Collaboration is key | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Collaboration is key

General Santos City—Last Wednesday, Aug. 2, together with a small team of young and dynamic academics based in this city, I spearheaded the conduct of a one-day academic forum on a study where I served as the local anthropologist and peace specialist. The study, “Climate Fragility Risks in the Bangsamoro, and its intersections with armed conflict,” while exploratory in nature, was the first of its kind done in the Bangsamoro region. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) generously funded this endeavor, and was carried out by a small team led by a Filipino academic who now teaches at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Dr. Laurence L. Delina. The study was conducted over two years, from 2020 to 2022, although the preparations for it started as early as 2019, prior to the pandemic.

The BARMM has gone through more than five decades of violent armed conflict that led to long years of tedious and painstaking peace processes, culminating in the creation of an autonomous government that has evolved into what is now, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. At the height of the armed conflicts in the region, under the dark years of martial law (1972-1981), an estimated number of more than 100,000 people were victims of human rights violation.

The region includes areas spanned by the country’s largest wetland, the Ligawasan (a sprawling 288,000-hectare marsh) that makes it highly vulnerable to climate change episodes of drought and flooding. I


have written about the results of our study in my previous columns after our small study team presented the results to the regional government’s top planning leaders at the regional Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority. Our team also presented the results to different stakeholders, both government and nongovernment individuals, and planning officers, including regional key staff members of the disaster risk reduction and management offices to enhance their yearly DRRM plans.


This time, the study team wanted to gather the academics in South-Central Mindanao or the South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos (Soccsksargen) growth area, to spur their interest in doing similar studies like what we did, and to expand on the same or related research theme. We want our colleagues to do it more collaboratively, to explore studies that would cross disciplinary and institutional divides. We believe that research will bring about the power of aggregation of various professionals in different fields, and highlight that issues needing deeper academic imagination and theory testing through research can best be done through joint or collaborative efforts. Collaboration, rather than competition, promotes a healthy exchange of ideas, knowledge, and skill sets that can together create a powerful synergy toward crafting possible solutions to nagging problems besetting our country. Two of these problems are the twin disasters of armed conflicts and climate change extreme weather events.

We can start small, like pooling our academic energies and capacities together in our region. We wanted to show our fellow academics that our study team was a small group of individuals that worked together collaboratively. The four of us come from different academic disciplines—environmental science, geo-mapping specialization, social science, and peace studies.


We were happy more than 50 academicians, including those who hold key academic leadership positions in the four big institutions of higher learning in the region, were enthusiastic to join us in the forum. They came from Sultan Kudarat State University with at least seven campuses in different parts of the province; the Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City, South Cotabato; the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City. The biggest delegation came from our local cooperating institution, the Mindanao State University-General Santos City, the institution where I served for more than two decades before retirement.

In the concluding part of the forum devoted to brainstorming on ways forward, majority of the participants agreed that it is high time the region comes up with a research consortium. They all agreed that collaboration is needed to forge worthy academic undertakings, especially if these lead to the creation of positive changes in our region.


Comments to

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

TAGS: collaboration, Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Fearless views on the news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.