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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Theorizing Social Movements in Southeast Asia

TWSC 30th Anniversary Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South

Vincent Boudreau
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science
City College of New York, USA

2 March 2007, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Asian Center Conference Hall
Romulo Hall
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

This talk proposes an approach to the comparative study of social movements that incorporates the conditions of under-developed, repressive, poorly institutionalized, or deeply impoverished settings into the analysis. Where political institutions are less established, where protest more likely encounters repression (rather than organizational routines) and where public policy making processes do not allocate most state resources or activity, social movements feed on distinct triggers, develop different laws of motion, and pursue different objectives than those commonly assumed in established theory. The talk suggests a strategy for identifying systematic variation in the parameters of social movements, and then illustrates these ideas with consideration of contemporary Southeast Asian, and especially Philippine, protest. In the end, the talk seeks a way toward a more broadly integrated approach to the study of protest and political contention.


ABOUT THE SERIES

The Third World Studies Center Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South interrogates the relations of contention and collective action to democracy in contemporary history. It focuses especially on movements in the South, using a variety of cases of recent national and cross-border mobilization and protest. The series will address the following questions:Are social movements in the South agents of democratization? How do social movements contribute to (or hinder) the democratization process in various spheres (local, regional, and transnational)? How do deepening interstate relations affect social movement politics? What role do Southern social movements play in the wider global political arena? Are social movements in the South always engaged in contentious politics? How do they interact within the boundaries of institutional politics? Given the present historical conjuncture, what lies ahead for social movements in the South?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Rise and Fall of the Philippine Student Movement: A Belated and Partial Report

TWSC 30th Anniversary Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South

PATRICIO N. ABINALES

Kyoto University


01 March 2007 (Thursday)
10:00-11:30 a.m.

Third World Studies Center

Basement Palma Hall

College of Social Sciences and Philosophy

University of the Philippines-Diliman



This belated and incomplete report tracks the history and dynamics of the Philippine student movement from the 1960s to the 1980s, and suggests a couple of exploratory explanations as to its phenomenal contributions to a rich tradition of political activism but also its subsequent decline and marginalization in the very own movements and organizations it helped built. It also tries to explain the still peculiar discrepancy between the pervasive veneration given to it by scholars and activists, and the scantiness of empirically-grounded analyses of the movement.


ABOUT THE SERIES

The Third World Studies Center Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South interrogates the relations of contention and collective action to democracy in contemporary history. It focuses especially on movements in the South, using a variety of cases of recent national and cross-border mobilization and protest. The series will address the following questions:Are social movements in the South agents of democratization? How do social movements contribute to (or hinder) the democratization process in various spheres (local, regional, and transnational)? How do deepening interstate relations affect social movement politics? What role do Southern social movements play in the wider global political arena? Are social movements in the South always engaged in contentious politics? How do they interact within the boundaries of institutional politics? Given the present historical conjuncture, what lies ahead for social movements in the South?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

La Via Campesina: An Evolving Transnational Social Movement

TWSC 30th Anniversary Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South


SATURNINO M. BORRAS JR.
Saint Mary's University, Canada

21 February 2007, 2:30-4:00 p.m.
Third World Studies Center

Claiming global and popular representation, Vía Campesina has emerged as a major actor in the current popular transnational struggles against neo-liberalism, demanding accountability from inter-governmental agencies, resisting and opposing corporate control over natural resources and technology, and advocating food sovereignty, among other issues. Focusing on the global campaign for agrarian reform, this presentation hopes to understand the complexities of a transnational social movement. It will look at four broadly distinct but interrelated aspects of Vía Campesina's development, namely: (1) agendas and aims, (2) alliances, rival movements and the question of autonomy, (3) strategies and forms of collective actions, and (4) representativeness and accountability. In each case, the current Vía Campesina situation is presented, positions clarified, dilemmas identified, and challenges put forward.

ABOUT THE SERIES

The Third World Studies Center Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South interrogates the
relations of contention and collective action to democracy in contemporary history. It focuses especially on movements in the South, using a variety of cases of recent national and cross-border mobilization and protest. The series will address the following questions:Are social movements in the South agents of democratization? How do social movements contribute to (or hinder) the democratization process in various spheres (local, regional, and transnational)? How do deepening interstate relations affect social movement politics? What role do Southern social movements play in the wider global political arena? Are social movements in the South always engaged in contentious politics? How do they interact within the boundaries of institutional politics? Given the present historical conjuncture, what lies ahead for social movements in the South?

The Global Justice Movement, the World Social Forum, and Alternatives to Corporate-Driven Globalization

TWSC 30th Anniversary Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South

WALDEN BELLO
University of the Philippines-Diliman


20 February 2007, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Third World Studies Center

This presentation will touch on the nature and goals of the global justice movement; examine the diverse movements that make it up, including the Zapatistas, Via Campesina, and the Venezuelan Revolution; run through the high points of the movement from Asian Financial Crisis to the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial; discuss the significance of the World Social Forum, and end with an exposition of alternatives to corporate-driven globalization.

ABOUT THE SERIES

The Third World Studies Center Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South interrogates the relations of contention and collective action to democracy in contemporary history. It focuses especially on movements in the South, using a variety of cases of recent national and cross-border mobilization and protest. The series will address the following questions:Are social movements in the South agents of democratization? How do social movements contribute to (or hinder) the democratization process in various spheres (local, regional, and transnational)? How do deepening interstate relations affect social movement politics? What role do Southern social movements play in the wider global political arena? Are social movements in the South always engaged in contentious politics? How do they interact within the boundaries of institutional politics? Given the present historical conjuncture, what lies ahead for social movements in the South?


Governance versus Democracy: Elite/Middle Class Social Movements in the Philippines and Thailand

TWSC 30th Anniversary Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South

MARK THOMPSON
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Germany

23 January 2007, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
CSSP Audio Visual Room
Room 207 Palma Hall
University of the Philippines-Diliman

In both the Philippines and Thailand, social movements enjoying strong elite and middle class support and participation overthrew unpopular authoritarian regimes in "people power-style" insurrections. More recently, in EDSA II, these same middle forces were instrumental in toppling an elected president in the Philippines with military support. In Thailand, similar middle forces failed to unseat a government through demonstrations but last year, supported a military coup. Why have these upper and middle class groups turned against "their own democracies"? In this presentation, it will be argued that these "middle forces" only supported democracy as long as they saw it serving their self-proclaimed aims of "good governance." But when populist leaders seen as a threat to these forces won elections, they turned against democratic rule. The current crisis of Philippine governance suggests that middle force insurrectionism in the name of good governance provides no long term solution to political instability, however.








