Scientist Profile

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Enrique G. Oracion

Anthropologist,

Expertise: Anthropology, Social Sciences

Dr. Enrique G. oracion is recognized for his important contribution in the field of The anthropological refers to the findings of the science of anthropology. In the case of environmental anthropology, it describes the cultural responses of humans to the quality and quantity of available resources as well as the impending or existing threats to the immediate environment. This is also true to the other sub-disciplines of anthropology. The examination of the anthropological becomes critical when environmental problems have become more complicated where technical solutions to these are not enough especially for problems that involved human behavior and societal or cultural values. Incidentally, these are not substantially understood by natural scientists and this is where anthropologists can help. But being in a multidisciplinary research program, more so leading it, is really a challenge because of disciplinal differences and biases. The task demands a reliable tool to understand disciplinal languages and to cross boundaries which all members in the program should willfully do. The primary goal is to better draw out information that would be appropriately useful to design and implement programs. This makes crucial the balance between technical and anthropological information. Let me share my experience how I navigated the undercurrents of a multidisciplinary research program of Silliman University in its implementation. I served as program leader of six projects that focused on environment, energy, and education for sustainable development. Specifically, I will relate here what I imagined are the meanings of various findings that have relevance to human well-being during the tedious process of writing the program technical report. Implemented by project leaders with different disciplines, the six projects dealt with the quality of ecosystem goods and services (Dr. Hilconida Calumpong), the effectiveness of integrated waste management (Dr. Enrique Oracion and Dr. Robert Guino-o II), the effects of use of pesticides on mango farms (Dr. Jose Edwin Cubelo), the determinants of recovery and resiliency of people after disaster (Ms. Wilma Tejero), the effective utilization of agricultural wastes (Dr. Benjamin Tobias), and the role of information communication technology (ICT) in education (Dr. Dave Marcial). Admittedly, the major problem in writing the synthesis was the absence of a common thread to tie together the major findings of the various research projects. These were independently conceptualized and designed to investigate dissimilar topics and conducted in different places in the Philippines. Obviously, there was no single analytical theme that linked the social and natural issues investigated but only the expected output that the findings would be inputs to sustainable development initiatives. The solution in synthesizing the reports was to imagine and locate the anthropological in all the findings, even those technical, within the overarching themes of ecosystem quality and disaster response. I have to simplify the technical data to project images that are easily imagined by lay people as useful in combating problems associated to deteriorating environment and disasters, both natural and human-induced. The first project that covers four provinces in the Philippines shows that overpopulation in coastal areas, combined with sea warming, pressured the quality of seagrass, coral reef, and mangrove ecosystems that resulted to low productivity. Also, the improper disposal of increasing volume of wastes, which is a social class issue according to the second project due to increasing consumerism in developing communities, adds to the poor quality of coastal and marine ecosystems. This is disastrous to the household economy and health not only of subsistence fishing households but also those in urban centers. But wastes could be turned into opportunities, although this requires investment in the construction of waste management facilities such as sanitary landfill and constructed wetland, if these are transformed into farm inputs. Examples of these products are vermicompost and treated wastewater, which I already discussed in my previous column about Bayawan City. But the process is hazardous to workers who are directly exposed to toxic wastes. They self-reported higher incidence of respiratory ailments. Incidentally, they had no work tenure and did not enjoy substantial health protection—another social class issue. Similarly, the poor mango farm workers are exposed to hazardous pesticides, according to the third project, because they did not seriously and correctly wear protective gear. The desire to prevent substantial yield losses, which could be an economic disaster to mango farmers in Negros Oriental because of the huge investment involved, increased the intensity of pesticide application despite that they knew of its detrimental effects to human health and the environment. Pest residues result to air pollution, water pollution, and contamination of soils. The fourth project revealed that the impact of natural calamities to local communities and businesses, like those along the path of Typhoon Yolanda in central Philippines, was found to be significantly high. The businesses were generally not prepared or had no recovery and continuity plans to confront natural disasters of larger scale. Business operations were disrupted for at least six months without sources of funds to rebuild damaged buildings and facilities. Meanwhile, it took the local residents an average of two years to recover with the help of various social support systems from friends to government and non-government organizations. Aside from food which was rationed to thousands of victims, rebuilding of houses was also a major concern particularly when local business establishments were damaged or had ran out of the needed construction materials. Transforming damaged agricultural crops due to calamities to something useful can be possible. The fifth project successfully found out the effective utilization of energy in the production of panel boards out of natural fibers such as abaca, bamboo, coconut coir, rice straw, and banana. The extracted fibers in strand were turned into particles, pulverized, and reduced to particulates for the fabrication of lamina. These were consolidated to make panel board with resin as binder through solar heating. The panel boards may be used in constructing houses for victims of disasters. This will provide employment opportunities. Finally, it was difficult at first to connect the sixth project on ICT in education with the first five projects. Nevertheless, I saw that the digital classroom management tools it had designed, developed, and tested can enhance the dissemination of the lessons generated by all the projects to students and community residents. These lessons may include the adaptive strategies of individuals, groups, and institutions, particularly the victims of disasters, in order to gain access to various ecosystem goods and services. This is likewise true to maximizing the benefits from social capital and economic opportunities in enhancing the process of recovery from disastrous events and in achieving quality life. Indeed, synthesizing diverse data into useful information for planning of programs to enhance human well-being really requires social imagination or the ability to contextualize the phenomena. The full reports of the projects are available at Robert B. and Metta J. Silliman Library.

