Dr Ana Maria Theresa P. Labrador, Philippines
The frequency, with which I continue to receive invitations for museum training seminars from local government organisations, may be thought of as mere coincidence. Lately, I have noticed that the participants in these seminars are more concerned with being able to carry out what they have learned and creating programs to build museums or re-conceptualise their existing ones. This is in contrast to my past experience running museum seminars where participants, although interested are more anxious to get credits or certificates that will contribute towards their job promotions. The new enthusiasm for training as well as museums may be attributed to many factors and not just from chance.
One of the main issues I found bears upon the situation of countries like the Philippines where globalisation has subtly crept into the lives of many Filipinos even those who live in the remote parts. If it is not the new economic system that anticipates revenues from exported labour of overseas contract workers, it is the consequences of it. These include families whose members may at some point reside abroad, altering existing ways of doing and looking at things. Another may have to do with these contract workers’ exposure to new representations in cultural institutions, providing appealing introductions to museums, parks and other leisure services out of the usual entertainment loop. Finally it may be globalisation’s threat to local identity by that may have spurred the perceived need of communities to put up museums and other cultural institutions.
In this paper I will relate two of my recent experiences that reveal the importance of co-operation between the local government bodies and members of the academe in terms of training for managing culture. I will also discuss the government framework in this instance. This will be an account of reciprocity where community members are not the sole beneficiaries of this exchange. Besides the municipal or provincial government’s positive image to the community for initiating museum projects, they are increasingly taking on the role of custodians of local culture. The two towns, Mauban and Tayabas in Quezon province are struggling to create museums and sustain them.
On the part of the trainers who are from the academe, these seminars are good opportunities for translating theory into practice and learning from local initiatives. I hope to illustrate in this paper that those formal arrangements between local governments and the academe must first be supported by a relationship of mutual trust and genuine interest in the museum project and, sometimes, even friendships. Perhaps with more “outreach” programs by academics, their scholarship may create more spaces for dialogue and training for museums. This can be a tool among others in helping locals accept the challenges of a world that is dramatically changing.