Dr. Prospero R. Covar

Written by Dr. La Rainne Abad-Sarmiento.

Dr. Prospero CovarProbing onthe Filipino values of  pagkataong pangloob,  pagakataong  panglabas, and pakikipagkapwa  are  among Dr. Prospero R. Covar's valuable contribution to the study of Philippine society and  culture.

In his  pioneering research study on the Watawat ng Lahi, a millenarian social movement founded in 1936  in Calamba, in his native province of Laguna,  he found such worldview among its leaders and members, which they gained from worship experiences for their home-grown cult hero Gat Jose Rizal.

Covar expounded on three kinds of local knowledge that frames the Filipino psyche:  the unquestionable knowledge relating to God; the natural human knowledge possessed from their interaction with the environment and nature; and forced knowledge which may not be according to God's will.


Like other anthropologists who analyzed social  phenomena from a  structural functionalist lens,  Covar values interrelated social organizations and institutions which function to maintain the social system. His study of Filipino religious consciousness or more commonly termed as "folk spirituality" led him to traverse  anthropology, sociology, psychology, history, linguistics and folk literature. His writings covered a wide range of related themes such as Sikolohiyang Filipino (Filipino psyche and personhood), folklore, religious leadership,  post-colonial history,  and social organizations.

Mentoring budding anthropologists and theologians

His teaching career spanned 40 years, starting as an instructor at the U.P. College of Agricultural Education in 1959.  Soon after receiving his PhD in Anthropology at the University of Arizona  in 1975,  he returned to UP to teach in various units and became a full professor in 1978.  He mentored graduate students at the Anthropology Department for 21 years. When he retired in 1999  he has served  our generation of anthropology majors as a teacher, academic administrator, and reader-critic-adviser to around 120 graduate students in anthropology, Philippines and Asian studies, history, sociology, linguistics, literature, education, as well as environmental science, community development, sports and physical education and art history.

Outside the university Dr. Covar also shared his expertise lecturing among the clergy such as: Lecture Series Kaluluwa at Budhi; Pagkataong Pangloob at Panglabas at Kristianong Paniniwala (1989);  on Analytic Tools in Anthropology, Use of Linguistic principles in Cultural Studies,  Exploration in Philippine Studies (Pagkatao, Kapwa at Lipunan),  The Use of Social Movement Framework in the Context of Religious Traditions in the Philippines for the Sisters' Formation Institute in 1988 ; and on Anthropological Approaches, Religious Traditions in the Philippines, Missiology as Acculturation, and Missiology as a Social Movement for Maryhill School of Theology in 1987.

Leading social science research and academic institutions

Covar served as the research coordinator for  the Studies on Alternative Extension Approaches of the  Farm and Home Development Office at U.P. College of Agriculture (1963 – 1966) way before performing administrative duties as the Chair of the UP Diliman  Anthropology Department's Graduate program(1993-1999), as then concurrent Department Chair (1993-1995);  as Associate Dean of the  Social Sciences Division of the College of Arts and Sciences (1979-1982) , then later, as Associate Dean of the College of Social  Sciences and Philosophy (1990). He was appointed to the University Council Committee on University Academic Support Services (1991-1993).

Publishing local cultural research and sharing insights in conferences

A prolific writer, Covar produced an expansive array of research expositions and reflection pieces for textbooks, journals, and monographs for various publications. He also actively participated as  paper reader or panel  reactor  in various national and international conferences. Among his writings published as books and monographs included: Social science textbook Agham Panlipunan of UP Sentro ng Wikang Filipino(1999); Larangan: Seminal Essays on Philippine Culture of the  National Commission on Culture and the Arts (1998);   Tatlong Sanaysay of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (1988);  Anthropology Section in Philippine Science Encyclopedia of the National Research Council of the Philippines (1986);  journal Aghamtao ( Volume IV) (1981); and Folk Christianity. A historic anthropological study of Indigenous Religious Movements in the Philippines  of the Philippine Social Science Council (1973).

His articles appeared in several academic journals such as: Religious Leadership in the Iglesia Watawat ng Lahi, in  Filipino Religious Psychology,  Divine Word University (1977);  Religious Acculturation: The Philippine Experience in  St. Francis Xavier, An Apostle of the East, Vol. 2 by Sophia University Press (2000);  Tao, Kultura at Lipunang Pilipino in Linangan, UP Press (1999); Kaalamang Bayang Dalumat ng Pagkataong Pilipino inMga Idea at Estilo UP Press (1995);  Kasaysayan at Kamalayan, Limbagang Pangkasaysayan (1989); Unburdening Philippine Society of Colonialism in Values Education Through History: Peace and Tolerance, UNESCO Philippines (1996);  The Making of the Filipino Nation and Republic, UP Press (1998); Les Philippins, leur culture, et leur societe of SOS, Inc. (1998);  Analytic Tools in Anthropology Economic and Social Science Research Methodologies, Los Baños, Laguna (1991);  Ang Pagtanggap ng Samahang Milinaryan kay Gat. Dr. Jose P. Rizal in Himalay II  of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (1991).

Lending a hand  to national cultural  development

Dr. Covar was a founding member of non-governmental organization Ugnayang Pang-Aghamtao (UGAT) when UGAT was established in 1976 and sat as a member of its Executive Board (1980-1981) . He also served as an Executive Board member of the Philippine Social Science Council (1981 – 1982). The government recognized his  expertise and appointed him as member of the  Presidential Commission on Culture and the Arts National Committee on Ethnic Cultures and Traditional Arts in 1988.

Serving as a guiding light in  social sciences and education

For his valuable contribution to local knowledge production in Anthropology and guiding light to the new generation of social scientists, Prof. Covar was given recognition by, among others, the Pambansang  Samahan  sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (1981);  Order of Knights of Rizal Supreme Council on the Noli Me Tangere Centennial Celebration(1987); Philippine Centennial Commission- Office of the

President (1999);  National Historical Institute (2001);  Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) (2000).  He also received the Gawad Lope K. Santos from the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino (1998), and The Outstanding alumni award from the University of Arizona (2001).

Prof. Covar  also actively participated in  preparing national Curriculum and  instructional materials  as  a  consultant to the Training of Teachers  for the proposed secondary curriculum on World History of the Department of Education in 1988 and Values education in 1989l.  He also coached teachers at the workshop to prepare instructional materials for values education textbooks in 1988 and 1989. He facilitated the publication of books by the Jose P. Laurel Memorial Foundation Museum and Library  that he helped compile in  1997.


References:

http://www.languagelinks.org/oldsite/book/books/covar/covar.pdf . accessed on July 21, 2013.

http://www.anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=Functionalism. Accessed July 23 2013.