Affiliation

Director of Research, Research and Development Center, Silliman University, Dumaguete City

Association

    • National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), Member
    • National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), Member

Papers Presented

    • The Efficiency and and Social Acceptbility of the Constructed Wetland of Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, 22nd R&D Symposium of Completed Research and Development Projects for 2008-2009 of CVCIRRD, Dumaguete City
    • Balanan Lake; Governance, conservation and ecotourism, Lecture Series Sponsored by the School of Public Affairs and Governance, held at Multi-Purpose Room, Silliman University
    • Coastal Ecotourism as nature-dependent and socially complex industry, 10th CPU Faculty ResearchSymposium held at Central Philippine University, Jaro, Iloilo City
    • Intercultural service learning as crossing borders: The experiences of the Philippines and India, 2nd Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Service-Learning held at Lingnan University, Hongkong

Education

    • University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology, 2006

Publication

    • Oracion, E.G., Miller, M.L., Christie, P., (2005) Marine protected areas for whom? Fisheries, tourism, and solidarity in a Philippine community
    • Ocean & Coastal Management Volume 48, No. 3
    • Christie, P., Lowry, K., Oracion, E.G., Sievanen, L., Pomeroy, R.S., Pollnac, R.B., Patlis, J.M., Eisma, R.L.V., (2005) Key findings from a multidisciplinary examination of integrated coastal management process sustainability
    • Ocean & Coastal Management Volume 3
    • Oracion, E.G., (2009) Service-learning in multicultural contexts: Approaches and experiences in the Philippines and India
    • Lessons from Service Learning in Asia: Results of Collaborative Research in Higher Education/Service Learning Studies Series No.4
    • Christie, P., Oracion, E.G., Eisma-Osorio, L., (2011) Impact of the CITES listing of seahorses on the status of the species and human well-being in the Philippines: A case study
    • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome
    • Oracion, E.G., Hiponia, M.C., (2009) Nature and people matter : Conservation and ecotourism in Balanan lake, Negros Oriental
    • Philippine Studies Volume 57, No. 1
    • Christie, P., Polinac, R., Oracion, E.G., et al., (2009) Back to basis: An emperical study demonstrating the importance of local -level dynamics for the success of tropical marine ecosytem-based management
    • Coastal Management Volume 37, No. 3-4
    • Oracion, E.G., (2011 Mr 4) Philippine Local Politics in Marine Protected Area Sustainability, Department of Anthropology
    • The Chinese University of Hong Kong
    • Oracion, E.G. et al., (2005) Perceived economic factors influencing the sustainability of integrated coastal management projects in the Philippines
    • Ocean & Coastal Management Volume 48, No. 3
    • Oracion, E.G., Miller, M.L., Christie, P., (2005) Marine protected areas for whom? Fisheries, tourism, and solidarity in a Philippine community
    • Ocean & Coastal Management Volume 48, No. 3