What makes Mindanao so fascinating is the innate mystery it holds. With the huge number of undiscovered, unexplored areas, the life drama behind its continuous existence will go undocumented if not for a few who have taken interest in seeing and experiencing the glory that is of Mindanao.

Unfortunately, this island was brought to the limelight recently because of the notorious acts of violence of the Abu Sayyaf and other insurgency groups making Mindanao a home to the savage. As far as the researcher is concern, the southern island is not deserving of this kind of presentation considering the immensity of its natural resources, geographical make-up, economic viability and diverse cultural composition. In other words, Mindanao is a depository of culture to which the Philippines is known for.

It is the dream of the researcher to fuse the two fields she has great passion for: communication and anthropology. Though the two have entirely different disciplines, the researcher would like to find a way to connect them. With this project, she saw the chance of realizing her dream.

The researcher is aimed to show the truth about Mindanao. Though areas to be covered are limited to just a portion of the whole island, the project would want to present a different angle and focus more on the richness of its culture and natural resources through the people in the grassroots. Social issues on how people addressed them through communication have a vital role in the progress of the study. This will, in one way or another, form the point of view of the readers/audience on the indigenous people of Mindanao to a more


positive direction. Summing-up, the overall tone of the project will be positive in the desire of the researcher to bridge the gap of how the rest of the Philippines should view Mindanao in a manner, which is balance and with justice.

Who are the indigenous people of Mindanao? Lumad, meaning “born of the Earth,” is the collective name for the non-Muslim indigenous people (IPs) found in Mindanao.1 They are regarded as the original inhabitants of Mindanao and used to comprise the majority of the Island. 2 In the survey made by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), the IP population in the year 2000 is 17 percent out of the total population of the Philippines. In Mindanao alone, there is an IP population of 61 percent with the Lumad covering 48 percent. See Table 1 below.

Table 1 Estimated Total IP Population, 2000

Population Philippines Luzon Visayas Mindanao Lumad 12,887,291 4,168,694 800,780 7,917,817 6,153,678

% to Total 100% 33% 6% 61% 48% 17% 110

Proportion of IP Population to total Philippine Population No. of Indigenous Tribal/Ethnolinguistic Groups Note: Non-Lumad population is composed of indigenous Muslim tribes and majority Filipinos. Source: NCIP (lifted from IBON Facts and Figures)
1 2

Ibon Foundation, Inc., “The Lumads of Mindanao,” Ibon Facts and Figures, 31 August 2001, 2. Ibid.


Agusanon Manobo and its geographical setting

The researcher has taken particular interest on the Agusanon Manobo ethnic group for three primary reasons: 1) the uniqueness of its geographical setting, 2) the idea of pioneering a research and 3) the large fraction in the Lumad population. On the other hand, emphasis on their communication systems, ways and means is one aspect least explored in other ethnographic studies conducted. Usually, directions of researches are customs and beliefs, ancestral laws and language (linguistics), which is only a part of communication. The project aspires to describe and understand the flow of communication in the area despite of its geographical location and enumerate what other means of communication are present and utlized.

The Manobo ethnic group is the fourth largest group in Mindanao as far as population is concern. Refer to Table 2.

Table 2 Five Mindanao Lumad group with the largest population

Lumad Subanen B’laan Mandaya/a Manobo Bagobo

Population, 2000 858,970 676,357 574,944 545,749 484,467

Sources: 2000 Estimates, NCIP (lifted from IBON Facts & Figures)

The project will be conducted in the CARAGA region where majority of the Manobos reside.


Table 3 Population of Manobos in Mindanao by Region Region Region IX Region X Region XI Region XII Region XIII Population, 2000 596 24,425 98,333 69,720 111,333

Western Mindanao Northern Mindanao Southern Mindanao Central Mindanao CARAGA

Source: NSO 2000 Census of Population and Housing

In the CARAGA region, particularly, Agusan del Sur is the area of the Agusanon Manobo. AGUSANON is derived from “agus” meaning stream “an” meaning place and “on” a suffix denoting people and their language, the term referring to the native people inhabiting the territory drained by the Agusan River, their culture and language. 3 On the other hand, it was also said that before the Spanish era, the original term used was “Agasan” meaning “where the water flows “ and “a place where found to be in abundance.” 4

“Manobo tribes are of medium built body, light brown, straight hair with an exception of a few who have kinky hair as that of the aborigines, stout and with brown eyes.” This is according to the description of Save Mindanao Foundation, Inc. (SMFI), one of the non-government organizations (NGOs) working in the area. In a book by F. Landa Jocano, the Agusanon Manobo belonged to the fifth type of typology known as MAGANI, which was derived from the Agusanon Manobo term BAGANI meaning warrior. The MAGANI typology is ____________________________________

“Agusanon Manobo,” Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia. Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) Integrated Protected Area Systems-Conservation of Priority Project (IPAS-CPPAP) Brochure, IPAS Complex Mambillili, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur.



characterized by the following: Presence of efficient and productive agriculture Presence of full-time craft specialists Marked social stratification based on exploits in “war,” economic affluence and social prestige Political leadership is headed by warrior group Elaborate custom laws Presence of community-wide magnifico-religious ceremonies Presence of extensive trade with other ethnic groups Full-time religious functionaries Presence of institutionalized warfare. 5

Livelihood of the Agusanon Manobo ranges from agriculture, livestock raising, fishing, craft making and trading. In agriculture, they practiced slash-and-burn farming for those living in the uplands and wet-rice farming for those in the valley. Major crops are: rice, camote, sugarcane, corn, vegetables, cassava, wild tubers, honey, mushrooms and fruits. Livestock raising is not only a common practice but also used for sacrifices during ceremonies. Fishing, hunting and trapping are for protein supply. For hunting, materials used are hunting gear, hunting dogs, bow and arrow. Rituals are also enacted before a hunting expedition. Trapping of birds/animals is done year round and wild boar trapping is their main activity. Fishing includes the use of different kinds of fish traps even poisonous plants are utilized. The Agusan Marsh has been the fishing ground of the Manobos of ______________________________________
F. Landa Jocano, Anthropology of the Filipino People II (Filipinos Indigenous Ethnic Communities) Patterns, Variations and Typologies (Metro Manila: Punlad Research House, 1988), 4.


Agusan from Agusan River to its major tributary rivers, lakes/ponds and creeks. 6 While gathering of forest products such as vines, leaves, rattan and bamboo, supply their needs for materials in craft making and weaving. 7 In case of debts, boat making can be a source for additional income. 8 Returns generated from extensive trading with various ethnic groups is also a supplement to the income derived from their agricultural produce. 9 Political system is headed by the bagani (warrior). He functions as arbiter and judge in matters of dispute between the members of the settlement. Originally, Manobo group was a warrior society in which revenge is a religious act. Custom law was based on this ground and enacted as a ritual act. Crimes, which are punishable by revenge thru killing, are adultery, fornication, rape and homicide. Custom law also upheld respect for one’s person and property. 10 Social structure system as described in the Magani type is open and not rigid. Again, bagani leads and is considered the highest class in the structure since families are recognized from others on the bases of economic affluence, family genealogy, skills, knowledge of magico-religious lore and prowess in warfare. People look up at bagani for their leadership abilities in times of hostility and guidance in time of peace. Commoners are situated at the second level of the structure. These are the families with medium economic income – who assists the bagani in their social, economic and religious activities. The groups of people who are _______________________________________
6 Protected Area Management Bureau (PAMB), “Manobo [Karaga Biodiversity Linkages, Inc. – KABILIN),” photocopy, n.d., 39. 7 Ibid. 8 CCP, loc. cit. 9 Jocano, loc. cit. 10 Ibid.


captured from enemy territories during raids or are given in payment of debts, wergilds and as gifts are called propertyless/slaves. Since boundaries of social classes are not strict, those who belong to the third class can move up to the scale of the social ladder without much difficulty through hardwork, accumulation of wealth and valor in warfare. Causes of warfare may include personal or familial vendetta, non-payment of debts, forcible seizure of property, abduction and sexual infringements, can be non-payment of debt and deceit. 11

In religion and art, Manobos consider Magbabaya, the creator, as their supreme deity. They believed in the three layers: upperworld, middleworld and the underworld. Each layer is populated by myriads of spirits, which intervenes with human affairs. They are appealed for assistance in meeting human needs through ceremonies. These are often characterized by offerings, chantings and festivities, which are officiated by the bailan (healer). Health and continued power to protect the village from enemies are some of the subject of these ceremonies. Art forms like fabrics and personal adornments manifest Manobos’ local beliefs and practices. 12

The Agusan Marshland is the home to majority of the Agusanon Manobos and of diverse species from plants to mammals. This is the second largest swamp in Asia but the biggest in the Philippines. Also considered as one of the ecologically significant wetland ecosystem in the country. Agusan Marsh is the catch basin of the Agusan Davao plain in Northeastern Mindanao. It drains the Diwata mountain range that runs through five provinces: Surigao del Norte/Sur, Agusan del Norte/Sur and Davao del Norte. ____________________________________
11 CCP, loc. cit. 12 Jocano, op. cit.


