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Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
(KA)BAYANIHAN NG ALUMNI – PATULOY NA IPINAPAGBUBUNYI SA 2012
Alumni General Assembly Closes CSWCD College Week
by Justin V. Nicolas
The regular General Assembly of the CSWCD Alumni Association last February 25, 2012 coincided with both the closing of the College week and the celebration of the EDSA I People Power Revolution. The General Assembly which was humbly attended by almost 50 alumni members (excluding the full force Admin and Library Staff of the CSWCD headed by Admin Officer Jane Demegillo and REDO support Leah Angeles and Celes Vallejos) but was considered by Alumni Vice President Rey Coloma as one of the merriest if not the happiest GA he has ever attended.
The session was opened by Dean Rosalinda Ofreneo where she linked the GA’s theme “Ipagbunyi and (Ka)Bayanihan ng CSWCD Alumni” to the general theme of the College Week Celebration – [KA]Bayanihan. The theme was anchored on the events and festivities surrounding the bi-centennial celebration of Tandang Sora’s birth but emphasized moe on the untold heroic stories of the alumni in various venues of practice. Alumni President Maria Ines Bagadion reported the achievements of the Alumni Association in the past year where she explained the strength and limitations of the present Alumni Board. She also explained that the objective of the GA was to generate ideas for the 45th Alumni Homecoming in August 25, 2012. Alumni Treasurer Florence Pasos also reported the financial status of the Association. A special dance was delivered by Fe’s Studio led by library staff Fe Ticzon where Dean Inday and Admin Officer Jane also performed. One of the main attractions of the event was the short message delivered by 2012 Jubilarian and former DSWD Secretary Corazon Alma De Leon. She challenged the present Alumni to continue giving back their talents and services to college.
The main event of the General Assembly was the Batch Caucuses facilitated by the Alumni Board Officers (Ines Bagadion, Che Dominguez, Rey Coloma, Shiot Pascual, Exxon Susmerano) and coordinated by Board Secretary Justin Nicolas. While sharing in the discussions, the attendees were given a treat of the street foods they used to eat when they were students. There were fishballs, taho (bean curd), “dirty” ice cream, toron, karaoka, nilagang mani and Sago’t gulaman. This concept made the caucus session very enjoyable according to some of the younger attendees.
The Dugtungan concept of sharing stories was cut short because of the funny reports and sharing of anecdotes by the Batch Caucus representatives. Some of the suggestions that were mentioned were to hold a Fun Run for the August Homecoming, have a build-up of event s leading to the actual Homecoming program and to tap the different UP Alumni Chapters around the world and locate CSWCD Alumni members who are abroad. The 2000 and younger batches promised to support the logistics for the homecoming. The session was concluded by the remarks of Rey Coloma and followed by a very lively community dancing and community singing activity. The master of ceremonies was Alumni PRO Maria Teresa “Angel” Tatlonghari Mateo and the head of registration was Board member Lisa Rosel.///jflvn
Pictures by alumna Celes Vallejos -- Follow this link
Pictures by alumna Celes Vallejos -- Follow this link
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
My Life Journey
Fleur de Lys Castelo-Cupino
I am a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.
I am a social development worker, an educator,
an environmentalist, a woman advocate,
My earliest memory is happily living with in extended family that included my maternal grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins in a compound in Quezon City. Churchgoing and Sunday school in a Methodist Church were part of our family traditions. Despite being a Methodist, my mother enrolled me in Catholic elementary schools. The differences in Methodist and Catholic practices and beliefs confused me a bit. But the good outcome is that I learned to respect and be tolerant of the beliefs of others.
When I was in Grade 4, I encountered an intellectual and spiritual question that haunted me for many years. I saw the contradiction in the religious belief that God loved all of humanity and yet, only those who believe in God can go to heaven. I wondered what would happen to the millions of non-Christians? How can God show them love if they could not go to heaven?
In early schooling, I also experienced how a foreign nun would humiliate a Filipino nun, or how a teacher would humiliate a student who failed to do an assignment. These experiences made me aware that religious institutions are built by people and as such, may be fraught with human failings here and there. I also learned to be critical of authority. I learned to look at people and events and weigh them in accordance with values taught in family and Church.
