In this article, Jesse Angelo L. Altez reflects back on his team’s experience hosting the 2014 PSS National Conference at the Mindanao State University-General Santos City.
How do we give them the perfect Mindanao experience? That’s the question that guided us, on-site hosts, while preparing for the Philippine Sociological Society 2014 National Conference with the theme “Sociology in the Age of Disasters” held at the Mindanao State University Graduate School in General Santos City last October 16-18, 2014. For the longest time, the Philippine Sociological Society hasn’t been in the Mindanao shores. Organizing this year’s national conference provided us a great opportunity to showcase the richness and beauty of Mindanao—its people, sights and culture—and present it in a brand new light. Our mission as organizers is to expose scholars and social researchers from all over the country to an amazing and transformative experience of Mindanao.
With the partnership from the PSS secretariat team and the extensive support from the university administration, the local government unit of General Santos City and the many talented students of Mindanao State University, we eagerly waited and prepared for the event. Beyond the usual academic conference, we wanted to make sure this year’s PSS will be a memorable one. Culturally-pumped with a mix of the modern, we came up with a package that intends to have itself etched in the minds and hearts of the participants.
While we saw the conference to be an avenue where local and international researches will be presented, scrutinized and brought to light, we also saw the event to be a rare opportunity to make a good and lasting impression. The tour to the Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato to get to know the T’Boli tribe the day before the conference aims to display how culturally-endowed the region is. Along the way, participants were also exposed to the unscathed magnificence of nature and its bountiful produce.
During the days of the conference, we made sure every moment counts. The presentation of papers was done on daytime, while the nighttime was reserved for social events where participants were encouraged to get to know and get along with one another. The first of such nights was dubbed “Kalilangan Night”—a cultural night, where “Dula Ta,” an award-winning play showcasing the plight of the tri-people of Mindanao in its war-torn region was shown. It was such an amazing sight when things suddenly turn out festive and participants danced along with the casts after the play to the tune of tribal songs, as everyone seems to be in total unity, celebrating the beauty of culture we all share. In the next evening, “Tuna Night” was served like a sumptuous recipe. Since General Santos City is known as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, we thought it best to give it its proper due. Hordes of tuna were served to the participants while the local band was playing. Since it was also the last night, it served as a fine moment for people to thank one another for a great time spent.
As part of the organizing team, it is my hope that we have succeeded in showing the abundance and the meaningful experience that this portion of Mindanao has to offer. Being with the brightest minds in the field of social research, gathered together in one place, sharing a common mission to make the Philippine society a better society is such a remarkable occasion to behold. Now I know for sure that the future of Philippine sociology is in good hands. To all the participants, we wish to see you all back and visit. It’s an amazing experience to welcome you here!