Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Honoring a Father, Teacher and Anthropologist: Dangal ng Haraya Award Bestowed to F. Landa Jocano

Eminent anthropologist F. Landa Jocano
For a son, he was a man always on fire. For a colleague, he was an esteemed guide and teacher. For a whole nation, he was a symbol for inspiration and someone it owes an immeasurable debt of gratitude to. F. Landa Jocano had always been the indefatigable researcher and pioneering anthropologist. 
The magnitude of his contributions to the Philippines was realized when he passed away on October 27, 2013, due to cardiac arrest at the age of 83. Tributes have been held. Several months later, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) posthumously bestowed him its highest recognition, the Dangal ng Haraya, an award for a lifetime of achievements in the arts and cultural work. 
Jocano was honored, the citation reads, "for his exemplary contributions in the field of cultural and historical research, having pioneered the use of participant observation a methodology in Philippine ethnographic research" and "for being one of the earliest Filipino social scientists who used his rigorous trainings in anthropology as evidenced by earning his Ph.D. to produce numerous groundbreaking studies and published works which served as reference materials of educational institutions in the country and the basis for creative cultural work."
The simple and intimate ceremony was held on May 22, 2014, at the NCCA Building in Intramuros, Manila. It was attended by NCCA officials led by its chairman Felipe de Leon Jr. and acting executive director Adelina Suemith; Jocano's friends and colleagues; and personages in arts and culture. An excerpt of a Panay Bukidnon chant was performed by Rodolfo Caballero, Panay Bukidnon chanter from Calinog, Iloilo.
National Museum director Jeremy Barns announced that they will be naming a wing after Jocano at the museum, which is undergoing renovation and expansion after finally reacquiring the building which housed the Department of Tourism. This came as a sweet surprise as Jocano's career started at the National Museum.
Receiving the Dangal of Haraya award was Jocano's son, Dr. Felipe Jocano Jr., who is also an anthropologist. His reminiscences on his father were insightful, entertaining and inspiring. He could have gone on and on all night long, and maybe for several nights, like the epic chant Jocano helped popularize and preserve, but time was severely limited.
A former student who became Jocano's collegue, Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea, lecturer at the Asian Center, attempted to sum up his works and contributions, refreshing the memories of those familiar with him and educating those who weren't. Sobritchea had assisted him in researching and writing his books on slum life and the Sulod. She also edited and proofread some of his works.
Jocano was known for his pioneering works in anthropology in the Philippines, particularly his work on Philippine prehistoric civilization.
"He is widely known, here and abroad, for his numerous field studies and publications on Philippine folklore, prehistory, cultural communities, folk medicine and organizational culture," Sobritchea said.
Born into a farming family in Cabatuan, Iloilo, on February 5, 1930, ninth of eleven children, Jocano ran away to Manila after finishing elementary school because his family could not afford to send him to high school. He worked his way through secondary school at the Arellano High School. He returned to Iloilo in 1954 where he finished a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Central Philippine University in 1957. During this period, he developed an interest in folklore. Eventually, he began searching for and studying epics in the Philippines, leading to the publication of the Hinilawod, a Central Visayan Folk Epic, for which he is widely known.
It began with a question to a literature professor, related Jocano Jr. The professor was teaching epics such as The Odyssey, the Iranian epics and Le Morte d'Arthur. Jocano asked if we have epics of our own. The professor answered, "Well, we don't. If you want to find out, go ahead."
"Thus began a journey in looking for epics which led to Central Panay. After he recorded the chant, he went back to his professor. He went and found it. That was the kind of person my father was," he said.
Jocano came to work at the National Museum through noted anthropologist Robert Fox. Through a grant, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago, earning a Master in Anthropology in 1962 and a doctorate degree in Social Anthropology in 1963.
When he returned to the Philippines, he taught at the University of the Philippines.
"Dr. Jocano taught at the University of the Philippines for nearly half a century," Sobritchea said. "He first joined the Department of Anthropology in l967 then moved to the Asian Center in 1973 as professor of Philippine Studies. He served as chairman of the UP Department of Anthropology, director of Philippine Studies Program at the UP Asian Center, dean of the UP Institute of Philippine Studies, and head of Asian Center Museum Laboratory. He played a key role in developing the content and direction of the graduate program in Philippine Studies as well as the training programs for government personnel of various government agencies such as the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department and the National Defense College. As the head of the Asian Center Museum Laboratory, he spearheaded the collection of cultural materials and photographs of ethnic groups across the country for use in graduate studies and appreciation, primarily of scholars and students. He strongly argued for the rereading of pre-colonial history and challenged the overly diffussionist slant of early works on this period.
