Thursday, December 26, 2013

Of New Year, Praying and Planning


Creating a new year’s resolution is great especially if we are resolving a certain problem whether personal or related to the community where we belong. Needless to say, if we don’t have any plan, it may be doomed before it ever gets started. Well, majority of individuals who make a new year’s resolution end up breaking it. We must not expect the same for our community planning.

I was first involved in the Buttom-Up Budgeting or BuB though the local poverty reduction action planning workshop in Sablayan way back in January 31, 2013. I found out too that the whole essence of BuB planning and budgeting process can be captured in a short prayer of St. Thomas of Aquinas which was originally recited in Latin that could guide us through the coming year.

The BuB, now called Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) became a buzzword among civil society organizations (CSOs) all over the country and of course, the officers at all levels of the Department of the Interior and Local Government or DILG. I even suspect that it even followed them in their sleep. Here in Occidental Mindoro, again, I had the opportunity to mingle with the CSOs of Paluan and Mamburao for the conduct of the Municipal CSO Assembly as an initial step in the BuB for Fiscal Year 2015. As you could recall, I have posted the account of my first experience with the CSOs in the province through this ENTRY.

The CSO Assembly is an inclusive meeting of all CSOs in certain municipality to be facilitated by the DILG, usually the MLGOO, together with the respective Municipal Planning and Development Offices or MPDOs with the assistance of an accredited CSO by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and that’s how I came into the picture. I am a PO-NGO by heart.

The GPBP/BuB approach is guided by 3 principles: convergence, participation and empowerment. It aims to achieve community empowerment by encouraging citizens to take active roles in the community by articulating their needs to the government and determining what projects are responsive to their needs. The CSO Assembly in Paluan was held at the Senior Citizen’s Building last December 17 while in Mamburao it was held at the Municipal Gymnasium on December 18, 2013.

Aside from rare instance of meeting CSO leaders, I also met the two lady MLGOOs in said two municipalities and instantly became my friends. They are Mesdames Yoly Rose T. Jordan and Maristela H. Guillermo of Paluan and Mamburao, respectively. They, along with their respective MPDCs initiated said activity. I handled/facilitated their selection of members and co-chair to the Local Poverty Reduction Action Tear or LPRAT and the other signatories to the Local Poverty Reduction Plan (LPRAP). The GPBP is an enabling strategy of the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III in realizing governance reforms. Aside from the election of LPRAT representatives and selection of LPRAT co-chairperson and the CSO signatories to the LPRAP, there was a series of orientation and updates rendered by Ma’am Apple Jordan and Ma’am Maris Guillermo in their respective AOR that very day.

The process stimulates partnership between local government and civil society until participatory governance is put into praxis. Mayor Ed B. Gadiano is one of the staunch believers of this imperative partnership between the LGU and the CSOs. He, as we all know, came from the ranks of the CSO before he entered politics. The result of all the local planning and budgeting is the convergence of plans and priorities as projects are harmonized at the national level by national government agencies in their programs and budget for implementation.

Of course there are still gaps in implementing the BuB/GPBP in the province and that need to be addressed by the participating national agencies especially the DILG and NAPC. Anyway, there’s no such thing as finished project in all dimensions of public service. Also, there’s always a room for improvement in local governance. Am I right? CSOs that have constantly involved and engaged in local governance definitely could enhance the delivery of services to our fellow Mindoreno, our people. This should be our collective prayer while allow me to greet you all a prosperous new year!

As I have said, for me, the BuB/GPBP spirit was put into capsule in this prayer that “survived” through many new years: “Ingressum intruas/Progressum custodias/Egressum intuas (Look after the preparations/Survey the results/Harvest the fruits)….

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(Photo : UNDP.org)



Friday, December 13, 2013

Sablayan DTTBs & RHUs


DTTB stands for Doctors to the Barrios. It is a program of Department of Health (DOH) pioneered in 1993 by then Health Secretary Juan Flavier. The program encourages medical graduates to consider spending a couple of years or so of their professional practice in some of the country’s poorest and most remote barrios and sitios where healthcare needs are prevalent. The program, according to current DOH Secretary Enrique Ona, is aimed to address this gap by providing “equitable healthcare services to all areas of the country by deploying competent, committed, community-oriented and dedicated physicians to serve inaccessible areas.” The Rural Health Unit (RHU) of Sablayan North located at Brgy. Pag-Asa, catering the health needs of people from Barangays of San Agustin, Ilvita, Claudio Salgado, Pag-Asa, Victoria and the rest, has now a DTTB in the person of Dr. Camille Carissa A. Asuncion, MD.

She’s no doubt another DTTB! I'll decode that acronym later.

Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano through the Municipal Planning and Development Office (MPDO) and the rest of the members of the Local Poverty Reduction Team (LPRAT) initiated last year the Bottom-Up Planning and Budgeting (BuB) for 2013. The LGUs are key vehicles in poverty reduction through BuB. Assisted by the officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government or DILG under Provincial Director Ulysses E. Feraren, participants of the planning and budgeting process have identified the need for two DTTB in our municipality. The DOH responded positively and dispatched, initially, the young doctor from Calaca, (or was it Nasugbu?) Batangas. The BuB by the way is a process that ensure the inclusion of the funding requirements for the development needs of at least 300 of the 609 selected focus LGUs in the country. Our town included.

Aside from DTTB, another program of the DOH is called Health Facilities Enhancement Program or the HFEP. By year 2014, according to data from the Provincial Health Office, the Occidental Mindoro Provincial Hospital in Mamburao is expecting Php 6,693,000.00 for facility enhancement specifically for medical equipment. Allotted for the Sablayan District Hospital on infrastructure is half million pesos while for medical equipment is pegged at Php 4,083.000.00.

The LGU now has two Annex RHUs with corresponding two full-time doctors. RHU-Pag-Asa is headed by Dr. Asuncion while in Ligaya, Dr. Meldie D. Soriano, MD is at the helm. The 2 RHUs were inaugurated only last April 9 and October 30 of this year, respectively. According to Dir. James F. Fadrilan, CESO IV, Regional Director of DILG-Mimaropa, Sablayan is the only town in the region which has two municipal/RHU extension buildings.

