing more than half of the government workforce, has an important role to play in taking good care of learners by promoting their well-being, inclusive education, and positive learning environment. In this light, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service (DRRMS) of the DepEd has implemented initiatives, drafted policies, and continues to pursue research to ensure the overall safety of learners in the midst of disasters brought about by climate change. Opportunities for climate adaptation, empowerment, and action, as well as international cooperation can be explored and further looked into for the Philippine basic education sector to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Panel 7: UPV Panel – Coastal Protection

Pollution in the PH Coastal Areas: Sources, Transport, and Impacts

Ramer Bautista
School of Technology, University of the Philippines Visayas

The Philippines has one of the longest coastlines in the whole world and many of the activities of Filipinos are happening in the coastal areas. These anthropogenic activities have major impacts on the quality of the groundwater, surface water, deep water, soil or sand, and ambient air. This paper presents various pollutants that reach and affect the coastal environment. The potential sources of pollution include manufacturing plants, agriculture, households (domestic), and natural events such as volcanic eruption, erosion, forest fires, among others. Some pollutants are generated on coastal areas while others are transported from inland sources through wind and water streams. Light solid particles, aerosols, and gaseous organic and inorganic chemicals can be carried by the wind while solid waste, domestic waste, oils, chemical leachates, herbicides and pesticides, heavy metals, and radioactive substances can be dissolved or suspended in river waters and water runoffs. When these pollutants reach the coastal area, they can affect the quality of water by lowering the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) that is essential in sustaining aquatic life. Excessive amounts of pollutants that serve as food to algae or algae-like bacteria will result in an algal bloom, which will eventually deplete DO and lead to fish kill. On the other hand, some air-borne and water-carried pollutants can have direct impacts on the community, causing health problems such as skin and eye irritation, lung and gastrointestinal diseases, cancer, etc.


Climate Disaster Risk Assessments in Small Island Contexts for Development Planning:
Lessons from Community Engagements and Prospects for Resilience, Addressing Losses and Damages, and Sustainable Development

Jessica Dator-Bercilla
University of the Philippines, Visayas

Development planning in the Philippines is essentially land-focused even when the country is archipelagic in nature. Over the years, its fragmented geo-physical features dictated development decisions with very little concern for the relationship between islands and seas and what goes on between them. The presentation focuses on how evolving development planning in the Philippines is influenced by climate and disaster risks and how the latter drew specific attention to specific small island concerns. The study presents specific frameworks and tools of analysis that attempt to sharpen climate and disaster risk assessments for small island contexts and currently informs development planning. However, the paper will highlight evolving tools of analyses that can be significant for risk management, resilience, and sustainable development of coastal communities specific to small island contexts. Data from community engagements, documented community assessments, documentation of policy engagements with local government units and national government agencies, community-based project reports, and related literature, of work done specifically in the small islands of Eastern and Western Seaboards of Luzon on Visayas, are reviewed and inform the paper. Analyses yield findings that science needs to strengthen its interface with program and policy formulation if development interventions in small islands are to result in resilience, avert losses and damages, and contribute to sustainable development.


Costal Protection: Standpoints from CRM

Farisal Bagsit
the Philippines, Visayas

The Philippines is an archipelago comprised of 1,541 cities and municipalities; more than 50% of these are located along its coasts. This underscores the importance of coastal resource management (CRM) in the country especially that millions of Filipinos reside along the coastal zone and coastal and marine environments serve as key source of food and livelihoods for the Filipino population. Most of the issues in the coastal zone are anthropogenic and interrelated thus, entail an integrated approach. This paper highlights the importance of CRM in achieving sustainable livelihoods and communities, as well as in protecting human, physical and natural assets in coastal areas.

UPV’s Initiative to Protect Coastlines and Increase Capacities Towards Sustainability

Pepito Fernandez Jr.
University of the Philippines, Visayas

The University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) is currently implementing an initiative called “Coastline Protection and Development for a Sustainable Future”. The program is funded by the national government to: 
a. Conduct policy review and development of a policy compendium that contributes to coastline protection and resilience, and to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the country, and; 
b. Develop and promote a draft legislation creating a “National Center for Coastline Protection, Resilience, and Sustainable Development."

