Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it.
Now I understand 
why the old poets of China went so far
and high 
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.
"The Old Poets of China" by Mary Oliver

The Bugkos Research Program of the Asian Center undertakes comparative and regional studies under the theme, “Putting Equitable Development at the Center of the Asian Century.” The two-year research program, which began in December 2015 and is funded by the Emerging Interdisciplinary Research Program (EIDR) under the UP Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, also works with other UP units and non-UP policy institutes in organizing fora and other activities that dovetail with its "Asia in Transition" research thrust. 

Photo: Bugkos Research Team (L-R) Nikka Garriga; JM Lanuza; Dr. Tina Clemente; Mary Josephine Bautista; Dr. Antoinette Raquiza; Dr. Maria Dulce Natividad; Sascha Gallardo; Maria Corazon Reyes; Dr. Margarita Debuque-Gonzales and Dr. Geoffrey Ducanes, both from the School of Economics, UP Diliman. 

RATIONALE AND NATURE                                                                                                              

Since the 2000s, Asia has been at the center of world politics and the global economy. Much of the interest comes from the dramatic changes unfolding in the region. Asia is home to some of the world’s biggest and fastest growing economies. The ascent of China as the world’s second largest economy, with India close behind, and the rapid growth of Southeast Asia’s market economies point to the 21st century as Asia’s for the taking.

Asia, however, is undergoing a long transition and where it is headed is still open to question. The Asian Development Bank (2011) has cautioned that for the region to complete its historic transformation, it needs to address age-old problems: growing inequality within and across countries, relatively low technology and productivity leading to the so-called “middle income trap,” unsustainable energy consumption and environmental degradation, and poor governance.

With the aim of interrogating Asia’s rise, the Asian Center has launched “Bugkos: Putting Equitable Development at the Center of the Asian Century,” its institutional research program done in collaboration with other academic institutes and think tanks in the University of the Philippines and beyond. Bugkos promotes comparative and regional studies, using political economic and socio-cultural analytical lenses. Toward advancing an interdisciplinary approach, the Program’s current researches bring together scholars in the fields of economics, political science, anthropology, international studies and Asian Studies.


Studies under Bugkos investigate different dimensions of the research question: under what conditions would Asia’s transition lead to equitable development?” Since the studies will mostly focus on Southeast Asia, the Program adopts the definition of equitable development, put forward by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN (2011), as “narrowing development gaps within and between…states, better access to opportunities for human development, social welfare and justice, and more inclusive participation in the process of…integration and community building.” Bugkos also includes in its framework the reduction of poverty and social inequality. Toward gaining a deeper understanding of the present conjuncture, the project’s research objectives are as follows:

  1. To examine and update analytical frameworks that have been identified with Southeast Asian/Asian development.

  1. To determine new institutional arrangements structuring the interaction among regional, national and community actors in relation to specific policy domains.

  1. To surface new development challenges that arise from the increased encounters between North and South, center and the periphery, and tradition and modernity.

  1. To explore how the Philippines can benefit from opportunities and minimize risks arising from the changes in the region.

 The term “Bugkos” is the Tagalog, Kapampangan, Cebuano, and Hiligaynon word for “bundle.” This reflects the coming together of communities, countries, and academicians across the region towards achieving synergy and strength—rather than discord. [back to top]


The studies under the current two-year Bugkos project include the following:

The results of the individual researches will be published as journal articles and policy papers. They were presented in a colloquium on 20 October 2017. [back to top]


Apart from conducting research, Bugkos also organizes related forums to contribute in extending the discussion and examination of Asia as a region to the public.


Download abridged versions of papers presented at a policy forum, "Making Investments Work: Paradigms, Patterns, Prospects" which was held on 24 November 2016, Balay Kalinaw, University of the Philippines Diliman.


  • Program Leader: Dr. Antoinette Raquiza
  • Project Leader: Dr. Dulce Natividad
  • Program Operations Manager: Sascha Gallardo


  • Nikka Garriga (until October 2017) • JM Lanuza (until June 2017) • Josephine Bautista • Mariz Reyes (Bookkeeper; until September 2017)


(632) 981-8500 local 3586; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Asian Development Bank (2011). "Asia 2050: Realizing the Asian Century." Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (2011). "ASEAN Framework for Equitable Economic Development." 


 Rationale and Nature • Research Thrust and Objectives • Individual Studies • Research Team • Contact [back to top]