Asian Growth in the Hands of Intellectual Fellows; to Be Able to Render Service That Can Effect a Substantial Change to the Widest Sphere of the Community Is One of Those Rare Chances That One Can Come across with in a Lifetime

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Byline: Text by LEO ORTEGA LAPARAN II Photos by LALAINE S. DECENA

Within the next 12 months, six Filipinos will be given such a privilege after being granted The Nippon Foundation Asian Public Intellectuals (API) Fellowships for 2004-2005 in a simple ceremony held at the SDC Conference Hall, Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University over the weekend.

Designed to stimulate the creation of a pool of public intellectuals in the region, the fellowship is purposed to promote mutual learning among Asian such intellectuals and to contribute to the growth of public spaces in which effective responses to regional needs can be generated.

Public intellectuals are those who are committed to working for the betterment of the society by applying their professional knowledge, wisdom and experience. They may be academicians, researchers, media professionals, artists, creative writers, non-governmental organization (NGO) activists, social workers, public servants and others with moral authority.

The API Fellowships, which are fully funded by the 42-year-old The Nippon Foundation of Japan, will enable public intellectuals in Asia to pursue intellectual, cultural and professional projects in another Asian country/countries according to one of the three predetermined themes. These are: 1) changing identities and their social, historical and cultural contexts; 2) reflection on the human condition and the search for social justice; and 3) the current structure of globalization and possible alternatives.

Within these broad themes, Fellows are required to propose and carry out a project of research and/or professional activities in a participating country or countries other than their country of residence; and conduct research and/or professional activities in compliance with the schedule accepted by the Selection Committee. They are also expected to attend the API Workshop to exchange results of their research and/or professional activities with other Fellows; disseminate their findings and results to a wider audience; and pursue a deeper knowledge of each other, and hence, the region.

One of the Senior Fellows, Flaudette May Datuin, an associate professor in the Department of Art Studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman, considered primarily the rights of women as she will be venturing farther from the traditional ground of the fine arts to locate the feminine expression. The vigorous expert of feminist aesthetics will look at the changing identities of women artists as globalization daubs their contexts; their choice of media and techniques; their themes, influences and legacies.

Art is a form of expression and therefore, (through it), more women are recognized and then empowered, she states, as she believes in the importance of engaging in art. Women artists' contribution should be recognized not only because of affirmative action. It's more of their ability to renegotiate and redefine art, as we know it. Then, when art is redefined, they're able to negotiate or put forward different definitions of the artists; of women as artists, as Asians and as human beings, she further explains.

According to Datuin, the benefit that the Philippines can get from her research may not come in direct peso-and-cent figures but, as what she said, in redefining the terrain of our national identity to the context of changing Southeast Asia. It's a big deal because (by then,) we could redefine ourselves as Asians, as Filipinos and as women. …