Moreover, it is the catch basin of the streams from Bukidnon to the northwest that drain into the Agusan River and to the sea. The area stretches across eight municipalities of Agusan del Sur. 13 Refer to the table below.

Table 4 Municipalities Covered and Population of Tribal Communities

Municipality Population San Francisco 50,844 Rosario 26, 836 La Paz 23, 044 Loreto 24,022 Veruela 35, 706 Bunawan 24, 615 Sta. Josefa no data Talacogon no data Source: Karaga Biodiversity Linkages, Inc. (KABILIN)


Sabang Adgawan Katipunan Mambalillili

According to Presidential Decree 913, which was issued last October 31, 1996 by former President Fidel V. Ramos, the 19,196.558 hectares (has.) out of 113,492 has. of the marshland was declared as protected area. Thus, named it as Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS). Currently, AMWS is classified into 38,183 has. of agricultural land; 42,382.5 has. of wetland; 30,685.5 has. of forestland; and 285 has. of built up areas. Population of sanctuary area is 18.6 percent of the province’s population. 14

During the dry season, the area zones off into 59 lakes, with creek that empty into the Agusan River, third longest river in the Philippines. The dryland portions are cultivated by a growing migrant population for short-term crops like corn, camote, and tapioca. On the other hand, the annual flood season (December_____________________________________
13 Noel C. Villalba, “Huyong-Huyong Agusan Marsh Story [Karaga Biodiversity Linkages, Inc.],” photocopy, n.d., 1. 14 Ibid, 14.


February) becomes one big lake and all human population (except a few Manobo lake dwellers) evacuated to a higher ground. In other words, the area is flooded almost six months. 15 Thus, houses are made from clusters of wood and bamboo and built on rafts of floating logs. River systems are major transport for logs and commercial boats carrying passengers. 16

Why declare it as protected area? Wetland, which is marshland, is important because it is considered the “kidney of the landscape.” It functions to strain harmful chemical substances and cycles; thus, controlling waterflow and dangerous chemicals from mines and farmlands upstream, conserving soil, water, flora and fauna. Wetlands are among the Earth’s most productive ecosystems. It supports millions of people and provide foods and services through agriculture, fishing, architecture (house materials) and recreation like bird watching and sailing. Also a good venue for scientific studies. 17

With these remarkable features and significance come serious social problems. Certain vested interest of big businessmen even the government saw the economic potential of the area. Hence, pushing development projects at the expense of the environment and indigenous people. Development versus preservation/conservation is the name of the game. Usually, used poverty as a lame excuse. Issues, to name a few are: Mining and chemical poisoning Illegal logging and illegal fishing (electro-fishing) ________________________________________________
15 Ibid, 2. 16 Save Mindanao Foundation, Inc. (SMFI), “Paper on Agusanon Manobos,” La Paz, Agusan del Sur. 17 Villalba, op. cit.


Big irrigation projects Lack of political will to eradicate all these mentioned problems Ancestral domain claim and the issue on the Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA) Lack of basic services such as education, health and socialization infrastructure like halls Absence of clean, potable water systems Absence of waste disposal management

All these challenged the researcher to pursue the project amidst the pending difficulties and see it as a worthwhile and significant endeavor both for her and the communities living in the area. Full support was given to the project; thus, data was provided by the following authorized bodies and personnel: The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Protected Area Management Board (DENR-PAMB) head Mr. Benjamin Tumalinauan c/o Mr. Michael Montalban Mr. Nonoy Cabazares of the KARAGA Biodiversity Linkages, Inc. (KABILIN) and Mr. Noel C. Villalba for the Huyong-Huyong story Save Mindanao Foundation, Inc. (SMFI) Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) through Integrated Protected Area System – Conservation of Priority Protected Areas Project (IPAS-CPPAP)

Statement of the Problem

This project aims to understand the communication systems prevailing in the area and utilized by the Agusanon Manobos, both the traditional and current forms. Moreover, the project deems to identify the major


social issues/ problems besetting the community and how they act on it. Further, how are these issues manifested in communication, will be discussed.

Specifically, the study aims to answer the following questions: 1. What are the communication systems prevailing in the area, both traditional and current in forms? Criteria used to identify needed communication systems for this study are: indigenous, accessibility, capable of being managed by them, participatory, capable of influencing consciousness and raising awareness, using minimum and appropriate technology, and producing change that is self-generated or anything that the community suggest to be a criteria for this purpose. 2. How do these systems work? (stages, phases, if there’s any) 3. What are the major social issues/problems confronting the Agusanon Manobo community? 4. How the community used the available communication systems to achieve their goals of social change? 5. How are the issues manifested in communication? 6. What is the relationship of communication to social change in the context of this project? (to arrive at a new understanding of the relationship)

Significance of the Study

Studying indigenous people is an interesting and significant endeavor because of the following concepts:


1. Many of the indigenous ethnic communities have preserved their colorful, elaborate and unique institutions and cultural practices. 2. Indigenous people are considered important links to the Philippine’s past.

Despite what has already been written about the different ethnic communities, very little research has actually been carried out among them by way of systematic field work. 18

The researcher’s interest to study the lives of ethnic groups exceeds from the need to identify and know their way of life. It is in relation with her deep concern for the plight of the ethnic communities in this age of globalization. Their constant struggles for self-determination moves her to somehow help them uplift themselves.

It is also necessary to reiterate in this proposal the contribution of this endeavor to both industries – communication and anthropology. The researcher feels that both have their own share of misgivings considering the fact that after conscientious effort of looking at related literatures and studies much are still left unexplored and the absence of significant data on the Agusanon Manobo reflect the s the gap. In the field of communication, very few invest on studying the communication systems, processes, structures, patterns and means of a specific ethnic group. More studies are focused on linguistics (language) but the communication systems are left untouched. Others limit themselves to describing rituals on birth, death, marriage and religion without really going deeper on discussing the symbols/codes evident on these rituals especially in dances. Nonverbal form of communication is entirely unexplored. __________________________________________
18 Jocano, loc. cit.


Problems impeding the socio-economic growth of the communities and how communication is used in addressing these problems are not yet discussed.

Though, the researcher is aware of the contributions of these studies but would it be more significant if these endeavors advocate social development. These kinds of research are the most appropriate forms of promoting social development since data are collected, organized and analyzed systematically through social science methods. Unless documented in a manner that is long term, there will be great difficulty to preserve and protect the interests of the indigenous people, especially those ethnic communities unknown to people. In totality, national development is at a greater risk since there is a possibility of eroding indigenous ethnic cultures as important links to the country’s past. The researcher then is conceptualizing the best means to document, to effectively inculcate appreciation and develop a sense of national history among possible readers/audience of this project. The methodologies to achieve these aims are explained further in chapter three.

The findings of this project will benefit the following institutions:

The academe of different communication institutions. This project will help in promoting ideas for further studies, which would open discussions on possible strategies and theory formulations. Theories, which would best apply to further understand the plight of grassroot people. Aside from this, the project offers awareness to the social problems plaguing ethnic groups and gives opportunity to conceptualize communication means of addressing issues through participation of the communities and complement other devices already present in the area. Academicians can do this through engaging themselves in projects requiring fieldwork. Then, they can handover this learning experience to their students and also let them


engage in the same endeavor. Through these exercises, students will appreciate more the Philippine culture with the indigenous people as an integral part of it.

The social scientists and anthropologists. This project, how small it may seem, will at least help in filling in the gap in studies regarding Philippine IP customs, traditions, beliefs and social life with emphasis given to one of the least explored area – communication. Upon looking at this project, possible researches will be on mind. Communication is a part of culture. It is a social process. Therefore, what is the best way to study communication patterns, systems, practices, structures and ways but through analysis of symbols, codes used in rituals and traditional ethnic practices or exploration of the non-verbal communication inherent in the culture or understanding how the flow of communication within this communities are done. One observation of the researcher is the little attention given to the nonverbal aspect of communication within the IP communities and how it has been utilized in their formation as one body and social development. Since this project will also discuss on the communication systems both traditional and current and, which is focused more on the nonverbal expressions then it can provide ideas geared towards that direction.

Future researchers. The study is helpful to future endeavors on this type of study particularly those who will focus on the communicative ways and means of ethnic groups. Bibliographical entries included in the study will be of great assistance in looking for references.

The communication/media practitioners. The project will strive to be a good example in terms of standards in making a media artifact, which the media workers in the field may apply on their endeavors. Accuracy of data and implementation of correct ethical interviewing styles will be pushed for in making the project. Approaches on establishing good contact and rapport with IPs through their involvement in the said


endeavor will be utilized and at the same time documented for the reference and application to reports and documentaries of reporters, directors, researchers and other practitioners. This is to make a statement that stories on ethnic communities not only their cultures but their plight as marginalized people is an interesting story and there is market for it. The viewers/readers are interested in knowing their lifestyles and conditions. This is, needless to say, that reports, articles on indigenous people are fluctuating in number over the years. News reports and feature articles on these communities must be a regular see at the “Nation” section of all newspapers or wherever they need be. Even be as a regular segment in the programs on radio and television. There must be a call to this attention.

