Dr. Mamitua D. Saber led the development of cultural and civic life in Mindanao. Saber’s contribution as a sociologist, institution-builder, cultural worker and educator highlighted the preservation and cultivation of Moro culture, the promotion of intersociety dialogues and the meaningful integration of local and traditional values within national and international frameworks. He co-founded the Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Arts and the Mindanao State University, where he established the sociology and anthropology departments in the university as well as museums for folk arts, natural sciences and a research center, all of which contributed to the development of cultural infrastructures in Southern Philippines.
Saber facilitated exchanges among the majority and minority populations, between Manila and Mindanao, and across non-metropolitan areas in the region. He started out as a local agent of an officer working in the folklore and local history unit of the Philippine National Library and Museum, then left Marawi to work as a translator-researcher at the National Library until 1943. He initiated scholarly and archiving activities, most notably the publication of the journals Mindanao Journal and The Mindanao Art and Culture. He authored a book titled Comparative Notes on Museum Exhibits in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Macao and the Philippines (1977), a pedagogical account of a travelling symposium and field work he undertook in 1971. The publication has served as a key document in the study of museums and collections in Southeast Asia authored from the perspective of a professional working in the periphery.
Saber studied journalism at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas. He completed his studies in sociology (MA and PhD) at the University of Kansas. His ideas and views on politics, culture and sociology were summarised in his unpublished thesis Marginal Leadership in a Culture-Contact Situation (1957) and dissertation, The Transition from a Traditional to a Legal Authority System: A Philippine Case (1967) and were elaborated in numerous writings and engagements until his death in 1992.
Born in 1922 in Marawi City, the Philippines, Saber lived and worked in Manila and Marawi, the Philippines.