In our 2013 Annual Investment Plan, people from the Municipal Health Office with regards to maternal care, have projected an increased facility-based delivery by 40%. The 2 RHUs intend to bring health services closer to the people especially those who dwell in far-flung communities specifically with regards to Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care or BEmONC.

Let us go back to DTTB. Every DTTB in the country is expected to develop health systems, projects and programs based on the priority needs of the locality. Including the management of the mobilization of resources for projects and programs related to public health and RHU operation through an established inter/intra-agency partnership and collaboration, among other things stipulated at the MOA between the LGU and the DOH represented by Mayor Ed and Dr. Ariel I. Valencia, MD, MPH, CESO III, Director of Community Health Department (CHD) of Region IV-B.

In all aspects of President Simeon Benigno S. Aquino III’s “Kalusugan Para sa Lahat”, health service providers in Sablayan generally fared well. They, to paraphrase the Hippocratic Oath, always preserving the finest traditions of their calling and the long experience of the joy of healing those who seek help, especially our stakeholders in programs and projects under IPAO, the Alangan and Taobuid Mangyans of Sablayan. They risk their lives and limbs defying dangerous trails and other hardships to render their avowed duty and mission. 

Aside from the two women physicians that I have already mentioned, my kudos too to all women health care practitioners or health service providers of Sablayan I rubbed elbows with like Mesdames Anna Marie Sheryll R. Kenept, Mary Jinky E. Ani, including my bosom friend in Nurse Jho T. Manzano.

In their own rights, they are DTTBs too: Dedicated, Truly Talented and,… Beautiful…

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(Photo: Sablayan Herald)



Monday, December 9, 2013

Middle of the Road


Margaret Thatcher once said, “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” Well, our people won’t figuratively stand in the middle of the road the moment roads and bridges in our beloved Occidental Mindoro would not be hellish anymore like what I have said in the my blog entry some years back called “Ruts and Roads”.

Well, as I have written, there were two programs on roads and bridges for the whole of mainland Occidental Mindoro then. In case you do not know, the first ambitious road program in the province started in 1981. It was a component of the Philippine Government's Rural Roads Improvement Program supported by a $62 million loan approved by the World Bank (WB) to Marcos government. That year, the construction of national road began connecting the 170.6 kilometer-road from San Jose to Mamburao. In the early 80’s, said project was marred by problems in many aspects like severe mismanagement, inadequate planning, corruption and over-bureaucratization. The road construction program was part of the Mindoro Integrated Rural Development Program or MIRDP. The project is not completed due to different reasons,- both natural and man-made, rolled into one. This I have learned from Volker Schult who extensively wrote about Mindoro Island in the mid 80s.

Next is the second grand project. In January 7, 1999, the Loan Agreement No PH-P188 was signed and paved the way for the Mindoro West Coast Road Improvement Project. The total loan amount was 9,621 Million Yen from the Japan International Cooperating Agency (JICA) and the executing agency is the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The project was “completed” in December 2005. The infrastructure includes construction of Busuanga Bridge, the road junction to Rizal, some road pavements in Sablayan, San Jose and Mamburao sections,- among others, including the much feared Patrick Pass.

Then the chop-chop scandal came into the picture. But let us forget them, err.. that, and put our hopes in the light at the end of the tunnel. With this recent development on our roads and bridges, we are already at the middle of the proverbial road to progress.

But now, the Mindoro West Coast Road Improvement Project under Road Upgrading and Preservation Project (RUPP)- Upgrading and Improvement Component which is also under JICA in Loan Agreement No. PH-P247. The loan started in March 2011 and its expiry date is July 31, 2023. My source here is the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region IV, by the way. The program generally provides a well paved upgraded roads and bridges reliable and safe to all travelers and road users. It is would also reduce travel time and vehicle maintenance, etc. It is composed of 4 Contract Packages (CPs): The CP II (Rizal-Calintaan Section), CP III (Calintaan-Sablayan Section), CP IV (Sablayan-Sta. Cruz Section), CP-IV-A (Sablayan-Sta. Cruz Road Section).

I need not specify technically each program of work and or its major work items so be advised to ask the Provincial Government specifically the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) or the DPWH about it (Or I could send it to you via PM through my FB account if you request for it) due to lack of space.    

But I am sharing you the following project cost for the individual CPs: for CP II its Php 292 M; CP III its Php 1,269 M; CP IV its Php 439,947,573.28 M; for CP IV-A Php 285.5 M. Nobody asked me but I am a participant to Provincial Development Council Meeting last December 8, 2013 in San Jose representing our CSO. The meeting was attended by almost all of the province’s municipal mayors led by Gov. Mario Gene J. Mendiola himself and Cong. Josephine Ramirez-Sato.

If I may reiterate, more than ever, what we need now is committed citizens’ arm to monitor such projects. Concerned citizens must hit the road for this.

And not just figuratively stand in the middle of the road… 

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(Photo : Flicker.com)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kings Sugar Ray and Manny Pacquiao


Michael Buffer is absolutely right. Manny Pacquiao, the King of the Ring, is back.

Indeed, Pacquiao successfully displayed a boxing tutorial against Brandon Rios via unanimous decision at the Venetian in Macau, China last Sunday, November 24. Along with hundreds of my town mates, I watched the match live at the San Jose Gymnasium courtesy of the Local Government Unit of said municipality headed by Mayor Romulo M. Festin and LBC, the country’s leading money remittance company and cargo and mail forwarder. LBC was once known as another king, “Hari ng Padala”. Coming from back-to-back losses against Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, his team’s split up with longtime trainer Alex Ariza and the devastation brought about by typhoon Yolanda to his people and his wife Jinkee being pregnant, Pacquiao’s victory against Rios is as sweet as sugar. He proved once again that the name Pacquiao still sweetens our cup of coffee that fills our boxing-thirsty and salivating mouths.

A couple of boxers were nicknamed “Sugar”. Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Shane Mosley only borrowed it from the “original” Sugar Ray Robinson AKA Walter Smith, Jr. who was born in Detroit in May 3, 1921. Boxing historians said that in order to beat the minimum age on his maiden fight, Smith borrowed the birth certificate of his friend, Ray Robinson and hit the big time when he defeated Tommy Bell in December of 1946 for the welterweight division in a title fight and not unlike the Pacman, Sugar Ray bring sweetness to social, political and economic bitterness of many countries around the world and World War II’s acidic aftertaste that time.

