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Social Workers in the past 50 years

By: Atty. Ma. Dolores J. Nalumen


A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants…” Matthew 13:31

Atty. Ma. Dolores J.  Nalumen

Atty. Ma. Dolores J. Nalumen

So do we liken our Association, PASWI, to that small seed planted 50 years ago by a small group of intrepid and committed women. During the post liberation period, the Philippines, still reeling from devastation of  WWII, was rebuilding her economy and rehabilitating her social life. A group of professional social workers who had acquired their social work academic degrees from the U.S. met at the PNRC Headquarters on November 12, 1947, spurred by their love for their country, to discuss how they could make an impact and contribute to her rehabilitation. They decided that at no other time than then in the Philippine history so far did the country need their expertise as social workers.

On April 18, 1948, the Philippine Association of Social Workers (PASW) was approved and registered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) thus endowing it with a corporate legal personality. The small group of women, 7 in all, who had initiated the formation of the Association, now became the first officers and members of the Board. They were Josefa Jara Martinez, president; Mrs. Minerva G. Laudico, vice president; Mrs. Olympia U. Lozano, secretary; Mrs. Felicidad A. De Silva, treasurer; Miss Flora R. Palomar, Miss Agapita Murillo, and Mrs. Carmon Montinola Luz, board members.

Mrs. Olympia U. Lozano, secretary; Mrs. Felicidad A. De Silva, treasurer; Miss Flora R. Palomar, Miss Agapita Murillo, and Mrs. Carmon Montinola Luz, board members.

Mrs. Olympia U. Lozano, secretary; Mrs. Felicidad A. De Silva, treasurer; Miss Flora R. Palomar, Miss Agapita Murillo, and Mrs. Carmen Montinola Luz, board members.

Josefa Jara MartinezToday, only two of the 7 founders survive: Mrs. Minerva Guysayco Laudico, who has been twice appointed to Congress as sectoral representative and Mrs. Carmen Montinola Luz who is connected with the Makati Business Club.

The first members of PASW consisted of some practitioners and some social agency administrators and executives. They were united in their commitment to the objectives which they themselves formulated, namely: (1) to provide and maintain a professional standard of social work practice; (2) to provide means and opportunities for professional training and improvement of members; (3) to work for better public understanding and acceptance of social work as a profession; (4) to work for more sympathetic support of and effective action for social welfare.


From the start, the Association involved itself in a variety of activities: dialogues and workshops for professional growth, drafting of a statement of principles to guide social work training, publishing a news bulletin, study of job qualifications for Social Workers. It was during this period that the Code of Ethics for Social Workers was drafted and published in 1955, although it was only in 1964 that it was adopted.

PASW was also very much involved in community work. It had a hand in drafting a licensing law model for the public solicitation of funds in response to a request from the Community Chest. It assisted in the conduct of a UNESCO survey of welfare agencies in the country and it formed the nucleus of the Council of Welfare Agencies of the Philippines, Inc. (CWAPI) and participated in the International Conference on Social Welfare.

The growing sense of identity among its members was reinforced by the publication in 1956 of SOCIAL WORK, a quarterly magazine it could truly claim as its own. Edited by Rev. Fr. Thomas A. Mitchell, S.J., who was then chairperson of the Publications Committee, it started with 8 pages and quickly expanded to 24 pages through the fund raising efforts of kits editor, thus providing social workers with education materials written by authorities and leading practitioners. It maintained a paid subscription of 2,500.

In 1956, to, PASW held the First National Conference of Social Workers which was held regularly every 2 years up to 1986. These biennial conferences provided opportunities to discuss not only issues in Social Work but also emerging issues and social problems of the time. These were attended by Social Workers as well as by people working in the broader fields of social welfare.

At this time also, PASW collaborated with the CWAPI in evolving standard of social work practice; provided consultative services to interested welfare agencies, started a small scale screening and placement services for its members, operated a volunteer center, advocated with the WAPCO for upgrading of salaries of social worker positions and started discussions on the possible licensing of social workers. It also lobbied in Congress for the passage of Social Welfare Administration Reorganization Plan.

