A word about your training and career at the UNamur?
I am currently employed by a non-government organization that provides support to farmers and fisherfolks in our country. Alongside my professional commitments, I pursued a master's degree in Population Studies at the University of the Philippines-Population Institute to enhance my understanding of the communities we serve through the lens of demography.
As I near the completion of my degree, one of the final requirements is to write a research paper focusing on migration patterns in regions of the Philippines that are frequently affected by typhoons. Fortunately, I received an endorsement from the UPPI Faculty to participate in the Philippine Studies program in collaboration with the Geography Department of the University of Namur. This collaboration has presented an opportunity to expand the scope of my research and improve upon the initial plans I had made. Upon my arrival on a chilly Sunday, March 19, 2023, I commenced my stay in Namur, which will extend until the conclusion of the project on June 30, 2023.
Presently, I am proud to be a member of a research team led by Sebastien Dujardin, which aims to evaluate the dynamic exposure of Filipinos to climate hazards, specifically typhoons. To achieve this, we are utilizing data from both the 2020 Census of the Population and Housing, as well as social media data.
Why did you choose to continue your studies in Namur?
The strong partnership between the UNamur Department of geography, led by Prof. Sabine Henry, and the UP Population Institute, under the guidance of Dr. Grace Cruz, provides us students with a remarkable opportunity to refine our technical skills and foster collaborations with other experts. This partnership enables us to maximize the practical application of our research findings.
Can you explain the ongoing collaboration between you and the UNamur Department of geography?
As a native of a region in the Philippines that is frequently ravaged by increasingly intense typhoons, my master's degree research on migration and climate change aligns perfectly with the focus of UNamur's geography department.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Sebastien Dujardin, a seasoned expert in data science and spatial mapping. His technical expertise, combined with my background in Population Studies, allows for a comprehensive analysis of the research results, placing them within the context of Philippine population trends and patterns.
Under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Dujardin, I have had the opportunity to delve into and enhance my skills using R and R Studio. I am immensely grateful for the invaluable knowledge I have gained in basic coding and mapping through these open-source software tools.
How did you benefit professionally from this exchange?
As an NGO worker, I have noticed that our decision-making and strategic planning often rely on observations and anecdotes. However, I strongly believe that it is crucial to elevate our approach by incorporating data science and innovative techniques to inform our development interventions. By doing so, we can ensure the efficient utilization of resources, promote participatory initiatives and achieve results that are both relevant and sustainable.
Undertaking this Philippine Studies experience in Belgium is undoubtedly a significant milestone in my career. I am eagerly looking forward to witnessing how our research can be utilized by our country to enhance disaster risk reduction and management practices, ultimately leading to more effective and efficient outcomes.
From a personal point of view, a little word about Belgium and the city of Namur?
Belgium truly offers a unique experience with its ever-changing weather, providing all seasons in a single day, and I find it quite fascinating. While I initially anticipated a departure from the need for warm clothing, I have found myself adding more layers as the day progresses. However, I take pleasure in the arrival of spring, characterized by vibrant flowers and lively festivals.
Namur, specifically, is an ideal place for learning, situated away from the bustling city center. The view from the top of the Namur Citadelle is breathtaking, offering a panoramic perspective. Additionally, I relish peaceful walks in the park and along the riverside, immersing myself in the serene surroundings. Exploring the artisan shops that showcase the rich arts and culture of Namur is always a delightful experience. And, of course, indulging in a mouthwatering Belgian waffle is an absolute treat that I cannot resist. 😊
The Philippine studies program
The Philippine studies program is funded by a grant from the Philippine government through the initiative of Senate President pro tempore Loren Legarda. The University of Namur has been chosen by the Philippine government, along with seven other universities worldwide, to promote the various facets of Philippine studies in Belgium and Europe.
This program highlights the collaborations that researchers at the University of Namur have developed with several universities and researchers in the Philippines. It also contributes to the promotion of Philippine studies at an international level. It includes several themes and activities that will run until June 2023, and is also an opportunity to explore new avenues of collaboration at academic, cultural and political levels.