Readers/Audience. The project will provide critical awareness of the situation of the indigenous people in the Philippines, specifically, the Lumad and motivate them to contribute and take part as citizens of the country to help the indigenous uplift themselves.

The Agusanon Manobos. The project will serve as good depository of information, profile of the Agusanon Manobos, their communicative systems, their situation and continuous struggle to development and preservation. Moreover, the project aims to “enable” them as a community; thus, they can have the capability to change and uplift their lives, on their own terms, and they will be able to transform themselves socially for their betterment as community. The Agusanon Manobos will have the chance to learn the “re-search” process through involvement since they have a big role to play in the project and eventually use it to their own benefit and be able to learn and operate communication equipment such as video.


Scope and Limitations

The project is focused on one specific ethnic group, which is the Agusanon Manobos. Areas to be covered are those municipalities near the Agusan River that are within the protected areas of Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS). Three barangays each in the municipalities of Loreto and La Paz will be covered. The researcher aims to interview a good number of key informants, at least ten per municipality and a significant number of the members of the communities. Since fieldwork will entail a period of three months, this prevents the researcher to interview the entire members of each barangay. The central direction of the project is based on understanding and presenting of the communication aspect of ethnic groups with emphasis on the systems inherent in their culture. An important criterion will be “the communication system should be currently utilized” by the community in line with the discussions dealing on its role in addressing social problems.

Due to the projects limitation of time and funds, the areas are reduced to three barangays in two municipalities out of the eight covering the AMWS, which is the primary home of the entire Agusanon Manobo communities. Further, the exploration of the communication aspect of their culture is only concentrated on those systems currently utilized regardless if it a part of their traditional practices or it is a current form. Nonverbal expressions are given greater emphasis. Those systems, which are equally significant parts of their culture, but non-existing at present will not be further discussed and will just be a part of the historical profile. Respondents and key informants are limited to a few number because of the geographical constraints. Most part of the area is flooded and a canoe is the only mean of transportation. Moreover, other impediments such as weather conditions since the area is regularly visited with moderate to heavy rainfall and other uncontrollable factors also account for the limited number of respondents and key informants. Communication systems to be studied are those that exist until today and those that pass the criteria set and mentioned on the Statement of


the Problem. Studies on intercultural communication is an equally good endeavor but not within the scope of this project because this would mean more time for fieldwork, which the researcher does not have the luxury of. This can be seen as a part of the recommendation for future studies.

Definition of Terms

Culture. A way of life of a group of people. 19 In this case, an ethnic group. It includes customary rituals/rites, belief system and social structures. It also involves communicative patterns and structures, which are present since prehistoric time and are already a part of the system of their folk life.

Communication. Recursive, interactive “social production of meaning,” would be the key process in bringing forth that knowledge distributed among the members of the community. 20

Non-verbal communication. Symbolic codes seen in the performance of the rituals/rites – gestures, facial expressions, materials/artifacts used, which symbolizes a message and then translated to understandable meanings and contexts.

Traditional media/flok media. Unique forms, means/ways of communication ideas/messages within an ethnic group.

19 ----. Chapter 11: Ethnography. 20 Herminia Corazon Alfonso, Ph. D., Socially Shared Inquiry (Quezon City: Great Books Trading, 1999), 3.


Indigenous Peoples (IP). Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed in their territories, considered themselves distinct from other sectors of society now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories and their ethnic identity, as the basis for their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems. 21

Agusanon Manobo. More than a cultural minority in the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS), this ethnic group whose cultural heritage is hardly changed by Western colonizers. The largest of the nonMuslim and non-Christian population of Mindanao, which is generally known as the “lumadnon.”

Ancestral domain. An important issue tackled in this project. This refers to all areas generally belonging to the ICCs/IPs comprising lands, inland waters, coastal seas, air space, natural resources therein, held under the claim of ownership, occupied or possessed by the ICCs/IPs, by themselves or through their ancestors, communally or individually since time immemorial, continuously to the present except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a consequence of government projects or any other voluntary dealings entered into by government and private individuals/corporations, and which are necessary to ensure their economic, social and cultural welfare. It shall include ancestral lands, titled properties, forests, pasture, residential agricultural and other lands individually owned, whether alienable and disposable or otherwise hunting grounds, burial grounds, bodies of water, air space, mineral and other natural resources, and land, which may no longer be exclusively occupied by ICCs/IPs ________________________________________
21 Karl Gaspar, CSsR, The Lumad’s Struggle in the Face of Globalization (Davao: Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao, Inc., 2000), 99.


but from which they traditionally have access to their subsistence and traditional activities, particularly the home ranges of ICCs/IPs who are still nomadic and/or shifting cultivators. 22

Non-governmental organization. Refers to a private, non-profit, voluntary organization that has been organized primarily for the delivery of various services to the ICCs/IPs and has an established track record for effectiveness and acceptability in the community where it serves. 23

22 Ibid, 100. 23 Ibid, 102



The ‘Era of Globalization’, that is, 21st century is characterized by: 1. The promotion of economic growth and development through technological advances. 2. Creation of the new face of capitalism – that is, all life form are commodities to be sold. The continuous liberalization of commodities through pushing forward neo-liberal policies creating “free trade” paves the way to this new face. 3. It is the interest of global economy vis-à-vis interest of local economy. 4. It is a violation both to the right of the people to develop on their own terms and to a nation’s sovereignty. 5. Globalization is used by those powerful to give an illusion of economic superiority and dominance to those poverty-stricken nations for the purpose of manipulation and exploitation of resources, people’s rights and labor. 6. The gap between the rich and poor widens. 7. Marginalized people becomes even more marginalized, especially the indigenous people.

With the detrimental effects, brought about by globalization, the indigenous people are now in the forefront. They are most vulnerable to its effects. Today, the issue on ‘trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs) looms and has add to the serious problems the IPs have to contend with. This places them and their culture on the verge of extinction. TRIPs would enable the use of indigenous people as guinea pig to experiments wherein DNA make-up will be examined and copied. In other words, they are subject for cloning.


Status of TRIPs agreement is now on the table for discussions at the World Trade Organization. Where do this leave the IPs? Are they and their culture commodities waiting to be sold?

In chapter one, the condition of Mindanao both as poverty and violent-stricken area was pointed out. Mindanao, bombarded with the notorious acts of violence of Abu Sayyaf and insurgency groups, worsened by the presence of the American troops and other environmental, socio-economic-cultural leaves people on the edge.

Thus, various non-governmental organization civic, church and social groups have contributed their share to this battle through forums, social mobilizations, education and formation programs. Where does the part of communication or social science as discipline lies?

This project, how little may its contribution be, aims to respond to this challenge. With the creation now of theories particularly focused on social change as part of its long term goal provides a strong atmosphere for enthusiasm, motivation and hope. Thus, this endeavor desires to instill in the minds of the Agusanon Manobos of Mindanao the importance of community solidarity and the strength of community enablement. 1 This is aside from the researcher’s desire to uplift the image of Mindanao through the grassroot people - Agusanon Manobos and their struggle for determination. That, it is within them the strength, which enables them to solve their problems, in their own terms, and to answer even more to bigger challenges in the context of national development. It is by having majority of these motivated and able communities that countries such as the ______________________________________
1 Herminia Corazon M. Alfonso, Socially Shared Inquiry (Quezon City: Great Books Trading, 1999), 1.


Philippines can combat the harmful effects of globalization. The strength of the people is mightier than the working hands of imperialism.

The commitment of this project to the enablement of social development is grounded to the principles of community organizing or re-organizing, development and participatory communication.

Principles and concepts of community organizing are dealt on the formation of this of this project’s foundation: to plant the seeds of motivation and confidence in the community. In this project, the engaging of the Agusanon Manobos to a ‘re-search’ process through use of their own ways and means of relating and interacting with one another. This will serve as a starting point towards continuous involvement to small but encouraging endeavors such as this.

In the discussion of the value of communication to social development, concepts of participatory and development communication will apply since both have contributions to its progression over the years. Both, primarily, are concerned with the alleviation of the oppressed, deprived and the marginalized: their education and building up of collective consciousness.

Related Literature and Studies

Written materials presented here shall discuss the principles, concepts and theoretical perspectives, which guided the researcher/enabler as to the foundation, grounds and structure of this project. These have also contributed to the conceptualization of basic ideas and course of action that the project will undertake.



Guiding Principles and Concepts

1. On Communication and Social Development

According to a case study on the fisherfolks of Asian Social Institute (ASI) written by Mina Ramirez, development and communication referred to an “interactive process through, which persons or groups relate of interrelate around a common concern, enabling the self-expression and self-determination particularly of the poor, deprived and oppressed people towards a quantitative, qualitative and structural change in their lives.” 2

In this definition of communication, the following points are considered very important and are emphasized in the administration of this project: Interactive process – this happens through an ongoing dialogue within the community and does not occur in a package of one-shot deal. It is free-flowing, continuous contact within members of the group. It is a collective, collaboration of exchanging ideas. It is delivery and response/feedback in a cycle – no beginning, no end. Relate or interrelate a common concern – a community, which creates contact among its members or outsiders who share a common goal, aspiration, feeling or situation in ways or means that are accessible and innate in them and reach a consensus. Enabling self-expression leading to self-determination – continuous contact, interaction and interrelation provides the atmosphere for self-expression leading to self-determination of resolving conflicts and addressing oppressive situations. ___________________________________________
2 Mina Ramirez, “Devcom and Community Organizing Process A Philippine Experience,” Jayaweera and Amunugama, 227.


