UP Interdisciplinary Book Forum to Focus on New Book on Traditional Filipino Medicine

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The UP Press and the UP Institute of Creative Writing will be holding its latest installment of the semestral Interdisciplinary Book Forum or IBF on September 27, 2017 at the Pavilion 1131, Palma Hall, UP Diliman. The forum will be held from 2 to 5 in the afternoon.

This semester’s book-in-focus is Dr. Ma. Mercedes Planta’s Traditional Medicine in the Colonial Philippines: 16th to the 19th Century. The book, which came out just this year, explores the various Philippine medicinal plants and herbs that Filipino traditional medical practitioners or herbolarios had prescribed since the precolonial period. When the Spanish missionaries arrived in the country from the 17th to the 19th century, they collected, studied, and made records of these plants and herbs. Their writings on these, as well as on their medicinal use, serve as primary sources for modern studies, since the herbolarios did not leave any writings themselves.

Dr. Planta’s book is an important chronicling of the missionaries’ records, giving readers an intimate and dense portrait of a defined medical tradition. It documents an important component of ways of life and epistemologies that Filipinos can recuperate and benefit from. The author’s lively and scholarly invitation to reflect on a particular aspect of Philippine culture and harness its potential is a triumph of history as “usable past, ” especially in this day in age when access to health and medical care remains beyond the reach of most Filipinos.

Dr. Planta finished her PhD in History at the National University of Singapore. She is currently an associate professor of the Department of History in UP Diliman, where she finished both her Bachelors and Masters degrees in History. In 2011, she was the recipient of the school’s Centennial Professorial Chair Award.

The IBF series is hosted by the UP Press and the UP ICW to foster readership of new titles from the university’s press in different fields. The forum invites a set of specialists as speakers, with UP Press director J. Neil Garcia serving as moderator. Previous installments have focused on books on science fiction and indigenous art.

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