ABOUT THE SERIES

The Third World Studies Center Lecture Series on Social Movements in the South interrogates the relations of contention and collective action to democracy in contemporary history. It focuses especially on movements in the South, using a variety of cases of recent national and cross-border mobilization and protest. The series will address the following questions:Are social movements in the South agents of democratization? How do social movements contribute to (or hinder) the democratization process in various spheres (local, regional, and transnational)? How do deepening interstate relations affect social movement politics? What role do Southern social movements play in the wider global political arena? Are social movements in the South always engaged in contentious politics? How do they interact within the boundaries of institutional politics? Given the present historical conjuncture, what lies ahead for social movements in the South?


Friday, February 09, 2007

Third World Studies Center 30th Anniversary


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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Kasarinlan Review: The Task of Building a Better Nation

Jovito Salonga. The Task of Building a Better Nation. Mandaluyong: Kilosbayan, 2005. 443 pp.

First published in Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 21, 1 (2006): 218-222.

Jovito Salonga, former senator and statesman, is one of the few politicians who can command great respect from the public and motivate them to support the goals of nation-building. Salonga’s idealism and indisputable integrity never fail to inspire the Filipino people. His latest book, The Task of Building a Better Nation, was released in an opportune time when the controversies of the 2004 Philippine presidential election have caused social strife and division. It recognizes that the country is in its trying times. Hence, an effective statecraft, founded on liberal-democratic values, must be employed. The seven-chapter volume is an anthology of Salonga’s personally-written speeches and essays as a political leader for more than half a century. The book presents his vision of a just and democratic nation. It summarizes the cardinal values which guide him as a liberal democrat—the respect for the “general will” of the people, the establishment of an open and pluralistic society, a free and responsible press, a representative government, and an apolitical military.

The volume is dedicated to the Filipino youth. It challenges them to take up the cudgels in building a better nation and assist in resolving the three major evils of society: widespread poverty, rampant corruption, and unrestrained criminality. Seven essays elucidate the significant role of the youth as vanguards of democracy, and emphasize that the emergence of youth-led social movements during the Martial Law years mitigated the excesses and abuses of the authoritarian government. A good narrative of the lives and aspirations of nationalists Jose “Pepe” Diokno and Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino provides clear examples for the younger generation to emulate.


By providing a first-hand account of his experiences during the Martial Law period, the author succeeds in linking the Plaza Miranda bombing and the battle of Mendiola to the contentious facets of the Marcos’s hidden wealth and the assassination of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino. Salonga writes, “Obviously from the viewpoint of Marcos, the imposition of martial law would render it almost impossible for the Opposition to know about their ill-gotten wealth” (130). Marcos’ jailed his rivals, key opponents and critics and imposed Martial Law to remain in power beyond 1973. A chronological narrative reveals that the Marcos government needed to destroy the democratic opposition by ostracizing former senator Ninoy Aquino from the country’s politics (139). These claims are complemented by a discussion of the evolution and character of the Congress; the dynamics of elections and the country’s judicial system is also examined.


Chapter four’s comparative presentation of Philippine presidents from Quezon to Macapagal-Arroyo endeavors to derive lessons from their contributions and limitations. Salonga contends that “no one in Philippine history, so far, has dominated Philippine politics for 20 years with such aplomb, skill, and self-confidence as did Manuel L. Quezon, the titan of Philippine politics, despite mounting social unrest and the chilling realities of war” (185). This attitude of conferring high regards to Filipino mavericks also manifest in the senator’s soaring tributes to men who have influenced and shaped his political career like Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, Cesar Espiritu, Ninoy Aquino, Jaime Cardinal Sin, his pastor Cirilo Rigos, and former Chief Justice Pedro Yap.


Salonga’s Christian convictions cannot be divorced from his assessment of sociopolitical issues. His propositions, especially in ethical issues are both instructive and exigent. As an adherent of social justice, he contends that a Christian’s spirituality must not be limited to building his/her “private stairway to heaven” (260). Faith must be coupled with tangible actions to help the poor, the oppressed and the underprivileged sectors of society. On the dividing line between forgiveness and justice, he writes, “People must be taught that crime does not pay—otherwise the system of justice will break down. In a free and just society, equal justice under the law is not a mere slogan but a basic principle that must be a living reality” (257). Hence, public officials must serve as role models because they are the ones people look up to for inspiration and guidance. Good government rests upon them because public confidence is imperative in the normal functioning of a democracy.


Salonga denounces government programs or actions that contradict ethical standards and undermine democracy and the rule of law. This principle reflects in open letters sent by the senator’s primary organizations, Kilosbayan (People’s Movement) and Bantay Katarungan (Sentinels of Justice), to concerned state leaders. A correspondence to former President Ramos condemned the Philippine Gaming Management Corporation’s (PGMC) approval of the online lottery system. Ironically, the decision was made after the Ramos administration launched its Moral Recovery Program. Gambling and moral recovery cannot go together since gambling promotes the drive for instant wealth and undermines the Filipino values of “initiative, self-discipline, rational planning, passion for real learning, hard work, honest toil, thrift and perseverance” (199). Similarly, the current efforts by the Arroyo administration to shift the presidential form of government to a federal one did not escape Kilosbayan’s vigilant eyes. It recommended that the process must be accomplished in a democratic manner through a constitutional convention rather than a constituent assembly. Another communication was sent to the members of the House of Representatives pertaining to the impeachment case filed against former Chief Justice Hilario Davide and other Supreme Court justices, saying that the case was “insufficient in substance” and the accused were innocent.