Hand in hand with all these activities, PASW maintained a consistent interest in Social Work education, realizing that the future of the profession depended on its future practitioners. Between 1956-1957, it drafted a curriculum for undergraduate social work education acceptable to schools and in 1958 began to study the graduate curriculum in existing schools of social work and in 1958 began to study the graduate curriculum in existing schools of social work, among them University of the Philippines, and Philippine School for Social Work. The first scholarship grant for graduate student in social work was accepted by PASW in 1958. These scholarship grants continued for several years reaching a record 5 grantees in 1975-76.

(to be continued)


Keynote Address delivered by Atty. Ma. Dolores J. Nalumen, PASWI National Vice President, during the First Regional Assembly of PASWI in Western Visayas at Punta Villa, Iloilo City on October 15, 1998

Flashbacks of PASWI golden years

The recent visit to our office of the former National President of the Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI) has rekindled my interest in our association. More so, when she made a special request for our active participation in PASWI and the possibility of reviving our regional association/ fellowship in Western Visayas.

I could not help but feel nostalgic about our association having served it  for sometime as president of the local chapter, member of the national board and chair of the Regional Coordinating Council/Board. I even posted the impact of such visit on my other blog which triggered discussion in one face book group.  Expectedly, there will be more discussion as we review and analyze  PASWI National actions related to our advocacy in the region.

Going over the remnants of memoirs salvaged from flash flood and onslaught of Typhoon Frank in 2006, I found the October 1998 edition of PASWI Newsletter of Iloilo Chapter. In toto, this is the report on how we organized the Regional Association in Western Visayas during the Golden Year of PASWI.

Despite the heavy rain and strong wind caused by impending threat of a storm, over a hundred social workers coming from five provinces in Region VI gathered together at Punta Villa, Iloilo City to celebrate the Golden Year of the Philippine Association of Social Workers.

Under the theme “Varied Roles of Social Workers in the next 50 Years,” the event turned out to be the first regional assembly of social workers in Western Visayas to tackle pressing issues like human rights, justice and peace, economic reforms, ecology, local governance, children and youth welfare.

The affair was graced by the presence of all PASWI Iloilo past presidents, two of whom came all the way from Manila to serve as resource persons, namely: Atty. Ma. Dolores Nalumen and Sr. Teresa Mabasa, DC. Atty. Nalumen, Director of Parole and Probation Office Region IV and concurrent PASWI National Vice President, delivered the keynote address which centered on the historical development of PASWI. 

Sr. Teresa Mabasa, Provincial Visitatrix of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity, presented the Trends and Challenges that await the social workers in the years ahead. The other resource persons corresponding their respective topics were Vice Mayor Rosemarie Doromal, RSW, Local Governance; Ms. Stella, NEDA Region VI, Economic and Social Reforms; Chris Montano, Human Rights;  Rebecca Geamala, RSW, Children and Youth welfare; Ruth Corvera, RSW, Family Welfare; Supt. Carlito Dimaano, Justice and Peace; Alicia Lustica, DENR, Issues and Trends.

One of the highlights of the assembly was the awarding of social workers who have been in service for more than two decades together with those who have done outstanding achievement in various fields of endeavors. Leading the awardees were retired DSWD Assistant Regional Director Dominga Bacordo and Prof. Irene Ortigas. Ms. Bacordo holds the distinction of being the first PASWI-Iloilo president and the longest serving social worker in Iloilo (over 40 years) while Prof. Ortigas is the acknowledged pioneer of social work education in central Philippine university, the breeding ground of most social work practitioners in Western Visayas.

During the business meeting the delegates elected the interim officers to prepare the mechanics of the regional federation since the national constitution is silent about it. Consequently, the officers created committee to study and frame the provisions that will fit the condition in Region VI. Another committee has been tasked to organize provincial and city chapters in Western Visayas in preparation for another regional assembly set on January 28-28, 1999.