Rough Cuts | Davao City’s Museo Dabawenyo

We have it from highly reliable sources that the only public museum in Davao City, the Museo Dabawenyo, has already lost two full-fledged anthropologists.

Anthropology is defined in the Webster Dictionary as, “the study of man in relation to distribution, origin, classification, and relationship of races, physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture.”

An anthropologist, also according to Webster, is a specialist in anthropology.

So, what has it got to do with the departure of the two anthropologists from the Museo Dabawenyo? Will it cripple the operation of that entity?

Maybe not. But what we can be certain about is that it will reduce the quality of service the Museo can give to its clients; to residents and non-residents of Davao City who would want to know the evolution of society in the city since the beginning of its recorded history.

Yes, according to our sources, the one left manning the operation of the Museo is a Researcher who may be a fully educated having finished a college degree but may not be in anthropology who should be the appropriate person to handle the job of running a museum.

Of course we are not, in any way, underestimating the capability of the person concerned. For all we know the person could even be a better worker and manager of the city’s museum.

However, our sources are one in their apprehension that the person concerned may not be able to focus on the job of both as in-charge and researcher. In other words, one area may be neglected to the detriment of the overall purpose of setting up the Museo Dabawenyo.

But maybe it is imperative that it should be made clear to the public how the museum is operated. Is it an independent private institution? Is it an attached unit of the city? Is it like the City Library which is an office provided with a budget for its annual operation?

We really do not have any idea. We could not see such office in the list of offices and operating units of the city listed in the City Treasurer’s Monthly Report of Revenue, Receipts and Disbursements.
So, people must be asking how the museum is operated? How is it staffed and how are those personnel working in the museum compensated?

We know it is not among the city’s enterprises like the markets and terminals. So, those personnel manning the museum could be sourced from other offices of the local government unit. And in all likelihood they may be among the many “job order” employees taken from the quotas of these and those councilors and other political leaders.

Frankly, if the city government is to make the Museo Dabawenyo a credible source of information on Davao City’s social and cultural history – the window of its past society – it has to be converted into an institution that is professionally run.

That is, that its personnel must be professional in their work; that they know exactly why they are there and what they have to do. They must also possess the capability to plan how to improve the museum in terms of what it can offer to the public and to communicate what those items in the repository would mean in enhancing the visitors’ knowledge of Davao and its people.

Again our questions and perhaps the same questions that most Dabawenyos would want expounded: What exactly is the entity of the only public museum of Davao City? Is it a private institution funded by the city? Is it an office or a unit within the structure of the local government?

If it is the former then the city could end up in conflict with the law. It cannot disburse government funds for private institution’s use; unless it is so provided in certain ordinance covered by contracts for its execution.

If the answer is the latter, then perhaps the city needs to find appropriate nomenclatures for the positions of persons to run the museum and prescribe the standard qualifications as well as the salary grades.

This, we believe, is the only way to make the Museo Dabawenyo a professionally run institution and a real repository of Davao’s social and cultural history.

After all, is it not that the best way to know in full the present and possibly the future of society is by knowing its past?

Posted in Opinion