Unveiling the Voices of the Nation: A Look Back at Ulat ng Bayan
On October 11, 2016, the Zarraga Covered Gym became the venue for a significant gathering known as “Ulat ng Bayan Quarterly Reporting.” This event served as a platform for participants to share their insights and experiences, contributing to a collective understanding of the nation’s pulse.
The quarterly reporting, an integral part of the Ulat ng Bayan initiative, aimed to facilitate a dialogue between citizens and authorities, fostering transparency and accountability. It marked a crucial step in the ongoing effort to strengthen the connection between the government and its people.
The registration process itself, occurring on the same day, symbolized the commitment of individuals to engage in this open conversation. It demonstrated a shared desire for a more informed and involved citizenry.
As the clock struck 1 pm, the Zarraga Covered Gym came alive with the commencement of the 1st Quarter Ulat ng Bayan. Participants from various walks of life gathered to express their opinions, raise concerns, and offer suggestions. This diversity of voices created a rich tapestry of perspectives, reflective of the nation’s dynamic and multifaceted character.
The discussions during the event delved into a range of topics, from local community issues to broader national concerns. This comprehensive approach allowed for a holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the nation.
The success of Ulat ng Bayan lies not only in the active participation of citizens but also in the responsiveness of government officials. The event served as a conduit for dialogue, enabling authorities to address public concerns and provide updates on ongoing initiatives. This reciprocal exchange reinforced the idea that an informed and engaged citizenry is a cornerstone of a thriving democracy.
October 11, 2016, thus stands as a date when the voices of the nation reverberated within the walls of the Zarraga Covered Gym. It was a day when citizens actively participated in shaping the narrative of their country, contributing to the ongoing journey towards a more transparent and responsive governance.
In retrospect, the Ulat ng Bayan Quarterly Reporting on October 11, 2016, serves as a testament to the power of open dialogue and the collective responsibility shared by citizens and authorities alike in building a stronger, more inclusive society.
Participatory Governance: SEA’s Effective Strategy in Zarraga
The Flagship Project of the Political Dimension of Zarraga-SIAD or Larga Sustainable Zarraga is GO SIADS: Governance SIAD Style. The specific objectives of GO SIADS have already been explained. Below are updates in pictures.
SEA’s particular strategy in Zarraga is highly dependent on an open, principled, and active mayor. If not, then SEA will develop another strategy for operating in a hostile political environment. Fortunately Mayor John Tarrosa of Zarraga is one such local executive.
The role of SEA in the governance of the town was acknowledged by asking SEA’s Lead Activator to address the general assembly of all town officials and staff.
Earlier, the legislative body of the town adopted SEA’s Lead Activator as an outstanding citizen of the town. This also came together with choosing SEA’S Lead Activator as an Outstanding Professional of the town. And, before this, very early on, the town passed a law authorizing the societal threefolding approach in its introducing organic farming programs throughout all the villages of the town.
Society-Centered Threefolding Governance
It is important to note that the GO SIADS advances society-centered governance processes. Hence, as can been seen below, SEA is helping organize the civil society and business of Zarraga to engage in principled partnerships with the local government of Zarraga.
The town mayor (standing in blue below) is very supportive of the existence of Zarraga Business Club.
SEA, together with the political leadership of the town, has initiated several societal threefolding governance partnerships. We have already seen this above in the Zarraga Agriculture Program or ZAP, the town’s initiative to remove farmers out of poverty using organic farming practices.
SEA Partners with Zarraga town and the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines
Here below Mayor John Tarrosa invited SEA to be a witness in the turnover of equipment by the Municipal Agriculture Officer to farmers.
Municipal Advisory Committee on Police Transformation
SEA’s Lead Activator is also chair of the town’s Municipal Advisory Committee on Police Transformation. As Chair, SEA facilitated the completion of the strategic plan of town for transforming its police force. MAC is now currently in the stage of activating this strategic plan.
PICTURES; inauguration, meeting sessions.
After the Plan was made, it had to be approved by the Regional Command of the Philippine National Police. To acknowledge the efforts of over 120 towns around the region of Western Visayas, the Director of the Regional PNP Command organized a region-wide event where outstanding plans were acknowledged. SEA was invited to attend said event. See below.
One key aspect of this plan is mobilization of “force multipliers”, or “tanods”, voluntary citizen peace and order keepers at the level of the village. Below is a general assembly of all such volunteers of the town. Hundreds attended the event when SEA, together with the Chief of Police, facilitated the question and answer session.
Simultaneous with the threefolding work in Zarraga, SEA is also involved in societal threefolding work in Bayawan, a city of over 120,000 people. This work is a major part of the strategy of SEA in spreading the realization of SIAD through societal threefolding work in other local government units (LGUs) around the country. Click here for major goals of SEA’s SIAD 1.0 Program.
MCW and Societal Threefolding Initiative of Bayawan City
As with Zarraga, MISSION Courage Workshop (MCW) is an important SIAD 1.0 initiating event. The late Mayor of Bayawan, Gerry Saraña agreed with this premise. Under his leadership, SEA, with the help of MISSION colleagues in Bayawan, conducted a MISSION Courage Workshop for heads of the executive agencies and their staff. Despite his hectic schedule and his health challenge, Mayor Saraña participated for the whole two days of the event. Aside from the fun and the joy that emerged, many city initiatives were also refined.
