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Project Cultural Heritage Mapping and Reconstruction of Meranaw Culture Poised for Take Off Dr. Rebekah M. Alawi

Posted on: Monday, March 26, 2018
Posted by: Anonymous


Project Cultural Heritage Mapping and Reconstruction of Meranaw Culture Poised for Take Off

by Dr. Rebekah M. Alawi


Project  “Cultural Heritage Mapping and Reconstruction of Meranaw Culture”  is poised to forge full steam ahead this March following  approval of appropriations in January 2018 for its implementation.  The initial impetus for the project was provided way back in 2017 by Senator Loren Legarda who, as Bae a Labi of Marawi City, considered it her bounden duty to do something for the preservation of Meranaw culture. Images of the vast destruction wrought by the six-month Marawi Siege, which were shown repeatedly on television and front pages of newspapers, had made her realize more sharply the fragility of everything, including culture.  Thousands of Marawi residents lost not only some loved ones, but also cherished collections of artifacts and heirlooms along with their gutted or bombed out homes.


Through the Senator’s sponsorship, the project was allocated funds in the 2018 GAB. The project was conceptualized and developed by Dr. Rebekah M. Alawi, Prof. Sorhaila L. Yusoph, and Dr. Minang D. Sharief in October 2017 for presentation to the Board of Regents and subsequently, to the Senate. It has two components: 1) research/field work for the cultural heritage mapping, “a systematic approach to identifying, analyzing, classifying and recording a community’s cultural resources and assets that traces the historical, economic, social and geographical significance of a site” and 2)  the Torogan or Cultural Heritage Center to house, among other things, the output of all the research projects, relics and artifacts.  The edifice, designed as a torogan, has a high-tech interior that includes an amphitheater, show room (for exhibits), gallery, library, training hall, conference room, and a curio shop. Plans for the torogan include community involvement in the form of Tugaya Crafts Week/Exhibit, Taraka Week, etc. It will serve as a school for the Meranaw living arts and traditions.         


           The Project Management Team/Technical Working Group, upon instruction from MSU System President Macaayong, set about their work by calling a preliminary meeting held on February 24, 2018 in the OP Conference Room. During the meeting, it was announced that a site has already been designated for the Torogan. In addition to dissemination of essential background information, the meeting was held to galvanize prospective researchers to join the Research Pool.  Representatives of the various colleges and other units of the University came.  Even some deans like Dr. Montia-Sarip of the College of Education and Prof. Teresita Sanchez of the Center for Hotel and Restaurant Management evinced interest and joined the group. 


            During the meeting, Program Leader Latiph provided the initial briefing through a PowerPoint presentation that showed the typologies or categories encompassed by the planned Cultural Heritage Mapping.  As Dr. Alawi describes the omnibus undertaking, it is a  “from cradle to the grave”  slide show or documentation/recording. Dr. Fema Abamo, another PMT member, took care of acquainting the college representatives present with the budgeting aspect essential and indispensable to a project proposal. Sample proposals and templates were shown, and copies of these distributed for reference or guide.  Most of the questions fielded by the PMT concerned the budgetary requirement and the areas of interest, for example, possible overlaps or duplications and treatment of already completed research studies.  


            On March 7, as agreed, the Orientation was held at the CHARM Pavilion.  It was attended by eighty or so interested representatives of the various colleges and other units, including the External Studies under the Office of the Asst. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  Dr. Alma E. Berowa, Vice President for Academic Affairs, who is herself a Project Management Team member, and Dr. Cesar dela Sena, Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension, were in attendance.  The former, in her much appreciated Inspirational Talk, enthused about the Project as a long overdue fulfillment of her dream of cultural research becoming a vogue. Lack of funds for this kind of endeavor was, however, a problem. “But now we have the funds. Although only a fraction of it was approved, because our supporters in Congress are sort of  ’testing the waters’, at least we can begin something. I’m very glad to see many young people here.  We have to tell and retell stories. I am not Meranaw, but I feel fully accepted by the Meranaws. I love the Meranaws and their culture.”  As a rejoinder to Dr. Alawi’s challenge to the present generation “to whom the torch is passed by us who are already nearing our twilight years, to help in preserving the richness, uniqueness and integrity of the Meranaw culture,” the Vice President pledged and her 100% commitment to this project.”


            Prof. Yusoph gave a definition of  “cultural heritage mapping”  to clear the air of doubts, uncertainty and confusion by de-mystifying the concept before the researchers plunge into preparation of their research projects. Her explanation of a cultural heritage mapping included showing the four clusters into which the Province of Lanao del Sur was divided. The deadline for submissions was set on March 15, 2018. After the various typologies or categories and their sub-categories were shown on the screen again, followed by Dr. Abamo’s more detailed presentation of the Capsule Research Proposal and the Line Item Budget, the prospective researchers were asked to group themselves according to area of interest – e.g. Meranaw literary heritage, Meranaw ethno-crafts, and Meranaw traditional games and dances.


            As of this writing, about forty research proposals are already on hand for the evaluation of the Project Management Team.  

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