Ray Robinson acquired this nickname after a journalist for a local newspaper named Jack Case told George Gainford (Robinson's manager) that he had a sweet fighter in Robinson, and his manager replied, "As sweet as sugar". Jack Case obviously remembered this comment, because in his newspaper article the next day, he named Ray as "Sugar Ray Robinson", thus the ring name.

Statistic shows the sourness and sweetness of Sugar Ray Robinson’s career: In 202 professional fights he registered 109 KOs, won 66 on point decisions, had 6 draws, lost 18 via scorecard, knocked out once and had 2 no contest. He died April 12, 1989 at 67 due to Alzheimer's disease and, of all diseases, diabetes!

Robinson’s boxing career was a combination of bitter-sweet-sweet-bitter journey. Not unlike Manny. Sugar Ray lost when he challenged Joey Maxim for the light-heavyweight title and opted to retire in 1952 but after 3 years, he once again climbed the ring and beat the middleweight title from Carl “Bobo” (what a ring name!) Olson. Sugar Ray’s career was a roller coaster ride until he lost the title for good to Paul Pender on January 22, 1960, exactly two years and one day before this sweetheart of yours (?) was born.

But why is boxing called a sweet science? British journalist named Pierce Egan in 1824, while he was covering the sport, referred to boxing as “the sweet science of bruising”.

It was summer of 1947 when Sugar Ray Robinson slugged it out against Jimmy Doyle and Robinson beat him so badly and Doyle collapsed and died. Some days later, at the hearing into the death, the district attorney turned to Ray and asked accusingly, "Couldn't you see he was hurt?" Sugar Ray looked at him resentfully. "Sir," he told him, "it's my business to hurt people." Even today, the statement is true. The business of boxing is still aimed at hurting the opponent. It is the unmatched gruesome business that we all love to watch.

In the post-fight press conference against Rios, Pacquiao said, “You know, I’m not doing that [giving a chance for Rios to deliver on the 12th round] because I’m tired or anything. I’m doing that because boxing is not about killing each other. Boxing is about entertaining people.” Generally Pacman is right but in some fights—like that of Robinson and Doyle—their distinction separates by just a hairline.

If there’s one lesson I learned from Manny Pacquiao when he fought his former sparring mate Rios last Sunday is this: In our struggle for certain social cause, we could be dominant and at the same time civilized as social communicators or advocates. Domination need not be arrogant like what the King of Kings taught us.

When Pacquiao and Rios exchanged punches last Sunday, we, Catholics are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King which is the end of the Liturgical Year.

Our King of the Ring showed the universe that it’s not yet the end of his boxing years….

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(Photo: Examiner.com)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Occidental Mindoro’s 63rd Founding Anniversary and Service Contract 53


A twin is celebrating their 63rd birthday today. Occidental and Oriental Mindoro were a single province before they were legally separated November 15, 2013 by virtue of Republic Act 505 in 1950. In Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro’s capital town, as I write this piece, festive atmosphere invades the air. It ranges from boxing matches to beauty pageant, from trade fare to street dancing, from variety show to parlor games, from the grand opening parade to the culmination night. One thing does not change. Our leaders are still focused on agriculture and tourism as the main decisive factors of the province’s economic progress and development. The theme of the Arawatan 63 states, “Sama-samang tahakin, matuwid na landas ng agri-turismo pag-ibayuhin, Occidental Mindoro paunlarin”. So, taking cue from the event’s theme, extractive industries like oil and gas exploration and exploitation were NOT a priority in our province’s agenda at least for the next twelve months.

According to researchers, in a Mangyan society, Arawatan spirit is experienced throughout the year in every activity or endeavor. The Mangyan’s livelihood is basically agricultural and Arawatan is employed by the people in their activities. Thus, Arawatan’s spirit is about stewardship of the earth.

Incidentally, congratulations to LGU-Sablayan for grabbing the Best Booth Award and the Street Dancing Contest for Arawatan 2013. Sablayan's street dance and the winning booth depicts the richness of our town’s natural resources, bountiful harvests, our coastal and marine richness and other ecological gems that needs to be protected from dangers posed by destructive development projects, if I may emphasize, like oil and gas exploration and exploitation. I am specifically pertaining to the Service Contract 53 Exploration Period in target municipalities of the whole Mindoro Island covering 724,000 hectares of land and sea. 

My point is this: Leaders in impact areas such as ours should not swallow right away, line-hook-and-sinker, what Pitkin Petroleum (Philippines) Ltd or the consequent laws themselves are offering.  For one, massive displacement of the Mangyans from their livelihood and economic areas is a possibility. How could they practice their customary and traditional slash-and-burn farming if pipe lines and oil/gas tanks are all over their ancestral land and domains?

I was informed that just a few months ago, a meeting happened in Manila and another in Calintaan where representatives from the provincial government and the oil company plus the Mangyan leaders in the province attended. I do not know what exactly happened on that two occasions. You may ask the province’s focal person on Mangyan affairs and concerns on the matter. Nevertheless, its Project Description needs to be thoroughly scrutinized.

Truth to tell, environmental and social impacts of onshore hydrocarbon (oil/gas) exploration and exploitation activities have been extensively documented all over the globe and which we all need to know. For netizens, it would be helpful if we study via net, for instance, oil and gas cases in the tropical forests of the Amazon.  

I do not wish to discuss here the detailed and specific environmental and social impacts of oil and gas exploration and exploitation. That I’ll save for the forthcoming information and education campaign that I will be attending in the future in both in my private and public capacities as a social advocate or on my next blog entries for sure. 

Meanwhile, a happy anniversary to all and congratulations to the people from Sablayan's tourism office and the Sablayan National Comprehensive Highschool (SABNACOHIS) for a job well done including the event organizers from the PGO.

