By JUNLEY L. LAZAGA/UP Baguio Public Affairs

A new edition of renowned scholar June Prill-Brett’s book, Tradition, and Transformation: Studies on Cordillera Indigenous Culture, has been released. Edited by UP Baguio Literature emeritus professor Delfin Tolentino Jr., it was first published in 2015 by the Cordillera Studies Center (CSC). It was named as the Best Book in the Social Sciences in the 35th National Book Awards in 2016.

Tradition and Transformation is an anthology of some of June Prill-Brett’s most important works on the indigenous societies of the Northern Luzon Cordillera in the Philippines. It draws from Prill-Brett’s twenty-five years of work in the field that is now referred to as Cordillera Studies. Her scholarship, which may be best represented by this book, deals explicitly with Cordillera indigenous political institutions, local concepts of territorial boundaries, common property regimes, agricultural practices, customary law governing the use of natural resources, gender relations, “tribal” war, old burial practices, and indigenous rituals. Putting together Prill-Brett’s scholarly articles in one volume partly addresses the relative inaccessibility of many of her published researches on Cordillera society and culture, a prior fact notwithstanding, Prill-Brett has earned eminence as an anthropologist.

Prill-Brett, who is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio, obtained her doctor of philosophy degree in Anthropology from UP in 1987. In recognition of her immense contribution to the academe, the UP Press published the book, Cordillera in June: Essays Celebrating June Prill-Brett, Anthropologist (2007) edited by Prof. Bienvenido Tapang Jr. As cited by Prof. Tolentino in his preface to the second edition of Tradition and Transformation, Prill-Brett’s “opinions on issues affecting indigenous peoples are often sought, and the authority of her studies on the Bontok and other Cordillera societies has received consistent confirmation from peers here and abroad.” This reputation, Tolentino continues, “rests on the coherence of her analysis and the density of the ethnographic data that backs up her findings.”

Work on the second edition of Prill-Brett’s award-winning book began in early 2018. It was followed mainly after all copies of the book were sold out, resulting from the positive reception by the public. The new edition comprises thirteen chapters, which include most of the chapters amended and a new chapter included, aside from the redrawn maps, new book design, and the new addition of an index.

The new chapter, titled “Splayed Feet: An Ecological Adaptation of Mountain Populations” (Chapter 12), which is also a revised version of an earlier work, is about the phenomenon of physical deformity of the feet among the Bontok which had been often used by many in the past “to denigrate the Cordillera native as less than human.” The original version, which was originally published as a monograph by the CSC in 1987, is among the many research outputs published by Prill-Brett, including the book Pechen: The Bontok Peace Pact Institution (CSC, 1987).

The 2019 edition of Tradition and Transformation was formally introduced in a program during the year-end gathering of the UP Baguio community in December last year. Copies of the book are available at the bookshop of Museo Kordilyera and other bookstores. Queries may be emailed to csc.upbaguio@up.edu.ph. # nordis.net

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