Ramón Pagayon Santos
Professor, University of the Philippines; Commissioner for the Arts, National Commission for Culture and the Arts
Leadership Conference on Conservancy and Development 12-18 September 1999: A Brief Report
PAPER SUBMITTED TO THE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CONSERVANCY AND DEVELOPMENT
September 1999, Yunnan Province, China
The entire conference, with such a variety of topics, areas of expertise, and activities, was a major attempt in initiating concrete steps towards formulating a comprehensive strategy or master plan for cultural conservancy in the context of modernization, social change, and specific concerns on the preservation of the environment. The conference dealt not only with the great diversity of topics and sub-topics, the usual problems emanating from time constraints, simultaneous translations, and other technical requirements.
The most striking feature of the conference was the delegates and participants themselves who represented many different disciplines and sectors; e.g. the academe, NGOs, funding institutions, cause oriented programs, international organizations, government and commercial groups. For this reason, the conference required a highly systematic rapporteurial work which would be the key to a comprehensive integration of many ideas that were presented and discussed.
Perhaps greater focus should have been emphasized on one encompassing, underlying framework, such as "culture and traditions as foundations for social well-being and community development in contemporary life". The diversity of the levels of discussion from purely empirical to theoretical and scientific also required optimum quality in summing up all the ideas according to basic issues such as history, culture, contemporary values vis a vis traditional values, religion, etc. In actuality, most of the presentations tended to explore the possibility of striking a balance between material progress and the preservation of non-material cultures, expressive forms, spiritual and social values, and other sources of cultural identity. The talks and exchanges also covered a range of views from highly critical and pessimistic, to being cautious, pragmatic, hopeful and imaginative.
The final sessions elicited very positive recommendations for future actions. Three of these are: