Thursday, July 12, 2007

IFI-VIMROD: Challenges and Perspective

The Philippines is rich, the Filipinos are poor
The Philippines is located in Southeast Asia, just above the equatorial line. It is surrounded by oceans: in the east by the Pacific Ocean, in the west by the South China Sea and in the north by the Bashi Strait and in the south by the Sulu and Celebes Seas. The Philippines is made up of 7,100 islands, big and small. It is a country overflowing with natural resources. Foremost of these is land, which is important to an agricultural country such as the Philippines. The Philippines has a total land area of 30 million hectares of which 13 million hectares is agricultural land. 5.1 million hectares is devoted for rice and corn while 3.3 million hectares is planted with coconut and the rest is planted with other crops ssuch as banana, pineapple, etc. Alluvial soils that make up most of the land are rich in minerals and can grow almost any crop. The Philippines is surrounded by 1,600,000 square kilometers of territorial waters. These are home to some 2,100 fish species. But in spite of its abundance, the majority of the Filipinos are poor and is living in a society best characterized by socio-economic underdevelopment and political disunity.
In the rural areas, the more than a decade implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program manifests the continuing failure of the government to guarantee genuine land reform, just wages, job security and social services for the rural poor.
Aside from the fact that the country is divided into several islands where cultural barriers are real, disunity roots from severe disillusionment caused by economic deprivation and, corollary, the people’s feeling of powerlessness due to intense oppression and exploitation. This situation is very much presents in the present areas and in the new areas where VIMROD is doings and will do its community development intervention.
The Marginalized Sectors in the Philippines
1. Farmers
As a predominantly agricultural country, majority of the Filipinos depend on agriculture as their source of livelihood. Ironically, farmers and agricultural workers are the ones who benefit the least from the “improvement” in the economy. The Philippine agricultural sector has been suffering from a series of trade setbacks since 1994. This was the time the Philippine government started to liberalize agriculture in preparation for the World Trade Organization, which was established the following year. From then on, the country has been importing seeds, fertilizers and crops including those we primarily produce like rice and corn.
2. Fisher folks
The Philippines hosts the longest discontinuous coastline in the world. For an archipelago, coastal and marine ecosystems are particularly vital because they provide food, raw materials, and ecological balance. However, for the past few years, our aquatic resources have been rapidly dwindling. Different studies show that fishing at the coastal area has already reached, if not surpassed the maximum sustainable yield. Aquatic resources’ depletion is the natural consequences of over-fishing perpetuated by big commercial fishers who are mostly foreigners. Such situation exposes the ill effects of exploiting nature in the name of profit. Equipped with resources like big and highly mechanized fishing vessels, big commercial fishers easily displaced small and traditional Filipino fisher folks who still employ outdated fishing equipment.
3. Indigenous people
For indigenous people (IP) and national minorities in Mindanao, the exploitation of their ancestral land and living spaces is the height of national oppression. Environmental degradation, suffered in the hands of globalization has led to the destruction of their culture and livelihood. Laws such as the Indigenous People’s Right Act (IPRA), the National Integrated and Protected Area Systems (NIPAS), the Mining Act of 1995 only devastate their habitats, local economy and traditional way of life. More often than not, foreign companies enter our country and in collaboration with the ruling class, plunder our natural resources, leaving virtually nothing for the succeeding generations.
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente
In the aftermath of Spanish domination and in the midst of the American regime, Isabelo de los Reyes of the first confederation of labor unions in the Philippines, the Union Obrera Democratica, proclaimed the establishment of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) on August 3, 1902. The struggle for a free and independent Filipino nation, coupled with the desire for a Church that would genuinely serve the interest of the Filipino people, was the primary motivator that pushed for the creation of the IFI because it is our Christian duty to act, wherever our sisters and brothers are hungry, oppressed and exploited. The Letter from James said:
“My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you
have faith if your action do not prove it? Can faith save you?
Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and
don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying
to them ‘God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!’ – if you don’t
give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone
and includes no actions, then it is dead.”
(James 2:14-17 Good News Bible)

Based on the vision of a free nation made by resilient faith, the IFI has always believed that social action is an activity inherent to God’s calling. An atmosphere where people can enjoy a bigger share of the gifts of civilization for the development and fulfillment of potentialities as human beings must be promoted. As a pastoral activity, social action should entail the Church to work as one with groups, organizations, communities that promote the welfare of people and of the human community, and the building of the Kingdom of God.
The IFI has always perceived development:
¨ As a continuing process and growth towards fulfillment in accordance with God’s will;
¨ As the people’s concrete response to God’s initiative in His continuing work of creation;
¨ As a means of uplifting human dignity towards self-reliance, self-governance, and self- propagation; and
¨ As a reaffirmation of the historical and cultural heritage of the Filipino Church.
The IFI is so specific with her development concept. Conscious that it is an imperative for her to transform concepts into action; she has to undertake development programs as an expression of its commitment to social action.

In 1989 as a willful response, the IFI bishops in the Visayas and Mindanao dioceses decided to establish a community development program the, IFI-Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development (IFI-VIMROD).