Washington’s preponderance on the country’s politics has been proven detrimental to the Filipino people. A chapter is devoted to the “wars and conflicts” involving the nation. The author argues that without the US military bases, Martial Law could not have been imposed and the Marcos dictatorship would have collapsed after a few years. The legal and political aspect of the RP-US Balikatan (literally meaning shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises as determined by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is dissected to prove that the American military had other things in mind when it deployed troops in Mindanao—not just to rescue the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnap-for-ransom victims but also subdue the whole island. An intelligent menu of possibilities is laid down explaining the Philippine government responses to the outcomes of the American military operations in Mindanao vis-à-vis the hostage-taking of the Burnhams, a missionary couple (294-295). The first possibility is that if the Burnhams or some of the American soldiers are killed in the rescue operations, the Philippines could be the next target of America in its “war against terrorism.” Another likelihood is that a successful rescue operation could be used by Washington as a rationale for the prolonged presence of its military in Mindanao. The last possibility is that if the Abu Sayyaf group was captured by the US military, they could be jailed and tried outside the Philippine jurisdiction because the country’s statutes and constitution are vague in punishing the crime of terrorism. These presuppositions are anchored on the author’s analysis of the US’s war on Iraq. George W. Bush’s formulation of the doctrine of preemptive strike proved to be dangerous because it can be used as a grand smokescreen of powerful nations to attack their enemies.


Corollarily, the Philippine government’s support to the US-led wars in different countries (e.g., Afghanistan, Iraq) is a palpable violation of the country’s Constitution which renounces war as an instrument of national policy. Overall, Salonga calls for the nation to “retrace its steps” in order to preserve the democratic and independent character of the country (299). Terrorism has created a moral dilemma for leaders around the globe. Distinguishing a “terrorist” from “a gang of local thieves and criminals” hampers the resolution of violence and conflict initiated by extremist groups like ASG in Mindanao. The author contends the ASG must not be branded as an “international terrorist group.” Doing so will only flatter the group and put ASG in a status which they do not deserve.


Overall, The Task of Building a Better Nation is a must read for students, political analysts, writers and social scientists who desire to explore not only the statesman’s political biography but also the crucial stories which shaped the country’s political landscape. Salonga’s accounts demystify some of the major periods of Philippine history. The elegant, Salonga-style English accounts for the easy-reading of each chapter. The essays validate the fact that the senator is neither a passive observer nor a simple armchair academician. As one of the revered icons of Philippine politics, his wisdom and experience are deeply-rooted to the country’s realpolitik. Although already retired from formal government service, his insights on current sociopolitical issues are still highly esteemed and sought by political leaders from various streams. As the Bible declares, “the gray head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).—Ronald C. Molmisa, Research Fellow, Third World Studies Center, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

Click this link to download the review in PDF.

Kasarinlan Review: State and Society in the Philippines

Patricio N. Abinales and Donna J. Amoroso. State and Society in the Philippines. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing Inc., 2005. Originally published in 2005 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 353 pp.

First published in Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 21, 1 (2006): 214-218.

This book will be an indispensable material in any class on Philippine history, society, and politics. There is no similar publication that skilfully synthesizes the most recent and relevant scholarships on the Philippines using the state-society framework. It traces the roots of the Philippine state’s weakness that is “manifest in uncollected taxes and uncontrolled crime, bloated bureaucracies and denuded forests, low teacher salaries, and high emigration rates” (1). Parallel to this analysis is the effort to present the various forms assumed by the society’s unending call for better governance. In ten tight chapters, Abinales and Amoroso were able to lucidly argue the quilt-like formation of the Philippine state where the “mixture of plunder and professionalism” resulted in “small patches of good governance adjoined to larger patches of corruption and inefficiency” (184).

Though the authors’ arguments were unassailable, the book however, sustains some details that can bedevil the reader:

