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Editorial Board: Kalayaan Pulido-Constantino, Felipe Ramiro, Jr., Paul del Rosario and Alexandra Pura Editor: Lan Mercado Associate Editor: Alexandra Pura Managing Editor: Ma. Katherine Clarin Copy Editor: Kristina Gaerlan Book Design: Gato Borrero Researchers: Sheiglyn Encelan, Mai Calapardo Amilou Gatchalian and Nora Nesola Proof Readers: Annie Calma Santoalla, Rory Urgel and Ma. Katherine Clarin Production of this e-book was managed by Alexandra Pura All materials in this publication, including without limitation text, logos, icons, photographs and all other artworks, are copyright materials of Oxfam in the Philippines, unless otherwise stated. 2

Pulished by Oxfam Philippines Programme


CONTENTS 7 Foreword/ Edicio dela Torre 15 Introduction/Lan Mercado,

Alexandra Pura and Kathy Clarin

17 The Contributors The Founding Years 26 Starting Up Pains: Dangerous, Audacious and Grounded / Chris Daniell


The Troubled, Turbulent Years / Paul Valentin


Action and Reflection / Lot Felizco

Growth, Evolution, Connection 86 Transistions /Lenore Polotan-Dela Cruz 90 Riding the Waves of Change / Lan Mercado 102 Stories from Central Mindanao 103 War, the Human Spirit and Inspiration / Abdullah Ampilan

108 Mga Batang Bakwit / Lailah O. Mala 115 The Engineering that One Learns from Oxfam / A.R.T. Tamayo

45 Lessons Fundamental and Valuable / Darwin Flores

119 Because Oxfam is Different / Noel Pedrola

48 Connecting People / Chona Leah Ramos

121 Occupational Hazards / Esther Bose-Magdayo

53 The Effort and Pay-off: A Worthwhile Exchange

125 Displaced but Empowered / Lou Lasap

56 From Wild to World-Class: A People’s Journey to Define

129 The Essentials of Working in a Disaster

60 The Evolution of the Fisheries Code: Grit and Gumption

135 Beyond the Barriers of Faith / Abdullah Ampilan

/ Francis Perez

Ecotourism / Dante Dalabajan / Marie NuĂąez

67 In a Span of a Jeepney Wait:

From Misgiving to Inspiration / Arlene Mahinay


Life Lessons amidst Disasters / Meng Abarquez

77 Pinatubo: The Lessons from My Initiation into Disaster Management / Paul del Rosario

83 Enabling our Ambitions / Judith Reyes 4

/ Joel Rodriguez

141 Sling Operations / Egoy Bans 146 Bangon Silangan: A Concert for Infanta / Noel Cabangon

149 What Matters Most in Disaster Preparedness/ Bong Masagca

153 On Challenges and Paradigm Shifts

227 The View from the Sidelines

157 Separating Grain from Chaff / Gil Francis G. Arevalo

233 The Essentials of Disaster Risk Mitigation

161 Education: Investing in Possibilities / Thea Soriano

237 Finding and Redefining ‘Local’ in Humanitarian

/ Donna Lagdameo


The School in Bendum / Kareen Marie Cerdeña

171 Navigating through Transitions and Confusions / Joel Rodriguez

176 Cut the Cost, Cut the Pain / Dennis Batangan 181 The Campaign for Affordable Medicines / Candy Diez 189 R1, Ka Jimmy and Me / Jessica Reyes-Cantos 193 What happens when you mix power, spaces and a dash of women leadership? / Gaynor Tanyang

197 Gladiolas / Alexandra Pura

/ Denise Danielle R. Galvez

Redefined/ Janice Ian Manlutac

Response Capacity / Paul G. Del Rosario

241 Tempering my Temper via Emails / Absar J. Taulani 243 What’s On Your Mind: Forays into Social Media / Abbi Luz

251 Women’s Right to Change: On Their Terms / Jose Melvin Lamanilao

255 People and Climate: Ensuring Local Governments and Communities have the Means to Adapt / Kalayaan Pulido-Constantino

261 Farmers’ School for Resiliency and Climate-Informed Agriculture / Hazel Tanchuling

267 The GROW Campaign: How to Unpack a Concept, Then Make It Your Own / Marie Nuñez

273 When Art, Social Media and Activism Congeal / Leni Velasco

Enabling Change 204 Bigger Than the Sum of Their Parts / Snehal Soneji 208 One Oxfam: The Ingredients / Based on

documents from Henk Peters and Chris Adams

213 The Change Maker as the Changed / Felipe Ramiro Jr.

217 On Reasons and Motivations / Rodilyn Bolo

279 Trail talking and Sleepwalking in Hong Kong

/ Robert Francis Garcia and Janice Ian Manlutac

287 An Event to Make Them Count / Marie Nuñez 293 A Babysitter’s Diary: Women’s Power in the Age of the Open Market / Glenn Maboloc

298 Afterword / Cherian Mathews

221 Small and Invisible in the Development Map / Soc Banzuela


Oxfam’s 25 years of service and partnership with Philippine development and humanitarian actors are dedicated to the children, women and men who struggle, and whose efforts are foiled, but ultimately triumph over deprivation and injustice. Your stories are our stories. Your hopes are our hopes.



FOREWORD Oxfam sa Pilipinas @ 25 Edicio dela Torre

‘After 25 years of receiving donor funds for projects in the Philippines, what have you to show for it?’ I don’t remember who asked me to address this question. It was more than 20 years ago, but I remember that the workshop was organised by Oxfam. It must have been part of its early activities in the Philippines. The question challenged me. But it also bothered me. My immediate response was to reframe the question: ‘It’s not mainly about the money, though that is important. The question I ask myself—the more important question we ask ourselves— is about our lives. After devoting 25 years of our lives trying to bring about changes in our country, what have we to show for it?’ That was the question we asked each other, then. As it celebrates 25 years of presence in the Philippines, Oxfam could pose a similar question to itself, now. To the question ‘What have you to show for it?’ I answered that our 25 years of development work can show results at three levels: the grassroots, middle class and elite. What have we to show for our work with the grassroots? We have helped them build up their social capital as an essential element of their empowerment. What have we to show for our work with the middle class? We have successfully promoted development service as a ‘normal’ personal and professional option. Did our work have any impact among the dominant elite? We have influenced their discourse and agenda, though with limited results.



Social capital formation and grassroots empowerment Our efforts, including those supported by funds from abroad, can credibly claim to have helped build human and social capital among the ‘poor, deprived, oppressed and exploited,’ with the addition of ‘aware and struggling.’ Oxfam has introduced a contemporary counterpart of PDOE—MEVS—the marginalised, excluded, and vulnerable sectors. I wonder what would be Oxfam’s version of the additional ‘aware and struggling.’ I propose ‘social capital formation.’ We did not use this term then. Instead, we talked of organising and mobilising the grassroots or basic sectors for collective action. After EDSA 1986, I was part of the effort to give distinct importance to popular education and grassroots leadership formation. These organised grassroots mobilisations did not always achieve their specific goals. But throughout those 25 years, they have contributed cumulatively to what we call ‘grassroots empowerment.’ Putting this in a global context, compared to the middle income countries in the Global South, the Philippines has a higher than average percentage of poor people. But we also have a higher than average share of organised grassroots sectors and communities. Among these organised sectors and communities, we have helped develop an alternative culture. In place of the patron-client relationships of dependence, we have helped engender greater realisation of the need and possibilities of relying on their collective action—ranging from resistance and protest to negotiations and partnership. Investing our social capital Capital is not simply wealth; it is wealth invested to achieve a growth objective. If it is not invested or if it is invested in failed ventures, it will diminish, even dissipate. The



same is true of social capital. Much of the social capital built in the 1970s up to EDSA was invested in the grand political project of overthrowing a dictatorial regime, and replacing it with a coalition government that would be more than a simple restoration of pre-martial law elite rule. We accomplished the first project, though not quite as originally planned. But the results of the second venture have continued to be disappointing. There lies the challenge. Some would want to regroup our energies to focus on changing the government. Others prefer to invest in pushing any ‘government of the day’ to do its work, no matter how limited its agenda. Such competing political investments divide our pooled social capital. Our political project included the hope for social development—that a better government would lead the Philippines to become a more equitable and progressive nation. There have been limited gains, helped by the persistent efforts of constituencies we have built toward making government programs work. Still, when it comes to national issues and strategies, our social capital tends to be divided by competing priorities. It is at the local level where there is a greater confluence of energies, which result in further increasing social capital. ‘Participatory local governance’ or PLG is one of our post-EDSA achievements, in partnership with reform-minded local government officials. The list of places where this is happening is not limited to the roll of honour in the Galing Pook awards.



Development work as a choice Social activism, even if not politically militant, has usually been considered an ‘abnormal’ (above normal) option. Admirable, perhaps, but limited to a heroic or ‘crazy’ few. But over 25 years, we have legitimised development work and social involvement as options for young college graduates and not-so-young middle class professionals. Their option takes different forms, and may be only for a limited time rather than a lifetime, but it has become part of the range of ‘normal’ choices. Why is this important? Applying what Gramsci has written in another context, the struggle for change will move forward faster only if we can make what is considered ‘good sense’ to become accepted as ‘common sense,’ when it is seen as a chance to combine professional growth and life-long learning with the pursuit of a life of service and purpose. Oxfam has been and continues to be a valued and appreciated as part of such supportive networks. Influencing the elite agenda Our centre of gravity continues to be the long-term project of grassroots empowerment. But we have to pursue it in the context of a political and economic system that is dominated by competing elites. The ‘politics of resistance’ served us well in the years of martial rule. After EDSA it had to be combined with the needed ‘politics of participation and engagement,’ including advocacy. Comparing the language of the dominant elite from 1986, it is evident that a great part of activist advocacies has entered official vocabulary—from buzzwords like peo-



ple’s empowerment and participation, to sustainable and equitable development. This question may be raised, of course: Is this an achievement we should claim, or is it a clever cooptation of our language, without real impact on their policies and practices? I think it is a bit of both, with many variations depending on the issues and policies. Elite appropriation of our issues is one step forward from the stage where the issues themselves were not even accepted as legitimate, and where either outrightly repressed or excluded from mainstream democratic debate. The challenge is how to use this legitimisation to press the elite for actions that are consistent with their words. Learning to do effective advocacy Oxfam has contributed significantly to ‘what we have to show’ at the level of the grassroots, middle class, and elite. But if I had to put its contributions in a hierarchy, I think that Oxfam has contributed most to our learning how to do effective advocacy in the Philippines. Oxfam’s contribution is not limited to learning the techniques of influencing elite policy and practice, especially in the allocation of limited public goods and funds. It includes learning how to combine work with the grassroots, on the ground, with activities like research that makes advocacy more credible and successful. Oxfam’s international character and connections have been helpful in developing a ‘real world strategy’ of advocacy. Like other funding agencies, Oxfam has supported



the political choices made by partners, in their contexts, and these include the politics of resistance. But being a campaigning organisation, it has to work within the limits of UK charity laws and develop a strategy of change that is appropriate for its advocacy toward government of the dominant Global North. The strategies and tactics that it has evolved—combining high profile campaigning and projection of grassroots work with research to produce evidence-based policy proposals, among others, have helped accelerate our learning in the Philippines. The learning has also been accelerated by Oxfam’s introduction of themes and lessons from global campaigns, and from other country initiatives. Of course we needed to adapt these to our Philippine context and priorities. This is in the spirit of what an exiled activist from El Salvador told me: ‘Compañero, we must learn from others, but we must think for ourselves.’ On the other hand, I think we can also say that the Philippines has contributed to the global learning process through the channels provided by Oxfam. Oxfam and ourselves, into the future Anniversaries are a time to look back, and also forward. My favourite aphorism from Soren Kierkegaard applies to Oxfam: ‘Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.’ So, compared to extended reflections on our work, I will not dare to say much about the future, except for some lessons we can take with us from our past.



Having appreciated Oxfam’s contribution to effective advocacy, I must express caution, not to Oxfam alone, but to all advocacy networks that I am part of, to make sure that we do not lose our ‘edge.’ Our strategic strength lies in working from the edges, on the margins. Our preferential option for the MEVS should be driven, not by a sense of ‘noblesse oblige’ in the manner of compassionate conservatives or even liberals. We work with the MEVS not just because of their needs, but because we believe in their strategic potential for achieving equity and sustainability. That is why we invest in their development. It is not easy to link our work from the edges with our advocacy work toward those in power, especially if we do not want to be permanent substitutes to the relatively voiceless and powerless. And as we succeed in our advocacy work, we must be wary of the temptation to become simply new inside players in existing circles of power. The ability to work outside and inside the dominant system is what we need to hone and handle well, if we are to be effective in pursuing our common purposes. Let me end with an instructive discussion we had during a strategic planning session of E-Net Philippines, the national civil society advocacy network that Oxfam had a major role in setting up. E-Net has been appointed to be the co-chair of the National Education for All) Committee chaired by the Department of Education. At some point, I half-jokingly asked whether this was our achievement or a successful effort to co-opt us. Our unity in E-Net with DepEd is to build the broadest alliance possible



to promote Education for All 2015, as part of the global commitments made in Dakar. We even have a catchy slogan—’All for Education for All!’ As we discussed our future plans, the E-Net members who are working with grassroots communities and have their roots in the tradition of popular education, asked: ‘What about our vision of transformative education? Are we still pursuing that? How?’ As we discussed our future plans, E-Net members working with grassroots communities, with roots in the tradition of popular education. Our focus is on building an active constituency, among the grassroots and allied sectors, but to what effect? Sometimes, all we can achieve with our engagement is to make the government and existing education system ‘perform’ better. But clearly, we do not see our work as limited to that. We definitely see the need to ‘reform’ the education system. What about our vision of ‘transformative education?’ Do we realistically hope to transform the existing system, or should we not look for such possibilities outside the system? There are no easy and fixed answers. My hope, for ourselves and for Oxfam, is that we acknowledge all three as arenas of engagement, find ways to push for all possibilities, and work out ways to agree on where and how to focus our limited energies.



INTRODUCTION Lan Mercado, Alexandra Pura and Kathy Clarin

We love stories. Most people love stories. Stories are best when they come with photographs, especially when the images speak to us. Photographs remind us of time flying too fast. But we are grateful nonetheless for those captured moments, landscapes, objects of import. Our love for stories is the reason for this book—to share stories and photographs of women and men as they go about trying to make a difference, trying to make the world a better place. Over lunch, over long drives, over long days and nights of fieldwork, stories have been fairly well traded among colleagues and team mates. Without being conscious about it, we are certain that they have become part of why we get up in the morning and go to work with wings on our feet and fortitude in our hearts. Early this year, we inadvertently discovered that Oxfam was going on its 25th year in the Philippines. 25 years! We got a bit excited and thought about getting a cake and pansit from our favourite neighbourhood café and celebrating it right then and there. We then remembered staff and partners we worked with through the years, who were no longer with us, and decided that we wanted to celebrate this with them. Where Oxfam is now in the Philippines is a product of many people’s ideas, actions and passions – past and present. Producing this book was quite daunting. Just looking at the mountains of photos and the list of people and partners to contact was enough to stop us in our tracks. But the germ of an idea had caught on, and as the emailed stories from past Country Directors and former staff (Exfams!) began arriving from different parts of the world, our hearts swelled with gratitude for Oxfam and the people who make it up. What the organisation and its individual members stand for is still keenly shared by so many people, even by those who left the organisation years ago.



The stories in this book are the authentic experiences of the authors. Of course, the stories are meaningful at the personal level. At the same time, they offer insights that others may be able to apply. When we were thinking about what would make people read a book or a story, we thought that people will want to see something that works—especially at the level of the personal, so that, perhaps, the big narratives can be connected with the small, everyday stuff. So, through the crucible of discussions within the Philippines team, it was decided this book would be about stories of ‘the changer as the changed.’ It would be about Oxfam staff and partners— agents of change—and how they were shaped and reshaped by their engagement with people in the communities they served and the institutions they challenged. The first part of the book tells how Oxfam started its office in the Philippines with two staff members working from an old hotel in Ermita. We were quite happy to locate Chris Daniell, the first Country Director , and were delighted by the stories he sent. It goes on to share stories about how Oxfam set its roots in the realities faced by the Philippines at the time. Many of the stories in the book’s second part illustrate the road that the Philippine programme took, the turns and U-turns it made, and the new paths that staff members and partners trod as we gained a better understanding of an Oxfam that was changing, and the Philippines too, as it was changing, and ourselves, as we evolved and adapted. This portion also tries to trace the connections from the programme in the Philippines to what Oxfam aims to do globally. The third part is about Oxfam now and what it focuses on in partnership with others. Some things have improved, but some of the forces that have kept people poor remain constant. The third part of the book is essentially about forging ahead. The whole book is about how we tried to become better versions of our selves. When we grow, when we get better, when we stay true to our work for equality and justice, Oxfam too grows, gets better and succeeds in achieving lasting solutions to poverty and suffering.



THE CONTRIBUTORS Meng Abarquez: Wants to fulfill these promises to herself - learn pottery, weaving and building her dream-house in Hacienda San Benito in Lipa, Batangas, so all her friends can come and visit her. Chris Adams: Was the Mekong Regional Manager of Oxfam Hong Kong. Previous to that, he was a Programme Development Manager of Oxfam Australia. Abdullah Ampilan: When the school administration handed to him the nomination form for the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines then, the deadline for submitting it was long past. The thought of him being a nominee to the TEN made him ROFL! Seriously, he said he thought that he would forever be a ‘frustrated writer’. So he is happy to read his story in this eBook. Gil Francis G. Arevalo: No other combination does the magic for Gil: all it takes is a cup of coffee or a bottle of Red Bull plus a dash of smile and humour to make this highly driven and energetic Peter Parker-wannabe-former-Oxfam-project-staff do his job. Egoy N. Bans: Egoy considers himself an international solidarity activist, having spent years and decades supporting East Timor’s struggle for independence, as well as the democratic reform and ethnic rights movement in Burma/Myanmar. Soc Banzuela: Is a community organiser, guru and a faithful disciple of Satyagraha (Gandhi’s principle of active non-violence). He has been organising farmers and fisherfolks over the last 30 years or so, and has been a mover and advocate of fisheries and agrarian reform in the Philippines. Soc is a loving husband to Esther Penunia and a loving father to Carlo, Ana and Nicolas.



Dennis Batangan: A physician working on public and community health issues, was a Co-Convenor of the Cut the Cost, Cut the Pain Network (3CPNet). He is a Research Associate at the Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo De Manila University. Rodilyn Bolo: Is a vegetarian and mother of two, who loves to run, cook, read, write, travel (not exactly in that order)... is passionate about nature, urban gardening and into mountaineering and spelunking. Noel Cabangon: Has been a long-time friend of Oxfam and and supports Oxfam’s work through his music. Jeck Reyes-Cantos: Until 30 June 2013, has been in Philippine Congress for 20 years, 17 years of which were spent with the Tañadas — first with former Senator Bobby Tañada, and the last nine years with Rep. Erin Tañada. She maintained her sanity not just by being choosy with her legislator-bosses, but by linking-up with farmers, women’s groups, fisherfolks, workers and patriotic private sector groups and reform advocates. Kareen Marie Cerdeña: Now Mrs. Tonje Mang, is based in Cameroon after finishing her 3.5-year volunteering stint with the VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). She hopes to continue living her dream of working closely with communities and partners while learning French on the side. Kalayaan Pulido-Constantino: Is the Interim Country Director for Oxfam in the Philippines. Her substantive post is as Programme Coordinator for Advocacy, Campaigns and Communications. She is currently building the house of her dream – see you at Capers! Dante Dalabajan: Was a staff of ELAC (Environmental Legal Action Center) from 1998 to 2008. He has been working with Oxfam since 2009. He loves swimming, music and reading. Chris Daniell: After a series of exciting Oxfam jobs, he defected to Medical Aid for Palestinians, and then the Red Cross. He is now an Assistant Professor of Anaesthetics at the Fiji School of Medicine.



Lenore Polotan-Dela Cruz: Tata to friends, is an Associate Professor of Community Development at the College of Social Work and Community Development, UP Diliman. She also serves as adviser and consultant on development concerns, from management, evaluations, leadership and OD processes to various local and international civil society organisation groups. Paul G. Del Rosario: Is the current Humanitarian Programme Coordinator for Oxfam in the Philippines. Straight out of college, he went to work on humanitarian response and DRR, beginning with a local NGO on disaster risk management. In fact, aside from trying out literary writing at one point in his life, he really has not done anything else but humanitarian response and DRR. Edicio De La Torre: Ed is one well-loved triple X guy: ex-priest, ex-political detainee, and ex-government official (a former Director General of TESDA during Erap’s presidency)! He is groovy! at 70. And like a watermelon, he is green on the outside and red on the inside. Candy Diez: Her interest lies in producing video documentaries. She believes that when Plan A fails, there are still 25 letters more in the alphabet. Lot Felizco: Was Oxfam in the Philippines’ Country Director from 1995 – 1999. She took a break from Oxfam to finish her MA in Social Anthropology of Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies. She later re-joined Oxfam in 2002, as Policy Director for Oxfam Hong Kong. Currently, she is a lecturer at the Community Development Department, CSWCD, UP Diliman. Darwin Flores: He is currently Head of the Community Partnerships Department of Smart Communications, Inc., largest corporate taxpayer and a leading wireless provider in the Philippines. Denise Danielle R. Galvez: Is an adrenaline-seeking junkie, who believes that the world is her playground. She believes that despite all its imperfections, life is still a beautiful adventure.



Robert Francis Garcia: Says that he sometimes feel a chasm of emptiness inside himself. And he deals with this by eating a full meal and, voila! that emptiness is gone. (This was excerpted from his ‘25 Random Things about Me’ on his Facebook page. Friend him if you want to read more about how deep he is. Burp! Donna Mitzi D. Lagdameo: She said that true to her names, she is a lady (Donna), who loves to dress up, and a little angel (Mitzi), who will kill you with kindness. But don’t get fooled, she warns, because inside, this woman is rock solid and will never take no for an answer. Jose Melvin Lamanilao: Currently the Executive Director of PBPF. He leads the partnership with Oxfam since 2009, and has been a consistent advocate of IP rights, especially of indigenous women’s rights. He also advocates for the IKSP, together with the science of understanding climate resilience and programming in Mindanao. Lou Lasap: In 1996, was an Oxfam Programme Assistant for the Community-based Coastal Resources Management and Sustainable Resource Management for Ancestral Domain. In 2000-2005, a Programme Officer for the Disaster Risk Management Programme, then an Oxfam Humanitarian Support Personnel. Currently, she’s in Lebanon and Jordan helping out with the Syria crisis response. Abbi Luz: Considers herself an Oxfam baby, starting her humanitarian career at 22 and growing up in emergencies, more emergencies and a dash of DRR (with a sprinkle of AADMER). Depending on who you’re talking to, Abbi is either Cristy Super Pinay or the Tech Geek. Either way, she is a firm advocate of using technology and social media advocacies in Oxfam’s everyday work. Glenn Maboloc: Was the Media and Communications Officer of Oxfam’s country programme from 2008 to 2012. She now works in the movies. Esther Bose-Magdayo: Was Oxfam’s engineer during the height of Oxfam’s humanitarian response to the impact of the All-Out War in Central Mindanao. Arlene Mahinay: Is currently VSO Country Director in Nepal, who loves to sing (even though she said, some people would rather that she doesn’t open her mouth!), likes to travel and is afraid of heights! She also loves the sea (too bad though because there is no sea in Nepal).



Lailah Omar-Mala: She is a registered teacher by profession, a mother of four, who loves to cook and travel. She is fascinated by beautiful beaches and green sceneries. She would have wanted to become a nurse and finish her masteral studies. Janice Ian Manlutac: In all her three years with Oxfam, she said she has realised that for all its passion and noble intentions to solve global hunger and poverty, oppose landgrabbing, push for gender equity, respond to emergencies and institute resiliency, Oxfam never fails to picnic and party, trailwalk, ukay shop, FB, dance and karaoke...It’s her kind of office. Bong Masagca: A native of Catanduanes, is the Executive Director of the PDRRN. He has been working on DRR for the past 22 years. Cherian Mathews: Cherian loves traveling and watching movies. He’s also passionate about the art of street theatre. He is the current Oxfam Asia Regional Director. Lan Mercado: Moved from being a Campaigns Officer to Philippines Country Director and served for nine years. She is currently Oxfam’s Asia Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns and Policy. Recently got into ceramics, returned to drawing, and into treks and climbs (if the company is right). Is a proud mother of two, loving wife, and a loyal friend. Looking for a farm in Tanay. Marie Nuñez: Marie loves Kapeng Barako, brewed fresh in a french press, with matching bibingka or tamales Ibaan for breakfast. Happiness for her is an old narra chair in the veranda, a golden bamboo, and the intoxicating scent of Dama de Noche in full bloom. Asked what would it be for her if she didn’t pursue an activist life, she says she would otherwise be teaching and inspiring student volunteers or singing her heart out in musical theatre. Noel Pedrola: Believes that there are many stories to tell, but words and pictures are too limited to be able to share them. Francis Perez: Kiko was ‘compelled’ to learn SCUBA Diving as part of his job as PO for CBCRM in OGB in the Philippines. He also ‘had to put up’ with seafood diet for almost five years. He misses his job as PO very much and occasionally indulges with and ‘endures’ field visits just so he is able to relive the ordeal. :-)



Henk Peters: Was part of the Oxfam Country Team that co-created the Joint Oxfam Mindanao Programme and the roadmap to a One Oxfam Programme in the Philippines. Alexandra Pura: Oxfamized since 2001, loves the wave, the pilot and the martian. Felipe S. Ramiro Jr.: A family man, proud to be from Mindanao. He runs a bakery to practice what he preaches to small farmers about entrepreneurship. At the end of the day, Ipe, as he is fondly called, enjoys quiet time with a book, a CD or a meal with a few close friends. He believes in Oxfam’s core business and finds his past five years with Oxfam enriching. Chona Leah Ramos: Chona worked with Oxfam for 10 years. She finds working with Oxfam a learning experience. Judith Reyes: A devout martial law activist, started marching the streets of Manila to protest the ills of Philippine society at age 13, devoted about 2.5 decades of her life for the same cause. She then worked with Oxfam for almost 15 years, fighting poverty and working for justice and equality in the country. Currently in a continuing quest for quality life—youthful, healthy and wealthy—with enough energy to spend time with grand kids (and see them develop into great human beings) and with sufficient resources that would allow her to continue making a difference in the lives of others. Joel Rodriguez: Was 11 years an Oxfam manager. Currently the SVP and COO of the New Rural Bank of San Leonardo, Inc. (NRBSL), a 12-branch local bank in West Central Luzon, Philippines. Snehal Soneji: He is an unargumentative Indian who was, until June 2013 based in Manila, where he honed his karaoke skills and discovered why it’s more fun in the Philippines. The 3+ years he spent here were not enough for him to belt out a full song, so he hopes to come back and complete his training in that department. He also wants to get more fit like Steven Seagal, who he says he gets compared to often, especially by his team mates when they bid him ‘adieu!’ at the end of his term as the CD of Oxfam’s Programme in the Philippines. Thea Soriano: Cecilia V. Soriano or Thea to colleagues, has been a popular educator through her work with the IPD (Institute for Popular Democracy) and later the Popular Education for People’s Empowerment (PEPE). She is a founding member of the Education Network (E-Net) established in 2000, and from 2006 to 2012 was its National Coordinator, where she helped build a constituency and advocacy for the Education for All campaign and other education reforms.



Absar J. Taulani Learning is a process... nothing is impossible for those who want to learn. A.R.T. Tamayo Says ‘I’m just a slipper, simple yet extraordinary. You may walk a thousand miles with your most expensive shoes, but you’ll always find a comfort way back home with me’. Hazel Tanchuling: Had been the Secretariat Coordinator of R1 since it was constituted in 2004. Was with the Philippine Peasant Institute before that. And is married to Pepe Tanchuling, blest with two children. Gaynor Tanyang: Between cheering for her champion gymnasts, trotting Southeast Asia, climbing Mount Kinabalu, and supporting Trailwalkers, Gaynor contributes to society by promoting a New Dictionary of Cryptic Acronyms that will make you croon ‘I Will Survive’ in no time. Gaynor started with CBCRM, went on to LDPW, then PKKK and is now the Acting APG PM, facilitating ASEAN and CSO partnerships in the implementation of AADMER. Paul Valentin: Spent his best years with Oxfam in the Philippines (1989-1993) and working on East Asia from Oxford (1993 – 2000), and after a three-year detour in the US, kicked the Oxfam-habit about 10 years ago (and quite happy with it). Now a confirmed member of the Exfam family, had dreams of taking up anthropology but ended up running the international work of Christian Aid, one of Oxfam’s ‘rivals’ in the UK! Still visits the Philippines about every other year, but that is for visiting family and friends and for lazing on the beach—all those things he didn’t get enough of while working for Oxfam! Leni Velasco: Leni advocates a whole brand of activism as she seeks unexplored paths to strike the balance between the struggle for social change and creativity, joy, humor, and rock and roll. She is the driving force behind the wide array of personalities in the organisation and at the helm of all hullaballoo in Dakila as its Executive Director. Photographers: Abbi Luz Amanda Mulligan Buck Pago Danny Victoriano Francis Perez Gerard Carreon Glenn Maboloc Jim Holmes

Joseph Agcaoili Kareen Cerdena Kieth Bacongco L Freeby Mai Calapardo Michael Cruz Nonoy Regalado Norly Mercado

Oxfam Archives PDRRN Archives Sheiglyn Encelan Teddy Arellano Tricia Spanner Tul Pinkaew Veejay Villafranca Wikipedia Commons





The Founding Years



Starting Up Pains:


Audacious AND grounded Chris Daniell Oxfam was actually a funding support in the Philippines for a number of years before I established an office there. The Deputy Director of the Overseas Division, Charles Skinner, who had left the Foreign Office as a response to the Suez Crisis then, was also Coordinator for the Asia region. Part of his job was to visit other countries like the Philippines that were considered either too dangerous a site for a local office, or too small a programme to justify one. The result was having visits several times a year to meet with a range of local groups to arrange funding and monitor their progress. This ‘remote management’ (and monitoring!) obviously had some risks and limitations, particularly in a country as polarised as the Philippines at the time of the Marcos’ overthrow and 26


the People Power Revolution. Oxfam HQ made a prompt decision to establish a residential office in the ‘democratic space’ created by Cory Aquino’s accession to power. I was recruited to set it up, having worked in the HQ for a number of years and being seen as a fairly safe pair of hands. In addition, I had a medical title that might offer some protection or cover. The immediate post-revolution mood was one hopeful for democratic change, particularly for land reform, but still quite unstable, and with quite some real danger to NGOs and people’s organisations, and those ‘foreign funders’ like us trying to support them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, it could be more of a problem for funders like us trying to establish a local office than those not. In the first six months, whilst we lived in a cheap Ermita hotel and struggled to get official permission to open an office, and a bank account, and work visas, there were seven coup attempts—which my partner usually found out about earlier than I did as she was turned back from the famous EDSA intersection trying to get to her voluntary teaching job at one of the universities. Similarly, in this early PC era, most of the correspondence with HQ was a weekly



hand-written synopsis on typing paper (with a near unreadable carbon-copy for the records) which was then air-mailed off to Oxford to arrive two to three weeks later. We ensured the stamps were franked at the counter and deliberately changed Post Office every couple of weeks as a guaranty the mail was not being intercepted. International phone calls were rare because they involved a trip to queue at a booth. Apart from the cost, we assumed all the calls to be intercepted. Project visits, which we regarded as essential for monitoring, could also be fraught, especially in areas that had local militias or ‘goons’ (who had often caused the damage the grant was supposed to help repair). Indeed a project holder and I were abducted for several days at one stage in Cotabato by a group of militia accompanied by a military person while we were trying to ensure Oxfam funds were used to rebuild a settlement as intended. As for Oxfam itself, the ethos obviously hasn’t changed—although the approaches to encouraging change certainly have. Probably, the most noticeable organisational change was simply the scale. In part, this was due to the whole of Oxfam coming together. For example, Novib (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Internationale Bijstand) used to have its separate office in the Philippines, while CAA (Community Aid Abroad) from Australia and OHK (Oxfam Hong Kong) both visited regularly to see their own



selection of project holders, often different from Oxfam’s. Our own portfolio of projects was much smaller than now, and with the overseas units’ people knowing one another personally, things could get done informally. For example, Oxfam Trading was already well established in the Philippines as a supplier for the Oxfam shops, and the local representative was very generous with help to set us up, from back-

loading our personal goods to Manila and getting them cleared through customs to useful introductions to bank managers and government panjandrums to hasten paperwork that normally took an excellent time of six months. Without a proper corporate bank account, there were plenty in our arrangement—residing in a hotel for six months, eating every meal ‘out’, travelling by public transport (with hundreds of JD bus tickets from going up and down EDSA alone in each month’s accounts), plus the need to use different foreign exchange stalls to avoid a financial trail while the currency fluctuated wildly, posed enormous challenge to the relationship between the field and Sheena Grossett, my Desk Officer in Oxford, and George Abban in Accounts. Not to mention, renting and furnishing a new house cum office. But there were no major conflicts and we knew each other well enough to just get on and make it all work (although I still don’t understand why Oxfam houses could have only five dining chairs but six sets of cutlery—or was it vice versa?).