But still I am into opinion that the spirit of Arawatan and the objective of Pitkin did not come from the same life-giving breath being the former is evidently sacred than that of the latter… 

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(Photo: Sablayan Herald)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Beatles and Imelda


Exactly 50 years ago today when the Beatles performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre attended by Queen Elizabeth of England and Princess Margaret including Lord Snowdon and they gazed fondly among the crowd. According to some accounts, the arrival of the four charming guys from Liverpool drew more attention than the arrival of the Royal Family that evening.

On that same year, the Beatles released their debut album called “Please, Please Me” and it became an instant hit around the globe. The Fabulous 4 instantly became a phenomenon. Teenage girls screamed like crazy and the aired was filled with their music like “She Loves You,” “Till There Was You,” “From Me to You” and other hits. Songs that are also played by The Harmonizers in San Jose’s music lounges in the 70s like Balalaika and You & I.

It was November 4, 1963 when John Lennon, the chief Beatle, delivered the most intriguing and mischievous rant in pop-culture history: “For our last number, I’d like to ask your help. Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And for the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewelry…” John made this comment before playing “Twist and Shout”, as I have said, with the Queen and the Princess among the audience.

Three years later, John, Paul, George and Ringo visited the Philippines and performed at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila together with Pilita Corrales and Reycard Duet as front act performers, among others. The legendary quartet stayed in the country from July 3-5, 1966 for a two-day concert proper.

When the Beatles visited the Philippines, their first and only visit in the country, they unintentionally turned down a breakfast reception offered by Imelda Marcos at Malacanan Palace. Brian Epstein, the manager, politely declined on behalf of the Beatles as it had never been the group's policy to accept such invitations from government officials and first families, but the group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting "no" for an answer.

After the snub was broadcast on Philippine television and radio and everywhere, all of the security measures disappeared. The police and security officers were gone and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own. At the airport, road manager Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and the band members were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd. Once the group boarded the plane, Epstein and Evans were ordered off and the former was forced to give the tax authorities £6,800 worth of Philippine peso notes from the shows, and had to sign the tax bond verifying the exchange before being allowed back on the plane, according to some Beatles’ historian.

In a nutshell, George Harrison described what happened in an interview after the tour, “They took us away and drove us down to Manila harbor, put us on a boat, took us out to a motor yacht and put us in this room. It was really humid, Mosquito City, and we were all sweating and frightened. For the first time ever in our Beatle existence, we were cut off from Neil, Mal and Brian Epstein. There was not one of them around and, not only that, but we had a whole row of cops with guns lining the deck around this cabin that we were in. We were really gloomy, very brought down by the whole thing. We wished we hadn't come. We should have missed it out. As soon as we got there, it was bad news.” They were not provided with hotel accommodations either.

Entertainment authorities believe that the Beatles were invited to Manila not to just play music to its fans. The whole thing was a savvy political setup for the Beatles to implicitly endorse the Marcos government. The party hosted by Mrs. Marcos was a cleaver photo-op where the Beatles will be seen having lively chat with Madam Marcos, ambassadors, senators and other Marcos-elected cronies. The 300 specially invited children being entertained by the Beatles would be the heart-softening section of the whole event. Local and international press would surely cover the event. Images showing the Beatles sharing a tea with Mrs. Marcos and shaking hands with government officials would project an image to the world that the Beatles endorses the dictatorship of Marcos. According to a blog posted last January 23, 2012 that can be accessed HERE.

Earlier this week, Mrs. Marcos, 84 and now a congresswoman, was again in the news. She was admitted to the hospital after she returned to Manila from Ilocos Norte, reportedly due to fatigue and her unstable blood sugar level. No matter what, Imelda, like that shameful and horrible Beatles’ stay in Manila, is part of our dark days in history. Both have taught us a lesson or two, undeniably.

The former first lady is widely criticized for her extravagant lifestyle, amassing a massive collection of shoes and spending heavily on jewelry, even as most Filipinos remained trapped in poverty. Not unlike Janet Napoles of today and her cahoots in the Senate.

But when the Marcos government was toppled in 1986, analogical to that famous remark of John Lennon exactly half a decade ago today in England, the impoverished Filipino clapped their hands while the elite just rattled their jewelry.

Or they rattled us, the poor, with their expensive jewelry and them, those who just rattled their jewelries after EDSA, are our new and apparently beat-less tyrants….

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(Photo: FlickRiver)



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Investiture at OMSC


I traveled back to memory lane while inside the Occidental Mindoro State College (OMSC) campus attending the Student Teachers’ Investiture and Pinning Ceremony last Friday, October 25, 2013. My eldest daughter belongs to Section A of the college’s Teacher Education Batch 2014. Dr. Arnold N. Venturina, the SCC President II together with the TED faculty are all there to grace the occasion, so supportive of their students. Getting a cue from the inspirational message rendered by Dr. Rosalinda C. Gomez, the soon-to-retire Vice President for academic affairs, I am into thinking that the symbolic event is the donning of the mantle of responsibility with a pledge coming from the student teachers to dispense their duties to the best of their abilities. Ma’am Gomez compared them to sprinters who are already on the last lap of their scholastic race.

During the invocation, I said a little prayer for the student teachers that may they truly find an ever cooperative cooperating teacher that would thoroughly orient them to the new environment, plan with them for the teaching experience, review and provide feedback, evaluate their performance, among others.

While watching the whole ceremony unfolds before my very eyes noticing how misty were the eyes of many of the parents, during the candle lighting ceremony and the reciting of the pledge of commitment and the rest of the program, I came to know that it is indeed the most significant phase of life of a college student. It represents the bridge between professional preparation and professional practice. Student teaching is a period of guided teaching when the teacher candidate takes increasing responsibility for leading the school experiences of a group of learners over a period of consecutive weeks. 

The major goal of student teaching, I just realized, is to provide an opportunity for the student teacher to make practical applications of knowledge, learning principles, and techniques of teaching. They need the opportunity to experience the pressures of full-time teaching and the corresponding rewards (or even punishment) resulting from it. And in the end, the community will judge them. 

Yes, I took the same route way back in the late 80s but I nearly failed due to my involvement in student activism coupled with gallivanting. Without the intervention of my former English mentor, Ma'am Vicky G. Madayag, my adviser in our school paper, and my former girlfriend (also nicknamed Vicky) asking my instructor in Practice Teaching or Education 10 to give me a chance and rectify my errors (?), I could not gotten my diploma and was not able to get my licensure exam!