  1. The word “Philippines” in the book’s title for its Philippine book paper edition is misspelled. “Philippines” is spelled with a single, not double, “l” as what is printed on the book’s spine. Raul Roco’s first name was also misspelled as Paul (282). Gregorio Sancianco, one of the earliest Filipino propagandist, was renamed as Pedro Sanciangco (106).
  2. Notwithstanding the shades of Zaide in the supposedly mere factual statement that the Philippines “is the most Catholic of Asian countries (currently almost 83 percent) (3),” the statement is still statistically off the mark. Since the authors spoke of the nation’s number of Catholic in percentage and not its total number, then they should have been aware that East Timor is 90 percent Catholic and thus the most Catholic of Asian countries percentage-wise. If, however, what the authors meant to say is that the Philippines has the most number of Catholic among Asian countries, then they could have been right. In fact, the Philippines has the third largest Catholic population in the world with its 69 million Catholics, next only to Brazil and Mexico.
  3. Without any apparent pattern or rule on which foreign or Filipino words or place-names will have a parenthetical guide to pronunciation, the authors sometimes ended up giving the wrong guide to enunciate a word. For example, Luzon, according to the book should be pronounced as loo-zone. This is quite unheard of. Random House Webster’s College Dictionary says that Luzon should be pronounced as loo zon´.
  4. Abinales and Amoroso wrote that “when occasionally a governor tried to enforce his authority, the orders’ threat to desert the parishes en masse exposed the state’s dependence and ended the attempt” (67). It can be added that when push comes to shove, the religious authorities then were not averse to resort to more forceful—and sometime murderous—means. One can readily recall the case of Governor General Fernando Manuel Bustamante y Bustillo who, together with his son, was killed in 1719 by a friar-instigated mob right inside Malacañang. In a much earlier period, there was Governor General Diego Salcedo. In 1668, he was imprisoned by the “Augustinian commissary of the Inquisition, Father Jose Paternina, and sent off to Mexico to stand trial, but died on the voyage” (Schumacher 1997, 116).
  5. In discussing the origins of the Philippines’ weak state, the book talks about the religious orders’ “friar power” as reflected in the expansion of the haciendas (landed states). This gives the impression that all members of the religious orders engaged in the hacienda business. The Franciscans, however, did not own any hacienda. And this explains in part why in areas where the Franciscans were, like the Bicol region, there were hardly any revolts rooted in agrarian issue. When the Jesuits returned in 1859, they too were made to renounce “all rights to the property which had been theirs before their expulsion, as well as all their former parishes” (Schumacher 1997, 15).
  6. Regarding the founding of the Escuela Normal (the full name is Escuela Normal de Maestros), the book says that it was “duly established in 1865 by the Jesuits” (93). This statement left some important things out. The Escuela Normal de Maestros was founded in 1863 by the government and then entrusted to the Jesuits (Schumacher 1997, 15). It was only in 1865 that the normal school was inaugurated (Corpuz 1989, 1: 500).
  7. The book also reiterates a commonly-held, yet still largely under-researched and unexplored notion on why Spain kept the Philippines as a colony: “What kept the Spaniards in the Philippines was the value of Manila as a staging post for religious missions, especially to China and Japan . . . (71). However, is there any study that can show how many religious missions were formed in the Philippines and then sent to China and Japan? The argument that Spain retained the Philippines to serve as a staging point for missionary activities to China and Japan is based more on plans than actual pursuits. Proof of this are the memoranda sent to the king of Spain expressing this imperial desire. See for example the memoranda of the following: Capt. Diego de Artieda (1573), the Augustinian order (1573), Governor Franisco de San Sande (1576), of prominent Manila citizens through Father Alonso Sanchez, SJ (1586), and Hernando de los Rios Coronel (1597). Religious orders driven by their own zeal might indeed venture to evangelize China or Japan, like the 1598 attempt of six Franciscans and 20 other Filipinos who ended up getting crucified by Japanese authorities. Yet the Spanish monarch, Philip II, as early as 1588, ordered that “there must be no adventuring in China or anywhere else” (de la Costa 1965/1992, 30). Philip III in 1609 would make a similar decision in response to then-Governor and Captain-General Juan de Silva’s plan to invade Japan. He stressed that “The Governor and Captain-General of the Philippine Islands must always maintain good relations of peace and friendship with the Emperor of Japan . . . . Under no circumstances must he risk the reputation of our Arms and State in those seas and Oriental nations” (Philip III, 1609). Histories are still needed to validate the assertion that Spain kept the Philippines as a colony because it can serve as a staging post of its imperial activities in East Asia.
  8. In discussing the secularization of Philippine parishes in the late eighteenth century, Abinales and Amoroso wrote that this was made more urgent when “the Jesuits had left the Philippines” (103). The use of the word “left” connotes that the Jesuits voluntary relinquished their posts and left the colony. Historians however, usually use the word “expulsion” (Schumacher 1997, 5) or “expelled” (Corpuz 1989, 1: xiii, 242) when describing the Jesuits’ departure from the Philippines that was ordered by the anti-Jesuit liberal authorities in Madrid.
  9. The label to a photo showing a mock garrotting of a man states that garrotting is “the usual method of public execution in the Spanish Philippines” (105). This can only be true after the 1832 royal decree prohibiting the use of hanging—then the usual mode of executing convicts—and replacing it with the garrotte (Montero y Vidal 1887-1895, 2: 537).
  10. Questions can be raised when the authors wrote “The ilustrados effort to shape the future was embodied in the Propaganda Movement waged in Manila and Europe by the organization La Solidaridad” (105) (emphasis added). Readers will of course assume that the La Solidaridad mentioned here is the propagandists’ newspaper edited at first by Graciano Lopez Jaena and later by Marcelo H. del Pilar. The problem however in using the word “organization” is that there is in fact an organization called La Solidaridad founded in January 1, 1889—almost a full month ahead of the founding of the newspaper La Solidaridad—in Barcelona and officered by Galicano Apacible, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Manuel Santa Maria, Mariano Ponce and Jose Ma. Panganiban with Jose Rizal as honorary president. The organization La Solidaridad made some limited propaganda efforts in Barcelona (Schumacher 1997: 132, 157-158). Though some members of this association wrote and worked for the newspaper, it is distinct from the newspaper La Solidaridad (Schumacher 1997: 157-158). Describing La Solidaridad as the Filipino propagandists’ newspaper, rather as an organization, would have been apt and precise.
  11. In the book’s glossary, pasyon is defined as a “play based on the life of Christ (a particular play).” This is a confusing definition since sinakulo or passion play, can also be similarly described. The authors could just have restated their earlier definition of pasyon, i.e., “biblical stories including the life, death, and resurrection of Christ” (111).
Even if in no certain way will the length of this list affect the conclusions drawn by Amoroso and Abinales, it will be helpful for the readers of the book’s future edition—which undoubtedly there will be—if these seeming weaknesses in details sustained by the book will be addressed.—Joel F. Ariate Jr., University Research Associate, Third World Studies Center, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

References
Corpuz, O.D. 1989. The roots of the Filipino nation. 2 vols. Quezon City: AKLAHI Foundation, Inc.


de la Costa, Horacio. 1965/1992. Readings in Philippine history. Makati City: Bookmark, Inc.


Montero y Vidal, Jose. 1887-1895. Historia general de Filipinas desde el descubrimiento de dichas islas hasta nuestros dias. 3 vols. Madrid: Imprenta y Fundacion de Manuel Tello.


Philip III. 1609. Decree of Philip III on peaceful relations with Japan. Document No. 140. Documentary sources of Philippine history, 12 vols., ed. Gregorio F. Zaide and Sonia M. Zaide, 4: 25. Metro Manila: National Book Store, Inc., 1990.


Schumacher, John N. 1997. The propaganda movement, 1880-1895: The creation of a Filipino consciousness, the making of the revolution. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Click this link to download the review in PDF.

Kasarinlan Review: Reducing Poverty, Building Peace

Coralie Bryant and Christina Kappaz. 2005. Reducing Poverty, Building Peace. Connecticut: Kumarian Press. 214 pp.

First published in Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 21, 1 (2006): 207-210.

Reducing Poverty, Building Peace is mainly a collection of the many techniques and strategies recently being used by organizations worldwide in combating poverty. It begins with addressing poverty as a multidimensional problem inevitably connected to other parts of the social world, such as the economy and crime. Perceiving poverty in this perspective, it then informs the reader of the strategies and solutions that have proven themselves effective in past attempts to curb poverty. Given the very many examples presented in combating poverty, this book does not focus for too long on any particular problem or technique. It instead gleans over many examples, emphasizing breadth over depth. Not that this does it any harm, however; it contextualizes its data within main points the authors contend are essentially antipoverty.


The initial part of the book gives an overview of poverty as multidimensional and deeply connected to many other issues in society. Basically, poverty is global for two reasons: it is a feature common to all nations, and connected globally due to advances in science and technology. Hence, they conclude that poverty should be viewed equally and seriously across different countries, whether progressive or poverty-stricken.


Another important topic in the book is the idea of social exclusion. This is defined as the exclusion of the poverty-stricken from access to necessary assets (e.g., health and financial security) due to their status. Contrasted to social exclusion are some of the more common perspectives on poverty, such as that of income-based analysis wherein the delusion of a “rising economic tide” will sink the level of poverty due to increase in earnings. What is important, first and foremost, is a comprehensive look at poverty as multidimensional—not simply poverty as an end in itself but as a dilemma extending from and blending with many aspects and sectors of society. This encourages more constructive and creative approaches toward battling poverty.


