Embracing Community-Managed Primary Healthcare

Spent a few weeks with Dr. Moon Maglana to help document the wonderful work that AKKAP (Alternatibong Katilingbanong Kalambo-ang Panglawas) has been doing in a fair chunk of North Cotabato, Compostela Valley, Bukidnon and the Davao Peninsula since 1997. The attached PDF was written in order to be shared with partners at an anthroposophic medical conference in Dornach, Switzerland, but all this material could easily be turned into a book or manual of the amazing things they’ve been doing sans external funding, without fanfare. English is a necessary evil for external readers, but we need more materials in Tagalog and Cebuano for community users. I wish I could have more time to work with them.

Someday.

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Recapitulation: Baguio

Today is July 1–officially the start of the second half of the Aquino Administration, and my first official day as a former government employee. Happily, I am spending it in the rainy mountains of Baguio with my crazy Cordillera-loving friend Shei, where I have been drinking, talking, reading and eating my way into the ranks of the FUNemployed. Hooray!

Beyond a vacation, Baguio has been the perfect place for crossing this kind of Rubicon. Somehow, the last twenty-four hours have had representatives of all my past lives thus far: government, the arts and academe, PAGASA, the lovers, dreamers and the drunks. And so it has been an act of recapitulation–going back from everything that has been in order to move forward to what can become.

As always, the written word is the constant touchstone. I’ve spent a sizeable amount (at least, for a person with zero income on the horizon) on books at the glorious Mt Cloud, and they have kept me good company, alongside Shei’s chirpy patter and the calm Baguio vibe. Not reading fiction this time around, as much as I’d like to go back to the dreamtime. Instead, we have precious Cordillera Studies Center monographs of June Prill-Brett’s on resource management and autonomy, the ones I’ve only seen in the UP Library; the ADMU special series “Agenda for Hope”, looking at ISD and preserving Philippine Identity at the cusp of the GMA-era darkness and 2010 light; various odds and ends.

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What has hit me the most though is the jolly wit of old William Henry Scott. The back blurb describes his 1987 collection of essays, Chips, as “short on words but long on meaning”, and “might just lead to self-analysis”. And indeed they have. One particular essay, a riff on so-called “rice Christians”, has old Scotty quoting former President Nyerere of Tanzania:

“Men are shaped by the true circumstances in which they live. Suppose it is true that if they are treated like animals, they will act like animals. If they are denied dignity, they will act without dignity. If they are treated solely as a dispensable means of production, they will become soul-less “hands” to whom life is a matter of doing as little work as possible and then escaping into the illusion of happiness and pride through vice.”

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There’s a bunch of crisp, gently barbed shorts on research, ethnography, ethnicity and politics that I wish I had known about when I was still teaching English 10, and I wish I were coherent enough right now to write more about these things. I’m not.

For now, though, it’s enough to stay and revel in this feeling of clean lines, scathing honesty, and funny, yet earnestly spiritual thought. The words are clear, the air is cold and crisp, and the future is a blank space stretching before me. I’m typing this now on an old wooden desk with nothing but a phone and a battered Bluetooth keyboard, and half of me doesn’t want to go back to Manila just yet. Half of me wants nothing better. And for now–dinner.

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Wellspring of Hope

This was originally written for posting on the LILIPOH Magazine Facebook account, thanks to social media editor Willa Maglalang’s call for stories on non-Manila anthroposophic initiatives in the Philippines. Final posting–25 June 2013.

It was pretty easy, cobbling this together, as Shei and I had already mucked around on the topic for the ImagePraxis exhibition at the Liwanag Festival in Davao last January. What I do hope though is to be able to write more about these amazing local projects and initiatives (with ImagePraxis, Do-Good.PH, and other platforms), and maybe, even make it sustainable for everyone involved, somehow.

Abangan.

WELLSPRING OF HOPE: FOCUS ON TUBURAN INSTITUTE

In a tiny vegetarian eco-village in the outskirts of Davao City, the largest metropolitan center in the war-torn island of Mindanao, stands the very first Steiner/Waldorf-inspired school in Southern Philippines.

Founded in 2012 by young university instructors Kate Estember and Maya Vandenbroek, Tuburan Institute aims to make Steiner Education accessible to all Mindanawons–regardless of cultural background, or religious and political beliefs–especially those who cannot afford it.

Tuburan Institute started with a kindergarten class of nine children, which has since grown to eighteen enrollees for the 2013-2014 school year. Half of these children come from urban poor communities. Thanks to a system of sliding school fees, families of factory workers and tricycle drivers are able to get support from families with more resources, and from benefactors with big hearts.