Towards a quantitative, qualitative and structural change – with continuous dialogical process, people’s reference to development will eventually change and go for much higher development exceeding mere economic development. The collapse of oppressive systems and the propagation of just, equal and fair structures and mechanisms in the society for the benefit of every human being.

Man is a social being, as communication is a social process. Thus, man cannot live alone but needs to interact, relate with his fellowmen to continue living and assert a meaningful existence; and, communication is that way to interaction and connection. Moreover, development of one’s self should not be taken apart from the development of the community. It should be a collective effort because every human being is entitled to one’s growth and his surroundings/’environment has to be a part of that growth. Development is for everyone and should not be selfish.

Therefore, social development in this project evolves around the development of a human being together with his environment and community as a whole. It encompasses the economic, moral, spiritual and cultural development. The ability of the human being to develop in all aspects of his being. That he is able to progress together with his community as a whole. That each member of the community has develop into this human being and are now capable of social analysis leading to the deepening of consciousness and understanding of situation. That has led the community to critical awareness and is motivated to act and address conflicts and issues confronting them.


In a way, this community ‘enablement has contributed to national development.

That is social development and its entirety.

The definition applied within the context of Third World realities was appropriate since unbalanced, power and economic social arrangements evolving from feudalistic structures and long colonial status are manifested in the structural dimensions in communication processes: 1 2 3 monopoly media manipulation one way ‘top down’ communication

With these patterns, it is to conclude, “majority of economically or socially marginalized people in the Third World have no access to media resources and have no control over them. Therefore, the situation calls for more meaningful communication processes: decentralized people-to-people communication; a move towards empathy, truth, sense of responsibility; and a two-way responsive flow of communication. 3

2. Development Communication and Community Organizing.

This is where the concept of development communication and community organizing as twin processes of total human development comes in. 4 _________________________________________
3 Ibid. 4 Ibid, 228.


Development communication with this specific context is thus focused on empowering the marginalized. That people may express themselves as communities or sectoral groups not only to enable them to articulate their needs but to contribute to meaningful societal development is a most essential objective of development communication. 5

Community organizing, on the other hand, is a way by which the marginalized and poor people acquire power in a society. 6

Particularly in this project, concept of development communication will be used since purpose of study is to start a small contribution to community capability building through training and mini-workshops. While, community re-organizing will be the focused of this project. The researcher/enabler is aware of the fact that the community is already organized and are conscious of their situation but due to depression and eroded motivation brought about by worsening conditions, the community was left uncertain and badly needs a perking up.

3. People’s Communication.

In a report made by Neville Jayaweera on Folk Media and Development Communication, the part on Experiences in People’s Communication, the following reality bites made an impact an this project: Traditional forms of communication are by themselves not generally capable of producing social _________________________________________
5 Ibid. 6 Ibid.


change on any noticeable scale. Traditional forms can be harnessed for effective social change when adapted and backed by a strong motivation and social consciousness. awakened social consciousness and prior social impetus must precede the use of traditional forms awakened social consciousness and prior social impetus are the concomitants of a whole range of other variables such as commitment, motivation, leadership, interpersonal communication and so on Consciousness of the need for liberation is fundamental to an understanding of people’s communication. emphasis on communication, whether technology-based or culture-based in isolation from the central issues of our daily living and without taking into account our social reality is misplaced primary need is to fully comprehend and combat the various forces that comprise the oppressive systems under which we live communication is ‘people’s communication’ only when it helps expose, combat and overcome our oppression Developing a strategy for liberation is the beginning and the essence of people’s communication. identifying and analyzing the situation principal communication facility available to the oppressed was face-to-face or interpersonal communication



as consciousness grew and as groups solidified into cells and cells into networks, interpersonal communication was supplemented by newsletters, pamphlets, audio and video cassettes, popular theatre, song and dance but focus was on cementing solidarity; a participatory process involving the unfolding of consciousness, deeper selfunderstanding, community education and collective action in a cyclical relationship, a trial and error process


consciousness and understanding developed not only through listening to lectures or by reading books (theory), but equally through active struggles, successes and failures experienced in the field (practice)


choice of medium and content of communication was determined by the levels of consciousness and the degree of solidarity attained by the people


role of animateur is crucial networking is important. It implied decentralization, autonomy, flexible responses and minimizing the risks of “party bosses”. It dispersed power and provided the maximum space for participation


traditional communication was never a substitute for mass media central communication reality was the consciousness of the people and their mobilization for struggle. The development of the consciousness of oppressed people was not the function of communication or of technology. It was the product of animation, face-tocommunication, interaction, participation, trial and error and networking tools and forms of communication were only aids to the process. 7

7 Neville Jayaweera, Folk Media and Development Communication. (Manila: Asian Social Institute, 1991), 67.


With these realities, the project focuses more on the advocacy of the people’s causes, in this case, the Agusanon Manobos. Sees the types and forms of communication as support to the process. Traditional and current forms are realized to be not in competition but to supplement each other to effectively accomplish its mission. That this project will bring awareness to the practitioners of the field to open their eyes to reality and not be deliverers of ‘empty’ information, meaning, those which do not advocate pro-people causes. Practitioners who look at communication as limited to the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how; but do not expose harsh realities of why the people are suffering, passive communicators who blinded themselves of these truths. Thus, oppression remains.

4. Ethnography with Journalism

In the area of journalism, there is the prevailing issue on the emergence of new journalism. In the book Interpretative Ethnography, a whole chapter was given to “New Journalism” for the discussion of its points. The latter part of the chapter contains a section entitled, “Merging Ethnography with Journalism.” 8 To define, new journalism uses both methods of journalistic reporting and narrative writings in preparing reports. In the same way as ethnographic participant observation is also utilized by journalists to gather the meanings of a particular situation or experience. With this definition, the writer’s task is to stay with the subject of the write-up over a period of time to witness the unfolding of events first hand. For the new journalist, “it seemed all-important to be to be there when dramatic scenes took place. New journalism with the aid of ethnographic methods attempts to write about important public issues. ___________________________________________
8 Norman Denzin, Interpretative Ethnography: Ethnographic Practices for the 21st Century (New Delhi: Sage Publication, 1997), 133


This new type adheres to the same basic principles of traditional journalism such as accuracy and balance reporting, though with particular emphasis to avoid harm, the readers right to know certain information and the writer’s moral obligation to make public the course of action they favor. Emphasis is also given to balance truth telling against the principle of nonmaleficience, the amount of harm that will be done to an individual or an oppressed group.

With the venture in writing culture, new journalism borrows from public journalism its purpose of breaking old routines and manifest a desire to connect with the people and their concerns. It writes ethnographies that move people to action and work, which promote serious discussion about democratic and personal politics. The norms of journalism pave the way for public or everyday journalism that advocated democracy by creating a space for and giving a civic (public) voice to the biographically, meaningful, epiphanal experiences that occur within the confines of the local moral community.

Local, participatory, civic, journalistic ethnography answers to the new readership – the biographically situated reader who is a co-participant in a public project that advocates democratic solutions to personal and public problems. The next level, transformation of public-journalism-as-ethnography answers to the following goals; thus, public ethnography. Helps citizens make intelligent decisions about private troubles that have become public issues, including helping to get these decisions carried out; Promote interpretative works that raise public and private consciousness;


Rejects the classic, heroic model of those good, investigative journalists who “root out the inside story, tell the brave truth, face down the known public officials, expose corruption and go on crusades”; Seeks an ethnographer and a journalist who is an expert on public life, knows how to listen, to hear and present consensus when it emerges, is also a full-time citizen and is committed to the belief that public life can be made to work; Sees the writer as a watchdog for the local community – a person who writes works that contribute to deliberative, participatory discourse, thereby maintaining the public’s awareness of its own voice. 9

The discussion on new journalism and public ethnography is what the researcher means to the possibility of two disciplines, to be in linked. In communication, journalism; in anthropology, ethnography. With the condition of the times, journalism should be flexible enough to accommodate changes the same way as ethnography. Primarily, the world now in great turmoil requires certain drastic changes/measures to meet up with the fight such as overcoming stereotypes, shying away from mediocrity, adaptability, acceptance of new norms and broadening horizons of practitioners of both fields and enable a cross-over. Rigidity and adherence to strict boundaries, rules of traditional journalism go nowhere. Journalists must use more of its analytical abilities in gauging situations, which can contribute to the betterment of people being written about.

