From bare feet to academic accolades: Lamar
receives prestigious award in St.
In 1904, the St. Louis World’s Fair exhibited a contingent of the
indigenous Igorot tribe from the northern part of the Philippines
as an example of a dog-eating, primitive people.
Nearly a hundred years later, the Federation of Business
Disciplines and the Southwestern Society of Economists awarded the
prestigious McGraw Hill-Irwin Distinguished Paper Award for 2001 to
a member of that tribe.
That Igorot honoree is Andrew Bacdayan, a professor of economics at
Lamar University. It wasn’t the first time Bacdayan was so honored.
He also received the award in 1991 and 1996. In March, he became
the only member to win the award three times in the professional
group’s 29-year history.
While the 1904 exhibition of primitive peoples from the then-new
and first American colony is seen by some as a manifestation of the
worst abuses of capitalism and American imperialism, Bacdayan
proudly disagrees. While acknowledging that the exhibition was
demeaning, Bacdayan considers it only a minor blemish on an
otherwise highly successful American colonial experiment.
Bacdayan began his journey to the halls of American academia as a
bare-footed lad in an American Episcopal mission school deep in the
heart of the Philippine Cordilleras. His journey, and thereby his
recent successes, are made possible in large measure by the
decision of the Americans to keep the Philippines as a colony after
the Spanish-American War in 1898.
A similar journey has been
taken by many other Igorots, Bacdayan said, who are now nurses,
doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and preachers in the United
States, Canada, England and Australia. The education they have
received from the American colonial government and the missionaries
that came provided the opportunity to choose between modernity and
The Americans accomplished a lot more in fewer than 50 years, than
the Spaniards did in almost 400 years of colonial rule. Under
Spanish colonial rule the Igorots were demonized for resisting the
Iberian nation’s attempt to subjugate the northern Philippine
As an American citizen, Bacdayan said that despite incessant claims
by leftists and nativist elitists, the American brand of
colonialism was not all that bad. In fact, the rare academic thinks
it was a singularly good example of the benevolent exercise of
power by a strong nation.
Bacdayan is now director of the College of Business Center for
Economic Education at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Before
coming to Lamar, Bacdayan was a professor of economics and holder
of the Noble Morrison Endowed Professorship of Business at
Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Bacdayan holds a Ph.D. in economics from Utah State University,
earned in 1973, and a master’s degree in resource development from
Michigan State University in 1961. He earned a bachelor’s degree in
forestry from the University of the Philippines in 1959. Born in
Bangaan, Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines, he and his wife
immigrated to the United States in 1965 and became American
citizens in 1978. His wife is the former Virtud Covar from
Majayjay, Laguna, Philippines, also a University of the Philippines
graduate. They have three grown children.
The distinguished paper award is sponsored by the McGraw Hill-Irwin
Publishing Co. for the Federation of Business Disciplines and the
Southwestern Society of Economists. McGraw Hill-Irwin is one of
this nation’’s major publishers of business and economics textbooks
and the Federation is this country’s largest professional group
serving as an umbrella organization for all of the functional
divisions found in a typical college of business in the United
States. These divisions include accounting, business law,
economics, finance, information systems, management and
This year’s winning paper which Bacdayan lead-authored is titled,
“A Quantitative Analysis of Workable Competition in the Life
Insurance Market.” His co-authors are Robert Elliott and Robert
Jones, both of Northwestern State University. In the paper, the
authors construct an econometric model of the life insurance market
and fit it to data collected from 800 insurance consumers from five
Southern states to determine if the market is operating
To economists, a market is efficient when it produces and consumes
the right kinds of goods or services in the right amounts. The
estimated results from their model indicate the U.S. life insurance
market is inefficient. In the paper, they cite the severe
underinsurance of the average American as a symptom that not enough
of the service is being consumed.