The base tuition at Tuburan Institute is 40,000 pesos per year (approx. 800 USD), but some families are able to pay only as low as 2,500 pesos (50 USD) per year. All these differences fade as the kids happily learn and play side-by-side: a crucial step in healing a society that has suffered decades of conflict driven by culture and class.

Tuburan Institute (which means “wellspring” in the Cebuano language) has grown steadily despite the odds, with some help from the local and international community. In 2014, Tuburan Institute will expand to Class 1, and will transfer to a donated 1-hectare plot in another part of Davao.

Teachers and green architects have volunteered their skills in transforming the future space, but Tuburan Institute needs more support. It takes only 344 pesos per day (or 7 USD) to give a child a Waldorf education at Tuburan; any help, whether in cash or in kind, will go a long way.

For more information, go to http://www.tuburaninstituteinc.com, their Facebook Page (http://www.facebook.com/TuburanInstitute), or contact Maya and Kate at tuburaninstituteinc@gmail.com.

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Transformation –> Relationships. Or, stitching together our wounded world

Originally posted on Facebook on 26 May 2013.



I was asked to give a short talk yesterday for an event honoring volunteers working with Hands on Manila. I wasn’t even supposed to be there, but a friend had recommended me to her friend who happened to be one of the organizers and well, that was that. The talk and the slides were hastily assembled about two hours before the whole shebang and it was mostly pulled out of my ass (and the deepening conversations with friends just before that), so this is an attempt to get it out of my head and write it down in a more coherent form.

Transformation –> Relationships. Or, stitching together our wounded world.

Hi, my name is Ica. I won’t talk about the work I do, because I wear a lot of hats, and most importantly, because everyone here is a carrier or volunteer of some kind of awesome initiative anyway, and I don’t think my initiatives are more important than those of you kindness revolutionaries here. (I salute all of you.)

What I do want to talk about tonight though is something that I believe is at the core of any kind of work that aims towards “social transformation”–may it be classical development work, volunteerism, charity, whatever you want to call it. Everyone in this room knows this, on some level, but let me put it out there: at the end of the day, change making is all about relationships. Let me say it again. Relationships. And that entails the relationships we have with ourselves, with each other, and with our world/s.

Continue reading “Transformation –> Relationships. Or, stitching together our wounded world”

On Typhoon Pablo, DRRM and systems thinking

Written for PLAN 210. Unfortunately I seem to have waylaid the diagram mentioned here–maybe I can get around to resketching it, someday.

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One emerging challenge for local governments is disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), or the need to holistically respond to extreme climate events that increasingly pose threats to life and property. This can be seen in the recent experience of Typhoon Pablo, which completely devastated many municipalities in the eastern seaboard of Mindanao. As per the 17 January 2013 report of the DSWD Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Operations Office (DRRROO), a total of total of 504,857 families with 2.2 million persons have been affected in 2,631 barangays, 292 municipalities, 35 cities, 33 provinces in 10 regions, with particular emphasis on Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and some parts of the Caraga Region. Although the onslaught of said typhoon was experienced as a single event (cited as a once-in-a-century storm) that has direct linear effects, further analysis of the situation reveals complex cyclical cause-effect patterns that must be factored into any plan of action.

Continue reading “On Typhoon Pablo, DRRM and systems thinking”

Thought Paper: On Davao City, growth poles and cumulative causation

Written for PLAN 201, which has been an awesome start to my stay at the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning. The prof is cool enough to let the substantial experience from the class (a good mix of government development workers, architects, engineers and researchers) emerge, while being to frame it theoretically without clamping down on the freewheeling discussions. There have been times where the thought of a cheery Saturday class was enough to get me through a brutal workweek. Gotta brush up on stat, though.

Thought Paper: On Davao City, growth poles and cumulative causation

What comes to mind when discussing spatial theories of regional development such as growth poles (Perroux) and cumulative causation (Myrdal) is the case of Davao City, which is currently the most important development center in Mindanao, and is emerging as a strategic regional growth center, particularly in the context of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

I believe Davao City is a prime example of how development has a tendency to cluster in centers, resulting in major urban concentrations that are key development hubs from a national perspective, and have the potential to play a regional role in the realms of culture, business, and international transport. Its strategic location practically assures this—found in the southeastern tip of the Philippines, Davao is the natural jump-off point for travellers from Northern and Central Mindanao before heading to the Zamboanga Peninsula and the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It has also begun to be a gateway to Southern Philippines for international travellers from Southeast Asia and even Australia and the United States.  The last two decades have also seen a boom in Davao City’s economic growth. This can be seen in multiple centers and industries within the city, which as shown in the chart below from the Davao City Planning and Development Office, spans seven growth sectors, which makes good use of its massive 244 hectares (as it is one of the largest cities in the world by area).

Continue reading “Thought Paper: On Davao City, growth poles and cumulative causation”