Journalism is more than just a profession. It is a vocation, the purest form of public service. Public, civic, advocacy journalism, whatever labels/terms coined to it, carries a mission. Journalism can be a very good _______________________________________
9 Ibid, 281.


advocate of pro-people causes. Journalism should stop from being just an empty space guided by the dictates of advertising and ratings. Accurate reporting is the conduct of duty, whereas, pro-people journalism is more than just an execution of duties. Journalism should start advocating the rights of the people and must be firm in doing it. Thus, giving it a new face.

While the discipline of ethnography must go far beyond the rigidity of its boundaries, to learn the rudiments of journalistic reporting and to accept that certain kinds of information are significant to the public. Thus, facilitating advocacy through formation and education.

5. Role of Video as a Tool in Social Development

In this project, the researcher plans to use video as a tool for documentation. The researcher believes the potential of video as an instrument for learning and depository of culture. With video, it lengthens the period of preservation of the cultural social phenomena/processes of the community. It also encourages participation among the community members and they are motivated to act on the issues/problems confronting them because they believed on its power as a communication medium to express their thoughts and sentiments.

The book, Participatory Communication, dedicated a section on the discussion of the role of video in development communication. Video as medium was recognized for its potential to bring about conscientization, to facilitate the process of democratization and social or political change, to serve as a tool for power sharing as a means of transforming cultural values and as an alternative to television via mass channels. According to Stuart, “its multiple uses open many frontiers of helping people to change and to participate in the process of national development.”


Video becomes a force for human development extending to a remarkable degree the capabilities of people for being responsible for their own lives. This encourages the strengthening of community independence, solidarity in facing the issues confronting them but honest enough to admit need for assistance. Use of video primarily is appropriate for small groups and becomes a powerful personal learning tool. The power of video feedback is unprecedented for behavior ‘mirroring’ and as a tool for gaining insights into one’s actions. This experience of the community, seeing themselves in video, has potential for having strong influence to change their frame of reference about themselves and expand their point of view. Video has been recognized as an effective facilitator of the process of participation at the grassroots.

With the medium, it can allow people to share knowledge and experience using their own initiative. People participation is highlighted; thus, it becomes a powerful factor, which brings about social change. Because of the flexibility, manageability and adaptability of video training is made easy at the local level.

Most importantly, video is the link to isolated groups of people who were deprived of adequate communication with regional government. It created a network to support and encourage traditional communities in their search for human and social rights.

II. Theoretical Perspectives

1. Ethnography and Communication


With the discussion made on the connection of communication, in the form of journalism and anthropology in the form of ethnography, the possibility of relating and combining certain disciplines are now made into full view.

Probing to other possibilities even more, the use of ethnography is in itself describing how people communicate in particular contexts. Ethnography comes from the greek “ethos” meaning tribe, race/nations and graphos, something written down. Thus, refers to a written report about a group of people. It involves examining the patterned interactions and significant symbols of specific, cultural groups to identify norms that direct their behaviors and the meanings people ascribe to each other’s behaviors. It utilizes the use of direct observation and extended field research to produce a thick, naturalistic description of people and their culture. 10 This is the principle of “thick and thin description,” according to Clifford Geertz, a cultural interpreter. 11 This means, a detailed recording of social phenomena. 12 Thick description is used to describe cultural practices “from the native’s point of view.” Contrasted by “thin description, “ in which people merely describe the behavioral pattern with little sense of what it means to the participants themselves. 13 Studies with findings derived from this method demonstrate the powerful role of human communication in establishing and maintaining order in specific populations, settings or times. Ethnographic researches also seek to understand how people think about communication in particular situations. It also informs the readers about how a particular social issue is manifested in communication. _______________________________________
10 ----. Chapter 11: Ethnography. 11 Stephen Littlejohn, Theories of Human Communication. (California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999), 210. 12 Ibid, 210-211. 13 ----. Chapter 11: Ethnography.


Ethnography involves the following methods in data collection: participant observation, informal and key informant interviewing, structured interviewing and household surveys and collection of genealogies and life histories.

Fieldwork is said to play a role in “consciousness raising” by extending one’ s view of the world and challenging one’s assumptions about the nature of things. It is through fieldwork that all these methods can be carried out. 14

Ethnography of Communication. The ethnography of communication is simply the application of ethnographic methods to the communication patterns of a group. It is an attempt to make sense of the forms of communication employed by the members of the group or culture. 15

There are two concepts presented in the book of Littlejohn, Theories of Human Communication. First, the four assumptions of ethnography of communication given by Gerry Philipsen, used by the researcher/enabler within the context of the project Participants in a local cultural community create shared meaning in a given community, an outsider cannot dictate/ascribe meaning to actions observed and must leave the ascribing to the community since this has been a part of their culture and to help them realize this more through developing the virtue of respect for culture _______________________________________
14 Ibid. 15 Littlejohn, op. cit., 212.


Communicators in any cultural group must coordinate their actions. There must be some order or system to what is done in communication through shared meanings and ascriptions, ‘indigenous communicators’ in a way have coordinated actions. Have already existing communication systems before the researcher/enabler arrived in a community and this is what she intends to find, describe and explain how it is used Meanings and actions are particular to individual groups The researcher/enabler is careful to make generalizations, analysis and evaluation of systems/structures to, which meanings and actions are rooted. Not only are patterns of behavior and codes different from group to group, but each group also has its own ways of understanding certain codes and actions.

Donal Carbaugh has a different approach but inquires into same concerns as the first concept. Discover the type of shared identity created by communication. This identity is the members’ sense of who they are as a group. It is a common set of qualities with, which most members of the community would identify. Uncover the shared meanings of public performances seen in the group. Explore contradictions or paradoxes, of the group. 16

In attacking these problems three type of questions are pursued Question of norms - look for the ways communication is used to establish a set of standards _____________________________________
16 Ibid, 213.


and the ways notions of right and wrong affect communication patterns. Questions of forms – look at the types of communication used within the society. Questions of cultural codes draw attention to the meanings of the symbols and behaviors used as communication in the cultural community. 17

Performance Ethnography. Victor Turner emphasized more on the concept ‘culture is performed. Cultural performance involves the manipulation of various media that may be experienced by eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch. 18

Public performances in a culture are like social dramas, in which the group works out their relationship and ideas. 19 Noteworthy on these social dramas is the process that it tends to follow.

First stage is breach, a violation/threat to community order. Followed by a crisis, as members become agitated and take various sides on the issues raised by the breach. Third phase, redressive or remedial procedures, members of the culture make performances that mend breach or in some way return to a state of acceptance. This stage involves most self-examination and is the place where new meanings are created as old ones reproduced. Fourth stage is reintegration or restoration of peace. 20 ______________________________________
17 Ibid. 18 Ibid, 214. 19 Ibid, 215. 20 Ibid.


This is primarily what the project would want to discover during her fieldwork – how do indigenous communication flow.

Performance ethnography is significant because it broadens the field beyond its traditional fixation on language and text to include embodied practice. This movement is significant for the field of communication because communication itself is easily understood as performance. 21

Validity and Reliability of Ethnography. Ethnography exposed itself to the “pains of growing,” with its ever increasing critiques also comes its development in the field of social science research The unraveling of innovative means to data collection and use of more documents and materials that open the doors to a wealth of information. However, major issues questioning the reliability and validity of data cannot be ignored. Issues on reliability mainly emphasize on the following points: Ethnographic researches usually operate as sole observers and interviewers meaning there will be no point of comparison for assessment purposes. They rely on their own field notes, which may include biases that distort what is found. Qualitative data makes them less reliable than quantitative data. Ethnographers using participant observation are likely to react subjectively to the people being studied. 22 ____________________________________
21 Ibid. 22 F. Landa Jocano, Lilia Marquez and Mamerta Caguimbal, “Problems and Methods in the Study of Philippine Indigenous Ethnic Cultures (A Preliminary Overview) (UP Diliman, Asian Center, 1994), 9.


These points on reliability have already been responded to by the methods used in ethnography since each are created to complement one another, to assess its truthfulness and accuracy. The book Ethnography confirms the previous statement with the following suggestions on minimizing threats to reliability: Combine methods to check on the validity of what was learned from each source; Use multiple observational or interview methods; Interviews with ‘research participants’ and data from archival documents are used; Relate observations to quantitative data obtained from questionnaires; Improvise behavioral methods for assessing the external validity; Use of background information about the situation being observed. 23

In addition to the issues on validity, the booklet of F. Landa Jocano and colleagues, Problems and Methods in the Study of Philippine Indigenous Ethnic Cultures, gave pointers to the researcher on how to assess the key informant’s responses during the interview.

The ethnographer should inquire into the informant’s current emotional state, opinions, attitudes, values, hypothetical reactions and actual tendencies of informant to behave or feel when confronted with certain stimulus situations. Also to have an open eye to the informant’s ulterior motives, if there are reasons that bar spontaneity, the desire to please the interviewer and moods. These pointers are a precaution to subjectivity. 24 _______________________________________
23 Ibid, 10. 24 Ibid, 12.


