Resurrection has been considered the cornerstone of Christian faith. Inexhaustible commentaries have been done about its relevance to our lives with particular emphasis on respective areas or angles.
Two years ago, while still in the process of resolving the ambivalence in my life’s experiences brought about by critical health condition partly because of my voluntary work, I poured out my thoughts and emotion on blogs to fight depression. In one of my blogs, I viewed resurrection through the eyes of volunteerism. I want to share the following article that was first published as Resurrection: A pay back? on PADAYON: Our Life Journey and Ezine Articles. I changed the title to Resurrection and Social Work in my belief that Social Work is more than a profession. It is a vocation which is akin to volunteerism.
Let me propose this angle in addition to the unlimited significance of the resurrection of Jesus. Viewing resurrection as a reward to the greatest volunteer the world ever had. A precedence that may inspire millions of nameless volunteers worldwide. No matter how unsolicited this inspirational piece appears to some, though. Others may dislike this proposal. Volunteers will even protest the title. But certainly majority will agree with the claim that Jesus is the greatest volunteer. So, let’s start from this commonality and settle the differences later in this article.
Biblical writers have various description of the voluntary act of Jesus. But I like the Pauline version in Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV): “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
The Gospel records instances when Jesus insists on undergoing the voluntary process despite the supposed favor from people who know him as the messiah. When John the Baptist appears reluctant to perform the baptism ritual, Jesus prevails on him: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 4:14-15)
Many times, Jesus rebukes his disciples in their actuations to seek redress to injustice and discrimination against his dignity. Unwelcome in his attempt to bridge the gap between warring cultures, he suffers discrimination in one Samaritan village. When James and John insinuate punishment to the humiliating experience, Jesus forbids them. (Luke 9:51-55). Jesus calmly tells Peter to hold peace, in the latter’s attempt to fight back against the savagery of his captors: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)
He washes his disciple’s feet at the height of leadership struggle position during the last supper. The lobbying of both John and James and their mother for position in the kingdom might have sparked the internal conflict. Hence, nobody appears willing to do the menial t ask which earlier they enjoy taking turns. Jesus volunteers.
Jesus consistently exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism in his lifestyle and teachings. He voluntarily follows all the requirements of the law, although in some instances, he deliberately skirt man -made unreasonable insertion and imposition to the requirements of God. He successfully passes the final challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Subsequently, the divine justice expedites the awarding ceremony for the greatest volunteer in the world. St. Paul beautifully uses this clincher to the narrative of Jesus voluntary act: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
I am not advocating pay back mentality. Jesus even issues a strange rebuke to the perpetrators and perpetuators of this kind of mentality in Luke 14:12- 14. “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Certainly, volunteers do not expect rewards. The last parable in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) confirms this with the scenario of great surprises. In the final end, during the awarding ceremony, as the chaff is separated from the grain, sheep and goat divided, the result is beyond expectation. But volunteers receive their awards.
True, volunteers do not expect awards. But who can question God’s divine justice to recompense the faithful? Is there something wrong in viewing resurrection as a payback for volunteerism?
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.
By: Atty. Ma. Dolores J. Nalumen
THE TREE GROWS (1958 – 1988)
Having built a name and corporate reputation by this time, PASW increasingly became involved in national and international organizations, such as the Citizens Council for Mass Media, the Presidential Arm for Community Development, the Council for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, the IFSW and UNESCO. In 1959, it was accepted as a member of the International Conference on Social Welfare.
Social workers were busy entertaining international visitors among them Miss Evelyn Hersey, former UN Technical Adviser on Social Welfare and Mr. R.S. Soediman, Social Welfare officer from Indonesia, and attending international conferences as early as 1961. In the field of education, PASW brokered the meeting of heads and representatives of schools of social work in 1964, to discuss curriculum requirements for undergraduate education. This resulted in the formation of the SSWAP, the predecessor of NASWEI. Their second workshop was held on July 17 – 19, 1968 at the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in Silang, Cavite which was sponsored by the UNICEF and the Department of Social Welfare.
There was also an accelerated involvement in social action and legislation. In 1961, PASW nominated among its ranks members to the First Board of Examiners. On June 1, 1967, R.A. 5178 was passed which amended R.A. 4373. It provided for licensing to practitioners with 5 or more years experience even without passing the Board exams.
On November 7, 1967, R.A. 4836 creating the JDRC of Q.C. was formally implemented with registered social workers in its social services division. In May 1968, with strong advocacy from PASW, the law creating the Department of Social Welfare and Development was passed and Pres. Ferdinand Marcos inducted into office the first secretary, Gregorio Feliciano.
Strong and sustained advocacy of social workers also played a role in the passage of PD 603 or the Child and Youth Welfare Code on December 10, 1977. This period also saw the creation of provincial chapters, of which the first recorded was Davao, later followed by Dagupan and Antique. Other chapters followed in Cebu, Iloilo, Dumaguete, Batangas, etc.
Fund-raising was likewise a major activity of PASW, such as sponsoring a movie premier to fund its Volunteer Center, and a shower party where members and friends donated things like teaspoons, coffee percolator, paper cups, and flower vases for the PASW office.
In 1977, social workers were honored for the first time by PRC which awarded Mrs. Josefa J. Martinez as Outstanding Social Worker. PRC gave this award every year, and the latest awardee was former PASWI President Angela Pangan. Other awardees were usually former PASW Presidents like Miss Teresita Silva, Miss Petra de Joya, Miss Leonora de Guzman, Minister Sylvia Montes, Mrs. Consuelo Herrera and CSC Chairperson Corazon Alma de Leon.
PASW TO PASWI, A BIG TREE (1988 – 1998)
The PRC reports that there are at present 8,000 registered social workers. Yet PASWI reports a nationwide membership of 2,000. There is, then, much more to be done to include all these registered social workers in PASWI.
PASWI’ s CHALLENGE
Pending with Congress are two bills beneficial to social workers which dearly love to see become laws. The Magna Carta for Social Workers and the amendment of the Local Government Code to include the mandate for local government executives to hire social work professionals only.
(Blogger’s Note: The Magna Carta for Public Social Workers was finally approved on April 11,2007)
A sequel to the 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