Part 2 – Cultural institutes
WE began a month ago, this series on Books, pointing to the fact that the 21st century library is becoming more digital —hence more of connections than collections. However, there will always be the time-old presence of books classified according to the Dewey Decimal system, not only in school libraries but in special libraries as well—of schools, of persons or of their families or of private and government offices, including museums, art galleries, etc. We also shared information on major foundations which have been giving thousands of books to our developing and underserved areas such as the Books for Mindanao project of the Asia Foundation and assisted by grant funds and/or services of LGUs or of partner public and private organizations. Today, we share information on book awards and other cultural materials in print and in digital form often tied up with study grants/other projects which partly constitute the cultural diplomacy of friendly countries.
Books attached to study grants. Study/training grants/scholarships would usually include books/and or equipment in the area studied and transport, besides travel cost, a bursary and living allowance, grantee may request for books that may help extend to one’s university the knowledge gained from the study grant. Thus, after a summer session in Japanese literature in English and the classical theater at Joji Daigaku/Sophia University in Tokyo, I received a goodly collection of Japanese literature (poetry, fiction and essays, etc.) for the university library. Asia Foundation funded my two-way domestic and international tickets. The Lopez Foundation funded my travel to and living allowance in Indonesia and Thailand to observe their respective homegrown theaters. Sophia University, one of the top private universities in Japan, and run by the Jesuit fathers awarded me the bursary. (As an aside, in Japan, top private universities receive some part of their budgets from their federal government.) Study grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) which has an office for the Philippine representative at the University of the Philippines at Diliman and the Chevening study grants which may be secured from the British Council (see the BC and DAAD websites) would also have book awards.
Cultural institutes. “In international politics, the resources that produce soft power arise from the values an organization or country expresses in its culture.” A country’s cultural diplomacy, supports acquisition of smart power—that is, power to influence a people to appreciate a country’s culture. Thus, many of the countries with which we have friendly relations have, besides their Cultural Affairs Office in their embassies, also cultural institutes operating separately from their embassies but closely coordinating with their country’s public diplomacy. Ultimately, cultural institutes help pursue their embassies’ political remit through long-term cultural relationships with key individuals through scholarships, exchanges, seminars, conferences, and media channels.
Cultural institutes in the Philippines—the US. Our academics would be familiar with the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF)—an umbrella-in-charge which administers the various scholarships and cultural grants such as the graduate student scholarships through the Fulbright Philippine Commission, the Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program for International Teachers (Fulbright DAI) and the Hubert H. Humprey Fellowship program. Books are likely complementary awards for such scholarships. The US Embassy in the Philippines has its Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center (TJIC). As a cultural institute, its library materials cover key subjects about the homeland (the United States): its government, economy, society, culture and people. The TJIC is open to the general public by appointment, but only mission members are allowed to borrow books or DVDs.” Membership to the e-Library USA, the digital library of the TJIC is free of charge.
Cultural institutes in the Philippines—Japan. The Japan Information and Cultural Center (JICC) is the cultural and public affairs section of the Embassy of Japan in Manila. Its “primary role is to promote better understanding of Japan and Japanese culture by providing a wide range of information, educational services and programs to the public.” One can borrow books such as on science, technology, social science, politics and governance, visual arts, etc. There are allocations of such materials for the giving. Digital references are also available; provided there are no copyrights, a library may request for a soft copy, furnishing the needed blank tapes. If with a scholarship, books and other cultural materials may be grant components. (As to Japanese government scholarships, interested individuals may request for application forms and guidelines from the JICC.)