I got the biggest surprise of the night when Dr. Venturina before his speech mentioned my name, asked me to stand up along with a couple of alumni sitting behind our children. He referred to me as a “prolific writer”. By the way, Dr. Venturina, is my junior way back in high school, circa late 70s. People around us gave us a round of applause to which I feel a certain awkwardness. But it warmed my heart, nevertheless. The good President reminded the students of his 6Rs: Read, Recite, Recall, Rewind, Re-envigorate and and Renew. For him, the sum total of all these is renewal. He said, “When we renew ourselves, God gives us authority to share.”

But all her through her college life, I have only imparted a single “R” to my daughter, Rashida Anawim, pertaining to her studies. Read. Read up on teaching. While your training may introduce you to many good things, there is always more to learn. Since your father is always away, do not rely much on me with your lessons and assignments. That’s why whenever I travel to Manila, I always buy books and other reading materials for my children.

Saint Catherine, Patron Saint of Teachers, please do not bring their cooperating teacher into temptation of just treating these future teachers as errand boys and girls.….

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(Photo by: Yobhel Novio)



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Little Things


The race is on for Barangay Elections on Monday and the candidates are all campaigning, doing little offenses that are against the rule and the Commission on Elections or COMELEC can do nothing much about it except giving stern warnings. Generally, people do not see it harmful or they simply do not pay attention to small things, come election or not. Giving liquors with election paraphernalia stuck on its bottle is an election offense but the people in general, especially those who love to wine and sing, see nothing wrong about it. They let it pass. Anyway, it is just a small thing, they say.

When I was a teenager, I was caught by my classmate peeing under a mango tree inside the campus and being the OD (Officer of the Day) she reprimanded me right after I am done. She rushed to another lady officer nearby and said, “Nahuli ko Ma’am, umiihi sa pader.” The latter just ignored her gesturing her to join her platoon and said, “Wala ‘yan. Maliit na bagay lang ‘yan.” Then I left the scene fuming mad and whispered to myself, “Yan and akala ninyo!” 

Those were the days when I still do not know who Benjamin Franklin was. He who said, “A small leak can sink a great ship.” (All pun intended!) But seriously, what we call small or little things are merely the causes of great things. When we accept or not that bottle of brandy from a politician bearing his or her sticker, is the point of departure which, in general, decides the future of our electoral culture and mindsets.

This reminds me of a story written by Vincent Barry which appeared in page 7 of the June 1999 issue of Readers Digest which I read while resting on a hammock tied under the mango tree (again?) in my mother’s backyard in Bubog one lazy Saturday morning.

According to the article “No Harm, No Foul?”, the author witnessed an argument between a shopper and a produce manager. While the shopper (a mother) was carefully selecting grapes, her son was also eating some of the fruits.  The manager gently informed the child that the grapes were for sale, not sampling.  The mother sprang to her child’s defense.  “Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she said indignantly.  “It’s such a small thing.”

Barry wrote his observation: “I wondered where she’d draw the line between ‘small’ and ‘big.’ The only distinction the child made was between what he wanted and what he didn’t.  And he wanted those grapes.”

Whether the mother corrected her son in private, no one knew.  “But her public message was clear and direct: stealing ‘small stuff’ is OK; indeed, it’s not really stealing at all,” Barry concluded.

In the context of elections this Monday, if we allow such “little” infraction with the law, we are sending the same message to our children: such election offenses are not offenses at all. The drunkards only wanted wine but do not want electoral reform.

Re-reading that issue of Readers Digest made understand another quote from Benjamin Franklin, “A little neglect may breed a great mischief.” Now I only pee outside of the toilet during unavoidable circumstances or force majuere situations. Like while riding on a bus and my urinary bladder is about to burst, full with Red Horse. There are small things indeed that breeds great, big, gigantic things.

But on the reverse, there are truly little things coming out of big things. Both literally and figuratively. 

Remember the two lady cadets?...
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(Photo : Wikipedia)
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I, Caveman


Two of the most prominent, exotic and majestic caves in the province are Cansubong Cave in Iling Island, San Jose and Purnaga Cave in Magsaysay. The latter’s interior portion, according to a certain story I stumbled upon, contains several compartments of stalactites and stalagmites with the size of a small cargo container or as big as cathedral. It is also found to have guano deposits and water pools and believed to be extended adjacent to Oriental Mindoro. Iling Island is so rich with underwater caves they say and those caves became burial place of ancient Chinese traders centuries ago. To tell you frankly, I haven’t been to any of those two wonderful creations of nature. Even in Sablayan’s prominent Matingkay, Carungcaban and Agsuli caves, I haven’t been to. Not that I am a claustrophobic but I do not have a chance and that’s all.

I was wondering, during pre-historic times, the walls of cave were the modern day “blog sites”. Stone Age “bloggers” “post” their entries through its walls (Now I know the origin of the word “wall” in Facebook!). Our caves must be protected and conserved no doubt, more than our cyber sites. Caves indeed are considered natural and non-renewable resources with important scientific, economic, educational, cultural, historical, and aesthetic values.  They are also home to specialized mineral formations with unique and diverse flora and fauna.

The protection and conservation of caves is mandated under Republic Act 9072 passed on April 08, 2001 otherwise known as the “National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act”.  Under this Act, the DENR is tasked to formulate, develop and implement a national program for the management, protection and conservation of caves and cave resources. As of today, over 1,500 caves have been recorded since the start of the implementation of the Caves Management and Conservation Program in 1994, with still a significant number of caves yet to be discovered and mapped, even here in our province.

On June 13-17, 2012 there was an orientation-workshop on caves and cave resources conservation and management and that training resulted to the commitment of forming the Provincial Cave Committee (PCC) who will act as a legislative body and the Provincial Cave Assessment Team (PCAT) who will conduct the actual assessment of caves in the entire province of Occidental Mindoro. In his letter to the 11 LCEs of the province, Conrado A. Espejo, Jr., our Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer or PENRO, said that the PCC is chaired by the PENR Officer, vice chaired by the mayors where the caves are located and members are consist of the towns MENRO, Municipal Tourism Officers, including security personnel and school administrators. Here in Sablayan, I was nominated by our LCE to be part of the PCAT. It's not yet final, mind you.