UK winter), but it really is worthwhile to be able to give donors the added confidence of regular local presence. Even more important, the resident field staff played an enormously important role in ‘cross-fertilising’ between projects and ensuring the fit between a project’s design and implementation. This, to me, was genuine on-the-ground partnering. To a lesser extent, the shared psychological and physical risks of living in a transitioning country and visiting project areas together were possibly the most significant contributions during this period. The establishment of a local office at that particular juncture indicated an extra element of solidarity perhaps?

Despite these problems of setting up an office (or, indeed, keeping it going), I’ve been overwhelmingly convinced of the advantage—and need—for funders like Oxfam to have a fulltime ‘local’ delegation rather than just visiting representatives. Of course there is always some teasing that it reflects a lack of trust and an extra overhead (as well as less charitable jibes about holiday destinations in the -Home-


The Troubled,

Turbulent Years Paul Valentin I took over as Country Representative with Oxfam UK and Ireland, as the organisation was then called, from Chris Daniell, an Australian medical doctor with a track record of working in Oxfam’s humanitarian hotspots. He had set up the office in 1988 in Manila, but by the time I arrived, this had moved to a more permanent office-cum-residence in Philam Homes, Quezon City. By then, the office had one other member of staff, Edna Soriano, who was in charge of office administration. There was one computer, used solely for word processing. The Internet was yet unheard of. The First Salvo I had previously lived and worked in the Philippines—six years as a food security consultant with an NGO in Sagada, Mountain Province, but 30


I was new to Oxfam. The combination of residence and office was a challenge to our twoyear old son who could not see why the ground floor and the postage stamp-sized garden should be off limits during the day time. We soon moved our residence to Teachers’ Village and a few months later, the office moved to a nondescript commercial building on Timog Avenue. But somehow, we failed to bring along the telephone line so the office was without a phone for over a year. I did use a pager which people could call, and then I had to find a phone and call them back. Communications with Oxford were based on telex messages sent and received via Globe Mackay in Cubao. Here I was, the “highly paid” Oxfam country representative spending a few hours every day on public transport picking up or dropping off messages to and from the UK! I was soon allowed to recruit a first Programme Officer to assist particularly with our work in Mindanao. Vicky Horfilla filled the role and when



we were given permission to buy a vehicle, the team was expanded to include Mang Rudy Molina as office driver/messenger. The first vehicle was a Nissan pick-up truck without air conditioning (considered too expensive by Oxford) but had to be fitted with seat-belts, which were not standard at the time! Soon after, I realised that the Philippines’ programme was a bit of ‘the odd one out.’ British knowledge of and interest in the Philippines were limited, and Oxfam Asia’s core programme was the Indian subcontinent, with Indochina as a recent addition. Indonesia and the Philippines were the outliers. The massive floods, typhoons and displacement due to armed conflict in the Philippines barely registered on Oxford’s consciousness. Reports were submitted, but I never felt the pressure to do more than just issue a grant here or there for recovery work. Questions never arose in relation to what we were doing about a situation. In management terms, the Philippines’ country representative reported to the Desk Officer in Oxford, Sheena Grosset, who once was with the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) in Rome and was now in charge of Oxfam’s programmes in Indonesia, the Philippines, as well as Uttar Pradesh in India. After a restructuring of the Asia desk by Head



of Asia, Tricia Parker, Sheena was replaced by Hillary Coulby, who later became my successor as country representative. The programme I inherited was a hodgepodge of partners and sectors all over the country. There were excellent partners working in difficult places or on tricky issues, and there were some partners and activities funded for no apparent reason other than that we had supported them for many years. In the first category, I remember two projects in South Cotabato that we supported. One was led by an elderly French missionary priest, Fr. Yves, who worked with indigenous peoples to restore the devastated ecology of the area. Second was a clinic run by a Spanish nun in the middle of nowhere that provided medical assistance in an area totally devoid of this. That part of Mindanao saw frequent encounters between Muslim rebels and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), but the two projects somehow survived. Fr. Yves was later kidnapped by bandits while he was on his way back from an Oxfam-organised gender training in Davao and was rescued by Muslim rebels weeks later. His missionary order subsequently placed him in a more established parish, and I fear the project may have fallen victim to the general anarchy in that part of the country.



Some of the groundbreaking work was with the Philippine Freedom from Debt Coalition. I didn’t realise it at the time but within Oxfam, the macro-economic policy work of the FDC, then under the inspired leadership of Liling Briones and Men Sta. Ana, was hugely influential. We did end up publishing a book on Philippine debt (The Philippines, Debt and Poverty by Inday Ofreneo). Turbulence and Natural Disasters Among the other programmes I inherited were a number of fisheries-related ones. If there was any niche Oxfam occupied at that stage, it was one around community resource management work in fishing communities. It was clear from discussions with partners, that there was a need to bring together all kinds of fisheriesrelated groups around the issue of aquatic reform (the wet equivalent of land reform, forever stalled in the Philippine legislature). A national gathering was scheduled for early December 1989, and Oxfam paid for the logistics and the publicity. As delegations gathered in Manila, a military coup was staged and Metro Manila went into lock-down. Here we were, stuck with a few hundred people desperate to get back home. In addition, there were several urban communities on our doorstep that had to evacuate. Much of the money for the conference was redirected to dealing with the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt (emergency support). Once peace returned to the streets, it took long and frantic 34


correspondence with Oxford to get retroactive permission for the change in allocation of the funds. Clearly, our crisis was not their crisis! The conference finally happened a few months later, and the National Coalition for Aquatic Reform was launched. On 16 July 1990, the Philippines experienced a major earthquake. We were in the office when everything started shaking. Remembering an advice I heard earlier, I directed people to the door-post (supposedly a safer place), only to realise that the supporting “wall” was made of plywood! The quake lasted about a minute, felt like forever. Massive cracks appeared in the walls of the building. Everyone was severely shaken. Staff were sent home, and so did I, to ascertain that everything was fine and call Oxford. I managed to speak with Marcus Thompson, then head of the Emergencies Department, who was blissfully unaware of what happened. Over the following days, it became clear Manila was less affected, and that the bulk of the damage was in Central Luzon, Ilocos, Baguio and the southern Cordillera. I had no clue what to do and guidance from Oxford was absent. These were the days before the mobile phones, so information only filtered slowly out of the most affected places, particularly Baguio, where we had a few partners (and where most of my in-laws lived). With the new vehicle, Mang Rudy and I were among the first to arrive by road about three days later. We

had a few rolls of plastic sheeting in the back of the car, a few boxes of water purification tablets, and a bag full of cash. The latter was probably our best relief decision yet because food and materials were still available locally, but the banks were closed and people could not buy anything once the cash had run out.

for Empowerment and Resource Development) was a particularly transformative experience. We pursued work on gender in fishing communities with the help of the Women’s Resource and Research Center and developed more systematic links with NGOs working with indigenous communities in Luzon and Mindanao.

The devastation in Baguio was enormous. About a thousand people had been killed. Thankfully, my in-laws were all safe, but many of the best-known places in the city were in ruins. When I visited Baguio almost a year later with Oxfam Director Frank Judd, it became clear that the disaster that affected so many people in Northern Luzon had not even registered in the consciousness of the wider organisation. Frank had no idea what had happened.

By now, we were getting clearer on what our role was and where we could make the biggest difference. While we became better integrated with the wider Oxfam reality, we also were getting onto the global “Oxfam map.”

Meanwhile the office had moved to a rather grotty apartment on Matahimik Street. At last we had a phone, we could park the car safely and the team had changed and expanded. Edna Soriano was replaced by Bong (whose family name I cannot recall). Lot Felizco, a new programme officer, had joined us from CDRC (Citizen’s Disaster Response Center), bringing in a sound understanding of good project management as well as the much needed expertise in disaster response. Darwin Flores was brought in as the Oxfam Trading Project Officer. Work evolved around CBCRM in fishing communities. Our relationship with Juju Tan’s CERD (Center

All Change! The Pinatubo Eruption During the summer of 1991, while Hilary Coulby was around, the team spent a few days in a beach house in Calatagan, Batangas for planning sessions. In the days before our ‘retreat,’ there was talk about the possible eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The volcano was spewing ash clouds which we could see from where we were (about a hundred kilometres from Pinatubo)! At the same time, the first major typhoon of the year was heading towards Southern Luzon. Hilary was relieved to still catch a plane to Jakarta in the afternoon of 14 June. It was starting to get dark in Metro Manila with what we thought were the signs of the typhoon making landfall. In the morning, we all woke up to a changed city: everything was white, as if snow had fall-



en overnight; Mt Pinatubo had erupted. Hilary had been on one of the last planes out! The eruption changed the programme. Our hesitant entry into disaster relief a year earlier had helped us develop contacts and a better understanding of disaster response. We worked closely with CDRN (Citizens Disaster Response Network) and its provincial affiliates. We brought the British Ambassador to witness Oxfam-supported relief efforts to Central Luzon. We finally attracted attention from the Oxford-based Emergencies Department (although initially still very limited) and set out to support community-led response efforts. A key problem was that no one really knew what to do apart from setting up evacuation sites and managing the camp situations. Ash and dust were real problems, and when the rains started, we learned about lahar that flooded towns, villages and thousands of hectares of once fertile land. What started as a large-scale evacuation turned into a massive crisis of livelihood. Even Oxford had little to offer in terms of ideas on how to move forward. A little booklet on volcanoes in the office library caught my attention: in it was a description of a very similar volcanic eruption in Indonesia 10 years earlier. After a few phone calls between Manila, Jakarta and Oxford, it was decided that I would visit



Indonesia with a colleague from CDRN in an effort to draw lessons from the 1982 Mt. Galunggung experience in West Java. With hindsight, this was probably one of the best things we did. We came back with stories of how communities coped and how their livelihoods changed since the eruption. Many became relatively wealthy, thanks to the sale of sand for the construction industry in Jakarta, while those who had previously relied on a limited set of agricultural skills ended up in hardship. Seeing the thriving communities around Mt. Galunggung, we felt there was hope for the communities around Pinatubo. The Pinatubo Orphans Some of those that suffered the most from the eruption and its aftermath were the Aetas, the indigenous people of Central Luzon and Zambales. They were often ignored or neglected by aid efforts and when they were housed in camps, they suffered discrimination from lowlanders and the authorities. Much of their homeland was devastated and they had little or no voice in planning and managing the relief and rehabilitation efforts. Through pre-existing contacts with SENTRO (Sentro para sa Ganap na Pamayanan), a UPbased group of anthropologists headed by former Constitutional Commissioner Pons Be-

nagen, and a partner-relationship with KAMP (Kalipunan ng Mamamayang Katutubo sa Pilipinas), the indigenous people’s network, we made direct contact with the Aetas of Central Luzon. With limited outside steering and lots of moral and financial support, Oxfam helped the Aetas in October 1991 to set up their first regional organisation, the CLAA (Central Luzon Aeta Association). CLAA became the Aeta intermediary with the relief community and efforts were made at representing their interests and demands to the authorities. This was the first ever effort at Aeta community empowerment and we had an exciting time with them. During a visit to one of their communities, the Oxfam vehicle got stuck in two-foot deep lahar. Only frantic digging and the use of driftwood got us out of a very sticky situation! If ever we would have needed a 4x4, it was then! Unfortunately, the CLAA story did not have a happy ending. In 1994, more than a year since I left the Philippines, one of the CLAA functionaries stole the bulk of the grant from Oxfam. This led to a court case and may well have contributed to the untimely demise of a great initiative. The Japanese anthropologist Hiromu Shimizu published a book in 2001 about



the Aeta struggle before, during and after the Pinatubo eruption; Oxfam gets several mentions in that book. The Oxfam Anniversary In late 1991, we started to prepare for the 50th anniversary of Oxfam the following year. The Philippines’ programme was selected for the production of a film to be shown on the BBC. The Oxfam press office was very nervous because there was reason to believe that Double Exposure, the company that was given the assignment, was hell-bent on finding dirt to dish out. The press office sent an experienced hand, Tricia Spanner, to assist the team in dealing with the film crew. We hired a special assistant, Shalimar Vitan, to take care of the logistics. We spent the best part of a month shooting me in action in Oxfam projects in Batangas, Zambales and North Cotabato. We also filmed some lengthy interviews. Towards the end of the filming, the producer, Sandy Balfour, said with exasperation: ‘I am giving up on you. You are not giving me any dirt.’ The partners and the team had charmed the crew into liking what



they saw. It made for some great footage of the rising sun over a remote tribal village in central Mindanao but it wasn’t ‘good television’ in terms of controversy. The film, strangely entitled “Rumours of Rain,” which was shown on BBC 2, included a lengthy footage of me in the mud climbing up a mountain in Mindanao. Oxfam came out looking good, but it did not stir the wider imagination. No one from Oxford even bothered to thank us for the effort and only years later did I receive a tiny bit of feedback from then Deputy International Director Susie Smith, who thought I made some people in Oxfam think differently about the accountability of partners as a result of some things I said in the film. In many ways the larger anniversary project was the work with Mindanao-based theatre company, Kaliwat. The idea had arisen to allow a group of artists to immerse themselves in a number of partner communities. Under the dynamic leadership of Nestor Horfilla (brother of Vicky), the thespians did what they set out to do and developed a programme of theatre and songs on

their community experience. The work with the lumad of Arakan Valley was particularly amazing. Cultural activities were used to draw people into conversations, which resulted in a dramatic reassessment of identity by the people, which in turn became the basis of their development activities. The work happened in villages supported by the work of Italian (PIME) missionaries, Fr. Fausto Tentorio and Fr. Tulio Favali. Fr. Favali was assassinated in 1992, and Fr. Fausto, in 2011. These two were true heroes killed because they stood with the lumads in protecting the land against big commercial interests. After their work for several months was compiled, the seven artists flew to London for a month-long tour. The show was meant as a message from the Philippine communities to the supporters back in the UK and Ireland. Once back in the Philippines, they toured Mindanao and visited the original host communities once again. In over 30 years of working in development, this was perhaps the most satisfying experience as it came closest to bridging the many things that divide us—nationality, culture, race, physical distance and life experience. Given the cost incurred, it is unlikely that anything like this will happen again, but I am proud of my association with the project and am forever grateful to Oxfam for taking the risk and allowing creativity to flow the way it did. Better planning and followup could have made more impact but what we might have taken took on too much already—

the film, then Kaliwat and lastly the fisheries exchange with Latin America, which I will not attempt to describe in detail as it may have been a good idea on paper but we underestimated the obstacles (not least finding Spanish language translators in the Philippines!) and had negligible impact. When I left the Philippines in March 1993, the office had moved to a proper residential setting on Malumanay Street, the team had grown to seven or eight staff, and the programme showed more confidence in its choices and programmes. The work had professionalised and the Philippines programme was firmly established on the global ‘Oxfam map’. I look back with gratitude to the partners and the colleagues who taught me much. I stayed involved and in touch, becoming the Regional Manager for East Asia, swapping



places with Hilary Coulby, who was my successor as Country Manager (after a brief interregnum with Richard Manning, ex CR Indonesia, as acting country representative). Until 2000, I visited the programme regularly and witnessed its growth as well as its ups and downs. Lot Felizco succeed Hilary Coulby and Lot was succeeded by Tata de la Cruz. Both former Programme Officers have since developed their distinguished careers outside Oxfam GB. In 2000, I moved to a change management role in Oxfam India where I could apply many of the lessons learnt during my time in the Philippines and East Asia. After a brief period of doing interim roles in Oxford, I left in September 2001 to join Oxfam America as their Vice President for Programmes. I stayed with Oxfam America until May 2004 and have since been the International Director of Christian Aid. I don’t think I would be in this position if not for my four years with Oxfam in the Philippines.






AND REFLECTION Lot Felizco I was Oxfam Country Director from 1995 to 1999. Before my appointment to this post, I was a Programme Officer for four years, responsible for projects in Luzon and Visayas. When I first joined as Programme Officer, I had no inkling that I would stay that long in Oxfam or that I would enjoy it as much. At the time, I was merely looking for a platform and a space to explore ways of expressing my activism through development work, and preferably in a less ideologically-constricted space. I was not that familiar with Oxfam, but because of the people who worked there (such as Paul Valentin) and Oxfam’s mix of partners, I felt a strong sense of affinity with the organisation. True enough, Oxfam provided that space for exploration and pioneering work, for growing along with the very capable NGOs who were our 42


very dedicated and committed. The icing on the cake was that we also enjoyed each other’s company! It was a joy to work with them, and they remain good friends to this day.

partners, and for spotting as well as creating opportunities for innovation. I am particularly proud of our initiatives in community-based coastal resources management, sustainable resource management of ancestral domains, fair trade, community-based disaster risk reduction and management, our advocacy initiatives, our efforts to mainstream gender and to ensure linkages across our programmes. It was a privilege to work alongside experienced and committed partners and colleagues. The Philippines Team was relatively small then and we worked in a very collegial atmosphere. We were of the size that we could even appraise funding proposals collectively! Colleagues were experts in their respective fields, held in high regard by partners and peers, and

The years at 95-A Malumanay Street, Teachers’ Village were some of my happiest and most productive, and shall always be treasured. That’s not to say it wasn’t a difficult period. In fact, the challenges were enormous and incessant, arising from the changing political landscape in the Philippines, the evolving development discourse internationally, the internal shifts in Oxfam headquarters that signaled, in my view, a time of navel-gazing, self-absorption and selfreflection. I believe our team faced those challenges head on. We had quite intense debates amongst ourselves and with our partners NGOs. So for me, Oxfam will always be one of the more exciting, complex, forward-looking, self-critical organisations to work with; though, yes, it can be maddening too! Going forward, I hope that Oxfam stays firmly rooted and grounded in people’s aspirations, driven and informed by the work of partners and movements, and run by highly capable and passionate staff—this was the Oxfam that drew me in, that I know, that I wish will continue to be in the future.






I was coming off a four-year stint with the legislature of the new government after the fall of Marcos’ martial law regime. I was also production manager for our family’s handicraft business when I joined the practice of Fair Trade through Oxfam Trading in 1991. I learned later that my edge over other candidates, who had post-graduate credentials under their belts, was my hands-on knowledge of handicraft materials and processes, and years of direct dealings with craft producers. This first encounter with Oxfam leaders impressed upon me the seriousness by which Oxfam Trading practiced what it preaches, a good combination of theory and real-world practice that I experienced throughout my five-year tour of duty.

The interview, which included identifying the materials used for a faux garlic decor, was relatively easy. What was challenging about the job was to exercise integrity and require the same of our partners and producers. As a fair-trade buyer for a development company that sources from different NGOs, Oxfam was shipping an average of two 40-foot containers of handicrafts a week. This was the precursor of what we call today as ‘social entrepreneurship,’ or leveraging business for people and planet. But then I discovered cases of child labour, the unsustainable use of raw materials, as well as what amounted to unfair prices being paid to producer groups by exporter NGOs. On the other end of the transaction were some unscrupulous individual producers passing off their re-



jects to Oxfam because they know us to be fair traders. Yes, there were successes; but there were also some slips. Eventually I came to realise that to really help, the programme needed to assist in mainstreaming our partner producer groups and for Oxfam not to become an unsustainable crutch or another middleman. Twelve years after leaving Oxfam, I joined the corporate sector and found my experience and insights useful in leading the Corporate Social Responsibility program of the largest taxpayer company in the country. This is like going full circle that began in 2005 when I designed a livelihood project for the flood victims of Barangay Banglos in General Nakar town in Quezon. I called on sculptor Rey Contreras and Dave Tabangay of the Cadaclan Woodcarver’s Association, both partners during my stint in Oxfam Trading. In four months’ time, we not only got the



fishing community of Banglos to rise from tragedy; we also managed to instil pride in who they are and what they do. Their works were shown twice at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The story of Banglos from fishers to victims to artists was a clear demonstration of our ability as humans to transform ourselves, no matter what our state in life is. As I expand my horizon and practice in the areas of corporate engagement in disaster preparedness, education, environment, health and livelihood, I continue to draw lessons from my Oxfam years. They were fundamental and valuable.




PEOPLE Chona Leah Ramos

I was a Programme Officer of Oxfam GB’s Fair Trade programme and the one thing that stuck in my memory all these years is how every pence counted for both the hundreds of British volunteers who staffed Oxfam shops and raised funds and the local handicraft producers that Oxfam supported in the Philippines. In the UK, ordinary people served as sales clerks, store managers and supporters in the more than 700 Oxfam shops that dotted the country. They were volunteers and, therefore, did not get paid for their time and effort. They did this because they believed in Oxfam. Volunteering at the shops was their way of contributing to Oxfam’s mission to work with others to end poverty and suffering. In the early years, the



shops were outlets for second-hand clothes, books and other saleable items, and the income was used to fund Oxfam’s programmes abroad including that in the Philippines. Later, the shops also carried handicrafts and other items from producers located in the countries where Oxfam worked. So, in a way, the shops connected the people of the UK with the people of the Philippines. Every so often, a number of shop volunteers would be chosen by Oxfam to visit the programmes abroad. This would be a big occasion not just for our Oxford-based colleagues who organised these visits but for us in the Philippines and our partner producers as well. More than anything else, it was an opportunity for

the shop volunteers and supporters to meet Philippine producers face-to-face and to see how their efforts to raise funds through the shops are valued by the small producers that Oxfam supported. Jan Tansley was an Oxfam shop volunteer staff. Jan came to visit the Philippines and interacted with the women and men who produced Christmas stars from capiz shells, food baskets, banana chips, small wrought-iron and rattan furniture, carved birds, and letter holders embroidered with straw. Each meeting between Jan and the producers helped strengthen the connection between them, and made the



Fair Trade programme come alive. As a result of these supporter visits, Fair Trade was no longer just about the products that were being sold at the Oxfam shops. They were about the people on both ends of the programme. As a Programme Officer, I learned the importance of every British pound that our shop volunteers raised for our producers. The money that they raised in the UK represented the British public’s solidarity and concern for us here in the Philippines. For our producers, every British pound that was spent on improving their skills, the design of their products, their production processes and their market-



ing made a difference in their income. Every product sold in the Oxfam shops and other markets boosted their confidence in themselves and helped them to see the value of their labour.





The Effort

AND Pay-off:

A Worthwhile Exchange Francis Perez

Those years working as CBCRM PO (Community-based Coastal Resource Management Programme Officer), for me, were probably the best years of working with Oxfam. As PO, I managed grants to nine partners. I managed grants to nine partners -- including the CBCRM Resource Centre based in the UP Center for Social Work and Community Development, Pipuli in Misamis Occidental, LAFCCOD (Lanao Aquatic and Marine Fisheries Center for Community Development) in Lanao del Norte, CERD (Center for Empowerment and Resource Development) in Batangas, OTRADEV (Organization for Training, Research and Development Foundation) in Southern Samar, SIKAT (Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya) in Zambales, NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Tambu-yog Devel-

opment Center for their CBCRM School, and NACFAR (National Advocacy Committee for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources). And organized support activities to partners and the projects they implement, with the help of a programme assistant. I also had the opportunity to participate in many activities of partners such as the lobby and advocacy work of NFR (NGOs for Fisheries Reform) at the Philippine Congress and with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), especially through the government’s Social Reform Agenda process that led to, among many things, the enactment of the Fisheries Code of the Philippines. I was forewarned: I would have to work hard to make it worth my pay. Much travel to the differ-



ent provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao was necessary. The kind of activities I would be involved in and the things I was responsible for were varied—from M&E (monitoring and evaluation), donor reporting, to support for the organisational development of partners—and demanded enormous time and effort. In other words, I would be stretched. I totally enjoyed it. This was a time of an intellectual and emotional growth spurt.

other organisations at that time, impressed clearly upon me the importance of a programmatic and integrated approach to development work—to support the various activities that contribute to a coherent set of objectives and to ensure that they all come together to achieve a common goal. This could mean vertically—at various levels (barangay to the international level), or horizontally—using different approaches and activities, often combining them to achieve maximum positive impact.

The work that Oxfam supported with its partners, as well as the other initiatives by many

It was also a time when I became involved in Oxfam regional meetings, and it was very in-



teresting and challenging to be working with a regional team. That was also my first exposure to Oxfam International. It was a great opportunity to understand very similar issues in different contexts and work with people from diverse cultural and development backgrounds. It was equally interesting to observe how decisions at other levels of the organisation are informed by and affect, the different teams and their work. These helped prepare me for the other roles that I took on afterwards whilst in Oxfam.

Most important, I became friends with my team mates in the Philippines and with the staff of our partner organisations. This worked for me because of the comfort I felt in working with them. Since we were (and still are) friends, I was at ease challenging them and in being challenged by them, knowing this was a safe space where knowledge, critical thinking, and learning are a shared passion.



From wild


A People’s Journey to Define Ecotourism Dante Dalabajan It was Holy Saturday and I was with my wife Cecile and our four kids Sasha, Isha, Siobe and Sioti. The fine day and the white sand beaches of Honda Bay were waiting with warm embrace. It was only 7 a.m. but hundreds of people were already at the Honda Bay wharf. One of the boatmen recognised me. ‘Hey, Dan! Need boat?’ he asked. ‘I’m ok. I’ll queue,’ I replied. The customer service in the wharf looked chaotic and several tourists were irate. But I was not. Seeing this place now, and having firsthand knowledge of its lack of organisation in the mid-1990s, I know for sure that Honda Bay has come a long, long way. Puerto Princesa was where I cut my teeth as a community organiser. In the ‘90s, Puerto Princesa was notorious as a haven for illegal fishers and commercial fishing operators that mercilessly scoured its waters. In the forests, meantime, illegal loggers held sway. Honda Bay was a microcosm of Puerto Princesa.



The new mayor at the time, Edward Hagedorn, a self-confessed thug, promised to clean up the city. I was coming out from the academe as a college instructor and researcher to accept the invitation of a friend, Gerthie Mayo-Anda, a feisty, well-decorated environment lawyer, to manage the Community-based Natural Resources Management Program of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), an NGO that offered developmental legal aid and organised local communities for better natural resource management. By early 2000, there were fewer areas to fish and hunt, or harvest forest products from. The natural wealth of Puerto Princesa was being restored, yet this was not trickling down to the local community members. Even the more enlightened village leaders were already complaining. With Oxfam’s funding and the guidance of its energetic staff like Tata Polotan, Kiko Perez, Lan Mercado, Lot Felizco and Shally Vitan, ELAC

preached the good news in the local communities that if they took care of the environment, the environment would take care of them back. But it wasn’t easy for people with no food and no alternatives to buy into such gibberish. ELAC linked arms with the new converts to hound the illegalistas. Honda Bay was the first frontier to conquer. The Barangay Hall of Babuyan was packed with confiscated logs, a scene that would repeat itself in many other communities of Puerto Princesa. With the support of the local government, ELAC plodded on to establish marine protected areas in Honda Bay and Ulugan Bay, and influence the city’s policy environment. One by one, the impregnable forts of illegalistas unraveled. As a result, the City Government reaped national and international

acclaim for its commitment to preserve the environment. In 2001, as Oxfam sought to develop its Assets and Markets Programme (AMP), the Puerto Princesa experience in natural resource management exerted enormous pressure on the organisation. A new breed of Oxfam staff supported ELAC as it began to articulate ecotourism as the route to develop local communities. The goal was by no means easy. Patience in the local communities was fast becoming scarce. But as the learning curve flattened, the project started yielding results and incomes began to climb. But as the fledgling ecotourism business of HOBBAI (Honda Bay Boatmen Association) was beginning to show promise, Abu Sayyaf

Mayor Edward Hagerdon deputised volunteer paralegals, Circa 1998.



bandits abducted tourists in the posh Dos Palmas resort. For almost two years, visitors hardly came. But HOBBAI persevered. That perseverance paid off. From 2004, HOBBAI’s income climbed year after year, until 2008 when Typhoon Frank virtually ravaged the group’s entire fleet. The timing coincided with the start of Oxfam’s phase-out from its partnership with ELAC that included a half-a-million-peso grant as a legacy fund. In the wake of Typhoon Frank, HOBBAI’s President, the indefatigable Myrna Rosco, came to see me. ‘We have inquired from the banks and other lenders to rehabilitate our fleet, but we’re afraid that the interest rate will bury us in debt,’ she said. So, we lent HOBBAI the whole of Oxfam’s legacy fund, which astoundingly was repaid in three months. It’s 2013. I had left ELAC a few years before and I’m now working with Oxfam’s Mindanao Programme. I returned to Puerto Princesa for a break. I went to visit Tagabinet, a community that ELAC helped organise. The community continues to run the Ugong Rock tour package. Rudy Baldo, President of the Tagabinet Community Tourism Association, disclosed that community members now average P16,000 per month in income. I remember Rudy was one of the trusted leaders in the late 1990s, and his efforts to stamp out illegal activities in the area



invited threats on his security. ELAC helped organise the tourism association in 2000, which was when we visited the local community of Tagabinet. During that break, my family and I went to Honda Bay, another community where, in the late 1990s, ELAC helped organise HOBBAI, the peoples’ organisation composed of fishers. HOBBAI now runs a thriving business of island hopping around Honda Bay. When I finally reached HOBBAI’s customer relations counter, I told the lady that I wanted a boat that would take me and my family to Snake Island, the only remaining island in Honda Bay that is publicly owned and HOBBAI’s top income generator—or so I thought. ‘It’s not possible, Sir. It’s now closed to the public,’ she replied. For years, there were persistent rumors that a big-time celebrity had acquired the island. In the past, we even barricaded the island to stop its sale. I wondered how the loss of Snake Island was affecting the income of HOBBAI, but my experience of working with HOBBAI was enough to assuage that fear. Now, as I recall the years of working with ELAC, I can only wonder how ELAC could have helped shape what Puerto Princesa is now without Oxfam. The truth is, as an institution and with people who are committed to serve the poor and the resources on which they depend, Ox-

fam changed Puerto Princesa in lots of different ways. I can only wish that our Puerto Princesa experience was able to change, even in small ways, the perspectives of Oxfam’s staff who came to work with us.



The Evolution of the Fisheries Code:


It was another one of those meetings on a slow weekday afternoon. For lack of funds, we—the members of the NGO Technical Working Group for Fisheries Reform or NGOTWG—decided to hold this again at Ayette’s house in UP Teachers’ Village. Atty. Ayette Cepe was then Executive Director of BATAS (Sentro ng Batas Pantao), one among a few alternative law centres who actively supported the campaign for a new fisheries code, from drafting to passage. The others were PhilDHRRA (Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in



Rural Asia), which functioned as secretariat, and which I represented, Juju Tan and Niva Gonzales of CERD (Center for Empowerment and Resource Development), Aleli Bawagan and Lily Presbitero of OTRADEV (Organization for Training, Research and Development Foundation), Atty. Jeff Plantilla, Allan Vera of SIKAT (Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya), Vence Adajar of Hayuma, and Pepe Tanchuling and Dina Umengan of Tambutyog. The year was 1994, and the draft bill for a new fisheries code was still languishing in Con-

gress, two congresses after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution, and despite the appointment of a Fisherfolk Sectoral Representative, Arturo “Ka Turing� Olegario. Then Congressman Ramon Mitra was Speaker of the House. We were preparing for a scheduled committee hearing, and as always, this was one of those briefings where we reviewed arguments and role-played as we tackled the details and nuances of controversial propositions such as assigning waters 15km from the shore as municipal waters, why only passive and non-active gears should be allowed, why these areas should be for the primary use of small artisanal fishers, and why commercial fishing boats with capacities of three gross tonnes and above should be strictly kept out of near-shore fisheries areas, and prohibited within the 15-km limit.





But that particular meeting was special because we had someone else besides the members of the NGOTWG—Lot Felizco, then Programme Officer of Oxfam, who came to attend and observe. At that time, Oxfam was one of very few INGOs that deliberately targeted small fisherfolk and coastal communities as beneficiaries by directing its funding support to developing and implementing community-based coastal resource management or CBCRM, as a bottoms-up strategy of securing the natural base, as well as the livelihood of small fishing communities. Oxfam awarded grants to NGOs

in selected parts of the country—from Zambales to Palawan, from Samar in the Visayas to Surigao del Sur in Mindanao, to organise coastal communities through CBCRM. As always, we had lunch prepared by Ayette and Bing. No matter how tedious and timeconsuming, such meetings became a source of energy, strength and inspiration for a ragtag bunch of advocates preparing for battle against powerful fishing magnates disguised as legislators. On our way to Congress that -Home-




same afternoon, Lot asked ‘Sa ngayon, sino ang nagsu-support ng trabaho ’nyo at kampanya for the fisheries code?’ (At present, who is financially supporting your group and your campaign?) To which I think all of us responded in chorus, ‘Wala!’ After that meeting, we got our first grant from Oxfam. BATAS, through Ayette, became the first formal convenor of the group, while Phildhrra, through myself, was the first Secretariat of what eventually became the NGOs for Fisheries Reform or NFR. The funding support went on for the next ten years or so, even after the Fisheries Code was passed. Looking back, I believe we managed to impress Oxfam as a lobby group both ways—because of the correctness of the cause (the need for legislation to oversee fisheries), and the sheer gumption—never mind the lack of funds—of the members.





