Tag Archives: Department of Social Work

Learnings in managing an outreach project: The Case of CPU Katin-aran Center

By Edwin I. Lariza and DZ Patriarca-Lariza

At long last, we made it.  The final editing is done. I cannot help  but blog the abstract and acknowledgment of our research study, out of joy. Sooner, I will post the highlights of the study. Actually, we have successfully defended our research last October 2012. However, there were some technicalities involved including editing which was taken cared of  by the University Outreach Center.

This study was conducted  to describe the  growth and development of Katin-aran Center and its contribution to the community, as well as the University. It used the exploratory and descriptive design. A focus group discussion with pioneers and key players validated both primary and secondary data.

Katin-aran Center emerged as a response to the needs of the Department of Social Work for more field placement for practicum students. Soon it grew with established development concepts, framework and effective methods in organizing communities. Because of its track record,  the Center  earned recognition and respect locally, nationally, and internationally. It has reached its peak when it became a separate foundation implementing multi-million empowerment projects.  The impacts of the programs and services to personal lives of the Katin-aran members have been translated into community involvement in various forms and services.

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The following administrative factors are responsible for the development of the Center:   institutional support provided by the University;  participatory and integrated/ holistic development approach; and the charismatic qualities and management style of the pioneer director combined with highly committed staff. However, the same factors that sustained the operation of the Katin-aran Center created some organizational problems and issues, namely: ill defined structure, lack of a more definite framework for strategies, learning disability, and role confusion. Despite the problems it encountered and whatever negative experiences it has, there is no question that the Katin-aran Center has given us learnings on how to manage outreach projects.

This is so far the longest study we ever conducted, longer than our thesis requirements to finish respective masteral degrees. Like its  subject matter,  the study  has survived critical interludes including flood and my own illness. And just like the case of Katin-aran Center, all circumstances and crises have eventually contributed to  the intended result.  As the biblical passage explicitly describes: “All thing work together for good…” Indeed, it’s worth the wait.

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However, this study could not have reached its final stage, had it not been for the support of people to whom we express our sincere gratitude:

Dr. Reynaldo N. Dusaran, University Research Center Director, for his patience, untiring reminders and encouragement to continue;

Dr. Teodoro C. Robles, University President,  for his kindness to  assign me in his office for a semester to compensate my load units due to volatile health condition. The special assignment he gave me to assist  in data gathering for the Volume 2 of The Story of Central Philippine University has given me time and  opportunity for in-depth study of the history of Katin-aran Center;

Dr. Ida G. Borlongan and Dr. Margen A. Java, panelists, for  enlightening  comments and suggestions to improve the paper;

Dr. Anita  U. Illenberger, Dean College of Arts and Sciences, who might not  know it that her comment on the first draft presented has inspired me;

Professors Carol Kay C. Blando,  Kareen Jay D. Lozada  and Sarah M. Barayuga, our colleagues in the Department,  who have been supportive of this  study;

Rev. Melvin M. Mangana, former Director, University Outreach Center, for his undying support to the Katin-aran communities including this study;

Lastly, but most especially, the Katin-aran family for their whole hearted support in the process of data gathering including interviews and focus group discussion without them this study will never be completed. Led by  Ma’am  Ruth C.  Corvera, pioneer director of Katin-aran, the following former staff  and leaders are worth mentioning:  Freddie  Salvania, Jocelyn Funtecha, Mercy Bedona,  Emcy Sanchez,  Joan Militar, Trinidad Sorongon, Aida Soberano, Annabelle Martinez; Madeline, Jorge,  Josephine, Rey, Jimmy, Julie, Rubegilio, Elena, X Barrera, all the PO leaders and volunteers who shared with us their insights.

Lest we forget, our kids: Dazen Dawn, Edzil Ven and Krislenn Edz,  our joy, strength and motivation.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

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Pushing beyond limits

Elsie E. Malabon, cum laude, leads the BSSW graduates of the Department of Social Work

The 84th Commencement Exercises of Central Philippine University on April 15 has been inspiring. The Department has produced 12 graduates in the Bachelor of Science in Social Work, one with academic honor, cum laude. Together with 3 others, the honoree was not even expecting to graduate this semester, as some of her subjects were supposed to be offered in the 1st semester classes , a sort of lapses in advising.

But, as it were, I took time to study the complex condition of irregular students upon resuming my position as head of the Department. Thereafter, arranging their load in unconventional manner and semestral offerings so as to minimize the period of their stay. This skill is honed from those unlikely experiences in past life – my exposure in gambling during my youth. Like risk taking and the skills in arranging/organizing cards, mahjong tiles to win despite their weak/losing state. Maximizing all the chances, even pushing beyond limit. There are more who will benefit from this approach on semestral graduation in October and for a couple of years or so.

The Magic Four with their thesis adviser. (L-R) Kareen Jay Diesto, Sr. Aubrey Casimiro DC, Araceli Tondo, the author, and Carol Kay Cortuna-Blando

Equally inspiring is the fate of our Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) graduates. There are four of them who made it completing the Magic 10 to mark the 10th year of the revival of University’s MSSW program. It was in 2002 when we reactivated the program, a couple of years after I finished my Master of Social Work from the University of the Philippines- Diliman. An adventurous attempt, considering the odds, we pursued the move with a simple goal i.e. to produce even one graduate in 3 years time to convince the public that we really mean business this time.

With the strong support of Dr. Fely David, Dean of Graduate Studies, we succeeded to achieve it during the University’s historic Centennial Year in 2005. One of our MSSW pioneering students succeeded to complete the academic requirements and passed the final defense. Subsequently, Mrs. Lolita Camarig, municipal social welfare and development officer of Leganes had joined the commencement march of the Centennial graduates. Thereafter, we produced graduates with non BSSW degrees who subsequently hurdled the board exam, namely: Aujun Labrador, Lunnie Lasquite, and Melody Arandela-Ambangan. Ruby Plagata, another graduate, will soon take the social work licensure examination. Our other graduate is Prof. Maribel Gonzales, former head of the Department of Social Work, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos.