Unfortunately, the book’s explanation on why poverty is globally interconnected is found wanting, as it attempts to elaborate from simplistic instances of global connections (i.e., the downfall of the US stock market has repercussions worldwide). Constructing a sturdier framework to discuss the interconnectedness of poverty in a global setting could have helped solidify their explanation as to why poverty is a global problem.

The bulk of the book, which is found in the second to sixth chapters, consists of the proposed methods of the authors in combating poverty. It includes theories, strategies, and descriptions of projects based on the multidimensional view of poverty. This section is well-researched and contains several clear examples from numerous credible sources. While these chapters trace a path through the structures involved in fighting poverty—institutions, policies, and implementation, to name a few—what is really worth focusing on are the recurring themes.


Planning within context is one of the major themes. This means that the people and organizations working in social and economic programs have to define what they are working on from the perspective of who they are working for. The book considers the Washington Consensus, with its one-solution-for-all economic policies, as having worsened rather than improved most economies. This is a prime example of what happens when a fixed set of policies is prescribed for differentiated economic landscapes. Moreover, opening up economies does not mean they will prosper; Korea and Japan used systemic barriers and tariffs to strengthen their development.


At a more “micro” level, participatory development is essential. Participatory development refers to the involvement of local people in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of projects in their respective communities. This is contrasted with “normal” community development in which external experts fully take charge of the community. In participatory development, members of the community decide for themselves what they want, what is to be done, and how it is assessed with the cooperative assistance of experts in the field. This encourages a constructive, creative synergy among stakeholders, beneficiaries, and poverty workers, potentially fostering more effective projects than those that would have relied on a single external team of experts to make all of the decisions for a community.


Moreover, limiting poverty assistance to developing countries is, as implied by the authors, not quite a good idea. “Developed” countries, such as the major seven industrial powers, are also plagued with poverty within their own territories. The authors believe that international institutions like the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) tend to focus on poverty within poor countries when in fact poverty is existent in every country; it is global. This is in line with the conception that poverty is multidimensional and borderless, and thus intertwined with issues and social forces across the globe.

In the last chapter of the book, three final issues are examined by the authors. These include: 1) the conflict between military and economic planning, 2) development assistance, and 3) international systems of governance.

Regarding the conflict between military and economic planning, the authors contend that there is an imbalance in spending. Somewhat illogically, defense spending generally takes priority over development spending regardless of the situations of the countries. Defense expenditures reduce economic growth. Expenditures in defense are also prioritized in times of war, instead of spending constructively to remedy the problems causing the war. A final implication of defense spending is that it could lead to and support the formation of war economies.

Development assistance refers to the actual aid provided for by other countries in the fight against poverty. Besides financial aid, this also includes international and economic policies. The Washington D.C.-based Center for Global Development has created an index for this, and the results show that it seems to be lacking in general. The major seven industrial powers as a whole contribute less than other smaller countries. Unrelated to these measures but still disconcerting is the fact that the US, being the largest economy in the world, spends less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) for international development. Though the book views these contributions as somewhat lacking and therefore problematic, the matter is actually subjective, as there is no accurate level of contribution that is demanded in international assistance. Still, these situations give us a reality check on the issue.


The authors emphasize the lack of cohesion, finances, and political will that hinder international organizations from functioning effectively. Agreement among international organizations on how to resolve poverty is difficult because of their number. Problem solving is obstructed by lack of funds. Implementation is encumbered by politicking and bureaucracy. Unilateralism and hegemony, especially those brought about by the US, take the upper hand in the playing field. These are the concerns in the international setting, and much political will and collective action are necessary to resolve them. In sum, the book is appropriate to a wide range of readers, most especially those belonging to the realms of the social sciences and social work, due to its wealth of information and explanations concerning poverty. Those looking for a single, intensive, and straight-to-the-point solution to poverty and its related problems might be disappointed, since this book, as pointed out earlier, does not focus too long on any particular issue but gleans over many examples. Nevertheless, it is still quite useful and a well-written book in its own right.—Miguel Afable, Volunteer-Intern, Third World Studies Center, and BA Sociology Student, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

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Kasarinlan Review: Engaging ODA

Official Development Assistance Watch, ed. 2005. Engaging ODA: Lessons in Civil Society Participation. Quezon City: Management and Organizational Development for Empowerment Inc. 325 pp.

First published in Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 21, 1 (2006): 203-207.

In a post-Martial Law scenario, the opening up of political space and reformation of social institutions gave room for nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to assemble and contribute to state building. The importance of NGO participation in development programs has been widely recognized since 1986, particularly when the National Economic Development Authority granted NGOs the right to coordinate directly with foreign governments for Official Development Assistance (ODA). Both governments and multilateral institutions acknowledge the significance of NGOs as partners for development based on their peculiar characteristics and functional niche. In a country like the Philippines, where development programs have been hijacked by corruption and bureaucracy, the relative flexibility and responsiveness of NGOs have been highly appreciated. Because NGOs are usually homegrown in the communities they service, they are immersed in the locals’ cultural practices and sensitivities, which play a critical role in community organizing and capacity building. Such organic link with the community enables them to legitimately encourage grassroots participation, which would have otherwise been difficult to achieve if it were spearheaded by unfamiliar agencies. There are even times when alternative development strategies employed by NGOs are contrasted to the governments’ and multilateral institutions’ seemingly imposing development agenda. The discourse starts when through ODA, NGOs are engaged by force of circumstances with the same institutions they traditionally vilify. The book Engaging ODA: Lessons in Civil Society Participation presents the gradients on how NGOs manage this condition. Drawing from six case studies involving agrarian reform and rural development projects, this book by ODA Watch aims to compile key learnings derived from NGOs’ experiences with ODA. Qualitative methods such as focus groups discussions and key informant interviews allowed the independently commissioned researchers to present the stakeholders’ self-determined appraisal of their experiences.

