Melba Padilla Maggay

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Melba Padilla Maggay is a Filipina writer and a social anthropologist. She holds a doctorate in Philippine Studies, a masteral degree in English Literature, and a first degree in Mass communication. A specialist in intercultural communication, she was Research Fellow on the subject at the University of Cambridge under the auspices of Tyndale House, applying it to the question of culture and theology. She has lectured on this and other cross-cultural issues worldwide, including a stint as Northrup Visiting Professor at Hope College, Michigan and Visiting Lecturer at All Nations Christian College in England.

Dr. Maggay uniquely combines academic expertise with a certain artistic flair and a leadership gift that brings people together for a common vision and enterprise. As a writer, she shifts easily from technical to creative writing, having won top Palanca literary prizes in English essay writing as well as in the zarzuela category of the 1998 National Centennial Literary Competition, commemorating 100 years of Philippine independence. As founder and longtime director of Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture (ISACC), she had been cited for her outstanding leadership in organizing the evangelical Protestant presence at the EDSA barricades during the February People Power Uprising in 1986.

Dr. Maggay started her rather unusual career with a brief stint as cub reporter for the old Manila Chronicle, where she had hardly warmed her seat when martial law was declared and the newspaper was shut down. She shifted to serving as speechwriter and technical consultant for both the Minister and Deputy Minister of Labor, and, later, the Minister of Human Settlements, mostly doing research and writing policy speeches.

By 1978 she had felt ready to obey a call to respond to the crisis posed by authoritarianism. Along with her friends, she founded ISACC and saw its growth as a conscientizing voice in politics and in church-and-culture issues. In 1991 she stepped down from its leadership and hands-on management to specialize in the more technical aspects of its work in cross-cultural and social transformation studies. She served as project director of a major research, Conversion to Protestant Christianity Under Early American Rule: Some Intercultural Communication Problems, a four-year study of the coming of Protestant missions at the turn of the century. The study looked into the crosscultural impact of American missionaries in the light of the religious and political context of the time. The research was funded by PEW Foundation and was the first study of its kind done outside the US by nonwestern scholars. Out of the results of the study, Dr. Maggay wrote a book, A CLASH OF CULTURES, Intercultural Communication Problems in the Interface Between American Protestantism and Filipino Religious Consciousness. Recently, she edited a book, Gospel in Culture: Contextualization Issues Through Asian Eyes, written by her and 12 other scholars.

As a social anthropologist, Dr. Maggay is resource speaker and consultant on culture, social change and development issues. Some of her work on this are the book, Rise Up and Walk, Religion and Culture in Empowering the Poor, published in the UK and based on the research, Culture and Economic Empowerment, a study of grassroots communities struggling to rise from poverty (2005); Culture, Globalization and Development, a paper for the Micah Network Consultation on Globalization, Mexico (2003); Beyond Globalization, Writing a History of the Future, paper presented at the Urban Ministry Forum, Claremont College, California (2000); PBSP’s Area Resource Management: Lessons and Insights, an integration of evaluation studies on the Area Resource Management projects of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (1998); Growth With Equity: The Philippine Social Development Vision, the social integration chapter of the Country Report for the World Summit on Social Development in Denmark, together with the related technical paper, Social Integration: The Challenge of Equity and Wholeness in an Age of Marginalization for NEDA-UNDP (1994); Asean and the Global Landscape: The Social Agenda, a paper presented at a plenary session of the Second ASEAN Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1997); Transnational Migrant Workers: Perspective from a Sending Country, an OFW paper for the IFES 5th East Asia Graduates’ Conference in Pattaya, Thailand (1998); Globalization: some sociocultural comments, a paper for the Consultation on Globalization and Sustainable Development in Geneva, Switzerland (1997).

Dr. Maggay has written numerous books and articles on social, cultural and theological issues, published here and abroad. Her book, Transforming Society, was first published in England and has been translated in Spanish, Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia. She used to be syndicated writer for the Philippine News and Features and now writes editorials for broadsheets as part of ISACC’s political advocacy. She once taught technical writing, communication theory and English literature at the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University, and serves as professorial lecturer on communication and social change when time allows. Since the year 2000 she has come back to the leadership of the Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture as President and Chief Executive Officer.

She sits in the governing boards of a number of not-for-profit groups and faith-based organizations. She was member of the Founding Board of the International Life and Peace Institute, a peace research organization based in Uppsala, Sweden (1985-1990), and of the International Christian Media Commission in the US and UK (1989-1991). She was also in the International Advisory Council for the Knowledge Centre Religion and Development, a joint research institute established by Oikos, ICCO and the Institute for Social Studies in the Hague, Netherlands. Currently, she is the President of the Micah Network, an international network of about 700 development organizations worldwide; and she is also with the International Council of Interserve.

A frequent speaker and participant-expert in international conferences, Dr. Maggay travels widely and has had cross-cultural experience in over 40 countries in Asia and Australia, North and Latin America, Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Palanca Award Winner[edit]

"Death and Early Sorrow" - first prize (2002), Essay category.

"Once Upon a Bright Happy Boy" - first prize (1999), Essay category.

"Mother of Stories" - first prize (1997), Essay category. "Mav's the great" - first prize (1996), Essay category


Some of Dr. Maggay's books include:

  • Maggay, Melba Padilla; George De Jesus; Bienvenido Lumbera (January 2003). Tatlong Sarsuwela. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. p. 207. ISBN 971-542-369-8. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla; George De Jesus; Bienvenido Lumbera (January 2002). Kagawiang Pangkomunikasyon Ng Filipino. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press. p. 238. ISBN 971-550-419-1. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (2001). Raja Sulaiman was no Carabao: Understanding the Muslim Question. Manila: Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (2001). Jew to the Jew, Greek to the Greek: Reflections on Culture and Globalization. Quezon City: Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (2001). Diyata't Isang Sanggol:Isang Dula at Kantata para sa Pasko. Quezon City: Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (1999). Understanding Ambiguity in Filipino Communication Patterns. Quezon City: Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (1999). Filipino Religious Consciousness: Some Implications for Missions. Quezon City: Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (1996). Transforming Society. Quezon City: Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (1993). Pagbabalik-loob: Moral recovery and cultural reaffirmation. Quezon City: Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (January 1990). A Faith for the Emptiness of Our Time. Manila: OMF Literature. p. 121. ISBN 971-511-171-8. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (May 1989). Communicating Cross-Culturally : Towards a New Context for Missions in the Philippines. Manila: Cellar Book Shop. p. 61. ISBN 971-10-0350-3. 
  • Maggay, Melba Padilla (January 1987). The Gospel in Filipino Context. Manila: OMF Literature. p. 31. ISBN 971-511-105-X.