This paper provides an overview of Philippine coastlines, exploring key socio-ecological features and challenges.  The paper also  discusses UPV’s initiative and involvement toward coastline protection and sustainable development.  The UPV initiative is a multi-disciplinary and transdisciplinary program that brings together ideas and advocacies from different knowledge systems, technologies and key stakeholders. Actors and knowledge production systems deploy a social learning approach to improve operational capacities towards the protection and sustainability of coastlines.  Building these capacities are essential in protection and sustainability: 

1. Measure socio-ecological aspects of coastal protection and sustainable development
2. Promote equity
3. Support adaption and foster transformations
4. Link knowledge with action and policy, and 
5. Craft governance arrangements that allow people to work together.

Panel 8: From fair trade to land grab: The struggle for wealth and control in early colonial SE Asia

Nutmeg's curse revisited: Can archaeology help untangle a story of colonial land taking?

Peter Lape
University of Washington

For centuries, the Banda Islands of eastern Indonesia were a center for regional and long-distance trade, fueled in part by the production of nutmeg and mace from Banda's fragrant forests. in 1621, Dutch military forces invaded the Banda Islands, the violence resulting in 90% of Banda's indigenous population being forced into exile, killed, or enslaved. Historians have generally regarded this event as an inevitable outcome of the expansion of merchant capitalism and European colonialism. What can archaeological data from times before these global developments add to this story? This paper will utilize archaeological information from the centuries and millennia leading up to 1621 to explore other forces at work, as well as other outcomes, including how Bandanese people today (descendants of indigenous survivors and slaves, workers and traders from other parts of Asia) conceptualize their identity.

Current Archaeological Perspectives on the Struggle for Wealth and Control in Early Modern Cambodia

Miriam T. Stark
University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Most scholars view Cambodia’s Middle period as a period of insularity  in which Khmers abandoned their 9th-14th century centers to retreat into a post-Angkorian world. Recent archaeological research challenges this notion of cultural dormancy through revealing that Khmers continued to use Angkorian spaces, a mercantile-oriented urbanism (replete with ethnic enclaves) emerged along the Mekong Delta’s northern fringes, and Cambodia’s upland inhabitants participated in Asia-focused networks.  For a deeper understanding of Cambodia's transformations during the 15th-18th centuries, we need to look beyond its adoption of Theravada Buddhism. Through the products that it made available and the newcomers that it welcomed, Cambodia played a key role in regional Asian trade networks from the 15th to the 18th centuries CE. Adding paleoenvironmental data to the period before is key to deciphering Cambodia’s rocky relationship of resource extraction to urbanism, environment, and political economy during the Early Modern period.

Panel 9: Archaeologies of Island and Colonial Histories

Modelling Island Histories: Philippine Land Use Models for the Spanish Period

Max Findley
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Patrick Roberts
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Studying the Philippine past, either before or throughout the colonial periods, has always required a multidisciplinary approach. Archaeological, palaeoecological, historical, and ethnographic datasets all suffer from limited geographic scope and inherent disciplinary biases. When utilized in tandem, however, the resulting whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As proof, this paper presents preliminary results for land use models constructed as part of the PANTROPOCENE project for the entirety of the Philippine archipelago at four time points: 1564, 1640, 1780, and 1896 CE. These models draw upon multidisciplinary datasets and original research to estimate the minimum expected land use at each of the four time points, highlighting how localized and regional responses to colonial pressures altered land use. In order to emphasize the benefits and limitations of this technique, the presentation focuses on land use in littoral plains as well as small islands and provinces that experienced specialized land use. In so doing, the presentation indicates how this information can be used to reconstruct forest cover, discuss broader ecological consequences, and ultimately inform estimates of historic anthropogenic climate change while retaining value to researchers focusing on provincial or local environmental change.

Informal Defiance in Batangas: Continued occupations of abandoned towns

Grace Barretto-Tesoro
University of the Philippines, Diliman

Previous studies in history and archaeology demonstrated how indigenous settlements in the Philippines were radically modified by the reduccion, a Spanish resettlement strategy that forced local populations to transfer to newly established towns.  Against the backdrop of the Taal eruptions and flooding, local populations had a practice of relocating the whole town, thus placenames like ‘pinagbayanan’ (former location of the town) or ‘lumang bayan’ (old town). Historians documented the conspiracies and revolts against the Spanish for various reasons such as economic and religion, which are considered outright resistance. I will present archaeological evidence of continued occupations in abandoned towns during the Spanish occupation. Adapting James C. Scott’s notions of ‘weapons of the weak’ and ‘hidden transcripts’, I propose that the affinity with the old town locations are instances of informal unstructured defiance of local populations. 

