Bro.  Erle Frayne Argonza attended the social technologies seminar sponsored by the Pi Gamma Mu last 18th of January 2008. The resource speaker was no other than Dr. Cesar Mercado, the country’s main advocate today of social technology. The seminar was held at the College of Mass Communication Auditorium of the U.P. Diliman.


Social technology refers to ‘know-how’ as applications of social science principles. The equivalent in the physical sciences are ‘physical technologies, while those in the biological sciences are ‘bio-technologies’ or biotech.


The Philippines had already accumulated many social technologies across the decades, such as those utilized for development engagements. However, the term ‘social technology’ itself is a newly coined one. The reason for this rather late coinage of the term is the ambivalence or fear associated with ‘technology’ as applied to the human dimension.


Dr. Mercado clarified that there is no reason to fear the use of the term at all. It’s just a matter of using a label for already existing practices. The use of a formal label will redound to better popularization of the technologies, and will enable Filipino experts in particular to compete with those of the developed countries’ experts who are way ahead in the practical sphere.


Dr. Mercado then elaborated on examples of social technologies. In the field of business, the term commonly used is ‘best practices’.  Dr. Mercado clarified that they are one and the same. Such practices are social technologies.


Dr. Mercado also proceeded to clarify many issues, aside from exhibiting examples of social technologies. Among these was the issue of ‘world class’, to which he cautioned the participants about blind adoption of the same category. 


The core speaker, Dr. Mercado, recommended that a national society be formed that will be the chief campaign advocate for social technologies. Bro. Erle Argonza, who is supportive of social technology production and advocacy, agrees very much with this institutional requisite to advance social technologies.


During the open forum, Bro. Erle Argonza raised the observation of an ‘over-institutionalization fatigue’.  Marginal folks have gotten tired of community organizing and other related capacity-building efforts. This phenomenon had caused snags in many projects in the field from the mid-90s onwards. Dr. Mercado replied with an analytical thought, and remarked that it’s time we slow down a bit in our development efforts as over-dynamics had produced the observed backfire.


It proved to be a very meaningful and substantive occasion, coming as it is on the Centennial Anniversary of the U.P. Dr. Mercado was a retired professor and administrator of the U.P. (C. Mass Comm.), former UNICEF official, and founder/CEO of the Development Center for Asia Africa Pacific or DCAAP. The DCAAP, an international ‘think-tank’, is among the few institutions in the Philippines that have been active in innovating on social technologies.


[By A & A Consultants, Jan. 2008, Manila]

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