Marko's Placement in Field School

I'm In!!!

Once I was awarded a $2,000 scholarship, including all the support I received, I am blessed to say that I can now cover the cost of my field school in the Philippines!!!

Thank you all, for your support. I could had never reached my goals and follow my passion for archaeology this far without you :) 

! :D !!!  

This summer I will be attending an archaeological field school in the Philippines which is called the Ifugao Archaeological Project (IAP). With your greatly appreciated donation, I will be using the funds only to pay for the field school's tuition cost where I will receive college credits and training in order to become a professional archaeologist. The tuition covers my housing and food in the Ifugao Provence which is located in the Cordillera Mountains of Luzon. The Ifugao people are one out of the many oldest indigenous cultures of the Philippines who were never conquered by Spanish during colonialism.

However, the Ifugao had to relocate high into the mountains in response to countless attacks by the Conquistadors. It is here, 2,000 meters above-sea-level in the Cordilleras where the Ifugao constructed their Rice Terraces. For 400 years, these people have maintained and harvested what is known to be one of the eight wonders of the world. Unfortunately, today there are not enough people to maintain the Terraces because the younger Ifugao generation are relocating to the cities to find work. In response to the Rice Terraces' deterioration, the site has been placed under the protection of UNESCO and declared a World Heritage Site in Ifugao. This is where I will be working.

The IAP is a multi-year research project that is aimed to study the Ifugao's unique social organization and to place a definite date to the Rice Terraces' antiquity. I have already purchased my flight to the island, and I have been accepted to participate in this project that will take place from June 22 to July 31. However, I need your help to raise money for the IAP's tuition which is $4,950 by the beginning of June the latest. My reason to join this particular field school in the Philippines goes beyond gaining experience that I need to become a Southeast Asian Archaeologist.

I am committed to bringing Southeast Asian culture to the forefront of academic discussion. Throughout my college experience, I have noticed, along with other professional scholars, that Asian related courses are shadowed by more popular topics such as that of Western development. It is a fact that only four Universities across the United States specialize in Southeast Asia (i.e. University of Hawai'i Manoa, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Washington, and University of Illinois at Chicago). I strongly believe that if we are ever to truly understand our human species' legacy, we must include in our discussions all examples of human development around the globe, past and present.

Circumstances notwithstanding, I remain privileged to place Early Southeast Asian culture into modern society's viewfinder. It is my perpetual honor to take the information learned from my studies of Early Southeast Asian culture and bring it to the attention of its people and the world so that present and future generations of global society can share in the spirit of its shared ancestral history, tradition, and memories.

I am asking you, with humility, to help me not only gain the necessary experience to become a professional Southeast Asian Archaeologist but also help me amplify the voice of all Asian cultures in our classrooms.

About Marko B. Germono

My research interest...

I sat nervously with my family in a fluorescent lit classroom that looked as though it hadn't been modernly furnished for over fifty years. It reminded me of a time long ago, in my early years of education, the moments I first learned about the world.


My time had come, I, among other panel board speakers, was next to present my research. My colleagues, huddled by the wall of the crowded classroom, smiled and wished me luck, as I paced beside an empty podium. I caught a glimmer of excitement and curiosity within my family's eyes as they waited patiently in the crowd. By habit, before I began any presentation, I focused my breath to be calm and steady so that my nervousness dissipated once I spoke. At that moment I thought to myself. This will be the telling of our story. My sole interpretation of not only our ancestry in the Philippines through an archaeological context would my presentation break the silence but also it would be delivered. I stood in front of an audience of thirty, consisting of young aspiring scholars with their loved ones, like myself, at the University of California, Berkeley's 20th Annual McNair Scholars Research Symposium.


Three months prior to visiting Cal Berkeley with my McNair cohorts to present our research, we had worked as a team and as individuals all summer. What promised to be a memorable life changing experience in Berkeley, I produced an extensive multi-disciplinary project, A Shared Ancestry in Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific: A Forager-Farmer Connection, on the Austronesian Diaspora outside my normal class requirements at California State University- Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). My literature review discusses the little known interaction between foragers from Luzon, Philippines with Austronesian speaking farmers from Taiwan. After many of nights burning the midnight oil, my research encountered a popular theme of immigrating technologically advanced populations (in this case, agriculturalists) replacing local hunter-gathers.


