Sunday, 19 October 2008

PhD Fellowships in the UK

1. PhD Studentship - University of Winchester

The University of Winchester will have a number of fully-funded PhD
studentships, attached to Research Centres, available from February
2009 for three years. Candidates should have, or expect to obtain, a
first class or upper second class degree and a Masters degree in a
relevant subject area. The studentships are reserved for potential
full-time students.

The University is a dynamic institution with an ambitious research
agenda. As one of the UK's smallest and most innovative universities,
we offer a stimulating research environment and rigorous research
training combined with the intimacy and personal interaction only a
small institution can afford. We have established strengths in subject
areas ranging across: archaeology, communication, cultural and media
studies; dance, drama and performing arts (including contemporary
performance across disciplines); English and creative writing;
education; history; theology and religious studies.

Within and across these disciplines, our research centres create
effervescent communities of reflection that explore new knowledges
across the scholarly continuum.

Subject areas for proposals are open, but must be within the remit of
the Research Centre within which you hope to work. Please refer to our
website for further information on Research Centres, and please feel
free to approach academic members of staff for advice. For all
information and initial inquiries, contact Chrissie Ferngrove at the
address below. Information on our research centres is available at

If you are unsure whether your proposed project can be supervised,
please submit a paragraph explaining what you are intending to do, by
email to Chrissie Ferngrove (again, see below), for onward
transmission to the relevant Faculty Head of Research & Knowledge

Applications are welcome from domestic, EU and non-EU International
Students. From 1 February 2008, the University is offering domestic
tuition rates to all overseas doctoral students who qualify for study.

Existing Probationer research students at the University of Winchester
may also apply.

For application forms and further information please contact:
Chrissie Ferngrove
Research & Knowledge Exchange Co-ordinator
The Research & Knowledge Exchange Centre
University of Winchester
Winchester SO22 4NR

Tel: 01962 827483

Closing date for applications: 31 October 2008
Interviews to be held: early to mid November 200

2. Graduate Scholarship - Bangor University
The School of Creative Studies and Media and GeoMôn

The School of Creative Studies and Media at Bangor University in
conjunction with GeoMôn is seeking applications for a postgraduate
student in the area of Marketing and Publicity.

This dynamic new School is leading the University's Creative
Industries initiative as part of a substantial investment fostering
international excellence. The graduate scholarship is an exciting and
innovative development between the School and GeoMôn to increase
awareness of Anglesey as an international 'Geopark'.

The successful candidate will be expected to work towards a
postgraduate degree within the School's multidisciplinary environment
while working together with staff at GeoMôn to create marketing and
publicity materials.

Experience of practical marketing and publicity is essential. The
one-year scholarship entitles the applicant to a full fee waiver.

Informal enquiries and applications should be made to Dr Nathan
Abrams, Director of Graduate Studies, the School of Creative Studies
and Media, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG, UK; e-mail:; skype: Nathan.abrams

Applicants should submit an application form, which can be downloaded here:,
together with a CV, covering letter and samples of their work by 1st
November 2008.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Did the Americans give us our Igorot identity?

I was struck by the ideas presented by Gerard Finin in his book The Making of the Igorot: Contours of Cordillera Consciousness while reading it this morning for a paper I need to write. Couldn't help but share it. What do you think of the following paragraphs?

Crucial in the formulation of American plans for bringing "civilization" to the Cordillera and making highlanders a more integral part of the already largely Hispanized lowland Philippines was the view that all of the "natives" were basically "the same." Establishment of a distinctive administrative grid in the Cordillera was not the product of a grand plan for divide and rule designed to put highlanders against lowlanders. Rather, it was based more on prevailing American conceptions about "types" of people and a strong desire for a "rational" system of administration based on "scientifically" justifiable principles for overseeing highlanders.

This thinking drove the American officials who imposed the colonial structure on Luzon's largest highland territory. From the plans and policies that were devised and implemented during the early part of the 1900s emerged the spatial and social dimensions of the shared pan-Cordillera regional consciousness that so strongly influences the Cordillera today (italics mine). Before discussing what American rule bequeathed, however, it is important to consider the conditions preceding the American presence. (pp. 19-20)

From Chapter 5:

In keeping with the long-range plan to unite highlanders and, in time, assimilate Mountain Province into lowland Philippine society, American officials early in the century began introducing features of American-style democracy. The establishment of Mountain Province's local governments was key to this effort. As yet another element of the grid, it changed highlanders' consciousness in terms of the way they thought about themselves and those around them. (p. 108)

These paragraphs basically sum up what the book is all about: how the American colonial government in the early 1900s were able to create a region in the highlands - unlike the Spaniards who miserably failed to penetrate it - which has then led to the emergence of a pan-Igorot consciousness. He then goes on to write (and illustrate with some examples) that due to this American legacy, highlanders have learned to identify with one another, despite their different tribal or ethnic groupings - a rather picture-perfect image of a united Igorotlandia. Hmmm...