For maintenance of objective reporting, there are checks to detect distortion. Implausibility check can be used if certain accounts given just not seemed to be plausible at all. Unreliability of the informant can be detected after repeated interviews and are corroborated by other reports. Knowledge of informant’s mental set and understanding of events give precaution in the selection of informants and comparing of informants’ accounts with each other gives way for cross-checking. 25

2. Socially Shared Inquiry (SSI)

Ultimately, after all the discussions given to various theoretical perspectives, there is only one method, which can describe the purpose of this project to the maximum extent. Socially Shared Inquiry (SSI) clearly visualizes the direction this endeavor would like to take. Although SSI will be used in combination with the methods of ethnography, it still gives the ideal atmosphere of the course of the project. SSI facilitates the positive tone of the project. It is the ultimate guide to ‘community enablement.’

The book written by Dr. Herminia Corazon Alfonso, Socially Shared Inquiry, is a refreshing, new approach to social science research, amidst all one-sided methods offered by social science methods for the past years.

The idea of SSI stems from the coined term ‘disabling perplexity’ (DP). This is the emergence of circumstances that disable the community from solving its problems, or render its members helpless. For the _______________________________________
25 Ibid. 12.


community members to overcome the DP and free themselves from an entrapment of sort is to make use of their very own knowledge or cognitions. Cognition is a vital component where the DP and the key to overcome it as well are rooted. DP results from (mis)conceptions and certain inadequate frames of knowledge, which individual members apply to a situation. Overcoming the DP requires engaging the community to ‘re-search.’ This would refer to the repeated questioning, examining, probing and inquiring by the very members themselves into aspects of their community. A process known as recursion. It would focus on how they conceive their situation, what they think about themselves and how can their abilities reduce uncertainty. This would encourage a variety of responses as part of their contribution/participation, which would eventually lead to a consensus to concrete problematical situations and resolutions. And communication, defined, as recursive, interactive “social production of meaning,” would be the key process in bringing forth that knowledge distributed among the members of the community. 26

Central to this process would be the coming forth of a variety of discourses that could ‘show-up’ in what the community members (languaging), each with a different story to tell about their own experiences of the DP, that could be ‘read’ for meaning. A discourse is a “set of meaning, metaphors, representations, images, stories, statements and so on that in some way together produce a particular version of events” or objects. These discourses/versions of an object/event are potentially available through language, but “until the sounds or markings come to be shared within a community, it is inappropriate to speak of language at all; shared, not in the sense of same meanings of linguistic forms for all speakers/users, but of language being used as medium of coordination of communication practices or its ‘performative function’ in human affairs. Emphasis is that ... _____________________________________
26 Alfonso, loc. cit.


each discourse brings different issues for consideration, and has different implications for what ought to be done. 27

The ‘enabler’, outside researcher/facilitator, can facilitate the emerging discourses. This can be done in two ways: (a) by encouraging sharing, a kind of mutual involvement in which community members come to construct each other as belonging to the same whole, and which would provide an internal precondition for (b) perturbation, a process of guarded conflict-generation. Later facilitation may include making information available by the enabler, taking advantage of previous enabling experiences or of a broader vision about “how the world works,” and engaging a variety of established decision making techniques. 28

In SSI, self-reflexive inquiry, would mean ‘ordinary’ people turning inward to study themselves concretely as ‘real’ people with a human face, by engaging in “narrative(s) of self-reflexivity,” that is telling themselves stories about themselves as “embedded” individuals in the context of a whole constellation of diverse backgrounds. The people, as their own re-searchers, would stipulate their own purpose. 29

Recursion is a process that infolds upon itself, that is recycled or runs its own path again but implies a different beginning. Process of this begins with the subject of re-search, the disabling constructions of reality by the community in DP provoked by perturbations from the environment and the enabler. The result of re-search ____________________________________
27 Ibid, 3. 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid, 4


– non-disabling shared constructions of realities – would come about only with recycling of information through repeated interrogation, examination, re-examination, search and re-search into themselves among the members, until they reach consensus. 30

Graphically, a loop would arise whereby the result would be embedded in its own beginning. The result would be its own input. This circular process would be part of the internal structure of the community, so much that the outside influence would be viewed as mere background and source of disturbance upon the community’s otherwise autonomous behavior. These disturbances would be compensated for through the underlying recursive behavior of the community in DP. That is to say, each recycling would imply a different beginning even while running its own path again. Different, because each time, something new or distinct would have been learned that would reinforce their identity as a self-governing community. The whole SSI process, facilitated by the enabler, would terminate after as many iterations as a consensus would require as much share/portions of individual reality constructions as would be needed for melding into a consensus. 31

The process of SSI would usually begin by translating a DP into a suitable frame. Here a frame would be a structure of concepts constructed to clarify and draw a boundary around a DP so that its eventual resolution would be aided and abetted. One purpose of adopting a frame is to leave out distracting ideas, thereby focusing the re-search process on something manageable and to the point. That is to say, it would define what is relevant to the community’s situation and what is irrelevant; what counts as information, and would thus help to _____________________________________
30 Ibid, 124. 31 Ibid, 125.


pinpoint and generate the very items needed to overcome the DP. Constructing a frame that could zero in on the DP would require bringing together in discourse the community members’ knowledge and the enabler’s perceptions of their situation. 32

The items of information that would be generated in the context of a particular frame are here called ‘poieta’ (from the Greek word, poietic, meaning ‘making’) are the product of constructions. One can think of poieta as data that are not actively constructed to shed light on a situation, and authenticated by a community to assure the bearing it is believed to have. 33

An operational construct need to be worked out. The construct would provide a functional explanation of the DP, and would constitute an effort to make the frame operative. The frame, the poieta and operational construct would require community consensus and an authentication of that consensus. 34

Consensus means coming to a decision that is fully supported by everyone, in a process where everyone’s contribution is recognized. 35

Authentication here would be an explicit confirmation by the members to no longer question the ____________________________________
32 Ibid, 6 33 Ibid, 6. 34 Ibid, 7 35 Ibid.


consensus that has been arrived at. It would therefore entail going back to what has been ‘condensed’. 36

Institutionalizing here would refer to a transition from re-search procedures that are outside-enabled to research procedures that are internalized to the point that members could engage them on their own; that is, without the enabler. 37

Community competence may be said to be in place when a community’s institutions enable its members, perhaps after repeated involvement in outside-guided research processes, to cope with problems beyond the particular project at hand and on their own. 38

Thus, SSI’s goal would be community enablement, meaning attestation to/confirmation of enhanced competence. In the short term this would mean producing the knowledge and ways necessary for dissolving the DP at hand, and in the process improving the community’s ability to inquire into and decide on its own affairs. In the long term this would mean enhancing what is called community competence to the point where the community could repeat the process of research in other domains of possible DPs on their own; that is, without outside assistance by an enabler. 39

Socially Shared Inquiry to a certain extent would be used primarily as guide to the purpose of its project, which is to stimulate participation of the community to undergo on a re-search. In this case, the ______________________________________
37 Ibid. 38 Ibid. 39 Ibid.


verbatim account of the SSI process above is necessary to capture the very essence of the project. The project will be facilitated by the use of video since this is full-length video documentary. This would enable them to air their concerns and problematic situations without the fear of being judged and they can repeatedly throw ideas until they come to a consensus with what to do.

This would make them “competent” that they can solve their problems on their own and finally reach social transformation. SSI, in the detailed explanation of its process, stressed the significance of sharing through constant dialogue, which stimulates the community to express what is on their mind and assess their priority issues. It is in these sharing sessions that they are able to exercise their listening and speaking capabilities, reflect and work on their situations and find possible solutions to uplift themselves from the DP. With repeated involvement, community enablement would be at hand, meaning, it has become a part of their community structure.

Small project endeavors such as this project taps on this framework to at least have a “take off” point in the communities – to engage them in such endeavors no matter how little it is. Also the framework gives importance to perturbation, which in turn stimulate critical thinking among the members of the community. This enables them to exercise their analytical skills and learn to accept that certain ideas are not always in congruent with the others and often manifest opposing views. Sometimes the seeming absence of conflict could be the problem. 40 This means that perceptions about DP are not totally or not at all expressed.

Moreover, other techniques and tools of re-search, which highly affect and contribute to the effective _________________________________________
41 Ibid, 75.


carrying out of communication for community enablement are highlighted. These are: brainstorming, allowing the free flow of ideas; conscientization, lifted from the idea of Paulo Freire as to the process of a “deepening” of the attitude of awareness characteristic of all emergence; systematizing doubt, involves developing a certain kind of respect to statements carrying doubts directed to the situation or ideas given at hand by other members at hand then doing something about it in a form of dialogue and argumentation; reflection, the members engaged in SSI would step back, take stock of the alternatives that shall have been discussed and would turn thought back on their own understanding and appreciation of those alternatives.41 The execution of social dialogue, discussion, asking questions and active listening are also part and parcel of the process and are effective in generating recursive, interactive communication.

Please refer to the figures on the emphasized processes to be used for this project below.

