Category Archives: Milestones

Ilonggo social workers to celebrate 10th Social Work week

Sworn to keep the rich tradition alive, social workers in Western Visayas are preparing for the celebration of the 10th Social Work Week on June 13-19, 2014. The theme for this year’s celebration is Advocacy amidst adversity: The Social Work distinction. It will highlight the peculiar role and capability of social workers to make the best or most even out of the worst condition/situation in life.

Social Work Week 2014

The event will kick off with a motorcade on June 13 simultaneously in respective provinces/cities to culminate with a launching program. The following day, Social Work students from five schools of Social Work in Panay and Negros will hold their respective Social Work Camps to include forum, sharing, literary and musical contests and sports. This will be participated in by Central Philippine University, Capiz State University, Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Iloilo Doctors College, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos. Other activities include photo exhibit, forum, symposium, and advocacies/promotion of the Social Work profession.

The annual celebration has been institutionalized by respective ordinances/ resolutions of city and provincial councils in Western Visayas to recognize of the role of social workers in nation building.

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It will  be recalled that in 2005, social workers, mostly from the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI)-Western Visayas met in Central Philippine University to discuss and plan out activities to promote the social work profession. The context of the meeting was the preparation for the Ruby Anniversary of the Social Work Law at that year.

The Social Work Law (R.A. 4373) was passed on June 19, 1965 to regulate the practice of social work in the Philippines. However, it was noticed that the significance of the date of the passage of the Social Work Law had not been officially observed unlike other social welfare legislations which were passed even later.

Prof. DZ Patriarca-Lariza, 2005 PASWI-Iloilo President, leads the Social Work Forum during the celebration of the 1st Social Work Week in Iloilo

Prof. DZ Patriarca-Lariza, 2005 PASWI-Iloilo President, leads the Social Work Forum during the celebration of the 1st Social Work Week in Iloilo

The consultation sparked the move to advocate for the declaration of June 13-19 as Social Work Week. It gained strong support from the Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI) in Western Visayas. At that time, the national association encouraged and recognized regional aggrupations of provincial chapters. Hence, the close and quick coordination of regional activities. Other social work-led organizations and alliances in the region, as well as government officials and NGO leaders in the Regional Development Council (RDC) provided support. The resolution was endorsed by RDC and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Soon, the move gained nationwide support.

The week-long celebration is spearhead by Social Workers Organizations Regional Network (SWORN). Launched in 2013, SWORN will keep the rich heritage and tradition alive by strengthening the social work organizations/ groups in Western Visayas. It will serve as coordinating body of all social work organizations affiliated with recognized national bodies, as well as other independent ones.

SWORN will also act as support system to the regular activities of various organizations, and advocacy network to support the cause of Ilonggo social workers when needed. The network will spearhead the celebration of Social Work Week in Region VI. Moreover, it will be responsible for research-documentation and publication of the history, heritage and future development of social work endeavors in Western Visayas.

The regional network is governed by a Regional Council of Leaders composed of representatives from Philippine Association of Social Workers (PASWI), National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI), Association of Local Social Welfare and Development Officers of the Philippine, Inc. (ALSWDOPI), Association of Medical Social Workers in the Philippines (AMSWP), Alliance of Social Workers in NGOs (ASIN) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

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The spirit of EDSA lives on

Its cathartic power continues to provide relief and refreshes hope. The over arching and encompassing spirit cannot and will never be domesticated. Its mystery remains unspoiled, not completely unfolded.

These three insights summarized my series of reflections on EDSA and Lent during the Silver Anniversary of People Power Revolution in 2011. I was still  struggling with my health condition, at that time, making me vulnerable to depression. A pastor friend  had encouraged me to blog as part of my healing process. Thereafter, I experienced the miracle of blogging.

I have decided to repost these insights as my contribution to the 28th Anniversary of  EDSA Revolution today with the theme “Kapit-Bisig Tungo sa Pagbangon.” For  the historic event was instrumental in changing  my life’s direction. 

The Cathartic power of EDSA

Image credit: The Philippine Star Editorial Cartoon 2/25/2013

Nobody will ever deny that EDSA Revolution had provided relief to wounded and bruised nation, captive for decades by an abusive rule. Although debates over extent of healing still looms, it does not diminish the magical power of the historic event. I continue to experience this power while recalling my half a decade involvement in people’s struggle in the local context as part of the national call. Inevitably, haunting past events involving comrades, friends and the basic masses characterized the slow and painful process undertaken until that victorious day.

