As a fresh graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences and a Minor in Philosophy from Ateneo de Manila University, I have no complaints about this stint as an ethnographer for SOLACE being my first paid job. The way I see it, engaging in ethnographic fieldwork provides me with unique opportunities to not only learn about but learn from and perhaps even befriend the people or communities which I am studying; people who I most likely would have never have met, let alone conversed or spent time with under normal circumstances.
Furthermore, I view ethnographic research precisely as a means by which those being studied (especially if they are what we might call “marginalized”) can make their own voices heard and their own views known, even if only to a limited audience of academics and advocates.
For the most part I have been a conflict theorist in my undergraduate sociological research: focusing on issues such as landlessness (and its cause, “landful-ness”), economic exploitation, and social marginalization, as well as making predominantly Marxist analyses of the state, the private corporations, and the landed-elite which exist and are operating in the Philippines.
This research orientation towards social inequality and social conflict has, in turn, informed and strongly influenced my anthropological studies. Indeed, a large portion of my anthropological research has been on people who themselves hold radical beliefs and are actively trying to make changes, such as the individuals and collectives who associate themselves with the local Anarchist scene (or movement or community, depending on who you ask). Meanwhile, when I was given the chance to conduct ethnographic fieldwork among a community of Aetas, I took the opportunity to articulate the
problems raised by the Aetas regarding the exploitative and one-sided trading arrangements they have with middlemen, as well as the encroachment of land grabbing hacienderos and real estate developers.
At the same time, I tried to highlight the admirable and perhaps even superior socio-cultural practices that the Aeta society has, which in stark contrast with the “poverty amidst plenty” that is a hallmark of our own “modernized” societies, enables the egalitarian and horizontal distribution and ownership of resources in their community. A community whose way of life, however, is, unfortunately, being threatened by the very social structures and cultural practices of the capitalist-consumerist society which we ourselves are members of.
Before I end up divulging any more indicators of my political activities and ideological convictions; Insofar as plausible artistic sensibility goes, although I am not currently practicing any musical instruments, I learned to play the violin when I was 4 and continued to do so until 18, before trying my hand at the double-bass for a year.
Meanwhile, I have been painting for about 3 years now, and my other hobbies include biking and reading. With my membership in the SOLACE team, I hope not only to bring in and apply my current research skills and interests but also to expand these skills and
perhaps broaden my own perspectives.