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									September 7, 2005




              BRIDGES BETWEEN LATIN AMERICA AND THE PHILIPPINES:
                             WHAT PACLAS CAN DO
                                A Concept Paper
            Philippine Academic Consortium for Latin American Studies
                          By Fernando N. Zialcita, Ph.D.

                Rationale for Latin-American Studies in the Philippines

   1. We need friends. Friendships can be made for any number of reasons.
      However, cultural affinity helps. While Filipinos can be friends with
      Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, the fact is that there are pronounced
      differences in tradition and social customs. For instance, Mahayana
      Buddhism and Taoism do not form part of our frame of reference, nor
      have Chinese script and Chinese-inspired literary classics been part of our
      world view. While we can be friends with Moslems, most Filipinos are not
      Moslems. Nor is Islamic literature and philosophy part of our ordinary
      discourse. In contrast we share profound similarities with Latin Americans
      despite the loss of Spanish. Our brand of Christianity is Latin. Our food, our
      musical preferences, our social customs, our names, and part of our
      literature are Spanish-influenced. There exists in fact a fund of goodwill in
      Spanish America towards the Philippines. Down to the 1970s when
      Spanish was more spoken in the Philippines, Filipinos used this to
      advantage in international organizations and conferences.
   2. We should build up our self-confidence and define our identity. Outside
      observers note that our crisis of identity has dragged on for years. One
      reason for this may be that although the identity of Lowland Christian
      Filipinos is mestizo, the English expressions we use to interpret this identity
      are negative. Mestizo has a positive meaning today in Spanish-speaking
      countries. It simply refers to a mixture of indigenous and foreign (whether
      Afro or European) in either race or culture. In English-speaking countries,
      however, because of a long tradition of segregation, such mixtures
      connote bastardy and unnatural results. Hence translations of mestizo as
      “half-breed/half-caste/hybrid” are pejorative. We should associate more
      with Latin-Americans to realize that our mixture is in fact natural and
      legitimate.
   3. We need to develop new markets for goods and services. Latin America
      represents a vast, potential market for our exports. Our export-oriented
      neighbors realize this. Japan, Taiwan, China, and South Korea all have
      networks of university departments, institutes and research programs that
      specialize in Spanish language-teaching and in Hispanic studies.
      Unfortunately, we do not have these. Malaysia, another export-oriented
      nation, pioneered in opening a direct flight between Kuala Lumpur and
      Mexico. Recently, there have been efforts on the part of both Asian and
      Latin American countries bordering on the Pacific to work more closely
      with each other. Singapore and Chile thus proposed a forum between
      Latin American and Asian diplomats. It would be called Forum for East
      Asian and Latin American Cooperation. Because of the Philippines’
      special links to both East Asia and Latin America, it took an active role in


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      organizing this forum. Indeed it became the forum’s regional coordinator
      for East Asia. In early 2004, it successfully hosted the second Foreign
      Ministers’ meeting of FEALAC. This charted the course FEALAC would take
      as a viable inter-regional organization within the international world order.
   4. We are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. As members
      of this body, we have to have to know our partners much better. Spanish
      American countries on the Pacific Rim figure among these partners.
      Indeed since its inception, PACLAS has been undertaking activities such
      as cultural exhibits and performances, film showings, lecture series by
      experts on Latin America and sports competition. The aim is to generate
      public awareness of Latin America.

                                     Obstacles

There are, however, obstacles to realizing such studies. These should be
articulated.

   1. Material obstacles. One such obstacle is distance. Latin America seems
      so far away – unlike Asia. Moreover, it is in fact expensive to fly there.
      Finally, the perennial question that students will ask: “What economic
      benefit do I receive?” Note that one reason for the popularity of
      European Union Studies in the Ateneo is that there is a promise of jobs for
      the better students after graduation. Some of the students have landed
      jobs with European companies soon after graduation.
   2. Linguistic. Young Filipinos today do not speak Spanish, much less
      Portuguese. Moreover, they think English suffices.
   3. Ideological. A century of rabid anti-Hispanic propaganda has made
      many Filipinos associate Latin America with poverty, backwardness,
      violence and oppression. In the same way, many Filipinos reject their
      Hispanic heritage, they also reject Latin America.
   4. Lack of linkages between academe, government and business. Ideally,
      our studies and activities should help decision makers in both government
      and business. Unfortunately, whether in many domains, such linkages are
      weak.

