Roundtable Panel, AAS-in-Asia 2020 | Kobe, Japan and Special Issue Aghamtao Journal 2021

The Philippine Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) Two Decades Later: What Worked, What Failed, What Now?

Click here to read 2nd call for IPRA papers


The Philippine Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) passed in 1997 was intended to protect the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) or indigenous cultural communities (ICCs). It was informed both by national jurisprudence on land rights and mediated by the post-EDSA 1987 Constitution, as well as by transnational shifts towards shared frameworks for IP rights as expressed in various UN declarations, working groups, and permanent fora. One outcome of the law has been the routinization of ICC/IP research in ways that were intended to flesh out the ethics of consent and empower those communities as research gatekeepers. As one of the earliest laws of its kind in postcolonial contexts, insights from the Philippine experience have the potential to shape the increasingly globalized discussion of research ethics in ways that examine neoliberal assumptions about rigor and representation.

This panel seeks to assess how the law’s manifest shifts have shaped field-based scholarly practice by exploring the constraints, innovations, barriers, responses, etc. vis a vis research on/by/alongside Philippine Indigenous Peoples. Emphasizing praxis as a starting point for reflection, the roundtable brings together both established scholars who worked in both institutional and non-institutional contexts decades before the passage of the law as well as emerging scholars who worked post-IPRA and that include members of ICCs/IPs. Panelists will share professional, scholarly and community-based perspectives in anthropological practice, museum-based work, interreligious dialogue and indigenous peoples ethnographies, drawn from research conducted in Northern, Central and Southern regions of the country. Prior to the conference, discussants will exchange three to five page summaries of their work; at the conference itself, each will present five minute overviews of their research and observations, with 1-2 minutes to respond to each other. Audience members will then be invited to comment or pose questions to the panel. By facilitating an open conversation on the kinds of shifts, adjustments, dilemmas and responses of those who study and engage with indigenous knowledge systems on the ground, the panel seeks to amplify both practice-based and within-community perspectives in dialogue with legal and ethical frameworks, broadly defined.


Cherubim Quizon, Seton Hall University, United States (organizer, roundtable-chair)

Cherubim Quizon is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Seton Hall University, USA. Her works on the knowledge systems and social formations interrelated with the textiles and dress of the Bagobo in Southern Mindanao drew on US colonial-era museum collections examined through the lens of contemporary multi-site fieldwork. She also investigated issues arising from ‘lumad’ development discourse, indigenous semantic categories of cloth alongside cultures of tourism, norms of translation and video practice, and community involvement in ethnobotanical research. She was country chair for the Philippine Studies Group, Association for Asian Studies (2012-2017). She holds a PhD in Anthropology from SUNY-Stony Brook.

Maria Mangahas, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Philippines (roundtable co-chair)

Maria Mangahas is Professor of Anthropology, University of the Philippines-Diliman. Her expertise in coastal, small-scale fishing communities in Batanes and Samal Island, Davao Gulf drew on long-term ethnographic research addressing issues of indigenous coastal resource management, 'gear conflicts,' changing seascapes, collective fishing technology, notions of 'luck' and leadership, and the rural as 'frontier.' She also investigated digitized 'scandals'/cultures of media piracy and studied the history of maritime anthropology in the Philippines. She was President of Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT/Anthropological Association of the Philippines) 2014-2017, and editor of its official journal, Aghamtao. She holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University.

Corazon Alvina, Museo ng Kaalamang Katutubo (MusKKat), Philippines (discussant)

Corazón S. Alvina is director of the Museo ng Kaalamáng Katutubò (Museum of Indigenous Knowledge), a foundation engaged in museum development. She was director of the National Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. She helped lead culture/heritage bodies such as the Asia Europe Museums Network (ASEMUS) and the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Traditional Artist Award, GAMABA), National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). She co-curated landmark Philippine exhibitions overseas (Asian Art Museum-San Francisco; Musée de quai Branly-Paris), helped found key cultural heritage management programs. She holds a degree in Anthropology from the University of the Philippines.

Philip Anghag, Ateneo de Davao University, Philippines (discussant)

Ruth Batani, Benguet State University, Philippines (discussant)

Ruth Sidchogan-Batani is Professor at the Department of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences of Benguet State University, La Trinidad Benguet, Cordillera, Philippines. She heads the Research and Extension sector of the University. Her research focuses on indigenous studies and women’s studies. Her recent work titled “Biag di Galdinelo (life of gardeners): Dilemmas and disposition in vegetable farming communities” was presented and awarded in the Saliksik-Kordilyera series of the University of the Philippines-Baguio. She is presently engaged in a multi-disciplinary project on traditional knowledge in healing. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Antoine Laugrand, Université Catholique de Louvain - UCL, Belgium (discussant)

Antoine Laugrand is a PhD student at the Laboratoire d'anthropologie prospective, Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium). His research focuses on indigenous representations of space and mapping in the Cordillera, Mindoro and Mindanao. He has published as an author and co-author several papers on Blaan, Alangan, Ibaloy and Ayta knowledge, rituals and practices in the Philippines.