The feeling of gratitude to God for my survival and the thoughts of my contribution in shaping the history has been cathartic. Although my involvement pales in comparison to the intensity and period suffered by nameless and countless faces. The cathartic power of EDSA also refreshes my hope to attain full recovery from lingering illness. Chronic heart ailment, compounded by nerve disorder, has constrained my active life of service for three years now. The delay of complete healing makes me vulnerable to discouragement and depression. But recalling EDSA Revolution gives me new drive to conquer, if I will not give in to despair.

EDSA’s over arching and encompassing spirit

Like Lent, nobody can domesticate the EDSA Revolution. Even the so called EDSA heroes cannot claim exclusive right to the historical and mystical event in the Philippines. For the spirit of EDSA is inclusive. It is above all and encircles all.

What happened in EDSA 27 years ago reflects the truism of systems theory. The key concepts of the systems theory are wholeness, relationship, and homeostasis. The beauty of systems theory is represented by the rainbow. While there are only three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) there is a multiplication of colors when these link, interact, and overlap. Try to separate one from the other, and the beauty of rainbow is gone.

Image credit: cbclawmatters.blogspot.com

So with EDSA. It is a culmination of respective struggles participated in by the basic masses who since time immemorial always take the lead as they are ones affected. Then comes various sectors of diverse orientation, status, political and ideological leanings, colors and shapes. Youth, professionals, church people, businessmen and women, government officials, military and others. All have contributed their share in shaping the Philippine history. Try to isolate one, and the beauty of the event is gone.

Such inclusive spirit should have been the focus in celebrating EDSA and in sustaining its gains and the struggle for change. Most often, movement for change and development in any field of endeavor is often hampered by bigotry and exclusivism. Essential issues are sidetracked or left behind to give way to the struggle for supremacy misled by an illusion that one has the sole reservoir of truth and best approach in any given situation. It is only when one realizes the need to link with each other that the beauty of unity in diversity is seen like that of the rainbow.

The unspoiled mystery of EDSA

Twenty eight years after, the mystery of EDSA has not been fully unfolded. Analysts from various socio-political persuasions attempted to explain the event. Some had to come up with new concepts as EDSA Revolution departed from any of the standard categories. While new testimonies from living participants came out every year, they just shed light to understand the pattern of events and contributing factors. But the mystery still remains.

EDSA bloodless Revolution defied logic. For how can you explain this phenomenon: “When guns and tanks of a dictator melted before the flowers held out by priests and nuns, by millionaires’ sons and squatters’ daughters, by ordinary men and women and by young and old alike; when… a new day was ushered in by ordinary Filipino common tao who rose to heroic heights that won the admiration of the whole world…” The quoted description was that of Jorge Lorredo, Jr. in his article “Four Days that changed History” published in Bulletin Today exactly 28 years ago, as cited by Douglas J. Elwood in his book, Philippine Revolution.

The hand of God was there…” was the explanation of the late Dr. Quintin Doromal, former PCCG commissioner & president of Siliman University. Quoted by his friend Douglas Elwood in the book, Doromal, an Ilonggo leader, was a witness to the event, having joined his old friend Fidel Ramos at Camp Crame and stayed there with him throughout those critical anxious hours.

Indeed, God acts through people, as surely as he speaks through people, and that he uses the sometimes complex interconnection of human forces to serve his larger purposes.

2013 in review: When blogging becomes a ministry

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Open letter to our colleagues and partners in welfare and development endeavors

Today starts the celebration of the 14th NGO PO Week in Iloilo. Spearheaded by the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON), the annual celebration is done in partnership with the provincial and city government to give due recognition to the role of Non-government organizations (NGOs) and People’s Organizations (POs), and other civil society organizations in nation building. It has been institutionalized by Provincial Ordinance No. 2000-042 and City Regulation Ordinance 2001-190.

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This year’s theme is “Reclaim our Noble Heritage: Sustain the Power of Networking.” It was supposedly intended to respond to the multi-billion pork barrel scam that has besmirched the noble aim and name of NGOs. In fact, the planned highlight of the celebration is the big gathering of NGOs and POs in the city and province of Iloilo to tackle the current national crisis brought about by the pork barrel scam. As well, as the subsequent backlash even to genuine organizations that have been consistently serving the marginalized sectors of the society. At the planning stage, we felt the need to strengthen our ranks through linkages and networking to safeguard the organizations from fly-by-night ones. We consider the crisis an opportunity to bring into the public consciousness the noble heritage and role of NGOs in nation building.

In fact, in a statement published after the finalization of the plan last November 2, ICON has deplored the use of fake NGOs in a conspiracy to steal taxpayer’s money which besmirched the noble aim and name of non-government organizations . The Coalition has observed two angles in the current controversy- the systemic graft and corruption practices and the role of the NGOs.

