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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)


NGOs: reel or real?

Since the expose of the alleged multi-billion pork barrel scam by the whistleblower Benhur Luy in July, Filipinos have been both enraged and entertained by the seemingly incredible development and extent of the conspiracy to steal taxpayer’s money. Worse, the alleged brain (although many won’t consider her as such but a mere pawn) Janet L. Napoles seemed to besmirch the noble aim and name of non-government organizations (NGOs) in cohorts with some legislators and other officials of the implementing government agencies.The public outrage appears to build up as more revelations and denials are reported by the mainstream media and netizens. Hopefully, it will not die down until significant changes are undertaken by the government itself or by people’s initiatives nationwide.

Photo Credit: Prinx Vencer

Photo Credit: Prinx Vencer

In an attempt to do our share in responding to today’s challenge, the board of directors of our NGO- PO Network met some weeks ago to discuss the issue and unite on a particular stand. Being a loose coalition of various aggrupation of non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) with diverse programs, services, directions, leanings and persuasions, our network seldom makes an organizational stand, not until we reach a consensus. Yet, when it does, the result has greater impact.

Haribon Foundation officers and personnel guesting  our CATV show over Channel 8, Skycable

Haribon Foundation officers and personnel
guesting our CATV show over Channel 8, Skycable

We have seen two angles in the current controversy- the systemic graft and corruption practices and the role of the NGOs. We considered the act a double injury. The large -scale misuse of the people’s money is outrageous. Siphoning money out of government coffers thru fake NGOs adds insult to injury. For it besmirch the good image established by the genuine NGOs for decades. Worse, it provides justification to some government officials and local chief executives who do not feel comfortable with the watchful eyes of NGOs and their seeming intervention as provided for by the local government code in the Philippines.

It is in this second angle that the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON) decided to focus, While some members continue to actively take part in the local anti pork barrel movement representing their respective organizations, ICON has committed to inform the public about the existence and corresponding programs or services of genuine NGOs.

Co -host Rev.  Talha asks Boyet Areno and Ted Aldwin Ong (extreme right)  regarding the stand of the  Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs (ICODE) on the pork barrel scam

Co -host Rev. Talha asks Boyet Areno and Ted Aldwin Ong
(extreme right) regarding the stand of the Iloilo Caucus
of Development NGOs (ICODE) on the pork barrel scam

For the past months, I have discussed in my CATV show the history and development of NGOs and related issues and concerns. A segment featuring member NGOs of our network, as well as those of the Social Welfare and Development Learning Network (SWDL-Net) has been a regular part of the show. This way, we give the public the opportunity to ask questions to clear their doubts and reservations brought about by the pork barrel scandal.We consider the crisis an opportunity to bring to the public consciousness the role of NGOs in nation building.

For indeed, one way of averting the systemic robbery in our government is to involve genuine NGOs in monitoring projects. As Alegre (1996) once contends: NGOs have emerged as a new catalyzing, social organization and as a significant player in development. They are increasingly significant actors in global governance and in international development.

But what are NGOs? How can they contribute to development? What are their roles, strategies, strengths and vulnerabilities? All of these and more will be the subject of the upcoming series of posts on NGOs.


First published on PADAYON, this article is part of the series of posts on NGOs. Admittedly, the current pork barrel controversy in the Philippines  involving the Napoles  network of fake NGOs has besmirched the noble aim and name of  non-government organizations (NGOs). However, we consider the crisis an opportunity to bring to the public consciousness the role of NGOs in nation building.  

Inspiring development

There appears to be an on-going revival of organizations and related activities in our region. As posted earlier, we have revived the regional network of social workers in Western Visayas last month. It started with consultation during the World Social Work Day celebration on Mach 19 at Central Philippine University (CPU). Thereafter, the Social Workers Organizations’ Regional Network (SWORN) was organized to keep the rich heritage and tradition of Ilonggo social workers alive. It will serve as coordinating body of all social work organizations affiliated with recognized national bodies, as well as other independent ones.

Then on May 24, a consultation-meeting with social workers in the non-government organizations was held at the Department of Social Work, CPU. As a result, the core of Alliance of Social Workers in the Non-Government Organizations/People’s Organizations (ASIN) was created to pave the way for the assembly on July 19, 2013.

Interestingly, the revival of another social work- led network became a part of the discussion during the meeting. Majority of those present appeared to like the idea of establishing alliance with other development workers and advocates. In essence, this is what the original ASIN is all about. The acronym given to the newly organized alliance of social workers in the NGOs was actually taken from this original alliance established in 2004. Circumstances, however, prevented its growth and development. Hence, its hibernation for some years.