"Many of Dr. Jocano's pioneering studies on Filipino values, folk medicine and early-childhood socialization practices, among others, provided rich data for the development of culturally-sensitive policies and programs of schools and various government agencies," she continued. "Indeed, his pioneering efforts to influence development practitioners to ground their work on anthropological knowledge have immensely contributed to the pursuit of policies, programs and services that are attuned to the diverse values, social contexts and aspirations of Filipinos."
For these, Jocano received numerous awards including the Ten Outstanding Young Men; (TOYM) award in 1965l; the 1971 Cultural Heritage Award, given by the Philippine government; and the National Science Special Award of Merit in 1974, given by the National Science Development Board (NSDB). He was also listed among the 12 Top Scientists of the Philippines by the National Research Council of the Philippines in 1988.
"For us in the social science, this is a dream," Sobritchea said.
Other awards included lifetime achievement awards in 2006 from the National Museum and the UP Archaeological Studies Program. In 2007, he was conferred the membership into the Philippine Legion of Honor with the rank of Maringal na Pinuno (Grand Officer).
"But what is perhaps the most valuable contribution of Dr. Jocano is the knowledge and skills he imparted to his students," Sobritchea averred. "As a classroom teacher and fieldwork supervisor, he is fondly remembered for teaching people-centered ways of doing social science research. He ensured the safety and security of everyone in the field even as he also cautioned them to be always respectful of the norms and practices of the communities being studied. He passed on to his students the legacy of grounded theorizing and reflexive ethnography. "
Those who were not personally taught by Jocano learned from his numerous books, which include Sulod Society (1968); Growing Up in a Philippine Barrio (1969); Folk Medicine in a Philippine Community (1973); Slum as a Way of Life (1975); Ilocano: An Ethnography of Family and Community Life (1983); Hiligaynon: An Ethnography of Family and Community Life (1983); Filipino Indigenous Ethnic Communities: Patterns, Variations, and Typologies (1998); and Filipino Prehistory: Rediscovering Precolonial Heritage (1998).
Jocano's contribution to the study of Philippine folk literature is the documentation and translation to English of the folk epic Hinilawod of the indigenous Panay Bukidnon of Western Visayas. From 1955 to 1957, he spent time with the Panay Bukidnon chanters and eventually published the book Hinilawod: Adventures of Humadapnon (Tarangban I), reprinted 2007. Jocano Jr. was six years old when his father was transcribing Hinilawod. It was the sound to which he which he fell asleep.
The anecdote was a glimpse on Jocano's work and family life fused together. Many times, his work influenced family life. Jocano Jr. remembered his father to be "always on fire from one idea to another."
"His unstoppable nature affected his family," he said.
He recalled for two years, they lived in the slums when his father was studying slum life. He remembered the violence in the community. His father joked, why go to action movies when the real action is here.
Jocano Jr. also said his father was a complex individual; it was not easy to define him. Similarly, his works are not easily classified-whether folk literature, prehistory, ethnography and others. But almost everyone is sure of one thing-the inestimable value and impact of his works.
Jocano joins his fellow Dangal ng Haraya awardees, Dr. Jesus Peralta for cultural conservation; Danny Dolor for cultural promotions; Felice Sta. Maria for cultural management; and E. Arsenio Manuel and Isagani Medina for cultural research, given on July 20, 2001; Efren Abueg, Lourdes Saquing Dulawan, Purita Kalaw Ledesma, Augusto Villalon, Basilio Esteban Villaruz, and the Philippine Association of Printmakers, given on August 9, 2002; Dr. Rustica Carpio for writing and art criticism; Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio for cultural management; Dr. Samuel Tan for cultural and historical research; and Pura Santillan-Castrence, Corazon Iñigo, Gilda Cordero-Fernando and the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit headed by singer-actress Mitch Valdez for the promotion of Philippine culture, given on February 23, 2007; and senator Edgardo Angara for patronage of arts and culture, given on June 21, 2013.
The Dangal ng Haraya was usually given together with the Alab ng Haraya (Flame of Imagination). The two recognitions were created under the leadership of NCCA chairman Jaime Laya and executive director Virgilio Almario. Alab ng Haraya is given to artists, cultural workers, works, groups and institutions, who had made an impact and significant contribution to arts and cultural development in categories such as published series of articles on culture and the arts/cultural journalism or documentation, arts management, choreography in dance, library and information services program, production, individual recognition and cultural conservation. On the other hand, the Dangal ng Haraya is the lifetime achievement award.

The late anthropologist F. Landa Jocano’s son  Dr. Felipe Jocano Jr. accepted the Dangal ng Haraya, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) lifetime achivement award, for his father from NCCA acting executive director Adelina Suemith and NCCA chariman Felipe de Leon Jr.
Dr. Felipe Jocano Jr. reminisced about his father 

From left: Dr. Carolyn Sobritchea of the Asian Center, NCCA acting executive director Adelina Suemith, Dr. Felipe Jocano Jr., NCCA chariman Felipe de Leon Jr., anthropologist Dr. Jesus Peralta, and National Museum director Jeremy Barns

1 comment:

Elmer I. Nocheseda said...

why are we always so late in honoring a great man? we should have honored him a long time ago for his valuable contribution to our understanding of ourselves.