In general, however, learning and school always fascinated me. I enjoyed the intellectual challenges. In my upper years in elementary school, I read in the newspaper’s headline something about martial law. I went to social studies class and asked what martial law meant but my teacher was clueless. So I learned to be resourceful and seek knowledge outside of the confines of classroom.
I lived in an upper middle class neighborhood. I played with neighbors under the moonlight and climbed trees with them. We spent many summers together. But just a turn away is a block of homes of “squatter” families. The socio-economic difference among the families in the neighborhood did not escape me. I also became aware of the socio-economic divide because my father, a local politician, would regularly bring me to poor communities during fiestas or meetings or as part of his minding us for the day, and I just knew and felt that they were quite “apart” from the social world I grow up in.
Actually, it was my father also who allowed me to live more closely with the economically disadvantaged. He enrolled me in a public school. It was a political move on his part but I accepted this as a challenge. The difference between my socio-economic status and that of my classmates and schoolmates was apparent because I was the only student who went to school in a car. I was a shy and quiet student but I knew that I had to survive four years in this new school with classmates from a culture different from mine. I tried to overcome my shyness and in a certain way, I became one of them, having developed close friendships along the way.
As I started high school in 1971, student activism and the renewed movement for nationalism and democracy was at its peak. The next year, martial law was imposed. But I was protected from the social unrest and I was ignorant of the harshness of Marcos rule. Perhaps this was because my sources of information were the newspapers and TV which were controlled by government after martial law, and my parents who were government officials and pro-Marcos. Even in school, the discussions on martial law were not critical of the regime perhaps because it was a public school which had to toe the official line. So I was exposed more on the gloss than on the flaws of Marcos rule.
Even when I went on to study in UP for my college degree, the atrocities of martial law did not dawn on me immediately! I saw student activists protesting against high tuition fees and against martial law but I was afraid of their unruly nature. So I just turned my face away and focused on my mission to get a degree.
Actually, I was somewhat lost in the big university. I applied and was accepted to the BS Psychology program because I wanted to understand people but my mother discouraged me. So I shifted to Statistics but found no meaning in cold numbers. I really wanted to work with people, so I shifted again to Community Development but eventually graduated from the course, Social Work in the College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD).
I sought spiritual bearings to help me through university life. The UP Student Catholic Action (UPSCA) welcomed me and I was able to build deep friendships and find a second home in the organization. UPSCA gave me an opportunity to integrate among the rural poor, in a Dumagat community in Antipolo. Together with a team of seven, I lived there one semestral break and one week in the summer. The next year I also integrated in a church-based urban poor program in Punta, Sta. Ana, Manila.
My UPSCA journey took a more political turn when we had a group discussion with the mother of Fr. Edicio dela Torre, a rebel priest imprisoned during that period. I also came into direct contact with police brutality when we organized a night with community leaders from the rural communities where UPSCAns integrated during school breaks. We informed the UP Police about this activity but in return, the police raided our “tambayan” and arrested some students and community leaders. It was only then that I came face-to-face with the harshness of martial law.
UPSCA and my studies in the CSWCD, that included two semesters of field exposure in rural or urban poor communities, politicized me. My spirituality took a political and social dimension. My religiosity assumed a concrete expression. UP and in particular, the CSWCD, introduced me to the intellectual discussions on politics and society while UPSCA introduced me to the theology of liberation, to a living Church that addresses the needs of the poor.
From Social Development to Revolutionary Road
I graduated from college in 1979. Martial law was still at its height, approaching its seventh year. But people were no longer afraid or quiet. The eerie silence that immediately followed the declaration of martial law when leaders of organizations, activists, media people, and Marcos’ political opposition were arrested en masse was broken by the strike of La Tondeńa workers in Tondo, Manila in October 1975, defying the strike ban imposed by martial law. By 1979, students, workers and other sectors of society boldly held protests, rallies and strikes calling for an end to the atrocities and dictatorial policies of martial law.