Fig. 1 SSI Evocative Procedures, Techniques, Tools of Re-search _____________________________________
41 Ibid, 84-97.


subject of re-search

result of research

Community in DP

Disabling constructions of realities


Non-disabling shared constructions of realities

Fig. 2 Recursion in SSI
enabler + environment (perturbation) (Facilitation)

Fig. 2 Recursion in SSI

Another thing the researcher would like to point is the emphasis on ‘consensus building’ – it is a technique of coming to a decision that is usually supported by everyone in a group, in a process where everyone’s contribution is recognized. This technique strengthens the solidarity of the group and the start of “we can do something together” mindset.

Theoretical Framework

The project is supported by the guiding principles of community organizing, development and people’s communication, emerging public-journalism-as-ethnography concept and the role of video to social development.


The project is grounded to the theoretical perspectives provided by the Socially Shared Inquiry (SSI) and Ethnography. This is so to provide the atmosphere for soliciting as much participation from the community; “enable” them more as to reach a permanent structure and institutionalization of “community enablement” through repeated endeavors – big or small; increase individual capacity and community solidarity at the same time; and heighten the reliability and validity of data/method by having a complementation of methods both of SSI and Ethnography.

Conceptual Framework

For this project, the conceptual framework is aimed at solidifying the community through constant social action leading to social development.

Community solidarity is a process wherein it is characterized by a cycle of continuous involvement to social action within the community, which leads to social development. Important is the continuity of action, engagement and involvement of the community.

However, to reach the highest peak, which is social development, it is important to discuss the integral elements within the cycle.

Community is composed of members characterized by differences in attitudes, values, beliefs, desires, interest and needs though they share a common culture (even in ethnic groups). These differences cause disputes among members of the community. Thus, the paradigm of this project begins with:


A realization that a community becomes ‘complete’ if its members agree to a participation in important decision-making activities in the community; believe that they are already aware of their situation and that it is only a matter of stimulating their motivation to participate, which will eventually completes them. Communication serves as the ‘nucleus’ /core, which realizes participation. This is anchored in the following: the role of communication as an opportunity for social dialogue and discussion engagement in the practice of active listening and asking questions consistency and recursion regardless of form of communication, indigenous (culture-based) or modern (technology-based) and that these forms are realized to complement each other.

Openness to new approaches of dealing with social issues, conflicts and problems like research or community re-organizing activities depending on the need of the community. Welcoming of facilitators who would want to help and give assistance through involvement in a re-search process or community organizing/re-organizing programs and help communities regain their motivation and realize even more their potentials in either ways. With these potentials realized, involvement to social action is at hand in addressing issues confronting the communities Continuous involvement to social action will lead to further social development.


Fig. 3 The “Cell Framework”

This paradigm is called the “Cell Framework” because ‘cell’ in itself is the basic unit of life. Therefore, it functions as the stimulant to development and completeness of the community through the integral part of the cell, which is a nucleus and represented by communication.



The project will utilize both methods of Ethnography and Socially Shared Inquiry (SSI). This combination will aid the researcher/enabler in further probing to the issues confronting the Agusanon Manobos, especially relevant to their social development. Further, with these methods, community participation is stimulated, which would lead eventually to a unified social action.

The plan is to undergo an in-depth study and produce a full-length video documentary featuring the ethnic group, Agusanon Manobo. Project will be done by the group themselves with the researcher/enabler functioning as “facilitator, therapist, mentor and organizer.” 1

Pre-production stage will include sharing, brainstorming sessions facilitated by the researcher/enabler. Consensus building will soon follow after several sessions. The group will have to come-up with a unanimous decision on what to include in the documentary – issues/problems/conflicts, details of the problem/cause and effect of problem and communication systems existing and used in resolving identified conflicts. In other words, the community will be deciding on the content, key players to form the core group and delegation of tasks. Core group will undergo mini-workshops and training to facilitate their learning of concept development and video production, which includes research, writing of script, and shooting proper. This stage will particularly employ the procedures, techniques and tools of SSI. ___________________________________
1 Herminia Corazon Alfonso, Ph. D., Socially Shared Inquiry (Quezon City: Great Books Trading, 1999), 34-35.


Production phase, on the other hand, is going to use the ethnographic methods, and which will therefore be included in the documentary itself. Traditional media, which are currently used, will be included in the shoot. These are the rituals/rites, dances, material culture and other visual/print presentations. Key informant and interviews with other members of the Agusanon Manobo community will also be a part of the shoot. The core group will be having their major contributions in this stage.

Lastly, post-production stage will involve: evaluation of data gathered, viewing of the shot scenes, formation of the documentary and writing of script. Brainstorming sessions will again be set for these purposes. Editing will be in Manila but an initial copy will be sent for the groups approval, then, final adjustments based on the community’s suggestions will be accommodated.

Audio-visual aids will be employed to effectively facilitate the smooth progress of the project and determine how far the group has accomplished. These tools are: flip charts (list of ideas), journals and diaries (written documentation of daily activities), audio tapes and cassette recorders, bulletin boards, and other visual aids). These are, of course, according to what the group will decide on what is the most effective and adaptable to their socio-economic status and attainment. In case most are illiterate, the researcher/enabler will think of other tools that can accommodate these members of the community. Re-echoing of results for each stage of production is necessary to get the consensus of the community.

A written report/manual and a full-length, 1-½ hour video documentary will be the output of this project. The written part will include the profile of the Agusanon Manobo, issues/problems presently confronting them and a detailed description, explanation of their communication systems. Part of the plan will be the publication of this manual. Both manual and video documentary will be translated to the Manobo language.


Research Setting

The setting of the project is in Agusan del Sur, northeastern part of Mindanao. This is found in the CARAGA Region (Region XIII). Majority of the inhabitants are the Manobo ethnic group, which is also situated all-over Mindanao. The researcher/enabler has taken particular interest in the Manobo group of Agusan, those within the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) near the Agusan River. This are stretches over eight municipalities namely: San Francisco, Rosario, La Paz, Loreto, Veruela, Bunawan, Sta. Josefa and Talacogon. Communities in the barangays of La Paz, Loreto and Bunawan will be the primary ‘research participants’; specifically, barangay Sabang Adgawan of La Paz, Katipunana of Loreto and Mambalili and San Marcos of Bunawan. Changes in the selected barangays are possible since over-all conditions in the locality are still to be checked. Usually, AMWS experiences seasonal flooding from December to March; thus, floating communities have emerged. The researcher/enabler will also try to access these communities. Agusan Marsh is the biggest swamp forest in the Philippines, considering its vastness; significance in the environment is also high that issues on preservation and conservation are of major concern. Moreover, these issues are affecting the inhabitants; thus, protection of their rights is very important. These are some of the reasons the researcher/enabler felt significant to respond to.

Sample Size and Sample Design

Barangays especially in remote places are usually small in size; thus, all are ‘research participants’. The entire community will be asked to participate in the sharing/brainstorming sessions. The community


members will be the one to choose those who will form the core group. Target participants are those pure Agusanon Manobos since population of migrants are also growing.

Selection of key informants are also within the discretion of the community but will be drawn by purposive non-probability sampling method and guided by the following criteria: a. Age, if possible a member of the council of elders in the community b. Position (one who has authority in the community) c. Knowledge level (those who have the grasp on pertinent issues, communication systems and traditional practices of the community) d. Respected member of the community e. Or based on the recommendations of the community.

Data Collection Method

The researcher/enabler will be employing various methods for data collection to intensify, strengthen reliability and validity of data. Two sets of data collection methods will be utilized. For the pre-production stage, the first set of methods will be employed, these are: I. SOCIALLY SHARED INQUIRY (SSI) Procedures 1. Sharing: generating a ‘we’ feeling “participating in reality constructions as part and parcel of the community with (a) the desideratum of equal opportunity to contribute what one can or cares to, according to


(b) his/her own abilities and perceptions, and (c) own interests.” 2 fundamental: “(a) as a way of following through on the rapport established upon entry of the enabler; and (b) because it is expected to contribute to relief from disabling perplexity in that for sharing to take place, there must be communication, and in what generates a ‘we’ feeling, a characteristic feeling of trust, which arises out of constructing the other to be part of the same whole.” 3 2. Perturbation: stimulating critical thinking the aim of perturbation are two folds: “(a) trigerring public expression of latent cognitions about DPs, calling them out into contact and dialogue with each other; this is intended to: (a.1) free the community of cognitions that are recognizably disadvantageous to them and to the process of inquiry from their own standpoint and (a.2) to tap their creativity for making their own decisions/constructing their own realities, and get them through continuous talking among themselves to come to a new consensus on problems, needs, desires and so on.” 4 another aim: “interaction between inside and outside perspectives; it is geared to expanding an existing consensus with a community to a range of options greater than would ordinarily be available.” 5 _________________________________________
2 Ibid, 74. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid, 75. 5 Ibid.