Whew!

Well, the following are threatening our caves and making them in great danger: increased demand for recreational sites, vandalism, treasure hunting, mining, pollution, illegal collection of cave resources and rapid urbanization. In social networking sites, on the other hand, dangers are posed by senseless posts, cyber bullying, shameless spamming coming from what other netizens are referring to as megalomaniacs and sociopaths.

Well, if experts believe that the cave paintings sent messages, like my blog site, to other people passing through or living in them in the future, and in that case, I am a caveman…

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(Photo: TMCNET.Com)
  


Saturday, October 5, 2013

100 Days




It is expected that in the following weeks, many of our newly-elected local chief executives, mayors and governors from all over the land, would go public and report their accomplishments on first 100 days of office. Though not mandated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government or DILG, mayors and governors are not precluded to do their own version of the State of the Nation Address or SONA. The Local Government Code of 1991 is silent on the matter but some people from DILG are encouraging them to have their own state of the province, city or municipal address. This way, their respective constituents will know what their leaders are doing.

If ever, with great enthusiasm, I am wondering what would be the salient points and gist of our new provincial governor’s State of the Province Address (SOPA). What were his major achievements in the past four months? When and where it will be held? Aside from his achievements or accomplishments as the new governor, presumably the people are eager to know what are his administration’s plans and what we would expect for the next 3 years, until the end of his term come 2016. That’s what we want to hear so we pray he will render his widely covered SOPA before us.

Our governor, though he have been into politics and public service for quite a long time, has to prove his critics wrong that he is just living in the shadow of his predecessor. There are people, in their wildest and malicious imagination, who consider him as a mere follower, if not only a loyal double of the province’s current representative to Congress, his political patroness. For his critics, without her, he’s nothing. So, now is the best time for him to independently deliver using his own decisions, prerogative and choices, including his very elusive smile especially during photo-ops.  

Now as a governor, I am looking forward to see more from the man. We, people of Occidental Mindoro deserve more. We deserve not only information but bright future too. He deserves not only to prove his worth but cooperation as well from the people, friend or foe, political affiliation-wise.

But being an experienced local chief executive, our governor would not have a hard time doing his responsibility for the general supervision and control over all program, project, services and activities for the province. Our governor hopefully would bring about, effectively and efficiently, concrete and lasting changes to Occidental Mindoro, our beautiful province with its equally beautiful citizens.

As a resident and a taxpayer, I want to be enlightened on what are the important and essential legislative measures he initiated or about to initiate, proposed or about to propose to the Provincial Board, among others.

During the first 100 days, every local chief executive like a governor, especially those who are new to their current position, has to do some staffing changes based on her/his initial analysis of the LGUs staffing pattern. Determine, too, its fiscal status and the Budget Call. Source of support and resistance must be identified and ultimately call for cooperation with the local bureaucracy. Start to interface with the local legislative board, strengthen the linkages with every municipality and if possible, every barangay, be it his political turf or not. It is also essential at this early phase of leadership to re-organize the local special bodies along with the review of the progress of the year’s Annual Investment Program or AIP and finalize the preparation of the following year’s Executive Budget.

Our governor is aware of all of these and he’s open for suggestions coming from opinion shapers like this lowly blogger. I am 100% sure of this.

And in case you do not know, we are now celebrating the 22nd Anniversary of the Local Government Code of the Philippines. Through Presidential Proclamation No. 63, October was declared as the Local Government Month, with the second week of October as the Local Government Week and the 10th day of October as Local Government Day in the country, in line with the signing of the Local Government Code of 1991, the bible of local governance, with the theme, “Kilos Progreso, Makilahok sa Pag-asenso” that embodies a call for united and concerted action for national progress.

Going back to our topic, the first 100 days is a period when one LCE implement doable commitments to the people, especially during the campaigns and those things that are found in their Social Contract with the people. The LCE and the people under each department should and must document, disseminate and celebrate small wins.

The first 100 days mark is the end of the beginning. Let us see if he fell from this early stage (no pun intended!). Knowing the early goings of all the LGUs present administration is important and the transition period matters so much.

By the way, in the absence of the state of the province, city or municipal address, local leaders can report their accomplishments to their constituents by submitting their local governance report to the DILG or by posting it at the bulletin board of the provincial, city or municipal buildings or at their respective websites. That is acceptable already, says DILG.

Posting them on Facebook, too, would be cool...

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(Photo grabbed without permission from Gov. Mario Gene J. Mendiola's Facebook account)


Friday, September 27, 2013

Reading Hobsbawm


The name Eric Hobsbawm caught me while I am reading a column about bandits and outlaws. My further readings suggest that the grand old man was a brilliant historian whose legacy includes a book published in 1969 called “Bandits”. Hobsbawm, an avid Marxist, explored how certain bandits remained criminals while others became revolutionaries. Hobsbawm died on 1 October last year and this coming Tuesday would be his first death anniversary. The foremost historian of the 20th century died at the age of 93.

It all started in 1959 when he wrote the book “Primitive Rebels” which is a study of popular forms of resistance where he coined the term “social bandits”. Social banditry is a widespread phenomenon that has occurred in many societies throughout recorded history. Many forms of social banditry once existed in our province. Reading Hobsbawm and social banditry helped me remember the most prominent “bandit” of Mindoro named Valeriano Gasic of Naujan.


Of course the Philippines have Macario Sakay who revolted against the Americans in 1904 in the province of Rizal and was hanged to death in September 1907. Sakay was loved by the people especially the residents of the Island of Talim in Laguna de Bay where he considered as his fortress.

Aside from Gasic, Reynante Andal of Pinamalayan and later, Dodo Robles have organized bands of armed men and initiated an armed struggle against the government from 1972 to 1973 as Communist fighters belonging to the New People's Army or NPA. The two groups of revolutionaries, tagged as outlaws by the police and the military, did not last long and easily crushed by the government forces that time. 