                                   Opportunities

At the same time there are opportunities that can be tapped.

   1. Instituto Cervantes, which opened in Manila during the past 10 years, has
      helped in projecting an image of Spain in particular and of Hispanic
      culture in general as open, tolerant, and modern. IC also happens to
      have good books, music and films relating to Spanish America. Some of its
      activities, like its festival of Latin American films, last October, 2004, relate
      directly to our concerns.
   2. Some Latin American countries, like Mexico, do offer scholarships to
      Filipinos. This has been going on for years.
   3. Some Filipino universities already have exchange programs with their Latin
      American counterparts. An example is the UP.


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   4. Compared to 15 years ago, there is more commerce now between the
      Philippines and Latin America. One of the biggest cement manufacturers
      in the world, CEMEX, operates in the Philippines. It is Mexican. Conversely,
      ICTSI, a Philippine company specializing in the management of ports,
      manages ports in Mexico and Argentina.

                        Questions to ask in this consortium

   1. Do we eventually want to come out with an inter-university course of
      studies on Latin American matters?
   2. Or should we simply focus on developing courses on Latin American
      studies per university?
   3. Should we share existing curricula with each other?
   4. Should we develop inter-university activities that can promote awareness
      of Latin American studies?

                      What has been accomplished thus far

PACLAS COPA AMERICA (Football Tournament) May-July, 2003
As a way of launching the newly found consortium PACLAS, the member
universities organized a football tournament in the hope of promoting interest in
the Latin American countries. Six universities participated: Ateneo, La Salle, UP,
UAP, UST and UE). Each university represented a Latin American country and
carried its color during the football tournament. The tournament began in May
and ended in July.

Development of PACLAS website, 2003
PIDS and UST agreed to maintain a website for the consortium. PIDS took care of
hosting the webpage and maintaining it. UST has offered to pay for the internet
registration fee. PACLAS website: http://www.paclas.org.ph/

Presentation of     Research   on   Philippine-Latin   American   Trade   Relations
September 2003

In September 2004 PIDS organized a presentation on their research on Philippine-
Latin American trade relations. The forum was held in NEDA Makati and was
participated by the PACLAS members and other universities.

Revitalizing relations with Latin-America, January 2004

A forum was organized by UST in January 2004 with the theme: Revitalizing Latin-
American Relations. Several key persons from the Latin American embassies, and
guests from PACLAS members were asked to give talks. Both students and faculty
participated in the event.


FEALAC Fiesta: East Asia meets Latin America in Araneta 2004




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PACLAS members participated in the exhibit organized by DFA at Ali Mall in line
with the FEALAC fiesta.


Semana Latino-Americana March 2004

In March, UST hosted a Semana Latino Americana. There were cultural exhibits
and performances, film showings and lectures by ambassadors and/or attachés.
The event was targeted to create awareness of the Latin American countries
among the students.

Future Projects for 2004:

      Building of database of Latin American Experts in the Philippines
      Possible forum/panel discussion on East Asia to be organized by ADMU or
       UA&P in August or September
      Possible research collaboration on a specific topic to be decided by
       PACLAS focal points
      An essay writing contest for students on a theme to be chosen by PACLAS
      Expansion of membership. FEU and UE can be invited to become
       members.

Basing ourselves on this proposed project, here is a list of short-term and long-
term projects.