both aims explore other possibilities through engaging the community members into “novel ways of interaction” 6 so that they would choose better and be good decision makers. to note, critical thinking in SSI is: “(a) lived activity in diverse settings and domains in everyday life; (b) process of continually calling into question the thing we assume or take for granted but, which underlie our own and other people’s customary ways of thinking and acting; (c) triggered not only by negative events but by positive as well; (d) rational but also emotional; (e) open to alternative ways of thinking and living; (f) and, varies according to the context in which our actions and ideas are constructed.” 7 therefore, critical thinkers are becoming “mature adults who are breaking free from habitual patterns of thought to view world in new ways; who think and decide for themselves and are skeptical of quick-fix solutions, of single answers to their problems, and of claims to universal truth.” 8 in this method, SSI suggested to focus on two central activities: “(a) identifying and challenging assumptions, and (b) exploring alternative ways of thinking and acting.” 9

6 Ibid, 75-76. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid.


Basic Techniques 1. Social Dialogue – in SSI this would refer as: “(a) open conversation on an equal footing among everyone concerned about the DP, (b) conducted according to principles on which there is consensus, (c) where the outcome of the conversation is brought to bear on the decision later, and (d) where the reaching of agreements depends on the way interests are pursued and balanced against each other.” 10 2. Discussion – “is a consideration or sifting of arguments on both sides of a matter.” 11

The social dialogue

discussion format could become “a potent method of integrating inquiry and

intervention, and . . . can contribute to the intermingled processes of knowing and changing.” 12

Basic Tools 1. Asking questions 2. Active listening

Specific Technique 1. Brainstorming – “informed, free-wheeling technique” of generating ‘limitless’ ideas on a specific issue or problem. _____________________________________________
10 Ibid, 81-82. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid.


2. Conscientization – “critically examining old ways of thinking in order to expand alternatives for overcoming the DP”; internalizing the awareness “leading to the development of critical consciousness.” This would mean “seeing the elements in the totality of experience placed in relief by problematization and being able to act wisely on this basis.” 13 3. Systematizing doubt – “withholding assent on these alternatives until they are tested”; to facilitate this, suggested tools are: “(a) dialectics and (b) argumentation.” 14 4. Reflection – “turning thought back on the understandings and appreciation of the alternatives.” 15 II. ETHNOGRAPHY Methods 1. Participant Observation – this would allow the researcher/enabler to have an extended and intimate interaction with the community of Agusanon Manobos and keen observation of how they communicate issues of social relevance to one another is possible. Observations will be properly documented through use of journals, diaries and audio/visual tapes. This also requires total involvement in the community’s daily activities. 2. Key Informant interviewing – allows researcher/enabler to ask previously prepared questions and get a multitude of data since the nature of these questions are open-ended. Further, repeat interviews will also be possible since the researcher/enabler will be working with them all throughout the production of the project. _________________________________________
13 Ibid, 85-86. 14 Ibid, 95. 15 Ibid, 96.


3. Structured interviews. This is facilitated by a survey questionnaire. 4. Collection of genealogies and life histories 5. Inspection of material culture – domestic artifacts and ethnographic materials.


Time Table An Inquiry on the Role of the Communication Systems of the Agusanon Manobos in Social Development

No. 1

Activity Researching for related literature, studies and theories responsible for the construction of the foundation of the project. Have gathered enough related literature and theories. Related studies, despite the efforts, are a rarity. Thus, this project is considered one of the pioneering research with special focus to communication as an important factor to social development

Duration January – February 2003 (2 months)


Securing of permits to conduct a study within the area of Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS). The project was already approved in the area by the authorized body: Protected Area Management Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (PAMB-DENR) and Protected Area-Superintendent (PASU). The permit was already sent to the researcher/enabler.

January 2003 (1 month)


Establishing contacts/network within the area. The researcher/enabler has already form a network among the working institutions, government agencies and non-government organizations in the area. PAMB-DENR, PASU Save Mindanao Foundation, Inc. (SMFI) Karaga Biodiversity Linkages, Inc. (KABILIN) Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS), Integrated Protected Area System-Conservation of Priority Protected Areas Project (IPAS-CPPAP)

January 2003 (1 month)

Data were given in support of the project. 4 Preparation for Fieldwork Prepare documents: outline of project, concept paper, permit and schedule of activities within the fieldwork proper and guide questions Prepare things to be brought in the area: logistics, other contingencies and provisions for the community. July-August 2003 (2 months)


Consultation with thesis adviser 5 Fieldwork Proper August 24November 30, 2003 (3 months) August 25September 7 (2 weeks) September 8-19 (1 wk & 4 days) September 2030 (1 wk & 2 days) OctoberNovember 2003 (2 months) December 2003 January 1-15, 2004 (1 mo. & 2 wks) Jan 16 - Feb 5 Feb 10-15 (1 month) Feb 16-28 (2 weeks) March 5 March 6-15 (1 week) March 20-25 (5 days)

Introduction to the community

Sharing/Brainstorming/Dialogue Sessions

Mini-workshops and training sessions with core group

Data collection and shooting


Analysis and organization of data and shoots Approval of the initial material by the community and thesis adviser


Final revisions on written material; consultation with thesis adviser Editing of video documentary


Preparation for oral defense

9 10

Presentation to panel (oral defense) Final Revisions as per the suggestion of the panel


Re-echoing to community results of the project and viewing of the documentary.


Proposed Budget Video Production Costs I. Pre-production and Production Transportation Allowance Round Trip Plane Ticket Fieldwork (September-November 2003) Re-echoing to Community (March 2004) P 15,000.00 7,500.00 7,500.00

Local Transportation (bus, pump boat and motorcycle) From San Francisco-Bunawan (bus, P 40.00) San Francisco-Loreto (pump boat, P 250.00) Special Trip to Agusan Marsh (within the area) (pump boat, P 3,100.00) Barangays Katipunan, Sabang Adgawan (motorcycle, P 300.00) *Prices are dependent of weather/climate since the area is usually flooded *Total amount is inclusive of the 3-month allowance for mobilization since the researcher will be going back and forth the barangay of Loreto and La Paz Meal allowance 3-month contribution for meals for the host family *Eating is an affair in the culture of the Manobos



For the Core Group, 5 members 3-month travel allowance, honorarium, logistics For the Communities Token of Appreciation (food and medicine) Logistics One box blank tapes (120 minutes) One box V8 tapes for the video One box AA Alkaline Batteries 2 pcs. Ink Cartridge (black and white) 500.00 1,000.00 500.00 3,000.00






PHP 70,000

Amount Requested from the funding agency, 70% of the total budget. Local Counterpart (Researcher’s Expenses) Other supplies 3 pcs. 3 pcs. 10 pcs. 1 box 20 pcs. Contingency fund journal notebooks, diary 100 leaves yellow pads ballpens pencils manila papers 5,000.00 P 1,000.00

II. Post Production Video editing 3 days, 10 hour each editor’s fee and editing proper P 1,200/hour inclusive of editor’s fee Video copying (5 copies) Community Researcher School Funding Agency 1 extra copy Binding of written report 5 Panelists Researcher School Funding Agency TOTAL PHP 1,000.00 36,000.00



PHP 113,000.00


BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS Alfonso, Herminia Corazon M. Socially Shared Inquiry. Quezon City: Great Books Trading, 1999. Denzin, Norman. Interpretative Ethnography: Ethnographic Practices for the 21st Century. New Delhi: Sage Publication, 1997.

Gaspar, Karl. The Lumad’s Struggle in the Face of Globalization. Davao: Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao, Inc., 2000.

Littlejohn, Stephen. Theories of Human Communication. California: Wadsworth Publishing company, 1999.

Jayaweera, Neville. Folk Media and Development Communication, Myths and Realities. Manila: Asian Social Institute, 1991.

Jocano, F. Landa. Anthropology of the Filipino People II (Filipinos Indigenous Ethnic Communities) Patterns, Variations and Typologies. Metro Manila: Punlad Research House, 1988.

Jocano, F. Landa, Lilia Marquez and Mamerta Caguimbal. Problems and Methods in the Study of the Philippine Indigenous Ethnic Cultures (A Preliminary Overview). UP Diliman: Asian Center, 1994.

Okamura, Jonathan Y. Ethnographic Research: Methods and Issues in the Study of Social Relations. Manila: De La Salle University, 1985.

White, Shirley A., Sadanandan Nair and J. Ascroft, eds. Participatory Communication. New Delhi: Sage Publication, 1994.

REFERENCE “Agusanon Manobo.” Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia.


WORKS CITED Ramirez, Mina. “Devcom and Community Organizing Process A Philippine Experience.” Jayaweera and Amunugama 227-238.

PERIODICALS Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) Integrated Protected Area System-Conservation of Priority Project (IPAS-CPPAP) Brochure. Ipas Complex, Mamballili, Bunawan, Agusan.

Ibon Foundation, Inc. “The Lumads of Mindanao.” Ibon Facts and Figures, 31 August, 2001. 2-4.


-----. “Agusanon Manobos.” Save Mindanao Foundation, Inc. (SMFI).

Protected Area Management Bureau (PAMB). “Manobo [Karaga Biodiversityv Linkages, Inc.].” Photocopy. N. d.

Villalba, Noel C. “Huyong-huyong Agusan Marsh Story [Karaga Biodiversityv Linkages, Inc.].” Photocopy. N.d.

ARTICLE ------. Chapter 11: Ethnography.

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