I was, however, interested in a re-occurring theme of foragers and farmers co-existing with one another. It was out of this co-existence and the relationships it created among people that the transfer of ideas between two different populations led to the initial spark of a Malayo-Polynesian cultural development within the Islands of the Pacific. For example, the diverse Austronesian speaking populations you see today in the Philippines is the result of two cultural worlds forming economical relationships with one another thus adding to the wide spectrum of the many combinations that form a complex society.


The research I did outside the classroom, of course, focused on my process of comparing and contrasting of ancient and modern Filipino way of life. My first exposure, for example, to literature regarding Western Societies taking an interest to traditional Filipino culture was on the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. In a world event that should had showcased the diversity in which society is capable of taking many forms of social organization, to become complex in their own right, Filipinos were misrepresented as the genesis to a linear social development towards becoming a complex society. These proud native Filipinos more than a hundred years ago showcased their tattooed bodies and regalia which represented their unique complex social development prior to and alongside Colonialism.


Although the Native Filipinos at the World's Fair- decorated in their regalia and tattooed from head to toe -participated and presented their achievements, in the honorable way they knew how to the world, they were not seen as equals among advanced societies. These Islanders at the World's Fair were never recognized as the descendants of people who have conquered the sea long before any Westerner.


Around two to three thousand years ago, these prehistoric seafarers have traveled to Madagascar and out further east to the Pacific Islands. Covered by tattoos that resembled chainmail, and armed with bolo swords and head taking axes, different Filipino datus were successful traders within a rich maritime economy in the South China Sea. However their history was misunderstood and their significance to the processes of social complexity was shadowed by ethnocentric worldviews of Western progression. I, like the spectators at the World's Fair, never understood the achievements of Native Filipinos. To some extent, this misconception lingers even today which has hindered the imagination of Filipinos being more than just "savages."


By comparing and contrasting prehistoric and contemporary Filipinos in the Philippines and the Americas, I began to understand their unique cultural traits that make them independent from one another. However, these three different Filipino identities, i.e. prehistoric, Native, and American, still portray the Filipino experience through time and space no matter how different their worldview compares to one another. As a result, my research work outside of the classroom taught me to, as you will, "think outside the box" when interpreting the archaeological data or in any line of inquiry in general.


My visions of humanity's past, present, and future manifest when I now gaze at a world map. Its birth, growth, and expansion through time around the world and how ancient people roamed across and alongside the contours of the land and followed the currents of the sea, is projected onto a global map by my imagination. I am constantly reminded of how our species came to be and the true potential humanity has to offer when I look at the faces that surrounds me, every day.


Thinking back to my time at Cal Berkeley where I presented my research of prehistoric Philippines as a McNair scholar, I spoke with passion and joy about the birth of a seafaring culture and their known accomplishments in ancient Island Southeast Asia. I shared with my family, friends, and peers of how the archaeological record of the Philippines tell the story of different cultures who once flourished in Asia's archipelago. The strength and tone of my voice was not only caused by my passion for archaeology but also it was birth through the hardships and joys I shared with my McNair cohorts. In that short fifteen minute presentation about my own personal research of my ancestry, I spoke to the human spirit, and it felt as though I spoke to the world.


My Filipino American Identity.

One of the most recent academic publications I've read which has made an indelible and lasting impression on me is Laura Junker's Raiding, Trading and Feasting. Prior to reading this publication, I had no idea and could never have imagined the depth and richness of my ancestors' Filipino culture and way of life.

In the course of my studies I had read many publications on Filipino culture and everyday living. Dr. Junker's book is the only academic publication I have discovered that resonated so deeply in me, to such an extent, that by reading it I was inspired to forge a reconnection to my Filipino heritage.

I never felt complete with my Filipino identity until I read Junker's book. Although I take pride in American culture and have a sense of my "self" as an American within the "community of America," I remained ignorant of the facts having to do with culture and customs of my Island Southeast Asian lineage thus unable to completely administer a process by which I could reconnect with my ancestral roots.

