Last June 24, 2017 (Saturday), three scholars of the University of Santo Tomas presented papers in the “Southeast Asia in Evolution: Trans-Pacific Agency and the City, c. 1850-1941 Conference,” held in the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Presenting were Rev. Fr. Hermel O. Pama, O.P., PhD, Regent of the Institute of Information and Computing Sciences; Prof. Regalado T. Jose, MCH, Archivist and Professor at the Graduate School; and Asst. Prof. Maria Mynn P. Alfonso of the College of Architecture.

Fr. Pama’s paper, which was set in locality of Bikol region, dealt with the various reports of the Governors-General to the United States about the expansionism of logging firms in the country. Following Marx and local lore, it was revealed that “cities” were a major symbol of modern capitalism.

Meanwhile, Jose presented how the UST Press (now the UST Publishing House) shifted from its centuries-old Spanish publications to English. The paper likewise traced UST’s other publications written in different languages, like Latin, Greek, French, and Filipino.

Finally, Alfonso’s paper was entitled “Manila Architecture at Crossroads from mid-1800’s to 1941.” The paper traced the change in building design brought about by the Americans. Alfonso highlighted how the Americans developed Manila based on the axial patterns of the City Beautiful Movement, and built civic structures based on the geographical and climatic context, socio-cultural aspects which were made possible by new building technology and materials.

The conference looked into the “modernization phase” of Southeast Asia, which occurred prior to World War II. This modernization, according to the conference theme, was fueled not just by colonialism or revolution but the region’s shifting relationship with the nations in the Americas, principally the United States.

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