In the backdrop of this people’s movement, I went out to embrace the world, turning down a scholarship in MA in Development Economics in UP’s College of Economics. I co-founded with six other colleagues from the CSWCD the Organization for Training, Research and Development Foundation, Inc. (OTRADEV). Our first project was with the Mangyans of Mindoro. Flora Lansang was our mentor. In the mountains of Mindoro, we had to face the military who suspected that we were fronting for the New People’s Army (NPA). In fact, we were not (at that time). So, we earned the ire of the military but at the same time, the radicals did not look well on our work because we “did not effect real change and simply propped up the existing unjust system”.
After four years of building OTRADEV, working in Mindoro and later among the fisherfolks of Laguna de Bay, and amidst the growing social discontent and street actions, questions formed in my mind. The change we were effecting in OTRADEV was too slow. I asked myself if community organizing was the real answer to empower the people. I considered the radicals’ belief that without structural political and economic change, the lives of the majority will remain the same – impoverished, exploited and oppressed. During the same time, a friend’s brother who was an NPA was killed in battle. This made me take another look at the radicals – who are these people and what are they fighting for? The “radicals” no longer are strangers shouting in the streets or people who looked down on us as reformists but assumed a human face, upper middle class, like me. I thought deep and hard: what made him offer his life to a cause?
It was then that I engaged in dialogue with people from the revolutionary movement and after half a year of discussions, I was convinced that the movement was the correct path to change the status quo. I left OTRADEV to work with labor unions in Marikina. I was 25 years old when I joined the movement, where I spent the next 17 years my life. My involvement was well thought of, not a spur-of-the-moment decision of a young idealist. Just a month or so after I joined the movement, Ninoy Aquino was killed and there was no turning back for me. During those years, I was able to work with the trade unions, the urban poor, the department store workers, and the jeepney drivers. I joined rallies, endless meetings, marches, and study sessions. I remember rallies being tear-gassed, rained with bullets, dispersed violently. I moved from one house to another to avoid arrest and keep safe.
I learned a lot from the movement. The experience made me more sensitive to social issues; it made me more in touch with social realities. It made me feel good in the sense that I was doing something to change the lot of people. I did not simply stand by and live my own life. It gave me a sense of fulfillment. I met highly committed people. I also remember tender moments - sharing meals, protecting each other, singing and celebrating together.
It is in the movement were I met my husband, Bernie. He was a student leader who stopped studying to join the movement full-time. He lost one brother and one sister to the struggle for change. We are blessed with two children. Raising children while in the movement was a big challenge. I wanted to give them my all as a mother but I also wanted to give the same to the movement. I wanted to be a very good mother and a very good activist. After all, I was fighting for change so that my own children would benefit too. But finding a balance was so difficult, especially with the security situation. The leaders were often saying we had to sacrifice our personal happiness for the greater good of the Filipino people. I tried to embrace that idealism.
In 2000, I attended an international meeting of community leaders. There I saw a number of creative initiatives being done by other groups and individuals from different countries. I realized that revolution is not the only option. There are many other programs being implemented that can truly help the people.
With that realization, together with my dilemma in raising my children, and the toll on my health, I left the movement soon after.
The Journey Continues
By the time I left the revolutionary movement, the century has turned. It was the start of 2001. Social, economic and political problems still persisted. People were still mired in poverty and President Erap Estrada was being ousted from power. It was the age of globalization and information technology.
I involved myself in activities that would still define myself as a social development worker and give relevance to my life vocation while allowing me to attend to the important responsibilities of being a mother and my own person.
I took up my MA in Women and Development in the CSWCD and completed my course in 2006. I felt at home in the same college where I completed by undergraduate course in Social Work. I also enjoyed my studies that helped me reclaim and be proud of my being a woman. My thesis was on the lifestories of women revolutionaries during the First Quarter Storm.
I was involved in the promotion of the Charter of Human Responsibilities (CHR) in 2001. Our group believes that beyond claiming rights, people should also exercise responsibilities. Our team implements local programs involving the youth to promote the concept and practice of responsibility. My involvement in this group allowed me to travel to other countries to attend meetings and conferences; definitely widening my horizon.
