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Sarong Rawog: A Pioneer Research Conference in Bicol

As Bicolanos, we have values, tradition, and many other things to offer not just to our country, but to the whole world as well. Unfortunately, many of these heritages tend to be forgotten over time or get replaced by foreign trends brought about by more popular content on social media. Many of us even know the meaning of English terms which predominately English-speaking countries consider archaic, but our own Bicolano terms, we’re not even familiar with.

Take the term sarong rawog for example. It is a Bicolano term which means “one cluster,” but most of us would only understand what sarong rawog means by translating it into English – a very familiar, yet by far a foreign language nonetheless.

There lies the dilemma: “Will the Bicolano heritage and identity ultimately die?”

For that, the organizers and participants of Sarong Rawog send a clear message: No.

On November 28-29, 2017, about a hundred participants attended the Sarong Rawog: 1st Bikol Studies Research Conference, held at the Daragang Magayon Hall and the Audio-Visual Room at the St. Thomas Building. The delegates were composed of both students and professionals in their respective fields who have conducted and published researches mostly about Science and Technology, and Bicol Literature, History, and Language. The conference was conceived by a team comprising the leadership and crew of the Bicol Studies Center, headed by our own Vice President Susana C. Cabredo, Ed.D., and is a joint partnership between the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Research, which is led by Director Jet G. Guerrero, M.Sc., R.Ch.

Earlier this year, the team met, brainstormed, and planned as to how to make Sarong Rawog a reality. They reached out to different educational institutions all across the Bicol region, and the response was overwhelming: not only did they found out groundbreaking studies that could indeed better the lives of Filipinos, but they also found partners who are very willing to share in the mandate of University of Santo Tomas- Legazpi, which is to be a leading research center in Southern Luzon. In the end, our university has made a partnership with Bicol University (BU), Sorsogon State College (SSC), Catanduanes State University (CSU), and Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology (DEBESMSCAT) in Mandaon, Masbate, in furthering the cause of research. As a matter of fact, the partner schools even cast lots as to which will be the host for the next Sarong Rawog conference possibly next year, with Bicol University graced and honored to host next.

The Plenaries

The first day was dedicated to plenary sessions. All of the participants met at the Daragang Magayon Hall from morning until afternoon to listen to renowned luminaries who have proved their expertise in their respective fields beyond the shadow of a doubt. The first session was dedicated for the Science and Technology Research Trend, and the organizers invited Professor Angelica A. Macalalad, Ph.D., who happens to be a professor hailing from as far as Batangas State University. Professor Macalalad explained about the many breakthroughs in the field of Science and Technology in their province which we Bicolanos could benefit and learn from. Our region is very diverse in terms of flora and fauna, and we should not be idle in harnessing their benefits and gifts to us, was what Professor Macalalad tried to imply in her talk.

For the second plenary session, Professor Paz Verdadez Santos, Ph.D., gave her talk regarding Bicol Literature. She has been at the forefront of promoting Bicol literature and has contributed much to the cause. Currently, she teaches at Ateneo de Naga University Graduate School, and despite the years of service, life and zest are still eminent in her discussion of the different Bicolano literature that we should be proud of. She even cited Kaniguan, the popular Bicolano literature that’s being circulated on social media.

The afternoon plenaries sparked more curiosity and encouraged audience participation, beginning with Professor Stephen Henry Totanes, Ph.D. of Sorsogon State College, discussing Bicol History through the Bicol Annals. He is a very notable historian, and many Bicolanos in the academic field know him and his contributions to our culture and identity. He once taught at the Ateneo de Manila University and Ateneo de Naga University and is widely known as a historian who debunks our notion that telling history is a boring chore.

Finally, Raffi Banzuela, a Bicolano writer and researcher, sealed the afternoon with the discussion of Bicol language and research gap. Mr. Banzuela is a long-time friend of this university, as he used to teach in our school and is often asked to visit and share his knowledge about the richness of our heritage. He explained just how few of us know and treasure our very own language, and if this continues on, time might come that even our very own Bicol language would join the rest of those that belong to history gone by.

Cultural Night

On the evening of November 28, the delegates were treated to an extravagance of Bicol culture. Presentations were made by our very own UST-Legazpi Dance Troupe and Chorale. For the special occasion, they performed dances and sang songs that are uniquely our own, and those that we should be proud of and cherish.

As the dances and the songs were going on, none of the participants could help but feel pangs of nostalgia and a strong resolve to pass on our heritage to the future generations.

The Parallel Sessions

For the second day, November 29, the delegates showcased their researches that could have an invaluable contribution to Bicolano Culture, Language, and Science and Technology. For the latter, the presentation was held at the Daragang Magayon Hall, while for the Bicol Culture and Language, the delegates went to the Audio-Visual Room at the St. Thomas Building. One example was a study done was by Gisela Isabel Mirandilla, daughter of Engr. Carmela Mirandilla, who is the Assistant to the Director of the Office of Research. In her research, she studied about a local fern which is claimed to enhance lactation.

As explained above, sarong rawog is a Bicol term which means, “one cluster,” and according to Professor Guerrero, the chief aim of the conference is to unite us Bicolanos as one despite each province’s difference with each other in more ways than one.

“We are very happy with the results,” expressed Engr. Mirandilla. “We weren’t expecting much, but we were surprised to find out that there are a lot of Bicolanos out there who express the same sentiments about the researches that need to be done, as well as the treasures that we have yet to unearth from our scrolls and culture.”

The delegates and the organizers are looking forward to the next Sarong Rawog Conference at Bicol University next year.

Posted on: 11.30.2017

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