National Artist Kidlat Tahimik and academic Dr. Katrin De Guia emphasized the genius of Filipinos and the unique Kapwa culture in the COMM 10 GE Conversation held on November 29 at the DL Umali Hall. 

With the theme “Komunikasyon at Kalinangan: Ang Kapwa bilang Butod ng Ugnayan,” the forum served as an enrichment session for students of COMM 10 (Critical Perspectives in Communication), which discusses the interplay of communication, culture, and identity.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Maria Stella C. Tirol, dean of the College of Development Communication (CDC), highlighted the interface of communication and culture, especially in the collective pursuit towards development. 

“In this world that is becoming more connected, understanding the intricate relationship between communication and culture builds our knowledge and helps us navigate the complexities of a globalized society,” Tirol said. 

True to the essence of a conversation, Kidlat Tahimik and Dr. De Guia shared their works and insights into the Kapwa culture through an informal “ping-pong conversation” between spouses who have been together for 50 years, reflecting on their cultural encounters in a cross-cultural marriage. 

Dr. De Guia, an artist and student of renowned scholar Dr. Virgilio Enriquez, outlined key concepts of Filipino psychology and shared her work on Kapwa, which stemmed from her attempt at understanding Filipino culture. For De Guia, the Kapwa signals Filipinos’ unity and connectedness with humanity and creation.  

Discussing the importance of getting knowledge from the “deep source,” De Guia explained that research must involve a deep immersion into the lives of others in its exploration towards truth.

“Filipino psychology research has a mandate that you go beyond … to get to know your informer, you get to know them very well… until you come to the point— [Enriquez] calls this pakikiisa — where you become one with the person, where there is a deep one-to-one sharing, and this is where you only get the truth,” De Guia shared. 

Kidlat Tahimik, known for his significant contributions to Philippine independent cinema, explained his work and the strong influence of the “Bahala Na” attitude in his artistic process. Contrary to the dominant view of “Bahala Na” as a reflection of fatalism, for Kidlat Tahimik and de Guia, this attitude demonstrates Filipinos’ risk-taking spirit to achieve a goal, even in the face of defeat. Kidlat Tahinik also discussed the term “indio-genius,” which he coined to refer to the genius of the indigenous. 

“Lahat tayo ay naging indio, na-colonize tayo, hindi natin matatanggal yan, but in spite of our indio-nization, ang lakas pa rin ng genius of the indio-genius. [All of us have been Indio, we have all been colonized, we cannot deny that, but despite our indio-nization, the genius of the indio-genius remains strong]. The indio-genius spirit lives on,” Kidlat Tahimik said. 

After showing a 15-minute clip from his movie, Balikbayan #1: Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III, Kidlat Tahimik staged a short indigenous performance with his gangsa, calling to the audience, “Gamitin natin ang sariling teknolohiya natin. Hindi natin kailangan ng kamera ng dayuhan. Ang kailangan lang natin, ang bagong kamera na ginawa ng ating ninuno. Mabuhay ang mga kwentong katutubo! [Let’s use our own technology. We don’t need cameras from foreigners. We only need the new camera created by our ancestors. Long live our indigenous stories!].

Student participants engaged with the speakers by asking questions and sharing their key takeaways. Aside from COMM 10 classes, students of SAS 1 (Self and Society), PSY 101 (Filipino psychology), and DEVC 195 (Introduction to Communication Research) attended the event. 

This GE conversation was organized by the COMM 10 cluster of the UPLB Department of Humanities (DHUM) and CDC in partnership with the Office for Initiatives in Culture and the Arts and the Upsilon Sigma Phi. (John Mervin L. Embate; Photos by John Anthony C. Mendoza)

This article was originally published on the UPLB website.