In a Span of a Jeepney Wait:

From Misgiving to Inspiration Arlene Mahinay

Working with the SRM-AD (Sustainable Resource Management-Ancestral Domain) programme did not only allow me a glimpse of the lives of vulnerable men and women living in the mountain areas in the Philippines. Every now and then, it also made me confront my own feelings, biases and assumptions. And each time, I found myself, sadly, wanting in terms of the ideals I thought I ought to possess as a person who prides herself in being a development worker. An example of coming face-to-face with my own vulnerabilities was when I visited one of our partner organisations in Arakan Valley, along the Davao-Cotabato mountain range. From the highway, the town was about four to five hours

by jeepney along a dusty, very rough winding dirt road. Then, visiting the partner communities meant a few more hours on foot. Or one can brave a terrifying habal-habal (motorbike) ride passing the cliffs and deep ravines all around. At the highway, I was inside the ‘alas puno jeep’—the description for a jeep that starts its journey only when every inch of its floor and rooftop is occupied by people, things and animals. It was noon time and in 33 degrees Celsius heat, with all sort of odours assaulting my senses—human sweat, farm animals, it was not the most comfortable place to be! I was, moreover, hungry. I felt I would faint if I didn’t get out of the jeep. But leaving the jeep was out of the question as that was the only trip for the day! Without meaning to, I began to feel sorry



for myself. Why do I have to do this? Why did I choose this job? I did not have to bear this. The reminder that in four hours, I would still need to hike at least an hour almost made me cry.

board. Not only that! She had no way of knowing if the few pesos she had would be enough for the first of several bus rides she needed to take.

I did not know if my woman-guide sensed my negativity. But she, in a non-invasive tone, tried to engage me in a conversation. A literacy teacher in the programme ran by our partner organisation, she was also one of their newly elected woman leaders. Half heartedly, I asked her what made her decide to become a literacy teacher and leader. Her response: because she could not read and write before, she decided to become a literacy teacher!

It was then that she promised herself if she could somehow survive this ordeal, she would ensure two things. One, see to it that she gets her ABC right, no matter how late it may seem for her. Two, that her child or any other child she would meet would never be in a similar no read-no write situation. Upon reaching Arakan Valley, she approached the organisation and under its literacy programme, she worked hard to learn to read and write, eventually becoming not just a literacy teacher herself but also one of the organisation leaders.

Hmm, hmmm, was she trying to be funny? I felt my irritation growing. But it turned out her story was far from funny at all! Born in Arakan, she moved to another province around two days and several buses/jeepneys ride away from Arakan after she married. Just like other women in Arakan at the time, she married young—when she was only 15 years old. When her child was two years old, she fled her home in fear of getting killed by her drunkard, wife-battering husband. Carrying her daughter with her, she left at 4 o’clock in the morning, and walked several kilometres to where she could board a bus to return to Arakan. She realised belatedly she had a problem—she did not know how to read and write! So she could not read the bus’ sign-



Her story suddenly brought me back to my senses. I couldn’t describe my feelings. One part of me still felt dejected—not about her or my situation, but with myself. I had always thought that my work was more than just a job for me. I went into development work committed to contribute my time and effort to the betterment of the people. And yet, at the slightest inconvenience, I promptly lost courage and conviction! I was very much disappointed with myself. Yet, another part of me was also quite happy and proud because the programme we were supporting was making a difference indeed! It



had empowered a woman who had been through much, and even persuaded her to devote her time as well to helping others. As the jeepney began to move, and feeling the breeze against my skin, I started to forgive myself and to allow myself to feel better. Tinimbang ko nga ang sarili ko at nakitang kulang, but I could always try to improve—my attitude, my skills, and my outlook! I could always become better if I tried hard enough. I arrived in the area with greater resolve to be better than my best in supporting the aspirations of people like the literacy teacher to improve their lives.







Life Lessons

Amidst Disasters Meng Abarquez

I worked with Oxfam GB in the Philippines as a Programme Officer for Disaster Management (DM) for six years. I started with Oxfam in 1993. DM has always been a key programme of Oxfam in the Philippines which Oxfam Hong Kong funded annually. DM, like gender, was a crosscutting theme in our programmes. All our partners were capacitated in these areas. Gender was integrated in our DM programmes and in all the CBDRM (Community-based Disaster Risk Management) and humanitarian training we conducted. I learned life lessons while I was with Oxfam GB in the Philippines. I witnessed how disasters transformed people’s lives and, in many occasions, made them poorer and more vulnerable. In 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted and triggered the lahar problem that lasted for nearly a decade. I saw how people suffered. One saw it in their eyes. I also realised what a mother can do for her children because she loves them. I was in an evacuation centre in Zambales monitoring a project. Suddenly, we heard a scream and saw people rushing outside their ‘houses’.

We were looking down at the scene below—a woman was being dragged by her mom and her brother. She was wailing and screaming. We asked the onlookers what was going on. This was her story. They lost everything in the wake of the Pinatubo eruption. Her husband left her and their children to find work. But he had not returned. Neither had he sent money. A neighbour, an unmarried man—gave her money from time to time to help her out. Some said that she could not pay him back so, eventually, they had a sexual relationship. Her family found out and they came that day. They were angry at her for bringing shame to the family. I was so sad for her and the fact that this was happening to many other women in desperate straits, whose poverty was made worse by disasters. Poverty and disaster are a cruel, unjust mix to have in one’s life. Cruelty and injustice take many forms. During the all-out war in Central Mindanao, Mus-Home-


lim families were displaced due to the conflict and Oxfam supported a local partner to resettle many of these families. When I took over as the manager of Oxfam’s programme in Central Mindanao, I was handed an ongoing resettlement project of internally displaced people (IDPs). Agricultural livelihood was a major component of the project and carabao distribution was one of its key activities. I was told by the local partner that some of the carabaos had gone missing, probably or allegedly sold by the Datu himself. I had to know what happened. We met with the Datu and the conversation turned tense because he did not even want me to see the carabaos and their registration papers. My stubbornness got the better part of me during that meeting, and I sat there waiting for him to produce the animals and the papers. After he spoke angrily in the local language, our local partner told me we had better leave—now. They had AK47 assault rifles hanging on their walls but I was not afraid. I was very angry. As we were leaving the resettlement area, I looked back and felt sick. There was nothing I could do to help the IDPs—not even to count their carabaos. I read somewhere that our brains have the tendency to remember negative events more. But I have many happy memories, too, of my Oxfam life in the Philippines and that includes our creative moments.



Sometime in the 1990s, we wanted to operationalise the capacities and vulnerabilities analysis framework developed by Mary Anderson and Peter Woodrow. With the help of Roger Ricafort, a development worker himself and a specialist in Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), we were able to develop a tool called PCVA (Participatory Capacity and Vulnerability Analysis). We used this tool to develop our programme in lahar-affected communities in Central Luzon. PCVA gained traction within OGB over the years and later within the Oxfam International confederation. To me, it was much more. After I left OGB in 2000, I worked with the APDC (Asian Disaster Preparedness Center). I was a Training Manager. This gave me the opportunity to train hundreds of people on disaster risk management including PCVA. Participants came from all over Asia and the Pacific, and sometimes even as far as Europe and the US. PCVA enabled participants to listen to people and understand risks and protective behaviours from the communities’ perspectives. PCVA has become a very important tool to demonstrate how a bottom-up approach to disaster risk management is possible.






Lessons from My Initiation into Disaster Management Paul Del Rosario

Pinatubo was a very good teacher. Come to think about it, Pinatubo was the very first disaster that I had an official responsibility to attend to. My first emergency response management assignment. Imagine, being put in the heart of the disaster of the century. That was huge! I was with CDRC (Citizens Disaster Response Center) then, which was an Oxfam partner. I cannot forget that time when representatives of Oxfam UK-Ireland conducted a field visit to see the disaster response of CDRC. This was on 12 June 1991. I had been deployed to the area a month before the major eruption. CDRC-Pampanga was my first assignment. I was tasked to manage the evacuation centre (EC) where

the Aetas stayed. I was supposed to help assist a church-based NGO focused on work with the Aetas, who were actually the first to ‘detect’ that Pinatubo would erupt. Through indigenous knowledge, some weeks before the actual eruption, they already noted changes in their surroundings—the behaviour of the animals, the appearance of the clouds, the feel of things, etc. They knew. My role was to help manage the evacuation of the Aetas—about 130 families all, who were displaced from their communities, to the evacuation centre in Mabalacat, which later moved to Balibago, Angeles City, at the Sta. Teresita Elementary School. Before the devastating eruption on 12 June was a smaller one that took place on 9 June. By the time of the bigger eruption, the NGO part-



ner was ‘gone’ because even the families of the staff had to evacuate. They were from Pampanga, and they too were affected. So, CDRC, meaning me and a few staff, were on our own. Managing the EC was different. Because the evacuees were IPs, theirs was a different culture that had to be respected nevertheless. For example, they do not like eating canned food like sardines. ‘Sukang-suka na sila!’ They were nauseous from this, and preferred fresh foods—vegetables, especially root crops. So in terms of food aid, we had to go to the market everyday and have cooked food for them. Also, the Aetas did not want to be separated from their livestock—carabaos, pigs, goats, etc. We needed to think of how to house these animals too. Hence our transfer to Sta. Teresita, where there was a big grazing parcel of land behind the school. I also had to deal with a situation where the local organisation did not know me or CDRC that well. The NGO was not geared to disaster management and struck me as a bit protective of the community it had been organising for a long time. Understandably, we experienced some re-



sistance. The task was especially challenging especially because we needed to ensure compliance with certain standards, i.e., number of occupants per room, the dilemma of caring for the livestock, the fabrication of temporary latrines, gender considerations. The work was rough-sailing at first. We needed to do a lot of ‘processing’ with the beneficiaries and partner NGO—which required much time and patience. When I was given my assignment, I thought the task would last no more than a week—tops. No one prepared me for the actual duration of the work. I brought only a week’s change of clothes. But I was at the EC site for over a month before I could return home, then come back again. I was tired, and in shock, for I too was in a way displaced. In the first weeks, before I could settle into any routine, I didn’t even know where I would sleep. I ran out of clothes and had to borrow from other staff. I, too, felt like an evacuee. I even had to go McDonald’s for the restroom. I was unprepared—physically and to some extent, also mentally. Managing an emergency at the time was different from how it is now. Communication was extremely difficult. To begin with, there was none

yet of the instantaneous messaging and phone calls made possible by the mobile phone. Instead, we used a citizens’ band radio based in San Fernando. Moreover, I could not speak the Aetas’ language and required an interpreter. Transport was also a toughie. One time when I was cut-off from Sta. Teresita, I had to walk about 7.9 miles. We could not use the jeep we had hired because traffic was at a standstill as all the roads were clogged with people leaving their homes. The roads were impassable—with the visibility poor and lahar all over. We also had to contend with ‘rain’—not of water—-but of small stones. The experience was terrifying, and there was fear and panic all around! About two or three days after the eruption, I was informed that expats from Oxfam UK-Ireland were to visit the EC. I was to meet them at a church near Holy Angel University, then take them to Sta. Teresita. I know the place like the back of my hand, but I cannot to this day fathom how I got lost. Five times! I was so frustrated with myself, and embarrassed. We kept going around the same streets and kept landing at

the same place where we started—five times! One of them asked me, ‘Paul, do you really know where we are going?’ I knew we were just near as I saw the McDonald’s outlet where I went for my daily motions. The stress, plus the lack of sleep and failure, to eat on time, plus a host of other factors, caused my disorientation. Most important, the relentless onslaught of poverty, desolation and



hopelessness on my senses was beginning to take its toll on me. I was about ready to cry out of exasperation. But we finally reached our destination, and the guy from Oxford told me to not worry because disorientation frequently happens in stressful situations. He was very reassuring. I can never forget the lesson from that incident, which was that it’s okay to make mistakes. To get lost. No shame or cause for worry. All in good time, your bearings will come back to you. You just need to relax and trust your instincts. I have since been applying this learning especially when there are no clear-cut guidelines, as every disaster is different. I know now there’s no one set of things-to-do and the best way to



deal with an emergency is to ask yourself: ‘If I were in their place, what would be the best that I could do?’ My other take-away from the Pinatubo experience was how Oxfam looks at and relates with local partners. Oxfam gave institutional support to form the emergency response network and the actual responses to be given to beneficieries . Partnership is important and helping these partners, that is, helping capacitate them, is essential. Oxfam taught me that good partnership with local groups and communities is key in providing responsive and relevant interventions.






OUR AMBITIONS Judith Reyes I was the eighth member of the team when I joined Oxfam in 1994. We were then occupying half of the duplex at 95 Malumanay Street at Teachers’ Village in Diliman. In the next 15 years, I would witness the programme grow and evolve and by the time I left in 2009, it was running three offices—Manila, Davao and Cotabato—and at its peak had about 60 staff members. I will never forget that moment, two weeks after the LAN (Local Area Network) was installed in our office for the first time, when thunderstorms damaged more than half of the network cards, cutting off more than half of the team from the network. It amazed me then and continues to amaze me until now, how people are able to quickly forget that once upon a time, not so long ago, we were all working without a LAN. Suddenly, it seemed it was no longer possible to live without it. Suddenly, it felt as if we were all thrown back to the dark ages. People complained to high heavens what a disaster it was! And so I had to quickly recall Mr. Vo Van Dung, our Regional IT Manager then from Bangkok to repair the damage and get everyone happily working again.

I lived and happily embraced the change from the imprest system to PASF/SIPS and then to OPAL/CRIMSON/PeopleSoft—these are software systems that enabled us to manage our internal business processes. I must admit I truly loved and enjoyed the challenge of understanding and implementing new innovative things. They signaled bigger visions, greater ambitions, Whereas PASFs dealt with small, simple projects, OPAL dealt with larger, complicated programmes. I enjoyed discovering how the systems interrelate and I have to say, even as I think many would find it unusual, or weird even, that I had a very intimate relationship with those systems. I have said this before and will say it again, my association and work with Oxfam will always be a source of great pride and the people I worked with will always be a source of great inspiration.





GROWTH, EVolution, connection



TRANSITIONS Lenore Polotan-Dela Cruz I served as Country Director of Oxfam in the Philippines from 1999 to 2001, having taken a twoyear break from my teaching post in UP. I first joined Oxfam as Programme Officer in 1995 to 1997, and was then mainly responsible for the development of the CBCRM (Community-based Coastal Resources Management) programme. I took over the Country Representative post, as it was called then, from Lot Felizco. During my stint, the country team was composed of around 16 people and the country programme worked mainly with civil society organisations, supporting a sizeable number of partner NGOs, peoples’ organisations, coalitions and networks with pioneering and cutting-edge development practice in CBCRM, Sustainable Resource Management of 86


Ancestral Domains, Fair Trade, Communitybased Disaster Management, gender mainstreaming and policy advocacy. We expanded our advocacy work to include education reforms as our contribution to Oxfam’s Global Education for All Campaign launched in 1999. As the armed conflict in the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) escalated with the all-out war policy of the Estrada administration in 2000, it became imperative to expand our operational emergencies response programme to address the massive humanitarian crisis in Central Mindanao. What initially started as a two-year emergency WASH (water , sanitation and hygiene) and livelihoods programme eventually grew into a multi-year, integrated humanitarian programme that incorporated public health, sustainable livelihoods, education and protection. As a development practitioner, I could confidently say it was an exciting and fulfilling time to be with Oxfam then. Our development practice was fueled and spirited by a vibrant civil



society sector with a long tradition of grassroots-based peoples’ actions and communitybased initiatives for people empowerment. Our long association with partner CSOs both local and national had led to a better understanding of such issues as rights to livelihoods, sustainable resources management, gender relations, disaster preparedness and response, development management and partnerships, and a lot more. As a development manager, I recall those years to be very stimulating (and sometimes consuming!) as Oxfam embarked on a massive change process that was triggered by an exercise of self-examination called FROSI (Fundamental Review of Oxfam’s Strategic Intent) that be-



gan in 1998. The strategic review resulted to a re-imagination of Oxfam’s vision, mandate and ways of working as a global organisation that eventually had to be translated to major changes in the country programme. For example, the Oxford-based Regional Desks had to give way to Regional Management Centers, country strategic plans were renamed business plans which had to reflect Strategic Change Objectives that were drawn along the five basic rights: livelihoods, essential services, life and security, voice and identity. I remember that within the two years that I was CD, I had three different Regional Managers (it was Paul Valentin who recruited me, then Ivan Scott served as Interim Regional Manager for East Asia, until Heather Grady was in post as East Asia Regional Director sometime in 2000).

The change process was still on-going by the time I left Oxfam in June 2001 to resume my academic life in the university. I have gained a lot of learning and insight on the dynamic and complex world of development practice and development organisations from my involvement with Oxfam. I only have deep respect for my colleagues and NGO partners for their dedication and commitment and will always remember those years with great fondness.




THE WAVES OF CHANGE Lan Mercado After my appointment in 2001 as Oxfam’s Country Director for the Philippines, I bought a silver ring with a small, blue turquoise. Turquoise is believed to generate uplifting energy, like clear waters, and I felt I needed it. I was stepping into the role at a time when Oxfam was changing. The findings and recommendations in the Fundamental Review of Oxfam’s Strategic Intent (FROSI), conducted in 1998 to analyse why poverty was still going on in the world and what Oxfam’s role would be in its eradication, were driving organisational changes. I knew that as Country Director, I would be responsible for rolling these out. Of course, I could argue about those I disagreed with but would still have to do what needed to be done once a decision was made.



When I first joined Oxfam two years earlier as its Education Officer, I thought I would only stay until the conclusion of the education campaign and the birth of the Education Network (E-Net) that I facilitated. But Oxfam’s vision of how poverty could be defeated enticed me to commit further. Oxfam saw poverty as ‘not having enough to live on, not having enough to build from, being excluded from wealth, and being excluded from the power to change things for the better ... It is only when looking at the four aspects together that Oxfam can gain insights into the causes of poverty and its solutions.’ Globalisation and the skewed rules that governed international trade to favour the rich were Oxfam’s key targets. Hence, having discrete country programmes working with partners to address poverty at the community level and through national policy reforms no longer sufficed. Oxfam rallied its people behind a global set of aims and strategic objectives that, if achieved, would change the situation for poor people across the world. Oxfam decided to decentralise. Whereas country programmes used to have direct access to Oxfam headquarters, they were now part of regional programmes, overseen by regional centres. Oxfam had always been active advocates on behalf of poor people. But with FROSI, Oxfam put a much greater emphasis on campaigns, believing that the resources put in its develop-



ment and humanitarian work were drops in the ocean, given the scale and complexity of the causes of poverty. With our partners, we were helping people get out of poverty. But for a lot more to benefit, we also had to change ideas and beliefs, and affect policy at national and global levels. Oxfam published Rigged Rules and Double Standards in 2002, and set the stage for subsequent trade campaigns all over the world, including the Philippines. ‘Wala tayong laban sa madayang kalakalan’ was the Philippine campaign’s strapline in 2006. Seasoned activist Shalimar Vitan was at our helm. RockEd Nation became our partner. Musicians Noel Cabangon, Paolo Santos, Radioactive Sago Project, UpdharmaDown and many others performed in a concert that was peppered by speeches directed at Secretary Peter Favila of the Department of Trade and Industry to defend national interest in international trade negotiations. My daughter Alexa and goddaughter Ayi, both of whom were in high school then, were volunteer campaigners during the concert, handing out campaign postcards and explaining trade issues as best as they could to fellow teenagers. Along with Rigged Rules and Double Standards, the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework set the direction of Oxfam’s programme in the Philippines. From the beginning, Oxfam had focused on securing poor Filipinos’ access, control and



sustainable use of livelihood resources. But now, we also had to think of how to make markets work for the poor. This was a most challenging task to undertake within a regional programme where different country priorities had to compete for constrained resources. As a result, we ended long-standing partnerships with those whom we thought were already doing well or strong enough to be able to do so. We collapsed Oxfam’s work with fisherfolks, indigenous peoples and small producers into a single programme called Assets and Markets Programme (AMP). We coined the term; it was easy enough to grasp the concept that assets needed to be linked with markets. Poor women were a particular focus for us, and we knew that their economic advancement could only be achieved if they were empowered to enjoy fundamental freedoms that included the freedom of choice and freedom from violence. But the AMP team struggled to operationalise the idea, and the scarcity of working models did not help with confusion and uncertainties. The livelihood project with the Pulangiyen upland community in Bendum, Bukidnon was one of those confusing and uncertain projects. The Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) led by Fr. Peter Walpole was Oxfam’s partner and with them, we tried to increase the income that could be derived by the indigenous community from the sale of their handicrafts and agricultural products. But it appeared to us that

no matter what we did, production could not match the demands of the market. We were on the verge of giving up and closing the project, and decided to visit the community to prepare for this eventuality. When we got there, we understood why the market strategy would never work. People were not really interested in profiting from market activities. The women weavers could not be chained to a production schedule, as the design for their mats and baskets had to come to them in their dreams, and inspiration came at its own time. But agriculture was the community’s main livelihood, and for many years, we supported ESSC to help the indigenous community with their sustainable resource management plan, a requirement for them to be granted a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title. Agricultural production was being improved by a school that ESSC was also running. On this visit, I met Fr. Walpole who liked to be called Pedro, and Louie Bacomo who showed us how the school curriculum had integrated meteorology so that the Pulangiyens could combine indigenous knowledge with science, and using both, could improve their weather-dependent agricultural practices. Graduates of the school could either take a placement exam if they wanted to proceed with their education in the mainstream or serve as community agriculturists or teach at the school. There was no electricity in Bendum, but solar panels were able to power the one computer where students stored weather data and the one light bulb under which we chatted,

sang the songs of environmental activist and folksinger Noel Cabangon, and drank bottles of gin on that cold, cold evening. As the night deepened and the light bulb was extinguished, a few of us sat outside on the grass and gazed at the wide, deep black sky dotted with bright sparkling stars. I remember thinking I’ve never seen so many stars. I also remember feeling lost and ashamed. What were we doing with people’s livelihoods? If we understood livelihoods to be the means to support a people’s way of life, then we cannot box it into neat categories to match organisation-wide ‘business plans’ and income indicators. Oxfam’s understanding of the multi-faceted and intertwined dimensions of poverty was correct, but the way this was being translated into operational strategies oversimplified and mechanised the solutions. How could we do justice to what the Pulangiyen themselves viewed as their livelihood, and the opportunities for change that were important for them? My way out of my dilemma was to shift the Bendum project from the Assets and Markets Programme to Education. A few months later, told by Louie that students were about to graduate, I organised another trip—this time, with Noel Cabangon. We were joined by Claire Light, who wanted to see another part of Mindanao other than conflict-ridden Central Mindanao where she was stationed.



After crossing rivers and hanging bridges and a bit of trekking, we arrived in Bendum and found it abuzz. I looked up, and on the mountain ridge I saw more people walking towards the school. The tribes were converging for their children’s commencement exercises. As dusk fell, the children gathered with us in the big house. Impromptu, they started singing Noel’s songs which they had translated to Binukid, their local language. Noel brought out his guitar and sang with them until it was time for bed. The following morning, we prepared to head back to Manila. As we were saying our goodbyes, one of the elders, grateful that Noel came, presented him with a rasta hat. Such was how the team dealt with trouble and troubling times. Part of our troubles was the large-scale disasters that kept derailing us. The all-out war in Central Mindanao, combined with local clan conflicts, resulted in the repeated and cyclical displacement of Muslims, Christians and lumads. The planned two-year response stretched to eight. At its peak in 2003-2004, about 500,000 people were displaced and living in evacuation centres and makeshift camps. We learned a lot about how Oxfam’s expertise in WASH and public health could be combined with other approaches. We integrated emergency education, built schools, distributed educa-



tion materials and, more strategically, we developed curricula and trained teachers so that peace, conflict and disaster management could be incorporated into the public school education that children received whether they were displaced or not by the conflict. I remember the four classrooms that started as our pilot project, the volunteer teachers with whom we worked, the school principal who took the risk with us on an experiment we were unsure of, the comfort of having education experts from the Community of Learners as our partners. I remember especially the bakwit children who went to school there, some of whom came to class carrying a younger sibling on their hip, while others carried knives because having some kind of a weapon made them feel more secure, and all of whom scampered out of the classrooms and back to their tents at the mere sound of a military helicopter, their biggest fear being that of getting separated from their families. The project ran for a limited time and that was all we intended to do. When it ended, we shifted our strategy and scored some success in advocating for the integration of the innovations we knew would work into the public school system. To this day, the Community of Learners works with public school administrators and teachers in Mindanao. Central Mindanao provided the team with plenty

of experience and was the fertile ground from which many of our lessons emerged. The long and heated discussions on disaster management, the added value of Oxfam directly implementing a response, and the repeated efforts to understand what ‘humanitarian protection’ meant were exhausting, especially since Oxfam staff who were veterans of the anti-dictatorship struggle—me included—had preconceived notions of it. But Jenny McAvoy, who first introduced the concept of humanitarian protection to us, went toe-to-toe with the team and helped us understand the links but also the differences between advocating for human rights and protecting the human rights of people caught in a crisis. Central Mindanao taught me how to manage kidnap threats, bomb threats, staff and suppliers behaving badly, extortion attempts, and fraud. Eve Naraga and Jud Manigo were the tag team of the Central Mindanao finance unit, and they invented ways to make sure they were on top of logistics and that leaks and wastage were prevented, spotted and addressed. Their methods included riding on delivery trucks, recording the fuel consumed from one point to another, and timing loaders. Most of all, navigating the convoluted political and military interests of parties involved in the conflict in Central Mindanao was like a branding iron that left the principles of neutrality and im-

partiality and humanitarian protection indelibly marked in my mind. Alex Mathieson, who was the Philippine Humanitarian Programme Coordinator, came down to Cotabato to manage the response when it first began. Meng Abarquez was Central Mindanao’s first progamme manager. Claire Light took over from Meng. She and, later, Lou Lasap, spent a significant part of their Oxfam life with the rest of the Central Mindanao Team. They and the team did their shining best there. Many of the team members had moved on to other international roles and taken on bigger responsibilities, but they were, no doubt, formed by their experience in Central Mindanao. Joel Rodriguez, Jojo Matriano and Demos Militante from the Assets and Markets Team also cut their teeth in humanitarian work in Central Mindanao, and became better development managers as a result of their exposure to disasters. Paul del Rosario’s ideas on the Humanitarian Response Consortium germinated in the project management approach that started in Central Mindanao. In 2004, even as we were delivering a humanitarian response in Central Mindanao, we had to respond to another tragedy that struck the municipalities of Real, Infanta and Nakar on the Philippine eastern seaboard. In a span of two weeks, four tropical cyclones locally called Unding, Violeta, Winnie and Yoyong (International names Muifa, Merbok, Winnie and Nanmadol, respectively) slammed through these areas



and unleashed volumes of rainfall never before experienced by the residents there. Climatologists, geologists and hydrologists saw it as a 100-year event, citing oral histories and maps that suggest an incident of a similar magnitude a century before. Since then, the forests in the surrounding Sierra Madre mountain range had been denuded by logging, making the residents in the plains and valleys below vulnerable to landslides. Heavily saturated with rain, huge tracts of soil peeled away from the mountainsides and uprooted what were left of the forest. As trees fell, boulders underneath were exposed, came loose and rolled off the mountains, tumbling down on the townspeople in 96


the dark of night. After the landslide in Quezon, I came to understand how the confluence of natural hazards and social factors put people at risk. If the Indian Ocean tsunami did not happen, the Quezon landslide would have been the biggest ‘natural’ disaster in the East Asia region that year. Enroute to Manila, humanitarian support personnel (HSP) being deployed by Oxfam House to augment our country team was redirected instead to Aceh, Indonesia. Apart from the first wave of HSPs that made it through, this redirection of additional staff left us practically on our own. Ashvin Dayal, who was Re-

gional Director at the time, had just visited Infanta and walked through thigh-high mud. He saw the people’s suffering up close, and I think this helped prepare him for the devastation in Aceh. Because he had to directly manage the tsunami response, he could no longer support us so he did the next best thing. He made sure we got the support from others and the space to get things done. Disasters strained our team, but squeezed the best out of us, too. Liza Reilly, who was then

managing Central Mindanao, stretched the capacity of her team and sent WASH and public health specialists to Quezon. The scale and urgency of the humanitarian needs demanded boldness. I think we were the only humanitarian agency that ferried goods using a helicopter. At that time, I thought the money was well worth the investment because it saved time. We also conducted our first cash transfer programme in Infanta and Nakar with a lot of trepidation. Bank systems were down and took some time to repair, so money had to be physi-



cally carried to the disaster site. One international NGO was robbed while transporting staff salaries and allowances. I could not have survived these early years without Jud Reyes’ thorough and expert handling of our business support systems. Efren Tadeo lightened Jud’s workload when he joined us in 2003 and took on the responsibility for human resources. Jing Pura was ever calm as the management team battled maelstroms


and if she was calm I had to be too! Jing was in charge of our education programme which later expanded to include other essential services, specifically health. It was to her that I handed my work with the Education Network. She was my ‘kaladkarin,’ always game and ready to take on challenges I sent her way, whether that was to take the lead in gender mainstreaming or shore up staff morale or organise parties so we could let our hair down—or wear wigs depending on the occasion—and laugh at each other’s

costumes! Costume parties were de rigueur in the Philippines team during my time. During one Christmas party, we had the rock band, The Jerks play at our office, while we danced in our ‘70s rock-and-roll outfits. The sound from the amplifiers must have shaken our cement-andwood office to its core. I was relieved there were no complaints from village officials. The Philippine country team persisted, having learned tenacity from years of being Philippine activists, a value that Oxfam reinforced, and having come together as colleagues and friends. In 2004, Juliette Prodhan and then John Levers joined the team and managed the humanitarian programme. Jo Podlesak and Umair Hasan would come after him. Hev Blackwell and Margarita Hakobyan stood in for me while I was seconded to other programmes. By 2006, I felt that the currents of organisational change had started to ease, and we were finding our bearings. I was proud of the fact that we helped in enabling people who

were displaced by disasters to find their own power to claim their rights. I was proud that we had found a way to effectively work with local governments so that they could fulfil their duties. I was glad that with our partners, we were shifting the policy framework from disaster response to risk reduction. We have won the Cheaper Medicines Law. We had set up a partnership between the government and E-Net to sustain education reforms. Our programmes and campaigns to support the economic empowerment of poor people, particularly women, were making an impact on society’s consciousness. Our livelihood work with women was about economic and political power. We had started to deal with the injustice of climate change by producing evidence on how it impacts people’s lives and livelihoods. Oxfam was supporting and adding its voice to campaigning in the Philippines, and Philippine campaigning was adding force to those Oxfam waged at the global level. I was proud that as our country team adapted to changes in Oxfam’s global or-


ganisation, the impact and quality of our work in the Philippines was also influencing the way Oxfam was changing. In 2007, a new phase was upon us. As part of our preparations for the next strategic period, Peter Chaudhry produced a Philippine poverty analysis that pointed us towards Mindanao as a geographical focus. There was poverty across the Philippines, but none more pronounced and prevalent than in Mindanao. During this time, working with colleagues from Oxfam Hong Kong and Oxfam Novib, I was aligning our respective programmes in the Philippines. After taking stock of what we did individually and looking at enduring as well as emerging development and humanitarian issues, we agreed that we could experiment with a joint Oxfam Mindanao programme. We thought that if we could make a difference in the lives of poor people there, we would be making a contribution to the overall poverty reduction in the country. To build on Peter’s poverty research, I asked Ed Quitoriano to do one that focused on the nexus of poverty and conflict in Mindanao



and its possible solutions, so that Oxfam could weigh in where it could. Power and its capture by the privileged was an important part of our analysis, and transforming power relations was essential to our strategy. Professor Randy David joined us and our partners in analysing power as it played out in the Philippines. Aided by Matt Desmond and Jo Rowlands, we used John Gaventa’s power cube to map out the ‘levels, spaces and dimensions of visible, invisible and hidden power.’ I came out of that meeting in a daze. Later, during quiet evenings at home, things started sinking in as I pulled the different strands of thought from various studies, workshops and management meetings into Oxfam’s National Change Strategy for 2009-2012. It said that ‘change will happen with the transformation of power relations between men and women, between the priviledged and the poor, between the government and the governed.’ I felt this was the distillation of many years of experimentation and risk-taking, and of keeping the focus on women’s rights and empowerment.

After the Oxfam Regional Centre approved the Philippine National Change Strategy, the Joint Oxfam Mindanao Programme and the roadmap to a one-Oxfam programme of all the affiliates working in the Philippines which later became the bases for the Oxfam Joint Country Analysis and Strategy, I felt I had reached the end of my role as Country Director. Former Regional Programme Manager Tim Wainwright’s likened working in Oxfam to ‘building a plane while flying it.’ I found that to be accurate, and let it be known that the flight was also often turbulent. A big part of my role had been to shield the team from the wind shear as much as possible by managing the way organisational change happened so that the team could deliver the programme despite the changes. Thus, a better metaphor for what I learned from being Oxfam’s Country Director is ‘riding white waters.’ White waters churn and twist and throw. If you want to avoid being slammed against boulders and steer through the currents to a safe shore, you cannot fixate on the past. When the way ahead is uncertain, find a handle on the future and learn from it. Stay optimistic and never stop believing. Keep your humanity intact, and the humour alive.






WAR, the human Spirit and inspiration Abdullah Ampilan

One of the experiences that shaped my skills in responding to emergencies was the all-out war that the Philippine government declared in Central Mindanao against the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). The armed fighting, which broke out intermittently over the years, escalated again in the early morning of 11 February 2003, displacing at least half a million people. The Ligawasan Marsh became the centrefold of the war, particularly Pikit in Cotabato and Pagalungan in Maguindanao where the Buliok Complex was located. The Complex was the seat of governance and military of the MILF that time. We were not prepared then for an emergency. I was part of the Public Health Team assigned

to GSKP (Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun) in Maguindanao for post-conflict WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) activities in communities affected by the earlier conflicts of1997 and 2000. Many IDPs (internally displaced persons), mostly coming from Pikit and Pagalungan, swam the Ligawasan Marsh to seek refuge in nearby municipalities including GSKP. We were overwhelmed when more than 5,000 families descended on GSKP after the Buliok bombings. We stopped our regular activities and shifted to emergency response. Together with another Oxfam staff, Norsalam Bago, we headed the GSKP team in mobilising communities.



