Science, mathematics and economics blended with indigenous arts and culture at UP Baguio’s Media Brunch held on August 22 at the UP Baguio Boardroom.
The UP Baguio Media Brunch was held to showcase some selected research projects that UP Baguio has undertaken through the Emerging Interdisciplinary Research (EIDR) Program and the Enhanced Creative Work Grant (ECWG). Three UP Baguio faculty-researchers presented the results of their research to members of the media, government information agencies, and higher education institutions in northern Luzon.
Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores of the College of Social Sciences presented a multidisciplinary research on “Anthropological, Mathematical Symmetry and Technical Characterization of Cordillera Textiles” or the CordiText Project. The project documented and studied unique weaving techniques, forms and patterns of various indigenous communities to help preserve this aspect of indigenous culture. The project also designed scientific protocols to improve product quality of textiles from local indigenous materials and to help the efficiency of local weavers in the Cordillera regions. The team used tools from various disciplines, including anthropology, ergonomics, chemistry, materials science and ethnomathematics, to study this indigenous craft. Highlighted were distinctive mathematical symmetries found in Cordilleran garments and blankets, along with their cultural, religious and functional significance. Dr. Amores and her team hope to encourage greater appreciation of the creative artistry in traditional weaving, bring about product development, and rekindle interest in the craft among the Cordilleran youth.
Dr. Teodora D. Balongcod of the College of Science offered “A Glimpse of the Fire Mummies of Kabayan, Benguet, and the Role of Plants Associated with the Mummification Process”. The research focused on the now-extinct Cordilleran practice of mummifying dead bodies, which is done by applying herbal extracts and smoking the corpse, hence the term “fire mummies”. The research identified and studied the herbs used in the mummification process in order to test their antibacterial potential against selected bacteria. Four endemic herbs in particular were identified—bayabas (Psidium guajava L.), diwdiw or tibig [Ficus nota (Blanco) Merr.], patani (Phaseolus lunatus L.), and besudak (Embelia philippinensis A. DC); and the research found that these herbs can potentially serve as less toxic and more environment-friendly alternatives to formalin in the embalming process, as well as a source of more affordable drugs sourced from indigenous, endemic plants.
Finally, UP Baguio Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs Corazon L. Abansi, who is also a professor of economics in the Institute of Management, presented “Weaving Colors: A Value Chain Analysis for Tiger Grass in the Cordillera Highlands of Northern Philippines”, a project she and Dr. Bienvenido C. Marzan jointly undertook. The research focused on the walis tambo and the cases of three major tiger-grass producing and softbroom-weaving communities in La Union. The research showed that tiger grass could be a more lucrative source of livelihood if value was added in the products along the chain. This higher value could be achieved by coloring the tiger-grass panicles. By weaving and selling the colored softbrooms, which are softer, sturdier and prettier than the ordinary walis tambo, weavers were able to create a market segment that was more discriminating and which appreciated quality rather than quantity. This enabled them to expand their markets and increase their earning potential. It also boosted the work participation of women and children in particular, and rural employment in general.
The three UP Baguio research projects were supported by the UP EIDR program and the ECWG under the Office of the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and the UP Baguio Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension Program through the Cordillera Studies Center. All three showcased developments in Sustainability Science, Material Culture, and Natural Resource Economics, which are key components in Sustainable Environment and Resource Management.
UP Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos said that he welcomed this interchange between the faculty-researchers and the media, because as the national university, UP needed to go beyond knowledge dissemination only through teaching.
Speaking on behalf of UP President Danilo Concepcion, Vice-President for Public Affairs Jose Y. Dalisay emphasized the importance of media people translating and communicating what University academics and researchers did for everyone to understand.
The closing remarks were delivered by Dr. Elenia E. Pernia, dean of the UP Diliman College of Mass Communication and program leader of “Communicating Science and Technology Research and Development in UP (CoST-UP)”, which is another project funded by the EIDR Program. She gave a brief report of what CoST-UP has done through its media engagement component to help UP scientists engage with the media, to train the media in science journalism, to disseminate UP’s research, and to popularize science and technology among the wider public. (Celeste Llaneta, UP MPRO)