Centralians, again, took the center stage in this year’s celebration of NGO PO Week in Iloilo with the theme “Reclaim our noble heritage: Sustain the power of networking.”Most of the week-long activities were held at Central Philippine University. The Department of Social Work and University Outreach Center, as well as the National Service Training Program (NSTP) have provided the much needed support for the celebration.
It will be recalled that the preparation earlier suffered a set back due to the ravages of Typhoon Yolanda which hit the northern towns of Iloilo. The Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON), which spearheaded the annual celebration, temporarily shelved its plans at the onset of Yolanda’s battering as respective NGO members started their initial response in the form of relief operation. The network even voluntarily forfeited the regular financial assistance from the provincial government of Iloilo so that funds would be channeled to relief operation.
With a simplified plan, three major activities were co-sponsored by various in the University. The Department of Social Work took charge of the Forum on NGOs and Volunteerism on December 3 while the University Outreach Center co-sponsored the NGO Fellowship and Capability Building Seminar on December 6. Both were held at the Conference Room, 4th floor, Henry Luce III Libraries. The date of the latter coincided with the Outreach Day in the University and opening of the Festival of Lights which was a timely occasion for Centralians to reach out to other partners in welfare and development work.
The Volunteerism forum was graced by Bishop Leocito Gabo, professor of the College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines-Diliman. The Capability Building Seminar centered on Psychological First Aid with Dr. Juliana S. Seneriches, a forensic psychiatrist, as speaker. Seneriches is vice president of Anti- Trafficking In Persons Advocates Network (ATIPAN), Inc.
Meanwhile, it was learned that the Closing celebration was also held at CPU in the form of advocacy-dialogue of NGO leaders with the over two thousand NSTP students. It was on this occasion when ICON President Edwin I. Lariza pointed out the role of Centralians in the institutionalization of the annual celebration. Relating his presentation to the theme Reclaim our noble heritage: Sustain the power of networking, Lariza recalled the Paskua sa Katin-aran as forerunner of NGO PO Week.
A much waited event in the campus, it was an occasion when community people from covered municipalities gathered for celebration of Christ’s birth. Initiated by the Department of Social Work, the program included a Christmas scene contest and the construction of booths (using native materials) where local products were displayed and sold. Other activities were fellowship meal, binalaybay, composo, daigon contests, recognition program for Volunteer Community Workers and Health workers and later Search for Miss, Mr. & Mrs. Katin-aran.
For a time the celebration stopped especially during the change of leadership in the Katin-aran Center. However, it was revived in 2000 when the University took over the management of the Katin-aran Center some years after it became an independent foundation separated from the University
Such revival resulted to the institutionalization of the annual celebration of the non-government organization (NGOs) and people’s organizations in Iloilo (NGO PO Week) by virtue of city and provincial ordinances. The Paskua sa Katin-aran format was still followed but with wider scope and coverage as it now involves other NGOs and POs in the city and province of Iloilo.
The people behind the institutionalization were Centralians: Atty. Rodolfo Cabado authored the Provincial Ordinance No. 2000-042 during his stint in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan while Councilor Joshua Alim was the author of the City Regulation Ordinance 2001-190. Former Iloilo vice governor Demy Sonza, another Centralian, was the presiding officer during the approval while Rev. Edwin Lariza, head of the Department of Social Work, initiated the move while serving as co-chair of the Provincial Development Council being an NGO representative to the Executive Committee.
Such institutionalization gave birth to the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON) which spearheads the annual celebration. It was learned that the officers of the network are almost Centralians. Headed by Rev. Lariza, the other Centralians in leadership corresponding their respective organizations are Bro. Edwin D. Araña, 1st Vice President, Creative Community Foundation; Ted Aldwin Ong, Vice President for NGOs, Freedom From Debt Coalition; Eleazar R. Blando, General Secretary, Young Men Christian Association of Iloilo; Prof. Kareen Jay D. Lozada, secretary, National Association For Social Work Education, Inc. Western Visayas; Febie S. Ibojos, treasurer, Signpost International, Inc.; Prof. Ruben Gamala, PRO, VOICE- Visayas.
The Board of Directors are Engr. Levi De Los Santos, University Outreach Center; Pastor Renato Fetalsana, Convention Baptist Ministers Association; Freddie Salvania, CPU Katin-aran Communities, Inc.; Pastor Elizer Geromiano, Baptist Student Center; and student leaders Sunshine Arquintillo and Stazy Vencer, representing Junior Social Workers Association and Volunteers For Integrated Public Service, respectively. Other ICON officers are Ms. Georie Pitong, vice president for POs, MASIPAG-Visayas and Mr. Sandy Mecuando III, auditor, Salvation Army.