We were able to get 30 CHVs (Community Health Volunteers) from the affected population. One of them was Zulaika Bangkailan, 46, single, more popularly known as Ate Samera. With the help of the CHVs, we were able to establish evacuation camp management along with the local government of GSKP and the DSWD (Department of Social Work and Development). The volunteers were instrumental in our NFI (non-food items) distribution, hygiene promotion, construction of water and sanitation facilities, and the construction of emergency shelters.



We toiled hard from morning up to even 2:00 a.m. to ensure that nothing went wrong in the evacuation centres, and that we served the IDPs effectively. The energy of the volunteers who worked hard without asking for financial or material compensation was truly amazing. It was the first time that field staff were allowed to sleep in the evacuation centres because of the arrival of huge numbers of IDPs. There were also IDPs served by Oxfam in the big camps in Pikit, North Cotabato, Pagalungan and Pagagawan, both in Maguindanao.

Ate Samera was among the standout female volunteers. She was active in her role as a CHV, wading in flood water and stretching her energy from dawn to dusk. She stayed in the camps for two years before returning to Buliok Complex with other IDPs.

Ate Samera continued her support for Oxfam activities. She was a volunteer for Oxfam’s WASH activities in Paglat from 2006 up to 2013. She is, in fact, the longest serving community volunteer of Oxfam in the Central Mindanao region, perhaps even in the whole country.

But destiny brought her to another calling when she was absorbed as a BHW (Barangay Health Worker) in nearby Paglat municipality. ‘I am thankful for my experience with Oxfam of being a CHV. It was from this that I accumulated the training, skills and knowledge in mobilising communities and in preventing diseases that helped me become a BHW of the government,’ says Ate Samera.

‘I hope that there will be no more conflicts and need for evacuation in our area. It does not matter—being poor—as long as we are not burdened by war. In case there will be displacement, I am ready to play my role as a volunteer,’ says Ate Samera. The volunteers inspired me tremendously. Often, while watching them work, I would shed





tears of gladness. I told myself that I would put more dedication to my work; that I would aspire to be more competent to better render services to the communities. I realised that key to our success was that we made it a point to actively involve the affected people themselves. I am inspired to do better in my work and to love humanitarian work even more. Since then, I have always emphasised the importance of involving communities in all phases of an intervention, whether humanitarian or developmental. I always do that not because it is required by the project, but because I have already proven the strategy through our volunteers and communities.




I first worked with Oxfam as a volunteer documenter in 2000 for the emergency response in Pagalungan, Maguindanao during the all-out war launched by the Estrada administration against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. I became part of the staff the year after. I was assigned to the Education in Emergencies project in Pagalungan, a project that supported the PCES (Pagalungan Central Elementary School’s) effort to absorb evacuee children from neighbouring municipalities so they could continue their schooling. This school was one amongst several that provided refuge to the ‘bakwit’, the local people’s term for evacuees. I met Rohaina in Pagalungan. She and her family came from Barangay Bagoinged. I followed



closely the goings-on with her family in the evacuation centre as part of our documentation. From her mother I learned that when they were fleeing their barangay, they had nothing but the clothes on their back. She almost urinated on herself in the frenzy of escaping a war. Rohaina was eight years old at the time. She attended the emergency school at PCES that was run by volunteer teachers. I remember her because at her tender age, she already understood how the lives and schooling of children like her could be affected by conflict. During one school programme, she sang a song entitled Isang Lahi—One Nation. In her child’s voice, she sang with so much emotion that moved everyone to tears. When I asked why she liked the song, she said it expressed what she



felt about their situation. This song, she said, showed that peace could be achieved through love, understanding and helping one another. Another bakwit I will never forget is Marshatta, a bubbly 7-year old at the time. We used to have art sessions as part of the healing process. We asked children to draw their experiences before and during the war. In Marshatta’s drawing of the first time that conflict broke out in their barangay, there were so many figures and objects. I asked her where she was amidst all that. She said she hid inside a trash can. She drifted between waking and sleeping. She only came out many hours after when her mother called out her name.



From a temporary classroom set-up, the project continued until 2010, expanding to other municipalities severely affected by the conflict. I believe we were able to rehabilitate 30 schools, reaching more than 15,000 children. Teachers and school heads said that the project was an answered prayer for them as the Department of Education did not include their schools among donor-aided education programmes because of the intermittent conflict. What was striking then was that these were the schools that badly needed support as decades of conflict had deteriorated the quality of service from bad to worse over time. I travelled so many times along the roads of Central Mindanao and it was heartbreaking for me to see whole schools,

beautifully painted with well-kept grounds and facilities. Yet, when you passed through Maguindanao, the schools were dilapidated and in shambles, ruined by war. The Oxfam project aimed to improve the capacity of teachers, school managers and parents to rebuild their schools and support children’s education and psychosocial needs. Teachers from the COLF (Community of Learners Foundation)—Teachers Jingjing, Marge, Maite, and Cindy—valiantly conducted intensive training for the school personnel to recreate ‘schools that heal and teach peace.’ Oxfam also helped improve the physical structures of the schools. And as in all of Oxfam’s work, we had to find ways of influencing policies and practices from the lessons learned from the ground. We con-

nected our work for education in conflict-affected areas to the Education For All campaign being conducted by the Education Network at the national level. We also connected with the INEE (Inter-agency Network on Education in Emergencies) that was then laying minimum standards for education services for displaced or refugee children. Oxfam, together with COLF, anchored the meetings to define Philippines’ contribution to the development of these minimum standards. I remember one of the teachers in Bai Malaida Central Elementary School saying, ‘I am so thankful to Oxfam that we were able to attend trainings that can help us to be more responsive to the situation of children affected by conflict. Classroom roofs are not leaking any-



more and it’s not as hot as before. Children no longer have to sit on dirt floors while they are writing.’ My work in Oxfam opened my mind to the real situation of Muslim children in Mindanao. I became more conscious of the actual state of education in Mindanao, particularly in the Maguindanao province. Achieving good quality education in the ARMM remains a big challenge and this motivates me to finish my master’s degree in education. I want to be part of the ARMM Department of Education. I believe that if I enter the system, I can do more to improve education in the region. I want to help children, especially girls, who are the most deprived of the right to education due to practices of early marriage, domestic work, and migrant work. Right now, I see 13- and 14-year-old girls recruited to serve as domestic helpers in the Middle East. This is truly depressing!



I discovered this the roundabout way. In our conversation with some parents, we learned many of the girls suffer from urinary tract infection. I thought to myself, ‘Good, they bring the girls to the clinic for testing.’ But when we asked how they knew about the increasing incidence of UTI, it turned out that the revelation came because the girls were applying for work overseas and needed to undergo physical exams. I looked at the girls again in front of me, and worried about their fates when they begin to work abroad. Contrary perhaps to what many Muslim fathers believe to be good for girls, my father worked hard so I could finish my education. He repeatedly told me I needed to graduate so I could support myself and not have to depend on whoever I married. I consider this the most precious advice from my late father, who was a firm believer in education as the key to suc-

cess. He motivated me to pursue my education and be able to help more children and teachers, especially those deprived of the best conditions for education. Back then I didn’t know what was in store for me with Oxfam. All I know deep in my heart is that I want to make a dent, a significant change that would make a difference in the lives of the many disadvantaged and vulnerable children. My work in Oxfam was a golden opportunity that allowed me to pursue this wish to be of help. It was truly a life-changing experience.





The Engineering THAT ONE LEARNS FROM OXFAM A.R.T. Tamayo

During my stint of four years with Oxfam from 2006 to 2010, although the supervision of projects is a standard feature of an engineer’s life, the most challenging work was the partnership meetings with different actors, groups and communities concerned as part and parcel of the lobbying process. A project cycle invariably included the courtesy call on the leaders involved, especially at the very start of a project. However, as field workers, the interaction with the community and its leaders was part of our daily routine. Some of the projects I became involved in required us to cross rivers and inaccessible roads, which prompted us to negotiate with the partner and specify that the transport and security of construction materials as well as workers become a partner’s local counterpart.

There were instances when those who attended our courtesy calls and meetings with the communities in Maguindanao carried guns for personal protection, especially the barangay officials and community leaders such as armed group commanders and datus. Because we were in conflict-affected areas, the sight of individuals roaming around with guns in plain view was ordinary, but it was quite unnerving to see these firearms up close while conducting meetings or during site selection of watersanitation facilities. Eventually, I came to look at our dealings with the leaders, specifically those with guards and guns, as part of the organisation’s strategy.



Another common practice in these areas that I observed was the exclusive privilege accorded the community leaders of being able to help themselves to project resources such as construction materials. During the construction phase of a project, we were often approached by residents asking for free cement, lumber, even nails. Many times, construction had to stop due to extortion or extortion-like activities. These problems were all sorted out with the help of Oxfam’s management, plus teamwork on the ground between the community and the local government to address the issue. After my involvement with Oxfam’s construction activities for the public health and education tracks, I became a government employee. On weekends, however, I continue to practice my profession as a private engineer. The experiences in Oxfam honed my interpersonal skills to the extent that I am now confident of being able to manage a stressful workload while dealing with different people I meet from the multi-diverse culture of Mindanao—while trying to beat deadlines to boot. I have even learned rudimentary skills in report writing, documentation and the use of a computer.







Because oxfam is different Noel Pedrola

‘Lavishness!’ This was my reaction when I learned our programme in Cotabato had included water and latrines in its services for the displaced families in North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces in Mindanao in 2000. I wondered why Oxfam would invest in such facilities. ‘Food is what the IDPs need!’ I thought to myself. Even the thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) families had the same answer when we made an assessment. But Oxfam tried its best to influence my—and other people’s— thinking. It took Oxfam many courtesy visits and project orientation meetings with local government units and communities affected by conflict until they too learned to recognise clean water and latrines as among the needs of people when they are displaced. In the course of our work, Oxfam also had to conduct numerous workshops to strengthen the understanding of people in government, civil society organisations and affected com-

munities that food was just one among the IDPs’ basic needs; they also needed clean water, sanitation facilities and additional knowledge to improve their hygiene practices. The misgivings are now history. At present, many water points and latrines continue to function as sources of clean water and sanitation for the many communities, reminding people of Oxfam’s effort to help those families affected by armed conflict and other disasters. The services that were once strange to me are now bundled as WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), which have helped many IDPs to rebuild their lives. Oxfam has made WASH a legacy in many communities in Mindanao.





Occupational Hazards Esther Bose-Magdayo

I started working with Oxfam as a Junior Field Engineer of the Water and Sanitation Programme in November 2000 at the height of the all-out war of the Estrada administration in Mindanao. Men, women and children were displaced and needed to stay in evacuation centres for a long time. By mid-2003 to 2004, these internally displaced persons (IDPs) could return to their places of origin. Oxfam’s intervention covered both Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces, including Barangay Limbalod in the municipality of Pagagawan in Maguindanao. One day, my colleagues Maimai, Mama Agting and Reggie and I went to visit an area for a partnership meeting and select sites for future water and sanitation facilities. Reggie was pregnant at the time and feeling indisposed, asked to remain in the car, so Maimai,

Mama Agting and I went to talk to the community representatives about our roles and responsibilities, the community’s counterpart, and the criteria for site selection. Then, together with the barangay chair and one representative of the sitios, the team visited the proposed sites. As the Project Engineer, my responsibility was to ensure that each chosen site was within the criteria and standards. When we reached the area, the community representative pointed to us his preferred site for a hand pump—which was on his private property, and therefore against Oxfam’s criteria. I reasoned to him that what he wanted was not possible because Oxfam-sponsored facilities should be in the sitio centres so they are accessible to many. Even the barangay council and my other colleagues also tried to explain, but he would not listen.



We had not noticed earlier that he had a gun, a .45-calibre pistol which he drew and pointed at us. I was petrified. We wanted to retreat, but we were easy targets at such close proximity. I hid behind Maimai, who took cover behind Mama Agting, who took cover behind the barangay chair. From inside the Oxfam vehicle, the driver and Reggie, our line manager, witnessed the incident with growing anxiety. Both Mama Agting and the barangay officer tried to calm him down and negotiate with him. We were hostaged in this situation for almost 20 minutes. Good thing the wife was nearby. She begged him to put down his gun, and at last he did. When the tension subsided, we immediately pulled out of the area. During the drive back to our base in Cotabato City, the three of us tried to laugh our fears and nervousness away. We reported the incident to the security officer, and travel to the barangay was subsequently suspended for almost two weeks. The topmost managers did not allow us to return until the situation was resolved. The barangay chair sought an apology from the errant community member. A reconciliation meeting took place where Oxfam personnel were assured of their safety and that there would be no repeat of the incident. The project proceeded and was completed without further event thereafter.







DISPLACED BUT EMPOWERED Lou Lasap Humanitarian protection programming in Oxfam GB Philippines started in 2000 and peaked in 2002—around the same time when Oxfam piloted protection work in countries like Sudan and Liberia. I am grateful to have been one of the staff who attended the training when the then East Asia Regional Centre launched a training on humanitarian protection in the Philippines. When we started, humanitarian protection was vague to us; many Oxfam staff and local NGO staff who took part in the training understood protection to be the same as human rights campaigning, My experiences in the field helped clarify the similarities, links and differences. I learned that humanitarian protection could be far broader in terms of approach Human rights campaigning vs humanitarian response Where democratic space is limited and speaking out on human rights violations may severe-

ly threaten humanitarian access, Oxfam takes measures to carefully articulate our advocacy messages and choose the best forum to engage and discuss our analysis and position on very sensitive and critical issues. In 2008, Oxfam took calculated risks in using the media in challenging the national government when it denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis in Central Mindanao. While not wanting to get tied up in the technical definition of a humanitarian crisis, Oxfam publicly stated that the humanitarian needs of internally displaced people in Mindanao were real. After it issued this statement, Oxfam refused to get drawn into a media tit-for-tat with the government and reverted to a reactive media line, mindful as it was of the possible strain on its relationship with government. Moreover, concerned that our statement may lead to authorities not permitting us to operate in Mindanao and, therefore, us failing to help the IDPs, Oxfam decided to focus on implementing life-saving humanitarian assistance,



while doing local-level advocacy and building the capacity of local government in evacuation centre management. Living the principles of neutrality and impartiality In the beginning, it was an uphill climb to safeguard against compromising the principles of neutrality and impartiality. Some Philippine NGOs, including Oxfam partners in Mindanao during my time, were steeped in political debates, and their messages could be easily perceived by the public as being ‘partisan’ in the conflict. It didn’t help that in one instance, in citing the failings of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), a local NGO partner publicly implied its position on the Mindanao conflict that echoed the same position and analysis of the rebel movement. The experience taught me the importance and strength of articulating protection issues (or the impact of protection threats) from the perspective of the communities affected, rather than focus on the politics of issues in public messages. The former creates more space to dialogue with decision-makers and conflict parties and hold them to account.



Communities negotiating for their safety Sometime in 2008, when the peace talks in Mindanao collapsed and civilians were displaced anew, military checkpoints and roadblocks prevented humanitarian organisations from reaching the IDPs who fled Pikit, North Cotabato to safer areas in the district. Our partner, the MPC (Mindanao Peoples Caucus) and the grassroots ceasefire monitoring committees, which they helped set up, negotiated with soldiers to allow passage of an inter-agency relief mission to bring food and other relief items to the IDPs. The members of the communitybased ceasefire monitoring committee—all ordinary civilians—decided to claim their rights. There were no big, international organisations that intervened on their behalf. The women and men who were directly affected by the conflict directly negotiated for the safe passage of relief items to enable IDPs to meet their basic needs while displaced. Prior to leaving their villages, the same grassroots ceasefire monitoring committee received advanced warning from the parties in conflict parties, both government and rebels, about military operations. The ability to establish lines for negotiation with conflict actors and the use of community groups to pass warnings and facilitate evacuation were also exemplary self-protection initiatives demonstrated by a community that is aware of their rights as civilians during a conflict, and their potential to try

positive measures to self-protection. In 2010, a member of the grassroots ceasefire monitoring group called Bantay Ceasefire organised by the Mindanao People’s Caucus shared this story during an Oxfam-facilitated protection training in Cotabato. Another example of an affected people negotiating for their safety that left an imprint with me to this day was the displacement in early 2003 in Maguindanao, when the government, after announcing that the clashes between rebels and government forces had been contained, pushed IDPs to return to their villages in a completely sudden and unplanned manner. A group of IDPs alerted Oxfam that the local government was sending trucks to collect and transport all IDPs staying in schools back to their villages in preparation for a high-profile visit of a state official. Afraid due to the continuing presence of government soldiers and rebels in areas surrounding their villages, the IDPs refused to return, and instead negotiated with the owner of an abandoned building to stay there. I saw how helpful it was if the affected community is aware of their right to assistance and if civilians are capacitated with skills so that they can use directly negotiate for their safety. Such acts were inspiring.





The Essentials of Working IN A DISAsTER Joel Rodriguez

In the morning of 2 December 2004, the entire staff was transfixed on the office TV that was then reporting on a horrific landslide in Quezon Province. Air footage of the devastation were being shown. Three northernmost towns of the province—Nakar, Infanta and Real—were covered in at least three-meter high mud. Some corpses of people and animals were visible. It was feared maybe hundreds more lay underneath tons of mud, boulders and logs washed down from the nearby mountains. I was the Acting Country Director because Lan Mercado was attending a conference in South Africa; it was my first disaster. As the sitting Manager, I was supposed to provide leadership to Oxfam’s response. But I was terrified. Except for a few deliveries of emergency relief sup-

plies before joining Oxfam three years before, I had no relevant humanitarian training. I began praying to myself for the Regional Centre (RC) to see sense in cutting short Lan’s trip and ordering her on the first plane back to Manila. Thankfully, the RC did, but it was still a while before Lan arrived back in the country. Meanwhile, Ashvin Dayal, then the East Asia Regional Director, was soon on the phone talking to me and to Lou Lasap, Acting Coordinator of the Philippine Humanitarian Program. Ashvin made it plain that he would be taking the lead in mobilising whatever support would enable the delivery of critical life-saving assistance to the survivors and affected population. His marching orders were clear: (1) A rapid assessment team was to be formed, given the nec-



essary and essential logistics, and sent out in the soonest time possible—within 24 hours; (2) Information was to be shared within the loop— from the assessment team, to me, to Ashvin, and back—the soonest time it is available; and (3) We were to ensure the safety and security of the assessment team. ‘I’m here for you, Joel. My role is to provide you the assistance that you and our team on the ground would require in order that Oxfam can save lives. Whatever it is, and at whatever time of day or night, don’t hesitate to call,’ Ashvin reassured me. I was relieved by this reassurance. True enough, Ashvin was with us throughout the most critical period of the emergency. Lou took the lead in organising the rapid assessment team, coordinating with Jud, our Business Support Manager, about budgets and logistics; while I hunted old contacts in the Prelature of Infanta and local NGOs in Quezon Province for potential partners in an emergency response. Just from the continued television coverage, we already concluded there would be a huge demand for safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene in the aftermath. Lou contacted our team in Cotabato to request staff that could be freed up on short notice to lead in an emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) response. I took care of communication with our partner in Pampan-



ga that implemented the post-Pinatubo eruption humanitarian intervention. I remembered we had in place a contingency plan. Together with Lou and Jud, we ran our fingers down the document and noted what were immediate, urgent, and who’s who in the communication tree. Our experience in the next few days strengthened my realisation about the critical importance of having in place an updated contingency plan, and the value of giving every Oxfam manager the time and space to revisit such a plan. It helps to keep your feet planted on the ground, your mind focused, and your emotions calm when a major disaster such as the Quezon landslide strikes and you are the Oxfam manager in post. I also realised how fortunate the country team was to have skilled staff and partners, seasoned by years



of responding to emergencies. It would have been best if we did not need to face at least three major disasters out of an average 19 typhoons that choose the Philippines as romping ground each year, not to mention the volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and armed conflicts. No matter, access to a contingency plan and trained people makes coping with disaster better, and recovery, more sure-footed. Disasters add complications to our fight against poverty and injustice. But we have a lot to learn from these.Disasters inform the strategies we implement in our longterm development programmes. 132







On 29 November 2004, typhoon Muifa and Tropical Depression Winnie devastated many communities in Real, Infanta and Nakar in Quezon Province. More than a thousand people died and almost a million people were displaced by the landslides and flash floods in these three municipalities lying along the Sierra Madre. The biggest challenge faced by the Oxfam emergency team for the next few days and weeks was access to the affected populations. No road leading to any of the three towns was passable. The assessment and logistics team led by then Country Director Lan Mercado had to hire a private chopper to cut the time to deliver relief materials to the displaced.

needs of people, including food, water and shelter. I experienced walking for hours to reach the villages in Nakar. One of my colleagues, Maimai Balinas, fainted from dehydration and fatigue on our way back to the office from Barangay Maligaya. We had to rest for some time in the jungle until she regained consciousness, but we were also fearful for our security as all digital communication services were still down at the time. We were three Muslims, including Norsalam Bago and Mama Agting, deployed to these Christian-populated areas. I headed the PHP (Public Health Promotion) team during the earlier days of the emergency response, and I hid my

On the programme side, we faced tremendous challenges in responding to the life-saving



real identity as a Muslim while the war in Mindanao continued and prejudices against Muslims in Mindanao lingered. Even the management hesitated about how people would react to the deployment of Muslim staff. My fears ran high especially when I was in the remote communities of Nakar, which was known to be a rebel-infested area. Especially when I was working alone, I worried whenever people asked about my origins which was Cotabato City and learned I’m a Muslim. I was always uncertain how people would react. Yet, there was no better answer than the truth. I told them about my faith and explained that we were hired because of our competencies as



well as our willingness to help those affected by disasters and conflict. They would then ask about the biases against Muslims perpetuated by radio and TV—that Muslims are bad. I grabbed each opportunity to explain that being bad or good is a personal choice and not a dictation of anyone’s faith. I was very emphatic that we were in their area to assist them from the devastation of the typhoons and floods. The warm acceptance of the disaster-affected population to the three of us was surprising and heartening. For the son of a Barangay Chairperson in Batangan, Nakar, I was the first Muslim he had ever seen. Like many others, he had allowed old prejudices to shape his attitudes toward us.

Eventually, during relief distributions, I would hear people say, ‘The Muslims have come to help us.’ Indeed, the programme had bridged the gap between Christians and the Muslims in the area. With such acceptance, I began to feel secure in the villages. My fears dissipated, and I could perform my work without hesitation. I know now that in humanitarian work, people relate to us according to what we say and do, not according to our individual beliefs. During one of our municipal-wide activities, I was delighted to hear the mayor of Nakar, Mayor Hernando Avellaneda Sr., announce: ‘Duoi is now an adopted son of Nakar.’ I immediately called Lan, our Country Director, to update her on how the question of the people’s acceptance of Muslims in their area had panned out. I was even offered a concrete house in Infanta by one of the community leaders out of appreciation for our work in their communities. I remember the people crying when we bade them goodbye after seven months of working, struggling and living with them.



Since then, though I still believe communities differ, I have gained more confidence working in areas with different faiths. The experience in Quezon cemented my love for humanitarian work beyond the barriers of my religious faith or anyone else’s. To this day, I receive numerous invitations from the residents to visit Infanta and Nakar once more. I am looking forward to one day meet these people that we worked with and reminisce with them our shared experience to struggle and survive.








A series of strong typhoons had hit the province of Quezon in a span of two weeks, causing massive landslides that buried the municipalities of Real, Infanta and Nakar. Roads and bridges collapsed, cutting the towns off from assistance that humanitarian agencies were wanting to deliver. I was a former Oxfam staff and on the third day of the disaster, when more and more information revealed the scale and seriousness of the situation, I called Lan Mercado, the Country Director, to ask how I might be of help. ‘We’re trying to find a Cessna,’ Lan said, ‘so we can quickly access the area. The first assessment team went by sea. They found it too rough and risky.’ I was a bit familiar with the place to know that there was no airstrip for a Cessna to land. I noted to Lan that what Oxfam needed was a helicopter. ‘Okay, then go. Find us a chopper.’ That was how my involvement with the Quezon Emergency Response began. My first task was to hire a helicopter that would fly Ian Small, the

Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, and Emma Lilly, the Regional Funding Coordinator. Both had arrived from Bangkok to support the Philippine humanitarian team. They were to have a quick look at the disaster area to assess the situation and develop a proposal to donors. Lan and I were to fly with them. But it was not easy to get a helicopter. Politicians were also in a queue to hire them to reach the site. I got a lucky break and was able to secure one for the following day. Early the next day, the four of us landed at the muddy open field of the Infanta public school and immediately fanned out to gather information that could be added to what the rapid assessment team had. By the afternoon, we were preparing to return when Lan was approached by an obviously worried mother who asked that we take her child whose head was injured during the landslide to a hospital. Oxfam has a policy of not taking on non-staff passengers but Lan agreed to take the child and her father. Ian and Emma did not object.



As soon as we landed in Manila, I brought the child and father to the hospital so they could get proper attention. The next day, I brought the child a small toy. Not long after, the Tsu Chi Foundation to whom Lan referred the child’s situation because it was not Oxfam’s approach to take care of individual cases arrived with a huge teddy bear, much bigger than usual, relegating the small toy I brought to the sidelines. Now 142


assured that Tsu Chi was taking on the child’s care, I focused on my other important task, the delivery of disaster relief items to Infanta as quickly as possible. Oxfam had sent tons of relief materials from its warehouses in Oxford. They had arrived in Manila and had to clear customs. Dinky Soliman, who once headed an NGO that was an Oxfam partner,

was now the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. She wrote a letter to facilitate the release of the goods without duties. We had two options: either first store the goods in a warehouse in Manila or deliver them to Infanta right away. In our huddle, Bobet Sia, who was playing the role of the Infanta logistician, a logistician from Oxford whose name I could no longer remember and I agreed on the latter option. Our decision required the coordination of trucks and a helicopter as well as clearances with the local government and the public school where we were landing the goods. In Real, there was a military camp and the commander was insistent that we do our operations from the camp. Oxfam had a strict policy of ensuring that humanitarian actions were perceived as neutral and dissociated from the military. It was all the more important to follow this policy during the Quezon Emergency Response because the insurgent New People’s Army also operated in the area. For security purposes, Oxfam must be seen as completely neutral lest it be perceived to be taking sides or, worse, become a magnet of attack from either camp. As Country Director, Lan had to explain this to the military commander and negotiate that we be left to conduct the sling operations on our own. A few months into the emergency response, when the New People’s Army was sending feelers about Oxfam needing to pay taxes to the rebels, Lan again had to explain why Oxfam could not do that. -Home-




The transport of the goods began shortly after midnight. I drove to Real to supervise the operations, all the time maintaining communication with the truck operator and the helicopter pilot and coordinating schedules. Getting to Real was not easy. There were big boulders in the middle of the road, some of which were as big as a sedan. Upon reaching a certain point on the highway, the only option was to walk because the road was blocked by piles of boulders and logs and was completely impassable. It was still dark when trucks loaded and brought the goods from the customs warehouse in Manila to a riverbed in Real that we pre-identified was the safest place to do the sling operations. From the river bed, the chopper attached slings to the crates and flew them to the school field in Infanta. It took 14 trips in 1.5 days to get all of the goods from the warehouses to the site. The most important of these goods were the water bladders that were used to store clean water at the hospital and the school which was being used as an evacuation centre.




Click to Image Play Video



It was gloomy and the surroundings were filled with sorrow and despair. Four months had passed since the devastation wrought by a series of typhoons that hit the region. Three towns were submerged in water, mud and logs from the Sierra Madre mountains where the destruction of the environment had taken its toll. The foamy grounds and markings on the walls revealed the extent of damage the storms cost. We were there to sing, to perform for the people who lost the lives of their loved ones, their belongings and their livelihood. It was difficult on our part to decide whether we were doing the right thing. That is, having a concert entitled, ‘Bangon Silangan’. Despite my reservations, the concert pushed through. We began with a play from a local theatre company. I wrote two songs, ‘Alaala Ka Infanta’ and ‘Awit ng Bahaghari,’ that speak of the longing of the people of Infanta for hope from the devastation. The concert, according to a seer, somehow gave the lost souls a clear understanding of what had happened and why their lives were taken. The concert, somehow, became cathartic.





What Matters Most in Disaster Preparedness Bong Masagca ‘Oo nga, Oxfam has been with PDRN (Pampanga Disaster Response Network but now known as Peoples Disaster Risk Reduction Network) through thick and thin, for more than 12 years!’ This was my first reaction when asked what I considered to be memorable about working with Oxfam. Actually, there were many such memorable snapshots, but the unifying thread is its presence all these years—and not simply as a funder but as a real partner. Not in the sense of awarding us funds to operate, but more in terms of helping build us up, capacitating us, and helping us sharpen our dreaming and skilling us to move from here to there. A case in point is in walking down the road with the PDRN, in viewing disaster response as beyond the distribution of relief items—repacked rice, cans of sardines, packets of instant noodles, etc. To us both, disaster response work means building resilient communities. This perspective was embraced at a time when disaster management was more as charity giving away doleouts, and not when emergencies break out. Such disaster readiness and quick reaction, based on evidence, is most evident in the ge-

ological surveys that PDRRN did with support from Oxfam in May 2001. We had to rent helicopters to conduct these surveys that studied the conditions of the Pinatubo craters. Oxfam brought in two geologist-consultants for the survey, Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo and Rosalito Alonso, Filipinos both, from the University of Illinois in tChicago and from the University of the Philippines, respectively. I joined as a concerned local of Pampanga and on behalf of PDRN. Results of that study said there could be a breach or collapse of portions of the craters if the water level in the crater lake continued to rise. If that should happen, tens of thousands of locals along the side and foothills of the mountain would be in the direct path of raging water and volcanic debris or lahar, which would be released once the crater wall collapsed. Oxfam and PDRN alerted the authorities to such potential danger. We also moved in quick to warn the people in the affected areas, so they knew the potential danger and they could evacuate in time. Problem was the concerned government agency, specifically, its head, did not agree to the findings. He said there was -Home-




no such danger and that the government was doing its own monitoring. He also insisted that should there be any conversation with the communities regarding evacuation, it would be they who should do it. They were upset with Oxfam and PDRN for leaking the survey results to the media. For the record, it was not the team that informed the media of the survey findings, but that is another story for another day. Suffice it to say that it was not Oxfam that revealed the information of the probable crater wall’s collapse to the media. This was one case where we did not mind being proven wrong, even though it should be noted that the finding was a strong possibility of a collapse, and not the certainty of one. No collapse of the crater walls transpired; there was no inundation of towns and villages either. But what I realised then was that in disaster preparedness and in working for strong and resilient communities, the important thing was to deliver the right and relevant information to the authorities, as well as to the affected people themselves, not to scare them or make them dependent to the response team, but to equip them to understand what was going on, and to empower them by showing them the array of options available so they could make informed decisions and better protect themselves. Whether a predicted disaster happens or not is not the point. It is that people are at all times prepared.





ON challenges and paradigm shifts Donna Lagdameo

When I moved to Oxfam in December 2006 after being in government for more than 12 years, I had only one objective: to immerse myself in DRR (disaster risk reduction) and finish my dissertation. Little did I know that this move would immerse me into something that will change lives forever! The opportunity came when I applied for, and eventually led, the implementation of Oxfam’s 15-month DIPECHO project on documenting good practices in CBDRM (community-based disaster risk management). I took a year’s leave from a very high and secure position in government with all the intentions of coming back. On my first day in Oxfam, a major disaster hit the Bicol region and everyone was in emergency response mode! And so, I was practically left to work alone. That was the first big change because I was used to being a ‘boss’

in the government office, with secretaries and staff around me. From Day 1 with Oxfam, I had to work independently, from project management to partner and donor relations to administrative tasks. Oxfam also taught me how to come to work in casual clothes. Yes, very petty, but also very true, in my case. As a young manager in government, I always had to assert myself and my position so people would listen to me. I always, therefore, dressed for the job. I remember going to Oxfam in high heels and business attire while the Country Director was in jeans and sandals! Awkward! But what I liked about Oxfam was how to be comfortable and true to who you really are. It provided the space for people to assert themselves, regardless of age, gender, background and yes, fashion preferences. Your opinions and suggestions were always considered and heard.