We considered the act a double injury. The large -scale misuse of the people’s money is outrageous. Siphoning money out of government coffers thru fake NGOs adds insult to injury. For it besmirch the good image established by the genuine NGOs for decades. Worse, it provides justification to some government officials and local chief executives who do not feel comfortable with the watchful eyes of NGOs and their seeming intervention as provided for by the local government code in the Philippines. For indeed, one way of averting the systemic robbery in our government is to involve genuine NGOs in monitoring projects.

MASIPAG Visayas handles the relief operation of the Philippine-Misereor Partnership, Inc.-Panay Cluster to famers in San Dionisio, iloilo

However, as we started our information-dissemination campaign Typhoon Yolanda had overtaken us, as it battered the Central Philippines. We almost forgot our plans as respective NGO members started their initial response in the form of relief operation. It was just last week, when the board of directors reviewed the theme and the activities for the week-long celebration. We have decided to continue with the theme, as this current crisis provides the same opportunity to reclaim our noble heritage. Such nobility is manifested, among others, in the quick response of NGOs to the recent needs, havoc, and ravages brought about by Typhoon Yolanda to supplement the government’s intervention.

We have simplified the celebration, though, due to pressing needs of the time which have also made our officers and member organizations busy in respective relief operation and rehabilitation plans. The following are the activities we decided to retain out of the previous plan:

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December 2, 2:00 pm Opening of Photo Exhibit, Robinsons Place,                                                              Iloilo City
December 3 – 8:30 am, Forum on Volunteerism, 4th floor                                                                              Henry Luce III Libraries, Central Philippine University
December 6- 8:30 am NGO-PO Fellowship and Capability Building                                                           Seminar, 4th floor Henry Luce III Libraries, CPU
December 7- Advocacy- Dialogue with NSTP students in various                                                             universities and colleges

The supposed highlight of the celebration on December 6 will be spent, instead, to discuss how we can maximize our participation  in the  on-going relief operation and  how we can sustain linkages and networking in helping in the rehabilitation or rebuilding process. In this way, our theme will still be relevant in responding to the crises in our country in various fronts or aspects. Despite the  crises, let us continue to celebrate this milestone of networking in Iloilo.

Breaking the status quo

It seems I have reached a some kind of plateau in my journey both in blogging and in my spirituality. Indicator: No new post on any of my seven other blogs for the past three months.

Probably, I was just exhausted after a successful defense of my dissertation last June. So exhausted that until now I have not submitted the final copy despite a minor revision. Although I know I can do it, if I will, in less than a week.

But I don’t want to prolong this experience. Today, I decided to break the plateau by idly opening this blog, attempting to make a new post. Surfing the web related to the subject matter, in random, two links caught my attention. Hence, I am sharing the Post dissertation stress disorder and Have You Reached A Spiritual Plateau? to break the status quo.

Indeed, our labor will never be in vain: A sequel*

The break came when through the pastors’ support, I was elected in the CPBC Board in 2006 and chaired the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns (TEMC) Committee. By divine guidance, the first document that caught my attention was the CPBC Strategic Plan for 2000-2010 which highlighted the TEMC program. Finding the missing link, I started advocating the program, trying to bridge the gap through voluntary involvement in its implementation.

My wife also volunteered to teach in theological institutions in Negros to strengthen the TEMC program. Studying previous initiatives of various organizations related to continuing theological education, eventually the CPBC Unified Theological Education System(UNITES) was conceived and gradually implemented.

Two breakthroughs were undertaken, namely: Formulation of Standardized Curriculum; and the MSPM program. From its humble beginning at NNBBC in July 2007, the program got its boost when Dr. Domingo Diel, Jr. suggested during one TEMC meeting to offer it to other theological institutions. Approved by the CPBC BOT on November 9, 2007, the program has become an integral part of the CPBC UNITES.

Peculiarities & Mechanics of MSPM

But why MSPM? The mission of the Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries program is to prepare pastors for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership in church and community services. For we have a holistic mission and ministry exemplified by our Lord and Master Teacher, Jesus, the Christ as he put into action the avowed mission in Luke 4:18-19.

Under the CPBC UNITES, MSPM classes are conducted in provincial centers by TEMC and CBMA. Participating theological institutions will grant the degree. Enrolment can be done simultaneously while attending classes or later. The program is student friendly and very affordable, with only P500 as payment per semester/ summer plus contribution for transportation expenses and food of the faculty for four semesters and two summers.

