Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Biracial children in the Philippines don’t always get to fully exercise their rights. Through her doctoral research, Maria Margarita (Marjs) Lavides is exploring how we can change this.
“Angeles City is internationally known as an ‘entertainment’ hub in a country where prostitution is both a crime and, according to the Catholic Church, a sin. My PhD research is a qualitative study about, for, and with the biracial children in Angeles City, including, but not limited to, those who are offspring of Filipina sex workers and foreign sex tourists.
“My research aims to address the biracial children’s limited ability to fully exercise those rights guaranteed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It also investigates the local government’s restricted engagement with children, as well as its lack of specific policies for biracial children.”
Marjs spent almost seven months in Angeles City for the preparation and fieldwork for her research. 10 biracial children of different ethnicities participated in the study, as well as 26 caregivers, teachers, local government officials and other adults.
Her research is already attracting international attention, and she won the Best Paper Award at the First International Conference on Multidisciplinary Filipino Studies, held at the University of Hawaii in October 2017. Because of this achievement, she also received a commendation from the Angeles City local government. An article on her work, Haphap: A Filipina Perspective on the Biracial Child’s Dangal, was recently also published in JATI – Journal of Southeast Asian Studies.
An international student from the Philippines, Marjs was attracted to AUT because as a young university AUT would offer more opportunities for newbies like her. It’s also one of the universities that host Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade scholars.
She has appreciated the support on offer at AUT, says Marjs whose primary supervisor is Professor Marilyn Waring.
“Since I’m using an emerging methodology, I really appreciate it that AUT has approved my request to have an external advisor from overseas whose specialisation is a valuable contribution to the supervision of my thesis.”
Outstanding library services
The library services at AUT are invaluable for research students, Marjs says.
“I really like the library services at AUT – the librarians in AUT are efficient and you can see that they really want the students to succeed.
“Since I’m employing an emerging research methodology, I highly appreciate it when the librarians make the extra effort to look for my requested books in libraries overseas.”