But with this current trends in revival, let me introduce what the other ASIN stands for, just in case there are readers of this blog who want to join in its revival. It stands for Alliance of Social workers, welfare and development advocates for Integrated services and Nationalism. The acronym, which is a Pilipino term for salt, symbolizes the essence and significance of the organization vis-a-vis the realities in our present society and in the whole world.

ASIN is indispensably needed in our time because of the awful corruption, depravity and sinfulness of the world system around us. Just as salt cures, preserves, and gives flavors, so will ASIN minister to a wounded, decaying and savorless world


General: To serve as network of individuals, groups and organizations that are committed to
holistic development of people and communities through advocacy, solidarity, integrated services and nationalism.


1. To advocate for social welfare and development policies, legislations, programs, services and activities that will benefit the marginalized sectors, as well as the implementors of the same.

2. To establish/strengthen solidarity among social welfare and development workers in public and private endeavors, non-government organizations, peoples’ organization, sectoral and professional groups who are committed to holistic development and the delivery of integrated services.

3. To coordinate/consolidate social welfare and development endeavors towards integrated service delivery.

4. To promote the spirit of nationalism and patriotism as a way of life.

5. To engage in special projects that would hasten the delivery of basic services and enhance the development of the marginalized sectors.

6. To mobilize human and material resources of various sectors in pursuit of social, economic, political, environmental, moral and ethical development of the people.

7. To participate in the electoral process and exercises through partylist representation, and other avenues whereby the association is qualified..


ASIN will set up Centers and projects that will provide programs and services consistent with the following thrusts: Advocacy, Solidarity, Integrated Services, and Nationalism.

The Research Center will have twofold major functions, namely: to study, review, and advocate for the full implementation of approved Social Legislations related to the delivery of basic services; and to design/sponsor social legislations that will enhance and hasten the delivery of basic services to the marginalized sectors and welfare and development workers.

ASIN will also initiate educational endeavors to promote the spirit of nationalism such as seminars, trainings, exposure and sponsor celebrations with national significance and periodic mobilization to highlight patriotism and nationalism.


Membership is open to all individuals, groups, organizations, coalitions, and networks of social workers, community development workers, welfare and development advocates who believe in, and subscribe to the principles, objectives, and purposes of the association. They should have tested commitment in welfare and development endeavors and other forms of community service whether governmental, NGOs, people’s organizations, business, church, academe, civic, professional and other sectoral or civil society organizations and willing to dedicate their time, talents, and treasures for the attainment thereof.

Social Work: A “Pathway to Sainthood”*

Article first published June 14, 2012 on Lariza.Website. 

Dr. Raul, Banias, provincial administrator, delivers the inspirational message during the Opening Program of the 8th Social Work Week in Iloilo.

I would like to greet and congratulate all the social workers in the city and province of Iloilo on the occasion of the 8th Social Work Week that starts today.

Social work is one of the noblest professions. It is often described as a “pathway to sainthood.” Indeed, all of you are like Mother Theresa, who was called the Saint of the Gutters. You work with the sick. You work with cripples. You work with the poor. You work with the hungry.

There is no question that social work is not financially rewarding. But true rewards can never be measured by money or by what you receive. Jackson Brown, author of the book Life’s Little Instruction, wrote that “the happiest people are not those who get more, but those who give more.”

social work.

                                                                                                                                                              For social workers are givers. You give a piece of your hearts and souls to those who don’t expect them – to people who thought that the world has turned its back on them. And working in a very depressing environment requires uncommon courage and exceptional dedication to help improve people’s lives.

If you talk about disability, a social worker is there.                                                                  If you talk about homelessness, a social worker is there.                                                                        If you talk about household violence, a social worker is there.                                         If you talk about street children, a social worker is there.                                                             If you talk about illnesses, a social worker is there.                                                                        If you talk about unemployment, a social worker is there.


The theme of your celebration “Responding to the Changing Times: Together, We Develop the Agenda for Social Work and Social Development” is a challenge not only to you but also to us government officials because we can never effectively and efficiently deliver the necessary social services to our people without you. Because it is you who show us what the real picture on the ground is. Without you, we will never know the real ills of society. Without you, we will never know who really needs help and attention.

And so we shall also be your partner in developing the agenda for social work and social development. In this pursuit, may we all be guided by the words of Nobel Prize winner and poet Rabindranath Tagore who said: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

It has been said that service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. And you are the envy of everyone because you have already paid the rent for your room here on earth.