Just before coming here, my Bicolano historian friend who read it kidded me saying, 'Hey, you should thank the Americans because they gave you your Igorot identity'. Huh? It's a must-read for those interested in Cordillera studies.

I actually have a signed copy of this book as I was there at UP Baguio when Gerard Finin launched his book. I found him a warm, charming scholar who was sincerely interested in the Cordillera. He stayed in Abra for two years as a young Peace Corps volunteer and he still speaks Ilocano fluently. But now that I am reading his book, I realize that it's almost impossible to look at the world and analyse events without bringing in your socio-cultural background into the picture. But I must say that some of his analyses are patronizing. He may be an academic but then he is first and foremost an American who is looking at us, Igorots, with an American perspective. I guess Bakhtin is right: we always speak from a particular position.

Some questions:

Without the Americans, would our forebears not learn to live with one another and respect each other's rights despite their different tribes/ethnic groups, languages, and culture?

Would we have never learned to govern ourselves and advance as a people, at least politically and socially? (Except for Benguet, economically, our leaders still have a lot of work to do to bring us out of the country's list of 20 poorest provinces)

Sadly, we would never find out the answers to these questions because the Americans came into the picture and that's that. We cannot undo what actually happened. But we can create a clearer picture by bringing in more voices into the narrative of the making of Igorot consciousness. How I wish we could find out more how early Igorots saw the world during their time. Maybe we could start asking our own parents' stories who may be in their 70s, 80s, or even 90s. It's never too late to write the stories of ordinary, average, working class Igorots. I am certain their narratives are rich and meaningful despite their lack of education, money or power.

Links: Blast from the Past

Ateneo de Manila University Press

Sunday, 27 April 2008

UK-style U-kay

UK? United Kingdom. At U-kay:-)

Car boot sale ang tawag nila sa ukayan dito. Apart from the usual charity shops where you can buy used items, one of the more popular destinations for bargain hunters are car boot sales, the 'British form of market' where people sell both used and new items from the 'boot' ('trunk' in the US) of their cars.

Yesterday, with the perfect weather (16 C) on our side, my flatmate and I went to Grangetown where the biggest carboot sale in Cardiff takes place. You can find all sorts of interesting items, from this cute personal 'Playboy' water dispenser

to this assortment of saws

yes, even antique radios and a camera!

And one seemingly happy bargain-hunter checking a piece of linen.

The place was packed with people at 11 in the morning it was so much like our very own tiangges. British couples with their babies in carriers, Indians and Pakistanis, Africans, Malaysians - you can find all sorts of people haggling, turning over items, or just eyeing some interesting item.

Although tired from all the walking, I went home happily with my £20 used bike purchase.

Comfort Food

If you've been eating one type of food for almost all your life, you're certainly bound to crave for it when you go to another country. More than missing speaking Tagalog, Ilocano and Kankana-ey, it's really our foooood that I miss most. I guess because food engages all your senses: sight, taste, smell, touch, and yes, even hearing. And all these senses somewhat evoke memories of cold, rainy days (arroz caldo!), late evening with friends (sisig), hot summer picnics with the family (grilled pork chops), six-hour bus trips to Manila (a pack of hot sweet corn), etc.

And so you go on a mission to find Filipino food where you live. Thank God for Chinese and Asian stores because they do sell a number of Pinoy brands. Some items I recently bought:

Bagoong! This particular brand lacks the sweet-salty taste I'm used to but I guess some manufacturers have to suit not just Asian palettes but British consumers as well. The Brits prefer a low-salt, low-fat diet.

Mestizo na itlog na maalat :-) Despite its Chinese brand, these salted eggs are 'made in the UK'. Unlike our 'red eggs' which have been previously boiled before they are sold in the market, these mestizos are sold raw so that you have to boil them first before you can eat them.

And the most important of all, RICE! Amazingly, Thai products such as jasmine rice and chili sauce are available in the grocery stores. You don't even have to go to an Indian or Chinese shop to buy rice here in the UK. It so frustrating that the Thais, who used to come to the Philippines and study at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), are now one of the leading rice exporters in the world with Vietnam while poor Philippines is experiencing rice shortage. And the saddest thing of all is that this rice shortage is actually due to corruption and bad governance, as with almost all the ills that plague the country. Billions and billions more are being pocketed by a few at the expense of taxpayers. And we are Asia's only Christian nation? Tsk tsk tsk. Now that isn't a comforting thought.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Gates, Passageways, Doors

What would the world be without doors? What if we just had holes as entrances to homes, buildings or rooms? Hmm, parang exciting isipin.

