Monday, February 11, 2013

Another call to Padayon

A couple of weeks before  2012 ended,  I received an appointment from the national president of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association  to chair and subsequently revive the Padayon Welfare Fund for Pastors Project.  The project is an attempt towards a comprehensive and sustained approach to meet the perennial needs of  our pastors. This is a combination of mutual aid, revolving fund and cooperative concept. It was during my term as president when the project was conceptualized and launched. But it was not given priority by my successor  due to other urgent needs of the association. The recent call to  Padayon (continue)   has inspired other past presidents and officers to get involved. While in the process of  finalizing the mechanics , we have already received almost P200, 000 donations and  pledges from people who are excited about the project.
POSE FOR POSTERITY. (R-L) Victor Salmon,  Atty. Ma. Dolores 
Nalumen and the author pose after the awarding ceremony during
the PASWI Golden Anniversary and Convention in 1998.  
Mr. Salmon (CPU BSSW '73) was one of  the Ten Outstanding
Social Workers of the Philippines. The author  displays the Most 
Outstanding Chapter award for  PASWI-Iloilo

Last Friday,  I got another call to Padayon. Yes, a call to continue  the good things  that we have started.  This time from the former national president of the Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI).  Atty. Ma.  Dolores Nalumen  unexpectedly visited our office at Central Philippine University  and after some  sort of reunion and recollections,  she made a special request- my active participation in PASWI and the possibility of  reviving our regional group/ fellowship in Western Visayas. I could not say no to her  because of our good working relationship in the past. I succeeded her as president in our local chapter  15 years ago.  We were together in the national board  in 1999-2002.

I suggested to her that we meet again on March 19, 2013 in time for the celebration of World Social Work Day. Our Department has been observing the celebration since 2007  with  a forum and planning session for the annual celebration of the Social Work Week in Iloilo every June 13-19.  We will maximize the occasion for consultation, related to the aforementioned agenda, with the PASWI chapter presidents and  representatives of the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI), Association of  Local Social Welfare and Development Officers  (ALSWDOPI) , Association of Medical Social Workers of the Philippines (AMSWPI), Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Provincial/City Social Welfare and Development Officers and non government organizations (NGOs).

After our meeting, I could not  help but  feel  nostalgic about our PASWI regional association. Although the thought of reactivating it  excites me.  Probably, we were the first one to establish a regional association to formalize the tradition of involving  other chapters when conducting  activities in Iloilo. It was in 1998 when we decided to organize the PASWI Western Visayas while  celebrating PASWI's Golden Year. Thereafter, we were able to sustain the organization for nearly  a decade  in line with the national thrust to strengthen regional clusters after the  assembly decided to break the tradition with the ratification of the constitutional amendment for holding  biennial conventions. The association was led by the Regional Coordinating Council/Board composed of chapter presidents and representatives from NASWEI, ALSWDOPI, AMSWPI, DSWD, NGOs and other social work organizations. We conducted quarterly regional updating, assisted in organizing  and strengthening local chapters and other initiatives.

Through our regional association, we have sustained  our unity in the region even during the critical time in the history of social workers when there was schism among various social work-related associations in the national level and some regions. Our move had been supported by the national leadership. I should know having served PASWI in the national board from 1999-2002. It was only in  2006  when some national officers  started to question our initiatives and reportedly conducted consultation sometime in 2007 in Iloilo City related to our regional association (without involving us). We were informed later on that the national leadership discouraged the formation of  regional groupings as  it would  deal only with local chapters.

Some of us  considered the decision surprising and ironic. In the sense, that earlier our regional association hosted the regional convention for Bicol and Visayas cluster with a very interesting theme i.e.  “Building Regional Strength: The Social Work Advantage.” The  Convention  was supposed to focus on the  importance of strengthening the local base and regional organizations in serving the vision of the national association. We thought that the theme would further strengthen our initiatives. But it did not. Instead of building the regional strength, the decision had curtailed regional initiatives. Since we were not given the chance to present our side to the national officers, we abided  with the decision and deactivated our regional body with reservations. As expected, it had affected the dynamism of local chapters especially the flow of communication and coordination of activities.

I did not hide these reservations to Atty. Nalumen during our talk. However, she assured me that she is currently serving in the national board and, as a matter of fact, has been designated as coordinator of the Visayas Cluster.  Having known her in the past, I know it would be worthwhile   to respond to another call to continue the good things we have started. Yes, another call to PADAYON.

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