I must say that there were times when I felt ‘out of place’ in the office because I couldn’t relate to the NGO language and ways of work. Some staff were even very vocal against my friends in government and held very negative opinions of them, without understanding where the other side was coming from. Of course, I knew that the feeling from inside government was mutual. I remember associates in government telling me to leave Oxfam because I didn’t belong there! In one of my first meetings with a government agency, the head of office was so surprised to see me with the Oxfam group he did not bother to conceal his misgivings: ‘Had I known that you were bringing these people, I would not have agreed to meet with you!’ But he sat down anyway and met with us and was very careful with his words. For a whole year, I deliberately declined all opportunities to travel and know more about Oxfam. And for a year, I only had a sandwich for a quick lunch so that I didn’t need to sit with the others and hear their grudges and complaints about government and the civil service corps. I was determined to stay and finish what I started and to prove to both Oxfam and the government that they were dead wrong about



their suspicions and that both sides had roles to play and just needed a space conducive to working together. One of my tasks was a DRR case study documentation project that was, at first, not as appealing when you consider that other INGOs (international NGOs) were doing concrete CBDRM work on the ground. Oxfam needed to define an entirely different approach to advocacy work for the institutionalisation, replication and scaling up of good practices that others, not Oxfam itself, had implemented. But this project made all of us realise the importance of telling a story and using this technique to effect and replicate positive change. As the project brought to one table, so to speak, colleagues from government and the INGO community, it helped enhance the partnership between government and INGOs in risk reduction towards resilience building. Finally, the project continues to help convince people that DRR is doable and achievable. How did I manage? I had very well-meaning line managers who listened to what I had to say and gave me the space to manage the project as I saw fit, from John Levers who taught me the ins

and outs of DIPECHO work, to Jo Podlesak who helped me understand the essence of gender work, to Umair Hasan whose support never wavered even after very heated arguments and very long email exchanges. They gave me room to define and understand for myself the true essence of DRR—interoperable and reinforcing partnerships between government, NGOs and the most vulnerable communities and bringing the learnings upward through evidence-based advocacy of good practices. Aside from my line managers with whom I remain good friends, working with a team that was passionate about making positive change was truly an inspiration. Within the humanitarian programme, we started to find and speak the same language—of how best we should work so that the Emergency Preparedness and Response Group complemented the DRR group and vice versa. We were a family—from the Philippine contingent (Mel Capistrano, Paul del Rosario, Lyra Magalang, Ely Salazar and Gil Francis Arevalo) to the East Asia team (Arif Jab-

bar Khan, Vu Minh Hai and Tarn) to the global team (Chris Anderson, Edward Turvill and Ines Smyth). By the time I left Oxfam in 2010, I was a new person—one who understood both sides and one who became more passionate in making positive lasting changes through innovative approaches. I gained tons of friends and saw the different world of INGO work—a world that I have learned to love. Thank you, Oxfam, for the friendships, learnings and spaces, and for helping me become who I am now.






It’s always been a challenge to work with Oxfam -- to make a difference and create, in every possible way, and leave a positive and lasting impact with the people. From an outsider’s point of view, that is a dream job—the kind that gives you a crack at doing something out of passion and commitment. So failure is not an option and criticism will always be considered positive pressure. But that is always not the case. Back in September 2009, during a peer-to-peer mentoring workshop in the province of Sarangani, the heavy rains foreboded more than just a big storm. I remember a comment from a partner from the local government: ‘Oxfam should learn to compromise, be more tolerant

of some of the self-serving agenda of the bureaucracy. Otherwise, the organisation will fail or will take more time to reach its goal, so the only thing that matters is to simply give up and move on. There’s no other way.’ Damn, that was harsh. For me, at least, and I took offense. In a way, the statement was a backhanded compliment of the organisation for the successful partnership of three provinces with Oxfam GB. But in another sense, the statement was, after almost one year of working closely with them, totally discouraging. In the year past, we tried, after all, to help build their capacities in innovative



and strategic DRRM (disaster risk reduction and management), and put in place the reforms for good governance as well as sensible public policy. However, on hindsight, there was a silver lining to the comment that I thought then was gratuitous. For the past four years, however, it somehow became my motivational mantra in dealing with both successes and failures in the field of development work. I could have replied that time that over the years, Oxfam never ‘surrendered’ to the built-in shortcomings in project implementation. In the same manner, as an international humanitarian



and development NGO, we never gave up on the capacity of the government to be an agent of change, a provider of good services and, most of all, our ‘partner in crime’ in making a difference and creating a positive lasting impact. Oxfam’s lead role among other INGOs in working with the government is in itself a strength because we don’t merely criticise this for its bureaucracy, overlapping regulations, and a reactive process in dealing with humanitarian issues. Just this year, a professor who happens to work as a consultant with Oxfam Australia asked: ‘If Oxfam GB in your country capacitates local peo-

ple to be resilient to disaster as well as changing climate, then how does it make you feel to be part of that effort?’ I answered confidently: ‘Impervious to offense!’ Of course, I expected some kind of two-punch follow-up from him. But he just smiled back. Let me qualify my answer. I said ‘impervious to offense’ because by the nature of the job, we need to embrace both success and failure, positive and negative circumstances, good and bad results. At the end of the day, we simply do not give up. We cannot give up on humanity in the same way that we do not give up on the government or the local community.






Talking about collective action was not as exhilarating until E-Net (Education Network) . Late afternoons until the wee hours of the night, we met over coffee and cakes or beer and pikapika to strategise our campaigns for Education for All. By this time, I had dedicated myself to education outside of the public education system—union education, community education, popular education. The shift came after the consensus within E-Net in 2000 to work for education reforms. Politically, this was a leap of faith. There were many groups who worked on education issues and advocated for education reform. Years before, there was some kind

of coalition but it had lost steam. And now, Oxfam was attempting to gather an even bigger and much more diverse group of education advocates to push for education reforms. Was it possible to seek radical changes in a bureaucracy that many observed moved ever so slowly in a culture of memocracy? These questions and more had me re-reading Paolo Freire and Ira Shor’s dialogues in A Pedagogy for Liberation: Dialogues on Transforming Education, which is inspiring and provocative for an educator. I realised that transforming public education through advocacy could be a different tack.



We thought education advocacy would be easy because no one argues against quality education. Twelve years of EFA advocacy journey (with nine Department of Education Secretaries within the period) with other advocates and colleagues in the DepEd proved this assumption naïve. But along the way, I found company in lessons picked up from E-Net together. Nurture relations with career officers—there are many reformers, themselves struggling for change. Work with people’s organisations—they provide enduring relations, though at times complex. Develop an eye for advocacy—there are lots of opportunities; one has to be appreciative. The list is endless, as with the journey for Education for All.







THE SCHOOL IN BENDUM Kareen Marie Cerdeña

The year was 2007. I was to go on a series of visits to education partners in Mindanao. I was on an official visit to Bendum, a community up in the mountains of Malaybalay, Bukidnon where the APC (Apu Pulamguwan Cultural Education Center) is found. I was there with another colleague to find out about the centre and how this was being managed by the partner through the support of Oxfam. It was also my duty to document the visit with photos and stories about the project. The centre is primarily for lumad (indigenous) communities in Bendum and its mission is to provide an integrated and holistic program for lumad children and youth that will serve as the foundation for lifelong learning. It was a forerunner in the field and, naturally, we were curious to find out what it meant for the community, the partner and Oxfam.

It was not an easy task. The travel time alone was enough to give one a headache. But the ‘young adventurers’ that we were, we headed off: first flying from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, and then taking a bus ride from CDO to Malaybalay in Bukidnon, and then take another long, tight and very bumpy ride up, up, up to Bendum. We crossed a river, yes. We busted a tire, yes. We slid this way and that, yes. But finally we arrived up in the mountains with everything intact, except our good mood. It had been raining the past days and the mud was unbelievable. We were just about to taste the nasty weather up there. We were quickly introduced to the teachers and the children staying at the centre—dormers—and then toured the compound to see the school, the dorm, the playground, the office and some of the neighbours. There was to be a welcome ritual for us that same afternoon



upon arrival. At 3 p.m., we were whisked off to an elder’s home near the school for the ritual, which was the Pulangiyen’s way of welcoming strangers to their community. A chicken was sacrificed. And, yes, we were made to eat some portions of a half-cooked chicken. I felt like Anthony Bourdain. That night, we were shown our room. There were no beds, no pillows, no blankets, no electricity and no mosquito nets. We had a mat, just like everybody else. And the toilet was outside the dorm. That night I could hear everyone’s breathing, including those in the other rooms. I could hear the geckos scurrying around the walls, the leaves falling on the tin roof, and the steady drizzle of rain outside. We were bent over trying to get the most comfortable sleep while trying to keep ourselves warm. It was VERY cold. I was not very chirpy the following morning, which started quite early—right before 5 a.m. Children were already preparing for school. Everyone was busy doing their chores—in the kitchen, in the toilets, at the front and back yards—sweeping, cleaning, and getting clean. I waited for all of them to finish before doing my own morning rituals. I only managed a semibath. I was still cold and grumpy, but the sun was finally out and I too began to warm up.



We finally got what we set out for that day. Classes in Science, Math, Reading and Writing were taught in English, Filipino and Binukid, the mother dialect of the Pulangiyen. The classrooms were equipped with simple desks, mats and chairs. The students could sit comfortably. The walls were peppered with visual aids —pictures, drawings and other teaching materials. Posted outside the walls of the building were drawings of different kinds of leaves found around Bendum, labelled with both their scientific and common names. These were still part of learning about nature, and the community and culture they were keen on preserving. We were impressed by how the children were not shy at all—they stood up and spoke clearly, with no fear of being misunderstood. They were of course speaking in Binukid! Art classes made use of materials available around the school: leaves, flowers, tree bark, seeds, etc. We were even invited to be part of the jury of an art-making competition. Music was taught using traditional songs and local instruments of the Pulangiyen, while traditional dances were performed by students of daycare, much to our delight! My interview with some teachers, students and parents that same afternoon was quite overwhelming. Parents are encouraged to volun-

teer in daycare classes to be more involved in their children’s education. The teachers, who were also graduates of the centre, were giving back to the community by teaching at the centre. They were quite proud about this accomplishment, and who wouldn’t be? The students I interviewed were very articulate while I stammered with my limited Bisaya to ask the right questions. It was my interview with some of the parents that made my heart swell. Apparently, most of their generation were not able to have an education, and having APC in their community was, according to them, truly a prayer answered. That same night, we were treated to wonder entertainment by the student dormers, who played traditional instruments, sang songs, danced and told stories. Without electricity and just torches to light the ‘performers,’ it was quite a night to remember and a perfect cap to our short visit. The APC, which at the time was managed and supported by ESSC (Environmental Science for Social Change) in Manila, has been an innovator in culture-based education and is accredited as one of the few indigenous peoples’ educators in the country. During our visit, the APC had just made a bid to be recognised as one of

the MLE (Multi-Lingual Education) programmes in the Philippines, which resulted in a proposed evaluation by UNESCO of APC’s education program. Together with the other education partners of Oxfam, we arranged a learning visit to Bendum later that year to showcase the gem that is APC. It was my second time in Bendum but just like some months before, we were once again awed by this little big school in the mountains of Malaybalay. We continued to rave about it even as we were making our way back to Manila. Personally, it felt great to visit the school again and see familiar faces. But it was also great to hear about how the students were moving on. You see, we had just missed the graduation for that year and were informed where the old students were—moving up and out! I looked at the graduation photos being passed around—students wearing traditional clothes and proud smiles. I was just as proud. I felt that I was part of their success, of their moving on and up.





Fast forward to 2009. The great experience in Bendum made me realise and reaffirm what I always wanted to do since I graduated from university: to work closely with communities instead of being inside the office. This is where you see what is happening at ground level, where you get to interact with all of the actors of development or a project, where you experience first-hand results that you are expecting or not expecting at all. I figured it was time to revisit my volunteer application with another international NGO. And I did. Six months later, I was on a plane bound for West Africa, to finally make one more dream come true.






I remember the planning meeting in Linden in April 2003 very well because I got a sudden allergy attack and without the knowledge of colleagues, during lunch break, I walked to the emergency services of the hospital across the street to find help for the swelling in my throat that increasingly made breathing difficult. It was a stress-induced allergy attack as we were deciding which partners and projects to let go because of budget cuts. From more than 40, we were down to 20 or so partners. The process was extremely tough because all of them were long-time partners from which many friendships had developed. They were all delivering the agreed upon outputs, but a renewed emphasis on long-term impact and the need to increase our budget to develop a sustainable livelihood program were forcing us to focus on strategic engagement. What that episode taught me was that there cannot be permanent partners based merely on

grant funding. Because resources are finite, we need an exit plan in place even at the beginning of new partnerships. The ‘end-game’ scenario must be clear to programme managers, programme officers and partners: what we all desire in terms of sustainable, measurable outcomes that will also eventually tell us whether it is time for Oxfam to withdraw or begin a new phase of the intervention. An exit plan must therefore always be part of a strategic plan. I do not think many organisations implement this approach even now, including Oxfam GB. At the time of the Linden strategic review and planning, this lesson had not dawned on me yet. I was more worried about what would happen to the partners. In Linden, we agreed as a country team on the ‘Sustainable Livelihoods’ framework, which means looking at livelihood in a broader sense



than just income and which takes into equally important measure the key roles of markets, governance, policies and the impact of disasters. As an Oxfam team, we were quite knowledgeable in the governance and disaster dimensions but, individually, we had differing appreciation of markets. ‘What kind of animal is that?’ was what I thought was bothering our livelihoods team, AMP (Assets and Markets Programme), as well as the country team in general. As AMP, we could not get a handle to what a value chain looks like, let alone, what a market system is. In fact, value chains and market systems were not yet part of our discourse in the programme at that time—in the country, in East Asia, and at the headquarters, as far as I recall. As AMP, the asset protection dimension in sustainable livelihoods was clear as a concept and operational strategy but we could not yet connect this to a ‘markets strategy’. What was clear was the need to develop new partnerships as an integral part of a markets strategy, including partnerships with the private sector. We had a few ideas on how to operationalise private sector engagement as part of a campaign strategy. But applying a similar approach of a markets strategy to sustainable livelihoods was new to the team and we did not know where and how to start. There were already a few market-based initiatives in Mindanao being piloted by other NGOs



that were not yet Oxfam partners. The idea to study these to inform our plan was mentioned in one of the country program meetings. Eventually the AMP and Central Mindanao programmes decided to collaborate, but there were always spoilers to the plan. The Central Mindanao manager then, Claire Light, was evacuated due to kidnap threats. Lou Lasap came on board, seconded from the Humanitarian Programme as Central Mindanao Programme Manager, but she was also struggling with the roll-out of the humanitarian protection strategy and applying this in the context of Central Mindanao. Nevertheless, the team was not ready to give up. We tried to innovate despite the transition blues. We conceptualised and implemented the LDPW (Leadership Development Program for Women) in the fisheries sector, our flagship project for gender mainstreaming. Then, we had the Sustainable Livelihoods project with four partners that were starting to engage the market: SIKAT (fish trading), ELAC (ecotourism plus others), FTFP (muscovado sugar production and marketing), and PhilNet-Mindanao (cooperative plantation management and banana marketing). We even had the very ambitious participatory baseline research and measuring system (2004) for these projects with Tata Dela Cruz and Elmer Ferrer. For me, markets as a concept was about as clear—or as vague—as gender mainstreaming. But the annual team meeting in Bohol in the summer of 2003, which included a workshop on

gender with Franz Wong, was a breakthrough for me. I realised I was not conscious of gender or was not problematising it before then. Sure, I had an understanding of stand-alone projects on gender such as VAW (violence against women), but gender in livelihoods? I did not know where to start. At the Bohol workshop, Franz showed me it could be done, and quite simply too. For example, the workshop discussed what and how to ask the most significant questions in order to understand the underlying gender issues while conducting an environmental scan. In setting objectives, we learned to ask what change or changes we wanted to see. It’s in the determination of change indicators on gender that I still have difficulty up to now, but it was my initial foray into gender work with Franz that provided me the essential learning. When I moved to Cotabato to manage the programme there in 2005, I was able to re-connect with the private sector and market players, particularly when we began developing the more strategic Mindanao programme as a One Oxfam strategy upon which the three Oxfam affiliates— Oxfam GB, Oxfam Hong Kong and Oxfam Novib—

could unite. I consulted MEDCo (Mindanao Economic Development Council), DCCCI (Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industries) and a few major traders for their ideas and feedback on possible collaboration modes between them and Oxfam regarding livelihoods interventions that would benefit poor producers and women. However, I continued to struggle with what exactly Oxfam could use as leverage to develop the right incentives for the market players to be motivated to invest in interventions that would be benefit both them and our farmer-NGO partners. I knew only the key requirement of concrete evidence of economic and market feasibility to craft a convincing message to potential privatesector partners but other than that, the rest was vague to me. My training in Oxfam, until then, was always about looking out for donors, almost exclusively, to provide us funds to scale up the planned livelihood interventions. With the passage of time, as well as the chance to observe livelihoods projects while working in Azerbaijan that I truly understood how to study and analyse market systems. In Azerbaijan, I



learned the importance of imagining the end game that must include the project’s desired impact beyond the funded phase and beyond the project’s immediate beneficiaries; of identifying measurable quality indicators; and mapping out how other key market players could come in where producer organisations would have enough leverage so that the partnership could push the project to scale, at which point Oxfam could exit. Lessons learned from such an experience could then be brought to bear in designing similar interventions. 174


In AMP and in Central Mindanao, on the other hand, most of our partners pioneered in asset protection, including the sustainable management of natural resources. We just could not imagine the kinds of market access interventions that would have long-lasting impact for them and beyond the project beneficiaries—how do you imagine the project contributing to poverty reduction beyond the incremental increase in income of direct beneficiaries? I was frustrated that, as Oxfam, we could not provide them with key analysis and approach ideas.

Today, Oxfam is promoting the use of new tools to better understand market systems, analyse gender-based barriers and opportunities in a targeted value chain, conceptualise innovative business models where women can take on leadership roles, and agriculture supply chain models that are economically sustainable and resilient. And there are a few senior managers in Oxfam that have trained under the makingmarkets-work-for-the-poor (M4P) approach.

blocks for lasting system change and resilience. I also think Oxfam can still improve how it envisions its contribution to sustainable livelihoods other than direct funding, but also in leveraging its resources to attract market players that will invest in creating innovative and sustainable supply chains that will impact on the whole market system for greater and equitable benefits to the poor and the women.

I believe the previous experiences of Oxfam in livelihoods interventions are starting to pay off in terms of the design and management of livelihoods projects that are more successful in persuading the private sector to bring the intervention to scale, creating impact beyond the direct beneficiaries, and moulding the building




Cut the Cost, Cut the Pain Network (3CPNet) is a civil society-led campaign to ‘cut the cost’ of medicines in order to ‘cut the pain’ brought about by an illness and the high cost of medicines. I was one of the conveners of 3CPNet, representing the Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo De Manila University. In the course of the campaign, 3CPNet participated in a broader initiative to support the Cheaper Medicines Bill. This involvement in the legislative process brought 3CPNet members to the Philippine Senate where we sat as ‘resource persons’ side by side with representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, national government agencies, academic institutions and international health organizations. In one such public hearing, the 3CPNet representative from the COSE (Coalition for the Services of the Elderly), a grandmother in her 70s, calmly asked the senators to heed the call of their elders and



pass the cheaper medicines act for the benefit of the next generation. She looked across the hall and with a shaking but firm voice, said: ‘We are old and about to leave this world. We will not benefit much from the cheaper medicine law, but you will. We want this to be our legacy to the younger generation so your lives will be better than ours.’ The passage of the law is now history and we did see the decline in prices of some medicines. That was in effect a ‘proof of the concept’ from 3CPNet’s analysis and objective: that state policies on access to medicines can regulate medicine prices and make essential medicines more financially accessible. 3CPNet served as a platform for civil society participation on issue-specific advocacy where community groups, academic institutions and health activists jointly framed a cam-

paign that engaged state health agencies and the pharmaceutical industry. The campaign focused on national legislation and planned to engage local government units (LGUs) as well. The LGU engagement, 3CPNet realised, required of us various forms of advocacy and organising skills—something that the campaign secretariat and network members were unprepared for at the time.

Looking back, the 3CPNet experience provided me a venue to redefine my concept of success within the parameters of a group goal. As I was representing a university-based research institution, my expectations were about standardised methodologies and journal publications. But with 3CPNet, the context and goals of the campaign defined the strategies and tactics to be employed by the group. Publications and



communication materials had to be popularised and tailored for the network’s needs. In the process, my individual as well as institutional expectations had to be subsumed within the group’s goal and objectives. The 3CPNet secretariat, now anchored by MAG (Medical Action Group), currently sits as a member of the Advisory Council of the National Center on Pharmaceutical Access and Management, which oversees the implementation of the Cheaper Medicines Act.








After years of waiting for the passage of the much-contended legislation, the debacle over the Cheaper Medicines Bill hounds the public even after its celebrated passage in June of 2008. To say that the campaign to pass the Cheaper Medicines Bill was complicated is a complete understatement. The legislation with its noble purpose to ensure affordable medicines to Filipinos had gone through various controversies before it gained the passage it rightfully deserved. In the 13th Congress, the Cheaper Medicines Bill, as it was popularly known, initially sought to amend the Philippine Patent Law to make room for flexibilities provided under the WTO-TRIPS (World Trade Organization’s

Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). Flexibilities under the Intellectual Property (IP) amendments include the parallel importation of drugs with patent protection without the consent of the patent holder; issuance of a license to the government or any third party which can manufacture patented medicines in the event of a national emergency, disaster or any similar emergency situations; further limiting the criteria for granting patents to drugs and medicines and allowing the early working of a generic drug application before the patent protection of its originator drug expires. And others. The Cheaper Medicines Bill then was not a popular legislation even among legislators in both



the Senate and House of Representatives, because of the technical issues surrounding intellectual property rights. It remained unpopular until a major turning point presented itself in the form of a note. On 21 February 2007, days before Congress closed its session for a much-awaited recess, lawyers from a prominent law firm trooped to the session hall of the House of Representatives to monitor and lobby against the bill’s passage. A few minutes later, Congressman Ferjernel Biron went ballistic and confronted the lawyers. Apparently, one of the lawyers passed a note to



Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin bearing the message, ‘We desperately need someone to question the quorum now. Can you do it?’ The note also requested Rep. Locsin to call Mr. Leo Wassmer, Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer of the PHAP (Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines). Chaos soon followed the commotion as Rep. Locsin threw the lawyers out of the session hall. The media were at their heels. After a series of statements identifying the lawyers as representatives of the PHAP and later the denouncement of the lobbying act as a desper-

ate attempt to control the inevitable end in the patent regime of the pharmaceutical industry, the Cheaper Medicines Bill became a symbolic legislation, an essential weapon in the raging war between patients’ rights and patent rights.

ments. The Bill contained amendments to the Generics Act and Pharmacy Law. Drug price regulation was also included in the provisions, along with strengthening the BFAD (Bureau of Food and Drugs).

Soon after the incident, it gradually became evident that the bill will not pass in time for the closing of the 13th Congress. Nevertheless, what the public lost during that round of legislative deliberation was gained in the opening of the next congress. The bill gained enough publicity to solicit support from legislators in both the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress. Before the committee hearings were even conducted, majority of the Representatives signed the pending legislation as authors and coauthors.

Seemingly repeating history, the House version of the Bill again faced contention, as some of its provisions ruffled feathers within and beyond the halls of the Lower House. During the initial hearings of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, the debate on Drug Price Regulation vs. Intellectual Property (IP) amendments consistently drowned all other issues related to the Bill. Legislators sponsoring the provision were vicious in their critique of the IP amendments, and focused their allegations on the premise that the IP amendments will not really translate into affordable medicines.

Complications ensued after various legislators filed their own version of the Cheaper Medicines Bill. After several public hearings and consultations, salient points of the Bill included more than just the intellectual property amend-

The PMA (Philippine Medical Association), meanwhile, was passionate about a certain provision on the amendments to the Generics Act. The amended provision mandated for



prescribing drugs in its generic name only; no brand name shall appear in any part of the prescription pad. This provision sought to promote the use of generic drugs and prevent multinational pharmaceutical companies from using prescription pads as a marketing tool for their branded drugs. The PMA went as far as threatening to conduct a nationwide Hospital Holiday, a boycott in which hospitals will refuse to accept patients once every week except for emergency cases. The PMA conducted a nationwide motorcade to signify the doctors’ opposition against the ‘generics-only’ prescription. The PMA’s steadfast supporter was Senator Pia Cayetano, who adamantly argued for scrapping the ‘generics-only’ prescription. The Department of Health, after a much-publicised show



of support, retracted their recommendation, saying that 54% of Filipinos were already purchasing generic medicines. Thus, the need to amend this specific provision no longer merited the urgency it was given before. In the midst of allegations against the generics-only prescription and even generic drugs itself, public health advocates remained steadfast and challenged the PMA to renounce their commission-oriented view of prescribing branded drugs and put the needs of their patients above their own interests. The debate over whether to drop the generic-only prescription were seen by the Office of the President as the sole hindrance to the passage of such a noble legislation. Thus, in May 2008, Presi-





dent Gloria Macapagal Arroyo publicly appealed to the Bicameral Committee members to drop the said provision in order to pass an important piece of legislation. Following her appeal, the provision was scrapped. Committed legislators promised to soon amend the Generics Act in an omnibus bill. On 6 June, after controversies hounded the public health legislation, President Arroyo finally signed the Cheaper Medicines Law, officially referred to as the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008.





R1, Ka Jimmy and Me Jeck Reyes-Cantos It was late October 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland. While most of us NGOs from different parts of the world, many from developing countries, were all bundled up because of the cold weather, one of our co-Oxfam-sponsored delegatefarmers, Ka Jimmy Tadeo, walked the streets of Geneva with his favourite ‘farms not arms’ Tshirt, underneath a thin windbreaker. Nerves of steel—in more ways than one, I say. I hardly knew Ka Jimmy then, personally, that is, but the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) staff and myself as lead convenor of the network did have a few sessions with him to prep him up for the task at hand. As a UP School of Economics graduate and with several articles and comparative studies on the rice economy published as monographs and as part of a book, I felt I could very well do on my own what

we had just prepped Ka Jimmy to do. But I reminded myself, ‘Yes, we need a farmer for the face behind the story’. It was that time of the year when negotiations for the so-called ‘special products’ and ‘special safeguard mechanisms in the World Trade Organizations were taking place. The Philippines remains to be one of only three remaining countries with QR (quantitative restrictions) on rice, the other two being South Korea and Israel. We chose to use the QR for our rice sector but with the upcoming negotiations, we could very well lose that protection, something R1 stood steadfast with to ensure that we had food security, sustainable livelihoods and rural development. But there were a number of countries,



even from the Asian region, that also wanted to see our rice sector liberalised. As I walked into the cold conference rooms of each and every embassy we chose to visit, I graduated from being in the front line to being in the sidelines. Each meeting, first with the Pakistanis, then the Thais, Brazilians and finally the American ambassadors—was a humbling experience. No, I wasn’t humbled by the foreign delegations, but by the way Ka Jimmy carried himself and took charge. He not only had a booming voice, but more importantly, he had clarity of thought. He was not just a simple farmer but a genuine farmer-leader. Admittedly, I was intellectually arrogant, cocky at that, but Ka Jimmy had the moral sua-



sion, depth and passion after years of struggle for farmers to have their land and their livelihoods. It was truly edifying to see him orate and narrate, in clear staccato manner, sometimes using biblical passages, occasionally blinking his eyes rapidly as he dished out dazzling statistics, most of the time using simple analogies and arguments before those honourable dignitaries from countries mostly opposed to protective mechanisms for vulnerable sectors. Oxfam made possible Ka Jimmy’s presence in the negotiation process. After the three-day embassy hopping and walking the streets of Geneva, it hit me—I was the bit player here, not Ka Jimmy. He was not just the face behind the

story. He was the story. I was amazed. Time for me to accept, it takes much more than published papers and a degree in the country’s premier university to do what Jimmy was able to do. It hit me hard, ‘Marami pa nga akong bigas na kakainin.’ A few years after, with no sign of the Special Product and Special Safeguard Mechanism provisions in the WTO text, the Doha Development Round collapsed. Yes, I was there. But more important, Ka Jimmy was! Let’s have more farmers and farmer-leaders in R1, I say.





WHAT HAPPENS WHEN you mix power, spaces and a daSh of women leadership? Gaynor Tanyang When I first brought up the idea to colleagues, all of whom were male, to allocate spaces in fishing grounds for women to manage, they scoffed at me. I shelved it for five years, until Oxfam presented me an opportunity that took me to a crossroad—do I try out a new career path or stick to the road I have often travelled? The Leadership Development Programme for Women was conceptualised as a problemsolving approach to the question of how to mainstream gender in the fisheries sector. I worked with four organisations. Two were community-based organizations: Developers Foundation in Aklan and the Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Calatagan, a federation of fisher-farmer organisations in Batangas. Two were national women-led networks: BudyongPinagbuklod na Lakas ng Kababaihan sa Pangisdaan, and the women’s committee of Kilusan ng Mangingisda. Together, we trained women

leaders, influenced men’s understanding of gender issues, and implemented actions led by women. By their own analysis of the problem, the partners started to identify practical solutions to issued felt by women: they were not seen as leaders and managers of the fisheries or of their homes, they worked in degraded fishing grounds, income was scarce and violence was being committed against them. After undergoing a training on anti-violence against women, the community partner in Aklan organised a street theater to depict the problem of violence against women. Their main antagonist was a perpetuator of violence in the past, which made the scene as real as life itself. In Camarines Sur, the place for fisherwomen ‘leaders’ were in the kitchen where they prepared food for meetings. Their other role was to provide information about illegal fishing ac-



tivities. Having attended trainings on fisheries management, their confidence grew and realised that all they had to do was use a little bit of the funds we provided to set up a guardhouse by the beach and learn to use the binoculars they bought. The guardhouse also served as a meeting place for women to discuss their issues: personal, political and everything in between. Added to the new practical life skills they gained was managing their time and their relationships so they do not get in trouble with their husbands. The leaders of Budyong, such as Ka Annabelle, who hailed from Mindanao but married and settled in Zambales, travelled with me all the way to Calbayog to enlighten men and women on how to plant and manage mangroves. It awed the men as much as the women that a woman like her, lacking an education and the means in life, can be so knowledgeable about these things. Speaking of travel, this was important for poor women as much as it was necessary for me to explore the reality of their world. For these women, attending trainings outside of their community was an all-expense paid businessand-pleasure package. It wasn’t always neat— they had to seek the permission of their husbands, had to make sure food was served even when they were away, clothes were washed and ready to be worn, and the children were attended to by their grandmothers, aunts or sisters. It was interesting to see them, during



lunch break, stare at the food served. I would only know later that they worried about whether their family had eaten, and even felt guilty that they had too much on their plate. It dawned on me that it was better to serve packed biscuits and bread for snacks because they did not really eat snacks between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take-away snacks were good pasalubongs to their children and grandchildren. They had not had the chance to travel and learn at the same time, and had to get accustomed to having time only for themselves. Seldom did they think about their ‘selves’, how far they had gone since they last left their dreams of being what they wanted to be. I guess the long travels we had to endure together—and the momentary silences—were times for dreaming. Again. And I felt that those journeys were a metaphor too for the life and the change we wanted to happen. Indeed, it was for me a saga, a struggle against denial and resistance on the inequalities that are starkly real. Years before, I had proposed identifying women-managed areas in the coastal zones, and I was told I was divisive of the marginalised fishers’ struggle for ownership and control over their fisheries. LDPW provided me an opportunity to march with the small but growing movement of women in fisheries, to pursue this idea of demonstrating

women’s capacities to manage their coastal resources through women-managed areas. It is now an approach recognised by the Bureau of Fisheries, and just last year, they funded an expansion of the women managed area in Camarines Sur. When we began working with BFAR on gender in fisheries in 2001, they claimed there was no gender issue in fisheries. Now, the national rural women’s network, PKKK (Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan), continue to partner with BFAR on their gender and development programme. These victories were reaped long after LDPW was completed in 2007. But it wasn’t the good-on-paper victories that’s worth telling. It is the small personal victories that we, together, felt during this three-year journey: to be organised, tackling our common problems hand-in-hand with other women; to be recognised and called a leader by our own name; to be able to claim the city streets as ours as we stand and voiced out our appeals; to experience freedom, though oftentimes fleeting.

We did not only open our homes to one another, we unraveled our life stories to one another in confidence. We spoke of abuses in all its forms, even the rape of our children. We told of neglect, of being entitled tillers still waiting for the glimmer of hope that the land will be ours. We shared how fear is real. And what better to bear out our souls than singing and dancing our way deep into the night. We shared long journeys, simple meals, songs that spoke of our heartaches, stories of survival in an unaccepting and violent society. We shared our lives and our dreams. We, I included, were changed. And I know that all of us who walked this journey continue to keep the fire of hope burning, taking one step at a time, closer to that society where we can be free and equal.





Gladiolas Alexandra Pura

In 2003, my second year in Oxfam, there was this huge push to step up on working to achieve gender equality in all that we do. The East Asia Regional Centre just recruited Franz Wong as Regional Gender Adviser. We were receiving missives about ‘minimum standards’ and ‘nonnegotiables.’ I tried to keep my head down as then Country Director, Lan Mercado, asked who amongst the staff would like to volunteer as country gender lead. I was then a Programme Officer tasked to develop the essential services programme. It was not premeditated, but I thought working in Oxfam would allow me to ‘hibernate’ from women’s rights and gender issues. I had worked with prostituted children, conducted several gender sensitivity sessions, and worked with urban poor women on various concerns such as childcare, domestic violence and reproductive health. I felt I needed a change of milieu, learn more about other causes. Back then, I was also going through a personal, difficult process—relationship-wise. We in the country team then jokingly refer to it as MPD: may prosesong dinadaanan. All heavy stuff—heavy on the heart and the emotions. I deserved a break, didn’t I?