The case study by Maisie Faith Dagapioso deals with the Western Mindanao Community Initiatives Project (WMCIP). Funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), this project sought to increase the income of 16,000 households through community and institutional development, natural-resource management, and small-enterprise development. With Ipil Development Foundation (IDF) as partner NGO, this case shows how much space NGOs can occupy in various stages of a project cycle. While IFAD recognizes the expertise of NGOs in planning and resource mobilization, IDF ended up as service contractors for the Department of Agrarian Reform. Dagapioso points out that IDF needed to work out the tension between its role as an advocate and a service contractor. While it forwarded the advocacy of protecting the rights of the Subanen during the project design, it did not have as much influence in project implementation, but instead got caught up with deliverables as a contractor. In a tripartite framework involving government organizations (GOs), NGOs, and people’s organizations, IDF’s contribution was perceived to be valued just because other partners could not provide the service IDF rendered, instead of directly influencing project implementation. On this note, Dagapioso points out the need for consistent vigilance with ODA-funded projects by scrutinizing the lead implementing agencies’ principles and ensure the institutionalization of NGO participation through a clear and specific set of guidelines.


Nikki Philline de la Rosa’s research on the Agrarian Reform Support Project in Agusan posits the dilemma of having NGOs and POs involved only in project implementation. The Educational Discipline in Culture and Area-based Development Services Inc., European Union’s partner organization in the program, was contracted for institutional strengthening and capacity building only after the general framework had been drafted. De la Rosa draws attention to the need for NGO involvement in all phases of the project cycle to forward its broad objectives rather than end up as another service contractor. As in the first case study, the quality of tripartism is questioned as well as the gauge used to assess the project’s success or failure.


One of the more interesting case studies involves the partnership between the Rural Development Institute-Sultan Kudarat (RDI-SK) and the Philippine government. With funding from the Asian Development Bank, the Agrarian Reform Communities Project was conceived. What made this case interesting is the relatively amicable relationship between the government through Department of Agrarian Reform Provincial Office (DARPO) and RDI-SK. Because of clear convergence of goals, they mutually benefited from the partnership—RDI established its legitimacy as a development force while DARPO focused on land tenure improvement. Though RDI-SK was also “contracted” to implement institutional strengthening, DARPO allowed it to maintain ownership of some programs, such as training activities, by giving direct subgrants to RDI. This way, RDI had more leverage in managing and implementing activities. Recognizing each institution’s function as complementary is key to successful partnership. This case study clearly lends substance to the claim that even with major differences, NGO-GO partnership is possible.


The complex issue of land reform in Canlaon, Negros Oriental, is unraveled by George Evangelista in his case study on the Belgian Integrated Agrarian Reform Support Project (BIARSP). Operating on different frameworks, the Negros Institute for Rural Development encountered fundamental differences with BIARSP, from project conceptualization to execution. Evangelista clearly contextualizes how land reform in Canlaon is entangled with a complex web of power relations involving lawmakers, local executives, and other economic stakeholders, which deterred both agencies from putting their concepts into practice.


The Western Samar Agricultural Resources Development Program, funded by the European Commission, exhibits the propensity of ODA programs to morph in terms of goals, strategies, and the level of NGO involvement. Joven Descanzo traces these major shifts to recommendations presented by an EC delegation sent to look into their local counterparts’ complaint. Similar to other cases, operating under different expectations and standards of evaluation had led the program to succumb to the donor’s framework, such as taking on a more commercial approach in terms of project objectives and conditions of NGO’s contracts to placate EC’s requirements. Descanzo narrates the community leaders and program staff’s disappointment in the emphasis on high-value production, and how this particular ODA program illustrates that “contracting” is the elementary basis of ODA’s partnership with NGOs.


However, even if NGOs have been perceived as “contractual employees” in ODA-funded projects, this does not involuntarily demote them to a trifling role. In Jermaine Baltazar Bayas’s case study on Agrarian Reform Integrated Support Program II, the Philippine Network of Rural Development Institute transcended its stipulated deliverables in the contract. It was able to continue engagement by integrating ARISP-2 to a long-term program in Pampanga, even if it was left out in the initial phases of the project.


While each of these case studies presents NGOs’ distinctive experiences of accomplishment and frustrations, several recurring themes are noted. The quality of a tripartism was consistently raised because of the noted trend of relegating NGOs to less significant functions. Certainly, the devil is in the details, such as how the terms partnership and engagement are defined and how this definition is operationalized. The NGOs’ role in ODA-funded projects has been in an indeterminate state. Descanzo takes a stand by stating that “NGOs who feverishly sought their engagement as contractual agents need to seriously reflect on the implications of such engagement on them as agents of alternative development civil society organizations.” The burden lies in the NGOs themselves on how they negotiate their relevance in these programs. Strangely enough, while NGOs are contracted because of their capacity to build sustainable institutions, the biggest obstacle they face is institutionalizing and sustaining their influential role in ODA-funded projects. While engagement with ODA is highly contextual, as manifested by the uniqueness of each case study, all researchers highlight the necessity for a constructive forum where NGOs can share their experiences and learn from others. This book by ODA Watch responds to this call. The realistic and empirically founded recommendations and insights provide the NGOs the prescience and, more important, motivation for their future endeavors.—Nicole Curato, Instructor, Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

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Kasarinlan Review: Empire of Care

Catherine Ceniza Choy. 2003. Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. 272 pp.

First published in Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 21, 1 (2006): 199-203.

Catherine Ceniza Choy is one of the few critical voices in the North American academia whose work on the connections between empire building in Asia and the Pacific and American history exposes not only the persistence of US imperialism but its invisibility in the American mass media and other postmodern (and persistent) developmentalist discourses in the academe. The racialization, feminization, and commodification of migrant nurses are discussed alongside their efforts to form organizations and support networks to struggle against the conditions that shape their profession.

Empire of Care is a comprehensive study of the history of Filipino nurse migration and its transnational dynamics. Its methodical approach includes ethnographic and archival research. Choy notes that the main objective of this “two-shores approach” is “to place a human face on [this] study through in-depth oral interviews with Filipino nurses working in New York City hospitals” and a “five-month research trip to the Philippines” that allowed her to talk with “nursing deans, faculty members, and students at several Philippine colleges and schools of nursing in Manila; directors of nursing and staff nurses at private and government hospitals in Manila; government employees working in overseas agencies; and workers in nongovernment organizations focusing on the welfare of migrant women workers” (193-94). The thorough data and analysis that the book offers on the topic is also a result of extensive library work and participant observation.


