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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)


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 workers to commemorate 48th year of R.A. 4373

It will be another opportunity for Social Workers to take the center stage with the week-long celebration of the 9th Social Work Week in Western Visayas  on June 13-19, 2013. With the  theme  Resiliency and Advocacy: The Power of Social Work, the event will kick off with a motorcade on June 13 simultaneously in  various provinces/cities in Region VI. It will followed by opening program in respective venues. The theme has been adapted from the National Association of Social Workers.

On June 14 -16  Social Work students from five schools of Social Work in Panay and Negros will hold their 3-day Regional Social Work Camp. To be hosted by Central Philippine University, the other participating schools are, as follows: Capiz State University, Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Iloilo Doctors College, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos. Literary and musical contests and sports fest  will be held at Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus.

Simultaneous with the Social Work Camp, the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI)- Western Visayas will hold a Regional Conference  on June 15 at Central Philippine University. This will be participated in by faculty and field work supervisors of the aforementioned schools of Social Work.

On June 18-19,  the Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI) -Iloilo Chapter will host the regional convention of social workers in Western Visayas at Sarabia Manor, Iloilo City. One of the  highlights is the launching of the Social Workers Organizations Regional Network (SWORN).

SWORN will keep the rich heritage and tradition alive by strengthening the social work organizations/ groups in Western Visayas. It will serve as coordinating body of all social work organizations affiliated with recognized national bodies, as well as other independent ones.

SWORN will also act as support system to the regular activities of various organizations, and advocacy network to support the cause of Ilonggo social workers when needed. The network will spearhead the celebration of Social Work Week in Region VI. Moreover, it will be responsible for research-documentation and publication of the history, heritage and future development of social work endeavors in Western Visayas.

The annual celebration has been institutionalized by respective ordinances/ resolutions of city and provincial councils in Western Visayas to recognize of the role of social workers in nation building.

It will be recalled that the passage of R. A. 4373 or 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.

Resurrection and Social Work

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.

Those interested to join the National Volunteers Summit may visit this link

Those are interested to join the National Volunteers Summit may visit this link

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.”

Social Work students of Central Philippine University pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by the Department of Social and Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON). An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

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?


Glim of hope for this year’s national celebration of Social Work Week

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.

sw-2 (1)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.

SW Week

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 2006, PASWI  continued to call for national celebration.2006

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.

Another nationally coordinated call was issued through the memorandum of the PASWI President  in 2009 to coincide  with the conduct of the Philippine World Social Work Day.


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.

2009 celebration

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.

Social Workers in the past 50 years (A sequel)

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.

Social Work

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.

Social workersStrong 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)


1988 was the Ruby Anniversary of PASW. It was a unique celebration because it was a rebirth of sorts. SEC had removed PASW from its list in 1980 due to inadvertent omission to submit the necessary documents and reports. So it was reincorporated, this time as PASWI, and its projects and activities continued unabated and with renewed forum. The biennial conferences became an annual occurrence and more chapters were fervor.The Association has had 27 presidents including the present, Sonia Cueto, in its 50 years of existence. It has amended its Constitution and By–laws about half a dozen times. It counts 2,000 paid up members and 72 chapters nationwide. It has conducted 15 national biennial conferences and 10 national conventions and countless seminars and workshops for the professional growth of its members.

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.


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