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Humboldt University Launches Joint Program with Embassy of Philippines

Lecture on Homo Luzonesis marks launch of program to promote Philippine Studies at Humboldt University

August 08th, 2019
Christina Vassell, News from Berlin
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On 29th July, a lecture on Homo luzonensis, the newly discovered hominid species in the Philippines, was held at Humboldt University (HU), marking the launch of a joint Philippine Embassy-HU program to promote Philippine Studies.

The lecture, organized with the support of the Philippine Embassy, UP Alumni Association-Germany, and Philippine Studies Berlin, was delivered by Professor Armand Mijares, University of the Philippines (UP), the Filipino scientist who was behind the recent discovery of Homo luzonensis.
According to Prof. Mijares, the discovery of Homo luzonensis, which is estimated to be between 50,000 to 67,000 years old, is significant to the evolutionary history of modern humans as the species is a new member to the genus Homo. Along with other archeological findings across other countries in the region, the latest of discovery is heralded as establishing Southeast Asia as “an important evolutionary region” to the world.

The timing of the lecture is not only a staple to the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Germany but also coincides with the 250th birth anniversary of German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, one of two namesakes of Humboldt University.

In her remarks at the lecture H.E. Amb. Theresa Dizon-de Vega, Philippine Ambassador to Germany expressed the sentiment that the program’s launch is a “proud moment for the Philippines.”

The Ambassador also highlighted the long history of cultural diplomacy between Germany and the Philippines through academic and exchange, which can be traced back to Dr. Jose Rizal’s visit to Germany in the late 19th century.

The Philippines’ National Hero and famous writer referred to Germany as his “scientific mother country”, where he engaged in various intellectual pursuits paving the way for bicultural relations by becoming the only Asian member of the Berlin Anthropological Society. His efforts are still evident to this day, with Dr. Rizal’s personal items such as fabrics forming part of the Berlin Ethnological Museum’s extensive collection of artifacts from different parts of the world.

Ms. Britta Baron, International Department Director, highlighted Humboldt University’s commitment to the region of Asia, adding that “the Philippines is a very special, very remarkable part” of the University’s academic agenda.

The program to promote Philippine Studies at HU established by the Philippine Government and co-ordinated by the Philippine Embassy in Berlin is funded by a five million-peso Philippine Government grant made possible through the initiative of then Senator and now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Its implementation is being overseen by Dr. Rosa Cordillera Castillo, a Filipino associate professor at HU and active Philippine Studies advocate, under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Vincent Houben, Chair for Southeast Asian History and Society at HU’s Institute of Asian and African Studies.

The joint Philippine Embassy-HU program is composed of a series of projects to be implemented over a three-year period, which include academic conferences, Filipino language courses, lectures, and other activities to be based in Berlin.

References

News from Berlin