Madamo gid nga salamat kag maayong aga sa inyo tanan. (Thank you very much and a pleasant morning to all)


*Inspirational message of Dr. Raul Banias, Provincial Administrator, Province of Iloilo during the Opening Program of the 8th Social Work Week in Iloilo held at the City’s Freedom Grandstand on June 13, 2012. He represented Gov. Arthur Defensor, Sr. who was on official trip to Canada on same date.

Social Workers: No time for celebration?

It’s Social Work Week in the Philippines. The celebration commemorates the anniversary of the Republic Act 4373, otherwise known as the Social Work Law. The passage of the Social Work Law on June 19, 1965 has regulated the practice of social work and the operation of social welfare agencies in the Philippines. Subsequently, it has created a new interest in social work and in the field of social welfare. Incidentally, the date falls on the birthday of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

After the forum on “Social Work and the Current Social Protection Concerns and Demands” to culminate the celebration of the 7th Social Work Week in Iloilo, I cannot help but reflect on the past celebrations. Locally, this year’s activities pale in comparison to the first 5 years of celebration. In the national level, there appears to be a lull.

Going over my memoirs, courtesy of yahoo, I found some highlights in the exchanges of communication thru web. Paragraphs in italics are excerpts from messages on the paswi_national@yahoo groups.com. Details can be viewed by clicking the link. The chronology of events started with the backgrounder of the position paper submitted to the national body during the Chapter Presidents Assembly on July 29, 2005

Some weeks after the 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 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 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 thru 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. Last April 7, 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. These were resolved later and PASWI National called for the national celebration sans former PGMA declaration.

In 2006, PASWI continued the celebration with the following call from the national president.

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.

Excerpts from the memorandum of the PASWI President highlights the 2009 celebration with the conduct of the Philippine World Social Work Day.

However,there appears to be a lull in the national celebration for 2010-2011. This is not necessarily due to the lack of interest on the part of social workers. For social workers are always in the forefront of national welfare celebrations for respective sectors they serve. Is it because social workers spend so much time in serving others, that they do not have time left for celebration?

If so, there is a need for support system to bridge the gap. Our experience for the past seven years of celebration show the significant role of social workers in the academe. As mentioned earlier, the move was initiated by social workers in the academe, particularly member schools of the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI) in Western Visayas. Since then, the local and regional celebrations have been spearheaded by social work educators. Perhaps because they have more time to spare than direct practitioners in various settings. Speaking of social work education, I find the following links interesting: Guide to Online Schools for online degree in social work classes and courses towards an online social work degree

Networking and Development

Networking is an application of system theory. The beauty of systems theory and its application in networking is represented by the rainbow. While there are only three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) there is a multiplication of colors when these link, interact, and overlap. I used this comparison in my reflection on the 25th anniversary of EDSA Revolution last month. Visit my other blog edsa lives on

Sharma (as cited in Philippine Journal of Public Administration Vol. XXXIV No. 1 January 1990) noted that the systems approach emphasizes wholeness first, then moves to the consideration of parts, including interaction among them, and between them and the whole. The systems theory, with its emphasis on holism, offers the promise of being an effective guide to management practice. The systems theory focuses on communication patterns and the transactions and relationships among parts.

As pointed out by Hartman (1970), the relationship among parts and the whole are of prime interest when considering the structure of a social system, This relationship is relatively stable. Sometimes, the relationship between systems is referred to as network. Ann Hartman (1970), as cited in Johnson (1995), noted that the systems theory is useful to social workers for it gives a means for conceptualizing linkages and relationships among seemingly different entities: individuals, families, small groups, agencies, communities, and societies. It notes similarities and differences among different classifications of systems. It aids social workers in considering both private troubles and public issues within the nurturing system and the sustaining system of a situation they are assessing.

Networking Enhances Development

The overlapping of various systems makes relationship complex. Since the systems theory gives prime importance to relationship, such overlap contributes to the dynamism of networking. Defined as development and maintenance of communication and ways of working together among people of diverse interests and orientations (Johnson, 1995), networking is a form of coordination. Thus, it is important to social administration. As part of the administrative function, Aldaba (1990) states, networking is necessary for the formation of a broad consensus and the promotion of collective action so that social transformation and genuine development can occur.

As viewed through the systems theory, networking is both a relationship among systems and a sub – system in itself. In this sense, it affects the development of each system while it is also being affected by other sub systems that compose the whole. In like manner, networks and member NGOs work as a system operating collaboratively in order to address the pressing issues and concerns related to development of people. Each NGO, therefore, works as a “component unit” and, as such, affects each other, so that a modification of one NGO will stimulate corresponding change on other NGOs and the network, in general.