                    Short-term, doable projects over the next two years


   1. On-the-spot painting contests for grade school and high school students.
      Such a contest was organized by Tagaytay City in January, 2004 on the
      theme of East Asia-Latin American convergence. PACLAS can create
      such contests. Not only are these interesting and innovative, they are also
      an effective way of raising awareness in a creative manner.
   2. Essay-writing contest on Latin American themes. It was suggested that this
      be integrated into the Fiesta Latina that can be held regularly every
      February. The contest can take place before this Fiesta, but the awards
      can be announced and given during the Fiesta.
   3. Latin-American Film Festival. Instituto Cervantes en Manila, as mentioned
      above, has a collection of Spanish American movies, both classic and
      current. Last year, it launched a Spanish-American Film Festival for
      October, the month of La Hispanidad. The same can be done for this
      year, according to Javier Galvan Guijo, Director of ICM. The venue
      would be the new ICM at the Casino Español near Taft. Ambassadors or
      cultural attachés could be invited to give a brief talk on their country’s
      culture as manifested in the particular film of the evening. After the film
      there could be offerings of typical food and/or drink. It is important to
      appeal to the palate.
   4. Public lectures relating to Latin America. We need scholarly lectures on
      different topics relating to Latin America and the Philippines. There are


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      local scholars, diplomats, businessmen and occasional foreign scholars
      who can speak on topics of interest. Examples of important topics could
      be: 1) cultural mestizaje, 2) inter-racial relations, 3) Latin American
      authors, 4) Filipino words in Mexican Spanish, 5) the state of current
      commerce between the Philippines and Latin America, 6) what tourists
      from Latin America want to experience in the Philippines, etc.
   5. Develop of database on Filipino scholars interested in Latin America.
      Although it may be too soon to speak of local experts on Latin America,
      there are a number of scholars whose work has dealt with Latin-American
      topics. There are also courses dealing with Latin America that are being
      offered in particular schools. We should assemble all these data into one
      database.
   6. Develop courses relating to Latin America. This depends, of course, on
      the particular university. Some universities already have such courses.
      Others are just beginning. It would be good to do: 1) an inventory of
      Latin American-related studies per university, 2) share ideas on such
      offerings, 3) share lists of readings.

                                 Long-Term Projects

   1.            Latin-American and Filipino Festival of Art and Crafts. We could
        have one on an inter-university basis. We could call this the Fiesta Latina!
        At the same time, we could broaden this to include Filipino participation
        so that the public becomes aware of similarities. There could be live
        exhibitions of Brazilian and Filipino martial arts; food offerings from Mexico,
        Cuba, Venezuela, Philippines, etc.; music and dances from Latin America
        and the Philippines. (The concept paper for this Fiesta has been written
        and distributed).
   2.        Latin American Dance and Music Competitions. Filipinos like the cha-
        cha, tango and salsa. They could also learn to like (once more) songs
        from these countries. Competitions with prizes would make the public
        enthusiastic about affinities. This could be integrated into the Fiesta Latina.
   3.        Internet exchanges between Filipinos and Latin Americans. Nothing
        beats meeting new friends of one’s image and with similar interests. Then
        the other country becomes most alive. This is possible now via internet.
   4.        Exchange programs. Exchange programs between Philippine
        universities and their Latin American counterparts should be continued
        and broadened. More publicity is needed for Mexico’s efforts in giving
        scholarships. Upon their return to the Philippines, beneficiaries of such
        programs should be asked to give a public lecture.
   5.        Develop closer links with business and government entities involving
        Filipino and Latin American relations. As mentioned above, there are
        enterprises doing business on both sides of the Pacific. We could benefit
        from knowing which these are and how we can help each other.
        Concretely, we should explore how some of these enterprises can fund
        our projects, and how our activities can help them. We should also
        develop closer ties with the Department of Foreign Affairs and their Latin
        American Desk, the Department of Tourism, and the Department of Trade
        and Industry.


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September 7, 2005



   6.     Explore the possibility of doing collaborative research on a particular
      topic. This is an important venture that needs more conceptualization.
   7.     Develop a corps of Filipino Latin American specialists. While the
      official channels of interaction take place among the embassies of the
      Philippines in Latin America (Mexico DF, Santiago, Caracas, Buenos Aires,
      and Brasilia) and through Latin American embassies in Manila (Argentina,
      Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela) as
      well as through honorary consulates, the Foreign Service Institute of the
      Department of Foreign Affairs would like to see the emergence of Latin
      American specialists among Filipino diplomats.

The constant: Close cooperation with both the Philippine government and Latin
American entities in the Philippines. In all these projects, PACLAS should work
closely with both the relevant institutions in the Philippine government and with
Latin American entities in the Philippines. In practical terms, at present the latter
would largely be Latin American embassies and honorary consulates.




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