by Ian S. Embradura, OPI
With 250 registrants, 85 paper presentations, and 36 participating academic institutions, the Philippine Sociological Society (PSS) held its National Conference on October 16-17, 2015 at the Institute, with the theme “Sociology of Peace and Conflict: Contexts and Challenges”.
The conference theme, PSS President Dr. Filomin Candaliza-Gutierrez explained, not only is a call “to respond to urgency of issues on peace and conflict faced by the country today,” but also to present “a well sprint of theorizing, conceptualization, and research formulation in sociology and social sciences,” especially in interrogating the complexities of peace and conflict.
In partnership with IIT’s Department of Sociology, this is the first time PSS holds its conference at the Institute, and the second time in Mindanao.
“As a Mindanaoan, I have seen and felt…the poverty and structural inequities,” Director for Extension Dr. Nimfa L. Bracamonte said.
“This leads to the unending search and exploration for innovative strategies and absolutions to address these issues,” she said.
Adding to Gutierrez’s and Bracamonte’s opening remarks, Chancellor Tanggol said that in the long process of nation-building and as sociologists, there is a need “to go back to theory and redefine Filipino nation and our own concept of state.”
Chancellor Tanggol was also the speaker of the second plenary session at the conference
The first plenary session dealt with the dynamics of conflict and violence in Mindanao. Dr. Francisco Lara, Jr.’s presentation is a study on the conflict longevity in Mindanao where the grassroots and the shadow identities and violent entrepreneurs make the rules.
This was complemented by Nikki Philline C. Dela Rosa whose presentation explained how violent conflicts are not results of singular incidences, but instead asserted on the phenomenon of “violent conflict strings” as worth examining in investigating transition-induced violence and in exploring its effective disruption.
Lara, Country Director of International Alert- Philippines, is a lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of the Philippines Diliman. Dela Rosa also works with International Alert as the Deputy Country Manager and Head of Mindanao operations.
Chancellor Tanggol’s plenary address, on the other hand, discussed the potentials, prospects, and challenges of federalism as a peace structure that could address the roots of conflict in the context of Mindanao and the Philippines. His presentation further emphasized the relationship between the country’s structures of multiculturalism and the failure of a unitary political arrangement especially in addressing national concerns including the quest for a lasting peace in Mindanao.
Completing the three plenary sessions was Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, with her presentation entitled “May Tiwala: The Trust Factor in Peace Building and Conflict Transformation”. Ferrer is a professor at UP Diliman and is also the Chair of the Government Peace Negotiating Panel for Talks with the Moro National Islamic Liberation Front.
After three plenary sessions, two featured panel sessions, and 21 parallel sessions, the national conference concluded in a closing ceremony where a group of Bajau youths, the Tambacan Real Dancers, gave a performance in what Bracamonte called “a story from the sea to the streets”.
Bracamonte wrapped up the event by posing a challenge to those present: sociologists should not be stuck at the theoretical level, but should “go to the field, feel the experiences of the people and then do something for development intervention.”