Slavery and Coral Reef Ecology in St. Croix

Justin Dunnavant
University of California, Los Angeles

This paper explores the historical ecology of coral reefs in St. Croix, focusing on the relationship between coral mining and the construction of colonial buildings in the Caribbean. St. Croix was a major center of the transatlantic slave trade, and the plantation economy that developed had a profound impact on the island’s ecosystems. Combining archaeological excavations, photogrammetric data, and coral reef survey, our research shows that the extensive use of coral rock for building materials may have negatively impacted coral and reef diversity. The potential implications of this research could highlight significant ecological consequences, including the decline of native fish and marine populations. We examine the ways in which slavery and colonialism shaped the development of the island’s

Panel 10: Imperiled Coastlines and the Politics of Possibility (virtual)

Sealords and landlords: unsettling sovereignty in the Malay world

Zahirah Suhaimi
University of California, Santa Cruz

Within Southeast Asia, politicians have deployed local brands of exceptionalism to sublimate notions of sovereignty into authoritarian governance and aggressive economic policies. Despite their impact on human dignity and environmental sustainability, such practices are framed as being necessary for national interests. This paper offers a historical and ethnographic account of the material relations that create and maintain sovereignty in the Johor Straits—a narrow channel between Singapore and Malaysia—within the broader context of the “Malay world”. In doing so, I attend to the material mediations that articulate boundaries between elites, subjects, humans, nonhumans, land, water, and nation-states. Multiple, intersecting, and competing articulations of sovereignty’s constitutive boundaries provide crucial insights into how authority, livelihoods, space, matter, and ecosystems manifest relations of violence, as well as the relations of care that resist them. These insights also engage with globalist discourses of states’ Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in two ways: (i) they question the selective uptake of R2P among ASEAN leaders that amount to the paternalistic and economistic “Responsibility to Provide”, and (ii) broadens the discourse to consider human security as dignity emerging from webs of historical, ecological, and social relations that cut across sovereign articulations of boundaries. 

Timor’s mangrove forests are a site of political entanglement

Gillian Bogart
University of California, Santa Cruz

Mangroves are recognized for the economic, ecological, and cultural importance they hold for coastal residents, as well as the benefits they offer for humankind by potentially slowing the effects of global warming as coastal fortifications and carbon sinks. Still, mangrove forests in Indonesia are threatened by aggressive coastal development agendas, commercial salt and aquaculture schemes, and over-exploitation by the populations who depend upon them for livelihood making. This paper examines the concurrent destruction and rehabilitation of mangrove ecosystems in West Timor. I consider the impacts of a national salt industrialization initiative on mangrove forests in the bay of Kupang alongside mangrove planting projects that are initiated through government-NGO collaborations, then implemented by coastal residents. Specifically, I think with two species of mangrove, the pioneering and salt-tolerant Avicennia alba and the often nursery grown Rhizophora stylosa, to explore the political and ecological processes through which human and non-human actors shape the coastline encircling Kupang Bay.

Big Fish Stories: Grouper Harvesting, Shifting Baselines, and the Remaking of Reefs in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia

Joe Klein
University of California, Santa Cruz

In the 1990s, Hong Kong- and Taiwan- based luxury seafood companies began operating fishing fleets in eastern Indonesia, hiring teams of local divers to catch grouper with cyanide. The fish were not killed—merely stunned long enough to be hauled aboard ships with large holding tanks, where they would swim in circles for months before arriving at “choose-your-own-fish” restaurants in major metropoles. The boats moved into Indonesia after years of operation in Thailand and the Philippines, where they had decimated grouper populations. In Indonesia alone, millions of groupers were extracted and exported, fundamentally altering coral reef food webs in ways we may never fully understand—while generating vast wealth for a few. In Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, the arrival of the ships is remembered as a pivotal moment in environmental history—one that set off a cascade of effects which not only remade coral reefs, but transformed everything from ethnic identity to labor relations to the horizons of possibility for the human body at sea. This paper draws from ethnographic research and oral history to grapple with the legacies of the “Hong Kong Ships” in Southeast Sulawesi—and to understand how life on the resource frontiers of maritime Southeast Asia is made and remade.