Choy departs from what she observes as a current tendency in studies on migrant work that represent various migrant professions as if there were no significant differences to be explored. She argues that “the lumping of Filipino nurse migrants with professional migrants from Asian sending countries and/or other professional migrants from the Philippines produces some troubling effects” (3). Her critique of the predominant research on migrant work that lumps nurse migrants together with other Asian professional migrants is summarized in three points. “First, it tends to foreground the uniqueness of the United States as a receiving nation of a diverse group of highly skilled migrants… Second, although some studies have emphasized the unique situations of Asian countries that send professional migrants, they continue to emphasize an economic logic to explain professional migration, often referred to as ‘brain drain.’ Third, the statistical nature of these studies renders Filipino nurse migrants impersonal, faceless objects of study, an objectification that prevents an understanding and appreciation of these migrants as multidimensional historical agents, and consequently hinders an identification with them as professionals, women and immigrants” (3). Choy’s valuable critique of her own field of study sets the conditions for a more reflexive and critical study of migrant work, which considers the categories class, gender, and race as significant horizons of interpretation. From this perspective, Empire of Care puts forward a way of reading the history of nursing migrants that challenges the “popular amnesia” about American colonialism—one that erases the violence of colonialism and neocolonialism in colonial narratives. As opposed to reading migration as spontaneous flows that occur on account of the migrants’ calculated choice—a discourse that validates the erroneous and commonsensical belief that the United States offers limitless opportunities to practice one’s profession in the most fulfilling ways possible—Empire of Care argues that the colonial and medical agenda of the United States and the role of the Philippine government in maintaining an export-oriented economy structure the field of migrant nursing and the experience of migrant nurses. Specific yet very significant questions arise in the process of interrogating the relationship between the two countries (i.e., the Philippines and the United States) within the context of neocolonialism. This includes the shift from the early twentieth-century arrival of Asian professionals whose “prestigious path to professional mobility” limited professional mobility to the elites of the sending country to the mass migration of Filipino nurses in the post-1965 period. This shift is analyzed by accounting for a host of factors that shape nurse migration to what it is today. Choy insists that “Filipino exchange nurse migration refashioned, yet also perpetuated, the social and racialized hierarchies created by US colonialism in the Philippines. Second, the transnational dynamics of Filipino exchange nurse migration, which took place in the context of U.S. attempts to maintain its global dominance during the Cold War, prefigured the post-1965 immigration of nurses to the United States that so many studies have attributed solely to the ‘liberalization’ of US immigration laws, and specifically the passage of the US Immigration Act of 1965” (63). In particular, Choy cites the “poor working conditions of the nurses in the Philippines in the mid-twentieth century added to the prestige and transformative potential attached to work and study in the United States” (67).

Interestingly, one of her interviewees pointed out the polarized character of class stratification in the Philippines which accounts for the production of fantasies about “transformative potential of work abroad” (73). “As Josephine Abalos explained, ‘See, in the Philippines, if you were rich, you were rich. If you were poor, you were poor. Here [in the United States], it equalizes everybody. The work and the salary equalizes. Your status becomes lost…So you were somebody in the Philippines? Too bad. You are somebody here, but everybody else is everybody too, see?” (73). Choy refuses to resort to positivist empiricism that valorizes the oppressed subject by affirming the testimony of the credit-baited female who unwittingly produces an alibi for globalization. The author brings home the point vividly by discussing the role of Philippine placement agencies and travel advertisements that refashioned nurse migration into a “very different kind of commodity” (92).
Furthermore, Choy devotes a whole chapter exposing the invisibility of violence in the production of migrant nurses’ narratives through the juxtaposition of two notorious crimes: the massacre of eight nurses in South Chicago Community Hospital in 1966 and in 1975, the respiratory arrest of thirty-five patients, some of whom died at the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Choy’s analysis of these crimes that involved two Filipino nurses as victims (1966 massacre) and two Filipino nurses as alleged perpetrators (1975) emphasizes the notoriety not only of the investigation process but also of the way the US media portrayed the said crimes. The portrayals consist of the affirmation of American benevolence vis-à-vis the “enigma of the little Filipino” (149), the inscrutable Oriental or the savage native. The close attention to the details of both crimes and the consequent movements of various organizations vis-à-vis the discourse of transformative potential of work abroad highlight the subjectivity of Filipino nurses as a dislocated subject of class. Reminiscent of Marx’s metaphor for capital—no less than the Faustian monster—Choy’s subtle critique of class consciousness significantly problematizes the divided subject of global capitalism whose desire and interest do not coincide. The irony in the title Empire of Care speaks sharply of the irony of American imperialist desires and its consequences on migrant consciousness.

However, another compelling irony deserves attention in the work of Choy. Her description of the “empire of care” as the “transnational dynamics of Filipino nurse migration” (193) seems to insert the phenomenon in the discourse of transnationalism—a discourse that is based on the impression that a new world community is emerging from the old dispensation. The concept “transnational” is derived from the assumption that communities are now based on a new “cosmopolitanism of interests”—shared attitudes, preferences, tastes. The operative term in the discourse of transnationalism is lifestyle, which in turn is a code of consumption (Ebert 2000, 3). Choy’s objective to critique the “the creation of an international Filipino professional nurse labor force primarily in the historical context of US imperialism”(1) has been substantially fulfilled but the discourse to which she inserts her critique (i.e., transnatioanlism) is precisely aimed at displacing the analytics of labor (or the social relations of production) with the “social relations of shopping” (McRobbie in Ebert 2000, 3).

This discrepancy is further observed in the study’s lack of engagement with the competing discourses on the “post-socialist” condition that configure academic debates of late. Choy’s theoretical combat is more focused on the substantive consequences of competing theoretical frameworks on various analyses rather on the fundamental differences that frame competing analyses. This creates a vague impression that the terms “empire,” “imperialism,” and neocolonialism are interchangeable and do not actually carry within themselves the weight of political debates not only on globalization but on the conduct of revolutions. For instance, is the use of imperialism akin to the Leninist construction of monopoly capitalism? Or is “empire” in Choy’s context an agreement with the Foucauldian construction of the new world order by Hardt and Negri? The work seems to leave much on the question of theoretical reflexivity. In Bourdieusian sociology, theoretical reflexivity is an instrument of combat against the globalizing trends of the neoliberal order. In this context, the discourse of transnationalism is the consequence of fine-tuning a critique of globalization according to existing geopolitical constellations. As an academic discourse, transnationalism erases the violence of the current global constellation. While Choy provides an eloquent discussion of migrant labor, the kind that is tied to the global capitalist logic, her labor of theorizing becomes a symptom of the metastases of imperialist benevolence. The “transnational,” as a way of reading current global flows, extends the invisibility of violence from the actual structure and experience of migrant labor to the labor of theorizing this historical juncture as “merely transnational.”