Christian Rosales, University of the Philippines-Los Baños, Philippines (discussant)

Christian A. Rosales is Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He has been working among Mangyan communities since 2007. At present, he serves as a mediator for the Tau-Buhid in relation to the tribe’s application for certificate of ancestral domain claim. His research interests revolve around indigenous justice systems, cosmopolitics, and eschatology. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of the Philippines Diliman.


Alvina - The IPRA Law and the GAMABAAnghag - coming soonBatani - FPIC experience in R&D Projects: Checkpoints and chokepointsLaugrand - Ancestral Territory: State or Indigenous perspective? Local perspectives at stakeRosales - Beyond cultural issues: Representation and consent among the Iraya and the Tau-Buhid in Occidental Mindoro


0:00 Introduction/panel overview – C. Quizon

3:14 IPRA Law background/context – M. Mangahas

11:42 The IPRA Law and the Gamaba – C. Alvina

24:52 FPIC experience in R&D projects: Checkpoint and chokepoints – R. Batani

32:52 Ancestral territory: State or Indigenous perspectives – A. Laugrand

40:56 Beyond cultural issues: Representation and consent – C. Rosales

51:00 Discussion – All participants

About the Panel

The idea for this panel began with an analog artifact, when Maria Mangahas gave Cheree Quizon a hard copy of a special issue of the journal Aghamtao, the official journal of the Philippine Anthropological Association (Ugnayang Pang-Agham Tao, or UGAT). [See table of contents of Aghamtao 26, 1 or full text PDFs from the issue]. Edited by Maria, Cheree read it on the plane ride back to the US and encountered a piece co-authored by Maria and Cynthia Zayas that presented responses of UGAT members to an international survey on anthropological practice. Though the article had a much broader brief, it touched on an aspect of fieldwork that researchers such as Maria and Cheree, who completed most of their work prior to 1997, did not encounter (Mangahas & Zayas 2018: 104-5, 108). The Philippine Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) was a law that was passed that year which sought to articulate language in the 1987 Philippine Constitution recognizing rights of Philippine indigenous cultural communities (ICCs). As old friends from college days at the University of the Philippines Diliman, both had a frank conversation on what they’ve heard from fellow anthropologists, both positive and negative and based in the Philippines and overseas, who worked with ICCs post-IPRA. Cheree and Maria’s awareness of government entities that predated IPRA (such as what was then called the Office of Southern Cultural Communities or OSCC in Mindanao as well as the National Commission on Culture and the Arts or NCCA) added to an awareness of the complexity of the situation for researchers past and current. The idea of a roundtable panel focusing on practice was born, and one that seeks to start a focused conversation among anthropologists, both senior and junior, about their specific field-based experiences and insights arising from this exchange. Maria and Cheree also sought to apply lessons from international panels that they’ve recently encountered as presenters or audience members that had a participatory spirit, where papers were conceived of as works in progress and were shared, read and pondered ahead of the actual conference itself. Hence both the idea and the process for the current panel came about.

The panel was accepted in the first iteration of the Association for Asian Studies in Asia (AAS-in-Asia) conference originally slated for Hong Kong in June 2020. As the world watched the Hong Kong protests, that conference was eventually cancelled by the organizers and the host partner Chinese University of Hong Kong in December 2019. In that first iteration were two presenters who were not able to join the final line-up when the conference was postponed and shifted to Kobe: veteran Mindanao advocate for indigenous peoples Karl Gaspar who Cheree met at a conference in London in 2019 and PhD student Edwin Valientes whose work engaged in within-community research in Batanes impressed Maria at the University of the Philippines. In the Hong Kong round, the panel also received sponsorship from the Philippine Studies Group (PSG), a committee of the Association for Asian Studies, Southeast Asia Council in North America.

The conference was moved to Kobe with host partner IAFOR (International Academic Forum) and a new call for papers was opened in January 2020. The panel was once again accepted in February along with renewed PSG sponsorship, around the time that COVID-19 cases were rapidly spreading in Asia and Europe. The conference sought to respond by shifting to a later date end of August and a hybrid format; it has since been replaced by an all-online platform reflective of the current conditions worldwide. The current line up consists of established scholars such as Corazon Alvina and Ruth Sidchogan-Batani as well as emerging and mid-career scholars such as Christian Rosales, Philip Anghag and Antoine Laugrand. From a panel that started with a printed copy of a journal issue, its current members have gamely embraced the new online format, meeting for a virtual meet and greet via Zoom and agreeing to open up the paper briefs, framed as works in progress, to the public. Understanding that many may not be able to pay to attend the conference August 31- September 4th even in its fully virtual format, and anticipating a future iteration of the panel beyond the conference itself, we invite questions that anyone may pose to specific authors or the panel as a whole by using the contact form located below.

We may not have the opportunity to contact everyone who sends in a question or a comment but we promise that your contact information will not be used for any commercial purpose and, if applicable, will be shared with the designated author/panelist. Your query will go to the organizers and will be incorporated, time permitting, at the panel itself which takes place on September 4th Friday 9:45 am Japan Standard Time. The full conference program may also be viewed here. Thank you!

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