Indigenous Knowledge Contours for a Science of the Folk Community


Joel Regala


Whenever early Filipinos looked into the sky, they would see not just stars but also their own civilization. This was famously noted by Dante Lacsamana Ambrosio, a Filipino ethnologist and pioneer of ethnoastronomy. Since the cosmos was part of their environment, indigenous people conjoined their culture to it and in return formed a dynamic worldview. This is why they have terms like Balatik (a hunting trap for wild boar) for the constellation Orion or Bubu (a fish cage trap) for the Big Dipper. Early Filipinos had named these celestial bodies long before Westerners arrived 500 years ago. The colonizers thought native peoples had no civilization, so indigenous knowledge and local science were relegated to the category of ‘superstition.’ This presentation will underscore the significant role of indigenous knowledge. In 2013, for example, Filipinos were struck by the super-typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful and deadly cyclones ever recorded, an event intensified by climate change. Haiyan killed over 6000 people in the Philippines and laid waste to the homes of 11 million residents in Micronesia and the South China Sea. The effects could have been reduced in the Philippines if the government had used the indigenous word humbak instead of ‘storm surge,’ which was not familiar to villagers. Such indigenization in teaching Big History is vital to understanding our intricate environment. As we advance in trying to resolve our societal and global problems,


Author Biography

Joel Regala, Holy Angel University Angeles City, Philippines

Joel S. Regala is Assistant Professor and former Chair of the General Education Department, School of Arts & Sciences, Holy Angel University, Angeles City (Philippines). He finished his BSEd in History, Magna Cum Laude, at Holy Angel University, then obtained his MA in Philippine Studies at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman. Joel sits as a Vice President of ADHIKA (Asosasyon Ng Mga Dalubhasa May Hilig at Interes Sa Kasaysayan) Ng Pilipinas Inc. [Association of Professionals, Enthusiasts, and Interests in History of the Philippines]. He attended the Big History Summer Institute at the Dominican University of California in 2017. He may be contacted at <>.