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More than another story of endless possibilities

Today’ s event is not just another story of endless possibilities but also a tribute to those who believe in the cause. Like the little boy, they shared their respective contributions. Foremost, is our General Secretary, Rev. Job A. Santiago, who courageously provided the necessary support from the start to the finish, amidst pressures – the extent of which he only knows. For this, he deserves our applause for this legacy, which can be considered among the benchmarks of his administration to be looked upon by future generations that, as the CPBC celebrates its diamond year, it has initiated a program that produces the first MSPM graduates.

Secondly, my wife, who made the crucial decision to volunteer full time in implementing the TEMC program, whose commitment, labor and sacrifices are beyond comprehension which only few of us were able to appreciate –closed friends, Rev.Santiago, our maninays and maninoys and ihados (godparents and godsons) included, apart from our children and the students who directly benefited from her voluntary endeavors.

Of course, our volunteer faculty/lecturers for MSPM- ACDA Center, as follows: Dr. Lucy Catalogo, Atty. Nicias Alameda, Pastor Francis Neil Jalando-on, Pastor Elizer Geromiano, Rev, Joniel Howard Gico, Rev. Jerson Narciso, Dr. Melvin Mangana, Pastor Melchor Lariza and those in other provincial centers.

Special mention to Dr. Domingo Diel, Jr., and other members of the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns Committee, especially the heads of theological institutions at that time- Prof. Josita Alpha Jalando-on in CBBC; Prof. Ruth Valencia &Pastor Georem Gutierrez in SONBI; Pastor Stephen Gallenero in NNBBC-for their support.  To all pastors and lay who have been praying for us. Lest I forget, Dr. Juanito Acanto for allowing me to implement the program during my term as director of the University Outreach Center, CPU.

Lastly, but not the least, the MSPM students – the important characters today, the survivors- who serve as our inspiration to tell the whole CPBC that the program is feasible. Without them, MSPM has never been materialized. They were able to sustain the momentum, sacrificing their free days and overcoming difficulties of time and finances. Of course, with the support of their respective families, church officers and members, and the administration of Ajuy Christian Development Academy and Ajuy Baptist Church that opened their doors to us.

Today’s event carries a very strong statement to the skeptics and critics, but good news to other pastors who also dream for an alternative continuing pastoral education, affordable but qualitative, without necessarily leaving their pastorate and families. Its message to the whole CPBC constituents is clear: Nothing is impossible if we only share.

Our pastors can earn masteral degrees if we pool our resources together. The CPBC, with the help of our theological institutions and volunteer faculty – our pastors and lay leaders can liberalize the educational opportunities and improve the plight of the pastors. Because education is not an exclusive property of the privileged few. It is the right of every individual. Continuing quality education is the right of all pastors.

Of course, the program is not perfect. Just like any other new programs, it needs refinement and improvement. Undeniably, however, we made a breakthrough. A benchmark which no skeptic or critic can deny or take away. Whichever angle one looks at, no matter how dim or gleam, irregardless of arguments, nobody can deny the fact that MSPM is another story of endless possibilities.

MSPM is comparable to the story of the KATIPAN Hall at Camp Higher Ground. When we started the project, there were various reactions of skepticism, disbeliefs, and criticisms even from pastors themselves. Understandably, because of the mindset that pastors are always in the receiving ends. But we have proven them wrong. The KATIPAN Hall and MSPM are living testimonies that whenever we start sharing whatever we have, God will work more stories of endless possibilities.

MSPM: Agent of Change

But MSPM is not just another story of endless possibilities. Through  MSPM, a new movement of change has started. From these graduates, will spark the fire of change and development that will benefit our churches, institutions and even communities. Unlike the traditional school system which commences in graduation, our partnership will continue even after today’s event. For MSPM is not merely another degree program. It was designed to change the pastors’ perspective and way of life which will subsequently trickle down to the lay leaders, youth and whole members of churches in respective pastorate. God’s blessings for all!

*Last of the two installments of my message for the  1st Conferral Ceremony  for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries graduates held at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo on May 1, 2010. Daughter Dazen Dawn delivered this message.

Indeed, our labor will never be in vain

Today is Labor Day as celebrated in many countries worldwide. In the Philippines, this year’s celebration has the following theme: Manggagawang Pilipino: Handa sa Hamon ng Makabagong Panahon implying the readiness of Pilipino workers to respond to the challenges of the changing times. In my other blog, I shared the historical significance of this day to commemorate the economic and social achievements of workers.

