The 14th NGO PO Week celebration in Iloilo went well on December 1-7 despite the set back brought about by Typhoon Yolanda. The Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON) spearheaded the celebration with the theme “Reclaim our noble heritage: Sustain the power of networking.”
The network temporarily shelved its plans at the onset of Yolanda’s battering of badly hit communities as respective NGO members started their initial response in the form of relief operation. ICON also voluntarily forfeited the regular financial assistance from the provincial government of Iloilo so that funds would be channeled to relief operation. It was just a week and couple of days before the celebration, when the board of directors decided to continue with the theme and simplified activities, tapping the resources of member organizations.
The celebration started with the Opening of Photo Exhibit at Robinsons Place on December 2 with Hon. Joshua Alim, Iloilo City councilor as guest. Alim was the author of the City Resolution institutionalizing the annual celebration. A forum on NGOs and Volunteerism was held the following day at 4th floor Henry Luce III Libraries, Central Philippine University. Sponsored by the Department of Social Work, the forum was graced by Bishop Leocito Gabo, professor of the College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines-Diliman.
On December 6, an NGO-PO Fellowship and Capability Building Seminar was held at 4th floor Henry Luce III Libraries, CPU under the sponsorship of the University Outreach Center. Dr. Juliana S. Seneriches, a forensic psychiatrist spoke on Psychological First Aid to assist the traumatized survivors. Seneriches is vice president of Anti- Trafficking In Persons Advocates Network (ATIPAN), Inc. A Volunteerism Sharing Session was facilitated by VOICE- Western Visayas and I SERVE after the seminar to celebrate the International Volunteers Day. To cap the celebration an advocacy-dialogue with University students was held at Central Philippine University on December 7. Attended by over 2,000 students, ICON officers and NGO leaders presented the noble heritage of NGOs and respective programs and services.
The annual celebration is done in partnership with the provincial and city government to give due recognition to the role of Non-government organizations (NGOs) and People’s Organizations (POs), and other civil society organizations in nation building. It has been institutionalized by Provincial Ordinance No. 2000-042 and City Regulation Ordinance 2001-190.
This year’s theme was supposedly intended to respond to the multi-billion pork barrel scam that has besmirched the noble aim and name of NGOs. In fact, the planned highlight of the celebration is the big gathering of NGOs and POs in the city and province of Iloilo to tackle the current national crisis brought about by the pork barrel scam. As well, as the subsequent backlash even to genuine organizations that have been consistently serving the marginalized sectors of the society. The NGOs felt the need to strengthen ranks through linkages and networking to safeguard the organizations from fly-by-night ones.
However, as it turned out, ICON President Edwin I. Lariza said that the highlight of the celebration was spent, instead, to discuss how NGOs can maximize participation in the on-going relief operation and sustain linkages and networking in helping in the rehabilitation or rebuilding process. “In this way, our theme will still be relevant in responding to the crises in our country in various fronts or aspects. In the midst of crises, let us continue to celebrate this milestone of networking in Iloilo, “Lariza added.