Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Folk Wisdom - a Way of Life

Culture is the Soul of Civilization
Professor Ronel P. dela Cruz, Ph.D.
Professor, St. Paul University Quezon City

Cultural anthropologists affirm culture as the soul of civilization where people attain their identity, value orientation and aesthetic sense. Culture gives the people their perceptual apparatus and orientation of understanding. It is the reservoir of life-wisdom of the people. Today, the concept of integral sustainable development includes cultural progress which starts from a positive social self-definition and identity. Hence, local history and cultures provide a glimpse of the indigenous wisdom of the people which speaks of their religious worldview and deep connection with the Earth.

However, globalization, along with information and communication in hi-tech form, very much affects the cultures of peoples and nations in the world today. The global market regime continues to erode the cultural rights of local communities in the world. It has furthermore accelerated the commodification of human cultures towards the eradication of the culture of life. Under the influence of hi-tech media and the global cybernetic information process, our cultural identity, cultural sensibility, cultural awareness, cultural competence and cultural values are being dismantled. This is a process of one-dimensional homogenization of local and national cultures of life. Elitist globalization that excludes and marginalizes the traditional and local indigenous practices, beliefs and worldview (cosmology) continue to separate humanity from nature.

What is very alarming is that the global market will exchange cultural commodities, which may occupy the main process of the market. Globalization is commercializing the popular, mass and indigenous cultures into commodities in the market. This is causing several problems, such as homogenization, cultural desertification and identity crisis, as well as drastic injustices in terms of the cultural powers of communication and information.

Living with Folk Wisdom is a compilation of traditional wisdom, beliefs, values, practices and worldview among local communities in the Philippines. While some of these practices demonstrate Filipino worldview attempting to influence natural processes, the dearth of these beliefs and practices manifest egalitarian and interrelated connection with nature. This book gives importance and relevance of the cultural diversity of local communities which is an essential component of envisioning a sustainable future.

Researchers and educators gathered in Benguet State University for a seminar on Filipino cultural identity showcased best practices in integrating indigenous culture in the curriculum. This “cultural creative” group lauded the initiative of colleges and universities in using the local wisdom, practices and traditions in their curriculum as an effective tool for cultural development, identity and national progress.

Living with Folk Wisdom is an interesting material which can be used across disciplines like Biology, Social Sciences, History, Culture and Indigenous Studies. Today, there is a demand for a new cultural movement and initiatives that are truly life-enhancing in local communities. Documenting the wellspring of wisdom and resources for a sustainable life, Dr. Rotor counters the current cultural process under the dictates of globalization. This opus is his cultural creativity which is very much demanded for life, not for profit in the market. ~ ~

Living with Folk Wisdom is available at the National Book Store, Quezon Avenue; and the UST Publishing House, Espana corner P Noval

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