In partnership with Evangelische Zentralstelle Fur Entwicklungshilfe e.V. (EZE) now EED (Evangelischer Enticklungsdienst e.V.) and Bread for the World both of Germany, IFI-VIMROD has been serving the depressed communities in the Visayas and Mindanao since 1991.

To date, IFI-VIMROD works in several areas, specifically Cebu, Iloilo Negros Oriental in the Visayas; Bukidnon, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental and Surigao del Norte in Mindanao. IFI-VIMROD has sustained and initiated the formation of Fifty (50) KKKs (Kahugpungan sa Katawhan alang sa Kalambuan or People’s Organizations for Development) and has facilitated the building of KKK Federations. It continues to be actively involved in community organizing and development education.

With IFI-VIMROD as its community development program arm, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente as a Church has been true as the extension of the Incarnation of Christ. She has become the voice of the poor, the exploited and the deprived. She has become the community of people who assert for life, dignity and development. She has become a gathered body of new women, men and children who care for the victims of the unjust socio-political and economic structures in her pursuit to build the Kingdom of God on Earth.
IFI-VIMROD Vision, Mission and Goals
The Christian faith, which has made the IFI a congregation of new women and men, impels her to work with the people and in partnership with development workers here and abroad to facilitate the capability building of self-governing, self-sustaining and self-propagating communities toward social transformation.

1. Vision
We envision a Philippine society where the marginalized sectors have access to resources and participate in building a nation where abundance, joy, justice, peace and freedom reign.

2. Mission
To facilitate the formation and capability building of Kahugpungan sa Katawhan alang sa Kalambuan (KKKs or People’s Organization for Development) into self-sustaining and self-governing catalysts of community transformation in the Visayas and Mindanao

3. Long term Goals
By the year 2022, VIMROD aims to have achieved the following end results:
a. Empowered KKKs and Federation capable of adequately responding to and addressing their community issues and situations.
b. Visible and active support of the IFI diocesan leadership in the Visayas and Mindanao to the development initiatives and struggles of the KKKs and the entire Filipino people.
Program Thrusts and Immediate Results

1. The Community Organizing Program

The Community Organizing Program plays a crucial role in VIMROD’s mission of empowering the KKKs and Federations to become self-governing, self-sustaining catalysts for community transformation. It shall serve to initiate the formation, consolidation and capability building of KKKs and federations.
On KKK Formation and Consolidation in the new areas through the Step-by-step Organizing Approach (SOA)
Phase I. Entry, Integration and Community Study
Phase II. Liaison Group Building
Phase III. KKK Formation and Strengthening
Phase IV. KKK Federation Formation and Consolidation
Phase V. Program Support Phase Out
Summary of the Intermediate Results of Community Organizing Program
Upon the implementation of the three- year development intervention through the Community Organizing Program of VIMROD in the new four areas, it is expected that at least three KKKs from each areas shall be established and formed into Federations. These KKKs shall have leaders that shall lead and implement organizational program and activities; forge unity and appreciate community life and shall have membership that are conscious of community development beyond their personal interests and shall work together for the welfare of the members of the organization in particular and of the community in general. The KKKs on the other hand, shall serve as catalysts of community development of the particular locality where the KKK is located.

The KKKs formed in Phase IV of the Integrated Development Program shall be consolidated into New Federations and shall establish linkages with the Diocesan/Parish Leadership Bodies, LGUs and other development actors in the community and plan, implement, monitor and evaluate Small Projects that will address the needs of the federation and the community.

The Old Federations organized in the preceding phase of Phase IV, meanwhile, shall established strong linkages and development partnership with the diocese and government agencies and shall initiate expansion and organizing efforts using the Step-by-step Organizing Approach in the nearby communities and further develop, implement and manage socio-economic projects that will address the needs of the community.

1.1. Small Project Funds
Small Project Funds are funds extended by VIMROD to KKKs and Federations – whose members are indigenous peoples, poor farmers, fisherfolks, and women - in support to their development initiatives aiming at community development, poverty alleviation, empowerment and self-reliance.

The Program shall be for assisting the KKKs and Federations in determining which among the needs of their respective organization and communities may be addressed. It shall also play an important role in assisting the KKKs and Federations in planning, implementing, managing and evaluation of these projects and in ensuring that the desired impacts of these projects truly benefit their membership and ultimately the communities.

Types of Projects
1. Socio-economic Projects
a. Agricultural: (e.g. food security; sustainable agriculture; simple irrigation; pre- and post-harvest facilities and support; seed dispersal; animal dispersal, etc.)
b. Non-agricultural (e.g. consumers; producers and credit cooperatives; small cottage industry; herbal garden;, etc.)
2. Gender and Development (e.g. support on the campaign on gender awareness; women empowerment, etc.)
3. Health and Sanitation (e.g. potable water project, early childhood care; Medical and Dental Missions, etc.)
4. Literacy and Numeracy (e.g. Training of volunteer Para-teachers among Higaonon, etc.)
5. Environmental Concerns ( e.g. Coastal Marine Development and Protection, etc)
6. Peace Initiatives and Campaigns (e.g. awareness building through symposia and fora; Peace Dialogues, etc)

2. The Development Education Program

Working together the Community Organizing Program in empowering the KKKs and federations will be VIMROD’s Program on Development Education. Its main role shall be to enhance the knowledge, skills and attitudes of KKK and federation leaders and members in managing their organizations and other relevant activities. This will be done through the conduct of training, workshops, exposure visits to other communities, exchange studies and other appropriate methods.