Nonetheless, for its breadth and committed scholarship, the Empire of Care is decidedly an indispensable document of migrant labor and how it is lived in these “interesting times.”—Sarah Raymundo, Instructor, Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Diliman.



Reference


Ebert, Teresa L. 2000. Globalization, class and cynical reason: A forum of contemporary theory and transnational critique. Pullman: Washington State University.


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Kasarinlan Review: Comanagement in Practice

Denyse J. Snelder and Eileen C. Bernardo, eds. 2005. Comanagement in Practice: The Challenge and Complexities of Implementation in the Northern Sierra Madre Mountain Region. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. 284 pp.

First published in Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 21, 1 (2006): 196-199.

This book is an eye-opener for the reader who would like to find out about the basic principles and issues surrounding comanagement, defined in the book as a cooperative arrangement for handling resources, as practiced in the Northern Sierra Madre. As an output of two international conferences on comanaging the environment, the book draws on the experiences and expertise of the faculty of the Isabela State University and their Dutch project counterparts, to present a fairly recent (as of 2002) picture of their comanagement situation. This is a situation represented by a handful of forest and coastal sites where trust between community members and nongovernment organizations has been established, whose success can also be traced to foreign donor aid and technical assistance, and to the exercise of rights spelled out in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, a relatively advanced law when contrasted against the absence of equivalent decrees elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

In general, this publication is a significant contribution to the personal libraries of land-use planners, environmentalists, and advocates of indigenous peoples’ rights, because the majority of its sections provide a solid exposition of lessons learned from the development of local and international laws, lowland-upland socioeconomic ties, management of ecological resources, and community responses to comanagement For instance, the authors have observed that comanagement arrangements offer a socially and environmentally appropriate means for increasing local participation in resource decision making. This, vis-à-vis the recognition that no single type of arrangement and property rights regime (state, private, or community) uniformly succeeds or fails to halt major resource degradation throughout the region, is a problem which may need more macro-oriented interventions. For those readers already steeped in comanagement literature, this book can serve as a handy comparative reference vis-á-vis other areas in the Philippines.


The combination and sequence of studies presented is the book’s strongest point, for which editors Snelder and Bernardo should be commended. They are apparently taking a deductive approach from a discussion of global, particularly Asian, movements toward comanagement down to the details narrated by case studies. The nine chapters of the book follow this logic, making it easier for the uninitiated reader to grasp guiding principles at the onset (chapters two and three), to work through the chapters on the biophysical and economic givens in the midsection (chapters four to six), and to explore at leisure the remaining situational reports that fill the rest of the book. I personally found the following sections more vigorously written than the rest. “Indigenous Peoples and Tropical Rain Forest Management: Global Discourses, Local Dilemmas” (chapter 2) by G. Persoon, T. Minter, and P. Visorro gives a concise historical and regional treatment of the concept of indigenous people and shows how the Philippines leads in recognition of such. “Environmental Comanagement in the Philippines” (chapter 3) by B. Malayang III localizes the history of decentralization and the rise of nongovernment entities after the EDSA revolution, eventually showing how this has influenced forest use, and thus comanagement. “Biophysical Perspective on Comanagement of Natural Resources” (chapter 5) by D. Snelder, L. Spijkerman, and J. Sevink presents a good overview of the terrestrial resources of the region, inclusive of notes on its geological history (but it fails to explain the technical terms on chemical quantities in soil). “Managing the Coastal Resources of the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park” (chapter 6) by H. Van Lavieren, H. De Iongh, and A. Belen takes the reader literally to the “other side” of the mountains, where coastal comanagement presents its own unique issues, such as the difficulty that comes with patrolling a large coastal area with scattered coral reefs, given lack of staff, equipment, and organization that could otherwise prevent stakeholder disagreements over resource use and incursion of fishermen using illegal extraction methods.


These four articles were backed by an abundance of references, and presented details about such events as the limited recognition of indigenous peoples by Indonesia and Malaysia, the successful management of the Saint Paul Subterranean River through power sharing between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local government, the invasion of forest streams by lowland tilapia (St. Peter’s fish) among other effects of forest exploitation, and the conflict between Dumagats and lowlanders in using reef flat resources.


Toward the latter part of the book, more location-specific studies follow, which are also more brief, albeit not less scholarly in tone nor in the treatment of particular cases. Among the more interesting ones are the narrations of the mixed successes attendant to the adaptive strategies of the Cagayan Agta (chapter 8), and the implementation of the Socialized Industrial Forest Management Agreement in San Mariano, Isabela (chapter 7). In these chapters, the reader will get a good sense of reality after discovering how the Agta have to juggle different livelihoods to survive during lean seasons, and after following the shift from hostility to acceptance of comanagement by indigenous community members.


On the other hand, Comanagement in Practice has a couple of shortcomings that diminish its usefulness to impatient readers unfamiliar with the subject matter. The first weakness is the Introduction, which provides the basic definition of comanagement and other fundamentals, such as comparison of property rights, and a brief discussion on decentralization, but all in a chapter that may be glossed over by the reader who habitually jumps to the body text. Moreover, only the last two pages of this first chapter actually give us the overview of the rest of the book’s contents—something which one might expect to be covered by the entire Introduction. I would have personally preferred a separate chapter just for the fundamental definitions and issues, if only to ensure that the reader “starts off on the right foot without missing his shoes.” The second point for improvement is the concluding chapter. “Rethinking Comanagement of Natural Resources: Some Considerations and Future Perspectives” should be rethought indeed, or rather firmed up in terms of the statements it makes about the likely directions of comanagement in the Sierra Madre. Here we read the usual criticisms about DENR’s failures, about the need for specific actions to encourage state support, and the urgency of reducing corruption. A more concrete, even more picturesque, termination might have anchored the book more firmly in its reader’s mind.


On the whole, this book deserves recognition as a well-organized compilation of reports, which assemble a fairly accurate and, therefore, useful description of indigenous peoples’ experience with comanagement in the Northern Sierra Madre. It is a worthy reference material that may even prompt further investigation by the curious reader.—Jose Edgardo Gomez Jr., Instructor, School of Urban and Regional Planning, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

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