On a fulltime basis, though, I worked in a foundation that provided free email to remote rural communities in 2002. However, I left after two years because it seemed that the farmers were not ready for internet yet.
It was during this time that I got involved in setting up a high school that started as an extension school of St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City. It was where my son completed his high school. After two years, we repositioned the school to serve the lower middle class - children who would otherwise have gone to the public school were it not for an affordable tuition fee. I was a member of the Board of Trustees and Executive Director in the founding years. Today, I head one of the schools, the one located in San Mateo, Rizal. In 2008, I decided to take up a PhD in Educational Psychology so I can be more attuned to the needs of the school in the larger context of social development.
Education can be a window to initiate my community and social advocacies.
As I journey on, I look back every now and then at how I have transformed as a person and as a woman. I am happy with the many paths I have chosen and I learned a lot along the way. I may have stumbled a number of times but the experiences became sources of personal and spiritual growth for me. Today, I feel I still have a lot to do and to know. I still have a lot of questions I want answered and some dreams that may or may not come true in my lifetime. Life and struggle, joy and pain continue. My life journey goes on as a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a colleague, a social development worker, a student of life.
February 8, 2012
By: Paolo Pagaduan
A friend of mine once told me,“Kahit gaano kaganda ang iyong hardin, siguradong may damo pa rin” (no matter how beautiful your garden is, for sure there will still be weeds).
Weeds or damo in Filipino, are often belittled as a nuisance – the bane of rice paddies and manicured gardens. In his popular book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum once argued that dandelions, a common weed, are actually flowers. To call something a weed means that they have to be undesirable in that specific area. If you have weeds in your garden and you want them there, then they are not weeds. Highly adaptable, weeds like grass can be found anywhere. They can be found even in places where some experts claimed they would not grow like the lahar fields of Pampanga.
They also have their own beauty, their own role. I didn’t know it then. But now, it dawns upon me that in our field of work, we have to be like damo ourselves.
I came to CD in 1995. The college then was generally viewed as a last resort in UP - minimal grade average requirement, tons of electives that can be accredited, professors you call by first name, no attendance sheets. Math 1? Slackers’ heaven.
It was a time when you had classes with 15 enrolled students: 12 actively attending classes, and three delinquents (including me). CSWCD was then a small building behind the UP Chapel complete with its own cooperative store, a rather simple building much like the lifestyles of the people there at the time. Very quiet, and sometimes boring, isolated from the bustling multi-storey buildings of other colleges in UP. Though, we did have that mango tree, endearingly referred to as UTMT or ‘under-the-mango-tree’ nearby the old building.
I came to CD as a shiftee from a college where I thought would lead me to what I wanted to do in life - be a doctor, like my mother, and help people. I thought I liked it there until we had a discussion about Kapwa, or togetherness, which is the core construct of Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino Psychology). We talked about going from being Ibang Tao (other people) to Hindi Ibang Tao (not other people). This process goes through several levels beginning with pakikitungo (civility) all the way to pakikipagkaisa (being one with others). In connection with research, our professor then, who is also a good family friend of ours, stressed that in order to be objective, we must not reach the level where we would be too attached to the people we were “researching.” She said that we should not reach the level of pakikipagkaisa. I remember having a rather long debate about this idea, that eventually got me thinking about my chosen field. How can we help people without being one with them?
Admittedly, I was no model student then. In fact, I already found my way to being a non-deg (non-degree student). Coming from a science-based curriculum high school, I was overconfident. I thought I already knew trigonometry, calculus, and the other hard sciences. We studied them for four years in high school. I was brash, bored but full of passion and idealism. It came oblivious to me, that knowing was not enough.
After one semester, I found myself no longer welcome there.
I spent a couple of semesters bouncing around classes as a non-deg before I had a talk with my aunt, Professor Maureen Pagaduan, about the college where she teaches – a college I did not even know existed in UP. My friends told me that CSWCD was the last resort. Last chance. In fact, I even signed a paper saying it really was my last chance in UP. Little did I know that it was there where I would find my true calling.