But then it seemed I had no choice. I heard the reason I was offered the post in Oxfam was precisely because of my background in gender. So I became the reluctant country gender lead. I began digging into Oxfam’s gender work. I learned that Oxfam in South Asia and East Asia conducts this annual learning event called AGRA (Action for Gender Relations in Asia), where programme officers from each country identify a learning theme, discuss how to implement the learning event, and facilitate the event itself. In the same year as the roll out of the gender mainstreaming strategy of Oxfam in East Asia, the Philippines hosted AGRA with ‘Gender Mainstreaming’ as the learning theme. I met other country gender leads including Navy in Cambodia, Damai in Indonesia, Dung in Vietnam, Jockey in Thailand and Ilana in East Timor. In a short time, the Regional Gender Working Group became a cohesive support group, learning together and learning much from Franz. We also became much more linked up to the Global Gender Team. We also got to enjoy huge support from amazing gender advisers



like Ines Smyth at Oxfam House. I realised that we would not go far with mere clarity of gender concepts. We needed practical strategies and mechanisms, and we needed to work in concert to make the whole organisation committed to the vision and take concrete actions. The Philippines team also created our Country Gender Working Group. We were both excited and anxious about the mission of ‘transforming gender power relations’ and thought that in a way we were gladiators, out to battle it out (ok, this was inspired also by that movie) but decided against calling ourselves gladiators (too much!). In a sort of full pendulum swing, we settled happily on calling ourselves Gender Gladiolas. We all had our regular posts but we agreed to devote 20% of our time to strengthen our gender agenda, support each other and help partners in their own journey towards being gender sensitive organisations. I was surprised by the energy that I was able to tap, within me and within the team. I listened to my colleagues’ questions, apprehensions and ideas, and I realised these are not people that are just paying lip service to gender equality. In all our efforts then, I know now that there were some mistakes and difficulties. I used to wrack my brains about how to engage this project of distributing telemetric rain gauges and training people how to use them, or that project which trained people in water testing. I also re-



member organising a one-day training on gendered monitoring and evaluation for the Quezon Emergency Response team. I cringe now at how I wasted their precious time on such theoretical discussions. The Central Mindanao team which was then swinging from emergency response to rehabilitation (never really approaching a recovery phase!) was a joy to work with. The dynamic duo of Norsalam Bago and Abie Ayao was a huge support for the Oxfam team working in Muslim communities. I learned so much from these two people and would have looooong conversations about how they were also struggling about gender in the context of Islam. I said to myself, I cannot help them with that—it was a struggle and a journey they alone could navigate. It is a mark of committed advocates to find their own mentors and guides, and the two did find such people. And from there I learned about the five pillars of Islam and the six articles of faith—that by these basic precepts, Nor and Abie were able to balance Oxfam’s values and principles and their own faith. At one point—maybe two years into our gender work—the Central Mindanao team invited us to observe community gender and Islam sessions. I asked them how they found the courage to hold community-level sessions. I think it was Noel Pedrola who recounted that one of the community leaders picked up what they were only tangentially referring to as ‘gender standards’—that women should be allowed and sup-

ported to lead and participate in community activities. The religious leader said: ‘If that is important to Oxfam, why did you wait so long to say so?’ Needless to say, Noel was floored. One time we invited Gigi Francisco of the Miriam College Women and Gender Institute to speak about gender and development during a staff and partners workshop on monitoring and evaluation. Of all the things that Gigi shared with signature aplomb, one thing that struck me was her statement that ‘gender is a moving target.’ I did not fully understand the sense of that phrase but it resonated with my uncertainty of ever reaching our change indicators for equality between women and men. Ten years hence, what seemed to be difficult is now clearer to us, but there are new debates, and new approaches to try—women’s leadership, women’s collective action, gendered enterprise and markets, etc.

ing gender as project outputs and reducing the concern to being a matter of training ‘x’ amount of people or building ‘x’ number of facilities. This affirms what we’ve always believed, that attention to unequal gender power relations will deepen appreciation of change processes. Or that changes that run deep lead to self-empowerment and better relationships. In that span of time, I have gone from hibernation mode to spending 20% of my time on my role as gender lead to now focusing 100% to coordinating Oxfam’s work on gender justice. This work entails supporting Muslim and indigenous women’s groups as they set their own ‘moving targets’, support for the intense

I realised that more than Oxfam changing as an organisation, the many individuals that I encountered in the course of this work admit that working on gender in Oxfam is life-changing. Quite a number of staff who have joined other organisations since, tell me that they appreciated all the discussions, assessments and reviews we had on whether we were able to change women’s lives for the better, or whether we were able to contribute to change traditional beliefs about relations between women and men. They say these gave more meaning to what they do now, compared to merely fram-Home-




campaign on reproductive health, women’s economic empowerment projects, gender-responsive budgeting, etc. It’s been quite a ride and a journey. And while better gender-related policies are in place now, and traditional gender norms appear to be changing for the better, much work remains, which reminds me that the feminist in me is not prepared to hibernate. I just needed to nurse some wounds, then move on. As Aldous Huxley said, ‘I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.’





Enabling Change





I landed in the Philippines on a bright sunny October afternoon in 2009. The rain-washed clean streets that I saw on my way out from the airport belied the fact that the city had just seen, or rather withstood, the worst typhoon to affect Metro Manila since 1970—Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana), which caused the death of over 700 people and left damages worth US$1 billion in its wake. The famous Filipino resilience was very much on display for me from the get-go. The taxi driver taking me to the hotel told me his house was submerged under water even after a week of the typhoon. This must have been a crushing worry for him but he smiled and chatted throughout the journey. 204


The first three months of my assignment went by in a whirl. There was a huge emergency response that Oxfam had mounted to Typhoon Ketsana and even though I was not directly involved in it, I was very much part of the chaos and the adrenalin rush that kept the office managing the emergency response humming. It is in this context that I attended my first CT (Country Team) meeting in Butuan—one where representatives of all affiliates met to discuss and further the idea of a one country-one programme, of which the Philippines was a pioneer. There were three affiliates present in the meeting: Oxfam Great Britain, Oxfam Hong Kong and Oxfam Netherlands. I didn’t quite feel the weight of Oxfam’s history in the Philippines then. I learnt later that Oxfam GB’s first grant in the country was way back in 1962, three years before Ferdinand Marcos became President. Oxfam Novib had started working in the Philippines in 1967 and Oxfam HK, in 1968. When I walked into that meeting room, I wasn’t



aware that the three affiliates had more than 100 years of experience working in the country! The CT meeting was not the first of this nature that was taking place. The process started back in 2007 and indeed the CT had a joint programme—aptly titled JOMP (Joint Oxfam Mindanao Programme), being implemented on the ground to show for it. JOMP was conceived as a five-year programme starting in 2008 by the three affiliates mentioned—Oxfam GB, Oxfam Hong Kong and Oxfam Novib. The trigger for JOMP was a poverty analysis commissioned by OGB in 2007 that identified Caraga and Central Mindanao as being the poorest on the island. The programme sought to achieve, by working together with partners, sustainable livelihoods and greater protection for the Lumad, Bangsamoro, small assetholders and internally displaced men, women and children of CARAGA, Central Mindanao and the ARMM (Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao). This was happily just the beginning. The affiliates went on to establish successful joint programmes for all thematic areas of work in the Philippines, namely, Economic Justice, Gender Justice and Rights in Crisis. The midterm evaluation of JOMP looked at the factors that led to the success of joint programming in the Philippines and noted that, Oxfam affiliates in the Philippines have been successful in develop-



ing and operationalising the JOMP programme in a joint affiliate manner, with staff who consider themselves to belong to all three affiliates, and affiliate managers who consider the programme staff to belong to them as much as to any other affiliate.’ This was achieved even though the JOMP used systems such as human resource contracts and formal reporting systems from one affiliate. The joint nature of the programme allowed the programme team to adopt the best strategies and approaches from the three different affiliates, as they saw appropriate, based on pragmatic criteria of fit with programme, feedback from partners, and the level of support available from the affiliate. Many factors contributed to the viability of a joint programme, notably a long history of dialogue with a stable country team, a pragmatic problem-solving approach to the programme, and flexibility from the staff of different affiliates. It was therefore no surprise at all that the joint work in the Philippines acted as one of the inspirations of the SMS (Single Management Structure) journey that the Oxfam confederates embarked on in 2010.

The joint programme in the Philippines has shown that there are real gains to be made from affiliates working together in a country. They can be more effective. In the case of the Philippines, we have been able to deliver significant value to 75,000 people directly through our programmes last year. This has been a result of the investments made by Oxfam affiliates in the country programme, irrespective of their roles. While Oxfam Netherlands withdrew from the country programme, Oxfam Australia and Oxfam Japan joined Oxfam GB and Oxfam Hong Kong in the Philippines, enabling us to combine our work and bring together our skills and diverse ways of working, to listen to one another. This ultimately made us more effective in accomplishing our mission just as Mr. Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International, envisaged in 2010 at the beginning of the SMS process. I was in yet another taxi chatting with the driver right after the congressional elections and was

probing his thoughts on the results. He said that he didn’t really care which political party won as long as the winners kept their internal political squabbles and wrangling to themselves and performed their jobs well. As the person who oversaw a large part of this joint development work between affiliates in the Philippines, I can vouch for the fact that there has not been any wrangling for positions between affiliates in country. We have always been conscious of the legacy of Oxfam’s work that we have inherited. We have always remembered that we are here to influence power relations—between men and women, rich and poor, the government and the governed. I can confidently say that the affiliate representatives never forgot that the objective for SMS was to enable Oxfam to better contribute to the creation of a just world without poverty. And in the Philippines, they proved that it was possible to work well together.



ONE OXFAM: the ingrEdients Based on documents from Henk Peters and Chris Adams The Oxfams have a long history of collaboration in the Philippines. Up until 2005, the Oxfams working in the Philippines—Oxfam Great Britain, Oxfam Hong Kong, Oxfam Australia and Oxfam Novib —collaborated through information sharing, exchanges, co-funding specific projects, coordinating activities on specific themes or functions such as humanitarian response and joint campaigning. The in-depth understanding of each other’s programs, perspectives and ways of working that developed during this period has provided a strong base for subsequent collaboration. Following the Executive Directors’ steer on strategic collaboration in 2005, the three affiliates that still had country programmes in the Philip-



pines at that time—ONL, OHK and OGB—reflected on the results of previous confederationwide attempts to foster greater harmonisation and alignment, decided to take collaboration to a new level. The country process in the Philippines was driven by a highly effective CT (Country Team) led by Lan Mercado, the Oxfam GB in the Philippines Country Director, together with Frank Elvey and Henk Peters, head office representatives from OHK and ONL respectively. The effectiveness of the CT was due to its relatively small size, stable membership, the complementary skills and experience of its members, the high level of trust between them, frequent face-to-face meetings during the strategy and program de-



velopment phase, a willingness to take risks, cede control and negotiate compromises and a sustained focus, not just on the business at hand, but also on how to support each other and work better together. The CT members also received strong backing from their respective line managers in regional and head offices during this period. The OGB Country Director led the change management process and demonstrated accountability in equal measure to both the CT and to Oxfam GB line management. The CD’s engagement with the regional OGB office was particularly important as the meaning of a ‘fully joint’ program was evolving over time and was not always clear to those who were not directly involved in the process. The CT was subsequently expanded to include the OHK Country Coordinator and each of the program coordinators—all of whom were Philippine nationals. These highly capable development professionals, reflecting the breadth and depth of Philippines civil society, added valuable expertise and in-depth knowledge of the program to the CT discussions, and their presence in the CT enhanced the sense of shared ownership and mutual accountability amongst the wider staff body. Henk Peters of Oxfam Novib says, ‘The Country



Team built up trust by seeking commonalities in plans and aspirations of each of the affiliates, instead of putting conditions and limitations, as well as by putting discussion on content—What can we do to improve Oxfam effects and impact on Mindanao poverty and injustice? —before a discussion on structures and procedures. In the development of the Mindanao programme and in Oxfam generally, much time has been allotted to deep analyses and the formulation of extensive strategic documents. ‘Beautiful documents’ can arise from long debates, even though these do not give sufficient guidelines for implementation and are often unrealistic in terms of on-the-ground impact and potential Oxfam work. Lesson One, therefore, is that earlier in the development of an Oxfam programme, the question of ‘what does it mean in practice’ should be asked. composed of staff of various affiliates to work out an operational plan for a specific change goal objective is crucial to moving forward.






Among the first things that I organised in Oxfam was a team visit to a banana-chips plant run by a farmers’ cooperative in New Bataan, Compostela Valley. It was a good example of a community-based enterprise mainly because it was profitable. If during that visit someone had asked how women were benefitting from the project, my simple answer would have been: ‘They are either employed here or they earn extra from selling cardava bananas.’ Five years after, my perspective of what women’s empowerment means has changed dramatically because of my work in Oxfam—championing women’s economic leadership (WEL) in livelihood interventions, with a focus on agricultural markets. The change germinated from the idea that women are an economic force to reckon with, as embedded in Oxfam’s national change strategy (NCS). As a development practitioner, I am typically driven by an idea that challenges my pioneering spirit. I remember being inspired when Lan Mercado, Oxfam’s Country Director

then, boldly proclaimed before an international gathering of livelihood programme staff: ‘In the Philippines, our long-term vision is for women ‘to create wealth and lead in the transformation of power.’ ‘Big job,’ I said to myself, wondering how this would be demonstrated by my team of two on the ground. Yet, I was excited—thrilled, actually—because this meant treading new or not-so-travelled ground. The nagging question was: What would it take for us to get women to be truly empowered? The gendered market mapping exercise that was introduced in Oxfam in 2009 provided the first clue. In market-based livelihood programming, an enterprise must first and foremost be viable. This means small farmers—usually men—must earn income from it. Thus, when an Oxfam partner raised the tremendous commercial potential of Moringa (or malunggay) or, specifically, oil extracted from Moringa seeds to be used as bio-fuel, I supported the project right away. This decision, however, was eventually challenged when I worked with a group of gender experts: four strong-willed but still -Home-


approachable advisers (!) who introduced me to the concept and methodology of WEL. Briefly, WEL seeks to gain for women both economic and social power to move out of poverty. Applying WEL, I realised that men-farmers, more than women-farmers, would more likely dominate the trade of Moringa oil from seeds. This option, obviously, became untenable for Oxfam. More studies followed, which showed that women stood to benefit more if the project focused on Moringa leaves instead. In the course of programming, other strategies were developed that made the Moringa enterprise more inclusive of women-farmers. I was enjoying this new way of doing things as a development manager. It felt good because I was learning new skills and ideas in livelihood programming that I could easily add to my toolkit—and resume. A far more overwhelming transformation happened next—in the mould of the change-maker as the changed—when I engaged a bigger group of Oxfam partners and gender advisers that carried out an 8-month participatory action research (PAR) to investigate household-level barriers that women regarded as holding them back from fully benefiting from the communitybased enterprises supported by Oxfam, including Moringa. I felt a lump in my throat after witnessing rural women and youth present through community theatre the results of the PAR before Oxfam partners. What moved me was seeing and hearing these women—young and old—tell



their stories as women, simply yet compellingly, with remarkable honesty, exuding a confidence distinctly resulting from self-awareness, primed and raring to say with complete conviction: ‘Hey, these are barriers that we might face but we are addressing these head-on and we need your support.’ The red lipstick that they shared towards the end of the play was fittingly symbolic of hard-earned women’s power. I was an instant convert from thereon, fully resolved to understand the many facets of women’s empowerment, at least beginning from my work context as a manager of livelihood programs. This has since extended over the years to my personal relationship with my wife and the way I raise my two sons, as well as to my dealings with female colleagues in the organisation and elsewhere. I turned to this experience for my secondment as WEL adviser during which I was assigned to lead a global learning on how change happens for women’s agency in households and markets. I hope that as I helped with one livelihood intervention after another for different sets of rural folks, I have become a better version of what I was when I first joined Oxfam.






I looked with consternation at Nanay Gloria who seemed to be gliding up ahead. In contrast, I trudged along, feeling my lower limbs getting heavier and stiffer by the minute. I tried to ignore the discomfort as I tried my best to catch up. But how can one catch up with a 54-yearold woman—who seems to have wings on her feet—who has walked the same path day in and day out for as long as she can remember? The purpose of the visit at Ibuan was for a photo shoot and interview. We were coming up with stories featuring women farmers for the Women’s Market. We were to describe and show through photographs and an accompanying story what their typical day was like. Nanay Gloria hails from a family of tribal leaders living in the Mamanwa-Manobo settlement in Ibuan, a sitio, situated in the mountainous portion of Barangay Mampi, Lanuza, Surigao del Sur. The settlement can be reached via an old logging road that becomes impassable during

rainy season. The town of Lanuza itself is a 7to 8-hour drive from Davao City, and then another hour from the highway to reach the settlement in Ibuan. Still smarting from the long travel and the bumpy ride up, we tailed behind Nanay Gloria as she manoeuvred the trek effortlessly. We were visiting one of the farms her family owned. We were told it was the closest, at less than a kilometre away. After a somewhat long, sweatdrenching walk, we concluded that the whole stretch must have covered 999.99 metres—indeed, well, at less than a kilometre. Nanay Gloria walks this same path every day, even longer if she’s tending her other farms. The day would easily pass as she weeded or planted and gathered camote for her family’s consumption. That morning I watched as she diligently gathered camote and other root crops and placed them in her basket. She was self-conscious at



first, with our cameras pointed in her direction, but she soon forgot about this as we engaged her in a conversation. When she finished, she cut down a banana tree to get to its bunch of red, plump fruits. With her basket full, Nanay Gloria hoisted it on her back, oblivious to the added weight. Taking her cue that we were on our way back to the settlement, I braced myself for the walk and fell in a step with her. All my weariness, however, slowly melted away as the story of Nanay Gloria unfolded.

school in Ibuan. She beamed when she talked about him, and the fact that the school where he taught has begun garnering citations and awards. Under her son’s tutelage, the students are now able to participate and win in various competitions at the division and provincial levels. With obvious pride, she told us of her son’s firm resolve to stay on and give back to the community, despite various offers and opportunities to teach in the lowlands, or even abroad.

I listened as Nanay Gloria related that when she was young, she and other kids from the village would traverse the same road on foot to attend school in town. It took them three to four hours each time, and even longer when it rained. They would be bringing with them camote and vegetables to tide them over during their week-long stay in a boarding house in town. Because their village was too far, they were forced to rent lodging and incur other expenses in order to attend school. This was also the reason why many of them did not finish school at all.

I blinked back a few tears and tried my best not to let on that her sharing had affected me so. I told myself, I would take the mud and the ordeal of the hike to their village, if only to hear about the triumphs of Nanay Gloria and other women like her. It was humbling and inspiring to hear about the odds they had to contend with. I reflected on my own set of circumstance and noted how different our lives were.

Even when Nanay Gloria spoke of the hard times, there was no hint of bitterness in her expression. There was a tinge of regret when she spoke of how she had to stop school, but her face soon lit up when she talked about her son, who is the teacher in the lone elementary



Here I am, fortunate enough to be involved in things I’m passionate about and which give me meaning and help define who I am. Many women out there, especially in the rural areas, like Nanay Gloria, have to contend with worse to get through another day. It would seem that their world —compared with mine—is very limited. There are several opportunities open to me. I get to go places. I was not confined to home or by circumstance. But what touched

me the most from Nanay Gloria’s story was how she did not let her hardship deter her from creating opportunities for her children so that their lives would be different. I am a mother too, and my heart aches at the thought of the hurdles that Nanay Gloria had to overcome in order to carve a good future for her children. Through hard work and from the income of their farms, Nanay Gloria was able

to send four of her six children to college (the two youngest are still in school.) She’s able to get up every morning, despite the drudgery of her routine, she admitted, at the thought of her children’s welfare and future. For them, she will plod along the same path to her farms day in and day out. It’s what gave her feet wings, she said.





SMALL & INVISIBLE IN the DEVELOPMENT MAP Soc Banzuela I was at the farmers’ camp in front of the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) central office on Elliptical Road in Quezon City when my phone rang that hot afternoon in August 2012. It was Marie from Oxfam, asking about the status of the campaign against the APECO (Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport). I said we were having difficulty. The farmers from Casiguran had been in the camp since April and nothing much was happening in relation to the farmers’ demand that APECO be stopped. The media was not picking up the issue and DAR continued to wait for the ASCOT (Aurora State College of Technology) to voluntarily transfer the 110-hectare property for distribution to 55 claimant farmers. I told Marie we needed to do something else. Camping and visiting schools and parishes were good, but not enough. Perhaps the farmers needed to dramatise the case in public.

For almost a year, members of TFAA (Task Force Anti-APECO), the core group of PIGLASCA (Pinagsamang Lakas ng mga Casiguranin), which was the gathering of small farmers, fishers and indigenous peoples in the municipality of Casiguran, had been mulling the idea of a long march from Casiguran to Manila, similar to the famous Sumilao March. But the farmers’ availability, funding and other concerns were major factors that held us back from pursuing the idea—until Marie’s call. The farmers were getting more agitated, perhaps partly because of the heat from the sun that was bearing down on the camp that day, but mostly because APECO was continuing its construction of the airport. This airport would displace 28 small fisher households in the process, disconnecting them from their main

Anti-APECO is a campaign on land in support of the struggle of the residents of Casiguran, Aurora, at risk of displacement due to an Economic Freeport Zone Development Programme.



source of livelihood. Five years of resistance seemed insufficient to get the attention of the President. Meanwhile, we learned that Sonny Angara, the main APECO proponent, was going to run for a Senate seat under the President’s electoral party. Budget hearings for 2013 were on-going in both houses of Congress. APECO was asking for a four billion peso budget. October to December were dry cool months—the ideal time to pursue the suggestion of a long walk. PAKISAMA (Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka) was coordinating the TFAA campaign here in Manila but it had no resources for a full-time coordinator or a full-time community organiser to be deployed to Casiguran. I knew Marie for more than two decades of work in the NGO community while Marie, having worked with PhilDHRRA as its Fisheries Program Manager in the early ’90S, knew PAKISAMA. The phone conversation ended with concrete next steps of a possible partnership.



On 24 November, 120 farmers, fishers and indigenous peoples affected by APECO started their historic 370-kilometre walk from Casiguran, Aurora to Malacañang. Seventeen days later, on 10 December 2012, they reached Ateneo de Manila University and met with Cardinal Tagle in a televised dialogue. The next day, President Noynoy Aquino or PNoy and his Cabinet met the marchers at the San Jose Seminary in the Jesuit university compound. It was a sight to behold. Vic Abajon, in his g-string, told the President, ‘Your concept of development is different from ours.’ Even while he was defending APECO as a good development project, the President relented and ordered the NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) to review it. He gave NEDA two weeks. The farmers returned to Casiguran with a little bit more hope in their hearts.





Four months passed and still no report from NEDA. One-hundred fifty Casiguran marchers went back to Manila to push for accountability. The freeport was shelved in favour of agri-aqua development. Yet, APECO continued to be the manager of the 12,923-hectare land of the indigenous peoples and settler farmers and fishers. Hence, the Casiguran farmers’ campaign continues, and it is able to do so because there are groups like Oxfam willing to accompany the people in their struggle for justice. On the occasion of Oxfam’s 25th year in the Philippines, PAKISAMA, your new partner, wishes you all the best in the next generation of your work and expresses its heartfelt thanks for the great accompaniment.





THE VIEW FROM THE SIDELINES Denise Danielle R. Galvez Time and again, injustice has affected societies and nations. Yet, regardless of the origins of this injustice, whether from an imbalanced system or an erroneously run institution, the compromise of fundamental rights and liberties invariably prompts cries of discontent and calls for reform to restore the present a righteous condition. One reads through the daily newspaper, and from a distance, the news all seem like a jaded blanket of urgencies competing for public sentiment. The trouble with living in a globalised world is one’s ability to absorb, process, and invest oneself in anything is hindered by the simultaneous influx of information coming from absolutely everywhere. How is one to make sense of this organised chaos? And once you’ve found the meaning to this, will you want to simply remain in the sidelines? For about two weeks now, Oxfam had the privilege, yes, privilege, of taking part in the plight of a group of about 120 farmers, fisherfolks, and indigenous peoples marching for justice. A journey that began on 24 November 2012

in Casiguran, Aurora, it is the culmination of years of struggle between 3,000 citizens and the government-owned corporation APECO (Aurora Pacific Economic Freeport Zone). That journey was to end with the farmers’ arrival at Malacañang Palace on 13 December 2012. Created by a law in Aurora Special Economic Zone Act of 2007, APECO was an area that initially comprised 500 hectares. Three years after in 2010, with the hasty amendment enacted by the personal interests of those in power—R.A. 10083, the area was expanded to 12,923 hectares. Its sponsors envisioned this project as a new gateway for trade, foreign investment, clean energy and employment. In short, development. One begins to think, however, if development does come at the price of seizing property, or depriving local and indigenous peoples of a life that was built through the very lands they have toiled and called home. Inasmuch as any citizen expects to find security from his or her government, it is appalling how the latter be-



comes the very source of utter lawlessness and betrayal. Such dire circumstances often give way to hopelessness. As the Casiguran marchers walked to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, one wondered what was pushing them on with their journey. When Oxfam staff arrived at Ma. Assumpta Seminary in



Cabanatuan, they were greeted by the bustle of the everyday—clothes hung to dry on trees and stray wire, women washing clothes in basins on the ground, cooking pots boiling, and the marchers wandering in and out of the reception hall of the seminary. It’s amazing how in spite of what they had lost and how far they had

walked, there appeared no trace of exhaustion or sadness on their faces, only warm smiles and later on, loud chants of protest symbolic of their long but determined and hopeful struggle. The farmers’ journey was being propped up by the support of the local Church, people’s organisations, and non-profit organisations. But even ordinary citizens, on impulse, would reach out to the marchers along the road, whether in kind or cash. The farmers were not alone. The day began with a press briefing where marchers from different sectors shared their testimonies on the difficulties they had to endure, and still do, from APECO. Each word spoken conveyed agitation and indignation. As the day progressed to a students’ forum at the College of the Immaculate Conception, the energy in the air was ignited by the marchers’ chants. ‘Lupang ninuno, ibalik, ibalik! Lupang sakahan, ibalik, ibalik! Pangisdaan, ibalik, ibalik! Lupa namin, inagaw, inagaw!



Sinong umagaw? APECO, APECO! Bakit inagaw? Gahaman, Gahaman!’ Once again, a mother-farmer recalled back the land she lost, and the children she left behind for this journey; a fisherman remembered the abundance of his day’s catch, sufficient for his family and livelihood; and an indigenous woman recalled happiness and contentment in the security of the mountains that define their lives and identity. Susan Loreto is an example. She married at a young age and losing her husband at 24, she had to take over the responsibility of sustaining her family beyond the confines of the household. The land she is fighting for comes from her father, and what she knows of fishing she learned from her husband. As a widow, she fears for the future of her family because even though APECO promises employment in exchange for grabbing their land, no such opportunity exists for those with minimal education like her. There is also Marlon Angara, a fisherman who, at the brink of tears, joined the march to fight for his family’s future. Marlon is the chair of the local FARMC (Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council). Yet in appropriating the area as its own, APECO was ruling that Marlon did not know enough and was not doing enough to enhance the resources of Casiguran’s seas and build a prosperous



way of life. Father Joefran Talaban later cried out, we are all connected. The mountains that surround us, the land we live on, the waters we draw from, we are defined by the very surroundings our lives have been built on. Each one’s experience is unique, and one identifies himself with his home in ways beyond understanding, which is enough reason to fight for it. We are only ‘stewards’ of the natural abundance around us, nothing more. The support from the students, the school, the local churches during a forum organised for the marchers’ arrival in Cabanatuan, and even from the ordinary citizens they encountered galvanises their conviction in what is right, further igniting a sense of urgency that they succeed. The passion of these marchers show awakens in all of us a desire to be part of the struggle to fight for what matters. The residents of Casiguran want mainly three things: First, to declare a moratorium on the operations of APECO where displacement has already taken place. Second, to conduct an independent review of the law and its accompanying 2013 budget allocation of PhP 353 million. And most important of all, to uphold, without condition, existing asset reform laws on land and ancestral rights that APECO has clearly violated. One must take note, however, that in the end these demands are only a means towards a humane and decent life the farmers deserve as their inalienable right.






No doubt, Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) was the tipping point that changed disaster risk reduction and management work in the Philippines. Ondoy fast-tracked the passage of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 and forced people and institutions, even those that were antagonistic to each other, to work together. For Oxfam, it highlighted the need to include a post-recovery project anchored on DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) for humanitarian response. Prior to joining Oxfam, the only WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) I knew was the washing that needed to be done before a sink. I did not pay much attention to toilets and found it strange that I needed to implement a year-long DRR project around it. During my first two weeks on the job, whenever I did fieldwork, oddly, people showed me their toilets. I wondered if Oxfam was planning to compete with Malabanan, the country’s most popular dredging business.

One time, I found myself smack in the middle of two families at odds because one failed to honour a toilet cleaning schedule arrived at, virtually, with a blood pact. Day and night, I was receiving text messages from beneficiaries asking me to please, please ‘help us get the poop out of the way!’ In the office, our dear Scottish colleague would corner me in the hallway to ask for an additional budget for toilet dislodging activities. I had red screaming bubble thoughts about all these then. But as I went deeper and deeper into the programme, I realised there was more to WASH than meets the eye. Throughout my stint as Post-Ketsana Programme Manager, I encountered toilets in assorted shapes, sizes and colours. With them was a parade of lifechanging stories. Some are funny and swim in toilet muck; some are downright touching and revolve around transformative women lead-





ers and snippets of initially painful but eventually successful multi-stakeholder partnerships with the government. When people have toilets and other WASH facilities, public health risks are reduced, which means savings in medication and hospitalisation. Healthy people are empowered people able to mitigate and manage disaster shock. The success of any WASH programme is a good indicator of a community’s willpower to build collective resilience. At the end of the day, when people have privacy and dignity to solve a very basic human problem of where to perform their morning rituals, then the world is good again. Certainly, functioning toilets continue to be an enduring symbol of hope and recovery for many of the Ondoy survivors of Laguna and Rizal. In turn, the Ketsana Emergency Response and PostKetsana Recovery Projects taught me to unlearn previous misconceptions about myself and people’s ability to build their lives back.





FINDING AND REDEFINING ‘LOCAl’ in humanitarian response capacity Paul G. Del Rosario We formally established the HRC (Humanitarian Response Consortium) on 29 March 2010, initially as part of the formulation of a 3-year capacity development plan for five of Oxfam’s most consistent humanitarian response partners in the Philippines: ASDSW (A Single Drop for Safe Water), People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN), RDISK (Rural Development Institute of Sultan Kudarat), KFI (Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc.), and Balay Rehabilitation Center. Instead of merely drafting a usual plan, those of us in that workshop, executive directors and programme managers of our respective organisations, all thought that a group approach might be a more effective way to go. Back then, some of us were also just coming out of a conflict response in Central Mindanao somewhat frustrated and weary, not only with the consequences of a protracted war, but also with the impact of prolonged international humanitarian assistance. HRC is about standing up against humanitarian contractorship, where local NGOs are treated

as mere project implementers and contractors of international organisations and UN agencies. A system that, more often than not, promotes dependency with foreign groups generally dictating the scale, design and direction of a response. It is about advocating for strict compliance with international humanitarian standards to further uphold the rights of women and men in times of disasters and emergencies. HRC was formed with that clear vision of a group of local NGOs able to confidently and meaningfully engage international humanitarian agencies—yes, including Oxfam—on how disaster risk reduction and management can more effectively be implemented, for Filipinos by Filipinos. But even before we could get past the first year of that 3-year development plan, HRC was already thrust into one emergency after another, beginning with Typhoon Juan (Megi) that lambasted Central and Northern Luzon in October 2010 (first time for HRC to conduct rapid needs assessment), and the severe flooding that hit



Central Mindanao in June 2011 (first time for HRC to directly lead a response). We quickly realised that time was not on our side. When Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) devastated Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities in December 2011, and the consortium was challenged to implement and manage its biggest response with minimal technical and management support from Oxfam, I began to seriously worry if this partnership model we are experimenting in the Philippines could actually work. But I should have known better that experience is the better teacher. At the end of that response, HRC and Oxfam were able to serve more than 125,000 individuals, or 200% higher than what we originally targeted, with an integrated approach featuring water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), emergency food security and livelihoods (EFSL), emergency shelter, camp management and advocacy. Yes, we passed the test—with flying colours! When the entire Programme Governance Group (PGG) of Oxfam International visited as part of closing down our Tropical Storm Sendong response, in every site we went, the typhoon survivors were crying. And I wondered: Were those tears of gratefulness for the assistance we extended them? Or tears of sadness because they knew HRC and Oxfam were leaving? Oh, yes, I cried too—secretly and quietly though,



conscious even in that moment that I needed to apply the ‘Jaclyn Jose’ technique of acting. Mine, moreover, were tears of joy knowing that we were very much headed in the right direction. Seven months later, HRC is completing our humanitarian response to Typhoon Pablo (Bopha), with more than 100,000 individuals (about 10% of the total population in need of assistance) reached directly and indirectly in at least seven municipalities in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur. A recent evaluation of the project affirmed that yes, we also passed this one with flying colours. But it also showed that this partnership model is facing many challenges. The long list includes expansion of membership, capacity building for business support, development of middle management and second-liners, profile-building and management of external expectations, financial sustainability and business continuity, and a whole lot more. Most pressing of these challenges is further spelling out the roles and responsibilities between HRC and Oxfam. This means answering those existential questions about power relations: Are we ready to share or give up power? Are they ready to accept power? But hey, we’re just starting. Who says harnessing local humanitarian capacity, genuinely, is easy?






I was a confrontational person. I went straight to the point about anything that disappointed me, and said what I thought and felt. I easily lost my temper when things went wrong and especially when lapses were blamed on me. I did not hold back. But since last year, this had changed dramatically. Joining Oxfam in 2012 and getting into the practice of emailing taught me many things about my temper. I still remember that it was hard for me to compose an email when things were not quite right. I thought it was easier to talk and discuss things. But I had to adjust to the system that I found very annoying at first. When I was new, I would just write what was on my mind even if it sounded rude. But colleagues advised me to choose my words carefully and I was convinced to say, ‘Alright then, I will revise my email.’ I came to slowly appreciate the

practice of considering the proper words to say: not too arrogant, not too emotional, frank but tactful. With this, I think I developed a good working relationship with my colleagues. Since leaving Oxfam, I noticed that I continue to be more self-restrained when dealing with disagreements. I keep my composure and ensure that I speak tactfully when faced with problems. I never forget the beauty of having the time to think, to chose words, and answer emails diplomatically, and still work professionally with colleagues. For this, I am thankful to Oxfam’s ways of working, and that is emailing.






