Academic Saturday: Days of old

by Evans Yonson

In one of my seminar classes in the Philippines many years ago, I presented a possible paper topic on labor unionists’ use of the internet as an empowering tool for the labor movement. I thought that with information and communication technology readily available for these laborers, it is imperative then that reaching out to other labor organizations in the country would have been easier and faster for everyone. One of my classmates quickly dismissed my idea as old and said that it has been done in the US and Europe many times over. I was taken aback by what she said because I was trying to test if what the other scientists in the US and Europe found in their researches were applicable and true in the Philippine labor movement. I stuck with my idea and did a Masters’ thesis on the topic. What was my classmate thinking then? Did she have basis for such comment? Was I blind to what the consequences might be if I listened to her?

I was inspired to write about that topic because I was working with the labor movement in the Philippines. I was also amazed by how the American and the European unionists/syndicates were all over the internet promoting their causes for the world to see. But I was not certain about doing the study in the Philippine setting. Merton provided the answers to my uncertainties with his four ethos which became my guiding principles. I utilized the results of foreign researches as basis for my own research. I avoided their mistakes and took their recommendations and tried if those were possible in my country. I thought that with my access to other free information, I was also bound to share the results of my research to the rest of the world. I once sent an email to an American researcher who was an expert on labor unionism and the internet. I asked for his advised on what to do on certain situations during the research, the data gathering part and in the analysis of my data. We practically became friends after several exchanges of emails. He also asked me if I could share the results of my study to him. I gladly sent him a file copy of my final output. Three years after I submitted my paper to the University of the Philippines, I received two emails from an unknown person in New Zealand. He asked me about my research and I gladly indulged him with all his questions about my research. To this day, I have been asked several times by researchers from the Philippines and other countries for help in their investigation regarding the internet and the labor movement. Merton’s ethos are good values that a researcher should have.

Looking at my classmate now, I realized that she never went on to finish her Masters. She had her reasons for being mean to me. She probably had her basis. My research may not have been original because those were done in the US and Europe before, but I proved her wrong. I was just continuing what the other foreign researches found out and applied it on Philippine setting. My research had its own flaws as observed and realized by other researchers. I am only human and I’m bound to make mistakes but it doesn’t mean that I will stop there. I must continue to look for more answers to my questions. I will continue perfecting my craft.

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