The ancient-looking, simple wooden gate (with a small door) of Eton College at Windsor. Just by looking at this door, you wouldn't think that this is the same door that Princes Harry and William passed through as students at Eton. As far as we know, the wooden gate is off-limits to visitors of Eton. Two Pinoy postgrads and I ended up in front of this gate during a day tour at Windsor because the visitors' entrance was already closed. Lesson: Don't judge a school by its door:-)

But hey, the door was open so I ventured inside and here's what I got: a photo of the school's courtyard! Sayang, Sabado kaya walang students hanging around. Lesson: Don't hesitate to enter open doors. You'll never know what you're gonna find!:-)

A 'Book Passage' at Hay-on-Wye, the only book town in the world. Too bad I didn't check it when I went there for a day tour so I have no idea what it's like inside. I felt there were plenty of other bigger and nicer bookshops to visit I decided to skip this one. Lesson: Don't miss the chance to look around and explore interesting-looking passages or walkways. There's more to life than reading books, anyway:-)

French door of a hotel room overlooking Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. I think that the best kind of door is a French door as it serves both as a window and as a door. Depending on your mood, you can either enjoy the view while inside your room, or push that glass door and be out in the sun. Well, a door is what you make of it;-)

Thursday, 20 December 2007

More on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

My Pinay friend, Joan, got interested as well about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and she found out that one celebrity known to have suffered from it was Natalie Imbruglia! Salamat, kaayo for the info:-) By the way, SAD, a mood disorder, is also known as winter depression. Read more about it here.

One of the treatments given to 'SAD people' is light therapy using sun lamps. These are a special kind of lamps which are much brighter than the ordinary ones. For ellenmayjoyceasacla and for us (that includes me) who have never seen a sun lamp in our lives, here's how it looks like, thanks to a photo taken from Amazon:

And here's another one with a more contemporary design, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Saturday, 8 December 2007


I'm totally convinced that our socio-cultural background largely determine the way we look at the world. Wow, what a serious statement to make, you might say:-) But here goes an interesting story from my friend Janice.

Janice attended a workshop about coping with the demands of postgrad studies recently. The presenter was a British professor and she started by asking the participants what made them sign-up for the workshop. 'What problems are you having right now?' she asked them. Janice didn't have a problem at all - she just wanted to know some techniques how she could cope better with the demands of postgrad work:-)

Near the end of the workshop, the presenter gave interesting suggestions for each of the participants. 'Hey Janice, you might want to buy a sun lamp if you miss the sunshine from your country,' she told my friend. By the way, Janice is Asian just like me. She thought that the professor may have had the idea that the British gloomy weather must be making her depressed! And then to another female participant, 'Why not take a trip to the Canary Islands?' It's a great place to spend your Christmas break.'

The Stonehenge against a gloomy December sky.

Janice and I were both almost down to our knees laughing when we met after her workshop. 'Why am I going to need a sun lamp?' she asked, her eyes almost filled with tears as she laughed. We found the whole idea of getting a sun lamp to ease depression totally ridiculous! Or so we thought.

Back in my flat, I shared Janice's little story with my young male British flatmate. I was relating this story to him in an amused way but he looked serious the whole time. Hmm, puzzling. And then he said, 'But there are people who do get depressed because of lack of sunlight.' He then said 'X (I'm not sure anymore) percent of the UK population are affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD).'*** Ohhhh. I was speechless for two seconds. 'Wow, I didn't know that,' I told him rather lamely. Argg. Blame my ignorance. Or my being Filipino? I thought to myself.

The next day, Janice and I had an interesting talk about this whole sun lamp thing. We both agreed that although we come from a region where we have plenty of sunlight, we found it somewhat unthinkable that people could feel depressed with the weather. 'We have at least 26 typhoons a year in the Philippines but I haven't heard of anybody getting depressed because of the flooding and the rains,' I told her. Janice said, 'It's the same thing where I come from. I guess depression is not an Asian thing (maybe except in the more affluent parts of Asia).' Okay, maybe a good number of Pinoys do get depressed but I'm almost certain that bad weather is not the main reason for it:-)

And then we made the same observation of the Brits apologizing constantly about their weather, almost to a fault. Wow, I wonder how they'd feel if they get the chance to live in the Philippines, or worse, Bangladesh. Where I come from, heavy rains and strong winds are almost a daily companion for six months. But I rarely hear people apologize about it to visitors in the city. Maybe because there's little we can do about the weather...

***One in 50 people in the UK are affected by SAD.