My entry to Oxfam in 2009 was my first venture in the humanitarian field. Working in disasters was a huge wake-up call, and I needed to learn an entire language, culture and movement to be able to understand and respond to disasters. Eventually, I could connect the dots from different pieces of disasters to changes in the history of disaster management and disaster risk reduction. Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009, for example, became the impetus to pass the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law, which stagnated in Congress for the last two decades. As a new humanitarian practitioner, what amazed me the most was that every disaster, whether inside or outside the country, made little but smarter changes as to how we understand disasters. Responding to an emergency has gone beyond the provision of search-and-rescue assistance and food aid, to a complex set of interventions that respond to water, sanitation and hygiene needs; emergency food security and livelihoods; nutrition;

humanitarian protection; advocacy; and shelter, on top of gender and many other considerations. A deeper understanding of disasters, on the other hand, strengthens the relationship between disaster risk management and development work as the focus zooms into forming resilient communities, rather than simply just responding to an emergency. Now, there is the push to identify the needs of affected populations and develop interventions adapted to different sectors for faster recovery. The goal has become not just to save, but also to improve lives. My biggest realisation was more people needed to know about this! Outside the humanitarian field, the public has only a vague sense of the work we do during disasters or a shallow perception of what is needed by an affected area. As a newbie, I despaired a little about what I could contribute to this field. I’m fortunate to be in Oxfam because I



get to work, interact and pick the brains of Philippine disaster greats—old-timers who have been in the business of saving lives longer than I’ve been around. As I marked my years in Oxfam disaster upon disaster, I became more and more desolate over its impact on people, and more and more frustrated of not being able to share this feeling of ‘rawness’ with my colleagues. Sometimes, I would read the news and punch out holes in the stories: How come we never report what this LGU did to reduce the impact of disaster? Why are we focusing on sob stories? Why are we harping on their pain? There was this wide disconnect between what was happening, what I could see with my own two eyes and what other people were seeing—or not seeing.



When Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) struck in 2011, I thought to myself that since people couldn’t come down to see the effects of the disaster for themselves, I could bring the images and pictures to them. I began taking photos with my camera and mobile phone and posting these on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Complete with my reflections. I could capture not only the devastation but also the recovery and resiliency of affected populations. Instead of dwelling on sad stories that mainstream media seemed to prefer, I would choose stories of positivity, of what could be done during a disaster.

The response from people, whether by likes or comments, was amazing. I had become their eyes and ears. I was gratified that my friends and contacts began asking more questions, offering themselves as volunteers and asking where to course donations. Right within my own circle, a little more awareness of disaster mitigation was happening. However, as with any issue, disaster-related or not, one has to reckon with the problem of short attention spans. A disaster has ramifications months and years after it occurs but pub-

lic interest is only as good as the last big media story. More people will ‘like’ a photo a few days after a disaster than they will a month after, even though the issues remain as pressing than when the disaster struck. My intention to bring my work life to social media was to bring the issues to a mainstream setting. I know now that to do so, one has to keep in mind three things: (1) To look at the disaster matter-of-factly, without taking advantage of the affected people; (2) In some sense, look at the disaster positively by finding what is being done to recover; and (3) Try to surface issues about the disaster.



After you build awareness of disaster mitigation, what happens next? The concept of the ‘I Commit to DRR!’ social media campaign arose from the learning that there has to be personal follow-through after awareness-building. The last few disasters in the Philippines have demonstrated in social media the public’s concern for the affected areas. Oxfam and other partners wanted to translate this to a call to action: What can you personally commit to reduce disaster risks in the Philippines? And because the country has such a strong sense of community in social media, we invited people from all walks of life to post their commitments in any social media. We then consolidated these in the #icommittodrr Facebook page, complete with the DRR mascot, the superhero Cristy SuperPinay. The campaign was an eye-opener, allowing us to reach networks we could not have reached otherwise. If the goal was to make disaster risk reduction accessible and turn this into a personal call to action for people, then #icommit-



todrr was a success. At the height of the campaign week, 579 people were talking about the campaign at any one time; 2,692 Facebook stories were created; 892 users were engaged; 356 likes were gathered; and the campaign reached a total of 14,662 users. The commitments came from people on the street, NGO workers, politicians, disaster risk reduction and management officials and donors, women, children, men, older persons, persons with disability and many others. It was a start in changing the public’s

role from observer to actor working on disasters. I am personally excited by the possibilities in using social media as a platform for humanitarian work. For every idea elicited and every person reached, there are potentially many more ideas to elicit and people to reach. But for me, the most important takeaway about using social media for humanitarian work is that this allows us to make more and more people aware





of what the most vulnerable populations are experiencing during a disaster, and persuade them to do something about it. At the heart of Oxfam’s humanitarian projects is a belief in the collective power of people to bring about lasting change that spare people from the worst and the most debilitating effects of a disaster.






My first engagement in community development work was with IP (indigenous peoples). That was more than 20 years ago when IPs all over the country struggled hard for their right to self determination. Now that the country’s constitution recognises this right, the struggles continue and I’m still with them—no longer on the streets but in their revered ancestral domains, owned and occupied by their race since time immemorial. Their struggle for self-determination is the struggle for survival. Working with them has given me many stories to tell—stories that inspire me and carve new lessons and knowledge. One story etched in memory is that of the women, especially the mothers, of the Manobo and Mamanwa tribes in the upland and forested area of Sitio Ibuan, Lanuza, province of Surigao del Sur. These women, motivated by their biggest vulnerabilities, taught me more

than what science could in understanding climate change. Their struggle to find food meant that they would customarily work with nature, which gave them abundance. I was with them in Oxfam’s ‘Women at the Centre’ project to understand climate variability not only in terms of the statistical and scientific data coming from experts but by how much food is available on their tables. My mentors in development work always taught me to have clear and measurable results that will lead to changes in the total well-being of the communities. It took me several years to master what my mentors were saying. When I supervised the climate change adaptation options identified by the women of Sitio Ibuan, I was equipped for the task with a technocratic framework for managing projects. But these women brought me instead to another paradigm for understanding impact and changes in one’s life-situation.





I thought the changes in women lives would be where they held sway—in their respective households, and how these should be primed to adapt to the changing climate. But the women had other ideas. They were empowered by the experience of going to places beyond the boundaries of their abodes and farmlands to attend learning sessions organised by the project. They felt so capacitated and at par with their spouses and other men in the community after learning how to fill up acknowledgement receipts and vouchers as part of the project’s accounting system. On realising they could respond to interviews by Oxfam consultants and senior officers, their fulfilment was such that their newfound voices reverberated over the mountains and hills. The stories of the women of Sitio Ibuan gave me another perspective in understanding impact and results. As facilitators for change, we design interventions and define changes and impact according to our understanding of the dynamics of societies. This is what I learned from my technocrat mentors. But these women taught me otherwise. The more lasting impact of what we do in the community can only be assured if they themselves define what the changes in their life situations should be, not by us who cannot even be certain how long we can stay in partnership with them in their agenda. Indeed, the women of Sitio Ibuan are my strongest mentors in understanding what community development is.






ENSURING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS and COMMUNITIES ADAPT Kalayaan Pulido-Constantino My husband was a long-time campaigner and advisor with Greenpeace. I knew about climate change even before joining Oxfam. I understood its urgency and its impact, not just on our lives, but on our children’s and grandchildren’s lives. But it was in Oxfam that I became a direct participant in pushing for changes. It was in Oxfam that climate change became real for me. Oxfam’s mandate was how to put people at the heart of the climate change discussions. Its climate campaign sought to answer: how can poor communities, especially poor women, adapt to its impacts? How can farmers and fishers—those who produce our food—continue to sustain humanity if seasons change unpredictably? How can the government support and empower communities to adapt to extreme weather events and slow onset impacts? Oxfam’s work already provided some solutions. From working with local governments and communities to reduce their risks, to quickly responding in times of disasters, supporting community-based resource management and promoting sustainable agriculture. How can

these be scaled up, mainstreamed and adapted locally? Certainly, climate finance is not the first thing that comes to mind. But if you talk with LGUs and affected communities, their list of needs invariably includes additional resources. When Oxfam and the iCSC (Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities ) started the campaign on the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) three years ago, climate finance was relatively new and probably viewed as esoteric. But our joint research showed that the Philippines cannot wait and depend on resources from developed countries to help us adapt to climate change. The international climate funds coming in were primarily for mitigation interventions (projects to lower our carbon emissions), and not for adaptation (help people adapt to impacts). Besides, most were given as loans. It was necessary to reaffirm that the country priority should be adaptation (and mitigation actions must contribute to our adaptation strategies) and that we should depend on our own national resources. How? First, by allocating specific





funds to incentivise adaptation processes and actions led by local governments and communities, and second, by making our overall national budget climate resilient. The PSF was our contribution to the first. DEPENSA was a campaign to pass the PSF and ensure that funds for locally driven adaptation were available. This goal was encapsulated in the call, ‘Ang kailangan natin, depensa!’ More and more, local communities were struggling to adapt. But they could not do it alone. They needed urgent support. Responding to climate change, moreover, should not mean diverting funds meant for education or healthcare. Several groups responded. The League of Councilors passed a resolution of support, LGUs (Local Government Units) in Mindanao participated in discussions, legislators signed on as co-authors, celebrity advocates joined rallies and academics wrote papers. Congressman Manny Pacquiao was one of the supporters of the campaign. Getting him was perfect, with boxing gloves as metaphor for defence against climate change! Within the team, we had a debate on this, would the medium defeat the message? Again, it was one of those things I love about Oxfam—its culture of intentness when it comes to women’s rights and the courage (or pig-headedness) to stay true to this aim. It was reflective of some

of the challenges we face in ensuring that our campaigns also reflect our point of view on masculine and feminine norms. After less than three years, the measure was passed. The success was in large part due to the commitment of our champions—Senator Enrile and Congressman Tanada; the public support of celebrity advocates led by Dakila; the strong online work of Greenpeace and WWF (World Wildlife Fund); the support of groups working in agriculture and fisheries; the campaigns done by rural women; the participation of the climate alliance Aksyon Klima in key junctures; and the push of local governments. It was also a result of—I dare say it—creative, non-dogmatic campaigning by partners led by iCSC (full disclosure: the head of iCSC is my husband, the Greenpeace campaigner cited above). It was an example of utilising a wide array of advocacy and campaigning tools (online, high-level lobbying, alliance building, media, research, use of social media) deployed at the right time, guided by a robust and continuously updated power analysis. And I think this is where Oxfam succeeds and where it can continue to play a role—bringing a diverse group of people together, facilitating linkages, adding its own voice and expertise, and the willingness to step back and let others take the lead.



The campaign does not end with the passage of the measure. We have to be able to demonstrate that the fund works—if used effectively. Right now, Oxfam and its partners are working on two levels: nationally, advocating for the immediate signing of the law’s implementing rules and regulations; and locally, working with communities and municipalities to build their capacity to access the survival fund. In the end, the PSF campaign will always remind me of Ed Santoalla, a colleague we lost to cancer more than a year ago. He was in charge of our research, and it was he who led in the development of relevant papers needed for the proposed measure. By this time, he was well into 10 years dealing with leukaemia. He did not finish the campaign. But his contributions were there from the beginning! All of us who were part of that initial core group and continued on, at some point asked, ‘Nasa’n na kaya si Ed? Sana nandito siya.’








The Climate-resiliency Field School (CrFS) project was an idea that came out of an Oxfam Hong Kong-supported project of the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) in 2009. It was our first attempt to take on climate change as among our concerns and it was only fitting that we tried understanding climate change from actual work on the ground. One of the adaptation solutions suggested for the local government units (LGUs) was to establish an early warning system (EWS) for agriculture. I still remember asking our climate consultant—Ms. Lourdes Tibig—for a concrete EWS experience in agriculture in the Philippines. The first example that came to her mind was the Dumangas Climate Field School. We felt we needed to learn about this immediately. For various reasons, however, R1 eventually ended up developing its own module and own brand of a field school promoting resiliency and

a climate-informed agriculture—now called the Climate-Resiliency Field School (CrFS). This was pioneering work and one of the defining advocacies of R1 in close partnership with PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), one of R1’s important partners in this endeavour. The project generated lessons in climate change adaptation and analysis, and the importance of climate information in climateproofing development services—specifically in agriculture. The project not only gave R1 leverage to influence and inform other climate change adaptation projects—both of government and the private sector. More importantly, R1 earned the trust and confidence of its LGU partners.



The continuous and expanding stakes of partners in the project already ensures its near-term sustainability. The project itself has become a magnet for additional resources flowing into the LGUs and has earned for them added recognition. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the Philippines, through its AMICAF (Analysis and Mapping of the Impacts of under Climate Change for Adaptation and Food Security) project, the UN World Food Program, the Department of Agriculture in Regions V and VII have become allies in the process, supporting the LGUs’ CrFS program in various ways. More recently, we received word from the Climate Change Commission that the CrFS has been shortlisted as either a long-term adaptation action or part of an incremental adaptation initiative, and will be featured in a publication highlighting practical integrated CCA-DRR pro-



jects in the country. But more importantly, stories of how farm-weather advises are benefitting farmers and the rest of the constituents are most heart-warming. These include stories of how rural women are accessing climate information for informed decision making, even in the performance of household chores such as washing clothes, stories of farmers demanding regular climate forum to guide them in their crop calendar adjustments and paddy drying schedules, stories of farmers shifting from mono-cropping to diversified farming to spread -Home-




the risks, and many other such stories of climate change adaptation (CCA) in practice. It should be noted that the benefits of access to localised weather/climate forecast are not only limited to farmers. Climate information also helped construction work, and other community/social activities including the annual town dance event. The CrFS project has exceeded R1’s expectations and we can only wish this will continue to contribute to shaping a Philippine agriculture that is more climate-informed and resilient.





THE grow CAMPAIGN: HOW TO UNPACK, then make it your own Marie Nuñez

The idea of campaigning around food issues in a world threatened by runaway climate change initially didn’t appeal to us as something that is campaign-able, especially with a campaign name like “GROW”. First, because the issues weren’t quite obvious or apparent when you say “GROW”, as when you say “Land Rights” or “Climate Change”, which were quite straightforward. Second, it sounded like a familiar line from a commercial brand of a milk formula and a local margarine, as in “Go, grow and glow!” or “Pampalakas na, pampatangkad pa!” (and these actually became the subject of funny criticism by both staff and partners alike). Finally, explaining GROW as Oxfam’s-new-campaign-for-food-justice-in-a-resource-constrained-world, is really a mouthful of jargon, which requires a lot of explaining especially for new audiences we wanted to reach, about not-so-new issues we wanted to promote.

But when the time came for us to launch it, we figured that it was really up to us how we want to define it for ourselves, and weave into its narrative, the issues that we have long been campaigning for – progressive agriculture and trade policies, rural women’s rights, and climate change-- so that it will be easy for our Filipino audience to understand and relate to it. As it came to pass, GROW eventually came to mean “growing better” -- that is, promoting and advocating for sustainable agricultural practices and practices; “living better” – that is, practicing sustainable lifestyles by buying locally and sustainably produced food and other products, to reduce carbon footprints or “foodprints” as one colleague would later put it; and “sharing better” – that is, advocating for more equitable access to and sharing of natural and material resources, for the benefit of small fishers and farmers, especially women.



As we strived and struggled to unpack it, the first and second year of the GROW campaign took the form of the Women’s Market, -- where raising the profile of rural women, including their right to an equal share of power, space and resources, can actually bridge the gap between meaningful economic growth and poverty; and the Brown Rice Campaign– using social media as its main platform-- where growing, living and sharing better meant eating locally-grown organic brown rice to help achieve rice self-sufficiency, as well as better incomes for women and men farmers who produce them using sus-



tainable farming practices. Later in 2012, we found ourselves engaged in often controversial issues like land rights (indeed!!), and how these strategically link to sustainably securing food and livelihoods for small farmers, fishers and indigenous communities. The anti-APECO campaign, led by our partner PAKISAMA, became the face of GROW land rights campaigning in the Philippines. On its third year, we expanded the calls to include five simple and concrete steps where people can be part of the solution to prepare a table for 9 billion, and help prevent climate change, by changing their lifestyles, and daring them to take the GROW Challenge through 5

20 June 2011

A LETTER FROM BARBARA STOCKING, CHIEF EXECUTIVE TO ALL STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS (excerpt) We are now up and running with the Grow campaign. There was a great launch right across the world on May 31st / June 1st with a large amount of media coverage and lots of stunts and events in a total of 31 countries with more to come in the next weeks. We were helped by the BBC giving it major coverage not just in the UK, but also globally, though they did breach the embargo and go one day early! I know that caused a lot of work for many of you in suddenly having to bring forward the media activity. I spent the time doing a lot of media interviews and then joining in the activities in Oxfam House. I also had the wonderful opportunity to take part in the launch in the Philippines on June 10th when both I and John Sayer, the Executive Director of Oxfam Hong Kong were visiting. I am sure it was true of many of the launches but the Philippines one was brilliant. Oxfam at its very, very best. It started with the usual rather formal event on which I spoke about the campaign and the report, and two Government Ministers spoke about the issues plus another

local NGO working on rice spoke. Because we had many partners and farmers at the event, there was a real challenge to the Government, even though the new Government of the last year has developed much better policy and action to help small scale agriculture. It was good to hear the challenge though, one example of the Government being accountable to the people. Then we had a wonderful lunch, outside in an open tent. The lunch was created and cooked by four celebrity chefs, each one created a new dish, based on local ingredients which came from our women farmers working in Oxfam projects. Each dish was introduced by the woman farmer and chef together – a real example of respect for the people who produce our food. The dishes themselves were delicious. In between there was music and dancing with a Gamelan group. What made the event so good was the spirit of fun and enjoyment of food even with our difficult messages. It was done so professionally too with the place mats saying “table for 9 billion people”. You can see I really enjoyed it. -Home-




simple changes -- #eating brown rice, #buying local, #reducing food waste, #saving water, and #conserving energy. To make the campaign more popular and attractive, we invited Filipino artists and celebrities such as Ms. Cherry Pie Picache, Tuesday Vargas, Mikael Daez, Stephanie Zubiri , Erwan Heusaff, to become our ambassadors, including others who have generously supported and advocated with us for our previous campaigns (TikTok Climate Action Now Campaign, the Women’s Market, and the Brown Rice Campaign). And so began our initial forays into star-studded public events and tech-savvy social media campaigning And the story continues‌





WHEN ART, SOCIAL MEDIA &ACTIVISM CONGEAL Leni Velasco In 2009, Dakila was just a bunch of artists trying our best to change the world, so to speak. When Oxfam approached us to help them in organising a concert for climate action, we were more than thrilled to work with such a big-time international organisation. Who has not heard of Oxfam and its impressive work in the social movement in the Philippines? Little did we realise that the partnership with Oxfam would change the future of Dakila. Organising a concert is a breeze but more than that, we wanted to be able to make a lasting impact. What challenged us was Oxfam’s different approach to climate change. Its thesis was that climate change is the number one threat to overcoming poverty. Finally, we found a framework that went beyond the glossy posters to ‘save the polar bears’ or ‘save Mother Earth’ which, frankly, we did not want to undertake.

So, we ventured into the TikTok Pilipinas campaign with a mission to involve artists in the movement for climate action knowing that, if we inform them enough, it will fuel their creative expression and transform the complex issue of climate change into something that the common tao would understand. With the help of Oxfam, we sat down every single artist, explained climate change and those darn jargons—mitigation and adaptation. Believe us, talking science and international policies to artists was not an easy task. We were able to mobilise around 40 of them for our first artist gathering—actors, filmmakers, musicians, fashion designers, visual artists, models—all of whom politely listened to us talk and made an effort to truly understand climate change. Most were just willing to lend their faces to the campaign to be able to contribute. A



few days after the event, Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsena) happened. What seemed a still vague concept became real. Too real, in fact. Ondoy, while not really directly caused by climate change, gave face to the issue. Suddenly, all the scenarios that were just then presented as possibilities of what can happen became terrifyingly true to most of the artists. The events after that all seem to be a long march of blurry memories now: soup kitchens— celebrities Ping Medina and Alessandra de Rossi cooking arroz caldo in a remote barangay in San Mateo, Rizal; beauty queen Miriam Quiambao and model-tv host Marc Nelson discussing climate change at De La Salle University; musicians organising gigs left and right to promote climate action; advocates creating their own viral videos to help spread the campaign; 84 artists lining up at the JesCom recording studio to wait for their turn to record the anthem and participate in a music video shoot; a concert in a city most devastated by the disaster; an ambitious collaborative medley performance for the MYX Channel; features and photo shoots for newspaper and magazine spreads. More artist gatherings. With more than 12,000 Facebook fans and 84 celebrities involved, TikTok Pilipinas became a phenomenal campaign.





The involvement of artists in advocacy work is nothing new, especially here in the Philippines. Perhaps, what is truly phenomenal about the TikTok Campaign is that it came at the time when the old methods in campaigning have failed to reach a broader audience and the whole Philippine social movement is at a standstill, unsure of what direction to take to cope with the changing times. Aside from popularising the climate issue in the country, the one contribution that Tiktok Pilipinas could take credit for is that it shaped a new era for social change advocacy work in the Philippines. The climate that the TikTok Campaign created was a gathering of a large and representational segment of a generation that felt lost to old ways but had now found a voice and realised they can be involved in platforms that define their times—social media, pop culture, cool advertising campaigns, and probably anything emerging. When we say TikTok is phenomenal, it isn’t to claim that it worked as a collective generational expression of resistance or even to say that it resulted to vast political action. Rather, because it happened the way it did, and what it became. In the years that followed, you now have a display of advocacy-driven photos in your Fa-



cebook newsfeeds of celebrities promoting causes, artists outside the protest movement working for a project with women farmers and fisher folks, a parade of beautifully designed graphics and images instead of the usual placards in the streets. Some will argue its superficiality but one cannot debate its virality, an effect that cannot be readily quashed by police action. Perhaps, the path that TikTok pursued is, at the very least, actively transforming the mainstream. Looking back, much has evolved as the campaign for climate action has given birth to other collaborative efforts with Oxfam. We’ve been cracking our heads open to make Filipinos shift to brown rice, if not crafting videoke worthy songs that will encourage people to wash their hands for Oxfam’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program, or chasing celebrity advocates in social media so that they retweet, regram and repost our campaign posts. Much has also changed within Dakila. The once young bunch of idealists has ushered in newbies, hopefully much more capable to change the world, in a now more professional organisation but nonetheless fuelled by passion, joy and humour.

Years down the road, when present social movement trends become boring and alienating to another generation, we will always remember the TikTok Pilipinas campaign of Oxfam and Dakila— its lessons and its significant contribution to an era in the Philippine social movement and how it changed all of us in Dakila. No doubt, Tiktok created disturbance in the force. It is a disturbance borne out of the residue of the rich past of activism in the country, with the tremors felt in every meeting room where NGOs are planning for a campaign. In a weird way, Dakila probably met itself through TikTok, what the organisation really is, what it can become and more importantly, what its role in the whole social movement sphere is.

This digital age has indeed transformed activism, but it has not diluted the messages social movements put forward or their relevance in the world. We are glad to have stuck with Oxfam as it brings us from climate change to food justice to sustainable agriculture and land use. More highfalutin’ words we believe will probably make our artists’ noses bleed. Bring it on.





TRAIL TALKING & SLEEPWALKING IN HONGKONG Robert Francis Garcia and Janice Ian Manlutac ‘The toughest part,’ said Gaynor Tanyang, ‘was finding our way. How to reach the checkpoints, from the first to the very last, was an enormous challenge. Googlemaps were inaccurate, the cab drivers did not know the sites, and so we always wound up in a wrong location. Of course some fellow Filipinos would approach us, ready to assist. Unfortunately they were also clueless, since we were in a totally different place.’ Gaynor was a member of a support team in Hong Kong that committed to the task of nurturing, shoring up, pep-talking, admonishing, and minding all the needs of the TRIP. (We’ll explain the TRIP later). The other team members were Elmira Bacatan, Jire Carreon, Golda Hilario, Rose Pablico and representatives from the Tanay Mountaineers: Carlos Inofre, Eliza Ventilacion and Alvin Balderama. Annie Santoalla, Nora Nesola and Teddy Arellano also provided invaluable support, along with numerous others within and outside Oxfam.

On the third week of November 2012, the support team faced the most daunting logistical challenge of their lives. None of them was a local, the terrain was unfamiliar, and they had to keep up with the rapidly changing needs of the walkers that were simply impossible to plan for in advance. Such as a nail-cutter in the middle of the night! (This was no whim. Seasoned runners know all about toenails and their inevitable separation from toes in the course of a long-distance event.) As Mira put it, ‘I would take a disaster emergency response anytime.’ The team also had to deal with one other complication: monkeys. Monkeys dotted the path: sitting on hilltops, perched upon railings, standing and waving their arms along the roads and walkways. They snarled at people and have been known to snatch food from human hands with speed, precision and complete abandon. And, while they mostly just picked and ate each others’ lice, they can be a real menace. The



support team had to brave these primates as well. Even so, the team managed to get the work done. And at the end of it, the team members were there to hug each of us trailwalkers as we crossed the 100-kilometre mark on MacLehose Trail where Oxfam Hong Kong holds its yearly Oxfam Trailwalker. Hence this article kicks off with a salute to our support team because we truly could not have finished the trailwalker without them. For us to complete the mission, they sacrificed so much: sleep, dry clothes, dignity, sanity, the opportunity to shop at leisure in Hong Kong, inviting the ire or mischief of hungry monkeys, which could have been dangerous. They also walked long stretches hauling our gear and food supply, located dry spots for our 5-minute catnaps, prepared our food. Our success was



their happiness. Or, put another way: ‘Guys, don’t even think about not finishing this!’ was their serious threat. Baby Steps The Oxfam Trailwalker is an endurance walking event where teams of four attempt to cover a 100-km course in a limited time over rough terrain. Designed to raise funds for anti-poverty projects, the Trailwalker is done annually in Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain. Oxfam staff based in the Philippines office decided to join the Trailwalker in Hong Kong on 16-18 November 2012.

Everything started informal and raw. Snehal Soneji, former Country Director of Oxfam Philippines programme, floated the idea over beer. Turns out many others were contemplating the same thing. The idea gained traction, and by May 2012, an Oxfam walking/running club was born. We started converging at the UP academic oval at 6:00 p.m. two to three times a week. The walkers were identified and finalised: Orland Danis ‘Choy’ Beltran, Robert Francis ‘Bobby’ Garcia, Janice ‘Ian’ Manlutac, and Lilian ‘Lan’ Mercado.

By the end of May, the walkers started joining official running events like the Nature Trail in Tanay, Rizal and the Nuvali Run in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. We started with a five-kilometre event, then gradually moved up to 10, 15, 21, 32, 50, and 75-kilometer treks in the next months. The weekly walks/runs in UP were augmented by weekend treks along the Timberland and Shotgun trails of San Mateo, Rizal, rain or shine, and whenever schedules permitted. Later on we had the Tanay Mountaineers as our de facto official trainers. -Home-


At around this time, the walkers were asked to come up with a team name. There were many creative suggestions, such as Dagitab (energy), Bulalakaw (meteor), and Team Oxfam Pilipinas (TOP). A voting process was held, and the name Tropang Islas Pilipinas (TRIP), Gaynor’s coinage, won.

Officer, led the marketing. A strict fundraising ‘quota’ was set for the TRIP walkers. The TRIP Facebook page became an effective platform for information and advocacy and endless threads of feel-good cheers.

The fever was high and the enthusiasm, contagious. Lan was particularly committed, zealously corresponding with Lot Felizco and other colleagues from Oxfam Hong Kong and making sure that the Philippine team had a shot. We officially signed up, but registering was no guarantee. Trailwalker receives thousands of applicants annually, thus the final participants are picked by lottery. At this time, Trailwalkerrelated emails flooded our inboxes; official business matters had to compete with its concerns in the agenda of staff meetings.

TRIP was a shining moment for Oxfam. Everyone happily pitched in, lending gear, pledging a portion of salary, donating flight mileage. The passion, commitment and volunteerism were evident. Those who did not fly to Hong Kong continued supporting the team in other ways— further mobilising resources, task-covering for the walkers and support group, and monitoring the team’s progress in real time.

When we were not picked in the lottery, OHK gave us a reserved slot. We were officially in the game! This ushered in an era of inventive fundraising ideas: rummage sale of staff’s used signature clothes and DVD collection, a Red Velvet cupcake sale, and a solicitation drive that targeted ‘Exfams’ (ex-Oxfam employees) relatives, and partners. The Philippine programme’s Business Support Manager, Kissette Coñol, was fund manager; Jing Pura, Gender Justice Lead, and Abbi Luz, Programme



TRIP to Hong Kong

November saw our last minute flight bookings, a review of the comprehensive and picturesque slide presentation of MacLehose Trail by Lan, and Mira and Gaynor’s ubercomplex logistics planning matrix. The TRIP walkers and support group who flew to Hong Kong had to make do with limited resources. For accommodations, we squeezed not only our budget but our bodies as well. Our space was so small that, during our final briefing, Ian and Mira took turns sitting on a small chair, while Lan had to place her chair inside the toilet! We had to master the art of packing,

Choy, our IT officer and all-around technogeek, also our in-house hardcore runner, went on and on, recollecting the anguish. Make no mistake; Choy is no greenhorn. He has joined nearly every running event there is: The North Face, Condura, Salomon, etc. But he found the Oxfam Trailwalker extremely difficult. ‘First time in my life I sleepwalked!’

unpacking and repacking—it was a real mess. It was chaos! It was fun!

Choy was not alone. All four of us trailwalkers shared that bizarre experience of involuntarily falling asleep while walking. It came at the latter end of the trail, between the eighth and ninth checkpoints, when we had been walking continuously for nearly 40 hours with only 5-minute naps, which our support walkers often slashed further to just two.

But the package included unspeakable suffering as well. For Choy, the toughest part was the steps made of huge, concrete slabs. ‘They pummelled our knees. Also, the challenge that the four of us finish each checkpoint at the same time, which demanded absolute team spirit,’ he said. -Home-


But the determination to finish the trail was there, and we all agreed that it was a mental challenge as much as a physical one. The absolute will to finish should be there; physical endurance and strength would not be sufficient. Lan, asked to look back on the gruelling experience, considered being a part of the team an immense challenge and thrill for it was ‘not just the four of us’ but an entire country office being represented. ‘Folks back home were monitoring our progress in real time, and they were deeply alarmed when we weren’t reaching certain points within our targets.’ We also became aware of the numerous other Oxfam Trailwalkers worldwide, and the idea of joining these other trailwalkers excites. More than the challenge of beating the odds is the image of connectedness with other Oxfams. It was a tapestry; a fine event Oxfam initiated that has truly grown and continues to fulfil its ambition. Honour In truth, because of the tremendous support lavished upon the trailwalkers, at some point in the preparation, failure became a non-option. The thought of scoffs, jeers, and endless ribbing became truly frightening. Make or break;



honour or horror. Ian considered it an honour to walk with her three teammates. ‘Lan taught me the true meaning of willpower and determination. She was virtually our drill commander and she poured an endless amount of energy.’ ‘Bobby, despite suffering a knee injury and lack of sleep for three straight nights, kept up an endless stream of corny jokes and music—at first from his portable speaker, then from his throat.’ Choy was by far the most caring and patient. ‘It was a great, great honour for me to walk side by side with him,’ said Ian. ‘He could outrun/ outwalk any of us and could have left us in the dust but he really kept us together with his ready hand and his own brand of encouragement.’ On the whole, the Oxfam Trailwalker was the whole caboodle: a huge physical challenge, an event with a cause, a crucible where everyone pitched in, an illustration of Oxfam’s interconnectedness worldwide, an effective way to fundraise, a momentary source of agony, a reason to be proud, an absolute source of joy. It was yet another Oxfam moment when everything came together and produced something cool. It is something worth doing again and agaIt is

It is something worth doing again and again, regardless of where. It may be in Hong Kong or another site. We endured what was supposed to be the most difficult of Oxfam Trailwalker routes, after all. We are unfazed. Trailwalker New Zealand, anyone?





AN EVENT TO MAKE THEM COUNT Marie Nuñez ‘Tabo-an? Baka walang makaintindi sa ’tin n’yan!’ ‘Why not call it ‘The Women’s Market?’ Parang Farmers Market.’ The suggestion borrows from the history of that iconic facility in Cubao where local farmers could bring their produce to Metro Manila and have a guaranteed space and market. It was Glenn, Oxfam’s Media and Communication Officer at the time, who came up with the idea to have the name in English instead. This was how the conversation turned around late 2010, when I first broached the idea of putting up a tiangge (flea market) for women’s products as a strategy for the long overdue visibility campaign project, whose concept emerged as early as 2008. I first encountered the Visayan term back in my Bacolod volunteer teaching days. Tabo-an is what the Tagalog refer to as a ‘bagsakan’ or ‘talipapa’—a depot market where people can bring their produce

from the forests or uplands, from farms and coastal areas, to sell in a designated place, on a designated day of the week. It’s similar to your regular ‘palengke’ or market day; but in areas where transport is difficult, farmers can only come once a week to sell. But why a women’s market for a campaign activity? A common issue around gender and women’s rights is women’s invisibility in almost all spheres of work other than the reproductive sphere. Women’s presence and contribution to the economy are not recognised, that is, they are not counted and not included in government accounting and statistics and, therefore, not included either among those who should benefit from government programmes and budgets. The challenge then is how we can make women, and what they do, more visible.



