Wednesday, March 7, 2018

[Talk] Being Filipino in Five Senses

On March 7, 2018, I had the opportunity to share "Being Filipino in Five Senses", an overview of the cultural history of the senses in the Philippines with the Museum Volunteers of the Philippines' History Program, which was held at the Ateneo Professional Schools in Rockwell, Makati City.

Looking at the sensory vocabularies and metaphors (i.e. 'kapit-patalim'), and the ways Filipinos engaged the world through their senses makes for a very rich topic for cultural history and anthropology. One example of this exercise is an essay I published, entitled "The Filipino sense of smell".  Here's a passage from this exploratory piece:
Sniff kisses, for their part, are part of a broader body language. If you look at romantic scenes in Filipino movies—or if you reflect on your own romantic experiences—the act of sniffing is likewise privileged. We experience each others’ bodies not just with the visual (seeing) or the tactile (touching) but also with the olfactory (sniffing). And from a neuroscientific perspective, this again makes a lot of sense, as the olfactory bulb—the part of the brain responsible for smell—is a component of the limbic system, which is the seat of memories and emotions. Scents, then, allow us to memorialize experiences and bodies in a more sensorial, sensual way.

Surely there are many more materials waiting to be unearthed, dealing with the tactile, the olfactory, the gustatory, the auditory, and the visual - and this is a research interest I intend to pursue in the future.

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