However, the extensive research into emerging complex societies and the way that these societies, if one will, "sprinted" into existence prior to the Spaniards' contact with Negro Island, which Dr. Junker's publication focused upon, was so clear that it helped me in developing the process of understanding my Filipino heritage. The information she provides in her publication about the Filipinos- indigenous cultural traits that have echoed for thousands of years- allowed me to compare and contrast that information against and alongside contemporary Filipino culture. Because this modern culture has been so greatly influenced by Western society, I found many similarities as well as differences between the two cultures past and present.

One of the things I discovered was that much like those emerging societies in ancient times, Filipinos in these modern times have also created complex traditions and some points distinctive in our culture that have become very recognizable, very quickly. Filipino tattoos are one example of this.

Instead of the tapping sound from a stick tattooing instrument, I listened to the buzzing of a needle glide between my shoulder blades. The tattoo symbol I chose to decorate my body is called a lingling-o which is associated with the prehistoric maritime trade of Southeast Asia and traditional Filipino tattoos. For thousands of years, traditional Filipino tattooing is used as a rite of passage and to signify ones lineage. This practice is slowly disappearing in the Philippines and only a few Filipino elders in America are reviving this ancient ritual. However, Filipino youths and others are transforming the ideology behind Filipino tattoo symbols with one particular goal in mind. To preserve Filipino heritage. For thousands of years, the geometric curvilinear tattoo patterns represented an individual's affinity to their community and natural world. Today in the United States, many young Filipino Americans are rediscovering their heritage and linking themselves back to the archipelagos by tattooing stylized versions of traditional Filipino tattoos onto their bodies. Although this new Filipino tribal tattoo is different than traditional Filipino tattooing, they both emphasize the importance of community and identity. The act of tattooing a lingling-o onto myself represents my vow to preserve Filipino heritage as a Southeast Asian Archaeologist and Photographer.

Because of Dr. Junker and her book, I know and understand that the past and present of Filipino culture are both worthy of archaeological study to equal measure, especially by one such as myself who hungers for a connection as well as a manifestation of his Filipino culture within modern society.

Prior to reading her book, in many ways I had bought into a worldview that saw advancement as the consequence of sophisticated technology. In fact, at one point, I even learned that my ancestors were incapable of complex organization, which is why they hadn't been able to form a nation-state. It was not until after reading her book that I was finally able to see how the prehistoric Filipino elite organized and became powerful rulers over different islands in Southeast Asia. I realized for the first time, how my bloodline connects me to the Philippines. It was then that my heritage ironically reinforced my identity as a Filipino American.

My identity, however, is not the same as a Native Filipino no doubt. My father used to remind me all the time, "Marko, you are not Pilipino! No, you are American." It wasn't until Junker's work did I truly understand my father's claim. They are two different worlds that came into being through their own right. Nevertheless, the subtle traces of indigenous core values that has survived thousands of years through certain Filipino traditions my parents raised me by has shaped and influenced my American identity.

After understanding who my ancestors were alongside my life as Filipino in the United States, I finally began to gain my own identity, and more importantly, my own voice.


My story of seeking higher education; how I ran my hustle in school.

            Due to circumstances beyond their control- which included a failed into bankruptcy Asian restaurant and two full time night shift jobs for the post office- my parents' first priority was not the pursuit of a higher education for themselves. For as long as my memory reaches into my childhood and up into my teen years, my parents were the catalyst and inspiration for my seeking education beyond that of high school and eventually, as now, a Ph.D. degree. Through their loving support and insistence that ways be made to foster my caretaking and education on equal footing, I was the first in my immediate family to attend college.

            My family's story of immigration from the Philippines to the United States is not unlike that of countless numbers of families who made the same journey in search of a better life. Each of my parents took advantage of the fact that both of my grandfather's fought beside the United States against the Japanese in the Philippines during WWII. The GI bill made it possible for my family to come to America and to easily establish themselves among the other middle-class, working families who had already made their homes here.

            Although my father had been reluctant to immigrate to America before reaching the tender age of 21, he eventually cast his doubts of the unknown aside and came to America. My mother, on the other hand, enthusiastically settled in California with the rest of her family, spurred on by her sister's urgings to apply to a nursing program, even though it meant abandoning her dream of becoming an architect. Fortunately for me, despite their differing emotions on immigrating to the U.S., one thing my parents agreed upon was that a higher education made for a better life. This shared core belief was manifested in the way they raised me. This same essential belief caused them to encourage and support me to the fullest during each and every phase of my education.