Unstable land: reclamation, property, and social stratification warp Jakarta’s coast

Kirsten Keller
University of California, Santa Cruz

Jakarta, Indonesia, is notorious for its environmental problems of flooding, water pollution, and land subsidence, which disproportionately affect coastal areas and the urban poor. Subsidence and flooding have catalyzed a controversial coastal protection and redevelopment scheme known as the NCICD, which includes two massive seawalls and a number of artificial islands. An overlooked justification for the NCICD is that Jakarta is running out of space to accommodate population growth. Land reclamation for property development is both justification for the project and slated as the profitable solution to its financing. This paper asks how material histories of colonial property formation are implicated in the environmental problems and social stratification of shifting Jakarta’s coastline. To do so, it examines two kinds of “reclamation” in Jakarta: first, the remains of half-built artificial island “Pulau G” in Jakarta Bay; second, the accumulation of Asian Green Mussel shells used by small-scale fisherfolk to expand and raise the coastline. From these empirical points of departure, it will explore historical technologies and meanings of ‘reclamation’ and relationships between reclamation, property, and reproduction of long-standing urban inequalities in Jakarta.


Panel 11: Geopolitical Reshaping of the Southeastern Asian Coasts and Waters in the Early Modern World

The Qing Coastal Transportation and Defence Before the West

Minghui Hu
University of California, Santa Cruz

Before the Sino-British War in 1839, elites in the Qing empire tackled three dilemmas relating to coastal transportation and defense in the eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. The issues of grain transportation, coastal smuggling, and China trade were all intertwined from north to south, necessitating a comprehensive strategy. I focus on Ruan Yuan's governorship between 1800 and 1830, examining how he coped with the above dilemmas and redefined the lower Yangzi and Pearl River Deltas into critical geopolitical regions with significant influence throughout Southeast Asia's waters and states. Ruan Yuan showcased a unique geopolitical perspective on Southeast Asia by shifting China's focus from its northern and central Asian frontiers. Ruan Yuan's interactions with Southeast Asian states and European traders during the early modern period led to a crucial yet conditional transition. The Sino-British War brought an abrupt halt to this transition. It marked the rise of treaty ports and Hong Kong, ultimately pushing China into global industrial capitalism. The shift in coastal management brought ruinous consequences to China's economy and transformed it into something resembling semi-colonial conditions. China's rise today has facilitated a gradual resurgence of Ruan Yuan's intellectual contributions to China’s geopolitical strategies toward Southeast Asia.

Seeing the Coast: Fishwork, Storms, and the Lê-Trịnh State

Hieu Phung
Rutgers University

The idea about a long coastline was a late development in Vietnamese history. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, what would become the coast of today’s Vietnam were controlled by multiple political entities. This paper examines one coastal area that the Lê-Trịnh state of northern Vietnam recognized as “Lower Sơn Nam” (present-day Thái Bình, Nam Định, and Ninh Bình provinces). In 1741-42, the Lê-Trịnh court divided the province of Sơn Nam into two, the Upper Sơn Nam and the Lower. A strategic province that defended the central capital of Thăng Long (Hanoi) against any threats from the south, Sơn Nam had been deemed important for two main reasons: its local river network connecting the capital to the sea, and its alluvial-rich soil allowing abundant rice fields. After the division, the Upper Sơn Nam continued to be defined by these characteristics, while the Lower Sơn Nam did not. By tracing the sparse information in the Vietnamese written sources, this paper argues that the life of a coastal region was not limited to its function in the maritime trade. The Lê-Trịnh’s recognition of the Lower Sơn Nam as an individual administrative unit was part of the state’s seaward expansion. State documents would soon emphasize the important contribution of fishwork to the region’s economy. The state records of summer storms also shifted. While the previous reports tended to focus on shipwrecks, the impacts of storms on coastal provinces became more visible.

Unlikely Allies? Malay Politics and the Diplomatic Correspondence of the Sultan of Johore to Spanish Manila (1750)

Ariel Lopez
University of the Philippines, Diliman

The long period after the regicide of Sultan Mahmud Syah II of Johor is often regarded as a period of decline of Malay polities along the Straits of Melaka. Using hitherto unknown diplomatic correspondence between the Sultan of Johore, Sulaiman Badrul Alam of the Bendahara dynasty (r. 1722-1760) and the Spanish Governor-General in Manila, this paper intends to show the active role of the succeeding rulers to establish political relationship with regional powers, notably the Spanish. It also intends to understand the intricacies of Malay politics at the time in the context of competing dynastic interests. This correspondence is unique and important given the paucity of indigenous sources and Malay diplomatic letters during this period. This paper shows that Johor, like its southern Philippine counterparts (Sulu and Maguindanao sultanates), ably utilized external diplomatic maneuvers to achieve domestic goals of political consolidation. Finally, it reflects on the importance of comparing various coastal polities in early modern Southeast Asia as having shared geopolitical vulnerabilities but also mutual political connectivities that we are now only starting to unravel.