Tawi-tawi hosts 1st Int’l conference on Sama Badjao  

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 Nov) — The Sama Studies Center of the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Tawi-tawi is hosting the 1st International Conference on the Sama Badjao (Sama Dilaut) at the university’s Marine Science Museum next month.

The theme of the December 1 to 3 conference is “Sea-bound and Cross-Borders: Maritime Commerce and Sea-faring Lifeways of the Sama Dilaut in Tawi-Tawi.”

08tawitawi11The conference aims to strengthen research and encourage academic interest on the plight and situation of the Sama Dilaut “by highlighting their roles in the social and cultural development of the Sama society, their contributions to the dynamics of maritime and sea-based economy in Tawi-Tawi and the Philippine waters, and the impact and consequences of geopolitics in Southeast Asian region in these roles and contributions.”

It also intends to discuss development models, survey affirmative actions, and “evaluate empowerment programs and interventions for this most marginalized of Sama ethnic communities” and provide venue and spaces for the Sama Dilaut to “tell their narratives as well as for listening to alternative voices speaking as interlocutors for Sama Dilaut issues.”

The conference is envisioned to be a “convergence of scholars, social and natural scientists, as well as development strategists, government officials and cultural practitioners.”

At the international level, the conference hopes to “create spaces for dialogue between the foreign scholars and researchers with their local Sama Dilaut informants” with the aim of validating, reaffirming or, “if need be, rectifying, reconstructing and updating their findings as well as recommending areas for further engagements by future scholars.”

Legal and development experts from national agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, National Commission on Indigenous People, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the local governments in Tawi-tawi, by drawing from their experiences of direct engagement with indigenous people and those in the margins, “can provide a perspective to shed light on aspects of politics and development that has impacted and has implications on the prospects of Sama Dilaut and alternatives available to them.”

According to the conference flyer, scholars and academics are given a whole day to present their discourses in three thematic panels: Cultural Politics, Negotiation and Accommodation, and Marginalization; Economic and Social Migration, Diasporization and Sama Dilaut Crossing Borders; and Development, Environment and Towards Building Safer Seas for the Sama Dilaut.

Faculty and staff researchers from the MSU-Tawi-tawi College of Technology and Oceanography (TCTO) will present their studies and reports on their engagements and actions with the Sama Dilaut, it said.

Conference fees, which are inclusive of kit, lunch and snacks are 100 US dollars for foreign participants, PhP1,500 for professionals and Php 750 for students.

Chancellor Lorenzo R. Reyes
Chancellor, MSU-TCTO, is conference chair while Prof. Abduljim J. Hassan
Director of the Sama Studies Center is conference co-chair. (MindaNews)