Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

SOA-Colloquium (Dr. Yeoh Seng Guan, Monash University Sunway Campus)

  • When Sep 25, 2012 from 02:00 to 04:00
  • Where Institute for Asian and African Studies, Invalidenstraße 118,10115 Berlin, 3rd floor, Room 315
  • iCal


Film Screening and Talk



Dr. Yeoh Seng Guan, Monash University (Sunway Campus)

Manong Diokno, 31 minutes; with English subtitles; 2009


This documentary is one of a trilogy of ethnographic documentaries which explore the conditions and manner in which the public spaces of an iconic mountain city in the Philippines have been differentially appropriated for livelihood purposes by different kinds of vendors.

Conceptualized and created in the early 20th century as a reclusive hill-station by the fledging American Administration, Baguio City was to be a “little America” in the tropics on grazing land appropriated from upland indigenous Ibaloi peoples.

In this presentation, I will situate the documentary within my larger research project of examining the hegemonic production of city spaces vis-à-vis the everyday spatial activities of sidewalk vending, and the anxieties that they have generated.  I show how the changing assemblage of the vectors of economics, weather and cultures has constituted this drama.

Synopsis of documentary

Baguio City is the fabled “Summer Capital” of the Philippines. Sitting at 5,000 feet above sea level in the Cordilleran mountains of northern Luzon, the cosmopolitan city has been attracting lowlanders as residents drawn by its cool temperate climate and scenic landscapes for decades.

More recently, Muslim residents from far-away Mindanao have been making Baguio City their home.

Diokno is one of them. He and his wife sell music CDs, hand phone accessories, watches and calculators in a small stall just off one of the major roads of the city.

This documentary gives a glimpse into his routines and life experiences.


Dr Yeoh Seng Guan is Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University (Sunway Campus). He is an urban anthropologist who researches the interfaces between city spaces, religion, media and civil society in the Southeast Asian region.

Recent publications include:  “The squatter, penduduk setinggan”, in Joshua Barker, Erik Harms and Johan Linquist (eds.) Figures of Southeast Asian modernity, (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013); “'Holy water and material religion in a pilgrimage shrine in Malaysia”, in Julius Bautista (ed.), The spirit of things: Materiality in an age of religious pluralism in Southeast Asia, (Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program, 2012); and “Beyond the Commerce of Man: Street vending, sidewalks and public space in a mountain city in the Philippines”, Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development, Special Issue on Urban Informal Economy, Vol. 40, Nos. 3-4, pp. 285-318, 2011