Like the sun where all life starts, I started living my new life when I entered the College.
My first CD subject was CD 11 under Ka Lito Manalili. I was thoroughly impressed with his own version of power point presentation (on Manila paper) and the way he delivers his lectures - full of energy and conviction. It didn’t hurt that there were also cute students from the College of Home Economics in the class, either.
Another class I took in the same semester was CD 100. Who could forget CD 100 - Philippine Realities? Professor Aleli Bawagan said in our first class after our first field exposure, “Kung nakita mo na, kaya mo pa bang magbulag-bulagan at magpanggap na hindi mo nakita?” (Once you’ve seen it, can you still act blind and pretend you did not see it?). Once you see the realities in the countryside – in our factories or in our streets – can we really pretend not to have seen it?
CD 100, as well as my other classes in CD sent me and my classmates to several places outside Metro Manila. At first, I was excited with the prospect of going out of town. A sort of vacation. I went to Mindoro to meet the Mangyans; to Tiaong, Quezon and met with a community who somewhat respects and sometimes even support what the New People’s Army were fighting for; Botolan, Zambales with the Aetas where I first heard about corrupt NGOs.
When you talk with the people you meet, you start getting a sense of what these “exposure trips” were exposing us to. I was born and raised in Metro Manila. I believed then, that what happens in Manila is the true Philippines situation. Once you go out of the metropolis, however, you realize that this Manila does not really represent the entire country after all. I started to see that a lot of people really needed help and being an Iskolar ng Bayan (scholar of the people) we were actually obligated to give back to the people who helped pay for our college tuition. And even if they didn’t, we are still obligated, being Filipinos, to serve our country. Like what Bill Gates said in his graduation speech at Harvard University years ago, we have the skills and sometimes resources to help those more unfortunate than us. What good will our brains be if we only use it for our own personal gain.
Then I finally enrolled in the crowning jewel of the BSCD curriculum – CD 180 and 181, Fieldwork.
All the field exposures were nothing compared to my one year stay in Anda, Pangasinan and another six years working for the College’s project there. Partnering with the fisherfolk of the island town in conserving their resources for sustainability – none of the previous weekends of field exposures could really compare to what I experienced then. I was so enthralled with Anda and the project that I decided to stay there a couple of more years. First as a volunteer, then as full-time staff.
The Anda Community-Based Coastal Resources Management (CBCRM) Program was, for me, unique among the other fieldwork assignments of our time. Being a project of the CSWCD, what we did in Anda was a direct application of what we were taught in college about community development. Unlike other areas where the fieldwork students were often seen as mere implementors of ready-made projects (straight from the mouths of the fieldwork students assigned there at the time) with little participation other than legwork. I thought that some of the other fieldwork sites were not really in line with the principles taught in college to begin with. In Anda, everyone had a say in the program direction and plans. There, we could get a chance to participate in the whole program life – from problem and needs identification, to development of project proposals to implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project – practically applying all the CD subjects in my one year stay as a student. The Anda project may not have been perfect, but it was perfect for me.
In hindsight, I realized that it was not only the commitment to work with the people and to serve the people that gave me the conviction to continue what I do. What really helped me stay the course were the people I have worked with, especially to my host families who have accepted me into their families as I have accepted them as mine. I cannot stress enough how important my host families were in shaping who I am today. I feel sorry for the other fieldwork students who lived in offices or other spaces where they lived with no host families. They missed a lot.
The program ended after a decade, and as I left Anda, I got with me a hope that the people we have worked with will continue what we have started long after the program phased-out.
Like soil, Anda provided a fertile environment for me to grow.
