Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Call to continue the Culture of Service and Volunteerism

While preparing for the press release of our annual celebration of the Non-government Organizations and People’s Organizations  (NGO PO ) Week in Iloilo, I could not help but reflect on the factors that contributed to the institutionalization of this event every December 1-7. It does not seem so long when I made a study on Networking as a development strategy of NGOs  as requirement for my Master of Social Work degree in the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

The research problem was not my original choice. I explored lots of  exciting problems earlier – the reason for the delay of my studies. The subject matter was influenced by  a practical suggestion of my adviser who understood my predicament to  finish my thesis during the Summer of 2000. Else, I would repeat my academic studies from the beginning after the lapse of the  grace period. I could still recall his advice to look for a problem, no matter how simple, with accessible data in order to beat the deadline.

Since during that time I was the president of the   Iloilo Council of Social Development (ICSD)- a network of welfare and development NGOs, I decided to study its experience in networking as development strategy.  The following excerpts of the study can be a tracer to the move for the institutionalization of the NGO PO Week in Iloilo:

 “An unprecedented collaborative effort took place in 1998 when the leadership worked out the accreditation of the network with the Provincial Government of Iloilo. In consultation with officers of member NGOs which have been also accredited by the province, the ICSD leadership decided to put up a common candidate for the co-chairmanship with the Province Governor in the Provincial Development Council.  During the election, however, the ICSD candidate declined in favor of a candidate from the other network. Undaunted, an ICSD officer nominated the ICSD president who got the same number of votes with the nominee from the other network. A tie resulted and it was not broken in another election, a toss of coin decided the fate, which turned in favor of the ICSD candidate.

This development has started the functional collaboration between ICSD and the provincial government with the ICSD president representing the NGO community in various committees as mandated by the local government code and in other committees organized by the Province. This new collaborative effort, in a way, has compensated for the ICSD’s silence for a year or two, making its presence felt again among government and non-government organizations. 

This development has put the network in the limelight. The mere fact that ICSD represents the NGO community in various strategic provincial committees/bodies has enhanced the network’s status.  Such representation has further strengthened the collaborative effort and enlivened the dynamics of relationship. In some sense, ICSD has gained political clout and leverage because of the position it now occupies.”

The landmark of such engagement is the institutionalization of the celebration of the NGO PO Week in Iloilo every December 1-7 to recognize the role of NGOs and POs in nation building. This gave birth to the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON) which spearheads the annual celebration.

This year’s theme is  “Bag-ong Henerasyon: Kultura sang Pag-alagad Igapadayon” (A call for the new generation to continue the culture of service and volunteerism). In choosing the theme, ICON officers expect to instill into the minds of the public, especially  youth and children the value and culture of  service, volunteerism and peace. In this way, can we ensure the continuity and sustainability of  our welfare and development endeavors.

The week-long celebration will kickoff with a motorcade on December 1, 7:00 am from Provincial Capitol to Central Philippine University for the Opening Program  at the Rose Memorial Auditorium. Invited to  grace the program are Gov.  Arthur Defensor and  Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. On December  3, 2:00 pm, a Photo  Exhibit showcasing the works of NGOs  will be opened  at the 2nd level of Gaisano City to last until December  9. Since  December is considered  Volunteerism month, ICON will sponsor two for a  on volunteerism. The first will be held at Educational Media Center, CPU on  December 4, 8:30 am. Another one will be at 5th floor Conference Room, New Provincial  Capitol to culminate the Volunteerism Day  on December 5.  Other highlights of the celebration are ICON General Assembly and Advocacy in  academic institutions  on December 6 and 7, respectively.

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