The recent celebration of the World Social Work Day and the contagious enthusiasm of the national leadership both of Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI), National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI) and other social work organizations have given us a glim of hope that this year’s celebration of the Social Work Week in the Philippines will be different.
Having led the group and individuals that consistently advocate for the annual celebration, I cannot help but go over my memoirs and find some highlights which, hopefully, challenge the new set of officers of aforementioned organizations to act for the synchronization and institutionalization of our celebration.
The chronology of events started with excerpts of the position paper submitted to the national body during the Chapter Presidents Assembly on July 29, 2005:
“Some weeks after the 2004 National Convention of PASWI and NASWEI in Baguio City and Zamboanga City, respectively, a series of joint meetings and regional consultations were held in Iloilo City for updating especially for those who were not able to attend the two conventions.
In a particular meeting, the paradigm shift on policy advocacy was given emphasis which led participants (mostly NASWEI member schools) to exhaustively look for ways and means in pooling resources to deliberately and systematically promote the Social Work profession and its significant role in effecting social transformation. In the process, we found out that this year is the 40th year of the Social Work Law. So, we thought of making the occasion a good opportunity to unite in promoting our profession.
With such discovery, we were very excited to think of activities to maximize the celebration. We thought of coming up with a resolution requesting then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (PGMA) to declare June 13-19 as Social Work Week in Western Visayas, as it will be within our area of influence. It gained strong support from other social work-led organizations and alliances in the region, as well as government officials and NGO leaders in the Regional Development Council. However, the Regional Development Council, which endorsed our resolution, opted for the national declaration as the Social Work Law is national in scope. Hence, the declaration should benefit other provinces in various regions.
Getting the clue from people in the authority, we informed both the PASWI and NASWEI National board through e-mail of this discovery and subsequent move to solicit support either through endorsement of the resolution or making a national resolution related to the regional resolution. (For the PASWI, my first communication was sent to the Chairman of the Board as early as 2nd week of March, copy furnished to other members latter. Eventually, I communicated with the National President).
We also ask for the support of DSWD Secretary. After some follow up, we were informed that the Office of the President has forwarded the request to the DSWD Central Office for comment. Consequently, the Execom acted favorably on the resolution and waited for the endorsement from PASWI National leadership. On April 7,2005, the national board decided to endorse the resolution only to retract it later.
The following issues were raised by the PASWI National Board when it flip flops in its endorsement of the Social Work Week: lack of knowledge of the Board regarding the DSWD-PASWI 2003 pending request to change the November Social Welfare Week to Social Welfare and Development Month; the perceived confusion that may come up in the future should Social Work Week be declared in June; and the absence of proper protocol.”
After some hassles and dazzles, the PASWI National called for the national celebration sans former PGMA declaration and subsequently called for Consultation Dialogue and General Assembly with the PASWI Local Chapters on July 29-30, 2005 to discuss thoroughly the proposed national celebration of Social Work Week in June. It resulted to PASWI Board Resolution No. 011-05 declaring the month of June as Social Work and Development Month with request to PGMA for official declaration.
In 2007, the new president reiterated the organization’s commitment for the celebration. However, due to election time and advocacy for the Magna Carta for Public Social Workers, the celebration was not given much focus.
However, there appears to be a lull in the national celebration since 2010 for whatever reasons. Still, we sustain the celebration in the region by virtue of the respective provincial/city resolutions/ordinances.
Observing how the national leadership , as well as the regions promoted the World Social Work Day, I tend to believe that this year’s celebration will be different from previous years. I have seen a glim of hope that the national leadership will work actively like what they did in the March 19 celebration or even more.
Maybe this year or next year. Or, perhaps, a year after- sort of birthday gift for the 154th birthday of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, which happens to be the Golden Year of Social Work Profession in the Philippines.
On the second thought, with the history of our national associations to handle policy advocacy endeavors, e.g. Magna Carta for Social Workers, etc., we have also learned to patiently wait.
But certainly, it will never be forever.