This program shall be responsible for conducting an analysis of the training needs of the KKK and federation leaders and members, designing the appropriate training courses and/or programs, conducting the actual training and follow-up activities. It shall also be accountable for ensuring that the desired impacts of the training and other development education activities are achieved.

The Development Education Program shall also work in coordination with the Program on Institutional Development in relation to the capability building of the VIMROD staff. For the incoming project cycle, training for the both the staff, the KKK/federation leaders and members have been synchronized in order to maximize the gains to be made from the training.

Summary of the Intermediate Results of Development Education Program
Through the Development Education Program, in three years, VIMROD shall be able to impart to the KKKs leaders and members the following:
Ø Increased awareness of their rights and the ability to assert and protect it.
Ø Improved the ability of KKK leaders to articulate issues and negotiate their position.
Ø Enhanced skills of the volunteers, KKK leaders in documentation and report writing so that it can adequately inform the regional staff on what is happening to KKK.
Ø Improved the ability of volunteers, KKK leaders in handling group discussion.
Ø Enhanced the skills and appreciation of reading, writing and numeracy, thus, increasing literacy among KKK members.
Ø Enhanced the knowledge and skills for collective leadership
Ø Increased number of second liners and develop volunteers from the community
Ø Participate and support community sectoral issues

On the other hand, KKKs and Federations that were organized in the previous project phases, upon VIMROD technical and minimal financial support shall be able to have:
1. Leaders that is capable and efficient to manage their organizational and financial sustainability, including managing socio-eco projects.
2. Regular and adequate reports to the regional staff on what is happening to KKKs/federations
3. The ability to conduct, evaluate and monitor program and activities undertaken.
4. The capacity to continue to respond to local community issues
5. Increased number of member-organizations into new areas.
6. The capacity to implement more successful projects that respond to community needs.

3. The Advocacy and Networking Program

As VIMROD acknowledges itself as an intrinsic part of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), it also aspires for visible and active support of the IFI diocesan leadership in the Visayas and Mindanao to the development initiatives of the KKKs and the entire Filipino people.

Towards this end, it aims to enhance the understanding, appreciation and support of the IFI diocesan leadership bodies (particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao) to VIMROD’s development initiatives.

In order to achieve this, the Advocacy and Networking Program shall take upon itself the task of gathering information on the issues, concerns and experiences of the KKK, federations and communities. It shall also document and package this information as materials for its advocacy work thereby generating interest and support to VIMROD’s mission and programs.

The Program shall also be responsible for the establishing and expanding VIMROD’s network of resource and support organizations that will assist it in its work with the KKKs and communities.

Summary of the Intermediate Results of Advocacy and Networking Program
Through the Advocacy and Networking Program, VIMROD, in three years shall be able to gather interest and support among the parish and the diocesan leadership bodies to the development initiative of VIMROD in the KKK/Federation area under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the parish or diocese. Also, through this program, VIMROD should be able to enhance the skills and appreciation of volunteers, KKK and Federation leaders in networking and its importance, thus increasing support to KKK’s and generating local resources; and to enhance knowledge of KKK and Federation leaders of local government and policies enabling them to increased access available basic government social services.

4. The Institutional Development Program
The Institutional Development Program aims to enhance the organizational effectiveness and sustainability of VIMROD. Under this program VIMROD hope to attain the following:
a. To improved existing organizational structures, systems, policies and procedures relevant to the needs and requirements of the program for clarity of functions and procedures and efficiency of operations.
b. To ensure organizational sustainability of VIMROD in terms of human and financial resources through systematic staff development based on the needs of the institution and established financial sustainability plan. Also, VIMROD shall always explore and establish linkages with other possible funding partners here and abroad.
c. Efficient and effective delivery of services and that the desired impacts of the program are generated though the improvement of the present of PIME System that will include KKK/Federation/Community development indicators; Staff and quality management indicators, among others.

The program shall also undertake refinement of appropriate organizational structure, systems, policies and procedure in different aspects of management and to strengthen financial base of the organization. This is to be done to enhance organizational effectiveness and sustainability.

Also, under this Program is Staff Development which shall ensure skills, capability and capacity of the Staff for efficient and effective delivery of services and that the desired impacts of the program are generated though the improvement of the present of PIME System that will include KKK/Federation/Community development indicators; Staff and quality management indicators, among others. Related activities on Staff Development such as Staff Exchange/Exposure Program to like-minded organizations shall also be undertaken.