Now, I work as a Project Manager for WWF. What started out as community organizing of fisherfolk in Anda, Pangasinan, eventually led to me learning the ins and outs of Marine Biology, Coastal Resources Management and other environment-related concepts which were not taught to us in College. Funny thing with the environment was that none of the development theories discussed in CD 110 (development theories) under Professor Oscar Ferrer really did consider the environment to a great extent as a major factor in development. What helps me now in my current work are the lessons learned from CD 131 (planning) under Professor Sammie Formilleza as planning is a large part of being a manager, and CD 126 (training) with Professor Mel Luna for his never-ending stories and very animated and effective way of facilitating workshops. Plus, CD 133 (resource management, under Professor Elmer Ferrer) which is a major part to what I do now, and the CD 180 and CD 181 (fieldwork) that taught me how to work with all sorts of people. Of all the tools of analysis discussed then, the one that still sticks to me is class analysis. Even though I don’t fully subscribe to the ideology, what remains today is my bias for the poor.
In Manila, one of the most expensive grasses used in gardens and golf courses is the Bermuda grass. As a child, I have often considered the Bermuda grass as a high-maintenance ornamental plant. It needed lots of sun and water to grow. I only see it on golf courses and in mansions of friends and relatives. But when I got to Anda, I found the Bermuda grass there thriving – in all places – by the beach! The Bermuda grass there grows so thick that I didn’t know they could be possible. Now I know that Bermuda grass really can grow even with high salinity water. What I thought was a pampered plant is also considered a weed, highly adaptive and resilient. After fieldwork, I have often compared my batchmates and myself to the Bermuda grass – born and raised in cities. Pampered, but then I realize that it was in Anda where we would truly grow.
The water in Anda helped the Bermuda grass to grow even better than in Manila. The Anda family nourished me throughout my stay there.
Posted on Professor Elmer Ferrer’s door on his room at the old CSWCD building was, “Bloom where you are planted.” Often cited as an old Afghan proverb, this short message would eventually play a big role in my life. Growing up in a city, I never thought that I would eventually leave the comforts of the urban life for the joys of rural living. Then again, CD prepared me well for that.
Like the weed, Bermuda grass, with the sun the soil and the water, it was there where I truly bloomed. #
UP CSWCD holds Alumni General Assembly, February 25
UP College of Social Work and Community Development, through its Alumni Association, is calling the Jubilarians from Batches ’62, ’72, ’87 and ’97 and all its graduates, to attend the UP CSWCD Alumni General Assembly, on February 25, 2012 (Saturday), 1-4:30pm at the UP CSWCD Building, Diliman, Quezon City. As part of celebrating the 45th Foundation Anniversary of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development, this year’s General Assembly aims to gather initially the Jubilarians in preparation for the Grand Alumni Homecoming on August 25, 2012, and to build a stronger partnership between the College and its alumni. The affair is centered on the theme “IPAGBUNYI ANG (ka)bayanihan ng CSWCD Alumni”, as the CSWCD also commemorates the 200th anniversary of Melchora “Tandang Sora” Aquino, and its deep appreciation for the value of solidarity and cooperation. For details, please contact the UPCSWCDAA at telephone (02) 929-2477, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website http://cswcdalumniupdates.blogspot.com.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
UP CSWCD Celebrates its 44th Alumni Homecoming
August 20, 2011 promises to be a big day for the University of the Philippines College of Social Work and Community Development with the celebration of its 44th Alumni Homecoming at the CSWCD Atrium from 3:00 to 8:00 PM.
This year’s theme is “Tuluy-Tuloy na Sigla ng CSWCD Alumni”, which recognizes the lives, untiring spirit and energy of the College Faculty and Alumni who continue making things happen for a brighter tomorrow for individuals, groups and communities. Thus, there will be a lot of “balitaan”, “halakhakan” and “huntahan” in the homecoming and will be inspired by a collection of music that will bring back the spirit and memories among the batches.
The event will have as its highlight the honoring of Jubilarians of Batches ’61, ’71, ’86 and ’96 and former professors of the College. Through the designation of a Batch Liaison to the Alumni Board”, the homecoming hopes to inspire everyone to continuously commit part of their time to actively participate in the initiatives of the College and the Alumni.
Of course, a raffle draw will culminate the event to add fun and excitement, plus a mini-concert by the Dekada Band.
The homecoming will surely pave the way to an energized Faculty and Alumni as they work hand in hand for the benefit of the College, its programs and the alumni members.