I dream that one day, I could write something about Noel “Rex” Verdadero of Magsaysay, former leader of an anti-Communist vigilante group turned bandit and was killed in a gun battle with Philippine Constabulary in June 1987; John Rey “Meno” Andres of Rizal town, together with his heavily armed group who began to sow terror in the Rizal villages of Aguas and Pitogo in 2006 and was killed also in a gun battle with the police in Urdaneta, Pangasinan. Yes, to write ala-Hobsbawm! 

Hobsbawm's key thesis was that outlaws were individuals living on the edges of rural societies by robbing and plundering, who are often seen by ordinary folks, as heroes or beacons of popular resistance. The point about social bandits is that they are regarded by the state as criminals but considered by their people, the poor masses in the countryside, as heroes and champions, perhaps even leaders of liberation, and in any case as men to be admired, helped and supported.

Social banditry of this kind is one of the most universal social phenomena known to history. Philippine cinema likewise had a bunch of films narrating stories of real "hero-bandit" like Teodoro Asedillo of Laguna (Fernando Poe, Jr.), Nardong Putik of Cavite (Ramon Revilla, Sr.) and Kumander Alibasbas of Pampanga (Joseph Estrada), to name just three.

Valeriano Gasic is considered today as a true blooded local hero from Oriental Mindoro. But in the 1900s, he and his gang of 35 men, all armed, reportedly killed around 70 suspected American collaborators. In an En Banc Decision of the Supreme Court (G.R. No. 1548) issued February 11, 1904, Gasic was sentenced to life imprisonment after his capture. Captain Gasic was then the Presidente del Municipal of Naujan. He went underground and lived in the mountains when the Americans started to rule Mindoro and declared him a “tulisan” (bandit) according to this site . The sentence was later commuted to five years in exile in the island of Culion, Palawan where he died due to tuberculosis.

“The stronghold of the “tulisanes” around Lake Naujan also became the main area of resistance during the war against the Americans in Mindoro from 1901-1903. Gasic, as regional commander, was adored by his troops and by many civilians as "commander in chief, army of liberation of the military district of Mindoro", wrote Volker Schult, author of the book “Mindoro, A Social History of a Philippine Island in the 20th Century: A Case Study of a Delayed Developmental Process.”

Until today, government officials in other countries around the world have routinely labeled political rebels as bandits. Such labeling seeks to attach negative connotations to the rebels, strip them of political legitimacy, and reduce their popular support. Not unlike how Gasic was discredited by many American leaders of Mindoro, then.

But this is what I have re-learned from Hobsbawm: Like history books, heroism and banditry, are all ideological constructs…

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(Photo: Chipsofbrookefield files)



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Arnis



Bata pa ako ay adik na ako sa mga martial arts movie kagaya nang kuwento ko sa inyo noon. Ang martial art nga ang isa sa pinakamalaking ambag ng mga Asyano sa Hollywood at marami ring mga Pinoy na apisyunado at eksperto dito ay nagkaroon ng pangalan sa Amerika kagaya nina Trovador Ramos, Edgar Sulite at Dan Inosanto. Si Inosanto ay gumanap din sa ilang minor roles kabilang na ang hindi natapos at pinakahuling pelikula ng kanyang kumpareng si Bruce Lee noong taong 1972 na may pamagat na “Game of Death” na nagtampok din sa kali o arnis.  Naging kilala siya sa promosyon ng Filipino martial art, lalo na ang arnis, sa buong mundo. Tumuon tayo kay Inosanto dahil sa isang pelikula na ipapalabas sa Enero 2014 na “I, Frankenstein” na inaasahang tatabo sa takilya. Bagama’t ito ay hindi maituturing na isang sagarang martial art movie, may konek si Inosanto sa nasabing pelikula. Ikukuwento ko sa inyo mamaya pati na ang isang pelikula na idinirehe ni Luis Nepomuceno na nilabasan ng mga international stars na napanood ko noon sa Levi Rama Theater.

Sa “I, Frankenstein” daw, kung saan bida sina Aaron Eckhart at Miranda Otto at sa direksyon ni Stuart Beattie ay itatampok ang arnis. Sa isang panayam, sinabi ni Ekchart, “We've created a different world for Frankenstein to live in. It's a modern world. He's a kali stick fighter and he's fighting for survival, love… all these different great things". Ang kali at arnis o eskrima ay pareho lang. Sina Eckhart at Otto ay sinanay ng mga martial arts expert na Ron Balicki at ang asawa niyang si Diana Lee Inosanto, anak ng maalamat na si Dan at inaaanak ni Bruce Lee. Si Dan Inosanto nga pala ay itinanghal ng Black Belt Magazine, ang bibliya ng martial art, bilang “Man of the Year”  noong  taong 1996.

Ang usaping ito ng arnis at pelikula ay nagbabalik gunita sa ilang bahagi ng ating kabataan, lalo na yaong mga tinaguriang Martial Law baby at mahilig sa  sineng katulad ko, ang pelikulang “The Pacific Connection” na na-international release sa titulong “Stick Fighter” sa direksyon ni Luis Nepomuceno na ipinalabas noong 1974. Bida dito si RolandDantes at kasama ang mga international actors na sina Nancy Kwan, Guy Madison, Alejandro Rey, Hiroshi Tanaka, Dean Stockwell at Cole Wallard, gayundin ang mga lokal na talento na sina Fred Galang, Gloria Sevilla, Elizabeth Oropesa at iba pa.

Isa ito sa mga ang  pelikulang Pinoy na may pinakamalaking badyet noong kapanahunan namin dahil ang setting nito ay noong ika 19 na siglo. Kahapon ay muli kong pinanood ang pelikulang dose anyos pa lang ako nang aking napanood. Buti na lang at may internet na ngayon. Hindi maganda ang pelikula sa maraming aspeto. Karaniwan ang istorya at may maraming sabit na diyalogo na wala sa akin noong bata pa ako. Iba nga pala ang ating apresasyon sa mga bagay-bagay noong tayo ay bata pa kaysa sa ngayong tayo ay may edad na. Sa kabuuan, ang pelikulang ito ay unang nagtampok ng pelikulang arnis sa daigdig na sinundan lang ng mga pelikulang kagaya ng “I, Frankenstein”. Aktwali, ‘sanlaksan na ang mga pelikulang banyaga na nagtampok sa arnis. Isama na natin ang mga tumabo sa takilyang “Bourne Identity”, “Ong Bak”, “Empire Strikes Back” at iba pa.

