Bruce Mathews delivers plenary talk at First International Conference on Interdisciplinary Filipino Studies, Hilo

Mathews was chosen to deliver the plenary talk because of his familiarity with Philippine agriculture and the Filipino community, coupled with his global outlook in agricultural resiliency.

Group standing with awardee.
Bruce Mathew (far left) assisted with the awarding of certificate to a conference participant, Francis Estrada (center), from New York. Also pictured are members of conference organizing committee (l-r) Celia Bardwell-Jones, Rodney Jubilado and Norman Arancon. Courtesy photo.

Bruce Mathews, dean of the College of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Resource Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, provided a candid status of the Philippine agriculture and assessed its elasticity in his plenary talk entitled, “Resilience of Philippine crop production in the face of soil degradation and climate change,” given at the First International Conference on Interdisciplinary Filipino Studies held at UH Hilo in October.

Mathews opened his talk by enumerating the many challenges associated with the decline in crop productivity, including soil erosion, organic matter losses and salinization that are often distended by climate change. Some of the many cultural practices that Filipinos employ to adapt to the changing agricultural landscape include sustainable nutrient management strategies such as the timely and appropriate applications of soil amendments, reduced tillage, and integrated soil fertility management using optimal combinations of organic and chemical fertilizers.

The advent of new technologies such as precision farming, GIS, electronically assisted plant nutrient analyses were some of the options that were offered by Mathews that can benefit Philippine agriculture in addition to the adaption of well-managed irrigation and improved crop cultivars.

“The Philippine’s future economic growth and agricultural resilience in the face of soil degradation and climate change is strongly dependent on the development of skilled, technological savvy, farmers and agricultural workers,” says Mathews.

Mathews was chosen to deliver the plenary talk because of his familiarity with Philippine agriculture and the Filipino community coupled with his global outlook in agricultural resiliency, explains Rodney Jubilado, associate professor of Filipino Studies and co-chair of the conference.

Mathews is a well-published soil scientist and well-traveled researcher, whose travels include multiple trips to Asia and the Philippines with his wife, Grenia. He was also instrumental in the development of the Filipino Studies Program at UH Hilo and advocated to include natural resources in the college program, making it probably the only program in the U.S. that has such a track.

The plenary talk opened the second day of the First International Conference of Multidisciplinary Filipino Studies held at UH Hilo Oct. 27 and 28, 2017. The conference aimed to provide the excellent venue for the exchange and sharing of ideas, researches, studies, experiences, and other academic pursuits, endeavors and interests related to the Filipinos and the Philippines.

Some of the most interesting presentations during the conference came from the fields of agricultural sciences, allied health sciences, anthropology, art studies, cultural studies, diaspora and migration studies, education, English as a Second Language program, film studies, gender studies, language, indigenous studies, linguistics, literature, media and communication, museology, performing arts, popular culture, politics and governance, psychology, religion, sociology, Southeast Asian studies, sustainability studies, tourism studies, urban studies and women’s studies.

Co-chair of the conference with Jubilado was Norman Arancon, associate professor of horticulture, with members of the Filipino-American Heritage Month committee Ginger Hamilton, director of the Minority Access and Achievement Program; Celia Bardwell-Jones, associate professor of philosophy; Jane Clement, president of the Council of Visayan Organizations; Lark Canico, president of Filipino Studies Students; Georgette Mercado, secretary of Filipino Studies Students; Michael Sagun, president of the Bayanihan Club; and Desiree Medrano, vice president of the Bayanihan Club.

This article was originally published in the CAFNRM/Agriculture Club Newsletter, Nov-Dec 2017 Issue 1.