            During my early years of education, I never asked my parents what their thoughts were on my being the first in our little family to attend college; and because emotions are not so prominently thought of in familial company, I never dared to ask them. However, I know now that if I did, they both would, in their shiningly simply loving way, answer, "Proud."

            As I mentioned, my family is one of millions of middle-class working families in this country. Growing up, my needs were always provided for. However, a college education was considered an honor and to some degree, a "luxury."

            My college years were not the typical straight four to five years spent at the same institution, as most other students my age. In fact, I started my college education at the age of twenty-one, which is usually the age at which most students are close to graduating from universities.

            I began my college career at Diablo Valley College (DVC), a community college near my family's home. Since I did not live on campus, there were no dorm fees, but I still had to work to pay for my classes and study materials, not to mention transportation and other essentials.

            It was during this time that I learned I qualified for a Pell Grant. This Grant money helped me to alleviate school costs in addition to the jobs that I held while attending DVC.

            During my four years there, I worked any job I could: the local movie theater, Walgreens- where I managed the photo lab (thus inspiring my photography endeavors later on), as a courier for Levi's administrative headquarters, and on campus at the DVC Library.

            After four years at DVC, the credits I earned there were substantial enough to make me eligible to move to Long Beach and attend Long Beach City College (LBCC). During my first year at LBCC, I began working as a server at an Italian Pizza restaurant called Domenico's- a local favorite in the heart of Belmont Shore, less than 10 blocks from the beach. I continued working at Domenico's for the four years I attended LBCC. I was fortunate enough that I was able to earn enough money to cover the cost of my classes and materials.

            Eventually, I ended up at California State University- Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) after transferring over four years' worth of Anthropology classes from LBCC.

            In addition to continuing my employment at Domenico's, I also covered the cost of my CSUDH tuition via another Pell Grant, which, yet again helped me fund my education.

            Despite my Grant and employment at Domenico's, I found I was still lacking the money for purchasing a laptop and appropriate software I needed for my university studies. Therefore, I also had to apply for and use student loans to supplement these costs.

            However, although I was forced to incur interest for the loans I obtained, my Islander Southeast Asian heritage proved fortuitous and I was accepted in the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program of CSUDH, as an underrepresented minority. This scholarship program supported me financially all the way through the end of my senior year of college. Because of this wonderful and unique program, I was able to afford the cost for the additional courses I needed to prepare myself for graduate school. As an added bonus, the program presented me with several incredible opportunities to conduct independent research and present my findings at different conferences within the United States.

I have lost many hours of sleep from reading hundreds of academic publications and learning how to incorporate various theories to form my own hypotheses. Throughout my university experience, studies became progressively more challenging. My upper division and independent research courses were rigorous and time-demanding compared to my early years of college.

It wasn't until I transferred to CSUDH that I had to learn to effectively and carefully balance my time between work, volunteering, and school. I became consistently creative in inventing ways to balance my life to meet the expectations of my supervisors and professors.

At times, to be perfectly honest, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of assignments accumulating among my courses. Regardless of the large amount of hours from studying, I learned to conquer the specter of poor time management, which is almost impossible to master in academia. Although it was my efforts that paid off.

I changed my habits and became militant. I developed and perfected a clockwork study routine in order to accomplish all my objectives at CSUDH.

If it wasn't for my passion of anthropology and art, I would not been able to face and overcome all my challenges with conviction, determination, and eventually success.

I now know that only through discipline and self-sacrifice will my desired success materialize in real life. Being a full time student, there were times it felt impossible to meet all my deadlines for each class. To address the challenges of academic studies, I had to discipline myself in order to survive the life of a student.

            It would suffice to say that I have run the gamut of funding while I pursued higher education: jobs, scholarships, grants, and loans, not to mention the years spent just waiting to have enough funds to continue.

            Notwithstanding, the hustle I have run has made me a well-rounded person as well as very resourceful.

            I would not have changed a thing.


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Marko Bustos Germono 
Rancho Cordova, CA
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