As a follow up event and upon the request of the City, SEA conducted a Biography Workshop for some of its key personnel. Aside from exploring the larger purposes of their lives, this Workshop was also a trust and team building event among the cities top government officers who rarely interacted with each other in their official duties. There were a lot of fun moments in the workshop. (See below.) The workshop thus strengthened the ties of friendship essential in installing a solution ecosystem in Bayawan City.
Exchange of SIAD Experiences
Zarraga and Bayawan City are two of the few Local Government Units (LGUs) that are seriously pursuing sustainable integrated area development or SIAD. SEA thus arranged for the mayor of the two LGUs and a few of their executives to meet. In that meeting, they mutually educated each other on the lessons they learned while installing SIAD in their respective areas of responsibility.
The fact that there are now inspiring developments in two local government units (LGUs) (Zarraga and Bayawan City) has resulted in increasing interest in SIAD in other towns and cities around the Philippines.
Cognizant of this development, which is a part of its strategic goals, SEA organized a meeting where individuals from at least 8 towns and cities came to experience the SIAD work being done by Zarraga and Bayawan City. This meeting was organized in partnership with a national movement, MISSION. The objective of the meeting was to develop interest in SIAD in other parts of the country.
Individuals came from the following towns and cities of the country: Metro Manila, Cebu City, Davao City, Dumaguete City, Iloilo City, Baguio City, Naga City, and Los Baños, (Laguna). They were joined by the Mayors of Zarraga and San Enrique (General Ramona Go) and a legislator from Iloilo City, Jason Gonzales, who will most likely be the next mayor of a major town in Iloilo, Lambunao. Dr. Joyce Wendham, the regional organic farming coordinator for the Department of Agriculture, Western Visayas Region, also attended the meeting.
The occasion also made it possible for participants from the different nodes of MISSION to come together and strategize how they can help advance SIAD in their own cities and towns.
Group meetings are not the only occasion for addressing increasing interest in SIAD and societal threefolding. Personal meetings also help. Below is a picture of Hon. Mitch Monfort, Member of the Provincial Legislative Body and Lakan Bautista, husband of Mitch and a councilor from Dumangas. Mitch Monfort is currently running as Congresswoman in the May 2016 elections. If she wins, there is a possibility of spreading SIAD in the 8 towns that are part of her Congressional District. Seeds of future initiatives are planted in these meetings.
Other LGUs Interested
These conversations often yield concrete results. Such is the case of Alegria, a town in the island of Cebu, central Philippine region.
Through the efforts of partners from MISSION Cebu, the mayor of Alegria invited SEA to conduct a SIAD workshop for the political, civil society and business leadership of the town. It was a big group of over 100 participants. The workshop surfaced important challenges for the town to focus on. The workshop left little doubt that these challenges can be met because of the strong partnership between government and civil society in the town.
SEA does not always wait to get invited. Sometimes it goes out and invites potential government partners to events that are of general interest to the leadership of towns and cities.
One such event is LIWANAG, a yearly global conference hosted by MISSION. The theme for 2014 was “From Disaster to Rebirth”, a response to super typhoon Yolanda that devastated the Philippines.
When MISSION Iloilo, in partnership with SEA, hosted this event, local and national leaders of government agencies attended the event.
At the national level, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sent quite a number of participants, including AFP’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Lysander Suerte, the head of the Civilian Military Group of the AFP. The globally famous Yeb Saño also came as a keynote speaker. Yeb was then the Chief Negotiator for the Philippines in the UN’s Conference of Parties addressing the challenge of climate change. He was given an a rare outstanding ovation by delegates to the climate change negotiations at the UN. Yeb Saño was also then a Commissioner of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines.
As one of a number of results of the event, SEA’s Nicanor Perlas was invited to advise the AFP in its National Summit on Climate Change. In that role, SEA successful convinced the AFP to form Climate Change Task Forces with participation from civil society and business. In that way the AFP will form a solution ecosystem around climate change. In addition, AFP invited Perlas to give a plenary presentation on Solution Ecosystems for Climate Change. The event was held in December 7, 2015 at the AFP Headquarters in Metro Manila. Unfortunately, Perlas was unable to attend due to health reasons.
At the local level, mayors of several towns in Iloilo attended the event. They brought with them their department heads and key staff. A lot of individuals from various civil society organizations also attended the event. Mayor Saraña was personally in LIWANAG. As a result of his participation, Mayor Seraña spearheaded the formation of SONEDMA, a coalition of 12 towns and cities in Southern Negros Island. He patterned his framework around SEA’S framework of a solution ecosystem.
Genetically Engineered Organisms and Agriculture
Sometimes events can come in the form of urgent matters requiring immediate attention from a whole province. Such was the case of a forum on the impact of genetic engineering in Cebu agriculture. SEA’s Lead Activator gave a plenary scientific presentation on the ecological and health hazards of genetic engineering in agriculture. In addition he also emphasized the importance of sustainable agriculture. This helped galvanized coordinated action against genetically engineered plants in Cebu.
The good news is that recently the Philippine Supreme Court banned the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture. This decision demonstrated the soundness of SEA in this area of advocacy.