Ang arnis ngayon ay legal na na isang pambansang simbolo simula ng nilagdaan dating Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ang Republic Act 9850 noong Disyembre 11, 2009. Dahil sa Batas na ito, ang arnis ay kasama na sa kurikulum ng mga paaralan sa physical education. Hanggang isama na ito sa Palarong Pambansa noong 2010.

Ngayong kilalala na ang kali o arnis sa buong daigdig ay may puwang na rin ito dito mismo sa Pilipinas, hindi nasayang ang mga mithiin ng mga Arnis Grand Masters na sina Remy A. Presas, Federico T. Lazo at iba pa na itampok ang kulturang ito ng mga Pinoy.

Kabilang na ang mga eskrimador sa puting tabing na sina Dan Inosanto at Roland Dantes…

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(Photo: ma mags.com)


Friday, September 13, 2013

Ngopoles


Kasalukuyan pa ring kumukulo ang dugo ng karamihan sa atin dahil Pork Barrel at kay Janet Lim Napoles. Kung nakamamatay at nakapapalis lang ang mga negatibong komento, sa media at kung saan-saan pa, matagal na sanang tigok si Napoles kasama si Seksi, si Tanda at si Pogi at bula ng hindi makita ngayon ang PDAF. Lahat na halos ng Pinoy ay isinawsaw ang kanyang daliri sa key board  ng opinyong bayan at pinatilamsik ang kanyang laway sa panlalait at pang-aalipusta, kasama ang paghugos ng mga tao sa Luneta at iba pang pook, sa tunay na nakababaliw (na hindi mapasisinungalingang nakaaaliw din) na sitwasyong ito sa kasalukuyang kaso ng nuno ng korupsiyon.

Ngunit habang malakas ang ating emosyon, sigaw at panawagan na isakdal, ipiit at parusahan si Napoles at kanyang mga kasabwat, kaagad na ibasura ang Pork Barrel at sugsugin pa kung sinu-sinong mga opisyales ng pamahalaan ang nakinabang sa anomalya, kaladkarin ang mga karibal nila sa pulitika sa isyung tila karnabal kung piyesta kung pag-usapan, may isang mahalagang bagay tayong nakakaligtaan. Ito ay ang pag-aanalisa sa mga Non-Governmental Organizations o NGO sa bansa. Papaanong ang tunay na diwa at layon ng mga tunay na Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) o NGO ay mapanatili at maiiwas sa pagpasok sa katiwalian.

Hindi maipagkakaila na simula nang umusbong ang mga NGO sa bansa na bunga ng reaksyon ng sambayanan sa mapanupil na Batas Militar at pagpapalawak ng demokratikong espasyo na haplos ng Pangyayari sa EDSA noong 1986, pinalakas nito ang mga adbokasiya ng pulitikal na pakikilahok ng masa, ng mga mamamayan sa usapin ng paggu-gobyerno at pagpapaunlad. Sa tulak ng pangmadlang interes, nagsagawa ang mga lehitimong NGO ng mga panlipunang serbisyo, adbokasiya at makataong gawain sa iba’t-ibang larangan katulad ng karapatang pantao, likas-kayang pag-unlad, mabuting pamamahala at iba pa. Nanguna rin ang mga ito sa pagpapalaganap ng mga impormasyon, mga pag-aanalisa, naging mga mekanismo ng pagbibigay-babala at tumutulong sa pagmu-monitor at implementasyon ng mg programa’t proyekto ng pam-pamahalaan man o pang-pribado.

Maliban sana sa ating pagbubuhos ng galit kay Napoles at sa mga kasabwat nito sa Kongreso at Senado, maganda rin na pagtuunan natin ng pansin ang pagbibigay ng mga mungkahi upang ang mga NGO o CSO sa Pilipinas ay magpatuloy na maging tapat sa kanilang mga layunin, prinsipyong tinutuntungan at mga adhikaing panlipunan, pang-ekonomiya at pampulitika.

Dapat na magpatuloy ang mga talakayan at dayalogo sa usaping ito ng pagkikinis ng mga NGO sa bansa. Kung sakali mang ang usaping ito ay seryosohin sa imbestigasyon ng Kongreso in aid of legislation, dapat na matukoy kung sapat na ba ang kasalukuyang sistema ng regulasyon dito o dapat pa ba itong pag-ibayuhin ng pamahalaan?  Anu-anong mga pamamaraan upang maging obhetibo nating “burahin” ang mga bogus lang. Ang pagtitiyak na ang mga pekeng NGO ay hindi makapasok sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno. Dapat kagyat na ma-resolba kung ang pagreregularisa ay gawain nga ba ng pamahalaan, o dapat mamayani ang “self regulation policy” na siyang tinutuntungan ngayon ng Securities and Exchange Commission o SEC. Ang pagkakaroon ng mga malilinaw at napatutupad na mga batas hinggil dito ay kasing halaga ng paglusaw sa Pork Barrel sa ating mga pampulitikang kusina o pagpapanibago sa resipe nito at pagpapakulong kay Napoles at kanyang mga kasabwat, kasapakat at kabalat. Si Napoles na tuwid nga kung magsalita ngunit kaduda-duda naman ang mensahe.

Anu’t-anuman, higit na mahalaga ngayon ang mahigpit na panawagan para sa pampublikong paggigiit para sa accountability, sa pamamagitan ng pampublikong paghahayag o transparensi. Ang bawat NGO ay dapat na maatasan na regular na mag-uulat ng kanilang mga pamamalakad, operasyon o pamamahala at mga accomplishments sa mga tao at grupo na dapat sana ay kanilang pinaglilingkuran. Kung papaano ito gagawin ay dapat siya ring pag-ukulan ng pansin.

Ang mga tunay na taong NGO ay tuwid kung mangusap at magpaliwanag. Determinado at may pagtatalaga ng sarili. Hindi ngongo ang mensahe...

(Photo: GMA Network)