Two Futures Forum: Some Reflections

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Hope, communities, language, technology, the family, authenticity, good governance and cultural identity are essential narratives shaping the trajectory of Philippine futures. This occurred to me when I attended two distinct foresight forum held in Manila recently.

The first  was curated by the Department of Social Sciences of the University of the Philippines  in Manila and the second by the Information Technology Department of the College of Computer Studies of De La Salle University Manila. These forums were organized to explore the core and impact of strategic foresight to governance and public policy and rhizome on knowledge creation and technology propagation in the Philippines.

I was able to jot some notes and record a number of soul blowing  insights from participants, speakers and organizers.

The after forum discussions with fellow futurist Prof. Dennis Morgan from Hankuk University of South Korea, with Dr. Ernesto Gonzales of the University of Santo Tomas and Professor Bernard Karganilla of the University of the Philippines Manila were  uplifting and intellectually stimulating.

The discussions that tried to deconstruct  the values of long-termism and short-termism, of the need to  decolonize the future using social media techs, myths and the social sciences ( the assumption was that Philippine futures was colonized) expanded my inner outlook and perspective of the nature and contexts of Filipino futures.

The second forum held at De La Salle University discussed some epistemologies and ontologies of rhizomic theory and explored its applications to community organizing, language, technology and futures studies.

The exchange opened some avenues and had me contemplate on my practice of community based foresight. Mavic Pineda and Marcus Bussey presentations were instructive.

The after forums conversations I had with Dr. Marcus Bussey, a futurist and professor at the Rajanatram School of International Relations at Nanyang Technological University Singapore, Dr. Andrew Lian of Suranaree University of Technology of Thailand and Professor Mavic Pineda of De La Salle University revealed a lot of “unknown knowns” and unknown unknowns” on how language, technology, imagination, memory and culture interact in the twenty first century.

The forum showed how multiple ways of knowing could enrich our ways of imagining ourselves in the future.

The forum at UP was cultural, critical and deconstructive, the DLSU dialogue focused on the strategic contexts of knowledge creation and futures thinking.

The two forums got me thinking and outlined some  reflections on Filipino/Philippine foresight here:

The hope in our future and our optimism in the future is an implicit expression of Filipino resilience

“Filipinos are hardline optimists and embedded in his/her view of the future was pag-asa (hope)”

“The Filipino always expects the best possible outcome in any given situation. It is likely that they would view negative situations in a positive a positive light” replied a UP Manila Graduate Student when asked about how the Filipino constructs and perceives its/the future

To Dr. Ernesto Gonzales, a senior researcher at the University of Santo Tomas and professor of graduate school at UP Manila argued that hope or pag-asa is “an element or perhaps the core of the Filipino futures discourse.”

“Filipinos have this innate attitude of hoping for the best. Filipinos as individuals and as a social collective are hardwired to imagine the best in all possible futures. The hope  or “pag-asa”  is always a strong cause for action , for changing the future.”

For some participants, Filipino optimism was a coping mechanism to overcome trauma. Hope was like an antidote to suffering. The blasting trauma was unemployment, poverty, corruption, and political dynasty.

These have kept the Filipino from realizing its hopes for a better future.  At a personal level, the hope in the future was also a measure of emotional and mental toughness.

Strong Social Inter-Action.

“Some of us thinks of the future as futureless, undefined and unknown. We do not know or we haven’t even imagined yet what our preferred future would be like. The past and the present has always been there shaping the way we perceive the future. However, this futures forum had altered my view of the future. I just hope that we could engaged more people and socially interact with them in designing absurd or alternative futures.”

A strong “social” interaction or more  interactive foresight events must be held to ignite interest of the country suggested a participant. “We have to innovate and draw more people to learn and embrace long-term thinking or foresight.Unlocking the future is all about creating new possibilities and new hopes.”

Community and Social Innovation on an on-going basis.

“Social innovation works when we engage the community to learning and action. The community must learn how to innovate on an on-going basis” observed the DLSU Prof. Mavic Pineda.

At the DLSU Forum, speakers and panel reactors explored the promise of Rhizomic thinking. It suggests that ideas and innovations evolves in a root and shoot like process.  The idea of a rhizome was  “if an idea was deconstructed into pieces each piece or set of deconstruction may  give rise to new ideas and constructions.”

Also, Lian (2013) noted that iteration or the act of repeating a process is essential to experimentation and in designing new social platforms and that knowledge creation should evoke values that foster generosity and life-long learning. The ethical, the moral, the community, the cultural and the spiritual are discursive alternatives in creating transformative futures.

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