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Role of Social workers in the history of NGO networking in the Philippines

The Yuletide break has given me the opportunity to work on my other blogs. It was not difficult for me to update some as there are recent activities related to their particular niche. Others are continuation of the series of articles being posted or reposted. It is on the last three remaining blogs where I take a pause. Although I have already topics for the two blogs which only need to be developed, I am at loss on Social Work and Development blog. There seems to be no significant activities or issues to relate with. Fortunately, while reading my series of article on NGOs, I came across the history of networking in the Philippines and found the role of social workers as pointed out by Alan G. Alegre (1996) on his book Trends and Traditions; Challenges and Choices. This solves my problem.

The story of Philippine NGOs and subsequent networking generally follows the trend of the world history of NGOs- from relief and welfare endeavors to social reformation which eventually led to the transformation approach. Alegre divided the history of NGOs into six distinct phases rooted in key points in the country’s recent past. He then traced the beginning of NGO networking in the Philippines from the formation of the Council of Welfare Agencies Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (CWAFPI), the forerunner of the present-day National Council of Social Development (NCSD).

As early as 1952, a group of social work leaders organized the Philippine National Committee of the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW). This eventually evolved into the Council of Welfare Agencies Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (CWAFPI), the umbrella organization of the various welfare and civic organizations, e.g., the Catholic Women’s Clubs, Boy/Girl Scouts of the Philippines, National Red Cross, etc. which, up to this day, cater to such sectors as traditional women’s groups, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

The early organizational formation, however, is only one part of the story of networking with particular focus on welfare agencies. In his book, Alegre presented a comprehensive discussion of the factors that contributed to the growth and development of networking in the Philippine NGOs. Such observation is complemented by a chronological presentation of the formation of nine mainstream national networks after NCSD in From the Present Looking Back: A History of Philippine NGO by Karina David (1998).

The milestone of NGO networking in the Philippines happened in 1990 with the launching of the Caucus of Development NGOs (CODE NGOs). This solidarity, however, did not happen overnight. It was a culmination of decades of common struggle similar to what other NGOs in other countries experienced in the course of historical development characterized by diverse intensity and highlights.

Those represented in the congress were Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PHILDHRRA), Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA), National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), National Council of Social Development (NCSD), National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Council for People’s Development (CPD), Ecumenical Council for Development (ECD), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), and Association of Foundations (AF).

This coalition resulted further in the ratification of a historic document – the Covenant for Philippine Development. No wonder, some development workers considered this period as the golden age of networking and coalition building in the Philippines because NGOs of different orientations and historical context agreed to act as one in responding to the opportunities and challenges of the new conjuncture.

(To be continued)