Rev. Job Santiago addresses the MSPM graduates and their respective families and church members

Rev. Job Santiago addresses the MSPM graduates and their respective families and church members

However, it is not only the historical significance of the Labor Day that reminds me of today’s celebration. Equally worth remembering is the 1st Conferral Ceremony for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) graduates held three years ago at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo, Philippines. It was graced by no other than the General Secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC), Rev. Job A. Santiago, who was the conferral speaker.

The occasion could have been a day of rejoicing for me as it would be a culmination of my pioneering and voluntary work. I was supposed to give my message for the pioneer graduates. Unfortunately, seven months before the event, I was seriously ill caused by chronic heart ailment, compounded by unusual nerve disorder.

Worse, my vulnerable condition was taken advantage by the group who had an axe to grind against me for leading the move  to frustrate their scheme  to railroad the selection process for top post in the CPBC. Even to the extent of manipulating circumstances to shame me including an attempt to derail the graduation of the pioneering MSPM students. While I have long forgiven the perpetrators, recollection of the event continues to add significance to the successful endeavors which are manifestations of God’s grace and strength over our weaknesses.

Dazen Dawn delivers my message for the MSPM pioneer graduates

Dazen Dawn delivers my message for the MSPM pioneer graduates

Anyway, though bedridden and unable to join the event, my message still reached the target audience. It was delivered by my daughter Dazen Dawn.
Entitled MSPM: Another story of endless possibilities, it was published on PADAYON: Our Life journey. I decided to reblog my post in two installments to commemorate the Labor Day.

“Today, we are witnesses to another story of endless possibilities. Overcoming the tests of times and circumstances, our pastors in North Iloilo and Negros will receive with joy and pride, without necessarily being boastful, their hard- earned certificates in today’s Conferral Ceremony. The choice of the date for this event, which happened to be Labor Day, was more circumstantial than intentional.

However, viewed in the context of the long winding road trod by students and faculty to sustain the MSPM program, the date has become doubly significant. With gladness, we can shout on this Labor Day that our labour is not in vain, after all.

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The biblical account of the feeding of the 5,000+ serves as inspiration to the MSPM story. Aware of the needs of the time, a boy offered whatever he has to respond to the call for service. He was not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. His voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened.

An inspiring story to remind us that our labor, no matter how small and simple, will never be in vain in the Lord. Let me stress this point because it appears that our past experiences of difficulties or disappointments have made us callous and apathetic for change, especially as far as organizational or institutional life is concerned. Sometimes, we cannot even start any good project or movement because we are already overpowered by the difficulties and perceived problems or impossibilities, even before we give it a try.

MSPM students taking up the examinations

The MSPM Program has a foretaste of this experience. Since its start in 2007, some downgraded the voluntary effort while others already expressed skepticism of its sustainability, even before it is tested. Worse, there were those who consistently campaign against it when the program was well accepted by pastors, even to the extent of recruiting those already participating in the MSPM program to join the program they promote.

In our response, we dared the critics to a debate whoever they are and wherever they want. We argue that MSPM has been designed with quality not inferior to what Central Philippine University offered in Master of Social Work program which was patterned to that of the University of the Philippines- Diliman, yet friendly and affordable for pastors. The faculty are more than qualified. The only difference is compensation because in MSPM, we teach voluntarily, gaining the love and respect of pastors, not monetary profit.

Favorable conditions

Conglomeration of events have been favorable for the design of the MSPM program. A couple of us tried the distance education program of a state college in Iloilo for our doctoral degree which met once a month. Some were also teaching, once a week, in Korean seminary in Iloilo City which offered Master of Arts in Missiology. Moreover, we were inspired by the successful revival of the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program in CPU which produced the first graduate, after 30 years. We even opened an extension class with weekly meetings at Convention Baptist Bible College for Negros students.

Those aforementioned favorable trends served as signals for us to entertain the questions: Why can’t we design similar approach for a graduate studies program for pastors? If it was successfully implemented in professional social work courses, why can’t we do the same for pastors? But, how?

MSPM graduates pose for posterity together with Rev. Santiago after the Conferral Ceremony

MSPM graduates pose for posterity together with Rev. Santiago after the Conferral Ceremony

My previous sad experience has also served its purpose. When elected as president of Convention Baptist Ministers Association, I continued the term of my predecessor in the committee which was tasked to study and recommend to the CPBC Board cases of pastors undergoing graduate programs from other theological institutions. The arguments were overwhelming against recognizing the degrees from other schools not affiliated with the CPBC and related affiliations. The most that I could do at that time was raised the question: Can CPBC provide alternatives?”

(To be continued)