Pose for posterity after the graduation ceremony.The author, flanked by Kareen Jay (L) and Carol Kay (R)

Completing the Magic 10 are this year’s four MSSW graduates. Of the four, two are faculty of the Department of Social Work, CPU, namely: Carol Kay Cortuna-Blando and Kareen Kay Diesto. Both are close to my heart being my students during their undergraduate years; colleagues when they joined the teaching force of the Department; partners in volunteerism and development endeavors.

But organizational changes separated us for awhile until we have the opportunity to work together again. Having something in common both as victims and victors of experts in manipulating people and circumstances, we developed the biblical slogan “overcome evil by doing good.” Renewing our relationship, we committed to resume the interrupted partnership and development including their MSSW degree. Thereafter, I served as their thesis adviser struggling with them through thick and thin until they were conferred with their hard earned degree yesterday.

The other two are personnel of the Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus,namely: Sr. Aubrey Casimiro and Araceli Tondo. The bonding we have may not be comparable to the previous ones. Yet, it is also interesting and equally significant. Adverse circumstances did not hinder their desire to finish studies according to their schedule. Even my serious sickness and subsequent health limitation could not withstand their earnestness to complete the course.

We have experienced pushing beyond limits just to continue our classes. At times, holding reportorial sessions at home due to my limited mobility. In some instances, conducting classes at the University gazebo because I could not make it to the 3rd floor where Graduate School classrooms are located. There was even a time we had classes under the acacia tree beside the Department of Social Work, having no access to the office which used to be an alternate venue for my masteral classes.

But tougher times were just waiting ahead, making their presence felt during thesis writing stage. Aware of my health limitation, we tried to organize their respective schedule to avoid overlapping that would put unnecessary pressures on us both. Despite this, however, unavoidable circumstances compelled us to confront realities that push us beyond our limits.

(More on next post)

EDSA Revolution: A Shift in Life’s Direction

Our forum on EDSA Revolution was successfully conducted this morning at the Reading Area of Henry Luce III Libraries of Central Philippine University. It was our way of celebrating the 26th Anniversary of the People Power Revolution. The activity was co sponsored by the Department of Social Work, Office for Student Affairs, and the Iloilo Coalition of Non-government organizations and People’s organizations (ICON).

Dubbed EDSA Revolution: Recollections, Lessons and Relevance to the New Generation, the forum was an attempt to bring into the consciousness of the young historical insights to make them value the God-given freedom. Our resource persons were consistent advocates of human rights and front liners in local mass actions even until now. They were joined by a young Baptist pastor who shared his theological reflections on the relevance of the unprecedented event in our faith.

I could not help being nostalgic even at the start of the program when my social work students sang the Bayan Ko. The song was often sung during the protest rallies and even religious prayer rallies during the dictatorial rule. It has become popular that some considered it the unofficial national anthem of the Philippines. Inevitably, memories flashed back in my mind when we joined the people’s struggle at that time.

Yes, Protestant Christians, or should I say Baptists, were participants in the struggle, too. Some of our youth and pastors who dared to brave the “darkest nights” were gone without seeing the dawn. Their contribution was never documented, neither appreciated by the Baptist community. Others continue to live with the stigma of the haunting past.

Unlike others, we were not there in EDSA to experience the birth pangs of restored democracy and jubilation in winning the battle. But we were with the group of peasants, workers, student activists holed in Sta. Teresita Church, Iloilo City for some days. At that time, there was a stalemate in constant clashes between rallyists and government troops. Cornered, the former found refuge in the church and started to appeal for help from middle forces.

I was among those who responded, representing the church sector. Bringing blankets, food contributed by seminarians, pastors, church members, and some CPU students and faculty, I was not able to leave the place due to security risks brought about by heightened tension. There, we served as negotiators, peace keepers, counselors, planners for the ecumenical services and prayers, advocates to get more support to sustain the needs.

My political conversion took place some years earlier while doing pastoral ministry to political detainees in Camp Delgado. Raised up in seemingly apolitical environment, my primary motivation was to witness for Christ which I did. However, when they also shared their work and struggles, I could not help but being awed by their commitment, dedication, courage and strong resolve in the service of people.

I felt humbled to think that these people who were not even so much concerned about their faith in God or the lack of it have this kind of love to the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters. Unlike those who confessed and professed to be followers of Christ but failed to put such faith into practice.

Thereafter, I became interested in studying Philippine realities, attending symposium, forum on human rights, joining prayer rallies, organizing seminarians and pastors. At times, I just enrolled part-time in the seminary to have more time doing volunteer work in church-related organizations. In 1984, with only one semester left before graduation, I decided to work full time doing solidarity work during the intensification of the people’s struggle.

After the historic EDSA ’86, I decided to go back to the seminary to resume my studies. It was then that I realized the price I had to pay. For technical reason my return to the seminary was disallowed. Upon our dean’s advise, I shifted to social work and return to the seminary upon compliance of the requirements.

My first year was sort of a test on how to survive the isolation from Christian community because of past experiences and the trauma attached to my involvement. With the help of my family and my beloved and the support of significant people, I finished my Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree and employed in the University. Thereafter, I also earned my Theology degree.

Gradually, I recovered from the isolation and was given more opportunities for development including masteral study at University of the Philippines- Diliman. It was also within those period that a major split and bloody rift among former comrades began to intensify. Confronted with various crossroads, I tried to find other means to continue my commitment to serve the people. Hence, the shift in my life’s direction.