Asia West Pacific

Sharing Tools with the Informal Sector in Person

By Kins Aparece

There were three participants in a group.  Participants were given individual felt pens and colored papers.  Photo:  Diocesan Social Action Center photo file

Since we launched the online Philippine Cultures of Peace sessions in March, our team knew that we did not reach out to all the sectors of society due to poor internet access.

On June 24-25, 2020, Kins facilitated a workshop on the Reorientation on the Basic Instruments for the Protection of the Rights and Welfare of Informal Settlers and Strategic Planning Workshop for twelve leaders of the Alliance of Informal Settlers Organization (AISO), a federation of urban poor organizations of Tagbilaran City, Bohol. The Diocesan Social Action Center of Tagbilaran invited Kins to facilitate the workshop.

The venue of the activity was at Balay Kahayag (House of Brightness), Baclayon, Bohol. To ensure that we followed standard protocols, we checked the body temperatures, everybody wore face masks, washed hands frequently, and observed physical distancing. We reminded each other to wash hands properly and not to touch our masks or our faces. Healthy food and drinks were available throughout the program. The organizers hired two tourist vans to transport us to ensure distancing.

For the first time, the group met in person since the March 16 lockdown. We practiced the tools of stopping, good listening, speaking out, and empathy. They observed that when they were calm, relaxed, and open, they could remember and analyze situations. One participant shared that “as a leader, it is very challenging to listen because she is so used to fixing problems. However, in the workshop, she realized that long-term solutions come out of active listening.

 At the foreground is the poster reminder and the sanitizing floor mat where all participants must step on before entering the hall. The participants in this photo are practicing good listening and speaking through concentric lines.  Photo:  Kins

When “Speak Out” was introduced, one of the leaders became very excited and said, “We should have known this earlier! This template is straightforward and very effective. Now I know what the problem is!” Speak Out builds on our knowledge of restorative justice: that what a victim needs is for the community to stand up and say, “It happened, it was wrong, it should not have happened.” The Speak Out format we use is: “We are speaking to _______________ [person or group]. What we [saw/heard] was [concrete action or words]. It’s wrong because [why it was wrong]. It made us [sad/mad] because [consequences]. What has to change is [concrete action or words].”

I appreciated the honest and sincere exchanges of experiences and hope of the group. The issue of poverty and hunger was genuine in the community. The official Philippine Statistics Authority report is 17.7 % unemployment or 7.3 million unemployed Filipinos (April 2020). But there were also stories of resilience and solidarity. The time and the restrictions on movement somehow compelled communities to get to know each other and become more creative at this time. The participants were also very thankful to discover stopping. For them that takes care of people and concerns, they needed that very much.

This is the graduation pose of the participants and organizers.   Photo:  Diocesan Social Action Center photo file