It was sometime in 2009—a good year after the historic GLG (Gender Learning Group) meeting where the idea of ‘a day without women’ came about (courtesy of Gaynor, who then was with the PKKK or Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, besides being a Consultant of Oxfam—that we started to seriously work on a visibility campaign, beginning with the short infomercial ‘Palibhasa Babae: Bida Ka!’ that featured Cherry Pie Picache in the lead role. The infomercial was first aired primetime for seven consecutive days in major channels on the first week of March 2010 as part of celebrations around International Women’s Day. That was Oxfam’s first major foray into working with celebrities and into mainstream TV, for women’s rights, free of charge.



The following year, we started to brainstorm on the Tabo-an for women only—which eventually became what everyone in Oxfam knows now as the Women’s Market. It was a major undertaking which was also truly exciting, for both the women and the organisers, Oxfam and PKKK. The very first Women’s Market was held along the walkways of Quezon City Hall. It was a happy celebration with more than 20 stalls of women products ranging from farm fresh fruits and vegetables, to slightly processed foods such as malunggay bread, jams, peanut butter and other ‘kakanin’. Around 90 rural and urban women participated, mostly members and leaders of PKKK. From then on, the Women’s Market became a major element of October World Food

Day and International Rural Women’s Day celebrations, and the International Women’s Day activities held in March. We had a second major event held in Mindanao when we brought the Women’s Market to Davao City in March 2012. It was during the same year that we began to collect pictures and stories to raise the profile of rural women food producers, and put up an exhibit of life-size photos of these women, and introduced them during the GROW campaign launch in June 2011. This was the birth of ‘Saganang Amin,’ a mobile exhibit of pictures and stories of eight rural women from all over the country, who raise not only food but also their voices, to contribute not merely to their family and community’s welfare, but to the country’s development. Since that time, the stories of these women continue to inspire as they continue to be featured in various media, online and on print.





I would like to believe that somehow, what we did over the last two to three years was not only able to make rural women more visible, but also to bring hope in the lives of the women whose presence and stories have touched us and those we have reached.






IN THE AGE OF OPEN MARKET Glenn Maboloc Spring had begun in Istanbul when we arrived last April, a break from the summer that was starting to test people’s patience in Manila. We had travelled more than 13 hours to reach the former capital of Turkey for one of the world’s largest recurring feminist gatherings of its kind, the AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) Forum. Zeny Mansiliohan, a 55-year-old farmer from Agusan del Sur, and Becca Miranda, a 54-year old community development worker in Nueva Ecjia, gasped at the sight of tulips abloom everywhere, startled and then edified by the commonness. “The tulips look so beautiful, they can’t be real. They must be made of plastic,” they said to me, their babysitter on their first trip overseas. From the first time they saw the flowers, as we were driving out of the airport to whenever they spotted them in the street, their faces would light up.

Manang Zeny (Manang is a Philippine term used to address older women as a sign of respect) is also the Vice President, and Manang Becca, Auditor of the National Rural Women Congress, a coalition of organisations pushing for the rights of women from the countryside–farmers and fishers, daily-wage labourers, and homebased workers, women whose work is undervalued and sacrifices, unheralded. In Istanbul, Manang Zeny and Becca joined 2,200 women from Nicaragua to Kenya, from Nepal to Spain, to confront the struggles of women in the modern world. The theme of the AWID Forum was ‘Transforming economic power to advance women’s rights and justice’. Composed of more than a hundred small sessions or discussion groups and four major plenaries, the AWID Forum examined the alarming trends in public policies and the worsening socio-cultural norms that oppress, subjugate and discriminate against women. The



global financial crisis of 2008, the recessions in America and Europe, the emergence of power blocs such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and the Arab Spring have created deeper fissures in a globalised but clearly divided world. These changes led AWID speaker and leading Southern feminist Gita Sen to call this ‘a fierce new world’. Sen decried that economic power—shaped by neoliberalism or in broad terms, ‘the total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services’ in a global open market today—means resource extraction, the primacy of financial markets, excessive consumption and unsustainable development. And that ‘women are at the bottom of wealth production.’ Confined to the care economy—giving birth, running households, and looking after children and husbands—women, in the eyes of the neoliberal order, ‘are only a means to an end.’ The idea of the welfare state—public provisioning for social services—is slowly being abandoned, Sen feared, and ‘the financial world is blackmailing everybody.’ I sat enrapt by Sen’s speech, and almost forgot



that beside me were two women whose lives have been formed from this very neoliberal rib of a powerful, mostly male, few. At the heart of neoliberalism is trade liberalisation, or the free flow of trade between countries. However, world trade rules are hardly fair. Wealthy countries often subsidise their domestic production such that surpluses or exports, which are taxed little, if at all, upon entry, are sold at much cheaper prices. Manang Zeny’s ‘guyabano’ (soursop) trees do not stand a chance in the global market of subsidised industrial apples. Farmers will leave their farms for, so to speak, greener pastures—exactly the thing that Manang Becca had to do years back. Although she still tends a small farm of vegetables, Manang Becca had to work as a Community Development Worker to earn her keep. Privatisation is another neoliberal tenet where the state cedes to the private sector the management of natural resources like land and water (and even social protection such as health care and pensions). This partly explains the

preponderance of idle lands, said Manang Zeny of her hometown in Agusan del Sur, in Mindanao (southern Philippines). With shrinking government investments in agriculture and the reluctance of banks to offer them loans, farmers don’t have enough seed money to till the land, forcing them to leave this idle or lease it to corporate plantations and landlords.

work, but that is another story.)

It is also this neoliberal framework which does not value, precisely, the care economy. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not factor in contributions of women—and men and children, for that matter, especially in subsistence agriculture, as pointed out by the brilliant Marilyn Waring at the plenary—in keeping hearth and home, which enables labour to enter, and then sustains it in the market. (There is, of course, caution against the commodification of care

Another is that power must be built on knowledge, and that women must learn the language of economists to be able to beat them in their own game. Women like Manang Zeny and Becca can sharpen their already evident appreciation of how the market works and take on govern-

Gita Sen proposed alternative ways to recast economic power in our neoliberal age. One is to insist and reaffirm the idea that feminism had helped refine—that people, not multinational corporations or banks, have access to, and control of, resources.



ment or private sector market agenda and policy in public discourse. Women must argue for an economic and development framework that is sustainable, and upholds the welfare and rights of peoples. For Marilyn, an ecological model of development is the only road worth taking: where development is also premised on a healthy respect for planetary boundaries and the arrest of the impact of climate change before it is too late. This could not have rung more true to Manang Zeny. Over the years, she has seen weather patterns change before her very eyes. She watched as her vegetables surrendered to floods during a supposedly dry season. For farmers like her, seasonality, or the predictable, periodic behaviour of the weather, is the bedrock of her livelihood. Climate change is transforming food production into guesswork. It is easy to get depressed knowing all this, and yet, Manang Zeny and Becca showed the opposite at the close of the AWID Forum. They told me about writing project proposals, about sharing what they’ve learned with other women, about moving forward. Renewed by their solidarity with other women at AWID, they are ready to create, as Gita Sen exhorted, half the world that they occupy, finally in their image. There is nothing as energising as coming away



with a feeling that somehow one has the power to effect change. These strong women, who’ve proven their mettle in grassroots organising and lobbying with local and national governments, while growing food for their communities and raising families, have strengthened their agency or individual power, which they need in a world that is sometimes blind to their plight. I, too, found to my surprise that the AWID Forum included several sessions on the lot of transgendered women. It was heartening to see space devoted to a transgender like me whose identity, unsettling the popular meaning of womanhood, sometimes relegates me to the background (or to the centre, but as spectacle for amusement) if I don’t raise my voice loud enough (hopefully, not literally). Manang Zeny and Manang Becca and I each face a challenge unique to, but not doomed by our circumstance, class or gender identity. A former professor once said that we may not always be free to fight for our rights, but we are free to hope to be victorious. Hope is power.



AFTERWORD The Next Chapter of Oxfam’s Work in the Philippines Cherian Mathews

Twenty-five years back, Oxfam had a very humble beginning in the Philippines with two or three staff. Over the years, it has grown in its size and influence. I am deeply touched by reading the accounts of many leaders who steered Oxfam’s programme in the Philippines to its current stature. I would like to thank all our team members and partners for their incredible achievements in the past. All along, they passed on the shared values and spirit of Oxfam and these continue to persist. The passion and the commitment come from these values. Fearlessly standing for justice and taking the side of the poor and the marginalised have been a core mantra. I have been engaged with the Oxfam team and partners in the Philippines for the past five years. I learnt a lot and have been inspired by the team in the Philippines. I have seen the programme grow and reposition itself with the changing context of the Philippines. Primarily working through partners, Oxfam in the Philippines delivers innovative programmes on the ground and uses evidence and experience to persuade all concerned actors including government agencies to be accountable in delivering pro-poor policy and practice change. In this journey, it has had its own successes and failures to learn from. Marching forward, it is critical for Oxfam and its partners to reflect on how it can bring about transformational change in the lives of people living in poverty. Over the years, the external context had changed significantly. The government of the



Philippines is said to have lifted millions out of poverty. That it has already moved to the middle income country bracket. In recent months, the Philippine economy had shown definite signs of growing, earning for it the name ‘the next rising tiger of Asia’. In this context, what would be the role of Oxfam in the years to come? Globally, all Oxfam affiliates have come together to deliver a single strategy with a vision to achieve a just world without poverty. I am sure the Philippines programme will follow different elements of the strategy that are appropriate to the context and needs of the country. This plan sets local communities and the voices of women, men and young people at the centre stage. These voices are the best hope for ending discrimination, exclusion and the injustice of poverty. I hope that improving food security, income and resilience through sustainable food systems, advancing gender justice and reducing the impact of natural disasters and climate change will continue to dominate the core of Oxfam’s strategy for the Philippines. Rapid urbanisation and the underlying causes of poverty and vulnerability in urban centres need to be looked into. This is where Oxfam is building its programmatic thinking globally. The Philippines could contribute to this thinking by building on its experience of working in Metro Manila during the post-Typhoon Ondoy response, and I would encourage critical reflection on our past experiences in order for the Philippines programme to develop its specific strategy. Listening to our partners and other development actors on Oxfam‘s added value in the Philippines would be central to this process. In the next phase of programming, the key difference of Oxfam would not be in ‘what would be its strategic focus in the Philippines’, but in how it will deliver its strategy. Compared with other South East Asian nations, the Philippines is endowed with vibrant civil society organisations and better political space. These enable poor



people to exercise their rights and influence decision-making, by engaging with governments and holding governments and business accountable. The challenge would be how Oxfam can bring along various actors in the Philippines, to share its ambitions and act on them. Oxfam has rightly broadened its partners from local people’s organisations and NGOs to think tanks, academics, business, government agencies, media, artists, writers, and the young middle class, to join the movement for change. Building on these partnerships, Oxfam will have to improve and strengthen its roles as convenor, facilitator and catalyst to maximise its impact. The core question would be how we reach scale by working differently with others. In Oxfam’s work across Asia, the programme in the Philippines has been an incubator for innovative programmes. Its national campaigns and research has immensely contributed to Oxfam’s global campaigns. Partners and social movement leaders from the Philippines have been an inspiration to our partners across the region. I take pride in the fact that the Philippines programme is one of the prime movers and shakers of our overall strategy delivery in Asia. I am sure that it will continue to play that role and contribute to Oxfam’s regional and global learning. I wish that this 25 years’ celebration will act as a springboard for Oxfam in the Philippines to rejuvenate and renew its role and effectively contribute to the growing movement for change in the country. Let us together strive for profound and lasting changes in the lives of people living in poverty and injustice.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Oxfam owes a huge debt of gratitude to all the people who worked together and continue to persevere, so that people who have survived in the margins of Philippine society can one day enjoy their rights to live healthy, productive, safe and decent lives, free from discrimination and violence. In the process of writing this book, we discovered that more than 500 volunteers have offered their time and energy to help Oxfam with its work—and this list is incomplete. Even in displaced communities, the spirit of volunteerism was evident. People who were affected by disasters were the first to step forward to become hygiene promoters, WASH (Water, Hygiene and Sanitation) volunteers, evacuation centre leaders. We could not have completed any of our work had it not been for our partners: non-government organisations, people’s organisations from the communities where we worked, local and national government agencies, academic institutions, private companies, technical and scientific groups, faith-based organisations, other international NGOs, artists and celebrities, and media people. We learned much from them and treasure the times shared. When Oxfam started in the Philippines, there were only two staff members. To date, more than 200 people have worked with Oxfam in various capacities. Most are Filipinos, but we have had foreigners amongst our ranks too. On numerous occasions and for many projects, we relied on the support and expertise of consultants—researchers, artists, educators, facilitators, writers, editors, accountants, lawyers, doctors and scientists. In the end, we come back to where we started. A good idea, a just cause, a great need that brings people together. From all of us in Oxfam, thank you.



STAFF Abanil, Ray Aban, Moises Daniel Abarquez, Imelda Abas, Jubaira Abdallah, Fathia Abeabe, Roberto Acuna, Alex Adalid, Elena Adalid, Rosario Adi, Susi Agting, Mama Alba, Alexander Alba, Rahima Albano, Gina Alegado, Joseph Edward Algabre, Sinagtala Alvarez, Marie Corazon Amonoy, Omar Ampillan, Abdullah Angeles, Bernadette Ante, Edmund Arellano, Teddy Arevalo, Gil Francis Asibal, Meriam Asis, Ariel Asmadi Averia, Lourdes Avila, Alma Llanera Ayao, Abie Babao, Jose Reynante Bacaron, Francis Bacatan, Elmira Bacus, Virgilio Bago, Norsalam Baikong, Mamid Bales, Isabel Balla, Analisa Bangayan, Danilo Bans, Jun Aguinaldo Bacus, Virgilio Bayas, Jermaine Baltazar 302

Bellaubi, Francesc Bhattarai, Keddar Beltran, Orland Danis Bernabe, Maria Dolores Biano, Jerome Bisual, Hernales Blackwell, Heather Bolo, Rodilyn Brennan, Paula Brugge, Marc Ter Buendicho, Girlie Bulawan, Mila Bullecer, Cyra Mae Caballero, Amy Caballero, Ricardo Cagay, Fred Cagay, Maria Felizar Caingcoy, Nicolasa Cainglet, Abigail Calido, Nasrullah Caluyo, Salvador Camino, Lorena Campiao, Sarah Sitti Campiao, Yasser Capistrano, Melgabal Carreon, Lilian Casiple, Fatima Caspe, Ana Maria Catiwalaan, Felix Catre, Jessan Catubig, Jaime Cedeno, Teresita Cerdena, Kareen Marie Cinco, Delia Conol, Helen Grace Constantino, Kalayaan Cruz, Michael Cu, Henerisa Cueto, Jeffrey Dagot, Rudy Dalabajan, Dante


Darang, Jenie Darantinao, Maryola Ada Dasalla, Anthony Datuin, Enrico Datumanong, Aries Amirhussein Davies, Barry Davies, Neneng De Dios, Honorio De Ferrari, Francesca De Leon, Irene Dela Cruz, Lenore Dela Fuente, Kristine Marie Delez, Jessica Del Rosario, Paul Desembrana, Armando Dimayuga, Roy Dinas, Salave Dionson, John Mark Dizon, Arnold Du, Oscar Ebrahim, Aina Eril, Jemail Escat, Alma Escat, Zandro Esconde, Araceli Espiritu, Marina Eugenio, Marilou Evangelista, Ruby Felizco, Maria Rosario “Lot� Fetsi, Theodora Flores, Darwin Flores, Desiree Francisco, Patricia Marissa Fuentesfina, Dinah Gabronino, Aleta Galvez, Danilo Galvez, Denise Danielle Garcia, Leonila Garcia, Lili Garcia, Robert Francis Gealone, Alexander

Gebeyehu, Mohammed Gesulga, Polly Gibbs, Ken Gorgonio, Remedios Ting Guanzon, Rolando Gumarot, Emma Haider, Zulficar Ali Hakizumungo, Medard Hakobyan, Margarita Hapay, Daisy Hasan, Umair Hatta, Yasmin Hernandez, Maria Lea Hibrada, Mary Ann Hilario, Maria Golda Meir Horfilla, Vicky Ievers, John Inocian, Jeremy Ippadi, Parthasarathy Isahac, Jodl Jealous, Virginia Bean, Jean Jirajariyavech, Hatairat Jones, Brian Bradley Jones, Bryan Jontong, Florence Jontong, Marcial Jordan, Ella Joseph, Vatsala Joson, Sharon Jover, Narciso Jr Junio, Elsie Kagaba, Saidi Kamensa, Myron Khalid, Iftikar Kusain, Kaharudin Lacsamana, Marlon Lacuarin, Levi Lagdameo, Donna Mitzi Lamond, Elizabeth Lasap, Lourdes

Laurence, Hamai Laurinaria, Ma Rachel Le Maire, Arnaud Lefebre, Catherine Lestari, Yani Lewin, Valerie Libongcogon, Hazel Librella, Yehlen Light, Claire Lim, Annabelle Lincod, Rodolfo Llanes, Michael Angelo Lopez, Bulganen Lora, Lorenzo Lucero, Ma Nena Lumayag, Paul Ryan Lumain, Vanessa Luz, Gabriela Ma Ines Maboloc, Glenn Macgracia, Cherrylyne Maerten, Bert Magalang, Lyra Magalona, Eduardo Magat, Jill Magdayo, Esther Bose Maglinte, Samuel Magno, Ana Liza Mahinay, Arlene Mala, Lailah Malasador, Vincent Malayao, Reynaldo Mamid, Baikong Mandigma, Jacquiline Maneenak, Wanwisa Mangaya, May Manigo, Jud Manlutac, Janice Ian Manzano, Luz Antonnette Marcelino, Bong Marjolino, Babylyn Martinez, Leni

Marzo, Maria Rosario Balinas Masoy, Nicolas Mathieson, Alex Matibag, Ma. Theresa Matriano, Josephine Mayanti, Lia McHattie, Sarah Medina, Marilyn Mehta, Manish Mendoza, Edward Anthony Mendoza, Jose Angelo Marcado, Jesus Jr Mercado, Norly Grace Wilhelmine Merjilla, Michael Migotto, Mauro Militante, Demosthenes Miranda, Alexander Monib, Samera Montaner, Hanalyn Montevilla, Lilian Morallas, Wilhelmina Murilla, Aeron Gregory Nabatanzi, Rosemary Nagino, Kosuke Nalugon, Leo Naraga, Evelyn Nate, Miah Nesola, Nora Nogales, Ernesto Nunez, Marie Grace Nunez, Peter Oclarit, Fraulein Olleres, Jose Arnel Omar, Laila Ong, Rena Opena, Jocelyn Padul, Ma. Venus Pagatpatan, Maylyn Paguio, Elizabeth Pailan, Rogelio Palasi, Kristina Palma, Maria Pamela

Palmar, William Palunday, Claire Parmar, William Parry, Simon Pascual, Carlyn Patadon, Mending Paypa, Regina Pedrola, Noel Penarubia, Soledad Penilla, Norbi Perez, Francis Perez, Kristine Pineda, Remedios Ploquint, Laurence Podlesak, Johanna Polmano, Letty Prabhu, Aloysius Prodhan, Juliette Prohibido, Rodel Pulua, Amor Pura, Maria Alexandra Purcia, Benito II Purpura, Jojit Dhindo Rafali, Susana Ramiro, Felipe Jr Ramos, Chona Leah Ramos, Michael Paolo Reballos, Lealou Reilly, Lisa Rendaje, Edna Rendaje, Gilbert Revilla, Renerio Reyes, Alma Reyes, Judith Rhonda, Marly Rodel, Apolinario Rodriguez, Joel Ronatay, Nery Molina, Rudy Salazar, Elias Salbibia, Wella Samayatin, Baina

Santoalla, Edgardo Santoalla, Mary Ann Santos, Aimee Santos, Rosita Sanyatwe, Darias Saratan, Armida Sarenas, Lyca Therese Sasuman, Luis Serrano, Ma Petal Sia, Edilberto Sichon, Rosalind Sidhu, Baljit Sigua, Telesforo Jr. Parry, Simon Sinarimbo, Norhaina Solleza, Mirriam Soneji, Snehal Soriano, Edna Strickland, Charles Surman, Clive Swing, Reden Tablizo, Marlene Tadeo, Efren Talaguit, Edith Tamayo, Allan Ritche Tanyang, Gaynor Taufan, Deri Taulani, Absar Taulani, Sapia Tchatchua, Levan Theron, Luc Tolani, Foyeke Travassac, Fanny Tumampad, Datukon Ugalingan, Kadil Unsi, Addie Ureta, Reynaldo Urgel, Maria Aurora Velasco, Mayumi Vergara, Jose Miguel Villanueva, Jocelyn Vispo, Ben Patrick -Home-

Vitan, Shalimar Wahalon, Omar Bansuan Walton, Anna Wenceslao, Antonio Yap, Nayco Yap, Roque Zafra, Carmelita Zulfiquar, Alihaider Zahir, Amir


PARTNERS LGUs North Cotabato Province Aleosan Carmen Kabakan Matalam Midsayap Pigkawayan Pikit Tulunan 8 Maguindanao Province Buluan General SK Pendatun Datu Saudi Ampatuan 10 Datu Paglas Datu Piang Pagalungan Paglat Kalamansig Lebak Mamasapano Montawal Nuro Upi Talayan Sultan Kudarat Province Colombio Lambayong 2 PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS A Single Drop for Safe Water, Inc. ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. ACF Action for Economic reform (AER) Action for Economic Reforms on behalf of Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) ADDC KAMP



Agency for Community Educational Services Foundation (ACES) Agri-Aqua Development Coalition-Mindanao (AADC) Agro-Aquatic Services Association Inc. (AASAI) AGTALON AKAP Al Fatihah Al Mujadilah Development Foundation, Inc. (AMDF) ALAGAD Mindanao ALEE Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation, Inc. Alternate Forum Research Mindanao (AFRIM) Alternative Mangyan Programme for Development (AMPOD) Ancestral Domain Defence Campaign (ADDC) Antaean Earth Scientists, Inc. Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASLPC) Apu Pulamguwan Cultural Education Center ASDSW Asia Fair Trade Forum Asia Pacific Network on Food Sovereignty Asian Muslim Action Network in the Philippines Asian NGO Coalition (ANGOC) Asian Social Institute (ASI) Asosasyon ng Magtitina sa Tatalon (AMT) Association of Integral Development (AID) Ateneo de Manila University, School of Government - Affiliated Network for Socia Ateneo Workers College Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo Bahay Kakayahan BALAY Rehabilitation Center, Inc Bangkilas ng Lakas-Mangingisda sa Bulacan Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum (BWSF) Barangay Anunas Multi-Purpose Cooperative Bicol University Bigkis Lakas BIMP-EAGA Working Group BONAPAL Handicraft Producers Association Bread for Emergency Assistance and Development Budyong-Pinagbuklod na Lakas ng Kababaihan sa Pangisdaan (Budyong) Buklod Center Bukluran para sa Kalusugan ng Sambayanan (BUKAS) Buluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino Women’s Committee

Catholic Institute for International relations (CIIR) Caucus of Development NGO Networks Caucus of Development NGOs Networks (CODE-NGO) CBHS-Mindanao Center for Community Services Center for Disaster Preparedness Center for Empowerment and Resource Development, Inc. (CERD) Center for People’s Law (CPL) Center for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technology Center for Women’s Resource (CWR) Central Luzon Ayta Association (CLAA) Central Luzon Center for Emergency Aid and Rehabilitation (CONCERN) Centre for Empowerment and Resource Development Centro Saka Inc. Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) Civil Society Network for Education Reforms Coalition for Peace (CFP) Coalition for the Services of the Elderly (COSE) Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) Community Based Natural Resources Management Learning Center Inc. Community Crafts Association of the Philippines (CCAP) Community Extension and Research for Development (CERD) Community Medicine Foundation (COMMED) Community of Learners Foundation (COLF) Community Organisers Multiversity (COM) – Mindanao COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION OF THE PHILIPPINES ENTERPRISE FOUNDATION, INC. Community Organizing-Multiversity Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Socities (CBCS) CONSPECTUS Foundation Inc. Consumer Information Center (CIC) Contreras and Associates Cordillera Development Plan Consortium (CDPC) Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services Inc. Cordillera Women’s Education and Resource Center (CWERC) Corporate Network for Disaster Response (CNDR) Council for People’s Development (CPD) Council for Primary Health Care (CPHC) CRC Center CRC-Baguio Cordillera Resource Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Dakila Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism Danao Bay Resource Management Organization Davao Provinces for Rural Development Institute, Inc.

Developers Foundation Inc. Development Agency of tribes in the Cordillera (DATC) Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) Development Education Media Services (DEMS) Development Legal Assistance Center (DLAC) Diocese of Cotabato Docese of Kidapawan Tribal Filipino Programme (DKTFP) DRRNet Philippines Ecumenical Commission for Displaced Families and Communities (ESDFC) Education for Life Foundation Education Network Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) Environmental Science for Social Change Episcopal Church Ethnic Studies and Development Center (ESDEC) Fair Trade Alliance Fair Trade Foundation-Panay (FTF-P) Farmers Assistance Board (FAB) Federation of Barangay Disaster Management Organisations Federation of Small Fishermen in Negros (FESFIN) Fisherfolk Resource and Development Center (FRDC) Foundation for the Care of Creation (FCCI) Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Gabay ng Bagong Pag-asasa NAPO (NAPO) GABRIELA GAP Hunger Gawsnong Pagbalay GKK Kidapawan Foundation Go Organic Mindanao (GOM) Green Forum Green Renewable Independent Power Producer, Inc. Greenpeace Harrison Communications, Inc. Health Action Information Network (HAIN) Holy Island Craft Producer Cooperative Humanitarian Alliance Against Disasters (HALAD) Ibon Databank Immaculate Concepcion Parish Initiatives for Development and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services Institute for Human Rights (UP-IHR)



PARTNERS Institute for Politics and Governance (IPG) Institute for Social Studies and Action (ISSA) Institute of Philippine Culture Institute of Social Work and Community Development (ISWID-OCEE) Integrated Conservation Solutions Asia, Co. Ltd (ICS-Asia) Integrated Conservation Solutions Asia, Co. Ltd. Interface Development Interventions - Go-Organic Mindanao Inter-faith Programme for Health Concerns Intergrated Rural Development Foundation International Women and Health Meeting IPHO Ipil Prelature Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development Kababaihan sa Kilusang Mangingisda (KKM)/Kilusang Mangingisda (KM) Kabakas Alang sa Banikanhong Kaugmaran sa Habagatan-Sidlakang Mindanao, Inc. Kabalikat ng Pamilyang Pilipino Kadtuntaya Foundation, Inc. (KFI) Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN, Inc. Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) Kaliwat Theatre Collective, Inc. Kamandiman New Cordillera Inc. KAMAS Kambayabaya KANLUNGAN Kappag Consortium, Inc. Kasanyangan Rural Development Foundation, Inc. (KRDFI) Katipunan ng Kababaihan para sa Bayan (KALAYAAN) Katipunan ng mga Bagong Pilipina (KABAPA) Katitingban sang Mangingisdang Kananaehan (KASAMA KA) Katutubong Lilak Kids for Peace 11 Kilusang Mangingisda Kooperatibang Likas ng Nueva Ecija Kutawato Council for Justice and Peace Kutawato Council for Justice and Peace Labour Service Center (LSC) LABRADOR Laguna PDRRMO



Lakas Mangingisda sa Butuan (LAMBAT) Lanao Agro-Fisheries center for cooperation and development (LAFCCOD) Lanao Aquatic and Marine Fisheries Centre for Community Development LANGKUMAN Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, Inc. - Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KSK) Leyte Center for Development Education (LCDE) Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, Inc. Linangan ng Kababaihan Lumad Development Center (LDC) Lumad Mindanao Lumah Ma Dilaut Center for Living Traditions, Inc. Maguindanao Development Foundation, Inc. (MDFI) MAKAMASA Manila Observatory Manila Peoples’ Forun on the APEC MASAI Mauraro Handicraft Producers Association (MAHAPA) Medical Action Group Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) Mindanao Central Sanitarium Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) Mindanao Development Center (MDC) MINDANAO MIGRANTS CENTER FOR EMPOWERING ACTIONS, INC. (MMCEAI) Mindanao Migrants’ Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. (MMCEAI) Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) Mindanao State University (MSU) Mindanao Sulu Pastoral Conference Secretariat (MCPCS) Mindanao Tulong Bakwit (MTB) Mining Community Development Center MINTREC Montanosa Relief Services Moro Human Rights Center MORONG VOLUNTEERS EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM Mountain Province Sustainable Development Body (MPSDB) Mt. Province Savings and Credit Association National Consultative Assembly for Fisherfolk Empowerment (NCAFE) National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) Nationwide Coalition of Fisherfolks for Aquatic Reform (NACFAR) NGO Forum on the Asian Development Bank NGO’s for Fisheries Reform Nisa Ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro Notre Dame College of Dadiangas

Notre Dame Jolo College Notre dame Jolo Community Extension Service Notre Dame of Kidapawan Notre Dame University Community Extension Services Notre Dame University in Cotabato Notre Dame University in Marbel Notre Dame University Social Action Center in Cotabato Nueva Ecija Health Programme Consortium OCD ARRM Office of Civil Defense Olongapo City AIDS Foundation (OCAF) OMI Inter Religious Dialogue –Pikit Organization for Training, Research and Development (OTRADEV) Paglilingkod Batas Pangkapatiran Foundation (PBPF) PAMALAKAYA Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) PAMBANSANG KILUSAN NG MGA SAMAHANG MAGSASAKA, INC. Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) PAMBANSANG KONGRESO NG KABABAIHAN SA KANAYUNAN INC. Pampanga Disaster Response Network (PDRN) Panagtagbo-Mindanao Indigenous People’s Consultative Council, Inc. Panay Fair Trade Center Panay Rural Development Center, Inc. Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development Services,Inc. Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies People’s Coalition for ARMM Reform and Transformation (People’s CART) People’s Campaign for Agrarian Reform Network, Inc. People’s Movement for Empowerment and Development Peoples’ Disaster Rehabilitation Network Philippine Agency for Community and Family (PACAF) Philippine Commission on Women Philippine Fair Trade Forum Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) Philippine Network of Rural Development Institutes, Inc. Philippine Network on Climate Change Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA) Philippine Rural Health Development Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) Philippine Support Group Philippne Resource Center Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Magulang

Pinatubo Camp Support Programme (PCSP) PINSEL Pipuli Foundation Inc. Popular Education for People’s Empowerment, Inc. PREDA Alternative Industries Project Luke Purpose Driven East Asia Inc. Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council IV A Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) Rizal PDRRMO Rural Development Institute of Sultan Kudarat (RDISK) Rural Development Institute -Sultan Kudarat Province Sagada Dap-Ay Federation Salaama Development Center Salvation Army Samahan ng Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (SELDA) Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Calatagan (SAMMACA) Samahang Kristyanong Komunidad (TOMAN-SKK) Samdhana Institute, Inc Self-Help Initiaves for Empowerment and Leadership Development (SHIELD) Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN) Sentro para sa Ganap na Pamayanan Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya, Inc. (SIKAT) Sentrong Lingap Panligal Sexually Abused Women’s Collective (SAW) SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development SIBAT Sigasig Fishermen’s Organization Sikhay Kilos Development Association Sildap Sidlakan Social Action Center - Cotabato Social Action Center - Legaspi Social Action Foundation for Rural and Urban Development, Inc. Social Action Foundation for Rural Development, Inc. (SAFRUDI) Social Watch Philippines Foundation, Inc. South Cotabato Foundation Southeast Asia Regional Institute to Community Empowerment Southern Partners and Fair Trade Corp. (SPFTC) St. Anne’s Family Service Cooperative (SAFSCO) 307 -Home-


St. Joseph’s Family Center Stop the New Round Coalition Surigao Economic Development Foundation, Inc Sustainable Integrated Area Development in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development, Inc. (SIMCARRD) Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. Talikala Tambuyog Development Center Tarlac Disaster Response Network (TDRN) Task Force Detainees (TFD) Teatrong Balen Trade Advocacy Group Transtional Institute Inc. (TNI) Tri People Against Disasters (TRIPOD) Tribal Filipino programme for Community Development (TFPCDI) Tunay na Alyansa ng Bayan Alay sa Katutubo (TABAK) United Craftworkers Cooperative, Inc. (UCCI) United Youth of the Philippines - Women (UnyPhil-Women) University of the Philippines - National Institute of Geological Sciences Visayas Fishermen’s Development Center Volunteers for Development in Philippine Society Foundation, Inc. Volunteers for Urban Renewal, Inc. Volunteers in Scientific and technical assistance (VISTA) Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) Women and Work Resource Center, Inc Women’ Resource and Research Center (WRRC) Women’s Development and Technology Institute (WDTI) Women’s Health Women’s Inter-Services Center for Development (WISE) Women’s Studies and Resource Center (WSRC) Zambales Disaster Response Network




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Oxfam@25 E-Book: Celebrate Change  

Oxfam in the Philippines' E-Book, a special commemorative collection of stories from various former and present Oxfam staff and partners on...

Oxfam@25 E-Book: Celebrate Change  

Oxfam in the Philippines' E-Book, a special commemorative collection of stories from various former and present Oxfam staff and partners on...

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